581. Throughout our investigation and discussion of Dooyeweerd's thought, we have seen that the central theme of his transcendental critique has focused on the thesis that a certain religious conviction is presupposed in every philosophical and scientific thinking as well as in other cultural activities. To prove the necessity of the religious root of theoretical thought, he developed the "first way" of the transcendental approach in De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, starting from the definition of philosophy. He then elaborated this approach in the "second way" of transcendental criticism in A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, articulating the nature of theoretical knowledge. Hence his emphasis on epistemological structure. Later, Dooyeweerd expanded his basic idea by stating that religious presuppositions determine not only the direction of theoretical thinking but also that of human cultural development as its driving force. He attempted to prove this thesis in Reformatie en Scholastiek in de Wijsbegeerte and in Vernieuwing en Bezinning: om het reformatorisch grondmotief.

582. The two major aspects of Dooyeweerd's thought have been defended, namely, dialogue and antithesis. He sincerely believed and asserted philosophically that the ground for dialogue can be found in the common structure of theoretical thinking and cultural phenomena itself but the transcendental criticism leads us ultimately into religious antithesis. Furthermore, he wanted to show that the religious presupposition can be formulated as the basic ground motive which then determines the content of the three transcendental ground ideas of origin, unity/totality and diversity in coherence. These ideas are the points of contact between theoretical thinking as well as cultural endeavor and religious conviction.

583. When Dooyeweerd critically analyzed the tradition of Western philosophy from his transcendental perspective, he usually paid attention to the transcendental ground ideas of each philosophical system and then in turn to the deeper religious motives which determine the content of these ideas. These religious ground motives were also applied to an analysis of Western culture in order to demonstrate that its development has been motivated by these spiritual forces. It is, therefore, basically valid for Dooyeweerd to make the transition from his theoretical critique to a cultural critique even though there are some shortcomings in his transcendental critical method. When some weak aspects have been pointed out by many scholars, Dooyeweerd himself and his followers have critically reflected upon them and then attempted to work them out and to improve on this transcendental approach in various ways.

584. In order to affirm the validity of Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique as a cultural critique, we have pointed out in the first chapter that his notion of culture can be defined as the normative opening process determined by a religious ground motive. The most unique point of his philosophy seems to be the argument that apostate ground motives cannot but absolutize something relative and thereby reveal antinomies, contradictions or disharmonies in the process of disclosure. Thus the common structure of culture and its normative development is the same in any society but the direction of its unfolding can be different and antithetical from one society to another. Dooyeweerd's concept of culture shows us then the dynamic character of created reality and stresses the responsibility of human being as the image-bearer of God and as His cultural agent. On the one hand, it is to be admitted that his view of traditional culture tends to be one-sidedly negative. This is most likely due to his Western-centered point of view. On the other hand, however, Dooyeweerd elaborated his own consistent Christian view of culture by emphasizing the integral and radical character of the creation, the Fall, redemption (and consummation) motive. With this elaboration, Dooyeweerd intended to start an inner reformation of Western secular culture.

585. To understand the implications of Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique as both thought and cultural critique, we have first focused on his transcendental criticism as a thought criticism as developed in the first and the second way described in chapter two. In order to restore the thought community of the West by finding out the common basis for dialogue between Christian and non-Christian thinkers and also to make possible an inner reformation of philosophy, Dooyeweerd sharpened his first transcendental approach, starting from the nature of philosophy, and developed his second one, starting from the nature of theoretical thought as such. We have seen that there is still continuity between the two methods, for both concern the same transcendental basic ideas. In his attempt to create dialogue, Dooyeweerd has not compromised with the claims made by human autonomous thought but has instead maintained his own views on the fundamental religious antithesis. Dooyeweerd's twofold intention of dialogue and antithesis has been explained in the use of two important terms, viz. structure and direction. In spite of this clear intention, it is true that Dooyeweerd's actual communication and confrontation has not been so fruitful because his argumentation was sometimes ambiguous on some points, falling into the error of a petitio principii. It has also been pointed out that Dooyeweerd's views of the nature of theoretical thought, scientific knowledge as synthesis of logical and non-logical aspects, and the supra-temporality of heart, are not accepted as generally valid by other scholars. Nevertheless, Dooyeweerd's basic thesis should be appreciated as a unique and original attempt to offer a structural analysis which demonstrates the relation between philosophic thought and religious presupposition.

