science

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.)

science II, 497
scientific I, 5, 15, 17, 36, 45, 47, 70, 121, 126 (abstraction), 133
II, 406, 417, 419, 495
special science I, vii; 40, 43, 47-48, 50-51, 60
II, 486-87

“Het dilemma voor het christelijk wijsgeerig denken,” Philosophia Reformata 1 (1936) 1-16 [‘Dilemma’] at 6. The special sciences are each directed to different modal aspects that have been theoretically differentiated.

“Het transcendentale critiek van het wijsgeerig denken,” Philosophia Reformata 6 (1941), 1-20 at 8: the special sciences are not directed to the foundational structures of the modal aspects, but rather at the variable objective functions of empircial reality within these structures.

Dooyeweerd uses ‘science’ in the sense of theoretical thought. It includes all theory, not just that of the natural sciences. This is common in continental philosophy; our theory is a science or a ‘Wissenschaft.’

All theoretical thought engages in abstraction and dis-stasis. It uses the Gegenstand-relation. It should also aim for a synthesis with the continuity of time experienced by our selfhood.

Special sciences are concerned with the functions of each aspect. These special sciences remain “stuck within the particular” meaning (I, 60).

Philosophy as a general science aims for a view of totalityTheology, however, is one of the special sciences, and deals with the temporal aspect of faith.

As opposed to spiritualizing views, Dooyeweerd appreciated science. However, he also recognizes its temptation of science, and the possibility of its impairment of our naive experience. Thus, although he appreciated science, Dooyeweerd did not share a Faust-like vision of using science as a kind of magic to control our world and for an increase in individual power.

Much of modern science is aimed at control and power. Frances Yates has written about how these urges come from the magical side of Hermetic ideas. That is not to say that there may be an interpretation of Hermeticism that does not have this idea of control.

I believe that this same scientism has also affected much of our theological theorizing and speculation, when our theology is divorced from mystical experience. Our desire and concern for “method” betrays a rationalism that is often unacknowledged. These assumptions become more apparent when we look at non-Western traditions.

I believe that Dooyeweerd provides us with a view of science that can avoid magical interpretations of theory. Science and theory become temptations, with corresponding absolutizations unless we synthesize our theorizing with our supratemporal center. A redemption of creation does not mean individualistic control over it, but a renewal in its root. This radically different view of science is obscured if we misinterpret Dooyeweerd’s view of theory in terms of abstraction of universals.

Dooyeweerd also maintains (like Baader) that the entire creation is fallen with humanity. He speaks of a fall into time, and the restoration of creation after time. Sin is also on the law side of creation and this is reflected in our often flawed positivizing of God’s law. and he emphasized that the sciences need to be reformed.

At a conference in Montpellier, France in July, 1953, Dooyeweerd said that the secularisation of life was only made possible by the secularization of science under the influence of humanism:

Car la science, sécularisée et isolée, est devenue une puissance satanique, une idole qui domine toute la culture. (Verburg 331).

Baader was himself involved in many disciplines other than philosophy and theology. He first studied medicine and sciences, and practiced as a physician. He then became a mining engineer. He had a knowledge about mineralogy and chemistry. He received a prize of 12,000 gulden for a new method of making glass. He became superintendent of mines. He wrote about ethics and politics. He became professor of theology.

Baader says in many places that his philosophy requires the special sciences to be reformed by his Christian philosophy. Here are only a few examples:

1. The titles of his works show his concern for the special sciences. For example, one work is entitled “Über die Nothwendigkeit einer Revision der Wissenschaft natürlicher, menschlicher und göttlicher Dinge.” Another is entitled: “Über den verderblichen Einfluss der rationalist, materialistischen Vorstellungen auf Physik, Dichtkunst und bildende Kunst.” There are many others.

2. Kuyper specifically cites the book Weltalter: Lichtstrahlen aus Franz von Baader’s Werken. Chapter II of that book is entitled “Glaube und Wissenschaft” [“Faith and Science”]. Baader there points out the false dialectic and antinomies that arise when we try to understand temporal nature as the whole. He also refers to spheres founding other spheres, anticipation and “regression,” and the need for concepts to be referred to the Center.

3. In Werke 8, 215 to 216 Baader speaks of the need for students of history, theology, medicine, jurisprudence, etc. to be given a course in philosophy where they are exposed to the higher [central] standpoint, so that their own special science can have true power. In the footnote, he proposes a Free faculty within the University, independent of government influence, where this higher truth could be taught. [Is this not an anticipation of Kuyper’s Free University?] Kuyper says that Baader was ‘a gigantic personality, from whose spirit his own special stream of thought has flowed, which already has sprinkled each area of science with its fructifying waters.’ In E Voto Dordraceno: toelichting op den Heidelbergus Catechismus, (Amsterdam: J.A. Wormser, 1892), II, 256.

4. Werke 8, 313. He says that theology, like all other special sciences [Fachwissenschaften] has been influenced by antireligious doctrines. Neither pietism nor Kantianism can save them. All these disciplines, including theology, need a religious knowledge [by which he does not mean theology, but the knowledge of his philosophy]. He speaks of an urgent need [dringende Bedürfniss] for this.

5. Werke 8, 36. He says that there must be an acknowledgment of the necessity [Anerkenntniss der Nothwendigkeit] of a central human knowledge in each of our partial spheres of knowledge. This is a deeper lying religious knowledge.

Baader says that religion must penetrate to the most inner regions of thought (Begründung 57), and that faith and knowledge are not to be separated in history, in politics, in industry or in religion (Begründung, 52). These are all ideas seen later in Dooyeweerd and in neo-Calvinism generally.

Revised Sept 25/07

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