1. Introduction

112. The key point to understanding the whole of Dooyeweerd's philosophy is his "discovery of the religious root of thought", which he called "the great turning-point" in his thinking.(137) For Dooyeweerd, this discovery is so radical that he regards Kant's `Copernican' revolution as merely peripheral.(138) More concretely, this discovery is that of the human "heart" as the religious root of human existence and Christ as that of all temporal reality.

113. In addition, Dooyeweerd's three philosophical basic ideas as "the postulate of philosophy", i.e., the ideas of origin, totality (or unity), and diversity within the coherence of cosmic time are regarded as the transcendental foundation of each philosophy because they are, according to him, the necessary conditions for philosophical thinking and thus make up the basic structure of theoretical thought. That is why they are together referred to as the transcendental ground idea as mentioned in chapter 1.(139)

114. Dooyeweerd attempts to present this basic idea comprehensively in his first magnum opus, De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee.(140) Discussing this work mainly from the viewpoint of dialogue and antithesis, we will take a look at what he later called "the first way" of his transcendental criticism of philosophic thought. In this way, Dooyeweerd tries to prove the unavoidability of a religious presupposition for theoretical thinking and thus demonstrate the legitimacy of his own Christian starting point. He received, however, not only positive but also very critical responses to this first way. Major critical responses will be discussed in the following section. In response to these critical views, Dooyeweerd continued to work out and refine his transcendental critique of theoretical thought in various articles. It culminated, finally, in his second major work, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, in which he called his revised approach "the second way". Dooyeweerd himself regards this transcendental critique as the essential part of his Christian philosophy. His first intention with this is to restore the community of thought (denkgemeenschap) in Western philosophical traditions. His ultimate goal, however, via both the first and second ways, is "an inner reformation of philosophy from the religious starting-point via the transcendental ground idea."(141) The following section will deal with this second way. Thereafter, two main critical responses to this second approach will be mentioned and evaluated. Some concluding remarks will end this chapter with special attention to our main issue of dialogue and antithesis, i.e., confrontation without losing the common ground of communication: does he succeed in achieving his aim? What are the strong and weak points of his transcendental critique?

115. One last remark is necessary before we begin to discuss the first way. A distinction should be made between the transcendental critique in a narrow and in a broad sense. The former refers to the argumentation of Dooyeweerd's two approaches whereas the latter refers to the religiously inspired critique of philosophy and eventually a critique of culture in order to uncover the underlying presuppositions. Thus in the narrow sense Dooyeweerd's two ways are different but in the broad context, both have the common element of transcendental critique. His whole philosophical system in fact can be characterized as a transcendental critique in this broad sense.

2. The First Way

116. It is in the introduction of the Prolegomena of the first magnum opus where Dooyeweerd succinctly presents his "first way" even though he does not yet use the term "transcendental critique". It is again explained in the introduction of part I in A New Critique of Theoretical Thought with the title, "the first way of a transcendental critique of philosophic thought".(142)

(1) The Idea of Meaning-Totality

117. The starting point of Dooyeweerd's first way is the idea of the totality of meaning. When Dooyeweerd compares naive, pre-theoretical experience of reality to theoretical, scientific analysis which splits up reality into various modal functions, he finds first of all the indissoluble interrelation or coherence among these aspects in naive experience. This coherence, Dooyeweerd continues, not only finds its expression in each modal aspect but also points beyond its own limits toward a deeper totality, which in its turn is expressed in this coherence.(143) He then connects this idea of totality to the selfhood: the human ego expresses itself as a totality in the coherence of all its temporal modal spheres. And man himself is created by God as His image, as the expression of Himself.

118. Dooyeweerd's understanding of reality is, as we have seen in the former chapter, not static but very dynamic "in a diverging and concentrating movement from and to the unity of the totality of meaning, which in its turn expresses the fullness of the divine Origin."(144) Dooyeweerd elaborated this dynamic movement by his theory of analogies, i.e., the retrocipations and anticipations within modal structures and his idea of the opening-process.(145) Before he discovered the notion of the religious root of thought, Dooyeweerd related these analogies within the modal aspects to the cosmic continuity of the divine world plan.(146) From now on, however, they are connected to the unity of the totality of meaning which breaks up into the diversity of modal aspects through time but in such a way that the unity remains, as it were, unified through the coherence in the analogical implications. Hence the cosmological or ontological significance of his discovery of the religious root.

(2) Philosophy and Heart

119. Dooyeweerd's "discovery" influences his understanding of philosophy, as well. Philosophy, according to him, should first provide theoretical insight into the inner nature and structure of the different modal aspects and the inter-modal relation and coherence of all the aspects of the temporal world. Second, it should make us aware that "this coherence is a coherence of meaning that refers to a totality."(147) Thus Dooyeweerd holds that philosophical thought is theoretical thought which does not stand still but is dynamically directed to the totality of meaning of our temporal cosmos and this direction is decided by the human selfhood or heart that precedes philosophical thought. The self is "operating not merely in its thought, but in all the functions in which it expresses itself within the coherence of our temporal world."(148)

(3) The Necessity of Self-Reflection

120. Dooyeweerd's understanding of the task of philosophy and the direction of philosophical thought with respect to the totality of meaning imply then the necessity of critical self-reflection. In this vein, Dooyeweerd fully affirms that the epigram "know thyself" be written above the portals of philosophy.(149) Dooyeweerd describes the self as the concentration-point of all one's cosmic functions and as a subjective totality which lies at the basis of all philosophical thought presupposing all modes of functioning as well as the coherence of functioning.

121. It is for this reason that Dooyeweerd radically criticizes Kant's reduction of the selfhood to an immanent, subjective pole of thought because Kant's so-called "transcendental-logical subject of thought" cannot transcend the boundaries of our logical function. All philosophical activities issue from the ego which transcends the limits of theoretical thought. To arrive at self-reflection, therefore, the limits of theoretical thought should be transcended. In other words, philosophical self-reflection of the concrete I supposes that the ego should direct its reflecting act of thought toward itself.(150) Accordingly, Dooyeweerd emphasizes not only the central significance of the "heart" as the religious root and concentration point of human existence but also the conviction that it is never self-sufficient but always dependent on the Origin.

(4) Archimedean Point

122. The discovery of the religious root also has an epistemological implication. Dooyeweerd argues that since philosophical thinking is directed to the totality of meaning, no philosophical thinking is possible without a transcendent starting point. He speaks figuratively that this point is like a "lookout-tower" from which all the modal diversity of meaning can be surveyed.(151) He calls this vantage point the "Archimedean point" of philosophy. This name comes from the story of the Greek scientist Archimedes, who discovered the principle of the lever, and afterwards declared that he could raise the earth from its foundation if he were supplied with a fixed point of support. It is, therefore, the point from which we are able to form the idea of meaning-totality. This point cannot be found within philosophical thinking itself because it transcends the boundary of philosophical thought, just as the Archimedean point of support would have to be located outside the earth.

