Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

I, 62 (Being of the Archè), 64 (“Being” of God), 69 (Being of the Archè), 74 (Being of the Archè)
NC III, 67
ontical NC I, 39, 87

But although temporal reality is not Being, Dooyeweerd does speak of the “ontical.” NC I, 39, 87.

By ‘ontical’ he means that which is grounded in the order of reality itself, and not in our theory about reality (“Het transcendentale critiek van het wijsgeerig denken,” Philosophia Reformata 6 (1941), 1-20, at 7). Page 13: ontical aprioristructure of theoretical thought.Page 15: cosmic ontical ocherence of meaning.


Generally Dooyeweerd refers to the meaning of created reality instead of its being. But this does not mean that he avoids talking about being altogether. As the above references show, he does refer to the Being of God, or the Arché. By referring to temporal reality as ‘meaning’ instead of being, he wants to emphasize its total dependence on God. It has no existence in itself.

And yet Dooyeweerd refers to different apriori levels of meaning, or dimensions to our experience. We descend from the supratemporal religious level of the selfhood to the temporal levels. There is therefore a hierarchy of levels even within created reality.

Thus, although Dooyeweerd may rejects an “analogy of being,” or a “chain of being,” (NC III, 67) there are still levels of reality. Dooyeweerd’s sees human existence as ek-sistere. But temporal reality has an even lesser degree of reality than our self, since temporal reality has no existence apart from our selfhood, its root (NC I, 100; II, 53).

Furthermore, the states of affairs uncovered by theoretical thought have a lesser degree of reality than what we experience in naive experience. They are not ontical, but only intentional. NC I, 87 distinguishes between the intentional structure of philosophic thought (the Gegenstand) and its ontical structure (its apriori conditions). And see NC I, 39 the structure of theoretical thought is “only an intentional one; it does not have an ontical character.” Theory is based on abstraction from the full reality. It is also an abstraction from our full selfhood.

Creaturely meaning and the Being of the Arché are not on the same level. This is a definite ontology, and despite Dooyeweerd’s protests, it would normally be referred to as a metaphysical view of the Origin. If it is not a metaphysics, that is because on Dooyeweerd’s view, metaphysics is a reference to that which we do not experience. And he is emphatic that we do have an experience of the supratemporal. But is not his reference to the Being of God and the Arché something that is beyond even our experience? Even on his own terms, that seems to be metaphysical language. I believe that it would be better for Dooyeweerd to acknowledge that a metaphysics is inevitable.

Revised Dec. 27/04; Dec 23/16