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.)

fantasy II, 312

NC II, 375 (mistranslated as imagination)

figure NC II, 114 (equity as anticipatory figure in law), 514-515 (Kant’s ‘figurative synthesis’)

Many references to ‘figure’ in the Encyclopedia of the Science of Law

Het Tijdsprobleem in de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, 194 fn28

imagination NC II, 198: Man’s free forming is based on reflection and productive fantasy; 372-376, 525
NC III, 88, 115“32 Propositions on Anthropology
magic NC II, 328, ft. 1

See the extensive discussion of issues relating to these terms in my article “Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy,”  (2006). The article discusses the Wisdom tradition within which Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is situated, and how our imagination is dependent on our being created in the image of God. In our imagination, we discover the figure, the anticipation of what an individuality structure in the temporal world may become, but which is presently only a potential reality. In finding the figure within the temporal world, and in realizing it and embodying it, we form history, and we fulfill the reality of temporal structures. God’s law or Wisdom gives the connection between this internal figure of our imagination and the modal aspects in which our body and other temporal structures of individuality function.

Our acts come out of our supratemporal center or heart. But these acts are expressed in our temporal functions.

All our acts [verrichtingen] come forth out of the soul (or spirit) but they function within the enkaptically structured whole of the human body (“32 Propositions on Anthropology“)

Our acts have three intentional directions: thinking, willing and imagining. (NC III, 88). These are three intertwined directions of acting. They cannot be isolated as three separate “faculties.” They are interwoven with each other.

The “intentional” character of our acts lies their “innerness” [innerlijkheid]. It is the performance (activity) which actualizes (realizes) the intention of the act. (“32 Propositions on Anthropology”). Thus, an intentional act still needs to be actualized or realized in temporal reality.

How does this view of intentionality as something that still needs to be actualized apply to acts of imagination? And which acts can be directed by our imagination? Is Dooyeweerd merely referring to artistic or aesthetic acts of the imagination? To sort out what Dooyeweerd means is difficult, and the following represents my preliminary understanding.

Within these three directions of knowing, willing and imagining, our acts can have any different structures of individuality.

The act of praying is typically qualified as an act of faith. The act of scientific or philosophical reflection is typically qualified by the theoretical-logical function of thought, the act of aesthetical imagination is typically qualified in the aesthetical aspect of experience (NC III, 88).

But although Dooyeweerd here speaks of acts of aesthetical imagination, he does not restrict the imagination to aesthetic acts. Imagination is needed for all of our acts. He says that no act of the will is possible without knowledge and imagination (Grenzen van het theoretisch denken, 77).

To understand Dooyeweerd’s Idea of imagination, we need to look at how images occur in naive as well as in theoretical experience.

Images in Naive Experience

(1) There is a “sensory imagination” that we share with animals (NC III, 115). This is the sensory image that is formed in the psychical aspect. In the succession of aspects in time, the earlier ones are objectified in the later. When we form a psychical image we are objectifying the earlier aspects in the image.

The subjective modal functions of number, space, movement, energy, and organic life can be psychically objectified in the (objective) space of sensory perception, because in the modal aspect of feeling we find the retrocipations (analogies) of these modal functions of reality (NC III, 373-74)

(2) This sensory image is in turn objectified by the logical aspect. Before we can make logical distinctions, there must be a sensory image.

(3) In itself, this objectification in a sensory image is not an act, because even animals form sensory images. In fact, there is a sensory correlation to all three directions of our acts: a sensory knowing, representing and striving and desiring [zinnelijk kennen, zinnelijk verbeelden and zinnelijk streven en begeren]. (Grenzen van het theoretisch denken, 77).

Animals can have these sensory images or objectifications because they are temporal beings qualified by the psychical mode. They therefore have a subject function in the psychical aspect. But animals cannot intentionally “act” in Dooyeweerd’s sense, since they have no supratemporal center. They are ex-statically absorbed in time. And our conscious experience of the psychical aspect is different from what animals experience:

This conscious experience is a quite different thing form the subjective undergoing of sense-impressions found in animals. (NC II, 539).

