metaphysical

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.)

metaphysics I, 16, 24, 29, 55, 59, 77
II, 399, 497
metaphysical I, 16, 37, 58 (rationalistic), 73 (in values), 75 (homo noumenon in Kant), 131
II, 416, 417NC I, 13 (rationalistic-metaphysical way absolutizes the logical function of thought), 31 (a rigid and static supratemporality is a metaphysical Greek idea), 43 (metaphysical substance concept)“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960, 97-150, at 141: metaphysical thought tries to discover and prove truths that are absolute above time.
speculative II, 491

Metaphysical thought hypostatizes or absolutizes something within temporal reality. He speaks of metaphysics as exceeding the limits of philosophic thought (I, 16). Metaphysical thought tries to discover and prove truths that are absolute above time (“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960, 97-150, at 141). But at p. 142 of this article, he says this must not be misunderstood. A transcendental critique show that the boundaries of thought cannot mean a separation between such thought and the religious [supratemporal] point of departure of thought, because philosophical thought stands in a one-sided relation of dependence to this point of departure. A truly radical transcendental critique of thought thus necessarily leads us above the boundaries of philosophical thought, so that it arrives at reflection on the central motive force which the religious Ground-motive exercises on our thought. And at that point, philosophy must be silent, and we can only speak of religious acknowledgement and maintenance of the Truth.

Dooyeweerd says that cosmological thought is not metaphysical. (See Dooyeweerd’s opening lecture in 1926, cited by Verburg, 425). To say that cosmological thought is not metaphysical appears to be based on the fact that the cosmos is temporal and within our experience. But it would be speculative and metaphysical to speculate about what the afterlife is like, what angels are like or about the being of God.

Creaturely meaning and the Being of the Archè are not on the same level. This is a definite ontology, and despite Dooyeweerd’s protests, it would normally be referred to as a metaphysical view of the Origin. If it is not a metaphysics, that is because on Dooyeweerd’s view, metaphysics is a reference to that which we do not experience. And he is emphatic that we do have an experience of the supratemporal. But is not his reference to the Being of God and the Arché something that is beyond even our experience? Even on his own terms, that seems to be metaphysical language. I believe that it would be better for Dooyeweerd to acknowledge that a metaphysics is inevitable. Our theories depend on fundamental assumptions that are metaphysical, epistemological, psychological and ethical. Even though he criticizes metaphysical thinking, Heidegger says “the metaphysical mode of representation…is in some respect inevitable.” (Unterwegs zur Sprache, p. 116. Cited by Mehta: “The Saving Leap”, J.L. Mehta on Heidegger, Hermeneutics and Indian Tradition, p. 93).

We make assumptions concerning the nature of the self that is doing the theorizing (philosophical anthropological assumptions), and upon the nature of the ‘object’ of our theorizing. There are epistemological assumptions–how we relate our experience to our conceptualization of that experience and whether we believe that our experience can be reduced to those concepts. We must make the assumption of whether to take a literal or a symbolic view of language. There are also ontological assumptions; our view of being is included in every method. Heidegger says, “In every understanding of the world, existence is understood with it, and vice versa.” (Being and Time, p. 194). Those people who assume they have no ontology merely have an unconscious or an unexamined ontology.

What I believe remains objectionable is referring to God in terms of temporal images. We are left with an apophaticism. And any absolutization and any ultimate religious dualism is of course also objectionable.

What about Dooyeweerd’s reference to us as the expression of God in our being the image of God–is that metaphysical language? In what sense can it be said that we know God by virtue of being His image? But is that not based on some kind of analogy of being? Baader justified “speculative theology” on the basis that ‘speculative’ comes from ‘specula’ meaning mirror. Because we are the mirror or image of God, we can have knowledge of God.

Revised Jan 29/08; Dec 23/16