retrocipation

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.)

anamnesis [Not used by Dooyeweerd]
past
remember NC II, 372 (remembrance)
retrocipate
retrocipation NC II, 163, 181
substratum II, 418

Retrocipation is contrasted with anticipation.

Retrocipations are the analogies within a given aspect to earlier aspects. By earlier, Dooyeweerd is referring to the order of temporal succession. At one time, Dooyeweerd used the word ‘analogy’ to refer only to these backward looking retrocipations.

The coherence of a modal nucleus and its retrocipations is the primary structure of a modal aspect (NC II, 181). This primary structure is also refered to as ‘rigid’ (NC II, 183).

In the retrocipatory direction, we have a temporary resting point of thought, but the transcendental direction resolves this back into the unrest of meaning:

In other words, the retrocipatory direction of time offers to theoretical thinking, at least provisionally, some resting-points in the original meaning-nuclei. It is true that these resting-points are again done away with by the transcendental direction of time without which they would become rigid and meaningless. […] The only reserve to be made is that the pont of comparative rest in this way offered to philosophic reflection on the possibility of the modal meaning-opening is only a provisional resting-point. In the transcendental direction of thought it must necessarily be resolved into the essential unrest of meaning. (NC II, 190).

Dooyeweerd gives an example of the following retrocipations in the psychical aspect:

Let us take for example the sensation aspect of reality. In its structure we find a nuclear element which cannot be further reduced and which guarantees the individuality of the aspect in its proper sense. This is the “sensation moment as such”. “Was man nicht definieren kann, das sieht man als ein Fuehlen an.” Only it would be quite wrong to suppose that this is a trait characteristic of the sensation aspect of reality and of it alone. In fact we encounter the same situation in all the other aspects.

Round this central or nuclear “moment” are grouped analogical “moments”. We find in the first place an analogical “moment” which recalls the nuclear “moment” of the biological aspect of reality. There is a living sensation and in this “vital moment” the sensation aspect discovers its indissoluble liaison with the aspect of organic life. The living sensation is not identical with the organic life of our body. It obeys its own laws, which are of a psychological nature. It remains characterised by its own nuclear “moment the “sensation moment.” Nevertheless there is no living sensation possible without the solid foundation of an organic life in the biological sense.

Then in the structure of the sensation aspect we find an analogical “moment” which recalls the nuclear moment of the physical aspect, i.e., movement. No sensation life is possible which does not reveal itself in emotions. Emotion is a movement of feeling. But a movement of feeling cannot be reduced to a physical or chemical movement. It remains characterised by its nuclear “moment” and submissive to its own psychological laws. Only, every emotion takes place on the solid foundation of the physical and chemical movements of our body.

Next we find in the structure of the sensation aspect an analogical “moment” which recalls the nuclear moment of the spatial aspect of reality. In the life of sensation there is necessarily a feeling of space which corresponds to perceived space, and is differentiated as optical, auditive and tactile space. This perceived space is not at all identical with mathematical space but it is not possible without the foundation of the latter.

Finally, we find in the structure of the sensation aspect an analogical “moment” which recalls the nuclear moment of the arithmetical aspect, i.e., quantity or number. There is no emotional life possible without a multiplicity and diversity of sensations. This multiplicity is not at all identical with multiplicity in the arithmetical sense. It is qualitative and psycho logical. It allows no quantitative isolation like the different parts of a straight line. The different sensations penetrate one. (“Introduction to a Transcendental Criticism of Philosophic Thought” Evangelical Quarterly XIX (1) Jan 1947, 47-48)

Retrocipations can become very complex, because a modal retrocipation does not only refer back to the meaning-nucleus of the substraum-sphere. It appeals to the modal structure of the substratum-sphere in the coherence of its nucleus and of its the modal retrocipations of that nucleus! (NC II, 163).

Dooyeweerd says that our naive experience consists only of retrocipatory moments. In pre-theoretical thought the logical aspect is only actualized in its retrocipatory structure (NC II, 120). This 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). The subject-object relation is characteristic of naive experience. And the modal subject-object relation is indissolubly connected with retrocipatory spheres of an aspect (NC II, 383). The possibility of objectification in the modal aspect of feeling is primarily bound to the retrocipatory structure of that aspect (NC II, 373). Naive experience therefore consists in a kind of remembering or anamnesis of the moments that have already taken place. Dooyeweerd does not use the word ‘anamnesis,’ but he does speak of ‘remembering.’ Dooyeweerd says that remembrance is an act (NC II, 372).

