Review of Jonathan Chaplin: “Herman Dooyeweeerd: Philosopher of State and Civil Society”

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Review of Jonathan Chaplin: Herman Dooyeweerd: Christian Philosopher of State and Civil Society

Jonathan Chaplin’s analysis of Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is helpful in discussing (1) the state’s role in harmonizing and protecting individual and communal interests within various societal spheres and (2) Dooyeweerd’s ideas of public justice and public interest, which he uses to justify state intervention in other societal organizations. But Chaplin continues a conservative reading of Dooyeweerd. This is due to (a) his misunderstanding of the ideas of individuality structures and enkapsis (b) his misunderstanding of enkaptic relations among institutions, natural communities, organized communities and free associations, (c) a consequent incorrect distinction between internal and external functions of the state and (d) an inadequate discussion of the idea of human rights. Dooyeweerd’s use of enkapsis allows him to develop a view of societal sphere sovereignty very different from that of Abraham Kuyper, and one that allows the intervention of the state in other societal organizations because there is a one-way enkaptic relationship.

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