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.)

wetend beleven of in-leven

[conscious ‘Erleben’ or Hineinleben]

II, 410, 411, 414


NC II, 474-75 ( (conscious enstatic Hineinleben)

experience [ervaring] I, 45, 47, 60, 127, 129, 130 (ding-ervaring), 130 (ervaringswerkelijkheid), 129, 131
II, ix, 8 fn1 (the apriori structure of reality can only be known by experience), 410, 482, 488, 493, 495, 496NC I, 3, 113 fn2: Inner acts of experience can be theoretically studied because they have a modal structure of a universally valid character.
NC II, 7 fn2 (the apriori structure of reality can only be known from experience), 477 (related to the human I-ness), 479 (immediate enstatic experience), 537 (philosophic sense of the word is determined by the starting point of philosophy), 563, 552 (experience is by our selfhood), 559 (experiential horizon)
experiences [ervaart] II, 409, 414
Erleben NC II, 29-30 (reines Erleben), 475 (pre-theoretical conscious ‘Erleben’)
Erlebnis NC II, 113 fn1: The inner act of experience as a concrete ‘Erlebnis’ cannot be restricted to its psychic feeling-aspect.
NC II, 111


II, 410

Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is based on our experience, both within and outside of time. The very first sentence of Dooyeweerd’s New Critique asks us to consider the nature of our experience:

If we consider reality as it is given in the naïve pre-theoretical experience, and then confront it with a theoretical analysis… (NC I, 3).

Dooyeweerd emphasizes the importance of experience as the foundation of theoretical knowledge:

That which is irreducible in theory is at the same time indefinable, and each true definition rests in the final analysis on such irreducible moments. Without immediate insight into the indefinable, a real concept of what is definable is excluded. And “insight” itself remains rooted in a final foundation of experience [beleving], which oversteps the boundaries of the theoretical attitude of knowledge, and which excludes an absolute split between theoretical and pre-theoretical experience. Only in experience does the knowledge of reality become our own, and the sense of it being our own is the first condition for real knowledge. “The Problem of Time in the Philosophy of the Law-Idea,” Philosophia Reformata 5 (1940) 160-192, at 161.

Dooyeweerd emphasizes the importance of our experience in relation to knowledge of God and of our selfhood:

The true knowledge of God and of ourselves is concerned with the horizon of human experience and therefore also with that of theoretical knowledge. It rests on our trustful acceptance of Divine revelation in the indissoluble unity of both its cosmic-immanent sense and its transcendent-religious meaning; an acceptance with our full personality and with all our heart. It means a turning of the personality, a giving of life in the full sense of the world, a restoring of the subjective perspective of our experience, enabling us to grasp reality again perspectively in the light of Truth. This does not mean a kind of mystical supernatural cognitive function, but it refers to the horizon that God made for human experience in the cosmic order created by Him. The subjective perspective has been obfuscated by sin and distorted and closed to the light of the Divine Revelation (NC II, 563).

Dooyeweerd here rejects a kind of mysticism. But the mysticism that he rejects is that of a “supernatural” cognitive function. This is because Dooyeweerd rejects any distinction between natural and supernatural. His own mysticism is one that is given within the cosmic order. It is “the horizon that God made for human experience.” In other words, we do not need a mysticism that seeks to go above the horizon of our experience that God created. But the horizon of our experience is both within and above time. It includes the supratemporal realm of the aevum. Dooyeweerd emphasizes that we do have (experiential) knowledge of the supratemporal:

According to my modest opinion, and in the light of the whole Scriptural revelation concerning human nature it is just this possession of a supratemporal root of life, with the simultaneous subjectedness to time of all its earthly expressions, that together belong to the essence [wezen] of man, to the “image of God” in him–by means of which he is able to not only relatively but radically go out [uitgaat] above all temporal things. And that is how I also understand Ecclesiastes 3:11. If in fact man’s heart were also a “temporal thing” among other temporal things, than it would be difficult for this heart to know of the supratemporal. In order to have a religious sense [besef] of eternity, man must in the depths of his being participate in it [34], although our thinking always remains subjected to time. (Second Response to Curators)

