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.)

radical (‘radix’) I, vi

NC I, 15 (radical unity, concentration point), 31 (religious concentration of the radix of our existence), 51 fn1 (radical unity of the ego), 55 (radical religious unity of the ego), 60 (central and radical unity of our existence)

NC II, 417

New Root I, 32
II, 495; NC I, 101
NC II, 25 (Christ as new root of cosmos)
root I, 13 (of existence), 45 (of diversity of meaning), 64 (of human race), 67 (of reality), 74 (fallen), 80, 134 (one in root), 174
II, 422; NC I, viii (root of scientific thought), 11 (root of our existence)
rooted NC II, 560 (all human experience is rooted in the transcendent unity of self-consciousness)
religious root of existence I, v (religious root of human existence) 25, 29
II, 409, 414; NC II, 53 (religious root of our cosmos), 480 (individual religious root transcending time, viz his selfhood), 549“Het dilemma voor het christelijk wijsgeerig denken en het critisch karakter van de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee,” Philosophia Reformata 1 (1936), 1-16, at 15 refers to the heart as the supra-rational, religious root of existence.
religious root I, v (religious root of thought itself; religious root of the creation), vi, 6, 26 (fallen), 30-31, 33-35, 37, 54 (of cosmos), 64-66, 131 (unity of structural laws), 132-134
II, 407 (of temporal reality), 415 (time-transcending), 482, 491 (creation in Christ), 492 (of cosmos)NC I, v (religious root of thought itself), 4 (meaning has a religious root)
NC II, 53, 560″De Zin der Geschiedenis in de ‘Leiding Gods’ in de Historische Ontwikkeling” (1932)

Heart is religious root of existence.“De transcendentale critiek van het wijsgeerig denken en de grondslagen van de wijsgeerige denkgemeenschap van het avondland,” Philosophia Reformata 6 (1941), 1-20 at 2.

“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960), 97-150, at 117 (temporal reality finds its central creaturely point of relation in the religious root-unity of man’s existence). At p. 139: the whole temporal earthly world is contained in a religious root-unity.

religious root of thought I, v, 33
root of the entire temporal reality I, vi; I, 407, 408
rooted I, vi; II, 491
transcendent root I, 31
II, 414″De Structuur der rechtsbeginselen en de methode der rechtswetenschap in het licht der wetsidee,”(1930)

Dooyeweerd says that the idea of our supratemporal selfhood as the religious root is the “key of knowledge.” We cannot understand the rest of his philosophy without this idea. Even the Christian Ground-Motive of creation, fall and redemption cannot be understood apart from the Idea of religious root. For creation, fall and redemption are all in the root. Nor can the modal aspects be understood apart from the religious root. In 1975, two years before his death, Dooyeweerd wrote his last article , “De Kentheoretische Gegenstandsrelatie en de Logische Subject-Objectrelatie,” Philosophia Reformata 40 (1975) 83-101. He says that the ideas of the irreducibility of the modal spheres and their coherence are not to be separated from the transcendental idea of their root-unity in the religious center of human existence.

See my extensive discussion of these issues in my article”Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy (2006). The article discusses the Wisdom tradition within which Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is situated. One of these ideas is the religious root, and Christ as the New Root.In Appendix A to that article, I show how some of these theosophical ideas can also be found in Calvin, although he has generally not been interpreted that way. In Appendix D, I have compiled a list of references from Dooyeweerd’s In the Twilight of Western Thought, showing how the supratemporal selfhood as the religious root is the key of knowledge. And in Appendix E to that article, I list some other references to New Root from other Protestant sources. .

Our creation in “the image of God” is an expression of God’s image. Just as the temporal world is an expression of our supratemporal selfhood, so our selfhood is an expression of God. Our existence is an ex-sistere in God (NC I, 58, 59). And as we are God’s image, the temporal world has its existence only in us. Humans are the religious root of temporal reality. He says that there is no natural reality in itself, independent of man:

…man does not make appearance in time until the whole foundation for normative functions of temporal reality has been laid in the creation; and at the same time: in man the whole ‘earthly’ temporal cosmos finds its religious root, its creaturely fullness of meaning. Adam’s fall into sin is the fall into sin of the whole ‘earthly’ world, which is not independent of the religious basic relation between God and the human race (in any of its temporal functions). (NC II, 52)

There is a “radical individual concentration of temporal reality in the human I-ness” (NC II, 417).

