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.)

positivize NC II, 237-38, 335 (sin affects positivization of law), 364

Principles in the normative aspects of temporal reality are particularized in this process of positivization.

The logical and post-logical modal laws are only given as regulative principles which can be realized on the subject-side only by rational consideration and distinction (NC II, 237). This gives a peculiar interlacing on the law-side of the historical sphere of both super-arbitrary principles and human formative will. (NC II, 238).

For Dooyeweerd, the opening process involves the ‘positivizing of principles.’ These principles are given only potentially and must be actualized (NC I, 105; II, 236, 335; II, 173). Positivizing is a particularization of the law. It must be remembered that for Dooyeweerd, law- and subject-side each imply the other. There is no law that is absolute that can be separated from the subject side. But this positivizing is a finding of law, and not an inventing of it. But positivizing seems to be related to the normative spheres. This poeticizing is part of our temporal service:

The powers and potential which God had enclosed within creation were to be disclosed by man in his service of love to God and neighbour (Roots 30).

Thus, positivizing is part of the process of redemption in which humans participate. However, even those who begin with different religious Ground-Motives can positivize law. The Christian recognizes any relative meaning-disclosure of civilization, even though positivized by anti-Christian powers (NC II, 364).

In the historical and post-historical aspects the laws acquire a concrete sense through human positivizing of Divine normative principles. The human formative will is then to be conceived of as a subjective moment on the law-side of these law-spheres themselves. It may be that natural laws of the pre-logical aspects of experience do not appeal to the human formative will for their realization, insofar as in the latter the normative anticipations of their modal structure are not concerned. But the disclosure of their normative anticipatory spheres is certainly dependent on historically founded human formation. They have, therefore, only a restrictive independence of historical development (NC II, 239).

Dooyeweerd also denies that logical, ethical and aesthetic norms can be absolute. He says that this is thoroughly contradictory, and is an attempt to conceive of their meaning modi apart from their intermodal coherence with all the other aspects. (NC II, 240). Even logical principles require theoretical forming (NC II, 241). And in law, he denies the existence of absolute rights:

The entire conception of absolute rights of the individual is, as such, in conflict with the fundamental structure of any positive legal order. Every right is by nature relative (NC II, 357, fn 1).

But Dooyeweerd rejects a reactionary positivization, a regressive running counter to a norm that has already been formed; that would be a mere falling back to a culturally dead past (NC II, 242).

Baader also says that the law needs to be fulfilled in the finite being. Man has the power to fulfill the laws for creatures (Elementarbegriffe, 553). This response needs the cooperation of the finite being (Zeit 32, 33). Man must organize and re-create the world; the laws are in the world but must be actualized. This is done by our perception [vernehmen, wahrnehmen] of the invisible laws that govern the earthly world. Nature is a book from which we decipher the divine characters or hieroglyphs in order to perceive the voice of God (Werke 11, 29, 149).

Positivizing is also related to Baader’s idea of active knowledge, or ‘erkennen.’ Susini compares erkennen to Claudel’s idea of ‘connaisance,’ or ‘co-naissance.’ It is a giving birth to something, a constructive knowledge. But this constructive knowledge should not be confused with constructivism in today’s sense of the word. For Baader, erkennen is not a matter of inventing new principles, but of discovering them. It is a finden (finding), and not an erfinden (discovery). The knowledge that we find derives from a source that ‘dominates’ and founds this knowledge. (Susini I, 432; Weltalter 261).

See also my article Principles and Positivization: Dooyeweerd and Rational Autonomy.

Revised Aug 21/06