Microcosm/Macrocosm

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.)

microcosm NC II, 593
macrocosm NC II, 593 (real experience of the ‘macrocosm’)

Dooyeweerd objects to the idea of a microcosm/macrocosm. And yet he says that the temporal world has no existence apart from its supratemporal root in humanity (NC I, 100; II, 53). He also says that we find the meaning of the whole cosmos in our own meaning (I, 14; NC I, 11). why then does he reject the Idea of a relation between microcosm and macrocosm? The answer seems to be that he finds “microcosm” too individualistic. His idea of the root is supra-individual. If the root were separate individual supratemporal selves, it would result in many separate worlds.

Any individualistic view of the supratemporal 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.

Our first objection to this Idea of a microcosm is that subjective individuality can never determine the structural horizon of human experience and of the cosmos. This horizon is a structural order, the Divine order of the creation itself. It comprises in its determining and limiting structure the individuality of human personality, its religious root as well as its temporal existence. Creaturely subjective individuality cannot determine and limit itself, but is a priori determined and limited by the Divine order. (NC II, 593).

On the next page (594) he says,

“The cosmic self-consciousness in which all cosmological knowledge remains founded, is not an experiential entrance into the absolutely individual horizon of some “personal world”, or a “microcosm”. It enters into the full, unique cosmos created by God within the temporal horizon, in the full meaning-coherence of all its modal and plastic structures. Naïve experience, the great primary datum of all epistemology, does not know anything of a cosmos as a “personal world” supposed to be identical with countless other “personal worlds” in an abstract, universal, merely intended essential structure alone.…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.”

Individuality is given within time. Even the individuation of our own ego is related to time.

Revised Jul 10/06

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