123. With this idea of a fixed point, Dooyeweerd concludes that a view of totality is not possible apart from a view of the Origin of both the totality and the diversity of meaning because this point of reference has to be sought in the sphere of religion. Even though the totality transcends all diversity of meaning in coherence, it remains itself meaning, being dependent on the meaning-Giver. Dooyeweerd claims, therefore, that our theoretical activity is never neutral but always dependent on its religious apriori or presuppositions. In this sense, Dooyeweerd speaks about the tendency of philosophical thought towards the origin (oorsprongstendenz); thought as the restless seeking for the Origin who gives its meaning. That is why immanent, humanistic philosophy, which is rooted in the autonomy of human reason and so seeks its Archimedean point in philosophical thought itself, was strongly criticized by Dooyeweerd. In short, Dooyeweerd holds that there is a two-fold presupposition of philosophic thought: "1. an Archimedean point for the thinker, from which our ego in the philosophic activity of thought can direct its view of totality over the modal diversity of meaning and 2. a choice of position in the Archimedean point in the face of the Arche, which transcends all meaning and in which our ego comes to rest in the process of philosophic thought."(152) Furthermore, Dooyeweerd summarizes the three conditions which the Archimedean point must satisfy:

It may not be divorced from our own subjective self. For it is our self that is actually operative in philosophic thought. And only in this centre of our existence can we transcend the modal diversity of meaning. [2] It may not be divorced from the law, because without this law the subject drops away into chaos, or rather into nothingness. Only by this law is the ego determined and limited. [3] It must transcend all meaning-diversity and be found in the meaning-totality of the cosmos. Our ego must participate in this totality, if it is to have an idea of it in the process of philosophic thought.(153)

124. Consequently, this Archimedean point transcends the coherence in the modal diversity as well because the immanent coherence lacks in itself the inner concentration point in which all the modal aspects meet in a radical unity.(154) It means that the Archimedean point is supra-temporal, transcending the coherence of time. The modal diversity of meaning exists in the coherence of cosmic time as the expression of the totality of meaning, which is the transcendent centre where all modal aspects, in their mutual coherence converge into the unity of direction towards the Origin of all meaning.(155) In this vein, Dooyeweerd explains the Archimedean point as the concentration-point for philosophical thought. With this idea of a fixed point, Dooyeweerd attempts an inner reformation of philosophical thought because for him inner reformation is possible only on the basis of the true point of reference in Christ over against all kinds of immanent thinking. This true starting-point alone makes it possible to get the correct view of the Origin and of the meaning-diversity and through this cosmonomic idea Dooyeweerd criticizes all forms of autonomous immanent philosophy.

125. In conclusion, it can be clearly seen how much the discovery of the religious root dominates Dooyeweerd's formulation of the "first way": in the idea of meaning-totality, the necessity of self-reflection and that of the Archimedean point because of the direction of philosophical thought toward the totality of meaning. In other words, Dooyeweerd's discovery of "heart" has not only a cosmological but also an epistemological significance. Through this "first way", Dooyeweerd attempts to disclose the fact that philosophical thought cannot be self-sufficient but is religiously determined.

3. Critical Responses to the First Way

126. After publishing his trilogy De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, Dooyeweerd received some critical responses to his "first" approach not only from his fellow Christian philosophers but also from Roman Catholic as well as humanist thinkers. In discussing those responses, I will limit myself to those who gave a serious critique and to whom Dooyeweerd made a reply. For this reason, the critical responses of H.G. Stoker, H. Robbers and J.C. Franken will be briefly discussed with Dooyeweerd's reply to them respectively. My own evaluative remarks will follow at the end of each section.

(1) H.G. Stoker

127. H.G. Stoker, a former professor of philosophy at the university of Potchefstroom in South Africa, basically agrees with Dooyeweerd's "first way". Like Dooyeweerd, Stoker also defines the nature of philosophy as a totality-oriented thinking. Thus he acknowledges the necessity of the Archimedean point in philosophy. But he also raises some serious questions.(156) First of all, Stoker argues that the idea of creation encompasses the cosmonomic idea, and also gives a more adequate account of the relation and distinction between God and cosmos.(157) Stoker includes not only the Archimedean point but also the idea of unity in his idea of creation.(158) However, Dooyeweerd rejected Stoker's idea of creation for the following three reasons:(159) (1) "in pointing to the preliminary questions of philosophic thought, the basic Idea of philosophy must be so conceived, that it actually catches the eye as a necessary condition for every philosophic system. This implies, that the universal term by which this basic Idea is designated may not include special contents derived from the ground-motive of the Christian religion"; (2) "the term `cosmonomic idea' has in its favour the fact, that in its pointing to the origin and meaning of the cosmic nomos or order, and to its relation to subjectivity, it gives expression from the outset to the limiting character of the basic (transcendental) Idea"(160); (3) "There is no dimension of philosophical thought that can escape the central apriori influences of the cosmonomic idea in force."(161)

128. Stoker's second point of critique is that cosmic reality is not meaning but has meaning, because it is more than meaning, viz., dynamic reality, disclosure of force, will, love, etc.(162) Thus he criticizes Dooyeweerd's idea of meaning as being objective meaningism or meaning-idealism.(163) Regarding this critique as a misunderstanding, Dooyeweerd corrects this by comparing his conception of meaning with that of immanence philosophy, for instance, that of Rickert. For Rickert, Dooyeweerd explains, meaning-idealism issues from "a distinction between meaning (Sinn) ascribed to reality subjectively by the absolutized transcendental consciousness by means of reference to values (Wertbeziehung), and reality as such that is meaningless in itself."(164) Whereas Rickert views reality from the abstract, psycho-physical aspects, Dooyeweerd sees meaning as the restless mode of existence, universally proper to all created things. "As meaning," Dooyeweerd continues, "reality points toward its Origin, the Creator, without Whom the creature sinks into nothingness."(165)

129. Thirdly, Stoker criticizes Dooyeweerd's idea of cosmic time by asking "why it should be precisely in cosmic time that the totality of meaning is refracted into coherent modal aspects."(166) Dooyeweerd's answer is that "the fullness of meaning, as totality and radical unity, is not actually given and cannot be actually given in time, though all temporal meaning refers beyond itself to its supra-temporal fulfilment."(167)

130. Finally, in connection with the above three points of critique, Stoker asserts that a concept of substance is necessary because the theory of the modal law-spheres does not explain the absolute internal unity of a thing as guaranteed in God's creative plan. Not being satisfied with Dooyeweerd's idea of meaning, Stoker believes that the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea needs to be augmented by an idea of creation which, apart from the modal horizon of our experience, conceives of the unity of a thing in a new concept of substance. Thus Stoker distinguishes the thing's "substantial" unity from meaning.(168) Dooyeweerd responds to this criticism with five points:(169) (1) The theory of the structures of individuality cannot be replaced by Stoker's theory of substance because for Dooyeweerd, the idea of substance implies being independent of creation. (2) Stoker rejects the central position of mankind in the cosmos and wants to view everything in its direct relation to God without the intermediary of Jesus Christ.(170) (3) Stoker cannot grasp an absolute ontical unity of a thing which lies beyond the horizon of meaning with his concept of substance. (4) Stoker's concept of substance can easily introduce speculative motives into reformed philosophy. (5) A thing is not merely a complex of its functions plus cosmic time. The unity of a thing is much more than that.