586. Dooyeweerd has not merely formulated his philosophical system in theory but also applied it to the tradition of Western philosophy in order to test its relevance and validity. We have critically discussed his actual execution in the third chapter. Here his idea of the religious ground motive plays an essential role as that which controls the direction of theoretical thought via its central ground ideas. In this manner, Dooyeweerd attempted to prove that Western philosophy, divided into ancient Greek, Roman Catholic, and modern humanistic philosophy, has been dominated by the religious ground motives of form-matter, nature-grace and nature-freedom respectively. He tried to show that these non-Christian motives share in common the dialectical conflict between the two antithetic poles. This dialectic is not theoretical but religious because the absolutization of one relative aspect calls its counterpart which claims an equal absoluteness. The Christian motive, however, has no suchlike tension within it, Dooyeweerd contended. Thus his starting point was to make possible a candid dialogue with various types of Western philosophy through their transcendental ground ideas but his ultimate goal was to lay bare the radical and inevitable antithesis between the three non-Christian motives and the Christian motive.

587. It is to be acknowledged that Dooyeweerd did make a considerable contribution in revealing the inevitability of non-neutral, religious presuppositions of philosophical thought and so in the rejection of the pretended autonomy of human theoretical thinking. He has also succeeded in demonstrating the existence of an antithetic conflict between the Christian motive and the non-Christian motives. By revealing the basic antinomy of the religious dialectic in non-Christian ground motives, Dooyeweerd strived for an inner reformation of Western philosophy and science from its root. In this sense, Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique has surely heuristic value both for the Christian and non-Christian thinker. Reality, including both the structure of theoretical thinking and that of cultural development, is itself witnessing to the fact that there is a created order or law and that if this order or law is violated, antinomy, conflict and disharmony inevitably arise.

588. Nevertheless, it should also be pointed out that his actual dialogue partners were relatively limited, mainly within his own school of thought and his own country. Furthermore, Dooyeweerd has not been consistent in applying his transcendental approach in the analysis of Western philosophical trends because his actual discussion sometimes did not deal with all three central ideas. In addition, his characterization of religious motives cannot claim absolute certainty. It is quite clear, for instance, that his Greek form-matter motive needs to be modified and further worked out.

589. Claiming the religious ground motive as the driving force for the human cultural community, Dooyeweerd tried to demonstrate the dialectical conflict of the ancient Greek and Roman, the Scholastic, and the modern humanistic cultures in the West with the intention of offering an inner reformation of Western secularized culture from a Christian perspective. Chapter four has dealt with this subject. We have observed, on the one hand, that his actual transcendental critique of Western culture was rather more abstract and theoretical than it was concrete and practical, especially in his discussion of medieval and modern Western civilization, although his basic intention of dialogue and antithesis is clearly to be seen. One the other hand, Dooyeweerd was fully aware of the fact that the Christian idea of cultural development and transformation should be open-minded, admitting non-Christian contributions to it due to both the common grace of God and the remaining influence of sin in Christians.

590. In order to prove our basic hypothesis that Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique remains of vital significance in the modern Western world, we have discussed in the following chapter further developments and modifications of Dooyeweerd's approach, exerted by such scholars as J. van der Hoeven, J. Klapwijk, B. Goudzwaard and E. Schuurman. They have developed their own approaches, based on their critical evaluation of Dooyeweerd's transcendental method. We have noticed that some paid more attention to Dooyeweerd's idea on the religious ground motive than to the three central philosophical ideas. Others have focused on elaborating their own cultural criticism rather than thought criticism. Van der Hoeven fully agrees with Dooyeweerd's agenda of conversation and confrontation by emphasizing such notions as "invitation", "openness toward various ways of thinking and diverse cultures" and "encounter", "antithesis in continuous contact" in the post-modern and pluralistic context of contemporary Western society. Realizing limits to Dooyeweerd's religious ground motive in modern thought and culture of the West, freedom-nature, Van der Hoeven is more careful, seeking more contact with other thinkers by stressing the view of man as one basic philosophical idea and focusing on a central philosophical notion such as "middle" instead of developing another religious ground motive for it.

591. Keeping critical distance from Dooyeweerd's standpoint, Klapwijk has developed his own "transformational philosophy", from a Christian point of view, to deal with non-Christian thought and cultural heritage. This approach corrects Dooyeweerdian eurocentral tendencies and appreciates the concrete local context as well as a general philosophical view which acknowledges the common grace of God. I have adopted this approach in the last chapter when I dealt with the Christian transformation of Korean traditional thought and culture. But Klapwijk appears to view Dooyeweerd's notion of "antithesis" too negatively and underestimates the idea of the religious ground motive as a driving force. I have also pointed out that Klapwijk explains the possibilities of normative and inverse transformation but does not offer any way to prevent the latter. As an answer to this problem, I emphasized that Dooyeweerd's idea of the religious ground motive should control and guide the process of transformation.

