naive

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.)

naive I, 29

NC I, 3, 34 (naive consciousness of time)

naive experience I, vii, 33, 45-50, 60, 125, 129-130
II, 401, 403, 404, 409, 417, 488NC I, 3, 33 (immediate integral experience ofcosmic time), 41 (we grasp reality in the typical total structures of individual things and concrete events; no distinction of the modal aspects, 42 (subject-object relation in naive experience), 43 (misinterpreted as a theory about reality)NC II, 373, 383, 470, 482, 488, 577

NC III, 31, 33-34, 36

De Crisis der Humanistische Staatsleer, in het licht eener Calvinistische kosmologie en kennistheorie (1931), 90.

Het Tijdsprobleem in de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee,” Philosophia Reformata 5 (1940) 160-192

last article: “De Kentheoretische Gegenstandsrelatie en de Logische Subject-Objectrelatie,” Philosophia Reformata(1975) 83-101

“Het transcendentale critiek van het wijsgeerig denken,” Philosophia Reformata 6 (1941), 1-20 at 10. Naive experience is the natural fitting into [instelling] of our consciousness in reality. It is a given and not a theory that can be disputed.

“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960, 97-150, at 126 (naive experience remains totally fitted into [ingesteld of ingebed] the temporal coherence.

naive concept NC II, 470
naive thought I, 50
II, 404NC I, 29 (the as yet closed structure of the logical aspect in pre-theoretical thought); 120 (pre-theoretical thought is only actualized in its retrocipatory structure).
pre-theoretical I, 47, 60, 121, 129
II, 404, 406, 411, 414, 417, 419, 484, 488, 491

NC I, 3
NC II, 474 (resting pre-theoretical intuition), 475 (pre-theoretical conscious ‘Erleben’), 557 (dominating role of individuality structures in pre-theoretical experience)

last article:“De Kentheoretische Gegenstandsrelatie en de Logische Subject-Objectrelatie,” Philosophia Reformata 40 (1975), 85, 91-94, 97-98.

De Crisis der Humanistische Staatsleer, in het licht eener Calvinistische kosmologie en kennistheorie (1931), 87, 90.

In the naïve pre-theoretical attitude of experience, we have an immediate integral experience of cosmic time in the uninterrupted coherence of all its modal aspects, inclusive of the normative ones, and in concentric relatedness to the selfhood. (NC, I, 33; not in WdW).

This coherence and relation to the selfhood is a relation of enstasy (NC II, 479), where we experience the continuity of cosmic time (NC II, 4). Our pre-theoretical experience is enstatic:

De naieve, vóór-theoretische ervaring is en-statisch, niet synthetisch in de volle tijdelijke werkeijkheid met al hare in de kosmische tijdsorde samengevlochten zinzijden, zoowel natuurlijke als geestelijke, ingesteld en komt intuïtief in verzet tegen iedere poging van het verabsoluteerd synthetisch denken, om haar een of meer zin-zijden harer werkelijkheid to ontrooven.(De Crisis der Humanistische Staatsleer, in het licht eener Calvinistische kosmologie en kennistheorie (1931), 87.

[It is not in a synthetic but an enstatic way that naïve, pre-theoretical experience is fitted into full temporal reality with all of its meaning-sides (both natural and spiritual) that are interwoven in the cosmic order of time. And this naïve, pre-theoretical experience intuitively opposes every attempt of absolutized synthetic thought to rob it of one or more of its meaning-sides.]

On p. 90 of the same book he says,

In de naieve, vóór-theoretische ervaring vatten wij de tijdelijke realiteit in de volle systase harer zinfuncties, die als zoodanig een organischen, onverbrekelijken zin-samenhang vertoonen.

[In naive pre-theoretical experience, we grasp temporal reality in the full systasis of its meaning-functions, which as such display an organic unbreakable meaning-coherence.]

This enstasis of pre-theoretical thought is in contrast to the dis-stasis of theoretical thought. Theory’s dis-stasis requires a subsequent synthesis where we try to again approximate the continuity of cosmic time. In its lack of enstasis and relatedness to our selfhood, theory will always show a lack in comparison to our pre-theoretical experience.

