Original interview recorded on 16 May 1973. English translation by Jack Van Meggelen, edited for subtitles by Gregory Baus (with help from Tijs van den Brink). For more on Dooyeweerd and his philosophy and the school of scholarship he helped develop, see below.
The Dilemma for Christian Philosophical Thought & the Critical Character of the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea
(Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee).
Translation with added footnotes by Chris van Haeften of “Het dilemma voor het Christelijk Wisgeerig denken en het critisch karakter van de wijsbegeerte der wetsidee” Philosophia Reformata 1936 1:1 3-16.
Still quite young, the new “Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee” has ventured to put forward a basic thesis by which it squarely opposes the traditional attitude of thought. It is this: philosophical theoretical thought is not self-sufficient in its own domain.
The gist of this thesis is in the italicized words. They not only signify a radical break with the basic idea of modern humanism of the sovereignty of thought, but also a complete departure from the traditional synthetic standpoint of halfway Christian philosophy. For it is quite possible to confess that philosophy is not able on its own to uncover the full meaning of the cosmos and of human personality and even less the unfathomable depths of God's being and the mysteries of grace of the Christian religion. But even then we can still hold on to the postulate that our thinking has an immanent self-sufficiency. Indeed, on such terms we might well aim for a more or less harmonious synthesis between “natural reason’s” own teachings and the supra-rational mysteries of the Christian religion as they are unveiled by “supra-natural revelation”.
But the recognition of the self-insufficiency of theoretical thinking in its own domain brings about a radical revolution in the conception of philosophy. From now on any and every reconciliation with the traditional standpoint is ruled out.
The second basic thesis of the WdW is that the traditional conception of philosophy’s immanent autonomy of thought results from a lack of critical self-reflection on philosophical thought itself. The traditional conception of philosophy does not sufficiently account for the necessary conditions by which alone genuine philosophical thinking is possible. This second thesis amounts to a serious attack on the philosophical foundation of the idea of the autonomy of thought. As such it is the opening move of a genuine philosophical debate with the adherents of the immanence-standpoint which on the basis of rightful scholarly grounds may be expected to be followed by an equally serious response in return.
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Confronting the Dilemmas of Christian Philosophy
Bruce C Wearne
(Revised 11th July 2016)
In 1936, the task fell to Herman Dooyeweerd, one of the Editorial Board of Philosophia Reformata, to introduce the journal to members of the Vereeniging voor Calvinistische Wijsbegeerte and to subscribers. In this inaugural article for the new journal, Dooyeweerd sets forth some basic theses that characterise “this still youthful philosophical movement”.
This article examines the first four or so pages of that initial article, which sets the direction for the subsequent discussion and then, for the subsequent contribution of the philosophical association’s scholarly journal.
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