samedi, octobre 30, 2010

Dooyeweerd: Cosmic Order of Law-Spheres/ Òrdagh Cosmach nan Raon-Lagha

"A' Chaileag Dhall" le John Everett MILLAIS (1856)
     The modal structures of the law-spheres, as to their law-side and their subject-side, exhibit an order of increasing complication in accordance with the order of succession of the spheres in the temporal coherence of meaning.
     Since DESCARTES the Humanistic science-ideal has assumed that there is a logically continuous order of the sciences investigating the different aspects of empirical reality. This order is supposedly determined by the increasing complication of one and the same method of thinking. In the terms of the neo-Kantian Marburg School this order is created by a logical process from which new categories of thought continually derive.
     Immanence-philosophy has never posed the problem of a cosmic order of succession of modal law-spheres, with their specific sphere-sovereignty, intersecting the whole of temporal reality, its pre-logical aspects as well as its normative functions. And immanence-philosophy never could raise this problem, because it proclaimed philosophic thought to be self-sufficient, thereby necessarily eliminating the temporal order and inter-modal coherence of the law-spheres. This explains the unmethodical character especially of its treatment of the coherence between the normative aspects of reality.
     If our cosmonomic Idea really supplies a reliable πόθεσις for philosophic thought, the Idea of the meaning-coherence in the cosmic order must also be an Idea of the temporal order of succession of the modal law-spheres. It may then be asked what is the exact position of each of the latter in this temporal arrangement of aspects. Naturally, 'position', in this case does not refer to any spatial relation, but it means the relation to the cosmic order of time.
     We have seen that the meaning-modalities of the law-spheres cannot be identified with 'categories of thought' in the sense of Kantian or neo-Kantian epistemology. Since we have rejected any such identification, the problem of the analysis of the modal structures of meaning of the different aspects and their subsequent synthesis has become the problem of their analysis from the fulness of their temporal coherence of meaning.
     Our transcendental basic Idea does not allow of any arbitrary theoretical delimitation of these modal aspects. This implies the necessity of finding a new method of concept-formation, since the current methods neglect the modal meaning-structures.
     When, for instance, did immanence-philosophy ever attempt to find the modal meaning of the juridical sphere by analyzing it from the cosmic coherence between all the modal aspects of experience, including the pre-logical modalities? When has this ever been done in earnest in the case of the modal meaning of the logical sphere, or the aesthetic, the historical, the moral sphere, or that of faith?
     Because of the very nature of its philosophical basic denominator for the comparison of the different modal aspects immanence-philosophy was incapacitated to pose the problem correctly. We refer to the disturbing influence on the formation of concepts exercised by the form-matter scheme, or by the disruption of the integral empirical reality into a noumenon and a phenomenon, and by the reduction of this reality to a merely "physico-psychical" [physico-sensory] world.
     Our hypothesis maintains the unbreakable inter-modal coherence of meaning between all experiential aspects. It implies the following methodical rules: The modal meaning-aspects of reality, enclosed in law-spheres, are not scattered about arbitrarily in a sort of chaotic disorder. On the contrary, they are arranged in the order of cosmic time, in a cosmic succession of prior and posterior. And this order of succession must be detected by a careful examination of the functional-modal structures of the law-spheres themselves.
     The philosophy of the cosmonomic Idea does not proclaim this hypothesis as a gratuitous assertion, — a charge made by the Dutch philosopher J. P. VAN MULLEM in his neo-Kantian period, before he penetrated to the quintessence of this philosophy [1].
[1] Analogon des Levens. Annalen der critische phil. 2 (1932) 1 p. 131/2. Dr. VAN MULLEM acknowledged his fundamental misunderstanding of the theory of the law-spheres in an ample correspondence and he has presented a remarkable elaboration of this theory, projected by himself.
On the contrary, it is essential for this philosophy to account for the 'place' of each modal law-sphere by an exact analysis of its structure. It must, however, be borne in mind that we are not concerned with a certain 'arrangement of the classes of knowledge' in the sense intended by the above-mentioned writer, and as it occurs in the writings of the neo-Kantian GÖRLAND [2].
[2] GÖRLAND, Prologik, p. 347, where this writer argues that 'with increasing clarity and conciseness a certain order of succession has been created among the special sciences, which as a rule cannot be arbitrarily changed.' ["mit wachsender Deutlichkeit and Bündigkeit sich eine Reihenfolge unter spezifischen Wissenschaften sich herausgebildet hat, die allgemein sich nicht beliebig ändern läszt"].
Our real aim is much rather to show how one sphere is founded on the other according to their modal structure of meaning in the cosmic temporal order [3].
[3] This is also the cardinal point of difference between the theory of the modal law-spheres and the theory of the 'spheres of being' developed by NICOLAI HARTMANN after the publication of my first Dutch trilogy. The 'ontological categories' of HARTMANN have nothing to do with the essential 'modal structures of meaning'. The latter pre-suppose the integral temporal coherence of meaning between all the modal aspects of empirical reality. HARTMANN's 'spheres of being' are not conceived of as modal aspects of meaning. His dichotomy hetween material being and ideal being (geistiges Sein) is ruled by the dualistic cosmonomic Idea of Humanist thought. And so is his 'Ethics', conceived of as 'materielle Wertphilosophie'. This may suffice to refute the really surprising thesis of D. JELLEMA, Ph. D. of the University of West Virginia, according to which the theory of the modal spheres is an accommodation of HARTMANN's 'Schichtentheorie' to the Christian standpoint. (Cf. his article Dooyeweerd and Hartmann in Calvin Forum, May 1954).
     The earlier modal spheres are the foundation of all the later modal aspects in an irreversible coherence of meaning. In the future this cosmic temporal relationship will be designated in such a way that the spheres forming the foundation of a certain modal aspect are called the substratum-spheres of the latter, and those which appear to have a later place in the cosmic order of time are indicated as its superstratum-spheres.

