Archive for July 2007

Unionville Conferences images

29 July, 2007

Kerry Hollingsworth has posted a number of images of Runner and the Unionville conferences on the Reformational Publishing Project site.

1. General view of the “Barn” Unionville Conference 1960
2. Unionville Conference 1961
3. Vollenhoven and wife at 1961 Unionville Conference
4. Evan Runner, Henk Van Riessen, Hans Rookmaaker, J. J. Duyvene De Wit, Unionville 1961
5. o_runner_vollenhoven_1961.jpgIn Evan Runner’s back yard, Grand Rapids, 1961. From left, Bernard Zylstra, Cal Seerveld, Glen Andreas, Vollenhoven, Runner.
6. Vollenhoven and wife in Runner’s back yard, Grand Rapids, 1961.


Lecture 37

14 July, 2007

We are discussing the building blocks of the creation order. I’ll be talking about the modal scale – remember the context in which we came to it. In talking about modalities we are taking scientifically, in pre-scientific life we don’t know the organic over against the physical.

When we say a tree is beautiful we are not abstracting the aesthetic, we are experiencing the tree in one of its facets, in everyday life not thinking of organic as distinct from aesthetic.

Locke is a Cartesian, he is a Christian, but not in his theorising, we must prove as much as we can by reason alone. He was fearful that science might rule out revelation.

In the seventeenth century there was the wars of religion and the rise of the scientific movement. Many intellectuals abandoned the Christian faith. Civil law and scriptures was being abandoned for a view of natural law which all rational creatures with a priori ideas could agree. ‘Reason is always and everywhere the same’ became a slogan. Reason is an entity that brings these definitional ideas with it at birth. They were held in common by every rational creature. All based on autonomy: common notions.

Read Ch 8 of Berkouwer’s General Revelation

Romans 2: 14-15: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.

John 1: 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

In the Greek manuscripts there was no punctuation marks. If you see a comma someone thinks it should be there.

“every man that cometh [a present participle] into the world”
What does it modify? What is it to be construed with?

Every modern editor puts a comma.

Some second century church fathers see it as meaning Christ set these rational functions right, so they know what id true, right and beautiful and so on.

He talking about the fact that there is darkness everywhere – not light. He is talking about the incarnation, not some universal enlightenment of mankind – that is Greek philosophy.

The incarnation happened in the midst of history, in the midst of the Roman Empire.

There is no a priori knowledge.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings revelation to bear more than he does at other times.
Is there a body f concepts that come with our ability to reason and from which our reasoning starts? I don’t believe that – neither did Calvin. We must seek beyond ourselves. That is why Descartes in seventeenth century is the bringing of the modern it’;s me only – it’s all in me.

We are dealing with this modal theory – Dooyeweerd had two theories; the modalities theory of modal structures and theory of typical structures of individualities. It is important to keep these two theories distinct in your mind.

Let’s look at the theory of typical structures of individuality. We are saying that there is something existing which are individual things but there is n thing as purely, solely individuals. This is a big debate in the history of philosophy. the question of universal. This chicken a aparticular, if I say chicken then there si a group, a class of universal class of chicken. That is what my coleage is getting at in his book about swans

Three positions: the earliest Greeks, were universalists. Only the universal exists, what we call individuals are momentary offshoots of universals; eg fire, earth, water, air. Fire meant the class of firey things, which have in common their fire-ness. The universals break up into minimal portions and come together in this animal, that plant and so on – in some individuals they may have more water than fire and so on. The death of that individual thing means the separation of the the universal stuff which then goes back to their proper place. Individuals are a passing phenomenon. Individuals are only a passing phenomenon. Only the universal exists, individuals are sparks from the bonfire.

Individualism – only individuals exist, universal exist only in our mind. We see only individual swans, rocks and so on, but for all practical purposes we group things, for pragmatic reasons to make communication better we group individuals together and form a class name which we call a concept, they only exist in the mind. They exist in concept forming, not in the ‘real world’.

When we get to the modal scale and subject-object we will see how very solidly there is a built in a theory to exclude a lower physical world of external reality and an internal world of mental concepts, there is no such thing. I can’t see how a Christian can hold it.

Individualists say universals on exist in concept forming not in what they call the external world. Universals can also exist in our name giving. (We mustn’t confuse the lingual with the logical.) For the universalist the fact that every oak tree is an individual entity it is only for practical reasons that we have grouped them and called them oak trees.

There is a third position. macrocosm and microcosm Macro = big and micro= small. macrocosm is a cosmos enlarged, microcosm cosmos in the small. Leibniz modalology. This is the idea we have the big world out there, fire, clouds, air , earth, rocky ground, water, to each one of these are certain qualities: fire = warm and dry; air = warm and moist; water cold and moist; earth = cold and dry. By qualities I mean something I can feel, the feel-ability of them. I feel the table, but the table is capable of being felt. God created everything with man to be the central covenant partner, everything in relation to man, thing are feel-able because man can feel and so on.

The Greeks thought that fire was nous or intellect, fiery cloud was psuche, air and water the organic and earth together was physical – getting a hierarchical ordering of these stuffs.

The microcosm are individual humans, plants, animals and so on. The structure of these individuals is similar to the macrocosm. individuals are structured like the macrocosm. Fire is like nous, microcosm come and go, they exist (unlike in universalism) but they are of a short duration. Fire is the divine nous, the fiery cloud is the divine psyche, the humans nous is like the divine nous but only short lived, his psyche, organic, the physical etc is like the divine but only short lived. The microscosm is pure individuals, the macroscosm is purely universal, whether on the subject side or the object side.

