principle

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.)

Ground-Principle I, vii, 68, 70
“in principio”
reformational principles Center and Periphery: The Philosophy of the Law-Idea in a Changing World, Discussion p. 16 (Dooyeweerd praises Kuyper for not specifying the content of the reformational principles upon which the Free University was to be based).
principle [‘beginsel’] I, 44, 70 (sovereignty in own sphere), 86
II, 494

Knowledge concerning God is given by revelation. This is our “principle,” the foundation of all our knowledge (II, 494). But Dooyeweerd criticized Groen van Prinsterer’s view of Scripture as “eternal principles.”

Dit is een wijze van schriftgebruiek, die men nog steeds onder gelovige christenenen kan aantreffen,die Gods Woord als laatste richtsnoer ook voor het tijdelijk leven erkennen. Waar een schijnbaar ondubbelzinnige uitspraak in de Bijbel over bepaalde tijdelijke levensverhoudingen is aan te wijzen, buigt men zich onvoorwaardelijk voor de Goddelijke autoriteit en spreekt dan gaarne van een ‘eeuwig beginsel.’ (Vernieuwing en Bezinninng, 242).

[This is a manner of using Scripture that we still find used by believing Christians. They use God’s Word as a final guide for temporal life. Where an apparently unambiguous expression can be shown in the Bible about certain temporal relations in our life, man bows unconditionally before the Divine authority and speaks readily about an ‘eternal principle.’]

I believe that by ‘principle,’ Dooyeweerd does not mean a propositional axiom. He means our beginning, our Ground-Principle (I, vii, 68, 70). This use of principle can be compared to the words of Genesis 1, “In the beginning…”. This was translated in the Latin as “in principio.” this ‘beginning’ or ‘principle’ was regarded as having been outside of time.

Dooyeweerd also refers to creation as having been “in the beginning” in this sense of being outside of cosmic time. Creation was “before” cosmic time.

“Want hoe kon de mens binnen de tijdelijke orde tot een “levende ziel” worden, wanneer God niet in den beginne Zijn scheppend woord gesproken had, dat het hele mensdom in zijn totaliteit, gerepresenteerd in zijn stamvader en stammoeder, tot aanzijn riep, een aanzijn dat eerst in het wordingsprocess binnen de tijdsorde zou uitwerken?” (“Schepping en evolutie,” 115-116, cited by Steen 61-62)

[For how can man become a “living soul” within the temporal order, unless God had not spoken His creative Word in the beginning, that called all of humanity to existence [aanzijn] in its totality, represented in its original father and mother, an existence that could only be worked out within the becoming process within the temporal order?”]

In this article, Dooyeweerd indicates that God’s creation outside of time is a completed [voltooid] creation. The “days of creation” transcend cosmic time (NC I, 33).

Dooyeweerd use of ‘principle’ in the sense of a Ground-Principle is evident in his first lecture at the Free University. There he says that principle is what gives direction to our thought. System is direction of thought, the consequence of the all inclusive principle that gives power to system. The principle at the foundation of a system will send you in a certain direction. [cited in Verburg 105]

We find this use of ‘principle’ in Baader. Baader also sees creation as having been before cosmic time. Cosmic time is as a result of the fall. He says that our principle it is not just the beginning (‘incipere’), but much rather the Center or Middle of a Being (Fermenta 2, 289). In the Fall, we separated ourselves from our relation with God, or what Baader calls our ‘Principle’ (Zeit 29, ft. 9). Redemption is now required to allow a full restoration and reintegration (Wiederherstellung oder Reintegration).

Baader also uses the term Ground-Principle [Grund-Prinzip] Zeit, 60. Principles lie at the Ground (Grund) of our knowledge (theology, physiology, natural philosophy); These principles may be open or hidden (Werke V, 254).

We may compare this use of ‘principle’ to Meister Eckhart. Eckhart believed that to see things in principio is to see them in their origin or principle, to see them in God, where all multiplicity and duality is eternal Unity. See Rudolf Otto: Mysticism East and West (Macmillan, 1970, first published 1932), p. 21.

Abhishiktananda refers to the doctrine of creation “in principio.” (Intériorité, p. 162). He refers to the Father as the Principle, our source and Origin.

Revised Dec 11/084

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