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I have previously compared the philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd (1894- 1977) with the ideas of Franz von Baader (1765-1841).1 It is clear that Dooyeweerd obtained at least an indirect knowledge of Baader’s philosophy through the writings of Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). Kuyper had extensive knowledge of Baader, and he refers to Baader with approval. A review of Dooyeweerd’s personal library2 has now confirmed that he also obtained knowledge of key ideas of Baader’s philosophy through the writings of the Austrian philosopher, sociologist and economist Othmar Spann (1878-1950).

in Philosophia Reformata
in Philosophia Reformata

Philosophy gives an account of our experience 1. Philosophy does not begin with rational propositions or presuppositions, but rather with our experience. Dooyeweerd begins A New Critique of Theoretical Thought by contrasting the continuity of our pre-theoretical experience with the way that theoretical experience splits apart this continuity.1 He says later, “The apriori structure of reality can only be known by experience. But this is not experience as it is conceived by immanence-philosophy.”2 Human experience is not limited to our temporal functions of consciousness.3 Our experience is not an ‘Erlebnis’ of mere psychical feelings and sensations,4 but rather “a conscious enstatic5 ‘Hineinleben.’” — the experience of our supratemporal selfhood enter ing into and living within all aspects of temporal reality.

in Philosophia Reformata

Roy Clouser has recently compared the philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd and Aristotle. He finds their ontology to be “strikingly similar” except that Dooyeweerd has a different “divinity belief” concerning the Origin or Archè of the cosmos (Clouser 2009, 22 fn.17, 23, 28, and 45). This common ontology involves the abstraction of properties and laws from concrete things and events. A property can be referred to using predicate logic, in the form “x is y.” For example, “x is heavy.” Or “x is red.” Abstraction isolates that property or predicate from the thing or event that “exhibits” the property (Clouser 2009, 36).

in Philosophia Reformata
in Philosophia Reformata

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.

in Philosophia Reformata

Historians of Reformational philosophy often claim that Abraham Kuyper obtained the idea of sovereignty in its own sphere from Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer. But very little historical research has been done on Groen’s sources for and development of this idea. The first use of the Dutch phrase souvereiniteit in eigen sfeer is much earlier than previously thought; it was used in 1853 by J.I. Doedes, an associate of the “ethical theologian” Daniël Chantepie de la Saussaye. Groen became aware of the ideas of Franz von Baader through journals founded by them, and by reading and corresponding with them and others, such as J.H. Gunning Jr. and Friedrich Fabri. Groen himself owned some of Baader’s books. He also relied strongly on the work of the jurist Friedrich Julius Stahl, who was 37 years younger than Baader but taught for a while at the same Munich university and shared Baader’s anti-revolutionary ideas.

in Philosophia Reformata