© J. Glenn Friesen
Herman Dooyeweerd: De Wijsbegeerte
The Dutch Academy of Sciences has made all three volumes of De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee available online (in Dutch). These three volumes can also be downloaded here in .pdf format from the website of The Association for Reformational Philosophy.
The text below is a provisional translation.
Copyright is held by the Dooyeweerd Centre, Ancaster, Ontario, and publishing
right is held by Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York. A definitive translation
will be published in the series The Collected Works of Herman Dooyeweerd.
Volume II: The Functional Meaning Structure of Temporal Reality and the Problem of Knowledge
Part II: The Problem of Knowledge in the Light of the Law-Idea
Chapter II: The Structure of the Synthesis of Meaning and its Transcendental and Transcendent Conditions
[WdW II, 399] Study Notes
We have in the preceding chapter formulated the basic problem of epistemology as follows: How is theoretical synthesis of meaning possible?" From this question is born the problem, "what is it that is set-over-against [the logical aspect]?" As we have said, this essential and primary basic problem cannot be asked by immanence philosophy, even when behind Kant’s critical inquiry the attempt is made to found epistemology in a metaphysics, on a “critical ontology” or a modern phenomenology.
The phenomenologist presumes that there is no problem of a ‘Gegenstand,’ since he supposed that he discovers it by his intentional consciousness in the “strict givenness” of that which is purified by the phenomenological reduction. According to phenomenology, the world is only given to us as an “intended Gegenstand!”
In the metaphysically founded epistemology, the anticheimenon is regarded as identical with the subjective reality of a substance. They suppose that this substance is independent of our subjective-logical aspect.
And for Kant, the ‘Gegenstand’ is identical with what is universally valid and “objective” in our experience. He, too, does not see the real problem of the possibility of the isolating abstraction of that which is opposed to [the logical aspect]. Because of this, the multivocal concept of ‘Gegenstand’ as it is used in immanence philosophy is totally useless for us.
If we want to examine more closely this primary basic problem of epistemology, we must first obtain clarity about the true character of the ‘Gegenstand’ and about the structure of theoretic synthesis of meaning.
Usually we speak without suspicion about the ‘Gegenstand’ of knowledge; this follows from the assumption that the ‘Gegenstand’ is opposed to our knowledge. But over-against what in our knowledge can the ‘Gegenstand’ be opposed? If we answer, "Over-against the knowing subject," then this answer is problematic in every respect. It does not become less problematic to define the “knowing subject” more precisely as the “transcendental consciousness,” the transcendentally reduced “I think.”
Is it it then intended that the ‘Gegenstand’ of knowledge is set over-against our knowing selfhood?
The epistemological ‘Gegenstand’ first arises through the theoretical dis-stasis [uiteen-stelling] of the cosmic temporal meaning systasis. Our “selfhood” is not to be found in this temporal systasis of meaning, as we demonstrated in the Prolegomena. The correlate to the ‘Gegenstand’ must therefore be sought immanently, in the temporal coherence of meaning.
The resistance [tegenstand] arises as such through the setting-over-against [tegenover-stellen] and this setting-over-against is in essence the (theoretic) dis-stasis [uiteen-stellen] of the cosmic systasis of meaning. This dis-stasis is now only possible by means of the analytical aspect, and the ‘Gegenstand’ therefore must stand in a particular indissoluble relation with that aspect.
The modal function of feeling does not have a resistance [tegenstand] in an epistemological sense: its immanent subject-object relation can never be referred to in this sense of an essentially inter-modal setting-over-against (in a theoretic dis-stasis).
But, as we have repeatedly stated, the analytical function itself has no theoretical ‘Gegenstand” so long as it remains merely enstatically placed within temporal reality. The analytical aspect is fitted [ingevoegd] into the cosmic systasis of meaning as a necessary meaning-side of temporal reality in which all post-logical aspects are founded.
In naïve experience, the analytical function of thought is in this way enstatically fitted within [ingesteld] temporal reality; it is en-statically active in the cosmic coherence of meaning. For this reason, naïve experience knows of no epistemological problem. Naïve experience has no resistance and it is not active in synthesis of meaning, but in the en-stasis of full temporal reality. In naïve experience the analytical function of thought is merely inner thought [indenken]. Naïve experience is the concrete experience of things in their relations in the full individual temporal reality that has not been subjected to dis-stasis. Also in naïve experience, the analytical subject-object relation has only a mere en-static character. Whoever sees this relation in naïve experience as a ‘Gegenstand’ (as Kant does) has cut off at the outset of a way of giving an account of naïve experience.
Only in the deepened theoretic thought does the mere en-static attitude of thought give place to the over-against and dis-static attitude. The deepened analysis first executes [voltrekt zich] an inter-modal synthesis of meaning, in which the non-analytic meaning is made into a ‘Gegenstand’ of the analytic aspect. A ‘Gegenstand’ arises only in theoretic knowledge, in the synthesis of meaning and over against the deepened analysis. With this it is established that the ‘Gegenstand’ in theoretical knowledge, as ‘Gegenstand’ of the theoretic analytical aspect, can never be the full temporal reality itself, nor can it be the “thing” in its cosmic systasis of meaning in reality. As long as we merely systatically grasp the “thing” of naïve experience, we have no resistance of analysis. As soon as the resistance appears, we have given up the naïve attitude of pre-theoretical thought, which is only en-static [instellende].
The epistemological ‘Gegenstand’ can therefore not be cosmic reality itself, since the analytical function, even in its theoretical deepening of meaning, cannot break the bonds of its immanence within temporal reality. The analytical function cannot transcend cosmic time in order to set itself over against the cosmos. As we know from the Prolegomena, only in the religious, transcendent root of his personality does man go beyond the temporal diversity of meaning and only there is he able choose a position over against the cosmos. But this religious “over-against” may never be confused with the ‘Gegenstand’ in the theoretical synthesis of meaning, which is a product of theoretical abstraction.
The ‘Gegenstand,’ which is set over against the analytical function of meaning in the still-problematic synthesis of meaning, is the product of a willed reduction [aftrekking] from out of the full temporal reality.
We have repeatedly noted that this over-against attitude of theoretical thought must first abstract from nothing other than the continuity of cosmic time. Therefore it appears that the basic problem of the epistemological synthesis of meaning is essentially rooted in the problem of cosmic time–that is, in the possibility of a theoretical epoché [refraining from] the temporal continuity of the cosmic coherence of meaning.
The absolute boundary of ‘gegenständliche’ abstraction lies in the apriori basic structure of the temporal aspects. An entire law sphere with its internal modality of meaning can function as a ‘Gegenstand.’ But within such an abstracted law sphere a whole field of mutually cohering particular ‘Gegenstände’ reveal themselves.
Finally, a structural ‘Gegenstand’
can be abstracted from the things
of naïve experience, and
out of the real human social structures. This abstracted structure is
then not merely modal
or functional, but in
the analytical epoché
it shows the typical structural coherences of an inter-modal character.
This last sort of ‘Gegenstände’ forms the field of investigation
in Volume III.
Go to next page of translation: Dis-stasis/Synthesis
Footnotes for these excerpts
 This term, which has such a central function in Husserl's phenomenology, in fact does not derive from Husserl, but from Greek philosophy. It therefore does not make sense to seek for Husserlian motives behind my understanding of the epoché. I use the term exclusively in the sense of an abstraction from the temporal continuity of the cosmic coherence of meaning.
Revised Oct 13/08