This background for a discussion we are about the have.

The modal scale:

Energetic or Physical
Organic or Vital
Analytic or Logical
Lingual or symbolic

1.It presents us with an irreversible order of functions
2.It displays an indissoluble coherence of meaning aspects
3.It points beyond itself to a deeper underlying unity of functions

I have to try and convey the type of ontic reality – modal scale, modalities come from Latin modus, a way a manner; these are all ways in which our presence is made known, ways in which we present our selves. How does a rock present itself economically? We have to discuss subject and object functions. Every created thing exists on each level either subjectively or objectively.

Man has an office – a commission and an authority to carry out that commission – he is commissioned to give form to and develop the whole cosmic reality. The fall doesn’t break it. man is created in this relation, only God can break the relation, they may deny a relation that exaists, but they can’t break it. They deny what they are, they live in a perpetual lie.

We will also talk about: a functional ladder, fifteen ontic a prioris and fifteen law spheres.

Lecture 36

1 July, 2007

A quote from The origins of modern science 1300-1800 Free Press Paperback edition.
Ch 10 The place of scientific revolution [p. 179 in my edn Bell & Sons, 1935]
Science is a creative product of the West, so capable of growth and so many sided that it consciously assumes a directing role. Just as Christianity in the middle ages had done.

Science sought control of the other factors.

The rise of science and the wars of Christians: that is why Locke, though he professed to be a Christian, we should try and prove as much so there is little left for revelation. He was trying to find a consensus to avoid these Christian wars. Reason is always everywhere the same – a fund of a priori and latent ideas. On the basis of that faith, neoplatonic stoic faith rediscovered in the seventeenth century, an increasing number of intellectuals said that Christianity must take second place and sought it in this age old tradition of rationality.

There was the rise of science and retreat of Christianity into their schools of theology – Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist – and withdraw from political and public life, they privatise themselves. They have been so ever since the seventeenth century. We are only now waking up to the fact that it can continue this way. We are called to be agents of Christ’s redemption.

Commitment to science was the indubitable way to knowledge, this is where we get scientism.

It would be interesting to go through a science textbook that deals with the question, what is science? Nothing what is said is an adequate description of science!

Looking at Dooyeweerd’s modal aspects, the Greeks split the world round about the psychical aspects (psuche) – a group of function that are regarded as one substantial entity called body and another group of functions they think of a substantial entity which they call rational soul, the mind. The outer man, the external world and the inner man – the rational soul.

We never just have logical functioning – we have logical functioning of me and I am the point where all of this concentrates itself.

There is a difference in the way philosophers talk about body and soul.

Men works from models that consist of a lower body and a higher rational soul. Science is taken to be from the latter, it was viewed as being objective. It goes back to Aristotle (384-322 BC). During the second Athenian residence, he found a rival school, the peripatous (they were called the walk around-ers!) or peripatetic philosophy. (Plato academy – academics). In that period Aristotle known as a heilozoist. Heilozoism (zoe = life) Hylomorphism (from the Greek for matter (hulê) and form or shape (morphê))

In that last period of twelve years there were two successive philosophical periods – two different forms of hylomorphism – in Aristotle’s thought. Every thing made up of matter and form.

Phase I in this one the form is individual and matter is universal. A plant has a physical functionality it becomes a plant, a form that is imminent in its physical. Animal has all this as well as the psychical, man all that the animal has plus the new form of logical thought as its matter. The material part is the individual part and the form the universal part.
We each have a different soul, that’s what makes us different. All our bodies are the same – we can’t see any difference the difference is the nous. Nous is what individuates.

In phase II he took the opposite, it is a little more complicated. The form is the rational soul, the same in a certain sense, he talks about the knowledge that comes from outside, the divine intellect, and pours the knowledge into each man’s soul and makes rationality the universal. He brings in divine intellect which informs the individual soul and so our knowledge is universal and the material body is the principle of individuation.

If we all follow our rational thought we come to consensus.

These ideas developed into natural law theory. Since rational thought is in common it is objective, my emotional life, my private life, is subjective. The rational is above subjective inference.

There are different meanings given to the word objective. It is deeply involved with Greek thought.

The divine arouses the human, the potential becomes active. An instance of thinking is

We have to remember that because men work with a lower and higher aspect, science was taken to be part of the latter and hence objective

Generalisation – this is presented in textbooks as science explaining phenomenon which are presented to our senses in general laws, science brings order. As Christians we know from the outset that there is law, there is order. We know that there are limits and bounds set up in creation, we know that things are ordered and that therefore for us to arrive at general laws may not be science at all.

How can we know if all swans are white when we haven’t seen all swans? But he forgets we can detect that there are classes and orders in creation. It is only if there are no fixed orders can we speak about induction in this way. If we beign from a n individual state of affairs, how do we get to a general law? We cant! Generalisation takes place in everyday life. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes is full of humanly acquired wisdom and the regularity in creation.

What makes science science is that we abstract from the total creature one of its functions. Scientific thinking is modal abstraction. Not narrowing down to a piece of the whole.

The Rise of Scientific Philosophy(1951) Hans Reichenbach p 5 ‘Generalization is the essence of science’.