Wild pansy
(credit: Scott Murray)

The conversation continues between Simple Faith and Hard Going. This time they discuss the so-called aspects, or modes of being.

The modal aspects

SF: I remember you mentioned the aspects some time ago, do you want to explain what that is all about?
HG: I’ll try, although remember, I’m just learning like yourself.
SF: Hm, but you might know a little more than I do.
HG: Ha, ha, sarcasm won’t help you, but no, seriously, the aspects are central to Dooyeweerd’s philosophy but he also thought they were the least understood part, so it might be better just to give a full list of them first and then discuss them.
SF: Okay, that sounds fine.
HG: Here they are then. To quote Troost, they refer to ‘fundamental differences in the modes of existence of all created reality.’ They each have a key meaning or nucleus which only applies to the aspect in question. An attempted definition is made in one or two words:

Pistical (15) faith, certitude, surrender
Ethical (14) love (in ethical relationships)
Juridical (13) lawfulness, justice
Aesthetic (12) beauty, harmony
Economic (11) frugality, moderation
Social (10) social intercourse
Lingual (9) symbolic signification, language
Historical/Formative (8) formative power, culture
Logical-analytical (7) distinguishing, identifying difference
Sensitive (6) feeling, affect, emotion
Biotic (5) organic life, vitality
Physical (4) energy, force, change, dynamics
Kinematic (3) mobility, mechanical motion
Spatial (2) continuous extension
Numerical (1) number, discrete quantity
(based on Troost, 2012, p.77)

Crocus in snow
(credit: Scott Murray)

The numbering

SF: Looks interesting, but I’ve a thousand questions. Why for instance are they numbered?
HG: The numbering is quite important because each aspect, starting from the bottom, needs the previous aspect. For example, you need number and space before you can have motion. You need to be alive before you can have feeling and so on.
SF: I remember what you said before about some of the aspects, that only humans have them, is that right?
HG: Yes, as you see, numbers 1 to 4 apply to so-called ‘objects’, 1-5 to plants, 1-6 to animals and 1-15 to humans. Obviously animals don’t go round chatting to each other, though they do express feelings through various noises. The aspects have their own law-spheres, so they’re separate in a sense, but also they’re all interwoven with each other.
SF: How do mean?

That prism again

HG: Remember the analogy of the prism, how the white light (a unity) hits the prism and diverges into different colours. That’s just an analogy for what happens, but some people take one aspect or more as being absolute or more important than others.
SF: I don’t understand, what do mean by that?
HG: Well, if you’re a materialist you’ll think that everything arose from aspects 1-4. They make these aspects the ultimate criteria … mind is by-product of these phenomena … but they can’t explain the divergence and coherence of all these aspects … the law-side in other words …
SF: So, let me see, if you believe in a Creator it all makes sense. Humanity, the human root, was created before time by God in Christ … with all the relevant laws or regularities …
HG: Exactly, and then from Adam began the unfolding of the human root in time … and the fall … and spiritual death … and Christ, the new root.
SF: And the aspects?
HG: They are the structures, the modal structures, in which this unfolding takes place through time.

Poppy seed heads

(credit: Scott Murray)

The faith aspect

SF: Why is faith number 15?
HG: It’s only through faith and the revelation of God in Christ that all this can be believed and understood.
SF: And faith is like driving a car, you have to do it in order to know what it’s like.
HG: Exactly, it’s part of experiencing the whole of reality, not just bits. All the aspects matter, not just you worshipping one and making it your idol.
SF: I’m beginning to love doing this philosophy thing!
HG: I almost believe you!
SF: But I’ve a lot more questions.
HG: I believe you.