vendredi, avril 08, 2016

Herman Dooyeweerd: Gender Normativity

Herman Dooyeweerd: Normatachd Insgne
'Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife' 
by Jan van Eyck (Early Netherlandish, 1434)
"The subjectivity of human identity in the 21st century is striking, and alarming. Today, to feel something is to be something... All the objective underpinnings of human identity have frayed or died... Identifying as a woman is now equal to being a woman. Feeling is reality. The entirely subjective sentiment becomes objective, legal fact... Churches in the West are in constant crisis, reeling from one scandal to another, and seemingly lacking the moral resources to withstand the tidal wave of relativism... Relentless external intervention into private life has undermined familial sovereignty... The new identitarians might technically be liberated from old social pressures, gender norms and moral expectations, but... their need for constant validation... means... they have become psychic slaves." 
- Brendan O'Neill, SPIKED!
Herman Dooyeweerd: Gender Normativity

N.B. Hyperlinks below now defunct.
Please visit J Glenn Friesen's new GLOSSARY site

Dooyeweerd would certainly NOT consider his view to be "traditional" but rather "creational" (though we must be very careful to distinguish the import of this term from that of the profoundly different "creationist").

The term "psychical" in Dooyeweerd does not mean "occult" in any sense, but rather "affective", "emotional", "feeling", "sensory" etc. It is one of the fifteen 'Law-Spheres' or 'Aspects'.

The term "religious" does not refer to adherents of versions of theism as commonly understood. Rather it encompasses all humanity without exception, with reference to whatever prevails (whether within or beyond the temporal Law-Spheresas one's ultimate point of personal integration. It is accordingly defined by Dooyeweerd thus:

"The innate impulse of human selfhood to direct itself toward the true or pretended absolute Origin of all temporal diversity of meaning, which it finds focused concentrically in itself". (Herman Dooyeweerd: A New Critique of Theoretical Thought Vol 1, p 57)

(Also called Aspects/ Modes/ Modalities/ Meaning-sides)
The following extracts from Dooyeweerd's opus give a brief intro to his approach to gender normativity:

The individuality of human experience within the structural horizon of experience and the view of man as a microcosm.

The walls of the absolutization of personal individuality have no windows.

[...] The Christian speaks with awe about the living personal God, Who in His mercy and grace has revealed Himself to fallen man. But also in the communion with this God in Christ, the Christian remains within the human creaturely limits of the possibility of experience. 

[...] Our first objection to this [Scheler] Idea of a microcosm is that subjective individuality can never determine the structural horizon of human experience and of the cosmos. This horizon is a structural order, the Divine order of the creation itself. It comprises in its determining and limiting structure the individuality of human personality, its religious root as well as its temporal existence. Creaturely subjective individuality cannot determine and limit itself, but is a priori determined and limited by the Divine order.

[...] But for its super-individual law-conformity, individual subjectivity would be an ἄπειρον (apeiron), a meaningless indeterminateness. The possibility of subjective experience would be cancelled if the horizon of human experience were subjectively individual. 

[...] The lack of critical transcendental self-reflection...leads to the tyrannical elevation of one's private subjective insight to universally valid absolute truth. Such an insight refuses to submit to the test of the Divine world-order. Our transcendental a priori knowledge remains subjective and must always be put to the test of the Truth. Within the transcendent horizon of experience we must trace its deepest root. The philosophy of the cosmonomic Idea demands that the whole of transcendental philosophic thought reconsider the problem of the criterion of truth with respect to subjective transcendental knowledge. This demand is scientifically imperative, no matter from what standpoint the thinker starts. We have clearly shown the subjectivism of the immanence-standpoint.

(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol 2 pp 592-596)

* * * * *
Marital authority and the normal emotional aspect of matrimony. Can psychology speak of "normal"? Cultural influences on female emotional life.
It cannot be denied that normal female emotional life in the marital bond wants to find support and guidance in the husband, and is disappointed if they are lacking. Also in a man's normal affective life the instinctive impulse to support and lead corresponds to these female needs. 

On a functionalistic standpoint the question may of course be asked: what is a normal male and female life of feeling? Then the deviations from what we have explained above are treated as phenomena of perfectly the same value as those corresponding to this standard. But then it should be remembered that it is no longer possible to speak of the structure of male and female feeling; for these structures in the psychical (affective/ emotional/ feeling/ sensory) aspect of human existence cannot be approached apart from the normative structural functions. They are included in the act-structure of a human body, though in a restrictive or closed sense they also function in its lower animal structure qualified by instinctive psychical (sensory) impulses. 