592. Goudzwaard fully appreciates Dooyeweerd's analysis of the dialectic of humanistic thinking and his idea of the religious root of culture. Emphasizing the cultural mandate and its responsive dimension, Goudzwaard further elaborates the idea of sphere-sovereignty into the notion of "responsibility/normativity in its own sphere". Focusing on the relationship between the rise of capitalism and human autonomous faith in progress, Goudzwaard applies then Dooyeweerd's transcendental approach to contemporary economic, cultural and spiritual problems. However, it is debatable whether his critical analysis still has universal validity in the post-modern climate in which the shared feeling of chaotic directionlessness and pessimistic powerlessness seems to be more dominant than optimistic progressivism. His theory seems to be more applicable to fast-growing third world countries than to overdeveloped Western nations.

593. Schuurman pays special attention to the phenomena of technological culture as characteristic of modern society. It is Schuurman alone who critically reflects upon Dooyeweerd's modern humanistic ground motive and modifies it by speaking of the motives of organic nature and technological culture. Schuurman then goes further in laying bare the dialectical conflict between the two: not merely human freedom but the whole of reality is threatened by technicism. In this sense, he tries to work out his own transcendental cultural critique.

594. Having seen that Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique retains its vitality in the Western context, we had to evaluate lastly whether his transcendental critique can be meaningfully applied to the Eastern situation, in particular to that of Korea. In order to do this, I have attempted in the last chapter to analyze the philosophical structure and cultural characteristics of Korean shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism from Dooyeweerd's transcendental critical perspective. It is interesting to note that throughout the history of Korea a different religion has played the dominant role in each dynasty. Possible ground motives have been formulated in each period, namely, Hananim-nature in shamanism, Kyo-Son in Buddhism and I-Ki in Confucianism, together with the three central ground ideas. One important point was revealed in this research, namely, in cases of the thought of shamanism and Buddhism, the possible dialectical conflict between the two ground motives is not absolute but tends to be more compromising and harmonizing. When applied to the Korean shamanitic and Confucian culture, the heuristic approach of Dooyeweerd is revealed in a somewhat different and indirect way, namely, not as a dialectical tension between the absolutized poles but rather as the manifestation of various problems in many aspects of reality. Korean Buddhistic culture and Confucian thought, on the other hand, exposed a clearly dialectical conflict of a more absolute nature. In this sense, we have to conclude that Dooyeweerd's theory is not always universally valid as a critique of Oriental thought and culture.

595. Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique has been developed basically in the Western climate of thought. His philosophy is shaped by a Western conception of religion, in which the Greek idea of origin, unity, and plurality was transformed into a Christian one by Augustine and other Neo-Platonistic Christians: God as origin, man as unity and created reality as temporal plurality. This tradition makes it difficult to understand other systems of thought such as Korean shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism in which man and nature is not so much distinguished and the law is almost made absolute instead of the law-Giver.

596. Another point is that the three transcendental ground ideas of Dooyeweerd's philosophy can be better applied to a cultural critique if they are modified as representing the central views of origin, human being and socio-cultural structure. The ideas of unity or totality and diversity in coherence are too abstract to be applied to concrete cultural phenomena. These revised ideas are of course implied in the original ones but would be more applicable as transcendental cultural ground ideas. I have attempted to make it clear when I discuss Korean traditional thought and culture by analyzing these three central elements. This approach makes our dialogue much more effective and relevant. In other words, in order to make a more effective criticism of Korean traditional thought and culture, it would be much better to approach from the Christian worldview perspective. The whole worldview of each religion should be critically analyzed. Then we can find many problems due to that worldview, for instance, the superstitious attitude of Korean shamanists, the sense of social irresponsibility of Buddhism in Korea, and the various class problems in Korean Confucian tradition. Against these problems, we can present the Christian alternative, offering a better worldview and solutions for those problems. That is why we have seen how Protestant Christianity, despite shortcomings, has been transforming Korean traditional thought and culture and has contributed to the disclosure of modern Korean society.

597. Therefore, the whole of our research leads us to conclude that Dooyeweerd's transcendental critical approach, originally developed as a thought critique, has in a broad sense considerable significance and validity as a cultural criticism in spite of some shortcomings. But it is difficult to make a direct application of his method to the Korean context even though in many aspects it gives us a tremendous insight in analyzing Korean philosophy and culture.

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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