dualism

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.)

dichotomy Het Tijdsprobleem in de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, 216 (only one fundamental dichotomy)

“Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer,” Philosophia Reformata (1939), 204 (biblical dichotomy)

dualism WdW I, 122

“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960), 97-150, at 143 (duality is not the same as a dualism)

dualistic WdW I, 68

WdW II, 412

NC 174

A dualism is not the same as a logical distinction or dichotomy. A dualism involves a logical distinction, but not all distinctions are dualisms. Contrasts are not antinomies (NC II, 36). (That confusion is the mistake made by so many postmodernist critiques of différance, and it is also the mistake made by the Buddhist Nagarjuna).

A dualism involves the absolutization of an aspect or aspects (for example rationality) which is then opposed to the remaining aspects in a fundamental dualism, such as is expressed in a Ground-Motive like Form/Matter. The non-rational aspects are then devalued. For example, aspects are torn into noumenon and phenomenon (I, 68).

There is no ultimate dualism in creation. God as Origin is a Unity, and creation was also integral.

There is no original power which is opposed to Him [God]. Consequently, in His creation we cannot find any expression of a dualistic principle of origin. (NC I, 174).

The origin of creation is not twofold. Satan himself is a creature, who, in his created freedom, voluntarily fell away from God (Roots 37)

Critics of Dooyeweerd sometimes say that his idea of the supratemporal selfhood is based on a dualism. See my discussion in my article, “Monism, Dualism, Nondualism: A Problem with Vollenhoven’s Problem-Historical Method.” But the relation of the supratemporal to the temporal is one of center to periphery. That is not a dualism, although it is a dichotomy. Dooyeweerd says that the Biblical dichotomy of soul and body is not to be found in the temporal, but in the nonduality [twee (-een)heid] of the supratemporal religious center or the root (the ‘heart’ or ‘soul’) and the whole mantle of temporal functions (the ‘body’):

Juist daarom zoekt de W. d. W. de schriftuurlijke dichotomie van ziel en lichaam niet in het tijdelijke maar in de twee (-een)heid van het boven-tijdelijk religieuze centrum of den wortel (het “hart” of de “ziel”) en den geheelen tijdelijken functie-mantel (het “lichaam”). (“Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer,” Philosophia Reformata (1939), 204).

[Just because of this, the Philosophy of the Law-Idea seeks the biblical dichotomy of soul and body not in the temporal, but in the nonduality of the supratemporal religious center or root (the “heart” or the “soul”) and the whole temporal mantle of functions (the “body.”]

and

There is in reality only one fundamental dichotomy [principieele caesuur], that between the whole temporal existence and its supratemporal religious root, a dichotomy that comes into effect in the temporal death of man. (“Het Tijdsprobleem in de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee,” Part II Philosophia Reformata 1940, 216)

A dualism is a result of absolutizing one part of temporal reality. Dooyeweerd makes this clear in his discussion of why Plato’s view of the selfhood is dualistic. Plato’s mistake (which caused his dualism) was to limit the soul to the rational aspect. “In Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysical psychology, only the “reasonable,” the thinking part of the soul (logistikon) possesses immortality…” (WdW 1, 29). Plato’s mistake was not to distinguish the soul from the body but because he identified the soul with rationality, which is one temporal aspect:

The dualism in Plato’s conception is not that he thought of man as a composite of two “substances.” The dualism is found exclusively in the chorismos(separation) between the substantial form-principle and the sensory material body. [“The Idea of the Individuality Structure and the Concept of Substance: A Critical Investigation into the Thomistic doctrine of being” p. 22]

Baader also says that dualism is caused by an absolutization of the temporal. All duality is caused in the root of the temporal being, by the wish to remain in one’s own center (Zeit 34, fn. 14). He says that these antithetical principles are at the bottom of our knowledge (theology, physiology, natural philosophy); these dualisms may be open or hidden (Werke 5,254; Sauer 128).

Baader and Dooyeweerd reject all fundamental dualisms within time. They also reject any fundamental dualism in the supratemporal. In other words, there can be no ultimate principle alongside of God. Good and evil are not ultimately equal. Now this raises the issue of the source of evil. The problem of evil is always greater for a philosophical nondualist (or monist, which Dooyeweerd is not), than for a dualist philosopher. A dualist’s answer to the problem of evil is to point to the “evil” side of reality, such as matter. If there were a dualism in Dooyeweerd’s distinction between the supratemporal and the temporal, then Dooyeweerd could point to the temporal as the basis for evil. But Dooyeweerd does not do this. He really wrestles with the problem of evil, and for me, this is one of the best indications that his conception of supratemporality is not dualistic, but rather nondual. He asks whether the antithesis between the kingdom of God and that of darkness does not compel us to acknowledge an ultimate dualism between meaning and reality. He says that this is “the deepest problem of Christian philosophy.” (NC II, 33). He does not take the dualistic way out by saying that sin is due to the temporal. Rather he concludes that even sinful reality has meaning. He says

Although the fallen earthly cosmos is only a sad shadow of God’s original creation, and although the Christian can only consider himself as a stranger and a pilgrim in this world, yet he cannot recognize the true creaturely ground of meaning in the apostate root of this cosmos, but only in the new root, Christ. Any other view would inevitably result in elevating sin to the rank of an independent counter-power opposed to the creative power of God. And this would result in avoidance of the world, an unbiblical flight from the world. (NC II, 34)

An even stronger statement is on the same page: “Nothing in our apostate world can get lost in Christ.” These are not the statements of a dualist. And this is really the remarkable thing about Dooyeweerd’s mysticism of the supratemporal heart. It is not dualistic, and it does not advocate world flight.

Contrary to common beliefs about his philosophy, Vollenhoven does not see the difference between God and creation as a dualism, but only as a duality. See “Historische achtergrond en toekomst” MVCW (Dec 1970) 2-3. In later years, Vollenhoven moved towards what he called a more monistic position. See monism.

Revised Oct27/08; Dec 24/16

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