© 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.
This Foreword to Volume III was never translated into English. It is in part a response to the controversy with Valentijn Hepp, who criticized the first volumes of Dooyeweerd's philosophy. Hepp, a theologian at the Free University, wrote a series of brochures entitled “Dreigende Deformatie” [Threatening Deformation], in which he was sharply critical of Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven, although he did not mention them by name. Hepp argued that instead of reformation, their philosophies were a deformation of Calvinism. This critique resulted in the lengthy investigation of Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven by the Curators of the Free University. In this Foreword, Dooyeweerd denies that his philosophy is original. This may come as a surprise to many reformational philosophers.
Foreword to Volume III of The Philosophy of the Law-Idea (pages v to ix)
The publication of this third book of “The Philosophy of the Law-Idea,” which brings this work to its provisional conclusion , was delayed by unforeseen circumstances.
As a result of further revisions, the contents of this volume were expanded so much that I had to omit certain parts of the manuscript. These omitted parts include a detailed critical-historical examination of the development of the problem of individuality. And second, I have omitted a broader discussion of the topic “Man's place in the cosmos” . I hope to later publish on both of these topics, although separately from this work.
The problem of causation, which I have touched on several times, will be dealt with in a systematic way in the fourth volume in the discussion of the problem of time. I cannot say when this fourth volume will be published, since at the present time I must focus my attention on making ready for publication my Encyclopedia of the Science of Law. And after that there are various articles of a more specialized nature waiting for publication.
Meanwhile, I am filled with inner gratitude towards God that the appearance of the first two volumes of this work has given the impetus for the founding of the Association for Calvinistic Philosophy, and for the publication of Philosophia Reformata, the journal [organ] of this Association.
The wish that I expressed in the Foreword of Volume I has in this way become initially fulfilled. What gives me the greatest joy is the quick growth in the number of scientific researchers, also outside of the country, from all faculties of the universitas scientariarum, who have been gripped by the basic Christian idea of this new philosophy–to allow Christ's Kingship over science to again be experienced as a powerful reality in their own thinking.
The radical break with the synthesis between the Christian standpoint of transcendence and that of immanence philosophy has come as a liberating act in the lives of many people. Having made this great choice, they do not want nor can they ever go back.
It is understandable that some people, who have not yet understood the impossibility of such a synthesis, and who in their whole way of thinking still strive for a compromise, regard the Philosophy of the Law-Idea as something like a revolutionary power, which tears down everything that had been built up in a process of centuries.
Here there is still a great deal of misunderstanding, which can only gradually be overcome by a calm and objective exchange of ideas. This exchange of ideas, provided that it is carried out in a Christian tone, will necessarily lead to mutual clarification and deepening of insight.
But at this time, we must give all emphasis on one point. The Philosophy of the Law-Idea does not seek its firm ground in ideas, or in a closed system of thought, but only and exclusively in the living Word of God. We have not fixed ourselves on anything other than this point of departure for our philosophy. An inferior imitation [epigonism] can arise among its followers only where the living dynamic ground-Idea has become fossilized into a scholastic concept, which can no longer be fruitful or productive.
But we have at the same time seen that when one really takes this point of departure seriously, one's whole view on the temporal world order is radically overturned. It brings our thinking into a new movement, which no longer finds rest in anything within time. And that in which immanence philosophy supposes to find its supratemporal point of rest is itself disclosed as being subjected to time; immanence philosophy tries to make what is merely temporal to be eternal [het ver-eeuwigen daarvan], and therefore ends up in idolatry.
From the very beginning, this new philosophy has emphasized that, in accordance with divine Word revelation, human existence is concentrated not in “reason, ” but in the heart, as the religious root of existence. How then can a critic see a fundamental change of standpoint in the followers of this philosophy, and how can such a critic assert that we earlier understood man as merely a “complex of functions?” I really cannot understand such criticism; it only shows that such a critic has still understood nothing of our point of departure.
In the United States, theologians have asked whether the Philosophy of the Law-Idea should be seen as amounting to a denial of what has been called “common grace.” To this we can only answer: This is not at all the case. On the contrary, we again want to take this Scriptural doctrine seriously, in contrast to a certain tendency to take a humanistic interpretation of this doctrine. What the Philosophy of the Law-Idea denies is merely the unscriptural dualism of “common” and “special grace.” In this dualism, “common grace” is seen as a self-sufficient “terrain,” and is removed from Christ's Kingship.
Whoever wants to plead for such a dualism should consider, that although he may try to use a scholastic or modern synthesis in philosophy to serve between ancient or humanistic philosophy and the Christian line of thought, such a dualism has shown itself to be hostile to the working through of Christian Truth in scientific thought, because such dualism continues to halt between two opinions. One cannot give fifty percent of one's thought to Christ and fifty percent to Aristotle or Kant.
In its point of departure, the Philosophy of the Law-Idea is not at all “new.” Instead, it builds on the foundation of all Ages. What it opposes is the falling away from this fixed foundation. This falling away appeals to the autonomy of thought, or with a completely misplaced appeal to the doctrine of “common grace.”
Whoever reproaches this philosophy with “desire for originality” [oorsponkelijkheids-zucht] does not know what he is saying. It does not have a desire for originality, but rather a desire for the Origin [Oorspongszucht], in the sense that it restlessly drives thought above its supposed resting points, and it points to its true Origin in Christ Jesus.
If indeed there is any “originality” hiding in our philosophy, this is due only and exclusively to the new view, which is the fruit of the opening of thought to the Word of God, which is discovered by the true Archimedean point. But this means the opposite of any revolutionary assault against the great law of historical continuity. It is much rather the living fundamental ideas of the Calvinistic Reformation, taken up in the previous generation by Dr. A. Kuyper, which find their philosophical expression in Philosophy of the Law-Idea.
The second serious misunderstanding, against which the Philosophy of the Law-Idea shall continue to have to fight, is its identification with a Christian theology. Such an [incorrect] identification is a well-tried recipe to exclude a philosophy whose presuppositions are not accepted by immanence philosophy from the community of officially acknowledged philosophy, in order to avoid the difficulty of really becoming acquainted with this philosophy and of seriously weighing its insights.
Meanwhile, the Philosophy of the Law-Idea does not allow itself to be put on the sidelines in this way. Its critique of the foundations of current philosophical movements penetrates too sharply into the very joints of the immanence standpoint that those who adhere to the immanence standpoint will not be able to avoid this critique by appealing to the boundaries between philosophy and theology.
The Philosophy of the Law-Idea is no theology. And it wants to take “universal human experience” more seriously than does the so-called ‘critical direction’ in immanence philosophy. Its critical basic attitude really makes problematic the dogmatic view of these “boundaries” in the Kantian immanence standpoint. It does this by disclosing the religious pre-suppositions in this view, and by bringing to light its immanent antinomies.
Finally two mo more remarks. The course of my research brought me with inner necessity into contact with various questions in the special sciences, which lie outside my own juridical specialty of research. I express my heartfelt thanks to all who have hereby served to enlighten me. Nevertheless to devote oneself to these other areas remains a perilous undertaking, and I am fully conscious of such dangers.
Second, I need to give an explanation of why in addition to this third volume, there is no index of names and subjects . To compile a really usable index of the three bulky volumes would have required so much space that it would have expanded the scope of the last volume out of all proportion. Since I have meanwhile become convinced that an index is indispensa ble for the consultation of this work, I have entered into discussions with the publisher about a separate publicaiton of such an index. I very much hope that this discussion will soon lead to a favourable result, and that its composition will not require so much time that the publication of such an index would be unduly delayed.
 Dooyeweerd still planned a fourth volume, dealing in more detail with the problem of time. This fourth volume was never published, although Dooyeweerd did make substantial revisions to the text for the English translation, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought. See my Concordance for a list of some changes. Dooyeweerd also published additional articles on time, such as his 1940 article “The Problem of Time in the Philosophy of the Law-Idea.”
 With respect to the problem of individuation, Dooyeweerd rejected the idea that substance could be the principium individuationis. See Dooyeweerd's article "The Idea of the Individuality Structure and the Thomistic Concept of Substance," Philosophia Reformata 8 (1943), 65–99; 9 (1944) 1–41, 10(1945) 25ff, 11(1946) 22ff.
 With respect to the importance of Dooyeweerd's philosophical anthropology, see the Conclusion of Volume III. Dooyeweerd never completed his work on philosophical anthropology. But he did set out his ideas in his article “De leer van den mensch in de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee”, Correspondentie-Bladen VII (Dec. 1942), translated as “The Theory of Man: Thirty-two Propositions on Anthropology.”
 The reference seems to be to Hepp's critique. But was Hepp referring to a fundamental difference between Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd? Vollenhoven denied a supratemporal heart, and his publicaitons do lead to the idea that man is a complex of temporal functons. See “Dooyeweerd versus Vollenhoven: The religious dialectic within reformational philosophy.” Vollenhvoen and Dooyeweerd also gave very diffferent responses to the Curators of the Free University.
 The English translation did include such an index, although it was not compiled by Dooyeweerd himself. It was compied by H. de Jongste. De Jongste was not inbvolved in translating Volume I, and he had his own ideas of what needed to be indexed. The index is not at all complete, and anyone doing a search would be well-advised to use a computer search of the online version of De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee.
Revised Feb 15/10