opening process

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.)

closed II, 495

NC I, 29 (the as yet closed structure of the logical aspect in pre-theoretical thought)
NC II, 184 (animal’s subjective psychical feeling is closed), 184 (rigid, closed structure)

Encyclopedia (2002), 178. “The closed structure of the logical and the post-logical aspects is always characterized by a rigid dependence on the pre-logical aspects of reality, on the so-called natural dimensions of the cosmos (sensory feeling, organic life, movement, space and number).

closed off
dis-closed I, 47
II, 410, 420NC II, 191 (disclosure)
laid open II, 420
open NC I, 120 (pre-theoretical thought is only actualized in its retrocipatory structure; theoretical thought opens its anticipatory spheres)

NC II, 582 (open the sensory aspect)

opening II, 406,

NC 1, 29 (temporal character of cosmic time is disclosed in the opening process of the modal aspects)

NC II, 191 (historical aspect as the nodal point of the process of opening up)

“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960), 97-150, at 149: even non-Christian philosophy has a role to play in the opening process of culture.

opening process NC III, 91
primitive NC II, 141, 265, 317 (primitive belief), 320 (primitive and diffuse belief in nature), 329 (In Lévy-Bruhl)

Encyclopedia (2002), 179: The “night of nature” covers primitive society like a blanket.

unfolding I, 33, 61
II, 405,409, 410, 497
unfolding process
unveiled [‘onthuld’] II, 406, 409

See the extensive discussion of issues relating to the opening process in my article “Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy (2006), especially Part 4: Imagination and the historical opening process. The article discusses the Wisdom tradition within which Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is situated, and how our imagination is dependent on our being created in the image of God. In our imagination, we discover the figure, the anticipation of what an individuality structure in the temporal world may become, but which is presently only a potential reality. In finding the figure within the temporal world, and in realizing it and embodying it, we form history, and we fulfill the reality of temporal structures. This is the opening process, and it is founded in the historical aspect. God’s law or Wisdom gives the connection between this internal figure of our imagination and the modal aspects in which our body and other temporal structures of individuality function.

Our experience is closed off and needs to be opened in these two circumstances:

(1) Naive experience that needs to be deepened and opened.

(2) Sin also closes off our experience:

Every Christian knows the emptiness of an experience of the temporal world which seems to be shut up in itself. But the Christian whose heart is opened to the Divine Word-revelation knows that in this apostate experiential attitude he does not experience temporal things and events as they really are, i.e. as meaning pointing beyond and above itself to the true religious centre of meaning and to the true Origin (NC III, 30).

Sometimes Dooyeweerd refers to the opening process as an ‘unveiling.’ In other places he speaks of an ‘unfolding’ or a ‘disclosing.’ This implies that the full experience already exists in an enclosed or enfolded state. All of temporal reality is such an unfolding and dis-closing from the undifferentiated root unity. The deepening process continues this differentiation and unfolding process.

Dooyeweerd says that the function of faith leads this opening process. The opening process is founded in the historical sphere, but it is guided by the function of faith. In the foundational direction the historical sphere appears to the starting point. In the anticipatory direction it is the function of faith (NC III, 91).

The Christian idea of the opening-process is guided by faith in Christ as Redeemer. This does not mean an idealistic optimism, but recognizes a brokenness in spite of its direction towards the Root:

Only in its eschatological expectation of the ultimate full revelation of the Kingdom of God can Christian belief rise above this broken state without losing its relation to the sinful cosmos. For the same reason the Idea of the universality of each of the aspects within its own sphere cannot be conceived in a purely eschatological sense; it should also be related to our sinful cosmos (NC II, 337).

The Christian opening process therefore has an eschatological element. This passage also confirms that sphere universality has an eschatological sense.

An example of opening is found in the juridical area of experience. The Ideas of “good faith” and “equity” are anticipatory meaning figures not found in a primitive system of law (NC II, 141).

Dooyeweerd distinguishes between primitive and opened societies:

Primitive cultures are important to historical science only insofar as they are referred to by an opened and deepened form of cultural development. (NC II, 265).

