Bruce C Wearne, BA MSocSc PhD
Here are a few initial comparisons between the thinkers Talcott Parsons and Herman Dooyeweerd.
Dooyeweerd's close associate Dirk H Th Vollenhoven worked with the same theoretical problems associated with this approach to the historiography of philosophy and scientific ideas in developing what he called the "consistent problem historical method".
Dooyeweerd's concept of society was focused upon what he called the internal societal structural principles and to identify these required careful empirical investigation of the way in which institutions, organisations and inter-individual relationships were structured in the place God had given them in the creation order according to their own distinctive integrity (sphere sovereignty). Philosophical sociology for Dooyeweerd has its own place in the encyclopędia of the sciences but it also has a crucial part to play in the overall transcendental critique of theoretical thought.
Dooyeweerd, on the other hand distinguishes philosophical sociology and scientific sociology; the former is, as I have indicated above part of the full disclosure of the argument in the transcendental critique of theoretical thought. It has been suggested that Dooyeweerd's exposition of philosophical sociology is similar to Mannheim's "sociology of knowledge" - see H E S Woldring Karl Mannheim - the development of his thought Van Gorcum 1986 especially pp. 378-389 where Woldring offers some critical observations from a comparison of Mannheim and Dooyeweerd.
The Reformation/Renovation/Rediscovery of the Empirical Approach of Scientific Sociology
Both Parsons and Dooyeweerd seek to develop a theoretical overview of scientific activity by which scientific sociology is renovated from the ground up, by basic principles. Parsons' attempt must be judged as based in the uncritical dogma of the autonomy of theoretical thought and hence to be ensnared in the same humanistic religious polarities (ie nature and freedom in their peculiar North American 20th century variants - particularly in operationalism eg PW Bridgman). Dooyeweerd's reformation of scientific sociology begins with a radical critique of the scientific attitude itself, based upon an approach to science which sees scientific activity as another human activity that has been freed by the coming and completed work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, enabling it to be developed in the service of God and neighbour.
My work on Talcott Parsons can be found in the following publications:
I am interested to advising and supervising students with a genuine theoretical interest in exploring Talcott Parsons and the history of 20th century American sociology, and particularly in relation to the much neglected task of developing Christian sociological reflection. Those interested may contact me at:
Bruce C Wearne BA MSocSc PhD29 Lawrence Rd., Point Lonsdale Vic 3225 AUSTRALIA61-3-5258-3913
This page is part of a collection of pages that links to various thinkers, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.
Copyright (c) Bruce C Wearne 2002.
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Created: 12 November 2002 Last updated: 17 November 2002 corrections. 16 June 2010 .nav, .end, rid unet.