(4) Humans do act, and one of our acts is that of perception. Perception, representation, and remembrance are acts, not modalities (NC II, 372). As an act, perception functions in all aspects (NC II, 112). If it is an act, how is it intentionally directed–as knowing, imagining or willing? If those directions are intertwined, then it must be in all three directions.

a) Perception begins with an objective sensory image. The objectification is what occurs in the subject-object relation within the modal aspects. Earlier aspects are objectified in the psychical aspect. This objectification is implicit (NC II, 374).

b) This objective sensory image must be distinguished from the subjective sensory image. This sensory image is not originally objective, but only secondarily objective. It is merely the optic copy on the retina. We cannot regard perception in a functionalistic way, for our retina itself is another individual objective perceptual image. The optic copy is of an individual perceptual image within another individual objective perceptual image (NC II, 375)

c) We optically perceive this subjective image only on the condition that in its physico-biotic substratum the stimuli of the incoming rays of light, on the extreme ends of the optic nerves, are transmitted to the brain. But this sensorily perceptible objective structure of the inverted copy on our retina is a different one from the original objective perceptual image.(NC II, 375). Thus, the original objective perceptual image is different from the subjective perceived image.

d) The subjective sensory image must correspond with the objective image. If it does not correspond then it is a false perception, like a hallucination, fantasy or dream. (II, 312; NC II, 374-75). Dooyeweerd therefore has a kind of correspondence view of truth. But the correspondence is not to things that exist independently of humans, for that would bring us back to a copy theory of reality:

Naive realism assumes that the representing mind is placed in a surrounding world which must in some way repeat itself in this mind (NC III, 35).

The correspondence is rather to God’s laws, God’s Wisdom, which governs both true inner intentional imaging and external temporal reality. (See discussion below).

e) Remembering and representation are also acts (NC II, 372). In remembering, a past sensory representation is recalled.

(f) In our acts, under the leadership of normative points of view, we direct our self intentionally to states of affairs either in reality or in the world of our imagination (“32 Propositions on Anthropology”). How is perception led by a normative point of view? It is led by our logic. Representations are also used to logically compare one sensory image to another. This is the objectification of the psychical in the logical.

Presumably animals cannot do this, since they do not have a subjective logical function, but only an objective one.

g) We can will to focus on a particular sensory image, or to do some other action related to it. In a 1923 article Dooyeweerd gives the example of riding on a train, looking out of the window, but thinking of something else. If we fix our attention on something else, we miss the meaning of the outer world, but the psychological perception [aanschouwing] stays present (Verburg 55). Thus we continue to receive sensory images. We can focus on them. Or we can think about something else, in which case the sensory impressions continue, but we are not focused on them. (But this logical focus of attention is not the same as the Gegenstand-relation; the Gegenstand-relation is not just a focus of attention, but involves the dis-stasis from the continuity of time and from our selfhood).

(h) Post-psychical subject-functions and subject-object relations cannot be objectified in an objective sensory perceptual image. (NC III, 376; not in WdW). In other words, we cannot form a perceptual image of the normative aspects. He says that in the WdW he did not think it was possible to objectify these post-psychical functions at all. He adds several pages to explain how he thinks it is possible. Naive concept formation is entirely bound to the sensory image. There must be potential anticipations that can be disclosed.

Images in Theoretical Experience

As already mentioned, Dooyeweerd says that both knowing and willing are required before acting. How does this apply to theoretical thought?

(1) Insofar as our concepts refer to the retrocipatory aspects of our experience, there is a remembering that is needed. Imagination is used in the representations that we remember and incorporate in these concepts.

(2) Our imagination is needed to anticipate moments in the aspects of our temporal experience that have not yet unfolded. Imagination is needed for the Ideas by which we anticipate. Dooyeweerd seems to give an example by imaginary numbers, which anticipate movement through the intermediary of spatial dimensionality and magnitude (NC II, 171).

This anticipation of spatial dimensionality and magnitude assumes a further complication in the so-called complex function of number. In this the real numbers are deepend through their connection with the imaginary function…[…] Apart from this inter-modal coherence of meaning the imaginary function of number would remain perfectly meaningless.”

(3) Imagination is therefore required in the theoretical synthesis. Since within temporal reality, intuition is needed to relate the separated Gegenstand back to our selfhood, our intuition must also relate to our imagination. Intuition is within temporal reality and imagination comes out of our central selfhood.

(4) The importance of imagination for the theoretical synthesis appear in Dooyeweerd’s discussion of Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant. He refers to it as “indeed a dark point in Kant’s argument” (NC II, 497). Dooyeweerd seems concerned that Kant’s doctrine of the imagination might, as Heidegger suggests, provide a basis for Kant’s view of theoretical synthesis. For Heidegger, Kant’s transcendental imagination is the formative medium of the two stems of knowledge–intuition and thought (NC II, 525).