But a theoretical inquiry into pre-historical cave-cultures is not a genuine historical theme, unless documentary evidence enables us to trace the historical advancement of these closed cultures into opened and deepened cultural development. (NC II, 265)

The unfolding of the anticipatory spheres is part of our articipation in the fulfillment of all things. In his article “Het juridisch causaliteitsprobleem in it licht der wetsidee,”Anti-revolutionaire Staatkunde 2 (1928) 21-124, Dooyeweerd says at p.61:

De “ontsluiting der anticipatiesferen,” als actieve “door-geestelijking” van de wetskringen, is een religieus thema in de Calvinistische levens- en wereldbeschouwing, een thema, dat zijn hoogste spanning verkrijjgt door de onmetelijke kracht der in universeelen zin genomen allesbeheerschende praedestinatiegedachte. Overal, in alle wetskringen moet de religieuze zin doordringen en den zin der wetsgedachte “voleindigen,” al wordt in deze zondige bedeeling dit ideaal nimmer vervuld, tenzij dan door Christus!

[The “unfolding of the anticipatory spheres,” as an active “in-spiration” [lit. “spiritualizing-through”] of the law-spheres, is a religious theme in the Calvinistic life and worldview, a theme that reaches its highest tension through the immeasurable power of the all-ruling idea of predestination, taken in its universal meaning. Religious meaning must penetrate everywhere, in all law-spheres, and it must “complete” the meaning of the law-idea, although in this sinful dispensation this ideal is never fulfilled, except through Christ!

And at p. 113 Dooyeweerd says,

De “volle realiteit” als kosmische subjectiviteitseenheid bouwt zich op in den organischen samenhang der subjectsfuncties, gelijk alle wetskringen individueel slechts straalbrekingen zijn van Gods wereldplan.

[The “full reality” as cosmic unity of subjectivity constructs itself in the organic coherence of the subject functions, just as all law-spheres are individually only refractions of God’s world plan.]

Baader also speaks of an unfolding from a previously undifferentiated unity:

Each embodied or realizing and fulfilling life proceeds from a Center, in which the individual limbs of the organism are still undifferentiated, as partial lives, and in a seed state, the still state of potential. [“Über Sinn und Zweck der Verkörperung, Leib oder Fleischwerdung des Lebens,” Philosophische Schriften I, 86. ]

Baader says that there is a twofold circulation between the factors of a life that are distinguished, as individual points or individual limbs, with their unfolded unity [entfaltenden Einheit].

Baader also speaks of the successive unfolding of life, in which there is either a deepening or a disclosing (Zeit 44 ft. 25). It is not sufficient to rest in the enstatic state. We must move ek-statically into the temporal world in order to co-create with God. If we do not do this we have failed our mission to ‘dominate’ the world.

Übrigens ist es wesentlich, zu bemerken, daß diese Verschließung oder Vertiefung sukzessiv in der sukzessiven Entfaltung des Lebens eines Wesens geschieht (eine Enfaltung, welche seine Geschichte ausmacht), so daß das, was in einer vorhergehended Epoche das Obere (den Gipfel) dieses Wesens ausmachte, in einer folgenden Epoche das Untere oder die Grundlage ausmachen muß. (Zeit 44, ft. 25).

[Furthermore it is necessary to notice that this hidden mystery or deepening occurs gradually in the successive unfolding of the life of a being (an unfolding which makes up his history), so that that which was the highest (the peak) for a being in a previous era becomes the lower or the foundation].

Using Dooyeweerd’s language, I understand Baader to be saying that the retrocipatory functions were previously experienced as the highest. They now become the foundation of the unfolding process. In another passage, Baader speaks of some functions as leading other functions, and as accompanying other functions (als Leiter und Begleiter) (Philosophische Schriften II, 175)

And like Dooyeweerd, Baader sees faith as the function that opens our inner self (Weltalter 278).

Revised Oct 13/08