boundary

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.)

boundary I, 6, 9 (of thinking), 16 (creaturely), 57 (law as boundary), 58 (Law-Idea as), 64 (law as boundary), 66 (of time), 71 (boundaries of meaning), 72 (of law-spheres), 74 (law as boundary), 86-87 (between philosophy and world-view), 131 (temporal)
II, 414, 424, 497 Boundary as dependence of creation. See Curators.
grens II, 420
Grenz Term from Baader
limit I, 10 (of knowledge), 11, 34 (of thought), 49, 51-52, 55 (of philosophy), 58 (law as limit-ation of the subject), 58 (of philosophy), 59, 61 (of philosophy), 69 (cosmic time), 71 (of thought)
bound to time NC I, 24 (Man transcends time in his selfhood, but within the temporal coherence, man is universally-bound-to-time).
determined and limited NC 1, 12 (ego is determined and limited by law),
NC II, 552 (our selfhood is a subject, limited and determined by the law), 561 (truth is restricted and relativized by (but not at all to) our temporal cosmic existence)

Dooyeweerd uses boundary or limit in different but related senses:

(1) The law (in its central sense) as boundary between creator and Creator. Dooyeweerd emphasizes that the term ‘boundary’ here merely intends to show the distinction between God and creature with respect to their relaiton to the lex.

As sovereign Origin, God is not subjected to the law. On the contrary, this subjectedness is the very characteristic of all that which has been created, the existence of which is limited and determined by the law. (NC I, 99 fn1).

(2) Cosmic time as the boundary between the supratemporal and the temporal, given by cosmic time. This cosmic law order limits and determines our selfhood.

(3) The limits our theoretical knowing, given by time.

(4) The law limits and determines [bepaald en begrensd] the nature of the creature in time. See Dooyeweerd’s Response to the Curators dated October 12, 1937.

(5) The same Response to the Curators says that the boundary is not to be understood as a separation [scheiding] between God and creature, which would be in conflict with the community with God in Christ.

Dooyeweerd reaffirms this in his article “Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960, 97-150, at 114-115:

Dat hier geen “scheiding tussen wereld en God” gemeend kan zijn in de zin, waaarin Van Peursen dit blijkbaar verstaat, waar hij daartegenover in de wet eerder de “presentie” or “immanentie” Gods wil zien, zal toch wel geen nader betoog behoeven. Hoe zou zulk een deïstische wetsconceptie immers te rijmen zijn met het door de W.d.W. wanuit het bijbels scheppingsmotief zo scherp benadrukte zin-karakter van het geschapene naar wets- en subjectszijde? Hoe zou zij te rijmen zijn met de zelfopenbaring Gods in zijn schepping en met de incarnatie van het Goddelijk Woord in Christus Jezus? […]
Maar van een scheiding wordt hier in ‘t geheel niet gespoken, en kan hier ook niet zijn gesproken, daar immers uitgegaan werd van het grote mysterie der God-menselijke eenwording, dat ik niet in theoretische, maar in zijn centraal religieuze zin benaderde, nl. als centrale bijbelse drijfkracht van mijn denken. Deze eenwording zou echter juist haar bijbelse zin verliezen als daarbij de wezensgrens tussen God en schepsel zou worden miskend. En deze wezensgrens wordt weer aangegeven door het onder de wet gesteld zijn van Jezus Christus naar zijn menselijkheid. Ik had daarbij niet, zoals Van Peursen blijkbaar meent, op het oog de Joodse wet, maar de wet in haar kosmisch-religieuze zin, d.w.z. in haar tijdelijke zin-verscheidenhied en in haar religieuze wortel-eenheid.Alleen Christus kon zeze wet in haar volle zin-ontslotenheid vervullen, maar alleen, omdat Hij zich aan haar, als aan de wil des Vaders, met zijn ganse hart onderwierp en in blijvende gemeenschap met de Vader was, zowel naar zijn Godheid als naar zijn menselijkheid.
Wanneer men theologisch over het bijbels leerstuk der incarnatie gaat nadenken, dan worden wij voor theoretische problemen gesteld, die toch geen adaequate theoretische oplossing kunnen vinden, omdat het om grens-problemen gaat, die onmiddelilijk tot antinomieën voeren, zodra het theoretisch denken beproeft zijn grenzen in metafysische speculatie te overschrijden. Het ingaan op deze theologische problematiek naar haar dogmatische zijde ligt niet op de weg van de W.d.W. Maar wel heeft deze laatste de kritische taak te waarschuwen tegen iedere theoretsiche verzwakking van het onderscheid tussen wet en subject en tussen God en schepsel in de onderstelling dat men op deze wijze meer theologisch licht zou krijgen in de bedoelde problematiek.

