© J. Glenn Friesen 2003, 2004
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The word 'appearance' has two meanings, illusion and phenomenon, neither of which corresponds to Dooyeweerd's usage. For Dooyeweerd, appearance is temporal reality; it appears in cosmic time as meaning.
(1) In monism, the world of appearance is ultimately not real. But that is not Dooyeweerd's position. He speaks of levels of reality, and of us "descending" to the temporal dimension. But the temporal world, although a lower level of reality, still has some reality for him. It exists as meaning, as referring to its Origin. It does not have any meaning in itself, but it does have meaning in relation to God.
In This Idea that temporal reality possesses a lower level of reality is also evident in Baader. He refers to cosmic time as appearance time ['Scheinzeit'], in contrast to the real time in which the Self exists.
2. In phenomenology, the appearance is of an independently existing reality. Dooyeweerd does not share that view of things.
Diemer, who shared some ideas with Dooyeweerd, speaks of our "wandering in a world of appearance (schijn)." (Natuur en Wonder, 30-32; Cited by Steen 197). Diemer’s view is similar to Dooyeweerd in that the 'schijn' is there because man has lost sight of the root. In re-creation the root again becomes visible because the Word becomes flesh.
Dooyeweerd also speaks of 'illusion' in relation to the view that we are autonomous or self-sufficient (II, 492). In other words, our view of the world, and the world itself, rests on illusion whenever we do not see it as meaning directed towards its root and towards its Origin. Meaning is nothing in and of itself. But for Dooyeweerd, the temporal world is relative, but not unreal.
To the extent the “schijn” refers to this idea of temporal reality in itself as illusion, Dooyeweerd is very clear that there is no truth in the temporal world alone. For Dooyeweerd, truth is not to be found in the temporal, but only in the supratemporal. "Standing in the truth" is a prerequisite for insight into the (temporal) horizon of experience (NC II, 564). We transcend the temporal "earthly" cosmos (NC II, 593).
An early appreciation of the relativism of our thought is found in Dooyeweerd's student article 'De neo-mystiek en Fr. van Eeden' [Neo-mysticism and Frederik van Eeden], Nov 27, 1914. The second half of the article is devoted to van Eeden. Dooyeweerd was attracted to him because van Eeden did not have a negative attitude with respect to science. Unlike Bergson, van Eeden did not depreciate the value of science. Science also had value, as long as it did not pretend to be able to split apart (uiteen to kunnen doen vallen) the mysterious universe into numbers and mathematical formulas. He says van Eeden is both a thinker and a "ziener-dichter" [poet-seer] Science must have regard to these poet-seers, and come to the conclusion that these seers long ago concluded, that our categories bound to space are only relative. (p. 150).
But one of van Eeden's most important works is his Lied van Schijn en Wezen [Song of Appearance and Being]. It contrasts the temporal appearance to the being of the selfhood. The poem begins with Hindu ideas of the selfhood, and ends with his acceptance of Catholicism in later years.
It is fascinating that a debate about appearance as illusion also occurs within Hinduism. There are certainly monistic interpretations of reality within Hinduism, where only Brahman is real. The temporal world is maya in the sense of illusion. But tantric thought interpreted maya not as illusion, but as "the creative power of Brahman." Ramana Maharshi then says that the world is illusory only when we do not see it in relation to Brahman.
Baader makes a similar comment about penetrating knowledge in comparison to mere appearance. knowledge is an "eindringen oder eingehen in den Gegenstand" but Kant only looked at the appearance, superficial, not the depth. (Philosophische Schriften II, 75 ft.)
Note: The NC translation speaks of an "inter-modal synthesis of meaning." This is confusing. The original Dutch only speaks of a meaning synthesis [zin-synthesis]. The theoretical synthesis is between our actual thought [an act from out of our selfhood] and the Gegenstand of abstracted aspects, which is not actual or ontical, but only intentional. See synthesis.
Revised Dec. 27/04