After a lengthy discussion, Dooyeweerd concludes that imagination for Kant is still a logical act. It therefore cannot provide the basis for synthesis. What is not stated here is that Dooyeweerd’s view of imagination as a direction of our central selfhood, and therefore more than just logical, does seem to provide such a basis for synthesis.

Imagination as Inner Sense

Dooyeweerd’s view of perception (like Baader’s) depends on a correspondence of an inner image to an outer reality. This is evident in Dooyeweerd’s 1923 article “Roomsch-katholieke en Anti-revolutionaire Staatkunde,” (excerpts in Verburg 53). Modalities are described as modes of intuition [schouwingswijzen]. They are subjective forms of giving meaning, and they must correspond to outer meaning:

Aan de modaliteit als primaire vorm van het schouwend bewustzijn moet dus iets anders beantwoorden in de wereld van den geschouwden zin, dan de concreete geaardheid van de zinvolle wezens zelve; dit analogon noemen wij het wezensverband van het gebied in the wereld van den geschouwden zin, of kortweg, gebiedskategorie. De modaliteit is dus iets totaal anders dan het begrip. De modaliteit is subjectief vorm van de zingeving, objectief een vorm van het wezensverband van het gebied binnen de wereld van den geschouwden zin; het begrip daarentegen is vorm van het denken.

[Something in the world of perceived meaning must correspond to modalities which are primary forms of the intuiting consciousness [schouwend bewustzijn]. What corresponds to the modality must be something other than the concrete nature of the meaningful reality itself. The analogue to the modality is the essential relation of the area in the world of the perceived meaning, or in short, area category. The modality is subjectively a form of giving meaning and objectively it is a form of the essential relation of the area within the world of perceived meaning; in contrast, a concept is a form of thought.]

This passage distinguishes between the aspect’s subjective nature as a form of intuition, and its objective nature as an area category. Area categories are later referred to as law-spheres. So the modalities are subjective giving of meaning–that is, the giving of meaning from within our supratemporal subjectivity. The law-spheres are within “objective” meaning reality. For our subjective meaning to be true, it must correspond to the objective meaning. If it does not correspond, then our knowledge is in error. For example, he says that we may mistake a tree for a man. This is similar to the usual problem posed by Hindu advaitic thought, of mistaking a rope for a snake.

Dooyeweerd maintains this view of truth as correspondence of image to reality in his later work. That does not mean he accepts the copy theory of reality.

He contrasts the sensory aspect of the imagination with the sensory perception of the objectively perceptible ‘outer world.’ (NC II, 372). Our imagination is therefore related to our innerness, although Dooyeweerd says there are difficulties in using such a spatial analogy which contrasts perceptions that themselves include the spatial. Our sensory perception of space is not just a passive impression.

The objective sensory picture of space cannot exist without its structural relation to our active subjective feeling of extension in its subjection to the universally valid laws of spatial sensory perception (NC III, 373).

Baader says the same–all spatial perceptions are also within me (as represented). Therefore the subject is not just inner, and the object is not just outer (Philosophische Schriften I, 43).

Dooyeweerd says that there is a sensory [outer] correlation to all three directions of our acts: a sensory knowing, a sensory representation and a sensory striving and desiring [zinnelijk kennen, zinnelijk verbeelden and zinnelijk streven en begeren]. (Grenzen van het theoretisch denken, 77). This sensory phantasy exists to some extent even in animal psychic life, although in a “restricted function.” This fantasy is not founded in the earlier biotic function. Rather

…it is exclusively characterized by the internal psychical fact that the sensory function of imagination produces its phantasms in merely intentional objectivity, entirely apart from the sensory objectivity of real things. In the opened structure of this modal type all subjective types of aesthetical projects are founded. (NC II, 425-26).

Dooyeweerd seems to say here that aesthetic projects rely on the opened up or disclosed aspects of reality. The opening or deepening is something that is not done in naive experience, but as a result of theory. Thus, in his view, art depends on some theoretical opening up of reality. In an aesthetic act, our imagination forms a representation or “fantasy” [fantasie] which then needs to be actualized in an aesthetic work. Unfortunately, the word ‘fantasie’ is sometimes translated as ‘imagination’ in the NC; This is confusing.