And yet our pre-theoretical experience is naive. It needs to be deepened (NC II, 470) and opened up. This deepening and opening up can only be done by theory. As long as we do not theoretically reflect on our experience, it is naive (NC III, 31). What is it about naive experience that makes it naive? This has not been sufficiently explored by Dooyeweerd scholars. As I read Dooyeweerd, our naive experience is naive and needs to be deepened for the following reasons:

(1) Naive experience is characterized by the subject-object relation instead of the Gegenstand-relation. In the subject-object relation, we objectify earlier aspects of our experience.

(2) Because the subject-object relation concerns objectification, it is restricted to retrocipatory moments of our experience:

If our thesis is correct, that the modal subject-object relation is indissolubly connected with the modal retrocipatory spheres of an aspect, the following thesis is also true: the subject-object relation is to be found in all the law-spheres whose modal structures show retrocipations of earlier modalities, in other words, in all the law-spheres that come later in the cosmic order of time. (NC II, 383).

This cannot be understood without Dooyeweerd’s idea of cosmic time, which makes certain aspects earlier and later in the succession of cosmic time. And it cannot be understood from Vollenhoven’s point of view, because he denied this temporal kind of succession.

(3) Our pre-theoretical experience occurs in all aspects, but only in their retrocipatory analogies. It therefore is a looking back in the foundational direction of time, a kind of anamnesis.

(4) The horizon of individuality structures plays the dominant role in naive experience. (II, 488; NC II, 557). It grasps reality in its plastic structure (NC III 36). The individuality structure expresses itself in the sensory image without being itself of a sensory character. This determines the things and events experienced in the naive attitude. Note that this does not mean that naive experience is of the individual and that theory investigates the universal. That is the van Riessen/Strauss/Clouser view of theory as abstraction, which Dooyeweerd rejects.

(5) In the subject-object relation, our psychical aspect forms psychical images of the past moments. But our feeling is restricted to these retrocipatory moments. Dooyeweerd says that the possibility of objectification in the modal aspect of feeling is primarily bound to the retrocipatory structure of this aspect (NC II, 373). As I interpret Dooyeweerd, it is only at the psychical stage of the succession of the aspects that our experience becomes concrete. This is a view that he shares with Frederik van Eeden.

(6) In the subject-object relation, our logical aspect objectifies these psychical images. In pre-theoretical thought the logical aspect is only actualized in its retrocipatory structure (NC II, 120). Enstatical logical analysis is restrictively bound to sensory perception and can only analytically distinguish concrete things and their relations according to sensorily founded characteristics (NC II, 470). Naive analysis or thought does not penetrate beyond the objective outward appearance of our sense [objectieven “oogenschijn“]. It uses pre-scientific, practically oriented distinctions that find their basis in the sensory side of experience and are not systematically ordered. (II, 404, 470).

(7) This view that our naive thought is limited to sensory experience also appears in his De Crisis der Humanistische Staatsleer (1931) where he says about theoretical synthesis thought:

Het is niets dan de anticipeerende (daarom steeds door den zin der historische ontwikkeling geleide) verdieping, de zin-ontplooiing van het naive zin-systatischdenken, dat zelve nog traag hangt aan zijn zinsverband met de psychische zinnelijkheid. De zin-synthesis is in de zin-systasis gefundeerd, niet omgekeerd! In het zin-synthetisch denken bevrijdt de verdiepte analystische bewustzijnsfunctie zich van een bloot ingesteld zijn in de volle tijdelijke werkelijkheid: het steltzich de ter kennis opgegeven a-logische zin-functies tegenover, het wordt “gegenständlich.” Dit tegenovergestelde, dit probleem der kennis kan niet de kosmische realiteit zelve zijn. Want onze analytische denk-functie is zelve systatisch in die realiteit gevlochten en blijft zulks ook in haar verdiepte, theoretsiche werkzaamheid.” (pp. 102-103, excerpts in Verburg 143).

[It is nothing other than the anticipating (and therefore always being led by the meaning of historical development) deepening, the unfolding of meaning from naive systatic-meaning thinking, which itself still inertly depends on its relation of meaning with psychical sensation. The synthesis of meaning is founded in the systasis of meaning, and not the other way around! In meaning-synthetic thought, the deepened analytical function of meaning frees itself from a merely enstatic being in full temporal reality: it sets itself over-against the a-logical meaning-functions that are offered up for knowledge; it become “gegenständlich.” This being set-over-against, this problem of knowledge can not be the cosmic reality itself. For our analytical function of thought is itself woven systatically in reality, and it remains so even in its deepened, theoretic activity.]

