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On Dwelling rather than Trampling

In recent years, in some quarters, and especially around environmental thinking, the notion of dwelling has become important. ====, for example, has argued that we should 'dwell' on the earth rather than make our mark on it. The meaning of dwelling is sharpened by opposing it to making our mark or destroying. The assumption of monotonic 'progress' is anathema to those who advocate dwelling.

But is dwelling just passive? Is it just living in our environment without making any mark at all? Some proponents of it would suggest so, but others have a more dynamic view of it, in which we dynamically interact with our environment, and yet treat it where we live rather than as raw material resources for our use or something we trample upon.

What would a Dooyeweerdian comment on dwelling be? In short, it would seem at first sight he is against it, but on closer inspection he would be for it, and enrich it.

First, it might seem that Dooyeweerd would be totally antithetic to this notion of dwelling, and the proponents of dwelling would condemn him. This is because of his theory of progress, which interpreted the Cultural Mandate as containing the overriding norm to open up all creational aspects and take charge. In this, the aspect of formative power is the leader.

But Dooyeweerd's theory of progress has been criticised by Klapwijk as being "a speculative product of German idealist metaphysics of history" which has "romantic-organismic, progressivistic and universal-historical connotations", rather than as truly emerging from his main thought. "Dooyeweerd continued to espouse the basic idea of a universal-progressive process of disclosure that in one way or another eventuates, as it turns out, in modern Western culture." See Choi:138b. [GC]

If we see Dooyeweerd's theory of progress as a Tier 3 proposal, in which he opened up one of his aspects, the formative, then we can see why it is that his theory of progress might be more a product of his cultural situation than germane to his more important ideas. In fact, if we examine his Tier 1 ideas, his most basic and important ideas, we see that the notion of dwelling might be valid in his eyes.

The Tier 1 idea that I speak of is his theory of aspects, and that part of it that says that if we function well in all aspects, keeping them in harmony, then we do well. Only one aspect, the formative, can be taken to suggest that we should make much of a mark on our environment, instead of dwelling in it. The biotic aspect of living, the sensitive aspect of sensing our environment, and the aesthetic aspect of harmony, and the economic aspect of careful use of limited resources (Dooyeweerd pointed out that the Greek 'eco' means 'household') all suggest that we should not destroy our environment but 'dwell' in harmony with it. Further, the juridical aspect says we must give the environment its due (as an environment) and the ethical aspect of self-giving says we should expend ourselves for it rather than expend it for ourselves.

Now, I have mentioned individual aspects of Dooyeweerd's suite, which is a Tier 2 theory. But what I am trying to show is the overwhelming 'vote' of the aspects, at least as we understand them, is on the side of dwelling and against trampling on or making a large mark on our environment. Only if Dooyeweerd had made a considerable blunder in his identification of aspects would this be any different. The thrust of the whole theory of aspects - a Tier 1 thrust - would seem in favour of dwelling, and thus overwhelm the small voice of the Tier 3 theory of progress.

This page is part of a collection of pages that links to various thinkers, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Copyright (c) 2004 Andrew Basden. But you may use this material subject to conditions.

Written on the Amiga and Protext.

Created: 1 February 2003 Last updated: 1 March 2003 .nav, relocated link to Choi. 16 June 2010 .end, rid unet. 7 September 2017 rid counter.