© J. Glenn Friesen 2003-2006
Glossary of Terms
The Idea of “expressing” is always correlated with that of “referring.” For Dooyeweerd, the idea of “expression” is always of a center expressing itself in the periphery; the periphery, that which is expressed, then refers to the center (I, 5-7; NC I, 4).
We are the expression of God's image, and we in turn express our selfhood in the coherence of our cosmic (temporal) functions (I, 5-7; NC I, 4). And just as we have no existence in ourselves, but only in God, so the temporal world has no existence except in humanity, its religious root.
The expression of our supratemporal selfhood in the temporal functions is the basis for sphere sovereignty
In Dooyeweerd, ‘expression’ is the movement from higher to lower (or Central to peripheral). The reverse movement is ‘pointing to’ [heenwijzen] or a ‘referring’ of the peripheral to the Central. This idea of ‘expression’ is not clearly brought out in the NC translation, which uses the passive, “is expressed.” This can be misunderstood as referring to a mere conceptual expression or understanding
The law-order is horizontal in that it spans across all law-spheres. But the meaning of each law-sphere is related to its expression from the center. That is why the kernel or nuclear moment of each sphere is supratemporal. Because it is beyond time, we cannot obtain a concept of it. And in the central supratemporal unity, all aspects coincide in a fullness. There is no sphere sovereignty in the supratemporal. The law is also a unity that expresses itself temporally:
Dooyeweerd links his idea of human authority over the temporal world to his idea of the supratemporal root as the “image of God.” We are the “expression” of God, and as such, we in turn “express” ourselves in the temporal world. See NC I ,4. As the image of God, we have no existence apart from God, but we ex-sistere in Him. The temporal world in turn has no existence apart from humanity as its supratemporal root, and that is why it fell along with humanity (NC I, 100; II, 53). The image of God was wiped out in the fall, threatening the temporal world with meaninglessness, but the image was restored in Christ, the New Root. Christ has redirected the temporal world, and we have Sonship in Him (NC I, 61). We express ourselves in the temporal world, we have functions within it, we form it, we fulfill it–but these acts (which all come out of our supratemporal center) should be done as we participate in Christ, the New Root. Otherwise we are acting from a wrong Ground motive. I believe that this very idea of Ground motive or 'principle' is related to our creation ‘in principio’, in the ‘beginning.’ Thus, acting from within our principle refers to our true or imagined origin.
Even the aspects of our temporal experience are a temporal unfolding of what is in the supratemporal root. The aspects of the temporal world refer to a totality. The entire created cosmos has the character of referring and expressing. The totality is expressed in the temporal, the temporal refers to the totality (NC I, 4). “Just as the sunlight is broken by the prism into the seven colours of the spectrum, so the spiritual root-unity of human existence is broken by the temporal horizon into the rich diversity of modal aspects and individuality structures of bodily existence” [See ‘Individualiteits-structuur en Thomistisch substantiebegrip’] These modal functions are experienced as a "transcendent identity" in the religious root of our existence (NC II, 479). Thus, the 'aspects' are not sides of an independent reality, as is often supposed. That would be a phenomenological kind of perspectivalism. It is in fact the expression of our selfhood that produces the sovereignty in each sphere.
This does not mean that we are a dream or projection of God, or that the world is our dream or projection. That would be monism. But neither are we totally separate from God, nor does the temporal world of “things" have a separate existence from us. That would be dualism. We are nondual with God, and the temporal world is nondual with us, the redeemed supratemporal root.
Olthuis misunderstands the meaning of referring and expressing when he relates it to Derrida's view that everything is mediated (“Of Webs and Whirlwinds; Me, Myself and I,” 32).
Baader speaks of ‘expression’ in terms of ‘emanation.’ Each individual being is like a central point, receiving from all the other beings outside of it, from its infinite periphery that constitutes his horizon, all that it can receive, and sends in turn all that he can send. But there is a relation between Creator and Creature: for all the different particular centers, there is a general center, and a principal ray uniting each the first to the second. All the force of the influences of each individual on the others is channeled in the ray towards the Center and then sent again to the points. Everything that is emanated from God is directed eternally towards Him, and nothing perishes of what He has expressed, and He is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) (Werke 11, 42). The Center is point of beginning and endpoint. Interdependence is the grand law of the universe.(Susini 107).
Baader refers to Brahmanism. He says that the oldest Brahmanic religion has much in common with Boehme Fermenta, Werke 2, 301. Baader was of the view that the original Vedic religion was not pantheistic, but monotheistic. The Vedic saying, “That art thou” (tat tvam asi) is not to be understood as a pantheistic identity of God and man, nor of man with nature. It is rather an acknowledgement of the expression of humanity in all phenomena of nature, and the interdependence of both humanity and nature:
The idea of image of God as the expression of God is a key idea for Baader. Baader identifies Man as the mirror of Totality (Schumacher 57). We are the expression of God. Everything from God is directed eternally towards Him, and nothing perishes of what he has expressed, and He is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) (Werke 11, 42).
Revised Aug 21/06