(8) And yet Dooyeweerd also says that the sensory aspect of perceiving does not at all play that preponderant role in naive experience which the current epistemological opinion ascribes to it (NC III, 38). I believe he is contrasting his view of empiricism with the usual kind of empiricism that begins with things in themselves, things that exist in a neutral way without their relation to humanity as their root. On the same page he says that naive experience has a “strong anticipating character”; There are symbolical anticipations through which sensory impressions evoke a name. Does this not conflict with what he says about it being bound to the retrocipatory aspect? I do not think that there is a contradiction here. Dooyeweerd is not speaking about anticipations within the sensory aspect. He is saying that our sensory impressions (in the psychical aspect) are followed in the succession of temporal time by other aspects, such as the lingual.

(9) Naive thought can therefore in some ways be considered as limited to “empirical” reality. But empirical view of “pure sensation” is a theoretical abstraction (II, 478). What has been abstracted can never be the datum of our experience (NC II, 539).The “empirical reality” is for Dooyeweerd not static or vorhanden,’ but dynamic. Nevertheless, this naive experience, limited to sensory perception, needs to be opened up, unfolded and deepened.

(10) Dooyeweerd says that in our naive thought, there is no duality between the act of knowing and what is known:

In its logical side, naïve experience remains wholly fitted into [in-gesteld] temporal reality; it knows no dualism between knowing and what is known; it understands both the logical and the post-logical functions of things–in what I later describe as the structural subject-object relation–essentially as elements [bestanddeelen] of full reality as it is given to us. (“Het Tijdsprobleem in de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee,” Philosophia Reformata 5 (1940) 160-192, at 162).

(11) Because it needs to be deepened, naive experience is naive. Dooyeweerd contrasts the special sciences with “a bare enstasis.” (de zich bloot in de werkelijkheid instellende denkhouding der naieve ervaring.” (I, 49). Elsewhere, Dooyeweerd speaks about a bare [blooten] “falling back” into the naive attitude (I, 60). That would be a return to naive experience without deepening. When the epoché of theoretical thought is cancelled, we fall back into the enstatic intuitive attitude of naïve experience (NC II, 482). From the transcendental direction of time we return to the foundational direction. We need to return in a deepened state.

(12) We may perhaps compare Dooyeweerd’s view of the restricted nature of naive experience it with Baader’s view of pre-theoretical experience as a “blind, unfree empiricism” (Werke 6,89 ft 1, 1,130).

(13) Pre-theoretical experience is naive because it is a “resting.” It is not free in the sense of opened out beyond the natural (II,409).

(14) We should not confuse naive experience with the beginning experiences of a child. That would be Romanticism, which Dooyeweerd rejects. Our naive experience is itself something that is learned. Dooyeweerd says that the child’s life is not only pre-theoretical, but it is pre-experiential. Infants have not learned the practical function of things and events in social life. This infantile attitude is animistic; it displays a provisional inability to conceive subject-object relations. By this I understand Dooyeweerd to be saying that the child cannot distinguish between the realms of mineral, plant, animal and human, since that is how he characterizes animism elsewhere. Dooyeweerd says that there must be sufficient development of the typical act-structure of human existence and a practical acquaintance with the things of common life. Our naive experience is learned socially; it is informed by social praxis (NC III, 33-34). I am not aware of any discussion on these points by those who want to start their analysis of theory with our naive experience of the “individual thing.” In fact, I am not aware of any discussion of these distinctions between pre-experiential, pre-theoretical, theoretical and, if I may suggest, a fourth stage–our truly integrated experience as a Son of God.

Now it may be objected, if naive experience must be learned, does that not show that it is mediated, not immediate? But what is it that is learned? The passage says that our act-structure must be formed and the practical function of things and events must be learned. These are temporal events and structures. We must learn how to live in the temporal world, to make it our own.

