epoché

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.)

epoché WdW II, 402-403, 405-407, 413, 415, 417, 422, 424

NC II, , 468-69, 472, 482 (when epoché is cancelled, we fall back into the merely enstatic intuitive attitude), 486, 529

refraining WdW II, 402

NC II, 468 ft. 1; 472-473

suspension
suspension of time
return to time

The epoché is our willed refraining from the continuity of cosmic time. The epoché is therefore related to the dis-stasis of theoretical thought, which abstracts from the continuity of cosmic time, and splits apart our normal enstatic experience of temporal reality.

The epoché is one of Dooyeweerd’s least understood Ideas. The following points help to clarify it:

(1) We must not understand epoché in Husserl’s sense. Dooyeweerd specifically says he is not using it in Husserl’s sense, but in the sense of an abstraction from the temporal continuity of the cosmic coherence of meaning (II, 402). He says he is using it in the sense of a “refraining from” the temporal continuity in this cosmic coherence of meaning. (II, 402; NC II, 468 fn.1). It is the “abstraction of the continuity of cosmic time” (NC II, 529).

(2) It is we ourselves who experience this continuity which is refrained from. The epoché is an abstraction not only from the continuity of time, but from our selfhood. The abstraction of theoretical thought is not just from the continuity of cosmic time, but from the actual, full selfhood that thinks and expresses itself in all its functions (I, 6; NC I, 5). The aspects are an expression of ourselves. Indeed, the sovereignty of each sphere depends on this centrality of the selfhood. Baader speaks of cosmic time as a suspension of eternity. Dooyeweerd says that in theory, the continuity of cosmic time is suspended, or ‘refrained from.’ This refraining is by our self and from our selfhood.

(3) It is as a result of this epoché that the logical and the a-logical aspects are set over-against each other in the Gegenstand-relation.

(4) The epoché is related to the Gegenstand-relation. We consciously will the Gegenstand-relation (II, 402). There is a willed “withdrawal” or “suspension” from the fullness of temporal reality.

(5) In the epoché, the selfhood wills to enter the incomplete temporal reality by assuming merely the perspective of the analytical aspect. There is a temptation to take this separation of the logical and non-logical aspects as a permanent condition; this is the origin of the body/soul dualism (NC I, 44).

(6) Because of this ‘refraining,’ we no longer experience time in its integral continuity. That is why Dooyeweerd says that theory can only approximate time (NC I, 34).

(7) We ourselves descend to the temporal level in order to perform the Gegenstand-relation. Dooyeweerd says that in our selfhood we are able to “enter into the temporal cosmos” by means of our intuition of time and to set apart and combine the modal aspects in theoretical time (NC II, 480; this translation adds somewhat to the WdW).

(8) When the epoché of theoretical thought is cancelled, we fall back into the enstatic intuitive attitude of naïve experience (NC II, 482). From the transcendental direction of time we return to the foundational direction. We must re-enter the continuity of cosmic time. It is by means of intuition that our modal analytical function of meaning enters the continuity of cosmic time (II, 409). By “falling back” he also means that we return to the foundational direction:

Theoretical intuition, actualized in synthetical thought, is no more detached from pre-theoretical intuition, operative in enstatic thought, than the transcendental direction in the cosmic order of time is detached from the foundational direction. In the inter-modal synthesis and analytical disjunction of the modal aspects of experience our theoretical intuition is actualized in synthetical thought as insight. It can only be understood as a deepening of pre-theoretical intuition, to which it must always refer in the foundational direction of time. (NC II, 479; Cf. WdW II, 414).

Note: The NC translation speaks of an “inter-modal synthesis of meaning.” This is confusing. The original Dutch only speaks of a meaning synthesis [zin-synthesis]. The theoretical synthesis is between our actual thought [an act from out of our selfhood] and the Gegenstand of abstracted aspects, which is not actual or ontical, but only intentional. See synthesis.

But from this quotation, we can see that theory is in the transcendental direction of time, and naive experience is in the foundational direction. After the synthesis, theory must refer “in the foundational direction” to pre-theoretical intuition, which is operative in enstatic thought. And enstatic thought occurs only in naive experience. There is a movement in the transcendental direction in theory and then we fall back into the foundational direction. But the return is a deepened naive experience. There is a kind of spiraling back and forth, an ever-deepening. A good phrase to describe this is Abhishiktananda’s phrase, “Ascent to the depths of the heart.”

Revised Aug 21/06; Dec 24/16