Further Comparisons to Baader

Like Dooyeweerd, Baader says that imagination and will are required before we can act (as deed). Sinful acts proceed along the same sequence:

Therefore, guard your imagination, for you can more easily win out over sin there” (Werke 8, 102, cited by Betanzos 142 see also Werke 13,68).

Susini says that the will passes from indetermination and indifference to determination, resolution, formation, not in a direct manner but by intermediary of imagination or the attraction of desire (Susini II 221, citing Werke VIII, 153, s.1)

The work of imagination is related to our inner sense. Whereas our outer senses only look to the passing being of things, our inner sense looks to the enduring figure in things (Werke 7, 131).

Imagination is required for theory. Baader says that our theory requires a movement outwards, and this requires an act of imagination, which is a movement from enstasis to ek-stasis (Susini I, 378, 379).

Baader uses the word ‘imagine’ to describe our “penetration” of temporal reality. (Susini 36). Imagination is our realization of an idea or image, the concretization of an image is an in-magination, just as Adam is the image of God. All creation is an in-magination, an in-formation [Imaginieren oder Einbilden] (Werke I, 44-45; II, 20).

Baader also says that our thought proceeds by imagination. This work of imagination is not real. He says that what is imagined is ‘magical’ (this is a play on words of ‘magic’ and ‘imagine’). His view that it is not real tallies with Dooyeweerd’s that it is not ontical. Susini says that Baader uses the word ‘magic’ in the sense of St. Martin’s ‘apparent.’ All that has not yet arrived at its end, that which is still potentiality and not yet concrete existence is related to magic. (Werke II, 51-52; Susini 212-213, 369) This use of ‘apparent’ may explain Baader’s reference to cosmic time as ‘Scheinzeit’–appearance time. Susini 212 magical: all that has not arrived at its end, that which is still potentiality, not yet concrete existence 213. Baader also relates the word ‘magic’ to the German words Macht, machen, ich mag, ich vermag; force of creation (Werke X, 31, note). This sense of magical as relating appearance to the force of creation seems similar to tantric meanings of the word maya in Hindu thought.

Dooyeweerd does not use ‘magical’ in this way. He uses the word ‘magical’ in Cassirer’s sense of ‘mystical,’ opposed to scientific logic. (NC II, 328, ft. 1)

Baader also relates imagination to our creation as image of God. Imagination is crucial to our restoring of this true image. Our imagination involves finding the ‘figure’ in the temporal reality. Temporal reality is temporary, and needs to be raised up to a higher level. It has a ‘figure’ that can be raised to true Being (Sauer 39). The work of imagination is related to our inner sense. Whereas our outer senses only look to the passing being of things, our inner sense looks to the enduring figure in things (Werke 7, 131).

But this figure must not itself be objectified or made into a hypostatized and isolated Gegenstand:

welche indes eben nur durch seine Form (Bild) sich ausspricht, welche (natürlich als Funktion und nicht etwa als erstarrt gedacht) sohin die Vermittlung zwischen jenem Inneren und ausseren leistet (2,223; Sauer 46).

[which however expresses itself only through its form (Bild), which must be thought of as a function and not as something solid [substantial], allowing the mediation between the inner and the outer.]

It is interesting that Baader here says that our thought is directed to the functions of things. This is also what Dooyeweerd says of the Gegenstand-Relation.

On the level of modern scientific thought the naive concept of the thing is in the process of being broken up into functional concepts. This is done in order to gain knowledge of the functional coherence of the phenomena within a special modal aspect (NC I, 83).

Baader says that because our central, supratemporal selfhood is the image of God, humans are truly the center of the material world (Werke V, 31; XI, 78; Begründung 48). The image of God in man in its totality is supposed to radiate outwards in the outer nature, to make the outer nature capable of unfolding and the effect of a higher Organism. Each form and shape occurs reciprocally. :In the outer temporal forms the inner, eternal, forming powers also build and form themselves; that is the fruit of the outer image. The outer nature is temporal and impermanent [nicht bleibende]. The inner eternal nature sees conflict and duality in outer nature and it moves out of the still, undifferentiated situation, and reacting in the outer as an active unfolding (Begründung 51).He refers to the inner work of imagination (“Einbildung als innere Bildung,” Werke IV, 95).

If imagination is related to image in God, it must be remembered that this imagination was impaired by the Fall. Jesus Christ again gives us the power to imagine in God (Werke VIII, 156; Susini 223).

Page updated Dec 28/07