DOOYEWEERD: ‘This tree in front of my house…’


“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)

See longer version of above:

Dooyeweerd: ‘This tree in front of my house’ – Individuality structures, modal aspects, substance.

DOOYEWEERD: Calvin, Decalogue, Cosmic law.

‘Falkirk Wheel’ (Image copyright: F. MacFhionnlaigh)

“Christ has freed us from the ‘law of sin’ and from the Jewish ceremonial law. But the cosmic law, in its religious [ultimate] fulness and temporal diversity of meaning, is not a burdensome yoke imposed upon us because of sin, but it is a blessing in Christ. Without its determination and limitation, the subject would sink away into chaos. Therefore, Calvin recognized the intrinsic subjection of the Christian to the decalogue, and did not see any intrinsic antinomy between the central commandment of love as the religious [ultimate] root of God’s ordinances, and the juridical or economic law-spheres, or the inner structural law of the state.”


(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Volume 1, page 518.)

(Direct DOWNLOAD of this volume)

DOOYEWEERD: The walls of the absolutization of personal individuality have no windows.

John_Tenniel_Alice_White Rabbit.jpg
John Tenniel illustration for Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’

The walls of the absolutization of personal individuality have no windows.”

“The Christian speaks with awe about the living personal God, Who in His mercy and grace has revealed His identity to fallen humanity.  But also in the communion with this God in Christ, the Christian remains within the human creaturely limits of the possibility of experience.

Subjective individuality can never determine the structural horizon of human experience and of the cosmos.

“This horizon is a structural order, the Divine order of the creation itself. It comprises in its determining and limiting structure the individuality of human personality, its religious [core selfhood] root as well as its temporal existence. Creaturely subjective individuality cannot determine and limit itself, but is a priori determined and limited by the Divine order.

But for its super-individual law-conformity, individual subjectivity would be an ‘apeiron’, a meaningless indeterminateness.

“The possibility of subjective experience would be cancelled, if the horizon of human experience were subjectively individual. The cosmic self-consciousness in which all cosmological knowledge remains founded, is not an experiential entrance into the absolutely individual horizon of some ‘personal world’, of a ‘microcosm’ (Scheler). It enters into the full, unique cosmos created by God within the temporal horizon, in the full meaning-coherence of all its modal and plastic structures.

“Naive [concrete] experience, the great primary datum of all epistemology, does not know anything of a cosmos as a ‘personal world’ supposed to be identical with countless other ‘personal worlds’ in an abstract, universal, merely intended [mental] essential structure alone. This is already precluded by…the plastic horizon of human experience.

“Human beings experience their individual existence within the temporal horizon exclusively in the one and only cosmos into which they been integrated together with all creatures. They also experience their individuality in the various structures of the temporal societal relationships.

“The individuality of human experience within the temporal horizon has a societal structure excluding any possibility of a hermetically closed ‘microcosm’.

(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol 2: pp 592-594)

[Direct DOWNLOAD of above book PDF]

DOOYEWEERD: Taming Leviathan

“It is a profound fallacy to insist that in this temporal world order there has to be an authority that is capable of overruling absolutely every other authority in a juridical sense, under the pretense that otherwise anarchy would reign. God did not ordain any ‘absolute power’ in time. The truth is that it is precisely the theory of the state’s totality of juridical power that rests on an anarchistic, revolutionary basis, because it ignores the divine structural laws of human society.

Everyone acquainted with life knows that there are material limits to the competence of the state. It is unworthy of legal science to ignore the connection between law and life through a sterile formalism. Rather it should base itself on a cosmology that is capable of meaningfully clarifying these limits and indicating an unambiguous criterion for them…

…Neither the arbitrariness of a government nor an arbitrary contract is in itself a [structurally sound] source of law. In all its individual forms, positive law is always the positivizing of divine jural principles, whose structure is determined by the divine world order.”

The above is an extract from “The Crisis in Humanist Political Theory” by Herman Dooyeweerd (1931) (Paedia Press, 2010, pp 152-161, 178-179) [DIRECT PDF DOWNLOAD OF THIS BOOK]

See also:

DOOYEWEERD: ‘Paper Decrees’

QUOTES: The State and The Family

TAMING LEVIATHAN: State Intrusion in Church, Economy, Family etc

Dooyeweerd: The Criteria of Progressive and Reactionary Tendencies in History

Dooyeweerd: Reactionary & Progessive National Norms (Scottish State? Gaelic Resurgence? British Values?)

Dooyeweerd: Disclosure of an Apostate Culture: The Enlightenment

Dooyeweerd: Gender Normativity

Dooyeweerd: The Wielding of Power

Dooyeweerd: Hume, Kant, The Unfathomable Silence of the Sphinx, Soap-bubble Reality…

Herman Dooyeweerd: Humanism’s historicist swing from classical fixed values to a radical relativism

Dooyeweerd: The Structural Principle of the State