No doubt there occur female feelings in men, and male feelings in women. But this cannot be established without a standard for male and female feeling. If we eliminate the coherence between the psychical (emotional/ feeling) and the later normative structural functions ["normative functions" = note the aspects above the 'Analytical' on the Law-sphere chart (FMF)], all the human individuality structures in the feeling-modus are levelled out. Then we are only left with the modal-functional coherence between the most heterogeneous psychic (emotional) phenomena. [ie we are left with a disconnect between the emotional realm and the realms of logic, historical formation, symbolic communication, social interaction, economic sense of what is "enough", aesthetic harmony, judicious evaluation, ethical responsiveness, and inner conviction. We might also observe that there is currently pressure to accept as normal a self-declared disconnect between "feeling" and the earlier "biotic" and "physical" aspects. (FMF)]

It is no doubt correct to say that in the transcendental direction, feeling in man and woman is indissolubly bound up with its historical formation in the different cultural periods. A number of psychical (emotional) differences between the sexes depend on the cultural influences of many successive generations. [Consider, for instance, the massive influence of celebrities such as David Bowie:

Sùilean Dhàibhidh Bhuidhe
 Nach air a bha an dà shealladh sna 70an.
Oir tha sinn uile a' seinn òran Ziggi a-nis,
crochte mar gum biodh bho uèirichean-stèids,
a' smèideadh gu bàidheil ri Mèidsear Tom,
fiamh-ghàire oirnn air sgàth nan camarathan.

The Eyes of David Bowie
He really had the 'second sight' in the 70s, didn't he?
Because he's sure got us singing Ziggi's song now.
As we sway highly strung from invisible stage-wires,
and wave duly overcome to Major Tom,
and smile so convincingly for the cameras. (FMF)] 

Modern psychology has rightly set these facts in the light. But this state of affairs is exactly an indication of the indissoluble coherence between the psychic (sensory) function of feeling and the normative structural functions in human existence. These facts can never be argued against the constancy of the internal-structural principle in the emotional relations between husband and wife. For this principle is already pre-supposed in the historical formation of male and female feeling in marriage.

Cultural education cannot change the male structure into a female one, nor the other way round. Only a fundamental encroachment upon the biotic structure of the human body would be able to accomplish such a structural alteration because sex difference has a typical biotic foundation. As long as psychology continues to speak of a male and a female feeling-structure, it will be in need of a normative structural principle which itself is independent of the concrete historical development. To point out effeminacy in a man's emotional life, implies a normative structural principle lying at the foundation of this statement.
(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol. III, pp 325-327)

* * * * *
Sociology and Norms
And now the question of sociology as a science in a narrower sense, thus as a non-philosophical science, well yes, there we have this unhappy fact that the traditional view of sociology is that sociology exclusively investigates our factual societal relationships, in order to explain them in a causal way, leaving the normative views of these matters outside the field of sociology. They then say that these norms belong to legal science, or to ethical theory, and so forth. Now I have tried to show that this view is in conflict with social reality – that such a reality does not exist. The whole social reality as such, what we call social facts, can only be ascertained by the application of norms and lines of responsibility. For example, if I say that there is a marriage between A and B, then I undoubtedly have a social relationship in view, which also has its juridical aspect. But it is a real social relationship. It is a social fact that this is a marriage. But I cannot establish that fact without the application of norms. How else would I be able to distinguish marriage from concubinage or from a relationship of free love? And so on. If I say that someone is a minister, then without a doubt I am relating a social fact. But can I establish that without applying a norm? Being a minister presupposes qualifications, it presupposes an office. Yes, these are all things that I can only establish by applying norms. In other words, this is the dilemma for sociology: is it a true science in the sense of wetenschap or is it ‘science’ in the English sense?
NOTE (FMF): wetenschap [nf] 
1.(cognition, knowledge, noesis) the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning
2. (science, scientific knowledge) knowledge accumulated by systematic study and organized by general principles. 
3. (skill, science) ability to produce solutions in some problem domain. 
4. (science, scientific discipline) a particular branch of scientific knowledge. 
Americans are presently much broader in their understanding of ‘science,’ for they understand it to also mean normative science. But the English have not yet come that far, for they sharply distinguish between science and the arts. And they say, "Okay, legal science as a normative science, and ethics, the ethical science – those are arts but not science, for science concerns reality as it really is, the facts. And the arts, they can of course say how things ought to be. That’s the way these two areas are, and they should be that way; they should not be mixed up with each other". All right, but then I must state that it cannot all be reduced to social reality. For if from out of social reality, we try to abstract social norms in the broadest sense of the word from out of social reality, then we do not retain any single social fact. And here, where sociology concerns itself as a non-philosophical science, and concerns itself with facts – here is now a point where from a Christian standpoint, I believe we are forced to also make our Christian voice heard. And in my view what we must say is this, that this whole  dualism of what is and what ought to be [sein en sollen], which ever since Immanuel Kant has established itself as a kind of dogma, that this can be shown to derive from a dualistic religious Ground-motive. The humanistic Ground-motive is what I have sketched out as a motive of nature and freedom. On the one hand, there is the motive to control nature by means of scientific causal thought, and on the other hand there is the area of morals, ethics in a broader sense and the area of belief, as the domain of the autonomous freedom of the human personality. These two domains were separated from each other and now it is put forward as a scientific axiom that there are sciences and there are the arts, fine arts [kunst] therefore, and skills [kunstvaardigen]. They say that fine arts have to do with practical things and therefore also with norms, but that the sciences have to do exclusively with how things are [met het zo zijn], with facts and not with norms. And now the Christian voice must be heard, the Christian answer in my opinion. But that cannot be reduced to social reality.
(Extract from 1964 lecture: Center and Periphery: The Philosophy of the Law-Idea in a changing world  [PDF] by Herman Dooyeweerd (Translated by Dr. J. Glenn Friesen)
* * * * *
Sociology postscript
Maar naar onze beschouwing, de Christelijke opvatting der persoonlijkheid, kan evenmin het 'individueele ik' in den tijd worden gezocht en daarmede nemen wij principieel tegen de 'geesteswetenschappelijke sociologie' positie, die zulks met de geheele immanentie philosophie juist wel doet. De individueele zelfheid is door en door religieus, boventijdelijk. In de kosmische tijdsorde kan nòch aan den individueelen mensch, nòch aan het verband zelfheid, ikheid toekomen. Dit is het cardinale uitgangspunt voor iedere wezenlijk Christelijke beschouwing der tijdelijke samenleving. (De Crisis der Humanistische Staatsleer, Herman Dooyeweerd. Amsterdam: Ten Have, 1931, p. 113.)
[But according to our view, the Christian understanding of a person, the 'individual I' can no more be sought within time. And we thereby stand in principle against the position of sociology in the humanities, which seeks to do just this in its immanence philosophy. The individual selfhood is through and through religious, supratemporal. In the cosmic temporal order, selfhood or I-ness cannot be reached by [sociological conceptions of] either individual man, or of societal structures. This is the principal point of departure for any truly Christian view of temporal society.  (Quoted and translated by Dr J. Glenn Friesen)]