131. Remarkable is that Stoker underestimates Dooyeweerd's central discovery of the "heart".(171) Clinging to his idea of creation with his own concept of substance, Stoker rather holds to the scholastic conception of a material substance and a soul-substance, which is not intrinsically compatible with Dooyeweerd's view of the central religious meaning of the heart as the single and integral concentration point of human existence. The failure to appreciate this central discovery and its significance in the philosophy of cosmonomic idea seems to be the main reason that Stoker disagrees with Dooyeweerd.

(2) H. Robbers

132. From the Roman-Catholic side, H. Robbers S.J., a former professor of philosophy in Nijmegen, responded critically to each book of De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee respectively. When the first book was published, he wrote an article in which he shares Dooyeweerd's concern that the problem "how much philosophical thought can and must have a Christian stamp" is also a problem considered by Catholic thinkers.(172) However, he clearly points out that the difference between the Calvinistic and the Catholic view of Christian philosophy lies in how one sees the relationship between nature and grace, between reason and revelation. Robbers cannot accept Dooyeweerd's argument that the autonomy of philosophy should be rejected and that philosophy should be made totally dependent on biblical revelation. Then, Robbers contends, there can be no place for philosophy itself and nature is completely replaced by grace.(173)

133. To this critique, Dooyeweerd defends his position in the initial number of Philosophia Reformata in 1936.(174) First of all, Dooyeweerd reaffirms the fundamental thesis of his philosophy that philosophical, theoretical thinking is never self-sufficient in its own sphere and that the traditional conception of the immanent autonomy of thought lacks critical self-reflection by not considering that which makes essential philosophical thought possible.(175) Secondly, Dooyeweerd makes it clear that from the beginning the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea is ready to have a philosophical discussion with its opponents.(176) Concerning the criticism of Robbers, Dooyeweerd responds by emphasizing that according to the Scriptures, created "human nature" is not centred in natural reason but in the heart, the religious root of human existence which transcends reason.(177) In addition, Dooyeweerd corrects Robbers' view by explaining that sin has not destroyed the structure of human existence or thought and that therefore there can be moments of truth in immanence philosophy. Therefore, there is still a point of contact, a basis of discussion with immanence philosophy.(178)

134. Since Thomistic philosophers do not adhere to the insight of the heart as root-unity of humanity, argues Dooyeweerd, the radical character of sin and redemption through Jesus Christ cannot be recognized. Thus the Scholastic nature-grace schema cannot but choose its Archimedean point in theoretical thought itself. Here again we see clearly how much Dooyeweerd's central discovery sees a radical difference between his position and that of Catholic thinkers. At the same time, it should be remembered that Dooyeweerd kept stressing the possibility of dialogue due to the common structure of human thought.

(3) J.C. Franken

135. J.C. Franken, a former professor of philosophy at the University of Utrecht and a humanistic thinker, gave a critical review of Dooyeweerd's trilogy in Themis. After a brief summary of Dooyeweerd's work, Franken argues that Dooyeweerd starts from "naive and dogmatic self-certainty".(179) Advocating a purely theoretical, that is, strictly scientific attitude, Franken opposes any pre-theoretical, religious presupposition preceding "official" philosophy.(180) In Franken's opinion, Dooyeweerd's approach is wrong from the beginning and so must fail because here a certain opposition is already presupposed. "If one sets up `dogma' against `dogma,' then there is only one choice: he has to judge and disregard one and cling to the other."(181) Thus claiming the "general-validity" of one dogma is too naive and is of no significance, argues Franken.

136. Against this very negative criticism, Dooyeweerd wrote an article entitled, "De niet-theoretische vooroordelen in de wetenschap: critiek op een oncritische critiek" [The non-theoretical prejudgment in science: critique of an uncritical critique].(182) Here Dooyeweerd asserts again the fact that "the postulate of the inner self-sufficiency of theoretical thought is a pre-judgment of a non-theoretical nature"(183) because the theoretical analysis already presupposes the full selfhood, which, as the concentration point and root of human existence, actually transcends all temporal diversity.(184) Dooyeweerd then criticizes not the fact that Franken, as one of the adherents of the self-sufficiency of reason, defends his theory as the true one but rather the scientific tyranny with which he tries to disqualify other thinkers as exercisers of science. When Franken criticizes Dooyeweerd's philosophy as "scientifically of no importance," because it is connected with the reformed theology "in all its naivety", Dooyeweerd rejects this critique as unscientific because it misunderstands the transcendental basic problem of all theoretical knowledge and makes a pre-theoretical presupposition (i.e., the self-sufficiency of science) a criterion of science.(185)

137. In brief, Franken's basic point is that Dooyeweerd's philosophy is too antithetical, thereby leaving no place for dialogue. He cannot agree to the "first way" nor comprehend Dooyeweerd's central discovery of the heart and its significance for philosophy. Instead of seeking a common ground for discussion, Franken rejects in advance Dooyeweerd's pre-theoretical, religious presupposition as unscientific. This critique, therefore, stimulated Dooyeweerd to gradually work out his "second way" of the transcendental critique of theoretical thought.

4. The Second Way

(1) The Refinement as the Transcendental Critique of Theoretical Thought

138. After publishing his first major work De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, Dooyeweerd kept emphasizing on various occasions the inevitability of a non-theoretical or pre-theoretical presupposition of theoretical thought. He elaborated the article written as a response to Franken and published his more developed idea in an article entitled, "De transcendentale critiek van het wijsgeerig denken: Een bijdrage tot overwinning van het wetenschappelijk exclusivisme der richtingen."(186) It was in this article that Dooyeweerd first introduces his idea of "transcendental critique". To begin with, Dooyeweerd diagnoses the recent crisis in philosophy as concerning the foundation of philosophical thought as such. Traditional western philosophy is founded in a common starting point, the "reasonable nature of man".(187) Since a modern historicism has developed, however, this foundation has become problematic and has threatened the philosophical communication of the Western world. In order to overcome this crisis, Dooyeweerd contends that it is necessary to make a renewed critical reflection on the foundation of philosophical thought.(188) The purpose of the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea, says Dooyeweerd, is not to put an end to the philosophical communication with other philosophical traditions. Rather it is to restore the community of thought against sectarian exclusivism. According to Dooyeweerd, through a transcendental critique of theoretical thought as an investigation of the necessary presuppositions of philosophical thought, we can demonstrate that no philosophical direction can claim the scientific tyranny or monopoly for itself. At the same time, through such a critical reflection on the generally valid limit of philosophical thought, Dooyeweerd wants to provide a mutually fruitful dialogue with other thinkers. On the other hand, Dooyeweerd fully acknowledges that it would necessarily lead to the irreconcilable antithesis between starting points. Dooyeweerd argues that his philosophy of the cosmonomic idea has proved the validity of this critique concerning the standpoints of Christian and humanistic philosophy, and has demonstrated the impossibility of a synthesis between these two positions.

