mardi, janvier 04, 2011


§4 - Grepen uit de structuur-analyse van kosmisch latere zin-modaliteiten tot verwerving van inzicht in de volgorde der wetskringen.
     In the structural analysis of the first three modalities of meaning, although only intended to be of a provisional character, we followed a systematic method. And it needs no further comment that justice can only be done to the method of analysis indicated by applying it systematically.
     But if we go on in the same way in our analysis of the later modalities of meaning, the boundaries between the general theory of the modal law-spheres and the special theory will be cancelled, and we shall land in the problems of the 'philosophia specialis'. This would not only far exceed the scope of a general theory, but it would set the reader on a road that he has not yet been prepared for. He would repeatedly come upon general problems that ought first to be looked into in a general theory. He has so far been confronted for example, with the modal subject-object relation and the opening-process in the modal meaning, which will prove to be some of the main themes in the general theory. They demand a separate discussion.
     In the present stage our enquiry is exclusively concerned with the task of bringing home to the reader the value of the distinction between the three different kinds of structural moments in the modality of meaning. In this way he may get an insight into the strict cosmic law-conformity of the order of the law-spheres. The reader should constantly keep this in mind in order to understand why in the study of the later modalities of meaning we restrict ourselves to some examples of our structural analysis. Even in this restriction the anticipation of later themes cannot be completely avoided.
Meaning-nucleus and retrocipations in the original modal sense of 
Zin-kern en retrocipaties in den originairen modalen zin van het 
     We start with the biotic law-sphere, which proves to be founded in the spheres of number, space, movement, and energy, according to the cosmic order of time. For the modal structure of the biotic aspect cannot exist without these substratum-spheres. The irreducible meaning-nucleus of the biotic law-sphere is life.
     Biology can attempt to find specific characteristics of life phenomena, such as autonomous procreation, preservation of the whole in the continuous change of its parts etc. But these characteristics are related to living beings in their sensible behaviour. They cannot define life as the irreducible meaning-kernel of the biotic aspect of human experience and empirical reality. This is due to the fact that they are analogical concepts, which presuppose their modal qualification by the irreducible meaning-kernel of the biotic aspect. Life is a fundamental modality, not a concrete phenomenon [emphasis by FMF]. It belongs to the fundamental modal horizon of human experience, which lies at the basis of the concrete phenomena considered to be manifestations of life.
    Therefore the contest between mechanists and vitalists in biology cannot be decided by experiments. For as soon as we establish the fact that a living being has originated, we appeal to an irreducible modal aspect of experience, and not to phenomena whose scientific interpretation as manifestations of life pre-supposes this fundamental aspect of experience.
     Life as such is not perceptible to the eye of sense. It can only manifest itself in sensible phenomena. But this very manifestation cannot be experienced in a merely sensory way. It appeals to the original life-aspect. And the latter cannot transcend human experience since it is one of its fundamental modalities, not a metaphysical substance.
     Therefore the mechanistic interpretation of life is the result of a philosophical prejudice, not the outcome of special scientific research. It tries to reduce life in its modal meaning-kernel to another modality of meaning. But at the same time it must appeal to the nucleus of the biotic meaning-aspect as soon as it wishes to establish the presence of life-phenomena [1].
[1] This State of affairs is being more and more acknowledged by students of bioIogy. WILHELM TROLL in his Allgemeine Biologie (1948 p. 1/2) summarizes the prevailing view as follows. After having remarked that the attempt to reduce biology to physics and chemistry has furnished many contributions to our knowledge of the phenomena of life, he continues: "With respect, however, to the general pretension that in this way we can arrive at a theory of life merely based on the foundations of physics and chemistry, the mechanic conception mentioned has not only failed to stand the test of experience, but it has positively refuted itself.
     For the more progress was made with the application of physical and chemical methods on problems of biology, the more clearly it was shown that in this way the essence of life cannot at all be conceived... Much rather we are confronted with an original phenomenon and in perceiving it we enter into a sphere of experience which transcends physics and chemistry."
     In the theory of the modal structures of experience we have only to replace the term 'original phenomenon' in the last sentence by 'original modal aspect'.