* * * * *
Must epistemology end in a Christian sermon?
     At this point, many a reader who has taken the trouble to follow our argument will perhaps turn away annoyed. He will ask: Must epistemology end in a Christian sermon or in a dogmatic statement? I can only answer by means of the question as to whether the dogmatic statement with which the supposed autonomous epistemology opens, viz. the proclamation of the self-sufficiency of the human cognitive functions, has a better claim to our confidence as far as epistemology is concerned.
     Our philosophy makes bold to accept the "stumbling block of the cross of Christ" as the corner stone of epistemology (1 Cor 1:23). And thus it also accepts the cross of scandal, neglect and dogmatic rejection. In the limitation and weakness of the flesh, we grasp the absolute truth in our knowledge of God derived from His revelation, in prayer and worship....True self-knowledge opens our eyes to the radical corruption of fallen man, to the radical lie which has caused his spiritual death. It therefore leads to a complete surrender to Him Who is the new root of mankind, and Who overcame death through his sufferings and death on the cross. In Christ's human nature our heavenly Father has revealed the fulness of meaning of all creation (1 Ephes 1:10), and through Him according to His Divine nature, God created all things as through the Word of his power (2 Heb 1:2, 3).
     The primary lie obfuscating the horizon of human experience is the rebellious thought that man could do without this knowledge of God and of himself in any field of knowledge, and could find the ultimate criterion of truth in 'autonomous', i.e. absolutized theoretical thought.
(Herman Dooyeweerd, "New Critique of Theoretical Thought" Vol II pp 561-563)

* * * * *
Christian action not resignation...
"With the acceptance of the human will as an essential formative factor in the historical process, and the acknowledgment of the normative meaning of power as a historical mission, our view of history is inexorably opposed to all manner of romantic quietism."

"[...] But history is never formed without human interference, though the latter is only instrumental with regard to God's government of the world. The interlacing of normative principle and human formative will is founded in the modal meaning of history itself and in the Divine world-order in which its modal law-sphere has been given its proper place. The historical development sets Christianity an eminent, normative task, a Divine mission, viz. the laying of the historical foundation, through the power of Christ, for the realization of Christian principles in this sinful world. This conclusion can no longer be evaded since it has been shown that the historical law-sphere is really the basis in the retrocipatory direction of time for the entire normative dynamics revealing itself in the opening-process of the other normative law-spheres."

"If the Christian principles of justice, morality etc are to find acceptance in this world, then it is only possible on the historical basis of power-formation in a continuous struggle with the powers of apostasy. True, God Himself guarantees the Honour of His Name, the victory of His Kingdom over the kingdom of darkness. But He uses human instruments in this struggle. Those who in the manner of the quietists make an appeal to 'God's guidance in history', as a kind of an unconsciously operating irrational factor outside of human intervention, corrupt the meaning of this Christian motif. For the latter is a summons to activity, not to resignation."