Only humans have existence in the sense of ex-sistere:

It is only man who can have cosmic and cosmological self consciousness because only man’s cosmic temporal structure is founded in an individual religious root transcending time, viz. his selfhood.” (NC II, 480).

Dooyeweerd says the ‘earthly’ cosmos is transcended by Man in his full selfhood where he partakes in the transcendent and supratemporal root (NC II, 593). The unity of our self-consciousness partakes in either the religious root of creation directed to God, or in the case of apostasy, directed away from God (NC II, 560).

In his 1930 “De Structuur der rechtsbeginselen en de methode der rechtswetenschap in het licht der wetsidee,” Dooyeweerd refers to the refraction of meaning by cosmic time from out of the root of the human race that transcends all temporality (Cited by Verburg, 123).

In “De Theorie van de Bronnen van het Stellig Recht in het licht der Wetsidee,” (1932), Dooyeweerd says that our selfhood, which is broken [gebroken] into temporal meaning functions, is found in our heart, the religious root of our existence, which individually pariticpates in the religious root of the whole human race. (Verburg 156).

Dooyeweerd says that we cannot make a distinction between and impersonal I-it relation and an existential I-thou relation. His reason for this is very interesting. He says that it is un-Biblical. He then says,

It deforms the integral structure of human experience and eliminates its relation to the central religious sphere.
The world of experience seems to be impersonal and non-existential only if we identify it with an absolutized theoretical abstraction (‘nature’ in the sense of the classical Humanist science-ideal). But this absolutized abstraction has nothing to do with the modal horizon of human experience in its integral meaning form which we have started (NC II, 143).

In other words, Buber’s impersonal world of I-It fails to relate the temporal world to its religious root. It eliminates the relation of nature to the central religious sphere. Now it may be debated whether Dooyeweerd’s interpretation of Buber is correct; Buber has also been interpreted in a nondual way. What is important here is Dooyeweerd’s rejection of any dualistic separation between nature and humanity in its religious root.

Dooyeweerd says that the image of God is the radical unity of all the different modalities in which they coalesce (NC III, 69).

The heart is related to our creation as image of God:

The integral Origin of all things according to God’s plan of creation has its created image in the heart of man participating in the religious community of mankind. The latter is the integral and radical unity of all the temporal functions and stsructures of reality, which ought to be directed in the human spirit toward the Absolute Origin, in the personal commitment of love and service of God and one’s neighbour. (NC I, 174)

The whole meaning of the temporal world is integrally (i.e. completely) bound up and concentrated in this unity (Roots 30). Our temporal world, in its meaning differentiation and coherence, is bound to this religious root of humanity; it has no meaning and therefore no reality apart from this root (WdW I, 65). Or as the NC translates this passage,

Our temporal world, in its temporal diversity and coherence of meaning, is in the order of God’s creation bound to the religious root of mankind. Apart from this root it has no meaning and so no reality. Hence the apostasy in the heart, in the religious root of the temporal world signified the apostasy of the entire temporal creation, which was concentrated in mankind (NC I, 100).

To say that the temporal world has ‘no reality’ apart from its root in humanity means that it can be said have ‘inexistence’ (or what Baader and Brentano refer to as ‘Inexistenz’).

Because we are its religious root, creation fell along with humanity in the Fall. Since the Fall, the image of God is only revealed in its true sense in Jesus Christ (NC III 69). Christ was required as a New Religious Root of the temporal cosmos (NC I, 506). Dooyeweerd says that in Christ, sin is really propitiated.

The Word has entered into the root and the temporal ramifications, in body and soul, of human nature. And therefore it has brought about a radical redemption. Sin is not dialectically reconciled, but it is really propitiated. And in Christ as the new root of the human race, the whole temporal cosmos, which was religiously concentrated in man, is in principle again directed toward God and thereby wrested free form the power of Satan. (NC I, 175).

Dooyeweerd sometimes refers to temporal reality as the earth.’ Genesis chapter I distinguishes the ‘earthly’ from the heavens.’ The ‘heavens’ means the “temporal world concentrated in man” (NC II, 53 ft 1). The temporal is concentrated in man as the supratemporal root.

