© J. Glenn Friesen 2003-2006
Glossary of Terms
Dooyeweerd speaks of science as “functionalistic thought.” The concept of function arises in the special sciences (I, 47, 49).
Empiricistic views of reality are functionalistic:
The “enclosed functionality” in an aspect is related to its sovereignty in its own sphere (I, 67).
It must be remembered that all functions are functions of our transcendent selfhood, which expresses itself in these functions. Our acts come out of our supratemporal center or heart. But these acts are expressed in our temporal functions.
I believe that it is wrong to start with things and their "functions" as Hart does in his distinction between "functors" and "functions" (Understanding our World). Dooyeweerd's emphasis is that when we speak of functions we are already in the special sciences. And if we do not recognize this, then our naive experience can become impaired by this "abstract technical mode of inculcation":
In his last article, “De Kentheoretische Gegenstandsrelatie en de Logische Subject-Objectrelatie,” Philosophia Reformata 40 (1975), 83-101, Dooyeweerd confirms that we do not begin with things. The article is a sharp critique of the thesis by D.F.M. Strauss, Begrip en Idee. He says that Strauss’s rejection of the Gegenstand-relation involves “real antinomies.” Strauss blurs the crucial distinction between pre-theoretical and theoretical experience, and negates the distinction between theoretical and pre-theoretical intuition. Contrary to Strauss’s assertions, we do not have implied knowledge of aspects in pre-theoretical experience. Nor are aspects deduced or abstracted from things. That is a “serious misunderstanding.” Aspects are therefore not kinds of properties, as is often asserted in reformational philosophy. It is the other way around: the modal aspects lie at the basis of individuality structures; things are individuations of the empirical functions of the aspects. Dooyeweerd says that Strauss’s rejection of the Gegenstand-relation reflects the most common prejudices of modern epistemology. And Dooyeweerd emphasizes that the ideas of the irreducibility of the modal spheres and their coherence are not to be separated from the transcendental idea of their root-unity in the religious center of human existence.
Dooyeweerd objects to the idea that the aspects are only functions of "things.“ Rather, individuality structures function in the modal spheres. If we ignore Dooyeweerd's radical idea of individuality structures, we end up in a functionalism. Dooyeweerd says that function is the new concept of substance, and it is rooted in the nominalistic tradition. The mathematical concept of function served the same purpose as metaphysical substance. (NC I, 202-203). Dooyeweerd refers to this as ‘functionalism,’ which he says is related to the idea of substance. For example, Kant’s idea does not start from the universe as a totality but from the elementary functional relations of physical interaction (NC III, 629).
The only reason that we can avoid functionalism is because our surpatemporal selfhood transcends cosmic time, the time in which all such functions occur:
Baader refers to sensory function and thought function. Sensory functions accompany thought function but are not their source and origin, nor are they identical. (Philosophische Schriften II, 175; Werke 5, 53). But Baader also objects to abstracting sensation from my selfhood (Werke 12,104; 11, 364)