dialectical

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.)

dialectic
dialectical I, 43 (in Litt)

Roots of Western Culture, 8

NC I, 89

dialectical logical I, 71
polar opposites I, 85 , 86 (polar tensions)

NC I, 64

tantalizing striving Baader’s term

Dooyeweerd says that there is a dialectical method in theory. But the opposites are relative and not absolute, and we must search in theory for their higher synthesis (Roots 8). We cannot get beyond the over-against attitude in the Gegenstand relation unless it is directed above itself to a transcendent supratemporal concentration point (NC I, 31). This is done with the help of our intuition, which 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.

For those who begin with a dualistic Ground Motive, no ultimate synthesis is possible; they are left with a primary religious dualism. Those caught in such a primary dualism may argue for the use of a dialectical logic to attempt to overcome the antithesis in their starting points (NC II, 37). But this results only in a dialectical-logical unity, not a real unity (NC I, 89).

Thus, Dooyeweerd distinguishes between the theoretical dialectic, which is overcome in synthesis, and the religious dialectic, based on a religious antithesis which cannot be overcome in theory, but only by a change of heart.

Like Dooyeweerd, Baader emphasizes that there is a good and a bad dialectic (Weltalter 129). The negative function of our abstracting, distinguishing ‘Verstand’ is only a necessary moment in our thinking function; we must then restore the concrete (Philosophische Schriften II, 217). Baader also stresses the importance of intuition. From our initial intuition (‘Schauen’) we move outwards in our theoretical abstraction; but we must return to this Schauen. Otherwise, our thinking becomes an enemy; it then destroys and deadens our Spirit. The mistake in theory is not in the antithesis involved, in thought, but in failing to return to a synthesis.

Dooyeweerd makes the same point. He says that that Kant and his followers opposed the logical function to the other modal aspects of the integral act of thought.

The only, but fundamental, mistake in their argument was the identification of the real act with a purely psychical temporal event, which in its turn could become a ‘Gegenstand’ of the ultimate transcendental-logical ‘cogito’ (NC I, 50).

Kant’s mistake was trying to find the starting point for synthesis in the antithetical relation itself (NC I, 54). In other words, Kant took the theoretical antithesis as fundamental, and regarded the antinomies as necessary. Kant did not take into account the synthesis with the supratemporal self.

When we there is a dualism in our Ground Motive, this results in a polar tension in our theory. The tension is between the first absolutized aspect, and its correlata There is a polar tension between the first absolutized aspect, and its correlata (NC I, 64). This polar tension is not the same as the primary religious antithesis between Christian and non-Christina Ground-Motives. There is, however, a polar tension in the non-Christian Ground-Motives, which have a religious dialectic. (NC I, 123). This polar tension, where the absolutizing of one aspect evokes its correlata is an antithesis that cannot be synthesized. The ascription of primacy to one part of creation results in the devaluation of the other part (NC I, 66).

Baader also refers to this polar tension. When we try to understand space-time nature (or the creature) as something whole and complete in itself, we cease to experience a unity. Instead, a dialectic or antinomy is set up whenever we absolutize one part of creation:

So wie man versucht die Materie (das Zeitlich-Räumliche) als etwas in sich Ganzes (Absolutes) zu begreifen, wird man die dialektischen Fortbewegung aus ihr inne, welche sich jedem Vereint- und Festhalten- (zum Standbringen-) Wollen des in sich Veruneinten und also Bestandlosen widersetzt. […] Diese Materie weist uns hiermit auf eine Anomie und Antinomie, welche ihrem Enstehen und Bestehen unterliegt, und wie sie nur zufolge einer Differenzierung zum Vorschein kommt, so muß sie mit der ingetretenen Reintegration des in Differenz Gekommenen wider verschwinden (Werke 2, 488: Philosophische Schriften II, 103; Weltalter 331).

[If one tries to understand matter (the temporal-spatial) as something whole or absolute in itself, then one brings forth the dialectical movement out of the inner [nature], which is opposed to every attempt to unify and hold fast (to bring to a firm state) that which is disunified and transitory…With this, this matter exhibits an anomie and antinomy underlying its origination and its continuance, and as it comes into appearance as a result of a differentiation, so must this difference again disappear in the coming reintegration.]
Any attempt to absolutize the periphery (the temporal), or to attempt the coordination of points on the periphery without their subordination to the Center will results in a polar dualism or antinomy].

This dialectical movement is caused by trying to hold onto a Dasein that is in itself groundless (Weltalter 126, 127). Such a person places the ‘pivot’ of his contemplation or admiration within the temporal; he then finds a second center, and opposes this to the first (Fermenta V, 15,16). This causes an unceasing opposition–a dualism or dialectic–between these two centers, like the idol of Dagon that was always reversed (I Sam. 5:3), or the two fighting snakes of Hermes. Baader also refers to this polar opposition as the striving of Tantalus. He says that a person who idolizes the temporal becomes subordinate to that to which he should be superior. The person does this in order to fill his or her emptiness (‘abîme’) (Fermenta V,15,16). If I oppose God’s law and try to set up another law, then I experience within myself two opposed laws. Baader cites St. Paul: ‘I am aware in my members of a law which is opposed to the good law’ [Weltalter 178, referring to Rom. 7:23]. When we choose to absolutize one part of creation, the opposed pole (entgegengesetzten Pol) will arise (Zeit, 24, 25, 35, 37 ft 17).

Baader uses the idea of the Quadrat to criticize Hegel’s dialectic, in a way that seems similar to Dooyeweerd’s view of synthesis. Grassl says, “Duality or polarity only counts to two. Baader wants to count to four.” Baader’s view is in contrast to Schelling’s idea that everything in nature proceeds from polarity and dualism. [Is this not also the case with postmodernism’s emphasis on différance?] Schelling’s views lead to a gnosticism that ultimately posits the origin of evil in God. With respect to Hegel, we cannot just make a logical opposition (a duality) and then a synthesis (the three). There must also be a fourth, which involves relating it all to the supratemporal root.

Revised Dec. 27/04; Dec 23/16

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