Armadale Castle
Armadale Castle, as it is

The conversation continues between Simple Faith and Hard Going. It’s a discussion of Dooyeweerd’s philosophy.

SF: I find your reference to the Aspects fascinating and I would like to know more but …
HG: Oh, yes, the modal aspects, the modes of being…
SF: We can come back to the modes later sometime. But you mentioned something else earlier which I’m not sure about.
HG: What was that?

(Naive experience)

SF: You mentioned ‘naive experience’ and ‘theoretical thought.” So you think I’m ‘naive’ and you’re ‘theoretical!’
HG: No, no! Far be it from me to think you’re naive. No, not at all; Dooyeweerd uses ‘naive’ in a technical sense. Remember that he’s writing philosophy. He often does that, uses ordinary words and adapts them and gives them a philosophical precision.
SF: Okay then, know-all, spout, what does he mean by ‘naive.’
HG: Remember I’m learning too. I’m reading an introduction to Dooyeweerd’s philosophy! An excellent one, I must say. To save time I’ll read D.F.M. Strauss’s definition of ‘naive experience’ which is given in Troost’s book, which goes:
‘Human experience insofar as it is not “theoretical” in Dooyeweerd’s precise sense. “Naive” does not mean unsophisticated. (It is) sometimes called ‘ordinary’ or ‘everyday’ experience. Dooyeweerd takes pains to emphasize that theory is embedded in this everyday experience and must not violate it.’
SF: Ah, I see! Everyone is born in the white beam of light which splits into all the different colours or modes or aspects.
HG: That is very sophisticated! Who said you were naive? That’s exactly what it means. Everyone is born equal, as it were, in the light.
Armadale Castle, as it was
Armadale Castle, as it was

(The Word and the Light)

SF: Hey, is that what St John means when he says ‘In him was life; and the life was the light of men.’
HG: It’s funny you should say that, because it’s quite profound really. As I understand it, that’s exactly what Dooyeweerd is saying, that everything was created ‘in Christ’ and ‘unto God.’ It’s certainly worth reading the first 5 verses in the gospel of John and comparing it with what Dooyweerd is saying.
SF: Do you mean the white light through the prism and the burst of colour, representing the 15 aspects?
HG: Yes, that’s what I mean, our whole selfhood.
SF: How does it go again? ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the life of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.’
HG: Wow, that fits perfectly with what Dooyeweerd is saying, the Christ light and the analogy of the prism light.
SF: If this is philosophy, I quite like it after all. It begins to make sense. Everyone is born in the ‘naive’ light but some people don’t recognize it for what it is. They don’t see all the colours and where they fit in.
HG: You could say that.

Armadale Castle, frontage

(Theoretical thought)

SF: But what about ‘theoretical thought’, where does that fit in?
HG: Now that opens a whole can of worms! As I understand it, basically, ‘theoretical thought’ is when people start speculating and philosophizing about the 15 aspects. So you get all kinds of disciplines, theology, science, sociology, art, linguistics, philosophy itself, or whatever. But philosophy is different …
SF: How’s that?
HG: It wants to understand reality as a whole. It tries to make sense of the whole of reality. So, remember, you get people like Kant who could explain appearances but could never get beyond the ‘thing in itself.’ He postulated Nature and Freedom. And other people who came after him were stuck or struggled with his analysis.
SF: Okay, so how is Dooyweerd different?
HG: Well, first of all he accepts that there is a Creator and a creation; that there is an Origin and a Final destination. In between the Origin and the Final destination is the temporal reality …
SF: That’s where we live, the world of the aspects or modes.

(Temporal reality)

HG: Yes, exactly, the created world. Now ‘theoretical thought’ can only deal with the created or temporal world It cannot say anything about the Origin and Final Destination.
SF: That’s a bit like Kant isn’t it, with his ‘appearances’ and the ‘thing in itself’?
HG: Yes and no. Or rather yes and very much no! Kant’s philosophy ends with a dualism, Nature and Freedom. Dooyeweerd has a totally different perspective.
SF: How’s that then?
HG: For Dooyeweerd, the ‘truth’ of the whole, of the unity of all things, can be known but only through the modality of faith, which is the final aspect.

tree stump


SF: Wait a minute! How can it be known if it’s beyond theoretical thought. Is that not just mumbo-jumbo?
HG: No, not at all, what Dooyeweerd calls the Law-side points strongly to a Lawgiver, and the Lawgiver has revealed himself in and through Christ in the Bible. So there is revelation. But also Dooyeweerd places great emphasis on the supra-temporal heart or true selfhood. It’s the heart that exercises faith.
SF: What exactly does he mean by the heart? I don’t know about the heart, but my head ‘s getting very sore.
HG: We’ll leave it for another day then.
SF: Good, I’m glad you’ve got a heart.

in Armadale Castle gardens