(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol 1 pp 248,249)

* * * * *
What IS "normativity"?
Finally, contrary to a frequently held opinion, the formation and exercise of power are not subject to natural laws. They are subject to norms, to the rules of what ought to be. The norms for the exercise of power are intrinsically historical norms. Nations and bearers of power are subject to them. It is not true, for example, that the individual national character is itself the norm for cultural development, as the Historical School taught. This irrationalistic view of history must be rejected emphatically, for the creation motive compels us to acknowledge that in every area of life the law of God stands above the creature subject to it. The creature is the subject (sujet) of divine order. But the ordinances placed by God over the process of historical development can be transgressed by nations and bearers of power. This possibility of transgression confirms the truth that these ordinances are norms. Man cannot disobey a natural law, such as the law of gravity.

Actually, whenever one speaks of the contrast between "historical" and "unhistorical" and calls unhistorical action "reactionary," one accepts the existence of truly historical norms. When one characterizes a certain political trend as "reactionary" one makes a historical value judgment that presupposes the application of a norm for historical development.

But how do we know that God placed historical development under norms and not, for instance, under the natural laws that hold for electrical and chemical phenomena or for the organic development of life? The normative character of historical development is apparent from the place God assigned the historical aspect in the creation order. The contrast between historical and unhistorical action refers back to the opposition found in the logical aspect of reality between what agrees with the norm for thought and what conflicts with this norm. If a person contradicts himself in a logical argument, we accuse him of arguing illogically. The logical/illogical contrast presupposes that our thought function is placed under logical norms that can be transgressed. 

Among the various aspects of reality the aspect of logical distinction is the first that displays a contrast between what ought to be and what ought not to be. The divine ordinances or laws for all subsequent aspects are normative in character. Norms are standards of evaluation, and as such they can be employed only by creatures who, endowed with a logical function, are capable of rational distinction.

Some maintain that norms appear already in the organic aspect. After all, we call an organism healthy or unhealthy depending upon whether or not it functions according to the "norm" for health. But this judgment rests upon a misunderstanding. A norm exists only for creatures who are responsible for their own behaviour and who are accountable for conduct that transgresses norms. Our ability to give account in this way is possible only on the basis of the faculty of logical judgment. Surely, no one would hold a sick plant or animal responsible for the abnormal functioning of its organism. No one would blame it for its sickness. Yet, we do hold someone accountable for arguing illogically. 

Accountability is also at stake when we blame a political movement for its reactionary attitude toward historical development, or when we say of someone that he behaves antisocially, expresses himself ungrammatically, runs his business uneconomically, writes poor poetry, acts unjustly, conducts himself immorally, or lives in unbelief.

Norms are given in the creation order as principles for human behaviour. Within the historical aspect, as well as in all subsequent aspects of reality, these principles require formation by competent human authorities. The process of giving form to normative principles must always take into consideration the level of development of a people, for all subsequent aspects of human life are interwoven with the historical aspect of culture. Giving form of any kind always refers back to cultural formation in historical development. Accordingly, the principles of decency, courtesy, respect, civility, etc. require formation in social interaction, in our concrete social manners. 

Likewise, lingual principles require the forms of language; the principles of economic value require economic forms; the principles of harmony require the forms of style; legal principles require the juridical forms of laws, decrees, statutes, and regulations. All the later aspects thus display an inseparable coherence with the historical aspect.

If the creation motive does not govern one's thinking, it may seem that social interaction, language, economics, art, justice, morality, and faith are in essence historical phenomena, as if they are of purely historical origin. But the creation motive of God's Word, which continually reminds us that God created all things according to their own nature, keeps us from this historicistic error and sharpens our ability to distinguish the aspects of reality. For example, positive  law, in its human formation, is not historical in nature. In contrast to historical formation, which presupposes the power of those who give form to cultural principles, the legislator's formation of positive law requires legal power and juridical competence. Legal power cannot be reduced to power in the historical sense. Such a reduction results in an identification of justice with power, which is tantamount to an abolition and negation of justice.

The persistent claim of National Socialism that a nation establishes its right to exist through a historical power struggle was a typical outcome of historicism. "Might is right" was the political slogan of the totalitarian state. The slogan was all the more dangerous because it contained a moment of truth. It is indeed true, as we shall see later, that a world judgment comes over the nations in world history, though never in the sense that right dissolves into might. It is indeed the case that the figure of "legal power" points to the inseparable coherence between the jural and the historical aspects of reality. Without power in the historical sense juridical power cannot exist. Nevertheless, the nature of each power is intrinsically different.

(Herman Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Thought, pp 67-70)
For further philosophical context: