© J. Glenn Friesen 2003-2005
Glossary of Terms
Dooyeweerd speaks of ‘Ground Motives’ in history; they are the fundamental driving forces of our thought and experience. He uses the Dutch word ‘grondmotief’ (WdW I, 472, 476), although he uses other terms more frequently, like ‘Ground Idea’ (‘grond-idee’: WdW I, vi, 39, 52, 54, 57, 61, 89, 140); or ‘Ground Thought (‘grondgedachte’: WdW I, vi) or ‘Ground Principle’ (‘grondprincipe’: WdW I, vii) or ‘Ground Problem’ (‘grondprobleem’: WdW I, 467) or even ‘Ground Antinomy’ (‘grond-antinomie’: WdW I, 465).
A Ground Motive is a driving force [drijfkracht]. An early use of the word 'drijfkracht' is in the journal Opbouw, to which Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven contributed articles as students, and of which Vollenhoven was one of the editors (under the pseudonym Th. Voorthuizen). In the introductory issue, the editors give their goals ['Ons Bedoelen']. Although not written by Dooyeweerd, he would have been familiar with it:
This use of 'drijfkracht' is of a force that is behind the temporal events of the world. That fits with Dooyeweerd's positioning of the Ground-Motives in the religious dimension, which is supratemporal. In The Encyclopedia of the Science of Law (p. 48), Dooyeweerd says that 'motive' comes from the Latin 'movere,' meaning "to move, to propel." It is a dunamis or "spiritual power" that drives all human activity forward and sets its direction, even thought the individual may not be at all conscious of it.
A Ground-Motive is a supratemporal force, relating to the direction of our supratemporal heart. As such, it is not theoretical. Ground Motives are not rational or conceptual presuppositions, but the religious foundation for all concepts. We can obtain a theoretical Idea of the Ground-Motives, but Ground-Motives themselves are much more than Idea. But we can theoretically try to approximate them in a theoretical Idea, or Ground-Idea. Ground Ideas are "theoretical expressions" of the underlying religious Ground-Motive (NC I, 185). Dooyeweerd refers to the “Basic structure of the Christian transcendental ground-Idea as theoretical expression of the pure Biblical religious ground-motive” (NC I, 506). This long summary has Christian content, because it is the Christian Ground-Idea.
Such cosmonomic Ideas are the basis of any philosophy, Christian or not. And a cosmonomic Idea in general may not include special contents derived from the Crhistian Ground-Motive, such as creation (NC I, 95). The Ground-Motive we have will determine our transcendental Ground-Ideas. But the Ground-Ideas, as theoretical approximations, are all fallible (NC I, 117).
The Christian Ground Motive is Creation, fall and redemption in Christ. Dooyeweerd insists that this motive must be understood in relation to humanity as the supratemporal root of temporal reality, which needs to be redeemed in its root (Twilight, 125). Our knowledge of this Ground-Motive is not governed by theology. It is governed by the "key of knowledge." In fact, the divine revelation of creation, fall and redemption is withdrawn from the scientific field of research in dogmatic theology (Twilight, 134). The revelation becomes an object of theological thought only within the temporal diversity of experiential aspects (Twilight, 136). Theology does not concern “the central basic motive of the Holy Scriptures as it is operative in the religious center of our consciousness and existence.” (Twilight, 146).
The other Ground-Motives are the Greek pagan Ground-Motive of Form/Matter, the medieval synthesis of pagan and Christian Ground-Motives in the Ground Motive of Nature/Grace, and the modern humanist Ground-Motive of Nature/Freedom.
It should be noted that Dooyeweerd's exposition of Ground-Motives assumes a Western approach to philosophy; it does not include Eastern religious approaches. Dooyeweerd did make a comparison to the Hindu view of the self, but his analysis is also Western in its orientation.
There is a great similarity between Baader and Dooyeweerd when it comes to Ground-Motives. Both use similar terminology, including the word 'Grundprinzip.' Baader uses the term ‘Grund-Prinzip’ or ‘Ground Principle or Idea’ (Zeit 60). This explains why the term 'grondprinciep' is used in the WdW. Principles lie at the Ground [Grund] of our knowledge (theology, physiology, natural philosophy); these principles may be open or hidden (Werke V, 254, cited by Sauer 128). Baader also refers to ‘Religious Ground Attitudes’ (‘Grundeinstellungen’: Werke II, 296; cited by Schumacher 17) or ‘root convictions’ (‘Wurzelüberzeugungen’ or ‘idées causes or mères’: (Elementarbegriffe 533).
Baader says that when our belief and knowledge seem to be in conflict, it is really only one belief fighting another belief (Zeit 54). Our choice of Ground Principle is therefore a matter of faith or belief, and this belief is like a motive, or motivating force. Our faith (Glaube) is the Ground for our seeing and perception [Schauen und Erkennen], just as our motivation is the ground for the movement of our will. The motivation as ground and the movement on this ground are inter-related: just as we cannot move freely without holding onto a ground, so we cannot hold onto a ground without free movement. And so we cannot use our reason (Vernunft) without being free to believe, and we cannot believe without using our reason. Similarly, Dooyeweerd says that if there were not this battle of faiths, it should just be a matter of using logic and reason to convince each other (NC I, 36). And Baader’s comparison of faith to a motive may explain why Dooyeweerd refers to Ground Principles as Ground Motives.
Like Dooyeweerd, Baader sees these Ground Principles as historical forces. It is the task of philosophy to find the Principle for each epoch or stage in time. Ground Principles do not apply only to individuals, but also to entire nations and collectivities (Volk) both in their normal and in their abnormal evolution, that is, either towards or away from God. Determining the Ground Principles therefore gives a ‘theory of history and society’ (Elementarbegriffe 560, 561).
Baader says that there are two main principles that act against each other (Werke II, 484, s.25; cited by Susini, 318). There is a basic opposition of eternally irreconcilable Ground-Principles (Begründung 46). Similarly, Dooyeweerd speaks of two primary Ground-Motives: the biblical and the apostate; he subdivides the apostate Ground Motive into three subtypes: the Greek form/matter motive, the scholastic nature/grace motive, and the enlightenment nature/freedom motive. These three subtypes can also be found in Baader. All of these subtypes involve idolizing or absolutizing the temporal.
There are three Ideas within each Ground-Motive: Dooyeweerd says that each Ground Motive provides an answer to three transcendental ideas: Coherence, Totality and Origin (Arché). These transcendental ideas must have more than the merely regulative sense given to them by Kant (NC I, 89). Baader makes the same objection to Kant’s use of the transcendental ideas–for Kant, the ideas are only regulative and only concern morality. These transcendental ideas must also illuminate the ‘natural’ world as well as our actions in physics. A theory of epistemology must also include a theory of creation (Begründung 24, 25).
Baader says that only in our initial choice of Ground-Principle is our will free–in the choice of position in the religious antithesis, where we choose for or against God. All our subsequent actions are driven by it. Once we have entered into this motive [Motiv], then our actions are determined by its nature:
Baader compares the unfree choice to what St. Paul says about choosing ourselves as law instead of God's law. Our choice in this respect makes the law either an elevating, expanding and glorifying force or it works upon us in a downwards and oppressive [zusammendrückend] way. See also autonomy and law-Idea.
Baader also refers to this polar tension. When we try to understand space-time nature (or the creature) as something whole and complete in itself, we cease to experience a unity. Instead, a dialectic or antinomy is set up whenever we absolutize one part of creation:
This dialectical movement is caused by trying to hold onto a Dasein that is in itself groundless (Weltalter 126, 127). Such a person places the ‘pivot’ of his contemplation or admiration within the temporal; he then finds a second center, and opposes this to the first (Fermenta V, 15,16). This causes an unceasing opposition–a dualism or dialectic–between these two centers, like the idol of Dagon that was always reversed (I Sam. 5:3), or the two fighting snakes of Hermes. Baader also refers to this polar opposition as the striving of Tantalus. He says that a person who idolizes the temporal becomes subordinate to that to which he should be superior. The person does this in order to fill his or her emptiness ('abîme') (Fermenta V,15,16). If I oppose God’s law and try to set up another law, then I experience within myself two opposed laws. Baader cites St. Paul: ‘I am aware in my members of a law which is opposed to the good law’ [Weltalter 178, referring to Rom. 7:23]. When we choose to absolutize one part of creation, the opposed pole (entgegengesetzten Pol) will arise (Zeit, 24, 25, 35, 37 ft 17).
As I understand Baader, when we choose one motive within the temporal cosmos, another motive springs up either as subordinate or as dominant, and this is the religious dialectic.
The subordination of instinct seems to be similar to what Dooyeweerd refers to in the role of freedom in overcoming "nature" in the Nature/Freedom motive. This abnormal choice is the choice in the periphery, where we try to absolutize part of temporal reality, and subordinate the rest of reality to it. Our initial choice is an antithesis–for or against God. But once we are in the periphery, our choice is threefold–one or the other part of temporal reality, or a way that mediates the other two choices through the Ground.
Dooyeweerd also holds that an apostate ground motive will necessarily have a religious dialectic. There is a polar tension between the first absolutized aspect, and its correlata (NC I, 64).This polar tension is not the same as the primary religious antithesis (NC I, 123).
Baader says that these motives have given rise to three "epochs" in history. He later suggests a fourth, where he says that the scholastics mixed more with worldly philosophy than they should have (Werke 8, 71). In still later works, he speaks of the principles in ways that seem even more similar to Dooyeweerd’s ground motives.
Kuyper, too seems to have worked with three different eras in history, and the scholastic synthesis was something that Dooyeweerd emphasized. In Werke 2, 501-506, Baader also speaks of ‘Gegenstand’ in a way that shows it is different from an object as such, but rather determined by our theory, and that the way we use our theory is determined by our motives.
See also Ground.
Revised June 24/10