139. Against the possible criticism that he falls into a vicious circle in his argument, Dooyeweerd argues that it is necessary to distinguish between dogmatic and critical prejudice. Whereas the former refers to the prejudice of the autonomy of theoretical thought as Archimedean point of philosophy, the latter concerns that of its non-self-sufficiency. "The dogmatic prejudice excludes an essential transcendental critique of philosophical thought, the critical one demands it."(189) Furthermore, Dooyeweerd holds that the transcendental critique of philosophy is theoretical as philosophical activity, but it is as such, according to the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea, supra-theoretically determined. We can be conscious of the limits of theoretical thought only if we have a supra-theoretical experience beyond which no theoretical knowledge is possible.(190) In short, Dooyeweerd argues that to restore the philosophical community of thought, "the necessity of a transcendental critique of theoretical thought should be acknowledged."(191)

140. In another article, "De transcendentale critiek van het wijsgerig denken en de grondslagen van de wijsgeerige denkgemeenschap van het avondland" [The transcendental critique of philosophical thought and the foundation of the philosophical thought-community of the Occidental world], Dooyeweerd elaborates clearly the so-called "three steps" in his transcendental critique: (1) the problem of theoretical antithesis, (2) that of theoretical synthesis, and (3) that of critical self-reflection.(192) However, in his next article, "Introduction to a Transcendental Criticism of Philosophic Thought,"(193) Dooyeweerd raises four basic questions instead of three. Here the basic contents are the same as in the aforementioned article except for the first question concerning the distinction between scientific and pre-scientific experience.(194) Elaborating on this article Dooyeweerd published a small book in English entitled, Transcendental Problems of Philosophic Thought: An inquiry into the transcendental conditions of philosophy.(195) After trying to show the dogmatic character of the idea of the autonomy of theoretical thought and the possibility of a transcendental criticism of every philosophy, he deals with the method of his transcendental critique, in which he follows the four steps, as in the English article mentioned above. Then he attempts furthermore to treat the relationship between the religious motives of Western thought and its cosmonomic idea, which will be discussed in the following chapter.

(2) A New Critique of Theoretical Thought

141. As a culmination of the sharpening of his transcendental critique, Dooyeweerd published his second major work A New Critique of Theoretical Thought during 1953-1958. It was basically an English translation of his earlier trilogy De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee but he revised it considerably. The reason why he had entitled his English work, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought and not The Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea or Law-Idea, was mainly in order to place emphasis on the transcendental critique of philosophical thought which he regarded as the master key to his philosophical methodology. This is clearly seen in the "Prolegomena". After explaining the first way of a transcendental critique of philosophic thought as an introduction, he presents in the first chapter the so-called "second way to a transcendental criticism of philosophy". To begin with, Dooyeweerd makes it clear why he changed the first way into the second one:

In the `Introduction' we chose the way from above: we started from the position that it is the nature of philosophy to be directed to the totality of meaning of temporal reality and to the selfhood, and we then came immediately to the problem of the Archimedean-point and to that of the arche. But in this line of thought, we had to start from a supposition about the character of philosophy, which is not at all universally accepted in philosophical circles. Besides, it might seem, that a due account of the transition from the theoretical basic problem of philosophy to the central religious sphere was lacking. Therefore, since the appearance of the first (i.e., the Dutch) edition of this work, I have directed all my attention to a sharpening of the method of transcendental criticism, whereby the objection, mentioned above, might be met.(196)

142. Severely criticizing all kinds of humanistic immanence-philosophy as accepting the dogma of the autonomy of theoretical thought without any critical investigation of the inner structure of the theoretical attitude of thinking itself, Dooyeweerd points out two reasons for doubting its character as a purely theoretical axiom: First, there have been fundamentally different conceptions of the autonomy of theoretical thought among Greek philosophy, Thomistic scholasticism and modern Humanistic thought. Penetrating to the root of these different views, Dooyeweerd reveals that the difference lies in religious ground-motives which determine the concepts of the autonomy of theoretical thought. Second, because of the mutual difference, this dogma concerning the autonomy of theoretical thought has become an impediment to philosophical discussion among the various philosophical schools which "prove to be fundamentally opposed in their true (though hidden) starting-point."(197) "For if all philosophical currents that claim to choose their standpoint in theoretical thought alone, actually had no deeper presuppositions," Dooyeweerd reasons, "it would be possible to convince an opponent of his error in a purely theoretical way. But, as a matter of fact, a Thomist has never succeeded by purely theoretical arguments in convincing a Kantian or a positivist of the tenability of a theoretical metaphysics. Conversely, the Kantian epistemology has not succeeded in winning over a single believing Thomist to critical idealism."(198)

143. With his transcendental criticism, therefore, Dooyeweerd wants to make "a critical inquiry into the universally valid conditions which alone make theoretical thought possible, and which are required by the immanent structure of this thought itself"(199) by starting first to examine the "theoretical attitude of thought as such" in order that "no veritable philosophy whatsoever can escape this attitude."(200)

(3) The First Transcendental Question: the problem of theoretical antithesis

144. Dooyeweerd presents his transcendental critique in three steps. First of all, he makes a clear distinction between the pre-theoretical attitude of concrete experience and the theoretical attitude of thought. Whereas in the latter, empirical reality is set apart into diverse modal aspects, in the former, temporal reality is experienced in the integral and continuous coherence of cosmic time. In other words, Dooyeweerd characterizes theoretical thought as an "antithetical" relationship, in which the non-logical aspects stand in an "intentional antithesis" to the logical function of thought.(201) The former is called the "Gegenstand" in the sense of the "object" or the "opposite" to the analytical aspect. A tension or "resistance" happens when any attempt is made to abstract the opposed aspect into a logical aspect because the opposed aspect still continues to express its coherence of meaning with the other aspects.(202) Stating that the theoretical problem originates from this resistance, Dooyeweerd formulates the first transcendental basic problem as follows: "What do we abstract in the antithetic attitude of theoretical thought from the structures of empirical reality as these structures are given in naive experience? And how is this abstraction possible?"(203) In other words, it is the problem of the theoretical "antithesis" or "Gegenstand-relation".