Since God has created the ‘earthly’ world in a concentric relation to the religious root of human existence, there cannot exist an ‘earthly’ ‘world in itself’ apart from the structural horizon of human experience. (NC II, 549)

In his first response to the curators of the Free University (April 27, 1937), in response to Hepp’s complaints, Dooyeweerd wrote that the WdW makes a radical break with immanence philosophy in its idea that it understands that our whole temporal human existence proceeds from out of the religious root, the heart. And the fall consisted in the falling away of the heart from its Creator. That is the cause of spiritual death [geestelijken dood]. This spiritual death cannot be confused with bodily [lichamelijken] death nor with eternal [eeuwigen dood]. The acknowledgement of the spiritual death as the conseuence of the fall is so central to the WdW that if it is denied, no single part of the WdW can be understood. (Verburg 212).

In “De Zin der Geschiedenis in de ‘Leiding Gods’ in de Historische Ontwikkeling” (1932), Dooyeweerd said that the Christian religion has always taught that the supratemporal creaturely root of creation is not found in temporal reality nor in the temporal function of reason, but in the religious root of the human race. For out of the heart (which he says is the religious root of existence) are the issues of life. (Verburg 149)

The transcendental direction of thought points to the religious root of our cosmos, in which the selfhood participates, and to the religious fullness of meaning that forms the foundation of all its modal refractions in cosmic time (NC II, 53-54).

These same ideas of selfhood as temporal root, and the substitution of Christ as the new religious root had been previously developed by Baader. Baader also speaks of our Existenz, and the fact that we have no being in ourselves. Man is the root-unity [Wurzel-Einheid] of nature. Man is not just a postscript to the rest of creation (Weltalter 280). We are God’s final creation [Schlussgeschöpf] (Werke I, 299, 432; IV, 33).

The idea of religious root is related to the fact that we are the image of God (Weltalter 184). St. Paul says that Heaven and earth ‘live and move and have their being’ in God [Acts 17:28]. Because our central, supratemporal selfhood is the image of God, humans are truly the center of the material world (Werke V, 31; XI, 78; Begründung48). Baader speaks of humans as originally a “cosmic virtuality,” combining in themselves heaven and earth, as mediator, by virtue of the indwelling of God. But there is a false, usurping self-mediating, self-constituting desire (Philosophische Schriften II, xxviii note).

Baader says that man was created in God’s image, with a task to perform as the root of the rest of creation. In this first state, Man was above time and space. Humans were destined to have direct and full community with God (Zeit, 39). Man was placed in a nature that was already disturbed due to the previous fall of Lucifer. The human assignment was to free this nature and to reunite it. This responsibility gave to humans an incomprehensible dimension [unübersehbare Ausdehnung] within time [Elementarbegriffe 551]. As the root unity of the temporal world, Man was given stewardship [Verwaltung] over the temporal domain.

Das ursprüngliche zeitliche Werk des Urmenschen war, all Strahlen dieser zentralen Aktion (des Wortes) nach und nach in seinem Wesen zu vereinigen und also das Wort in sich Mensch werden zu lassen. Ein Menschwerdung, welche, wie man weiß, Gott selbst übernahm, nachdem der Mensch sie vernachlässigte (Zeit, 39 ft. 20; Werke 2, 89)

[The original temporal work of original Man was to gradually unite within its being all rays of this central action (of the Word), and therefore to let the Word become human in itself. A becoming human which, as we know, God Himself undertook, after humans neglected it.]

Baader says that God’s central action occurs above time; this is the central action of the Word. It produces rays [Strahlen] within temporal reality. The original human task was to return those rays into their unity. This task was not done, and a new root was required. In its present temporal state, there is no focus point, and the dispersed light does not warm (Weltalter 97). Similarly, Dooyeweerd says that apostate humanity has lost the focus (Brandpunt) of its existence (WdW I, 25, 26).

Baader says that creation fell with Man just as a kingdom falls with its king. Baader cites Romans 8:19-22, where Paul speaks of all creation groaning for redemption (Susini 286). This redemption can be done only by God Himself, because only God himself can unite us again with our root [Wurzel] (Werke 12, 226; cited by Betanzos 124). Because the center of creation was Man, redemption required a new human root was required; this is the reason for Christ’s incarnation (Weltalter 188).

