Dooyeweerd: Body, Heart, and Soul
The text below is a short extract from:
"The Idea of the Individuality Structure and the Thomistic Concept of Substance: A Critical Investigation into the foundations of the Thomistic doctrine of being"
by Herman Dooyeweerd.
(Translated by J. Glenn Friesen)
Just as sunlight is refracted by a prism into the seven colour ranges of the spectrum, so the spiritual root-unity of man’s existence is refracted by the temporal horizon into the rich diversity of modal aspects and individuality structures of bodily existence. But although the body of a plant or animal is merely a temporal unity in the diversity of modal aspects and individuality structures, the human body on the contrary has a real root-unity in the spirit or soul of human existence.
But this human soul, in its unbroken transcendent unity, is no more capable of being understood in a scientific concept than God’s Original Unity, whose image is primarily expressed in man’s spirit.
For the theoretical concept as such remains bound to the theoretical Gegenstand-relation, with its theoretical splitting up and setting over against of the temporal aspects of reality. It is precisely for this reason that it needs a supra-theoretical religious point of departure, which relates this theoretical diversity to its root-unity and Original Unity.*
A theoretical Idea as a transcendental boundary concept [grensbegrip] of the human soul can be obtained in its Scriptural sense only by means of the concentric directing of all theoretically split-apart aspects and individuality structures of man’s temporal bodily existence towards their religious root-unity, which transcends temporal existence, so that nothing in this bodily existence is withdrawn from the religious fundamental relation to God in the “heart” of our existence.
Such a transcendental Idea really implies the rejection in principle of the Thomistic dogma concerning the autonomy of the naturalis ratio.
True self-knowledge is completely dependent on knowledge about God. No one arrives at this self-knowledge other than through the Word-revelation concerning the creation of man in the image of God, the fall into sin in its radical (touching the spiritual root of human nature) meaning, and the redemption through Christ Jesus as the equally radical rebirth in the heart of our life.
And so true knowledge concerning man’s individuality is also completely bound to the revealed insight into the root-meaning of this individuality. As long as man tries to reduce what is individual in human existence to a principle of matter or to something else within the temporal horizon, man’s integral spiritual individuality is necessarily excluded.
___________*Note: So for the science of theology, nothing is then more dangerous than a speculative philosophical processing of the divine revelation concerning things that transcend human concepts. Philosophy must irrevocably stop before the boundaries of scientific knowledge. And it is just for that reason that scholasticism’s metaphysical concept of the soul is a corruption for Scriptural theology.