(15) Nor is naive experience the same as our routine experience. (NC III, 145). Dooyeweerd says that the routine view of modern daily life is not naive experience, because modern daily life is content with names. What does he mean by this? Our naive experience certainly includes a linguistic aspect. But if we stop at names, we have not experienced reality in its full inter-relatedness. And in our modern routine, by applying labels to what we experience, we miss fully experiencing our reality. We may find some similarity here to the Hindu idea that reality goes beyond the names and the forms [namarupa] that we use to describe it. I believe that Dooyeweerd’s rejection of the routine must also imply his rejection of the Common Sense Philosophy of Thomas Reid and others. Baader specifically rejects this common sense (Philosophische Schriften II 178).

(16) Although it deepens our experience, theory does not have only a good effect on our experience. Our naive experience can also be impaired by our theory. Rationalistic philosophy falsifies naive experience by its theoretical interpretation (NC I, 171).

(17) If rooted in the Christian religion, naive experience has the radical, integral view of reality concentrically conceived in its root and in its relation to the Origin [I, 84]. But if we lose this directedness to the Origin, we lose our ability to experience reality.

Naarmate het transcendente-besef van den mensch verzwakt, verzwakt ook zijn zelf-bewustzijn en zijn vermogen de perspectivische structuur van de tijd te ervaren (Dooyeweerd: “Het Tijdsprobleem in de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee,” Part II Philosophia Reformata, (1940), 209)

[To the degree that man’s understanding of the transcendent is weakened, so also is weakened his self-consciousness and his ability to experience the perspectival structure of time].

(18) Steen relates Dooyeweerd’s emphasis on ordinary experience to Kuyper’s defence of Christ’s little ones and the plain folk of the Christian community from attack by science (Steen 273). But this seems to me to be a simplification of what naive experience is. It also ignores the influence of Baader on both Kuyper and Dooyeweerd.

(19) Naive experience is enstasis (NC II, 479). ‘Enstasis’ means ‘standing within.’ In pre-theoretical experience, we stand within our supratemporal selfhood, which allows us to experience the continuity of time. Enstasis refers to a ‘resting, pre-theoretical intuition,’ which we possess by virtue of our supratemporal selfhood:

In the resting pre-theoretical intuition we have an enstatic conscious ‘Erleben’ of the full temporal reality as it presents itself in the typical structures of individuality and their relations. This conscious ‘Erleben’ or ‘hineinleben’ into reality primarily unfolds itself in the integral experience of temporal reality to which any kind of theoretical meaning-synthesis is still alien. (NC II, 474)

Dooyeweerd’s use of the word ‘Erleben’ here must not be understood as a merely emotional experience, as in Schleiermacher and Gadamer. Dooyeweerd refers to it as an ‘Erleben’ or ‘Hineinleben’ into reality; it ‘primarily unfolds itself in the integral experience of temporal reality to which any kind of theoretical meaning-synthesis is still alien’ (NC II, 474).

(20) Baader also refers to the resting in our selfhood as an enstasis; he contrasts it with the movement into the temporal world of extasis. Our resting selfhood is an ‘IneinandergestürtzSein‘ of the Center, as opposed to the becoming (‘werden’) of the periphery (Begründung, 58). 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 distinguishes between a passive, contemplative knowledge, and a more active knowledge (Susini II, 30). Our passive knowledge is the Subject-Object relation, where we contemplate, or are spectators of objects above and below us. Baader uses the words anerkennen, kennen and Wahrnehmen for this passive knowledge. Our active knowledge is erkennen. It is an active work, an effort of grounding (ergründung) and a battle (kampf).

(21) Baader also expresses the difference between our passive and our active knowledge as a difference in direction of our thought. In passive knowledge the direction is centrifugal; we sink into our Center. In active knowledge our thought goes in a centripetal direction, and we fly past the center (Elementarbegriffe 546). The same distinction is made by Dooyeweerd; the Gegenstand-Relation is a divergent direction of consciousness as opposed to the concentric direction of consciousness that is directed towards the Center (NC I, 57, 58).

(22) Philosophy as transcendental thought opens up naive experience, which is restricted to the retrocipatory aspects. Transcendental thought looks to the future in the opening up of anticipatory moments. There is an “ eschatological sense” of the universality of the aspects within its own sphere. If anticipation means looking forward, this must be understood as a process that looks towards future wholeness or integration. The function of faith leads this opening process.

Revised Oct 13/08

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