bottom temporal layer

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.)

bottom temporal layer II, 408, 415

NC II, 473, 475, 478
NC III, 63-66

In several places, Dooyeweerd speaks of the “temporal bottom layer of aspects.” This bottom layer is both (1) the basis of all individuality and (2) the locus of our intuition, insofar as the bottom layer of the analytical aspect is concerned.


Dooyeweerd opposes any notion of substance. Unlike humans, things do not have a supratemporal center. Their unity depends on a coherence within time. Dooyeweerd says that the individuality of “things” in reality depends upon the inter-modal bottom layer of cosmic time:

In fact, reality has its inter-modal bottom-layer in the continuity of cosmic time.
And it is only in this cosmic temporal bottom-layer of every thing-structure that the individual whole of a thing is realized. Its individual identity receives its determination from its internal structural principle. It is this identity that is intuitively experienced in naive experience.
This identity is consequently more than functional. […]
The identity of a thing, rooted in the continuity of cosmic time, is, however not the metaphysical identity of a substance, as the absolute point of reference of its different “accidental properties.” Nor can it be the radical identity of the different modal functions of the thing concerned. The modal aspects of reality find their deeper identity in the central religious sphere alone. But temporal things are perishable, they do not have a supra-temporal selfhood; their thing-identity is only that of a temporal individual whole, i.e. of a relative unity in a multiplicity of functions. (NC III, 65).

The unity or individuality of a thing must be sought within temporal reality, since it has no supratemporal root. but this unity is not itself of a modal character. Nor is it the sum of its individualized modal functions. And it cannot be the supratemporal identity of the modal functions. (NC III, 63). It is only a relative unity that is given by a thing’s individuality-structure.

Even the temporal identity of a thing cannot be experienced apart from the diversity of its modal functions; it is a relative identity, pointing beyond and above itself to the inter-modal meaning-coherence of time and the radical unity of meaning in the central religious sphere of our experiential horizon.”(NC III, 67).

And this individuality structure relates to the temporal bottom layer of each aspect:

“Every modal function of this individual whole must have a bottom layer in the continuous inter-modal coherence of cosmic time in which any temporal reality is embedded.” (NC III, 63).

The temporal bottom layer of each aspect is the coherence among the aspects. It is more than the sum of the aspects, and it is also a different dimension of our experiential horizon. He says,

Temporal reality does not end in the modal functions; it is not shut off in the modal horizon of the law-spheres. Rather, it has–if I may use this image–its inter-modal prolongation in the continuity of the cosmic coherence (NC III, 64).

This inter-modal prolongation is what gives things their duration in cosmic time. There exists a typical structural coherence between directing and directed functions in the continuous real bottom-layer of a thing as an individual whole (NC III, 66). We cannot isolate this temporal bottom layer of a thing-structure any more than we can isolate our intuition. We can only theoretically establish that the temporal duration of an identical whole (i.e. a linden tree), is bound to the maintenance of its realized internal structure. (NC III, 65). Now it is interesting that Dooyeweerd here speaks of an ‘intuitive faculty,’ although he later denies that any separate faculty exists.

Intuition: We intuitively experience this identity of things in naive experience. Only as the disclosure, opening, and theoretical deepening of the real datum in pre-theoretical conscious ‘Erleben,’ is theoretical insight possible. Conscious ‘Erleben’ is the temporal basic layer of all cognition (NC II, 475).

Intuition is also that which allows us to relate our theoretical Gegenstand to our supratemporal selfhood. Our intuition also allows contact between our logical aspect and the other aspects: Through this bottom layer our thought is in continuous temporal contact with all the other modal functions which our selfhood can claim in time as its own. This temporal bottom layer of actual analysis is our intuition (NC II 473). Only in our intuition is our logical subject-function in actual temporal contact with the other aspects of reality. (NC II, 478).

Our intuition is the bottom layer of the logical function which is in continuous contact with all the aspects of our own reality; it exceeds the logical function; it is a cosmic intuition of time. Our intuition should not be viewed as a separate metaphysical faculty, but as the temporal bottom layer of the analytical function. Our intuition relates the intermodal meaning synthesis to the transcendent identity of the modal functions that we experience in the religious root of our existence. In intuition we recognize the theoretical datum, the Gegenstand, as our own (NC II, 475-480). In other words, our intuition relates our theory to the experience of our supratemporal self.

If our intuition is the “bottom” layer of time, that seems to indicate that it is found in the foundational direction of time. This is supported by the fact that the return to naive experience after the theoretical epoché is a “falling back,” and that this return is aided by our intuition.

Because Dooyeweerd sees intuition as the temporal bottom layer of the analytical aspect, he opposes any separation between intuition and the logical. He rejects Schelling’s romanticism where men of genius rise above the primary logical principles in their “intellectual intuition.” Schelling’s intellectual intuition has a theoretical character. Even the insight of genius must be identified and distinguished logically (NC II, 483).

He also rejects Bergson’s view of intuition as an immediate subjective psychical empathy penetrating into the durée, the creative qualitative vital stream of time. It may be asked, does Dooyeweerd not himself see duration as one side of time? The distinction from Bergson’s views appears to be that Bergson sees durée only as psychical duration of feeling. He thinks that Bergson starts from the metaphysical and irrationalistic prejudice that the absolute, full reality has been given us in the actual psychical stream of time. (NC II, 482).

Intuition is the temporal bottom layer of the modal analytical function. Is it then our intuition that has the ability to place itself over-against the other aspects? Our immediate knowledge is also related to our intuition, which has an immediate understanding of the continuous coherence of meaning in the temporal refraction of meaning. This immediacy is beyond all theoretical conceptual limits (“achter all theoretische begripsgrenzen onmiddellijk gevat.”) (II, 408).

Revised Jul 10/06; Dec 23/16