Navigation: This page 'morris.consvn.html' ---> Using Dooy ---> Main Page. HELP. Admin. Contact.


A Report by Robert Berenyi

Report of meeting with Dr Andrew Basden, held 4 June 1998

I have found Dooyeweerd's ideas helpful in viewing the philosophy of conservation as a theory rather than as a dogmatic philosophy as it has been viewed by most people in the conservation world. The meeting served to confirm this idea which has been developing over my mind over the last few months.

If I treat William Morris' philosophy as a theory I can then apply certain tests to see whether it is an adequate theory to account for all things in the conservation world.

Having my attention directed to the difference between an entity theory and a perspectival theory was useful. Although I had read Clouser's book The Myth of Religious Neutrality the significance of this difference had not registered in my mind. From this I can now see that Morris' theory is a perspectival theory of what conservation is and ought to be. Incidentally I have also found Dooyeweerd helpful in coming to an understanding of the normative aspects in conservation. I have been asking myself the question: What is the normative aspect which qualifies conservation? Traditionally it has thought to have been the historical or the aesthetic, but I think that it is the economic - the idea of saving scarce resources.

In the meeting difficulties were highlighted in applying the concept of the `qualifying function' to all things. I will need to think through these issues more deeply and in attempting to apply it to conservation think critically about it. Overall I have found it a helpful concept in understanding something of the difference between monuments and buildings which has been obscured in conservation. Maybe applying it to the activity of conservation will be more difficult.

In the meeting three ways of examining/testing Morris' theory were highlighted.

1) Applying Clouser's incoherency tests

I assume that this related to an immanent critique of his theory, which doesn't misrepresent it and is gentle and honest. This approach is likely to be more convincing in the situation in which I find myself where my supervisor and other thinkers in the conservation world come with different pre-suppositions and beliefs.

2) The completeness of the theory

Since Morris' theory purports to be a guide to real-life is it complete, does it elevate on aspect above another? How will it need to be modified to take into account all the aspects? As I understand it this approach relates to the fact that conservation functions in all the aspects of reality. If some of the aspects of reality are ignored in the theory this means that the theory will be inadequate in the norms that it provides for conservation work.

3) Understand the origin of Morris' thought

To come to a deeper and clearer understanding of Morris's thought this approach would advocate looking at the actual situation in which Morris' theory developed. Morris' theory developed as a reaction against the work of the restorationists, so coming to an understanding of their theories will help me understand Morris' theory.

Mention was also made of Dooyeweerd's transcendent critique. I am not too clear as to what this would involve in respect to Morris' theory of conservation. Would this involve examining Morris' theory purely from the perspective of Dooyeweerd's philosophy? This could be useful as a supplementary critique to the immanent one and would perhaps suggest ways that Morris' theory needs to be modified.

Case Studies

It was pointed out that the 15 aspects could be used as an analytical tool in the carrying out of case studies. The contact with Mike Winfield will prove helpful in this respect.

Things which I am likely to do as a Result of the meeting:

1) Come to a clearer understanding of Morris' theory - perhaps concentrate on this theory as the focus of my research.

2) Critique this theory using the tests of Clouser for perspectival theories

3) Case studies - to gain data of the real world of conservation practice, analyse them using the 15 aspects. Purpose of case studies will be to make my arguments more robust by backing them up with data from the real-world. Also how conservators implement their theory of conservation.

Robert Berenyi

This page is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Written on the Amiga and Protext.

Copyright (c) University of Salford, 1998, All Rights Reserved, and used by permission.

Created: 4 September 2002. Last updated: 7 September 2013 rind unet, new .nav, .end.