[No further argument is needed to show that I cannot intend any “separation between world and God” in the sense that Van Peursen apparently understands it, and to which he opposes the idea of the “presence” or “immanence” of God in the law. How could such a deistic conception of the law ever fit with the sharp emphasis in the Philosophy of the Law-Idea, from out of the biblical motive of creation, of the meaning-character of what has been created both as to its law-side and its subject-side? How could it fit with God’s self-revelation in his creation, and with the incarnation of the Divine Word in Christ Jesus? […]
But there is nothing that is said [in the Philosophy of the Law-Idea] about a separation. And nothing can be said about such any separation, for this philosophy always proceeds from the great mystery of the becoming one of the Divine and the human. I do not approach this idea in a theoretical way, but in its central religious meaning—i.e. as the central biblical motive force of my thought. This becoming one would really lose precisely its biblical sense if thereby the essential boundary between God and creation is misunderstood. And this essential boundary is again set out by the way that Jesus Christ was set under the law according to his humanity. By that I did not intend, as Van Peursen apparently supposes, the Jewish law, but the law in its cosmic-religious sense—that is to say, in its temporal meaning-diversity and in its religious root-unity. Only Christ can fulfill this law in its full unfolded meaning, and only because He subjected Himself to the law, as to the will of the Father, with His whole heart, and because he was in continuing fellowship with the Father, both according to His divinity as well as according to His humanity.
Whenever we reflect theologically on the biblical doctrine of the incarnation, then we are presented with theoretical problems that have no theoretical solution, because they concern boundary problems, which lead immediately to antinomies as soon as theoretical thought tries to overstep its bounds in metaphysical speculation. It is not the path of the Philosophy of the Law-Idea to enter into this theological problematic according to its dogmatic side. But the Philosophy of the Law-Idea does have the critical task to warn against every theoretical weakening of the distinction between law and subject, and between God and creation, which people make in the hope that they can in this way obtain more theological enlightenment into the [theological] problematic that I have referred to.]

(6) The law sets the boundaries of meaning within the differentiated law-spheres. This boundary is that of sphere-sovereignty.

The cosmic law order, which Dooyeweerd also speaks of as the cosmic order of time (I, 70), “limits and determines” our selfhood (I, 13). It determines temporal reality insofar as through cosmic time the supratemporal root unity is differentiated into aspects and individuality structures (II, 408). Humans, who were created supratemporal beings, are fitted into the temporal order along with other temporal reality. This being “fitted into” [gesteld zijn I, 57] is what Baader refers to as “Gesetzt sein.”

Prof. Hepp denied that the idea of the law as boundary between God and creation was to be found in Calvin. Dooyeweerd replied in his letter to the Curators dated Oct. 12/37. Dooyeweerd uses this idea of being fitted into [gesteld zijn] in relation to the idea of boundary between God and creation:

Naar de overeenstemmende opvatting van Calvijn, Kuyper en de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee is God de Heere niet onderworpen aan zijn wetten, maar heeft Hij daarentegen heel Zijn schepping onder Zijn ordinantieën gesteld.
Wat is dit anders, dan de belijdenis van de Goddelijke wet als grens tusschen God en creatuur?
God de sourverein staat boven de wet, dat is Zijn souvereiniteit en onbegresndheid. Het creatuur daarentegen staat onder die wet. Dat beteekent de diepe afhankelijkheid en begrensdheid van het laatste.

[Calvin, Kuyper and the Philosophy of the Law-Idea all agree that God the Lord is not subjected [onderworpen] to his laws, but He has on the other hand set [gesteld] his creation under his ordinances
What is this except the confession of the Divine law as boundary between God and creature?
God the sovereign stands above the law; that is His sovereignty and lack of limitation [onbegrensdheid. The creature on the other hand stands under the law. That means the deep dependence and limitation of the latter].

In the same Response to the Curators, Dooyeweerd links the idea of a boundary to the idea of the law limiting determining the creature.

De vraag is alleen of de heer Hepp kan blijven ontkennen, dat het onderworpen zijn, het subject-zijn aan de wet de grenslinie beteekent, die het schepsel nimmer kan overschrijden, omdat alleen door die wet de natuur van het schepsel bepaald en begrend [sic] is.

[The question is only whether Mr. Hepp can continue to deny that being subjected [onderworpen], the being-subject to the law means the boundary line, which the creature can never overstep, because only through the law is the nature of the creature determined [bepaald] and limited [begrensd].

Baader says that the limitation by the law is a restraint on our selfhood. He says that the law limits the creature; it is a ‘Hemmung’ or limitation. The living creature finds himself as living, acting and productive within such a limitation or boundary [Grenze]. This boundary is given to the creature as a holding fast, placing [Setzenden], bearing and holding or feeding. (Werke XIII, 165; Betanzos 87).

Cosmic time not only determines our selfhood. It also limits our selfhood. Our theoretical thought is limited by time. But transcendental thought points beyond the limits of time to the supratemporal. For although our theoretical thought may be limited by time, we ourselves are not limited to time. Our selfhood is supratemporal. Our intuition exceeds conceptual limits within time (II, 408). And Dooyeweerd says,

But like all human experience in this earthly dispensation, our knowledge of God, although directed to the absolute Truth, is also restricted and relativized by (but not at all to) our temporal cosmic existence (NC II, 561).

The law itself is also differentiated in time. There is a central law in the religious fullness of meaning. but under the boundary line of time, this fullness of meaning breaks into law-side and subject-side like the white light being refracted in a prism (I, 57). This indicates that although the cosmic law order applies to the cosmos, there is a central law that applies to us outside of the temporal cosmos.

Dooyeweerd also refers to creation as having been “in the beginning” in this sense of being outside of cosmic time. Creation was “before” cosmic time.

“Want hoe kon de mens binnen de tijdelijke orde tot een “levende ziel” worden, wanneer God niet in den beginne Zijn scheppend woord gesproken had, dat het hele mensdom in zijn totaliteit, gerepresenteerd in zijn stamvader en stammoeder, tot aanzijn riep, een aanzijn dat eerst in het wordingsprocess binnen de tijdsorde zou uitwerken?” (“Schepping en evolutie,” 115-116, cited by Steen 61-62)

[For how can man become a “living soul” within the temporal order, unless God had not spoken His creative Word in the beginning, that called all of humanity to existence [aanzijn] in its totality, represented in its original father and mother, an existence that could only be worked out within the becoming process within the temporal order?”]

Revised Jan29/08; Dec 23/16