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311 Appendix 1 Dooyeweerd’s Conception of the Task of Social Philosophy in chapter 3 i introduced dooyeweed’s “theory of theory”—his hugely ambitious “transcendental critique of theoretical thought.” I noted that this critical project was launched not for its own sake or to do down rivals but to clear the way for the development of constructive philosophical work in many fields. This book outlines the substantive content of that work in social and political philosophy. Here I outline the basic methodology it implies for the field of social phi­ losophy. For Dooyeweerd the task of social philosophy is the critical, systematic elucidation of the invariant normative structural principles undergirding the actually existing institutions populating modern society. We saw in chapter 3 that the burden of the transcendental critique is to demonstrate , through an analysis of the structure of theoretical thought, the inescapable determination of such thought by pretheoretical commitments of a religious character (ground motives). This determination takes place, Dooyeweerd asserts, through the medium of a transcendental ground-Idea, a theoretical Idea (or complex of Ideas) that is imme­ diately generated by a religious ground motive, and which frames the fundamental concepts of philosophy. Philosophy is a distinctive branch of theoretical thought in that it examines not any single part of reality but its total structure.1 The foundational philosophical concepts of which such a total account is composed in turn determine the basic concepts of each of the special disciplines, or, as Dooyeweerd calls them, “sciences.”2 312 Appendix 1 Dooyeweerd holds that philosophy comprises five mutually presupposing fundamental areas of investigation: the transcendental critique, the theory of modal aspects, the theory of structures of individuality,­ epistemology, and philosophical anthropology.3 The methodological problem now under discussion arises in the field of epistemology, which investigates the structures of the various forms of human knowledge, including theoretical knowledge.4 It is one of the central tasks of epistemology to reflect on the methodologies appropriate for each different science. This involves, among other things, indicating the role played by philosophy in such methodologies. An epistemology will point to the indispensable role of the philosophical subdisciplines, the special­ philosophies—the philosophies of history, economics, law, language, biology , and so on—in each of the special sciences. These special philosophies will thus presuppose a conception of the appropriate methodology for their field, supplied by epistemology. Special philosophies analyze the fundamental ontic structures of their own area of reality, while general philosophy analyzes the structures of the totality of reality (time, mo­ dality, individuality, etc.). The central preoccupation of the special philosophies is with the modal and typical structures specifically related to their field. Thus, for example, economic philosophy will be focused on the structure of the economic aspect and the design of economically qualified structures of individuality, whereas general philosophy will concern itself with the coherence between the economic aspect and all the other aspects and between economically qualified structures and other kinds of individuality structures. The special philosophies therefore cannot be reliably pursued apart from such a general philosophy, nor can a general philosophy avoid having implications for each of these particular areas.5 Philosophical reflection is a seamless robe, whether or not a philosopher is aware of it. These special philosophies must be distinguished from the special sciences, economics, biology, law, physics, and so on, each of which focuses on a particular modal aspect.6 Dooyeweerd’s claim is that the latter are all conceptually founded in a special philosophy.7 In view of the fact that philosophical concepts are themselves conditioned by religious ground motives, this is therefore also a claim that the special sciences are (indirectly) religiously determined. Religion conditions science but Appendix 1 313 through the intermediary of a philosophical framework. In contrast to the positivist conception of scientific objectivity, widely influential when he wrote, Dooyeweerd holds that no science can be, or ought to strive to be, religiously neutral, since it is precisely religious commitment that makes the scientific enterprise possible at all. Far better to acknowledge its influence openly than to succumb to it unwittingly, and so uncriti­ cally.8 A special science could only be autonomous with respect to philosophy if a specific aspect of reality could be investigated without considering its coherence with other aspects. But since all the aspects of reality are mutually cohering, scientific analysis of each of them must take account of their coherence with all the others.9 We can see, therefore , how Dooyeweerd’s integral ontology of...


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