The two terminal spheres.
     There must, however, be two terminal spheres in the cosmic order. The first has no modal substratum and the second has no superstratum. When distinguishing substratum-spheres from superstratum-spheres, we follow the cosmic order of time only in one definite direction (i.e. starting from the first terminal sphere of our cosmos). This reveals to us that the relationship between the foundation and its superstructure is essential in the inter-modal coherence of the modal structures of meaning. For the present it will be assumed that this relationship is irreversible. Later on the correctness of this hypothesis will be shown in detail. It should not be forgotten, however, that our Idea of cosmic time must point in the transcendental direction towards the selfhood that transcends time. Otherwise we run the risk of apostasy from the fulness of meaning.

The Scriptural conception of order in creation.
     The Scriptures reveal God's act of creation. In their statement of this basic truth, which transcends all theoretical thought, they do not primarily appeal to certain temporal cognitive functions of man, but to ourselves in the religious root of our existence. They do not use theoretical scientific concepts, but by means of their central basic motive they appeal to the heart of man in the language of naïve experience.
     And then they impress two things in our minds: man does not make his appearance in time until the whole foundation for the normative functions of temporal reality has been laid in the creation; and at the same time: in man the whole 'earthly' temporal cosmos finds its religious root, its creaturely fulness of meaning. Adam's fall into sin is the fall into sin of the whole 'earthly' world, which is not independent of the religious basic relation between God and the human race (in any of its temporal functions).
     For that very reason the metaphysical conception of a natural reality in itself, independent of man, is un-biblical. The religious basic motives which gave rise to it, are incompatible with the Biblical one.
     When, from the Thomistic metaphysical standpoint, 'natural reality in itself' is related to God as its ultimate cause and end, it is forgotten that God has created the earthly cosmos in central relation to mankind and that, according to Holy Scripture, He does not look upon this cosmos apart from the heart of man.
     And when this metaphysics ascribes 'objective' qualities of a sensory, logical, aesthetic and ethical character to natural things in themselves, it is forgotten that these 'objective' functions have meaning only in the subject-object relations of human experience; and the subjective functions of this experience cannot be ascribed to God, but are focussed in the human ego as their religious centre. In other words, the transcendental Idea of the Origin implies a transcendental Idea of the human ego as the religious centre of the empirical world.
     The relation existing between the law-spheres, indicated here as the relation between foundation and superstructure, is not explicitly mentioned by Divine Revelation, because this Revelation does not set forth a philosophical theory about the temporal structures, but aims at the religious pre-suppositions of the latter. Since these pre-suppositions determine the contents of the cosmonomic Idea, the Idea of Creation in its Biblical sense keeps guiding our philosophic thought, when in theoretical knowledge we try to penetrate to the modal structures of meaning.
     According to the temporal relationship between foundation and superstructure in the cosmic world-order, man is not there before the things of inorganic nature. But, viewed from the supertemporal creaturely root of the earthly world [4], this inorganic nature, just as the vegetable kingdom and the animal kingdom, has no existence apart from man, and man has been created as the lord of the creation.
[4] 1 This is what in Genesis 1 is called the "earth" in its contradistinction to the "Heavens", viz. the temporal world concentrated in man.
The foundational and the transcendental direction in the cosmic order of time.
     But then it must also be possible to follow the cosmic order of time in the reverse direction, and to approximate the coherence of meaning of the modal law-spheres by starting from the second terminal sphere, which we shall come to know as the sphere of faith. This reverse temporal direction cannot change the relationship between substratum and superstratum, but it is directed towards the religious root of our cosmos, in which the selfhood participates in its transcendence beyond cosmic time. Under the guidance of the Idea of the totality of meaning philosophic thought is turned in a truly transcendental direction when it is recognized that the modal structure of the temporal modal spheres necessarily points to the religious fulness of meaning. This transcendental direction will appear when philosophical reflection starts from the second terminal aspect of our cosmos, and follows the modal spheres in the reverse order. It is the religious fulness of meaning that forms the foundation of all its modal refractions in cosmic time. If this Idea of the totality of meaning is to be actually maintained in philosophic thought, there must be a strict correlation between the two different directions of time, which for the present will be called the foundational and the transcendental directions. It is only the Biblical religious basic motive that gives the view of time the ultimate direction to the true fulness of meaning intended by our cosmonomic Idea. But we have not yet arrived at theoretical knowledge of the temporal order in the modal structures of meaning. We have done no more than giving our thought its πόθεσις by means of the cosmonomic Idea in subjection to Divine Revelation.
     Only in the theoretical analysis of the modal structures of meaning can it appear what scientific consequences are implied in the preliminary conception of our transcendental Idea of time as the Idea of the cosmic order of succession of the modal law-spheres.

Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol II/ Part I/ Chapt 1/§ 6 pp 49-54)