For Dooyeweerd, our supratemporal reality is not individual, but is the root of individualization:

…de integrale tijdelijke uitdrukkingsvorm van den geest des menschen die zich uit geen der modale aspecten van den tijdshorizon laat uitsluiten. Zoals het zonlicht door het prisma gebroken wordt in de zeven kleurengammas van het lichtspectrum, zo breekt zich de geestelijke wortel-eenheid van’s menschen existentie door den tijdshorizon in de rijke verscheidenheid van modale aspecten en individualiteits-structuren van het lichamelijk bestaan. (“Individualiteits-structuur en Thomistisch substantie-begrip,” Philosophia Reformata IX (1944), 33)

[…the integral temporal expression of the spirit of Man that does not let itself be excluded from any of the modal aspects of the temporal horizon. Just as the sunlight is broken by the prism into the seven colours of the spectrum, so the spiritual root-unity of human existence is broken by the temporal horizon into the rich diversity of modal aspects and individuality structures of bodily existence]

What is noteworthy here is that Dooyeweerd uses the prism analogy to show not only the different modal aspects of our life, but also of individuality itself, and the emergence of individuality structures from a central unity.

Dooyeweerd intended Volume III of Reformatie en Scholastiek in de Wijsbegeerte to set out the religious root-unity of human existence in creation, fall and redemption in Jesus Christ (Verburg 269).

Baader also uses the prism analogy to say that true humanity is not individual. No individual is completely and perfectly Man. The true humanity, or the divine within us, is divided among all. The one divine ray is broken into millions of colours; these are only fractions of the same Oneness and Image of God (Weltalter 52). Each individual being is like a central point, receiving from all the other beings outside of the infinite periphery that constitutes his horizon, all that he can receive, and he sends in turn all that he can send. But for all the different particular centers, there is a general center, and a principal ray uniting each the first to the second. All the force of the influences of each individual on the others is channeled in the ray towards the center and then sent again to the points. Everything that is emanated from God is directed eternally towards Him, and nothing perishes of what He has expressed, and He is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) (Werke XI, 42).

Dooyeweerd generally avoids proof texting. There are some Biblical references with respect to this idea of humanity as the religious root, especially in Christ:

Heb. 2: 8 “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [man’s] feet.”
Heb. 2:10 “For it became him [Jesus] for whom are all things, and by whom are all things…”
Eph. 1:10 “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him…”
Eph. 1:22 “And hath put all things under his [Christ’s] feet…”

Henk Geertsema has rejected this view of humanity as the religious root as too anthropocentric. He says that it award to the human person a place within the created world as if the relationship of all creation with its Creator proceeds via humankind. Geertsema also rejects Dooyeweerd’s Idea of the supratemporal heart. (“Dooyeweerd’s Transcendental Critique: Transforming it Hermeneutically”). The idea may be anthropocentric. But what if it is true? In any event, these Ideas of the religious root and the supratemporal heart are what Dooyeweerd calls the “key of knowledge.” To reject them is to reject the key to his philosophy.

Kuyper also saw the selfhood as the root of the cosmos; this concentration of the temporal in our selfhood brings with it a responsibility for the temporal world. Kuyper says that humans were created in the image of God, as the root of the cosmos, and called to consecrate the cosmos to God’s glory. This was disturbed by sin, and a New Root was required:

He [God] placed the spiritual center of this Cosmos on our planet, and caused all the divisions of the kingdoms of nature, on this earth, to culminate in man, upon whom, as the bearer of His image He called to consecrate the Cosmos to His glory. In God’s creation, therefore, man stands as the prophet, priest and king, and although sin has disturbed these high designs, yet God pushes them onward. He so loves His world that He has given Himself to it, in the person of His Son, and thus He has again brought our race, and through our race, His whole Cosmos, into a renewed contact with eternal life. To be sure, many branches and leaves fell off the tree of the human race, yet the tree itself shall be saved; on its new root in Christ, it shall once more blossom gloriously. For regeneration does not save a few isolated individuals, finally to be joined together mechanically as an aggregate heap. Regeneration saves the organism, itself, of our race. And therefore all regenerate human life forms one organic body, of which Christ is the Head, and whose members are bound together by their mystical union with Him.( (“Calvinism and Religion,”Lectures on Calvinism, p. 59)

Christ as the second root restores our mystical union with God. This union is of an organic nature:

Hence there can be no doubt that there exists a mystic union between Christ and believers which works by means of an organic connection, uniting the Head and the members in a for us invisible and incomprehensible manner. By means of this organic union the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost from Christ the Head into us, the members of His body. (Kuyper: Work of the Holy Spirit, XXVI).