145. In the naive attitude of experience, according to Dooyeweerd, there is no intentional antithetic structure because the logical aspect of thought is joined with the non-logical aspects in an indissoluble coherence of cosmic time. Thus in our daily experience reality is grasped "in the typical total structures of individual things and concrete events."(204) Instead of the antithetic Gegenstand-relation, the subject-object relation is characteristic of concrete experience. "In this [subject-object] relation," Dooyeweerd explains, "objective functions and qualities are unreflectingly ascribed to things and to so-called natural events within modal aspects in which it is not possible for them to appear as subjects."(205) For instance, a work of art, as an object, is qualified by its correlation to the human subjective function of aesthetic appreciation. Furthermore, Dooyeweerd explicates that "this subject-object relation in the attitude of naive experience and thought is grasped as a structural relation of reality itself. That is to say, the objective functions belong to things themselves in relationship to possible subjective functions which the things do not possess in the aspects of reality involved."(206)

146. With this view of the subject-object relation in naive experience, Dooyeweerd rejects the metaphysical substance-concept, the concept of a "Ding an sich [thing in itself]" and criticizes this dogmatically autonomous theory of knowledge called "naive realism" or "copy theory". According to this theory, human consciousness is placed as a kind of camera against reality, so that the latter can be, in itself, independent of human consciousness. Dooyeweerd argues, however, that it confuses the fundamental difference between the theoretical and the pre-theoretical attitude of thought and so identifies the "subject-object-relation" with the "antithetic gegenstand-relation".(207) The reason why Dooyeweerd so emphatically distinguishes naive experience from the theoretical attitude of thought is to reveal "the in-escapability of the first transcendental problem with respect to the latter."(208)

(4) The Second Transcendental Question: the problem of theoretical synthesis

147. Secondly, Dooyeweerd asserts that the first transcendental problem of theoretical antithesis cannot but proceed to the second transcendental basic problem of the theoretical synthesis between the logical and the non-logical aspects if a logical concept of the non-logical "Gegenstand" is to be possible. Thus he formulates this second transcendental problem as follows: "From what standpoint can we reunite synthetically the logical and the non-logical aspects of experience which were set apart in opposition to each other in the theoretical antithesis?"(209) For Dooyeweerd, this is the key-question because it subjects every possible starting-point of theoretical thought to a fundamental critique. It is evident, he argues, that the true starting-point of theoretical synthesis cannot be found in one of the two aspects of the antithetic relation but "it must necessarily transcend the theoretical antithesis, and relate the aspects that theoretically have been set asunder to a deeper radical unity (or in the case of a dualistic standpoint, perhaps to a pair of assumed radical unities)."(210)

148. This point reveals the inescapable impasse of immanence philosophy and its dogma of the autonomy of theoretical reason. For in order to maintain the self-sufficiency of theoretical thought, immanence philosophers are compelled to find their starting point in theoretical reason itself. Because of its intrinsic, antithetical structure, however, theoretical thought is obliged to proceed to a theoretical synthesis. Then there are as many possible syntheses as modal aspects. Which of these points of view can serve philosophical thought as its point of departure? If the starting point is chosen in one modal aspect, it inevitably results in the absolutization of that aspect. This is the true source of all "-isms" such as materialism, biologism, psychologism, historicism, etc. in philosophy, argues Dooyeweerd.

149. Dooyeweerd further tries to show that these "-isms" are uncritical in a twofold sense. First of all, "they can never be justified theoretically."(211) The antithetical relation offers no ground for any attempt to absolutize any of the abstracted modal aspects. Rather it resists any effort to reduce one or more aspects to another. If one aspect is absolutized, the so-called internal antinomies appear. Secondly, into each "-ism" returns the second transcendental basic problem of theoretical synthesis. For it is again necessary to synthesize the analytical aspect with the non-analytical aspect which is absolutized. Consequently Dooyeweerd places a strong emphasis on the fact that since the theoretical attitude of thought is itself grounded in an antithetical relation, there is no place for the absolute in the entire theoretical sphere.

150. According to Dooyeweerd, the theoretical synthesis takes place in the human selfhood because it functions in all modal aspects of reality but at the same time it transcends all temporal aspects as a central and radical root-unity. This implies that the second transcendental problem involves critical self-reflection. Through this inquiry of self-reflection Dooyeweerd wants to account critically for the transition from the theoretical to the central religious sphere. This requires a deeper inquiry into the transcendental problem of the origin in philosophical thought.

(5) The Third Transcendental Question: the problem of critical self-reflection

151. The last transcendental question is, therefore, formulated by Dooyeweerd as follows: "How is this critical self-reflection, this concentric direction of theoretical thought to the I-ness, possible, and what is its true character?"(212) If no starting-point for the inter-modal synthesis is to be found in theoretical thought as such, argues Dooyeweerd, the concentric direction of this thought, necessary for critical self-reflection, cannot have a theoretical origin. In addition, the selfhood cannot give the central direction to its theoretical thought without concentrating itself upon the true, or upon a pretended absolute origin of all meaning. That is to say, self-knowledge in the last analysis appears to be dependent upon knowledge of God, as John Calvin had already said in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.(213) For Dooyeweerd, both self-knowledge and knowledge of the absolute Origin or pseudo-origin exceed the limits of theoretical thought, and are rooted in the "heart" or the religious centre of our existence.(214) He believes that a real account of this fact, i.e., the dependence of self-knowledge upon knowledge of God, is rendered only by the Biblical revelation concerning the creation of man in the image of God:

God reveals Himself as the absolute Origin excluding every independent counter-power which may be His opposite. He has expressed His image in man by concentrating its entire temporal existence in the radical religious unity of an ego in which the totality of meaning of the temporal cosmos was to be focused upon its Origin.(215)

152. Understanding "religion" as "the innate impulse of human selfhood to direct itself toward the true or toward a pretended absolute Origin of all temporal diversity of meaning, which it finds focused concentrically in itself,"(216) Dooyeweerd affirms that the concentric direction in theoretical thought must be of a religious nature. In this way Dooyeweerd believes he has made clear the inner point of contact between philosophic thought and religion from the intrinsic structure of the theoretical attitude of thought itself.

153. Not only the necessary religious nature of the point of departure for the theoretical synthesis, but also the intrinsically ex-sistent character of the selfhood as the religious centre of our existence is emphasized by Dooyeweerd. What he means by the latter is that the selfhood expresses itself in all modal aspects of time but never can be exhausted by them.(217) Apostate man absolutizes the relative which loses itself in the surrender to idols.

154. In addition, Dooyeweerd lays a strong emphasis on the "supra-individual" character of the starting-point.(218) The I-ness must share in the Archimedean point in which the total meaning of the temporal cosmos is concentrated. The ego is merely the concentration-point of our individual existence, not of the entire temporal cosmos. For Dooyeweerd, the religious root of cosmic reality is Christ, the second Adam. And philosophy is, in his opinion, not a matter of individual thought but a social task which can be cultivated only in a community. "True self-knowledge discovers the ex-sistent character of the selfhood also in the fact that the ego is centrally bound with other egos in a religious community."(219) By saying that the central and radical unity of our existence is at the same time individual and supra-individual, Dooyeweerd connects his transcendental critique of theoretical thought to his transcendental cultural critique via the idea of a religious ground motive.

