Dooyeweerd’s Idea of Modalities: The Pivotal 1922 Article

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Dooyeweerd says that the first rudimental conception of his philosophy had ripened even before he started work at the Kuyper Foundation in October 1922. He had not even studied Kuyper’s works, although he would later find some similarities in Kuyper. A detailed analysis of an article written earlier in 1922 shows us how Dooyeweerd developed his philosophy. This article is ‘Normatieve rechtsleer. Een kritisch-methodologische onderzoeking naar Kelsen’s normatieve rechtsbeschouwing.’ It includes these ideas: the rejection of the autonomy of thought, the idea of intuitive beholding [schouwen], and the idea of modalities or modes of consciousness. Previous historians of reformational philosophy have not adequately researched Dooyeweerd’s sources for these ideas. None of these sources are Calvinistic. Dooyeweerd used these ideas to critique neo-Kantianism. He dismantles Kant’s logical categories and instead puts forward the idea of intuited modalities. And Dooyeweerd uses the scholastic idea of ‘meaning-moments’ to individuate these modalities from totality.

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  • 1

    The first manuscript, 1922b, is dated Good Friday [April 14], 1922. There has been considerable discussion about the dating of the other two manuscripts, but the consensus is that they were written around the same time (Verburg 1989, 33; Tol 2010, 291 fn. 117). A typed copy of ‘Normatieve rechtsleer’ was made in 1923, but internal evidence indicates that it was written in 1922, with a couple of 1923 entries added in the Bibliography. I believe that it was ­substantially completed before May 1922, when Dooyeweerd applied to work at the Kuyper Foundation because of the interest he expressed in epistemology, which is the subject of this article.

  • 6

     See Tol 2010, 303–305; Verburg 1989, 54; Stellingwerff 1992, 53; Kraay 1980, 7.

  • 11

    From the Kemp Smith translation (2007) of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, 113.

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