mardi, mars 12, 2013

ABC Dooyeweerd 1: No Autonomous Thought

ABC Dooyeweerd 1: No Autonomous Thought (Graphic free for non-profit use)

The dogma concerning the autonomy of theoretical thought as an impediment to philosophical discussion among the various schools.
     It appears again and again that this dogma impedes a mutual understanding among philosophic schools that prove to be fundamentally opposed in their true (though hidden) starting-point. This is a second ground for doubting its character as a purely theoretical axiom.
     For if all philosophical currents that claim to choose their standpoint in theoretical thought alone,  actually had no deeper presuppositions, it would be possible to convince an opponent of his error in a purely theoretical way.
     But, as a matter of fact, a Thomist has never succeeded by purely theoretical arguments in convincing a Kantian or a positivist of the tenability of a theoretical metaphysics. Conversely, the Kantian epistemology has not succeeded in winning over a single believing Thomist to critical idealism.
     In the debate among these philosophical schools, one receives the impression that they are reasoning at cross-purposes, because they are not able to find a way to penetrate to each other's true starting-points. The latter are masked by the dogma concerning the autonomy of theoretic thought. The same holds, for example, in the debate conducted by a positivist of the Vienna school with a Hegelian thinker or a Spinozist.
     This simple fact of experience, in the nature of the case, does not yet prove the impossibility of autonomous theoretical reflection in philosophy. But it is quite sufficient to show that it is necessary to make the autonomy of theoretical thought a critical problem and no longer to pass it off as a scientific axiom. This problem should be posed as a quaestio iuris. It touches the empirical sciences as well as philosophy, since both imply the theoretical attitude of thought.

The necessity of a transcendental criticism of the theoretical attitude of thought as such. The difference in principle between transcendent and transcendental criticism.
     The proper answering of the question raised above requires a transcendental criticism of the theoretical attitude of thought as such. By this we understand a critical inquiry (respecting no single so-called theoretical axiom) into the universally valid conditions which alone make theoretical thought possible, and which are required by the immanent structure of this thought itself. In this latter restriction lies the difference in principle between a transcendent and a transcendental criticism of science and philosophy.
     The former does not really touch the inner character and the immanent structure of the theoretical attitude of thought, but confronts, for instance Christian faith with the results of modern science and with the various philosophical systems, and thus ascertains, whether or not factual conflicts exist.
     It remains dogmatic, however, as long as it fails squarely to face the primary question, whether the theoretical attitude of thought itself, with reference to its inner structure, can be independent of supra-theoretical prejudices. With such a dogmatic, merely transcendent criticism, one constantly runs the risk of regarding as the result of unprejudiced science and philosophical reflection, something that appears upon critical inquiry to be the consequence of a masked religious prejudice and an anti-Christian attitude of faith. Besides, there is another ever present danger. What is actually a complex of philosophical ideas dominated by unbiblical motives may be accepted by dogmatic theology and accomodated to the doctrine of the church. The danger is that this complex of ideas will be passed off as an article of Christian faith, if it has inspired the terminology of some confessions of faith. Transcendent criticism, in other words, is valueless to science and philosophy, because it confronts with each other two different spheres whose inner point of contact is left completely in the dark. One can then just as well proceed to exercise criticism of science from the standpoint of art or politics!
     In order to guarantee from the outset a really critical attitude in philosophy, transcendental criticism of theoretical thought should come at the very beginning of philosophical reflection.
(Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Prolegomena, pp 36-38)