5. Critical Responses to the Second Way

155. There have been several critical responses to Dooyeweerd's "second way" of the transcendental critique. Different from those who responded to the "first way", however, few humanists have responded to the "second way".(220) From the Roman Catholic side, Dooyeweerd received more positive response than critique.(221) It is rather other reformed Christian thinkers who have made very critical comments. In this section, we will limit ourselves to those who have made critical responses with respect to our main theme, i.e., dialogue and antithesis, and to whom Dooyeweerd reacted publicly. Therefore two major criticisms will be mentioned, namely, those of C.A. Van Peursen and C. Van Til followed by Dooyeweerd's answer and my own evaluative comments respectively. Other critical views are mentioned in the concluding remarks.

(1) C.A. Van Peursen

156. Undoubtedly, the most significant response is that of C.A. Van Peursen, a former professor of modern philosophy at the Free University. His first response was published in the form of a book review in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift [Dutch theological periodical].(222) A more elaborated criticism, however, was published in Philosophia Reformata.(223) Dooyeweerd responded to Van Peursen's article extensively because he found Van Peursen's critique the most substantial in content (meest inhoudrijke critiek) up to that time.(224) Van Peursen again responded to Dooyeweerd's article, which formed a temporary balance of the discussion.(225)

157. In his review, Van Peursen first gives a very compact summary of A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, understanding Dooyeweerd's philosophy of the cosmonomic idea basically as "an attempt to offer a radically Christian reflection on reality in its dependence on the Creator and its centredness in the religious direction of the total man."(226) In his second response, Van Peursen typifies four themes in Dooyeweerd's philosophy, viz. its dynamism, the involvement of reality in man, the limited area of philosophy, and its radicality. Then he critically discusses each of them respectively.

158. Van Peursen's first question is whether the so-called "states of affairs", namely, Dooyeweerd's theory of the modal structures and that of the individuality structures, are in a dialectical opposition to the dynamic character of meaning which Van Peursen considers one of the strong points of the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea. The former, in his opinion, seems to be too static. Dooyeweerd asserts that there are "undeniable states of affairs" which can be detected by Christian as well as non-Christian philosophers.(227) Even his whole theory of the modal aspects which are in their functional structure the determining, necessary conditions of all individuality of meaning, is called the "cosmic state of affairs" founded in the divinely created temporal world-order.(228) However, as J. Klapwijk rightly says, "Van Peursen does not recognize such a divine creation order nor does he recognize anything like `states of affairs' based on it. According to him the `affairs' are never `static'; to the contrary, they are related to the meaning-giving human subject and therefore move within patterns of human interpretation (PR 24, 162ff, 168)."(229) Against this criticism, Dooyeweerd answers that the "states of affairs" are never "pure factuality" but rather function merely in the meaning-dynamic of the created order. Outside and above themselves, Dooyeweerd continued, they refer to the universal coherence of meaning in time, the created root-unity and the Origin of all meaning. This reference is expressed by their inner structure. In this way, Dooyeweerd understands the divine order of creation as the law of meaning-dynamic. The law-side is never static.

159. Concerning the second theme, Van Peursen alleges that Dooyeweerd falls into several dualisms: (1) between the supra-temporal fullness of meaning of creation and its refraction through the prism of time in the diversity of law-spheres, (2) between man in his aspects of time and his heart as supra-temporal concentration point, and (3) between the divine and human nature of Christ. To answer this, Dooyeweerd first points out that Van Peursen does not acknowledge the regular (wetmatige) states of affairs in the horizon of human experience which are independent of our philosophical interpretation. If this is not the case, Dooyeweerd contends, there is no common basis for a fruitful dialogue. In addition, Van Peursen wonders whether Dooyeweerd's theory of modal aspects might have been influenced by the "Schichten" theory of Nicolai Hartmann, a German neo-kantian philosopher, a reproach Dooyeweerd had already denied in his New Critique.(230) In his response article, Dooyeweerd again rejects this view by emphatically claiming that Hartmann's theory is mainly "ontological" whereas his own theory concerns the "fundamental ways of experience (ervaringswijzen)."(231) Dooyeweerd's modal structures of meaning presuppose the universality of each sphere which then expresses the meaning-dynamic and the integral coherence of meaning among all the modal aspects. Hartmann's hierarchical `spheres of being' do not express the same.(232) Concerning the word "supra-temporal (boventijdelijk)," Dooyeweerd states that he does not mean "a static state" but merely "a central direction of consciousness transcending cosmic time."(233) Furthermore, Dooyeweerd does not admit his theory as being dualistic. "Is the distinction between this root-unity and the temporal diversity of meaning dualistic?" asks Dooyeweerd. It is a fundamental misunderstanding to think that here lies a "dialectical tension", Dooyeweerd argues, because cosmic time is not set against the supra-temporal but rather the relationship between the two concerns the concentric direction of philosophical thought.(234)

160. As for the third point, Van Peursen questions whether the domain of philosophy can be limited to the horizon of cosmic time and to the sphere of theoretical thought, or whether - and this possibly under influence of neo-kantian philosophy - such a clear-cut distinction can be made between philosophy and worldview, or between theoretical and naive experience. Dooyeweerd's response is twofold: On the one hand, he rejects a rationalistic metaphysics which attempts to discover and prove the absolute, supra-temporal truths through theoretical thought. On the other hand, he criticize especially the pretension of current personalistic and existentialistic philosophy in its humanistic persuasions.(235) In connection with this, Dooyeweerd stresses that if Van Peursen refuses the differentiation between naive and theoretical experience, he cannot but reject the whole transcendental critique of thought as discussed in the context of the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea.(236)

161. Lastly, Van Peursen finds it contradictory that Dooyeweerd on the one hand emphasizes "states of affairs" which can also be discovered by immanence philosophers but on the other hand that he condemns non-Christian philosophy as `apostate'. He criticizes Dooyeweerd's postulating "a radical antithesis between his transcendental ground-Idea of a philosophy which is entirely ruled by the central motive of the Christian religion, and that of immanence-philosophy in all its various trends."(237) Because of this idea of absolute antithesis, according to Van Peursen, Dooyeweerd underestimates the presence and working of God in non-Christian thought. Against this critique, Dooyeweerd contends that if Van Peursen rejects this antithesis, ultimately he cannot but fall into the Christian neo-scholastic position which loses sight of the radical demand of the inner reformation of philosophic thinking.(238) The "moments of truth" in non-Christian thought, continues Dooyeweerd, should be sought in the acknowledgment of "states of affairs" which are grounded in the divine world order. Quoting from the first chapter of Romans, Dooyeweerd holds that "God's presence" in non-Christian thought and religion is actually repressed and replaced by idols. Therefore, their driving force is not the Word of God but an apostate spirit, a compromise and/or synthesis with Christian thought being absolutely impossible.(239) Nevertheless, Dooyeweerd does not deny that non-Christian philosophy can make positive and important contributions in the opening-process of culture.(240) The antithetical attitude in the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea against non-Christian religious ground motives and the transcendental ground ideas determined by them does not always signify a negative appreciation of non-Christian philosophy and therefore does not reject the possibility of a fruitful contact among the various systems of philosophical thought. Claiming the necessity of the maintenance of the philosophical community of thought in connection with the common cultural task which all the philosophical trends and persuasions have to fulfil, Dooyeweerd points out that because of the Fall into sin, true common bonds are destroyed. "But the love of God which is revealed in Christ fights against the spirit of the Fall in order to restore these bonds. And this struggle is also the condition for an essential communication between Christian and non-Christian thought, or rather between the people, among whom this communication actually takes place."(241)

161. Van Peursen is not persuaded by Dooyeweerd's explanation and defence of his position. It seems to Van Peursen that Dooyeweerd is too absolutistic in his theory and thus lacks a humble and open attitude.(242) Nevertheless, the basic intention of Dooyeweerd is to establish a dialogue with other philosophers without compromising the radical antithesis, whereas Van Peursen wants to place more emphasis on the former. In fact, the idea of antithesis seems to play a weak role in the thought of Van Peursen. Dooyeweerd's transcendental criticism, on the contrary, gives a more balanced view, emphasizing both elements, i.e., an appreciation of the common ground for discussion and the ultimate antithesis in the religious presupposition of theoretical thought.