Man transcends time in his selfhood, but within the temporal coherence, man is universally-bound-to-time (NC I, 24). Dooyeweerd also says this in his 1960 article, “Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960, 97-150, at 103:

En slechts in en uit Hem leren wij in de gemeenschap van de H. Geest verstaan, in welke zin wij in het centrum onzer existentie de tijd te boven gaan, ofschoon wij tegelijk binnen de tijd besloten zijn [italics Dooyeweerd’s]

[And only in and from out of Him do we learn to understand, in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, in what sense we transcend time in the center of our existence, whereas we are simultaneously limited within time.]
We are restricted and relativized by (but not at all to) our temporal cosmic existence (NC II, 561).

The horizon of our human experience has several dimensions or levels: the religious, the temporal, the modal, and the dimension of individuality structures. The religious level is the supratemporal level of our selfhood. From there we descend to the temporal level. It includes the modal level. And the temporal and modal levels together encompass the fourth level, that of individuality structures.

Our experience is therefore supratemporal as well as temporal. Our temporal experience is both pre-theoretical and theoretical.

Our experience includes the experience of “cosmic consciousness.” In this cosmic self-consciousness we are aware of temporal cosmic reality being related to the structure of the human selfhood qua talis. (NC II, 562). Dooyeweerd says that the animal mode of awareness of things cannot be called experience since it lacks any relation to a selfhood (NC III 58).

Dooyeweerd speaks of the a priori structure, the ontical conditions of our experience. This ontical structure can be known only from experience, although not as experience is conceived of by immanence philosophy (NC II, 7, footnote 2)

This emphasis on experience is not the same as empirical experience. For Dooyeweerd denies that things exist in themselves. In fact, temporal reality has no existence apart from its supratemporal root (NC I, 100; II, 53).

Nor is our experience to be viewed in terms of a subjective psychical feeling. Dooyeweerd specifically denies that feeling is even an act of our selfhood. Modern psychology has been led astray by conceiving of feeling as one of the chief classes of ‘Erlebnisse’ and by co-ordinating it with volition an knowing as the two other classes. (NC II, 111)

Our experience is therefore not an ‘Erlebnis’ but a ‘Hineinleben.’ Now ‘hinein’ means ‘within.’ So experience includes a relatedness within. Hineinleben is ‘beleven,’ and this involves a living “in identity.” (II, 414). Identity is the coincidence in the fullness of meaning in our central selfhood (NC II, 478-79; WdW II, 413).. And there is an identity between the aspects in which we function in time (in our body or functiemantel) and the aspects in which individuality structures function:

In het vóór-theoretisch zelfbewustzijn blijft naar de kosmische wetsorde het theoretische gefundeerd. Aan alle theoretisch denken over de zin-zijden der werkelijkheid en aan alle schouwend in-zicht ligt een be-leving in identiteit ten grondslag, welke in het theoretisch-schouwend in-zicht slechts verdiept, maar nimmer opgeheven kan worden (WdW II, 415).

The NC translation (NC II, 480) does not make this clear, so I will re-translate:

In accordance with the cosmic law order, our theoretical self-consciousness remains founded in this pre-theoretical self-consciousness. There is a foundational experience in identity that is lived experientially [be-leving in identiteit] between all theoretical thought about the meaning-sides of reality and all intuitive in-sight. This identity can only be deepened in the theoretical-intuitive in-sight, but never sublated or cancelled [opgeheven].

The emphasis on experience as a ‘Hineinleben’ also serves to distinguish Dooyeweerd’s emphasis on experience from Gadamer’s criticism of “subjective” feeling.

Our experience is of a given reality. It is not of a constructed reality.

And our supratemporal, religious experience is an immediate experience of our heart.

Neo-Hinduism also emphasizes experience of ‘anubhava.’ See my book on Abhishiktananda.

Revised Jan 29/08; Dec/24/16