Similarly, the possibility of objectification in the modal aspect of feeling is primarily bound to the retrocipatory structure of modal aspects (II 373).

Dooyeweerd says that our concepts refer to retrocipatory moments, as opposed to Ideas, which also include anticipatory moments.

Our concepts refer to one another because our concepts all relate to the Central Unity. Baader says that our concepts do not build a row, but a circle; you can start wherever you want, as long as you go through to the Center. This idea is in contrast to linear thought that regards one individual thought as merely arrayed next to another thought and not understood. Baader says that if the concept cannot be shown to relate to the center, it is meaningless (Begründung109; Werke XV, 160). When it is brought back to the Center, each concept leads and points to other concepts as either retrocipatory or anticipatory:

Da die wahrhafte Gnosis keine Reihe von Begriffen, sondern einen Kreis derselben bildet, so kommt es weniger darauf an, von welchem dieser Begriffe aus man im Vortrage der Wissenschaft anhebt, wohl aber darauf, daß man jeden derselben bis ins Zentrum durchführt, aus welchem dieser Begriff notwendig sodann auf all anderen regressiv oder antizipierend wieder weiset und führt, welche Durchführung darum allein als die systematische in der Tat und im Wesen sich erweist. (Werke VIII, 11, cited by Sauer 27)

[Because true gnosis is a circle and not a row of concepts, it matters little from which concept we begin our theory; it is more important that each concept must be related to the Center, from which this concept then necessarily points to other concepts in a regressive (retrocipatory) or anticipatory way; this relation to the Center therefore shows itself in act and essence as the only systematic relation].

and elsewhere Baader says,

True gnosis is a circle, which one does not really grasp little by little but rather all at once. Here, one thing always leads to every other, and whoever has understood one thing well will soon have grasped the whole. There is no cause for wonder, then, when, in part, one concept constantly refers back to another and also when, while holding on to one concept, we have to anticipate others. For it is precisely therein that the systematic character of gnosis manifests itself, since every single concept leads to and points to the Center and the Center in turn, to all other concepts (Werke XIV, 160; translated by Betanzos 80).

Sauer refers to this idea of retrocipating and anticipating concepts as a ‘double heuristic principle.’ The retrocipating concept is a kind of anamnesis–a looking back, a remembering of what has already come. This remembering is by turning within. Sauer uses the phrase ‘rückfragende sich er-innern’ (a questioning back by going within); this is a play on the word ‘erinnern,’ which means ‘to remember’ and ‘er-innern’–to go within (Werke IV, 105; Sauer 65). It is our selfhood that allows us to remember; remembering is a making present (Vergegenwärtigung) (Werke IV, 105). Baader says that consciousness is the work of memory (Gedächtnis). Time is measured in our soul (Gemüth) not by succession of ideas, but by consciousness. It is only because of the permanence of our selfhood that we can experience change and the passing of time. Not to measure time is the situation of dreams (Weltalter 90, 91). Baader praised Fichte for describing ‘the mechanics or instinctive operation of the human mind in its struggle for awareness (preservation of consciousness) within the temporal flow of what is transient’ (Werke III, 244; translated by Betanzos 41).

Sauer says that, in contrast to retrocipation, which looks to the past in memory, anticipation seeks the coherence and reintegration that will occur in the future (Sauer 123). When we anticipate the future, we attempt to shorten time (Elementarbegriffe 555). Time is ‘the winter of eternity.’ As good gardeners, we can bring forth passing blooms of eternity, anticipating paradise. We anticipate outwardly what we already anticipate inwardly (Weltalter 242).

This fits Dooyeweerd’s use of the terms. He describes pre-theoretical experience as composed solely of retrocipatory analogies. This experience is made possible by our supratemporal selfhood, which stands above the flow of time, and is able to form a unity of these passing functions. Dooyeweerd says that we have a sense of time only because eternity is set in our heart [Ecclesiastes 3:11, Dutch translation]. . Retrocipatory moments are therefore a kind of looking back to what has occurred. In contrast, the anticipatory moments look to what is yet to be unfolded in the temporal world. And the final aspect in the anticipatory direction is the aspect of faith, which points beyond the temporal to the supratemporal fullness.

Revised Aug 21/06; Dec 24/16