     This nucleus expresses itself in an organic relation and this organic relation, as a moment of the biotic modality, is a necessary modal retrocipation in its meaning-structure. The reason is that the 'organic' implies the analogy of number, viz. the (biotic) unity in the multiplicity of vital functions.
     I must emphatically warn against an identification of organic life as a modality of meaning with a living organism [Bolded by FMF]. The latter is a structure of individuality, a typical whole functioning in principle within all the modal aspects alike, though it is typically qualified by the modus of organic living. Its identification with the biotic aspect has caused a lot of disturbance in the discussion between the mechanistic and the vitalistic trends in biology concerning the problem of life. It was to a great extent due to the influence of the metaphysical concept of substance which diverted the attention from the modal horizon of experience [2].
[2] Cf. my treatise Het substantiebegrip in de moderne Natuurphilosophie en de theorie van het enkaptisch structuurgeheel in the quarterly Philosophia Reformata 15 Year, 1950 p. 66 - 139.
The organic moment in the modal structure of the biotic aspect is not itself an organism, but a modal relation of unity and multiplicity of life functions, a numerical analogy qualified by the meaning-nucleus of this modal aspect. It cannot be lacking in the modal structure of the latter.
     Neither can a spatial analogy be wanting in the modal meaning-structure of the biotic law-sphere. Not a single instance of organic life can exist without its biotic space, as the (objective) field of biotical action and reaction, the bio-milieu. This retrocipation refers in the first place to a bio-physical space as an anticipatory function of the field of energy-effects. But it is ultimately founded in the original meaning of extension. There can be no doubt now that this biotic spatial sphere cannot express the original spatial meaning. For we have demonstrated the internal antinomy in the view of 'matter' as the 'filling-up of pure space', and in that of 'movement' as 'space-content' [3].
[3] Cf. pag. 98 - 105.
Consequently, it must be evident that a fortiori biotic effects cannot function within space in its original (pure) sense.
     Among the modal retrocipations of the original biotic aspect there must also be an analogy of movement. Organic life can only express itself in 'biotic movement'.
     Static rigidity is incompatible with the original meaning of life. But this biotic movement is not movement in the original sense. It is intensive and qualitative development in the organic unity of life, in the temporal order of the biotic law-sphere itself. It is only founded in the original meaning of movement.
     Original movement, in its turn, approximates the modal meaning of life in its biotic anticipations. These biotic anticipations cannot be deprived of their original meaning of movement, although they are directed towards organic life (in the transcendental direction of time).
     Meanwhile the modal aspect of movement cannot anticipate the modal meaning of life without the intermediary of the aspect of energy. As explained above, energy itself appeals to the original meaning of movement in an analogical moment of its modal structure, viz. that of cause and effect (operation). Energy-movement in the physical-chemical process can manifest itself either with or without an anticipatory direction towards organic life.
     Within the inner structure of individuality of a 'living organism' the processes of energy-exchange doubtless disclose biotic anticipations realizing themselves under the direction of organic life-impulses.
     The organic moment of life itself implies an analogy of energy. It does not only mean a vital unity in a diversity of biotic functions; in addition it is really an organizing biotic energy directing the physical-chemical processes in their anticipatory potencies.
     But this state of affairs is completely misinterpreted when life is conceived of as a 'substance' (entelechy in H. DRIESCH) which directs a purely mechanical constellation of matter, closed in itself in the rigid deterministic sense of classical physics. This neo-vitalistic conception involves itself in inner antinomies and cannot account for the inner coherence of meaning of the biotical and the physical aspects of experience.
     Life is not a 'substance', but a modal function, just like energy [emphasis by FMF]. And the latter is not closed in a rigid mechanical-causal coherence, but because of its modal structure it has anticipatory potencies, which are only opened by the directing impulses of the biotic functions [4].
[4] This is not the same as NICOLAI HARTMANN's ontological theory of the hierarchy of different 'layers' of being (Schichtentheorie) and his opinion that 'matter' as a 'lower layer' would be completely 'transformed' by life. HARTMANN does not know the modal structures of meaning and their coherence.
     To 'biochemistry', which investigates these anticipatory functions experimentally, (organic) life lies outside the original meaning of the physical-chemical field of research. The concept of life here remains a theoretical limiting concept, and it should remain so.
Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol II/ Part I/ Chapt 2/§4 pp 107-111)