theory

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.)

problem NC I, 28 (theoretical problem)
theoretical I, 5, 6, 21, 39, 45, 121, 125, 131, 134
II, 399; II, 401, 406, 411, 414, 484, 491NC I, 28 (theoretical problem), 29 (Anticipatory structural moments find expression in the logical aspect only in the theoretical attitude of thought), 40 fn1 (theory can also analyze the analytical aspect itself, but only in its opposition to non-logical aspects; this theoretical act is not identical with the abstracted modal structure of the logical aspect), 56 (up to the question of self-knowledge, transcendental criticism is purely theoretical)

“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960, 97-150, at 127 (in theoretical thought, we can never understand reality in its concreteness; that is given only in naive experience).

theory NC I, 35 (theoria in Greek thought, contrast to doxa)

Our theoretical thought is contrasted with the enstatic thought of pre-theoretical experience.

Theoretical thought has the setting-over-against attitude which is completely foreign to pre-theoretical experience. Theory involves a dis-stasis of our experience of temporal reality. This is done by the abstraction or epoché from the continuity of cosmic time.

The dis-stasis of theoretical thought should be followed by a synthesis. this can only occur by means of our intuition.

There is a temptation to remain in the dis-stasis of theoretical thought. If we do this, then our naive experience can become impaired.

The Gegenstand of theoretical thought does not have ontical reality, but is only intentional. I, 134 It takes distance from full reality (I, 34). If this is so, and if naive experience is integral and enstatic, why do we need to proceed to the dis-stasis of theory? Why do we need theory?

Dooyeweerd says that theory is required to give account of naive experience (I, 47; not in NC). Giving account is related to the transcendental direction in philosophy, relating our experience to the Origin. Why can this not be done in naive experience? He says that our naive experience, although integral and enstatic, is restricted to the retrocipatory moments in the aspects, and bound to sensory perception. It needs to be opened up to the anticipatory moments. In theory and the subsequent synthesis, we discover the anticipatory moments. (NC III, 31). The synthesis involves coming back to our intuition, which is linked to our supratemporal selfhood. Theory cannot remain dispersed in the temporal, although that is a temptation. It must be reunited with our self. There is a regaining of the coherence, but in an enriched way, since prior to theory, we experience only retrocipatory and not anticipatory moments. This is what makes the pre-theoretical experience naïve!

But apart from the enrichment of our own experience, our theory plays a role in the redemption of the world. We do not only deepen meaning subjectively, but we also assist in the redemption of the temporal world, by collecting the sparks that have lain there undisclosed.

Baader is more explicit about this role of theory. He says that we are to be mediators for the non-intelligent world just as Christ was a mediator for us. In his kenosis, Christ suspended his own glory and self-sacrifice. Similarly, as helping beings we ourselves must enter into the other beings, and must ourselves become conceivable [Sichsatzlich-machen], to embody ourselves [einverleiben] or to seed ourselves [einsäen] into the beings that are still bound. Just as God descended into the temporal through Christ, so we descend into the temporal. To do this requires that we acknowledge our solidarity and sympathy with those beings that require our help (Elementarbegriffe 554-559). I know that which I love in a different way than that which I do not love (Philosophische Schriften II, 140). Theoretical knowledge demands a double subjection –a subjection [Subjicirung] to God above as His creature, and a subjection to that which stands below. Only as I subject myself to a Higher, do I have the power to subject that which is under me. Only serving can I rule. And only ruling do I serve The Son of Man came into the world to give witness to the truth. That is the destined end for Man, too, as the image of God (Weltalter 221, 222, 361). Our love is an affirmation of the Gegenstand by a denial of our self.

The purpose of our theorizing is therefore to restore the fallen temporal world. In each stage of our own evolution (towards or away from God), we have the ability to fulfill the law for such a temporal being and through this fulfillment to obtain the power or to create the ‘moment of its existence’ that it needs in order to go into a higher law and so to ascend. If we do not fulfill this obligation, we begin to feel the law as a burden (Elementarbegriffe 553).

In this way, we can free temporal beings from the bounds of their temporal individuality. What we free in this way can be a feeling, a belief, a conviction, or a science (Wissenschaft); these then obtain a higher objectivity that will then work on its own even without further action by ourselves. According to Baader, what is thereby integrated becomes ‘illabile.’ This is a permanence, a state from which that reality cannot again fall. Even the angels can see what we have done.

Baader emphasizes inElementarbegriffe that the purpose of our theorizing is therefore to participate in the redemption of the fallen temporal world. The laws for temporal beings are only for those who make them inward, and who perceive another side do them. Humans have the power to fulfil the laws, and by this fulfillment to obtain the strength or the moment of his existence that is needed to allow this law to ascend to a higher level. If this act of fulfillment is left undone, our ability to do so disappears, and the law is then experienced as heavy and burdensome.

But our freedom to be mediators can be used in two ways–either for or against God, so that what we set free will continue to have either a liberating or a binding action (Elementarbegriffe, 544, 558). Thus, our theory can be used improperly. I see this as the source of the impairment of naive experience to which Dooyeweerd refers.

Revised Jan 29/08; Dec 24/16

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