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four Plurality, Identity, Interrelationship Modality and Analogy The problem with which I concluded the previous chapter arises from Dooyeweerd’s insistence on the “unbreakable correlation” between law and subject, the claim that there can be no law without something existing under it. This problem surfaces starkly in the case of social structures , since Dooyeweerd also holds that they too are law-governed subjects and that the law governing them is rooted in created order. What sense could it make to claim that there is a lawful (created) order for, say, the business corporation, prior to the concrete emergence of any such entity in the modern period? Or is that what Dooyeweerd actually asserts ? This problem is crucial to what I have termed his core notion of the irreducible institutional identities of social structures, since his account of their irreducibility is tied to claims about a universal order of created reality. I address this problem in the final section of chapter 6. In this chapter I explicate the detailed conceptual apparatus through which he formulates the notion of irreducible institutional identities. I have noted that Dooyeweerd conceives of reality as a differentiated order, an order revealing a plurality or speciality of meaning. This ­ order—cosmic time—governs subjective reality around two fundamental and interlocking axes, the modal and the individual or typical . The typical order determines the structure of the actually existing individual “things, events, and relationships” that populate the world. 55 56 h e r m a n d o o y e w e e r d Dooyeweerd holds that everything that exists falls into one of these three classes.1 Henceforth I frequently abbreviate this threefold categorization as existents. The notion of modal diversity is often cited as one of Dooyeweerd’s most creative and productive insights, although it is not without its critics .2 I have alluded to the parallel between this notion and that of Hartmann ’s theory of the levels of being. More contemporary comparisons also suggest themselves, such as Oakeshott’s notion of distinct “modes of human experience” and—a closer parallel—Finnis’s more complex natu­ ral law theory of the “basic forms of the human good.”3 Dooye­ weerd’s theory exceeds these in its range and complexity. (Klapwijk, adapting Dooyeweerd’s theory to notions of emergence, refers to multiple irre­ ducible “organizational levels.”)4 After extensive reflections on the complex structures of and relations among diverse existents in the world that are unmistakably different yet appear to share certain fundamental properties, he concluded that created order was, at the deepest level, marked by a plurality of ontologically grounded, irreducible dimensions . Created reality, he came to hold, displays a multiplicity of “modal aspects.”5 The theory of modal aspects is unusual and complex, and in negotiating its thickets it helps to keep in mind that its chief intellectual objective was to expose and critique the numerous manifestations of theoretical reductionism, which Dooyeweerd claimed to observe in many contemporary academic disciplines, including social and political theory. It was devised as a response to what he perceived as a theoretical impasse in contemporary philosophy. In NC Dooyeweerd identifies fifteen modal aspects of reality: numerical , spatial, kinematic, physical, biotic, psychic, logical, historical, lingual, social, economic, aesthetic, juridical, moral or ethical, and confessional or pistical (from the Greek pistis, meaning “faith”).6 Cosmic time is like a “prism,” through which light is refracted into the seven colors of the spectrum. Time “splits up” the fullness of meaning into a diversity of aspects of meaning.7 Just as no single color is the origin of any of the others, so no modal aspect can be the origin of the other aspects. Just as no color can be reduced to any other, each of these modal aspects reflects the “fullness of meaning” and yet remains irreducible, “sovereign in its own sphere.”8 The modal aspects are aspects of cosmic time, and the general distinction between law-side and subject-side within cosmic time Plurality, Identity, Interrelationship 57 is reflected in each modal aspect. Each aspect has a law-side and a­ subject-side; thus he also speaks of the modal spheres as “law-spheres.”9 There is a constant danger of confusing the modal aspects with the concrete existents of which they are aspects. The aspects are the ways or modes in which existents operate or “function.” Whereas the modal axis of the law order determines how all existents function, the typical axis­ establishes what actually functions.10...


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