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The Kinematic Aspect

Briefly ...

We experience the kinematic aspect intuitively as going and continuous flowing [Dooyeweerd, 1955,II, 96]. We could say "movement", as long as it is smooth, rather than mere mere change of location, which is spatial. Going and flowing imply backward and forward, which were meaningless in the spatial aspect. Expanding, morphing, rotation, route, path and speed and properties like fast, slow are some other kinematic concepts. Dooyeweerd's main discussion of this aspect is found in [1955,II, 93-106].

It can be helpful to think of flux, as of the wind, but shorn of its physical properties like pressure. Screen animation of abstract patterns is also kinematic, when shorn of the psychical properties of the eye. Note that in animation, the movement across the screen has no corresponding physical movement.

The good possibility that the kinematic aspect introduces is dynamic variation, or 'change', of which the quantitative and spatial aspects know nothing. The quantitative number(ness) 7 never changes, and the spatial triangle does not change. We might say that the quantitative aspect is pure before-and-after with no simultaneity and the spatial aspect is pure simultaneity with no before-and-after, but the kinematic aspect merges before-and-after with simultaneity.

Zeno's paradox was used by Dooyeweerd to argue that the kinematic aspect cannot be reduced to the spatial (e.g. as of a sequence of distinct spatial occurrences). That film animation makes use of exactly that, is seen as kinematic rather than as staccato sequences because smoothed out by the psychical functioning of the eye.

(Strauss [2010] sees change as physical and the kernel of the kinematic aspect as constancy, probably because "kinematics ... can define a uniform movement without any reference to a causing force" [Dooyeweerd, 1955,II:99]. However, his view is counter-intuitive and the word "can" rather than "must", implies no restriction to uniformity.)

Defining the Aspect x

Dooyeweerd originally did not see the kinematic as an aspect, but later separated it out from the spatial and physical because combining it with them led to antinomies.

Kernel x

rather than:

In NC (vol IV, p.163) Dooyeweerd says "movement is not a change of place; but a flowing space in the temporal succession of its movements".

Some central themes x

Common Misconceptions x


The Aspect Itself

Non-Absoluteness x

Special Science x

Institutions x

Shalom x

Harm x

Contributions from the Field x

Duncan Roper on Inertia and Aristotle

Duncan Roper sent me the following email in 2010:

For me the soundest argument for the kinematical aspect in between the spatial and the physical is the notion of inertia that developed from Galileo and Newton. The View from Aristotle was that motion was somehow abnormal or unnatural. Thus things on earth moved because they were trying to find their 'natural state of rest' - in a world that presumably was trying to become static. The idea of inertia is that movement is an normal aspect of the functioning of the cosmos.
"Newton, in his first law of motion, came to formulate the idea of inertia in terms that open up the physical aspect - if a body deviates from uniform motion in a straight line, then it is because it is subject to a force.
"However, the significance for idea of inertia, in relation to the spatial aspect, is that movement - in all its anticipations - is a quite normal aspect of the being of the cosmos."

My comment: This is a useful insight, that, contrary to some Greek thought which held that rest and stasis are the 'good' or 'natural' states, movement and dynamism is indeed a 'good' and 'natural' state. Indeed, Dooyeweerd several times stressed that the cosmos and especially humanity are always 'restless'.

But to the extent that inertia presupposes mass (as it is defined in physics), then it must be of the physical aspect rather than kinematic. To be of the kinematic, inertia would have to be defined without reference to mass, i.e. as undeviating, unchanging movement. But even then I believe that from the kinematic aspect, movement can be changing, such as in rotation or acceleration.


The Aspect Among Others

Law-dependencies x

Laws of kinematics obviously require laws of the spatial aspect.

Analogies x

and some mentioned by Dooyeweerd (NC, IV:163):

Multilevel Flow Models: Transduction to Flow

Multilevel Flow Models (Lind M, (1990), "Representing goals and functions of complex systems: an introduction to Multilevel Flow Modelling", Technical Report 90-D-38 , Institute of Automatic Control Systems, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby) represent many phenomena by flows, e.g. flows of matter, energy, information - which can be extended to flows of money, happiness, etc. It seems to be a model very much of part of the kinematic aspect, and to allow and encourage transduction from other aspects to this one.

Antinomies x

Common Reductions x

The Driver

How often we come across the concept 'the driver', referring to a major class of (western) humanity. In recent decades, much has been done for this mythical beast, 'the driver'. In this concept there is an element of reductionism, in that it carries with it an assumption that the need to drive, to move freely around in a metal box under one's own control, is paramount. It has almost become a basic right. It has been elevated in importance, to the extent that many other more important things are ignored and damaged. Part of the centre of the concept of 'the driver' is movement, and to that extent, this is a reductionism to the kinematic aspect. (Another part is the idea of being under one's own control, which relates to the formative aspect.)

Notes x

Pure Movement?

Can there be pure movement in concrete form? That is, a concrete movement as such rather than movement of something. Apparently Dooyeweerd came to believe that all aspects before the physical could not have a concrete object. But I understand that it was not a major dogma of his, and that the question remains somewhat open.

Certainly, we have around us today a type of movement that Dooyeweerd would most likely not have experienced: that seen on a computer or television screen. There is no movement of physical things, but there is movement. Wertheimer (1912), the founder of the Gestalt movement, investigated this using alternately flashing lights and reported a kind of 'disembodied' movement, which he called 'phi' movement. Though he and many tried to reduce this to phenomena of the sensitive aspect, it would be dangerous to conclude that this is only sensory functioning and not true movement - just as it would be foolish to conclude that the black marks on paper are merely shapes and not words.

So perhaps computer and video animation is a kind of 'pure' movement that is concrete but without being of a physical body.

On Animation

Animation might be closer to the kernel of the kinematic aspect than movement of matter since animation involves no matter as such. It is almost pure movement, insofar as we can distinguish the movement from the medium that hosts it (e.g. the film or computer screen).

Concurring with this view is that I find that when putting a multimedia title together that contains animation rather than a simple sequence of static frames then the number of factors I have to get right increases enormously. (The number of factors one must take into account seems to multiply each time we gain another (later) aspect.) Moreover, animation seems to convey a completely different meaning from mere positioning of text and graphics.


This is part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Questions or comments would be welcome.

Copyright (c) 2004 Andrew Basden. But you may use this material subject to conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: by 16 March 1997. Last updated: 30 August 1998 rearranged and tidied. 24 December 1998 added Multilevel Flow Models and a theme. 13 September 1999 added re phi movement and did a bit of tidying; added notes from Dooyeweerd. 7 February 2001 copyright, email. 27 September 2001 wee change to themes. 24 August 2005 brought up to date with .nav,.end, a few changes. 22 September 2010 Dooyeweerd's and Basden's kernel. 5 October 2010 Roper on movement and Aristotle. 21 September 2016 briefly.