(2) C. Van Til

162. Another important discussion took place between Dooyeweerd and Cornelius Van Til, a former professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, U.S.A. Van Til's main objection is that Dooyeweerd does not consistently carry through his biblical starting point. In other words, while Van Peursen criticizes Dooyeweerd's idea of radical antithesis, Van Til finds that Dooyeweerd has compromised with the modern ideal of communication at the cost of the radical antithesis. As an advocate of presuppositional apologetics, Van Til argues that Dooyeweerd is not consistent enough in his transcendental critique because its first phase begins with "an inquiry into the inner nature and structure of the theoretical attitude of thought and experience as such and not with a confession of faith."(243) The confrontation of the biblical and the non-biblical ground motives of theoretical thought, Dooyeweerd contends, belongs to the third and last step of the transcendental method. Against this, Van Til points out that the first two steps then presuppose the autonomy of theoretical thought.(244) According to Van Til, we cannot analyze theoretical thought as such without presupposing Christian revelation. Non-Christians cannot see the nature and structure of man and world correctly because they are not regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Thus Van Til contends that the confrontation of the biblical and the non-biblical ground-motives must not be brought in at the third step but rather at the first step, and that if it is not brought in at the first step it cannot be brought in properly at the third step.(245)

163. Defending his transcendental approach "as the only critical way of communication between a reformed Christian philosophy and philosophical schools holding in one sense or another to the supposed autonomy of theoretical thought," Dooyeweerd answers that he has never conceived the "states of affairs" as "brute facts" in the sense of a positivistic empiricism.(246) Rather, the "states of affairs" are, as Dooyeweerd had replied to Van Peursen before, of a dynamic meaning character, i.e., "they refer outside and above themselves to the universal meaning-context in time, to the creaturely unity of root and to the absolute Origin of all meaning."(247) "This was," Dooyeweerd continues, "the religious presupposition resulting from the biblical ground motive of my philosophical thought."(248) Therefore, the "states of affairs" are, in Dooyeweerd's conviction, not founded in our subjective consciousness but in the divine order of creation and so they can be discovered by Christians as well as non-Christians.(249)

164. What Van Til questions is the consistency in Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique from the beginning to the end as a Christian critique. But Dooyeweerd is indeed not inconsistent. Even though Dooyeweerd uses the apparently somewhat neutral term, "states of affairs", these latter are not actually neutral but rather grounded in the divine world order. The reason why Dooyeweerd makes use of this term is undoubtedly to set a common basis for dialogue with non-Christian thinkers. In addition, Dooyeweerd himself emphasizes that "[t]he transcendental Ideas, which are related to the three stages of critical self-reflection in theoretical thought... form an indissoluble unity."(250) S. Griffioen also defends the position of Dooyeweerd by saying that the three steps are to be understood not as three successive phases in time but rather as three moments within one internally coherent whole.(251) Therefore, the aspect of confrontation is already implied at the first step, as Van Til wanted to have it.

6. Concluding Remarks

165. In this chapter we have discussed the development of Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique from the first way to the second one and major critical responses to each of them. The basic motivation of Dooyeweerd in his transition from the first to the second way was twofold; (1) to restore the common basis for dialogue, i.e., the community of thought for both Christian and non-Christian thinkers, and (2) to provide an inner reformation of philosophy by criticizing the pretended autonomy of theoretical thought. Did Dooyeweerd succeed in achieving these two goals? What are, if any, the strong and weak points in his theory? With these questions in mind, I want to make some concluding evaluative remarks. To begin with, I want to mention the four positive aspects of Dooyeweerd's approach:

166. First, there is continuity between the two approaches. Even though the first way starts from the nature of philosophy and the second one, from the nature of theoretical thought, both have the same transcendental ground ideas in content, namely, the ideas of meaning-diversity in coherence, unity, and Origin. These three basic ideas are, for Dooyeweerd, crucial for essential communication with other thinkers. The discontinuity, to the contrary, lies in the refinement of the more general and transcendental method by its transition from the critique of knowledge to that of theoretical thought as such.

167. Second, as Geertsema properly points out, Dooyeweerd emphasizes the human person as the subject of philosophical and scientific thought over against the long tradition of Western philosophy which has regarded human reason as the subject of science and philosophy. This tradition has, therefore, put a strong emphasis on methodology. But Dooyeweerd argues convincingly that it is the human being who thinks, does scientific research, and makes theories. Because the human being is essentially religious - living out of an ultimate conviction - and theoretical thought is part of being human, this theoretical activity cannot be neutral or autonomous in relation to religious motivation.(252)

168. Third, Dooyeweerd's intention to reestablish a community of thought through this transcendental criticism does not necessarily mean an accommodation or compromise to the modern humanistic ideal, as Griffioen rightly asserts.(253) The key-point of Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique is to reveal the fact that theoretical thinking is not self-sufficient but religiously determined. Because he thought that autonomous, immanent thinkers are not prepared to call the supra-theoretical presuppositions of their thought into question, Dooyeweerd developed his basic transcendental questions in order that they may realize their own religious point of departure. For Dooyeweerd the dogma concerning the autonomy of theoretical thought has impeded a mutual understanding among various philosophical schools because they cannot "find a way to penetrate to each other's true starting points."(254) Therefore, Dooyeweerd makes it clear that "[p]hilosophical discussion is possible between schools which do not have the same starting-point, if, and only if, a sharp distinction is made between authentic theoretical judgments (concerning which philosophical discussion is possible) and the necessary pre-theoretical prejudices which lie at the foundation of such theoretical judgments."(255) This implies that Dooyeweerd's attempt to restore the community of thought does not weaken his basic conviction regarding the religious antithesis. To the contrary, substantial dialogue must include confrontation to the deepest level.