Gerard van Moorsel cites another reference from Kuyper that has a bearing on this discussion. In Het werk van den Heiligen Geest (Kampen, 1927), Kuyper says (pp. 402-3, van Moorsel’s emphasis):

…somewhere in our inner, hidden mind is the centre of our being, the centre of our ego, the original root of our personality. This centre is dominated by our nature… [ ] At rebirth, however, the Lord our God enters and does a miraculous work in this dominating centre of our being, in this original root of our existence, in this centre of our conclusive ego, so that this nature of ours…comes to differ wholly (!) from what it was before. Consequently whatever we are and do and say comes to fall, from now on, under a new commandment, a new law of life, under a new dominion, so that, by virtue of that new moulding potency, man in us is formed again and hewn out, but no, man new (!) and holy (!), a child of God (!!), created in righteousness… (Gerard van Moorsel: The Mysteries of Hermes Trismegistrus: A Phenomenologic study in the process of Spiritualisation in the Corpus Hermeticum and Latin Asclepius (Utrecht, 1955)

Van Moorsel then comments, linking Kuyper’s ideas to Hermeticism:

“We do not even dream of calling this too much abused neo-calvinistic divine, philosopher and statesman (1837-1920) a gnostic or semignostic, but this does not alter the fact that here, the timoriaidunameis scheme is palpably present. Or rather, has to be present as a result of a prima regeneratio carried à outrance.”

Van Moorsel’s brief comment raises many interesting points that require further research, especially since Dooyeweerd refers to Kuyper’s view of the centrality of the heart. Van Moorsel’s interpretation of Hermeticism may be open to question, but among his many interesting comments I note:

1. Hermeticism emphasizes a radical spirituality, the transformation to the new man. It uses metaphors of the upward journey of the soul (anodos psuches) , rebirth, eucharist and reasonable sacrifices. The ascent to the higher spheres is a kind of deification. There is a divine indwelling by which material man becomes spiritual. This upward ascent occurs even before death. Van Moorsel notes that even Calvin used the metaphor of a present anodos. See Op. Calv. 23, 247, cited by Van der Linde, p. 126, note 3.

2. Hermeticism is radical in not sacramentalizing the process of the journey, and it is also opposed to magic. There is no baptism, communion, confession of sins, laying on of hands, no purifications. Sacrifice and magic are absorbed; asceticism is stripped of its effectuating character. It is powerful humility (Tauler). This gnosis is ‘inner magic’. Christ as true sacrifice : transformation of notion of sacrifice and yet maintaining it. The interior and cosmic elements coincide; as in Indian theosophy or Greek Orthodox Hesychasm.

3. “Hermeticism is a species of mysticism after all. So it had to manifest the tendency towards actualisation innate in mysticism which finds its classic expression in the works of Eckehart and Tauler.” (page 103)

4. Hermeticism is neither dualistic nor monistic:

Hermetism is loath to trample upon the cosmos in the usual, gnostic way (Jonas 140 and Quispel: Gnosis als Weltreligion, 39) , “and, though it is certainly far from monistic in a consistent sense, it nevertheless shows an unmistakable fear of committing itself to a dualism put to the extreme, or (in Professor Dodd’s words) ‘an absolute dualism is not characteristic of the Hermetica, which almost always represent the cosmos as in one way or another a revelation of God.”

By ‘semi-Gnosticism,’ he means a gnosticism without dualism.

5. In Hermeticism, the world is a mighty wonder worthy of adoration and love; by close and pious perception of the world we can attain the true vision of God. Jonas calls is “an ontologic idealisation of the cosmos.”

Even if New Age ideas refer to Hermeticism, that should not automatically discount Hermetic thought. It may even have influenced Calvinism and Kuyper. Of course, the narcissism and magical tendencies of New Age ideas, and its quest for personal power are to be avoided. Van Moorsel’s book seems to indicate that they are not found in Hermeticism itself.

An interesting introduction to Hermeticism is the book by “Anonymous” [Valentine Tomberg]: Meditations on the Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism, tr. Robert Powell, (Tarcher, 1985). It has nothing to do with magic or divination. There are fascinating parallels with Dooyeweerd, but that is not surprising since, as Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar says in his Afterword, it is written in the tradition of Franz von Baader.

Notes revised Jan 29/08