Dooyeweerd as Critical Thinker
In what way is Dooyeweerd a 'critical' thinker? The Frankfurt School claims one use of the word 'critical', but Kant has also been called a critical thinker. If we see 'critical' as meaning the maintenance of a critical distance in our research, a questioning of assumptions, and especially as asking 'transcendental questions' (in the tradition of Kant) about what makes what we have always assumed even possible, then I believe Dooyeweerd may be related to the sequence of approaches to information systems defined by Orlikowski as Positivist, Interpretivist and Critical Theory (roots in Frankfurt), but as at a stage beyond Critical Theory.
Each stage in the sequence maintains a critical distance with regard to one thing, and asks and answers questions about it like "What is it? What else important beside it?" But each stage also presupposes something else. The sequence would go something like:
Note that each step also engages with the earlier steps. So Dooyeweerd for example also has answers about what interpretation is and what is the origin of world view perspectives, and even what the world is.
- Critical distance from world of things, events.
- Presupposes our interpretation is a copy of world that we obtain via empirical observation and may reason about to obtain truth.
- Critical distance from interpretation.
- To "What is interpretation?" answers that it has its origin in self and its world view perspectives.
- Presupposes self as autonomous origin of interpretation; world view perspectives accepted as given.
- Critical Theory:
- Critical distance from self (reflexive).
- To "What is world view perspective?" answers that they have their origin in power relations. To "What else is important beside world view?" answers "The norm of emancipation."
- Presupposes criticality, the possibility of maintaining critical distance.
- Critical distance from critical distance itself (from philosophical questioning, the theoretical attitude of thought).
- To "What is critical distance?" answers that it is a Gegenstand relation of analytic aspect to others. To "What else is important beside keeping critical distance?" answers that all aspects are equally important, including pistic aspect of engagement, ethical aspect of love. See his Transcendental Critique.
- Presupposes Divine Source who provides law-side that exhibits aspects that enable us to function in such ways.
Does anyone else attempt what Dooyeweerd has done? Karl-Otto Apel, in his Towards a Transformation of Philosophy , uses his last chapter to argue that we need to find the transcendental conditions that make logic possible. Like Dooyeweerd, he argues that something value-laden and supra-logical - he calls it 'ethics' - underlies logic and especially argumentation. But where Apel ends up -
"the actual business of philosophical foundation must consist of reconstructing the necessary preconditions for human argumentation as completely as possible ... to reconstruct the ethical preconditions for the possibility and validity of human argumentation and, consequently, of logic" [p.266-7] "everyone must take upon himself a non-groundable - or not completely groundable - 'moral' decision of faith." [p.285]
- is where Dooyeweerd starts. (So we may take Apel as an excellent argument for the need for what Dooyeweerd has attempted to do.) See the comparison between Apel and Dooyeweerd.
We might ask, Is there a next step beyond Dooyeweerd? Dooyeweerd would argue that, whilst we might exercise a critical distance to *our idea* of Divine, we cannot exercise a critical distance to the Divine Source itself ('an sich') because, as Creator and Source of all aspects, including the analytic aspect that enables critical distance to be maintained, it is not subject to that aspect and cannot be made an object of our functioning in that aspect. Therefore the buck stops with the Divine.
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: 23 August 2004.
Last updated: 23 November 2005 unet.