169. Last, I think that Dooyeweerd's twofold intention in his transcendental critique can be best understood with the help of the two terms "structure" and "direction".(256) Dooyeweerd emphasizes that his transcendental criticism "is founded in the ontical structure of philosophical thought, which is of universal validity, and is not based on a purely subjective prejudice."(257) He is convinced that this "ontical, structural a priori, guarantees the possibility of a theoretical community of thought of a later generation with all the former, situated in the `nature' of science as such" and that "[t]his state of affairs guarantees that, with respect to substantial immanent philosophical activity, we have the same theoretical problems with former generations, problems which are situated in the ontical structure of the Gegenstand-relation itself..."(258) But the structural "state of affairs" is to be distinguished from its directions, determined as they are by religious presuppositions. If the direction of theoretical thought, Dooyeweerd argues, is led by the biblical presupposition, there is no antinomy. But if philosophical thinking is guided by apostate motives, it results in an inevitable antinomy and dialectical dilemma.(259) Yet, the two key-words cannot be totally separated from one another. Here we see a tension between the two; if the structural order of creation is independent of its dynamic direction, it is nothing but `nature' in the scholastic sense. Dooyeweerd, therefore, carefully distinguishes both and yet does not fall into the dualistic error by emphasizing the coherence between the two because for him, the common structure is not neutral but rather subject to the law of the sovereign Creator. That is why I regard the relationship between the two, viz., structure and direction, as an inevitable tension and not as a dilemma as some other philosophers do.(260) This issue of structure and direction, closely connected with that of dialogue and antithesis or communication and confrontation, will be further clarified in the following two chapters as we discuss Dooyeweerd's actual application of his transcendental criticism to Western philosophy and culture by way of his transcendental ground idea.

170. In spite of the strong elements mentioned above, Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique seems to have failed in creating the sought after dialogue with other philosophers. What might be the possible reasons for this weakness?

171. To begin with, as many other Christian philosophers have pointed out, his argumentation for the transcendental critique is not only abstract and vague at some points but also, more seriously, already presupposes his cosmonomic idea at every step of the argument. This is the most probable reason why the second way of his transcendental critique has been under more attack than the first. It is quite ironic because Dooyeweerd himself is firmly convinced of the irrefutableness of his second approach. Mrs. Conradie points out that the transcendental critique fails because as a proof it assumes at each step of the argument what must be proved and so falls into a petitio principii.(261) In other words, she maintains that "the transcendental critique is not a proof but a description of Dooyeweerd's fundamental epistemological assumption, which lies at the root of his entire philosophy and is most inaccessible to the immanentist philosopher."(262) It is indeed to be admitted that if a dialogue partner does not accept Dooyeweerd's theory of structures of reality (modality and individuality) and his transcendental idea as the presupposition of a philosophical system and as the inner point of contact between theoretical thinking and the religious sphere, it is very difficult to have an inner reformation of scientific thinking.

172. Next, Dooyeweerd's view of the nature of theoretical thought can be questioned. Brümmer, for example, argues in his dissertation that Dooyeweerd's argument of the inter-modal Gegenstand-relation, which results from the theoretical epochè or antithesis, is only a fiction, because the theoretical epochè as a logical activity is limited to the modal boundaries of the analytical law-sphere, guaranteed by the principle of modal sphere-sovereignty, and so if the epochè were to transcend these boundaries and cause the inter-modal disstasis of meaning implied in the Gegenstand-relation, it would involve a violation of the principle of sphere-sovereignty.(263) Van Riessen also contends that Dooyeweerd's idea of the intentional Gegenstand-relation is not a proper attitude of scientific thought because, for instance, it cannot explain logic itself and also the Gegenstand of philosophy is difficult to determine.(264) Similar criticisms made by other pupils of Dooyeweerd such as D.F.M. Strauss, H. Hart, and H. Geertsema also appear to be very persuasive.(265)

173. Dooyeweerd's view of science (scholarship) as theoretical synthesis is disputable. Like Brümmer, Van Riessen argues that it is very difficult to understand the synthesis of two modalities as a scientific (scholarly) concept in spite of the irreducibility of modalities.(266) He views science rather in terms of abstraction and analysis.(267) Geertsema also finds it unconvincing because "it is not made clear how, on the basis of the discovered point of unity, the connection of the logical and non-logical is established on the plane of thought."(268)

174. The supra-temporality of the "heart" has been another point of dispute. Many other Christian philosophers have objected to this idea as simply not biblical but also as difficult to imagine. D.H.Th. Vollenhoven denies both the supra-temporality of the heart and the time-order of the modal aspects. He views the modal aspects not in an order of earlier and later, but in one of more or less complexity.(269) Van Riessen also finds the theory of the supra-temporality of the heart very strange and thinks that the cause of this problem is because Dooyeweerd sees the coherence of the modalities as a coherence of time. For Van Riessen, the coherence does not lie in time but is rather established by law.(270) If we no longer understand the transcendental critique as connected to supra-temporality but to the presuppositions of science, Van Riessen maintains, we can overcome this problem. For the same reason, Geertsema suggests taking the second transcendental idea as that which concerns the human understanding of self instead of the idea of a supra-temporal unity in distinction from the origin on the one side and diversity within temporal coherence on the other.(271)

175. Do we have to conclude then that Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique of thought has totally failed because of the weak points mentioned above? Is it of no value in the present post-modern atmosphere of thought? I do not think so. J. Hoogland considers viewing Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique as an evocative, minimum-argument,(272) at the least, and believes its uniqueness and originality should be appreciated as an attempt to offer "a structural analysis of philosophic thought, de jure and de facto, which makes visible the relationship between immanent philosophic problems, or positions, and religious presuppositions."(273) Dooyeweerd tries to prove his transcendental critique by demonstrating antinomies in various immanent philosophical systems and by offering an alternative presupposition which would not lead to those antinomies. This argumentation can never be deductively proven but it has still an important evocative power in the sense that this alternative approach can resolve the problems of reductionism or antinomies, as Hoogland maintains.(274) In other words, Dooyeweerd's transcendental criticism has a remaining value as a heuristic tool. It exposes the fact that the created order is not neutral but give witnesses to itself by revealing antinomies when this order is violated. The structure of theoretical thought and cultural activity has its own orderliness and normativity. Here we can also find some implications of the structure of the transcendental critique to be used as a cultural critique as well.(275) By pointing out any dialectical conflict or contradiction in human autonomous thinking and any disharmony in socio-cultural phenomena, Dooyeweerd's transcendental approach can at least be used in an indirect way both as a thought critique and a cultural criticism. Therefore, although Dooyeweerd's transcendental critical method needs to be further worked out and refined,(276) its basic value and insight, minimally in its pointing out antinomies or reductionistic errors, can still be acknowledged. His transcendental critique still provides a very fruitful framework for fundamental discussions on philosophy, science and culture in general. That is why it is meaningful to see how his transcendental critique can be applied to the Korean context. Before doing that, however, we shall attempt to show in the following chapter how Dooyeweerd executed his transcendental criticism of Western philosophy.

Copyright (c) Yong-Joon Choi, 2000, All Rights Reserved.

Prepared as part of The Dooyeweerd Pages web site by Andrew Basden 2002, with the kind permission of Yong-Joon Choi.

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