individual

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.)

individual I, 46, 64 (person), 76 (subjectivity), 129 (subjectivity)
II, 484 (reality), 489 (things)NC II, 417, 594 (man’s self-consciousness becomes more and more individual)
NC III, 65, 241

“Het transcendentale critiek van het wijsgeerig denken,” Philosophia Reformata 6 (1941), 1-20 at 11.The Archimedean point is supra-individual, since is is not only the concentration point of individual human existence, but of the whole temporal cosmos in its diversity of modal aspects. But our individual thinking selfhood must participate in this supra-individual point of concentration.

individualistically I, 133
individuality I, 61 (in subject side), 132 (and universality), 203 (is not a constitutive element in primary modal meaning of history for it depends on that aspect for historical individuality).
II, 483 (of meaning), 487, (of meaning), 488 (of things), 494NC II, 419 (radical sense of individuality), 421
individualization NC II, 274 (norm of differentiation and integration is at the same time a norm of individualization), 423
individuation A term used by C.G. Jung.

See Dooyeweerd’s Last Article (1975), 90 for his ideas on individuation from out of totality.

separate NC III, 54, 60
uniqueness

Because Dooyeweerd’s philosophy begins with the idea of a supratemporal totality, he then needs to show how individual things and events are individuated from out of that totality. See my article: “Individuality Structures and Enkapsis: Individuation from Totality in Dooyeweerd and German Idealism.”

Dooyeweerd says that we do not experience separate things in naive experience. Even to focus on an individual linden tree is an abstraction:

…by limiting my theoretical attention to this concrete natural thing [linden tree], I am actually engaged in a theoretical abstraction. In veritable naïve experience, things are not experienced as completely separate entities. […]…the ‘simple’ only occurs in the full complexity of a universal interlacement of structures (NC III, 54).

The isolation of the individual is already a theoretical act! Naive experience does not separate a thing from its context with other beings (NC III, 60). Thus it is incorrect to say that the pre-theoretical is directed to the individual and the theoretical directed to the universal.

An individual ‘thing’ is only a relative unity in a multiplicity of functions (NC III, 65). Temporal individual subjectivity cannot really exist unless it is bound to a supra-individual order (NC I, 493).

In Dooyeweerd’s Last Article (1975). “De Kentheoretische Gegenstandsrelatie en de Logische Subject-Objectrelatie,” Philosophia Reformata 40 (1975), 83-101, Dooyeweerd distinguishes between aspects and functions. It is not the aspects that are individualized in individuality structures–otherwise they would cease to exist. It is the empirical functions of the aspects that are individualized.

Individuality comes from out of the supratemporal root. Our individuality, as well as the individuality of the cosmos comes out of it. This religious root differentiates and unfolds itself (NC II, 7, 8, 561). All individuality is rooted in the religious centre of our temporal world: all temporal individuality can only be an expression of the fullness of individuality inherent in this centre (NC II, 418).

.The subject of the full human experience, i.e. human selfhood, remains individual and this individuality remains inherent in the experiencing subjectivity within the temporal horizon. But the transcendent and transcendental structure of this subjectivity cannot be subjectively individual itself. But for its super-individual law-conformity, individual subjectivity would be an apeiron, a meaningless indeterminateness. (NC II, 593)

When we analyze this passage in detail, we see that individuality is inherent in the experiencing subjectivity within the temporal world. And Dooyeweerd emphasizes that the selfhood is individual in time, but supra-individual  in its root. That is to say, in the individual I-ness it points beyond the individual ego toward that which makes the whole of mankind spiritually one in root in creation, fall and redemption:

The central and radical unity of our existence is at the same time individual and supra-individual; that is to say, in the individual I-ness it points beyond the individual ego toward that which makes the whole of mankind spiritually one in root in creation, fall and redemption (NC I, 60).

Our supratemporal selfhood experiences its individual existence within time:

Man experiences his individual existence within the temporal horizon exclusively in the one and only cosmos into which he has been integrated together with all creatures. He also experiences his individuality in the various structures of the temporal societal relationships. And within this temporal horizon our self-consciousness does not from the outset have a static individuality. Rather it becomes more and more individual. This takes place in a process of development which is also historically determined (NC II, 594).

Other passages confirm that the supratemporal reality is not individual, but that rather it is the root of individualization:

…de integrale tijdelijke uitdrukkingsvorm van den geest des menschen die zich uit geen der modale aspecten ven den tijdshorizon laat uitsluiten. Zoals het zonlicht door het prisma gebroken wordt in de zeven kleurengammas van het lichtspectrum, zo breekt zich de geestelijke wortel-eenheid van’s menschen existentie door den tijdshorizon in de rijke verscheidenheid van modale aspecten en individualiteits-structuren van het lichamelijk bestaan. (“Individualiteits-structuur en Thomistisch substantie-begrip,” Philosophia Reformata IX (1944), 33, cited by Steen 60).

[…the integral temporal expression of the spirit of Man that does not let itself be excluded from any of the modal aspects of the temporal horizon. Just as the sunlight is broken by the prism into the seven colours of the spectrum, so the spiritual root-unity of human existence is broken by the temporal horizon into the rich diversity of modal aspects and individuality structures of bodily existence]

What is noteworthy here is that Dooyeweerd uses the prism analogy to show not only the different modal aspects of our life, but also of individuality itself, and individuality structures from a central unity. It is the individuality structures of our bodily existence that are differentiated from the spiritual root-unity. Insofar as we have a body, we are both in time and out of time. Our bodies have a structure of individuality, too, like other things. But these structures of individuality are differentiated in time. Baader makes a similar point: insofar as we are both within and outside of time, we are a ‘versetzt‘ or displaced being.

Dooyeweerd criticizes Rickert’s view of individuality, where the ‘individual’ is that which occurs only once in this definite place in (sensory) space and time. In this view of individuality, individuality is an “empirical uniqueness related to [super-sensory] values.” Dooyeweerd says that if individuality really belongs to the sensory matter of experience, it can have no functions in the modal meaning of the law-spheres (NC II, 420-21). How Dooyeweerd’s view of individuality differs from such a sensory limitation has not been sufficiently explored by reformational philosophy. It is partially explained by his objection to the individualistic nominalistic trend in modern sociology:

It [sociology] reduces empirical reality to the “physico-psychical” aspects and speaks of the real man as of a sensorily perceptible “individual,” or a natural scientific system of functional relations. All the normative aspects of reality are conceived of as subjective psychological modes of experience. As empirical phenomena, the different modalities of social norms are supposed to be nothing but causal emotional motives of an axiological feeling-character. They may or may not be supposed to refer to a supra-empirical sphere of Ideas, or values; but in any case a scientific view of societal reality should eliminate any idea of a divine world-order containing normative principles of social structures.
The unity and identical continuity of organized communities is here necessarily conceived of functionalistically (NC III, 241).

In contrast to this individualism, Dooyeweerd refers with approval to Kuyper’s view that “Individuals do not exist in themselves; there only exist membra corporis generis humani.” (NC III, 248).

Dooyeweerd criticizes any view according to which the supratemporal is itself individual. Such a view of individuality is based on an irrationalistic personalism:

Nor can he be what calls the ‘personal correlate of an absolutely individual cosmos.’ This idea of a microcosm is dominated by the radically irrationalistic personalistic view of the transcendental horizon of human experience. The subjective individuality determines this horizon, making it both individual and cosmic, and “essentially and necessarily” different in each person. Even absolute truth becomes absolutely different for each individual person. Scheler’s“idea of God” is only “realizable” by an individual revelation. This Idea remains a merely intentional, theoretical hypostasis for any one who has not received this individual, most personal revelation. From this hypostasis the possibility of a real experience of the “macrocosm” can never be understood. (NC II, 593).

Dooyeweerd condemns an individualistic view of the Self as due to an irrationalistic personalism. He criticizes the Renaissance idea of personality, which he says was a secularization of the Christian idea of regeneration:

This ideal of personality is permeated with an unquenchable thirst for temporal life and with a Faustian desire to subject the world to itself. (NC I, 191).

Our own human individuality is given in time:

And within the temporal horizon man’s self-consciousness does not from the outset have a static individuality. Rather it becomes more and more individual. This takes place in a process of development which is also historically determined.(NC II, 594).

The original Dutch is even stronger:

En binnen den tijdhorizon wint het zelfbewustzijn eerst in een (ook historisch bepaald) ontwikkelingsproces aan individualiteit. (II, 529)

[And within the horizon of time, self-consciousness first attains to individuality within a development process (that is also historically determined)]

The individuality of things cannot be comprehended by human experience (II, 488). The temporal non-modal unity and identity of things cannot be grasped in a theoretical concept. This unity and identity has its foundation in cosmic time, which alone makes all experience and theoretical thought possible.” (NC III 75).

Baader, like Dooyeweerd, distinguishes between our individual ego and our central I-ness. There is a distinction between my true self, and my egoity (Ich-Ichheit) (Werke 2, 358; Fermenta Book V, s. 26). Baader also says that the root of creation should not be interpreted individualistically. Each individual being is like a central point, receiving from all the other beings outside of it, from its infinite periphery that constitutes his horizon, all that it can receive, and sends in turn all that he can send. But for all the different particular centers, there is a general center, and a principal ray uniting each the first to the second. All the force of the influences of each individual on the others is channeled in the ray towards the center and then sent again to the points. Everything that is emanated from God is directed eternally towards Him, and nothing perishes of what He has expressed, and He is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) (Werke 11, 42).

Baader also emphasizes that the particular centers in the temporal world are all interconnected. All of the universe as center and as point of beginning and endpoint; all receive influences and all acts. Interdependence is the grand law of the universe (Susini 107).

It is worth pointing out here that one of Dooyeweerd’s disagreements with Vollenhoven concerned the nature of individuality.

Is the issue of individuality also the basis of some fears of panentheism? Do we want to maintain our individuality even against God, and not recognize His immanence, and that we live, work and have our being in Him?

Steen reports a discussion he had with Dooyeweerd (p. 85). Dooyeweerd said that faith turns into sight and therefore faith passes away. Steen then asked him how it could be possible to conceive of a resurrected man without all the functions and without the law spheres continuing to hold. Dooyeweerd did not give a reply that Steen deemed satisfactory. But Steen’s question reminds me of the question by the Sadducees as to what would happen in the afterlife to the woman who had seven husbands in this life. Jesus’ reply is that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” Jesus says that the Sadducees were in error, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God (Matt. 22:29,30). Dooyeweerd just could not respond on the level that Steen was asking, because for Dooyeweerd, salvation is not individualistic, but in the root, just as the fall was from the root. As for the married woman, Dooyeweerd says that the conjugal partners being interwoven for all eternity in the new root of life, Christ (Steen 219).

Dooyeweerd’s view that the supratemporal is not individual is also an affront to New Age types who think that they can experience their own individual mystical consciousness. This is a narcissistic view of mysticism. See Ken Wilber’s novel Boomeritis for some similar criticisms of narcissistic individualism.

Dooyeweerd’s mysticism, as I interpret it, overcomes the limited individualistic view of ourselves in favour of our supra-individual and fulfilled being that is related (really and ontically related) to temporal beings that find their root in us (and so are mediated by us) and to God, whose image we are. This meaning of image of God explains why the human ego can be nothing in itself as an autonomous being. The image of God is related to Christ’s self-surrender (NC II, 149). Dooyeweerd says that even love of our neighbour is nothing but the love of God in His image, expressed in ourselves as well as in our fellow-man (NC II, 155).

Revised Sept 25/07

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