Unclarity in Reformational Thought and the Naive-Theoretical Distinction

Examining John Frame’s Critique of the Amsterdam Philosophy

In: Philosophia Reformata
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  • 1 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Students and philosophers alike often find Dooyeweerd’s writings unclear and inaccessible, and the ideas expressed in them obscure and difficult to grasp. In this paper I will first explore the issue of unclarity in Dooyeweerd’s work—for example, what makes Dooyeweerdian writings difficult to understand? Why is it that his meaning is often unclear? And does this imply that something is (philosophically) wrong with his writings? Second, and as a case in point regarding unclarity in Dooyeweerd’s work, I will examine an important distinction drawn in Reformational philosophy, namely, between naive experience and theoretical thinking. In his paper “The Amsterdam Philosophy: A Preliminary Critique,” philosopher and theologian John Frame criticizes Dooyeweerd for his unclear writings and for drawing an implausibly sharp distinction between naive experience and theoretical thinking. Assessing Frame’s critique will serve as a framework for the discussion of these two related issues.

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