In each aspect page I have tried to get close to what I believe was the heart of Dooyeweerd's concept, but in doing so, have added some exploratory interpretations of my own and contributions from others. At present, my own interpretations are especially in the areas of Common Misconceptions and Common Reductions. (Adding my own interpretations is in line with Dooyeweerd's idea that logical thought is not absolute but must always be mixed with interpretation in real life. But you should always treat my interpretations with caution.) Please send comments and queries.
Of course, words can never fully express meaning, so we adopt the common device of also showing what the kernel is not, using a second list of:
which mention some things that might commonly be thought to be the kernel. In this I list some common misconceptions about what the aspect might be about (e.g. the economic aspect is not about finance, nor about production and consumption, but about something much more fundamental.) I often deal with these misconceptions in greater detail below.
But even if words could express our meaning fully, we can still never come to a full and exact definition of the kernel because kernels of aspects are beyond our ability to grasp fully. Yet - as said above - the meaning of the kernel may be grasped intuitively.
Each aspect has a set of laws that are irreducible to those of other aspects; in particular, they do not 'emerge' from lower aspects in some reductionist manner, but have to be recognised and known for what they are and as on their own terms. Now, Dooyeweerd's idea of law differed slightly from our idea. To us, law is something that constrains our freedom; to Dooyeweerd, law is something that enables. It comes from the Biblical idea of God upholding the universe by means of his Law, and suggests that law is our only basis for real, meaningful functioning.
The laws of an aspect provide enabling and structuring, and thus point to the major themes that we deal with in each aspect.
So in this section of the page we expound some of this internal anatomy of the aspect, as far as we can. We seek to identify the distinct parts of the anatomy and show how they relate to each other and how they might be echoes of other aspects necessary to the service of the one being considered. There seems to be at least four types of relationship among them: aggregation, dependency, anticipations of other aspects, and things that derive from the basic kernel meaning to fill it out.
It seems to be Dooyeweerd's idea that functioning well in all the aspects brings about what might be called 'joy', a fullness of life, a well-being, a fulfilment, a peace, a health and prospetity in their widest and richest sense - what the Hebrew word 'shalom' encapsulates. This 'shalom' is exciting and diverse, yet at the same time reliable and coherent, and each aspect makes its own distinctive contribution thereto.
This section, in each aspect, outlines what the aspect might contribute to this overall shalom: in what way does this aspect contribute to the 'joy' of entities that function as subject in it? The things in this section can be seen as the positive repercussions of functioning in the aspect.
Beware, however, of thinking of these things primarily as goals, because that will impoverish our thinking. The things listed here can indeed be treated as goals when functioning formatively, but the emphasis in our thinking should be on functioning rather than goals, on dynamics rather than statics, on law-response rather than repercussions.
This section is an attempt to list some of the ways in which going against the laws of this aspect will lead to harm. Often this is harm in the long term, rather than the short term, notably in the later aspects. For instance, if we kill then it can be immediate, if we tell a lie the effect can be immediate, or it can be hours or days, but if we have a flawed pistic commitment, then the full effects might be a century in emerging clearly - as it was in the case of Marxism.
This section also draws attention to some common misuses and elevations of the aspect.
All aspects are non-absolute: written into the laws of every aspect is its own inner limitation. No aspect has meaningful in itself, even though it has its own distinct and unique kernel meaning. Nothing in created reality can stand the weight of being the sole origin of meaning for all else.
When we absolutize something it eventually collapses. Absolutization of an aspect eventually undermines it and the good it brings to reality turns sour and poisons reality.
If no aspect is absolute, the most incisive and knowledgeable minds that reflect on the aspect will eventually discover this need for a transcending factors, probably as a kind of gap or inherent inconsistency. e.g. Russell found such in logic, Wittgenstein in language, etc. Rifkin's Eclipse of Capitalism is another indication.
This section in each aspect page discusses the non-absoluteness of the aspect, reciting some of the struggles of such thinkers.
Roy Clouser (1992) (The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories) develops Dooyeweerd's idea that a science is the isolation of an aspect in order to study its laws. If this is so then each aspect has its own special science (e.g. mathematics for the quantitative, physics for the physical, social science for the social, etc.) that centres on the aspect. Science is essentially an analytical activity. Some of this is discussed in more depth in the page on Three Types of Thinking, and. with particular reference to Thomas Kuhn's thinking, in that on science.
I like this because it allows each science to develop its own 'scientific methods' and its own epistemology. So that social science, for instance, can be freed from the claims that all 'real' science should aspire to what is commonly known as 'the scientific method' of hypothesis and laboratory test.
Now, of course, the actual process of doing science is not purely analytical, but involves historical, economic, religious, etc. functioning too. So what we see as the various sciences today is a result of historical as well as logical development and many do not completely centre on a single aspect; e.g. both physics and chemistry are of the physical aspect.
Note also that having a special science is secondary to the aspects than having a kernel meaning. While we can identify special sciences for most aspects, some aspects might not have a science. It is difficult to identify the science for the ethical aspect of self-giving love, for instance - or it might be that we have not yet 'opened' it up.
See also, below, Contributions from the Field, which contains contributions that major workers in the field of the aspect, and in particular its scientists, have discovered about the aspect over a period of decades.
He suggested there were at least two types of relationship among the aspects. One is that the aspects form a sequence, and the laws of the later ones require or depend on those of the earlier ones. This section makes some suggestions for why the current aspect requires those of the earlier ones for its proper and richest functioning.
This sub-section is important for providing reasons for why Dooyeweerd proposed the sequence that he did: if the dependencies are found to be different then the sequence will be different, and maybe some aspects should be split and other merged. But, so far, Dooyeweerd's proposed aspects have withstood the test of time.
Inter-aspect dependency is reminiscent of Maslow's famous dependency pyramid, but does not possess the element of reductionism that that does. While (popular (mis)understanding of) Maslow claims that a person cannot appreciate beauty while hungry, Dooyeweerd expressly claims that we can because the aspects are irreducible to each other and we function in all of them together.
There seem to be two types of analogy: those we make for ourselves and those that are stronger links, like ligaments. Identifying these latter helps us see how things of one aspect can help things of another, e.g. how juridical institutions and laws can support the family.
I have very few entries here. But I wonder if a study of Zen Koans might help provide some? Email me with suggestions.
This section discusses various ways in which other aspects are reduced to the given one. Often a word ending in 'ism' is evidence for a reduction - we often use the word 'reductionism' to indicate a reduction taken too far. Many are now aware of the dangers of such reductions and especially reductionisms.
This is part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Questions or comments are very welcome.
Compiled by Andrew Basden. You may use this material subject to conditions.
Number of visitors to these pages: . Written on the Amiga with Protext.
Created: 1998 or earlier. Last modified 8 May 1998. 4 June 1998 altered the section on Harm and added 'eliminative'. 13 August 1998 rearranged the page into major sections: