instrument

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.)

instrument I, 25

NC I, 212
NC III, 88

Dooyeweerd says that the selfhood is “the invisible player on the instrument of philosophic thought.” Our selfhood is our center, and it expresses itself in its temporal functions. Although our thinking is such a central act, Dooyeweerd sometimes also refers to the function of thought. In any event, the Idea of the selfhood being the player on the instrument relates to the organic relation between the central head and its peripheral limbs. A clearer expression of this is:

“…the human body is the free plastic instrument of the I-ness, as the spiritual centre of human existence.” (NC III, 88).

It is because the temporal cosmos is the instrument that Dooyeweerd says that history is significant “forming.” When our supratemporal self moves into the temporal cosmos by acting, we may form it in a significant way. He calls the individuality structures in the temporal cosmos “plastic” because they can be formed.

“But the plastic horizon of structural individuality is varied according to “types” which are different for each of the various groups of things, and in which things in turn appear, change their forms, or are changed in form, and vanish.” [NC II:557]

Baader makes many references to this type of reasoning. He distinguishes among principle, organ and instrument. God is the principle of revelation, man is the organ; nature is the instrument (Werke 4,81; 7,90 ff). We should not confuse organ and instrument. God has a different relationship to each region of being: indwelling [Inwohnung] as love, bydwelling [Beiwohnung] when an intelligent agent cooperates with God and acts as God’s organ and Durchwohnung [throughdwelling]: this is God’s presence through power alone; God treats these beings as instruments. These are inanimate nature and free agents who resist God (Werke 1,283 ff; 2,38; 4,348; 5,355; 8,317; 9,171 ff; 10, 294; 14,71ff,120; Betanzos 90).

Baader frequently uses the phrase “amor descendit ut elevet “or “Love descends in order to raise up” (Zeit, 30). In the kenosis, the Center, the inner One, descends to the level of Organism or periphery without ceasing to be the Center or Principle.

There is a quotation from Plotinus’ Enneads which may be of interest here:

“Now from this relation, from the Soul using the body as an instrument, it does not follow that the Soul must share the body’s experiences: a man does not himself feel all the experiences of the tools with which he is working.”

Kuyper says that even the human nature of Jesus is instrument:

So the human nature of Immanuel is not merely a screen to temper the too dazzling-glories. No, it is the means and instrument to bring the Divine life naturally and intimately close to our own heart (To be Near Unto God).

Kuyper also says that our bodily eye is a subordinate instrument, which he contrasts with our inner eye of perception:

In behalf of the other, deeper, much richer and far more extensive world, which is not visible, this bodily eye is of no avail. For this, man received another eye, the eye of the soul, to which the eye of the body, as a subordinate instrument, only renders auxiliary aid (To be Near Unto God).

Bavinck speaks of our volition and our knowledge. He also speaks of reality as an instrument:

For this purpose God has deposited the truth in nature and Scripture, that we might have it, and by knowing it might rule through it. In the knowledge of the truth lies the end of its revelation; reality is an instrument to enable us to find the truth; reality is intended to become truth in our consciousness and in our experience. Reality, therefore, does not offer us in the truth a mere copy of itself, so that the world, as pragmatism objects, would be duplicated. In the truth, reality rises to a higher mode of existence; having first lain in darkness, it now walks in the light; having once been a riddle, it now finds its solution; not understood at the beginning, it now is “declared.” (Stone Lectures, “Revelation and Philosophy,” 82).

Revised May 17/06

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