penetrate

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.)

penetrate I, 48 (door-dringende)
II, 404, 406NC I, 55
NC II, 470
NC III, 145
penetration
door-schouwing II, 420, 421
door-schouwt II, 410

Dooyeweerd also speaks of our ‘penetration’ of the temporal world, and he relates this to theory. The supra-theoretical knowledge of the heart must ‘penetrate the temporal sphere of our consciousness’ (NC I, 55). Dooyeweerd contrasts this penetration with pre-theoretical thought.

Naïve analysis does not penetrate behind the objective outward appearance, and cannot embrace the functional laws of the modal spheres in an inter-modal synthesis of meaning (NC II, 470).

Note: The NC translation speaks of an “inter-modal synthesis of meaning.” This is confusing. The original Dutch only speaks of a meaning synthesis [zin-synthesis]. The theoretical synthesis is between our actual thought [an act from out of our selfhood] and the Gegenstand of abstracted aspects, which is not actual or ontical, but only intentional. See synthesis.

But what does Dooyeweerd mean by ‘penetrate’? I believe that Baader is very helpful in understanding Dooyeweerd here.

Baader says that just as God is able to be immanent in temporal reality, so we are to penetrate temporal beings and structures. This penetration does not involve a mixture of identities–Baader refers to Böhme’s saying that Spirit can penetrate nature just as light penetrates fire (Fermenta IV, 14). There are different ways of penetrating the animal, plant and mineral realms (Fermenta I, 13; note m). All understanding or knowledge is a penetration [Durchdringung] of a perception (Werke XII, 84).

In the penetration of the temporal object, we understand its structure:

Alles Begreifen oder Erkennen ist ein Durchdringen einer Anschauung. Eine Anschauung bestimmen, heisst sie zum Modell machen. Der Begriff der “Anschauung” macht die sinnliche Vermittlung aller Erkenntnis deutlich; gleichzeitig wird das Begreifen als das Vermögen bestimmt, die “Anschauung” zum Model zu machen, d.h. ihre Struktur zu erfassen (Werke 12,84; Sauer 33)

[All understanding or knowledge is a penetration of a perception. To determine a perception means to make a model of it. The concept of “perception” makes the sensory mediation of all knowledge clear; similarly, understanding is defined as the power to make the perception to a model, i.e. to understand its structure].

Schumacher comments (p. 39) that we are like God in our producing, the bringing forth of thoughts and whose realization is both differentiated and seen as one. The thought needs to be put into effect, otherwise it remains powerless; reality must be formed through thoughts, otherwise it remains thoughtless power. The thoughts must become embodied [Leibwerdung] The principles are spirit and nature. In God, these work together eternally in harmony. Man is a “micro-God” (Werke 8,59). His purpose is to mediate God and World, Spirit and nature in the Creation. (Werke 8,84) to complete or perfect created nature with God.

But this penetration and domination is not to be done in an egotistical way. If I seek only my own pleasure, then I am subordinating the object to myself, and annihilating its objectivity. Love for the object is then only love for myself, the contrary of true love (Fermenta I, 18). The penetration is to be an ‘inhabitation,’ not a ‘perhabitation.’ Inhabitation is knowledge in an immanent manner; it is a kind of participation or coexistence. I become interior to the being, and become a center for it. The knowing subject becomes inherent in the known object, like an artist in his work; like a father in his child and like God in Man. Such inhabitation is contrasted to perhabitation, where there is no essential link, but only an accidental, exterior juxtaposition or meeting with the thing; one only ‘crosses’ the object without stopping (Susini II, 57).

Baader says that our for nature must also not be confounded with industrial or rational exploitation of nature. (Susini II, 562, citing Fermenta V). Compare this with Dooyeweerd’s comments that mere knowledge of a thing’s name and utility does not penetrate to the empirical reality of a thing:

Nevertheless, it is true that in the routine of daily life, the knowledge of a thing’s name and its utility does not penetrate to its empirical reality. We simply cannot speak of naïve experience here, but only of an abstract technical mode of inculcation. Unfortunately, the enormous extensiveness of modern society often leads to an inevitable loss in the intensity of “naïve experience.” (NC III, 145)

See impairment.

For Baader, penetration is related to the distinction between static and dynamic. (“Über Starres und Fliessendes.” Philosophische Schriften, 113). That which is rigid shows continuity but no penetrating [eindringende] power, being able to take something else within itself; as against this, the flowing [das Fliessende] shows a power of penetration, but no continuity. . The fixed is continuity; the flowing is power of penetration (Begründung 13).

I think that we can usefully compare this idea of continuity or the fixed to the “horizontal” role of time in the coherence of the aspects, and the flowing to the “vertical” sphere sovereignty of the aspects (WdW I, 70). It is only when we are aware of the differentiation of the aspects in their sphere sovereignty that we can perform theoretical work.

No longer is analysis content with the sensorily founded distinction of things whose aspects have not been analyzed Rather, analysis penetrates to the setting apart of the aspects themselves (WdW II 406 ).

But the deeper this special scientific thinking penetrated into its “Gegenstand,” the abstracted meaning-side of reality, so much the sharper has it revealed its fundamental lack in comparison with naïve experience (I, 47).

Revised Oct 17/08

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