“As we noted earlier, individuality structures are time-structures of individual totalities such as things, concrete events or acts, societal forms (family, state, church, business enterprise), and so on. A concrete entity, such as this tree in front of my house, is more than the sum of its modal functions of number, space, movement, organic life, and so on. Before all else it is a temporal individual whole with a relative persistence that lies at the basis of all its modal functions.
Traditional metaphysics used to speak in this context of a substance. The Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea distanced itself on principle from the philosophical substance concept, and it did so on solid grounds.
The “thing-in-itself”, in whatever way it is conceived, is nothing but a theoretical abstraction from temporal reality which is reified [objectified] into an independent substance. […] What then constitutes the basic difference between the individuality structures of temporal reality? Without a doubt it is found in the typical totality character of these structures.
Ultimately this character remains inaccessible to scientific analysis, for the same reason that cosmic time in its continuity cannot be theoretically analyzed. The inner nature of an individual totality simply impinges itself upon our experience.
The moment one attempts to enter into a theoretical analysis of such a totality one is dependent upon the modal aspects in which that totality functions but which can never exhaust its existence. In this analysis, the totality, just like cosmic time, remains that which is presupposed. In its totality it precedes theoretical analysis and one can never afterwards construct it from “elements”.
(Herman Dooyeweerd, ‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’, Collected Works, Series B – Volume 14, Paideia Press 2017, pp 89-94) (FREE DIRECT DOWNLOAD of this book – 482 pages)
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