While we’re on things philosophical, and not to focus so much on Buswell, but I noticed this review in passing. It’s about the earliest critique of the Dooyeweerdian system that I’ve seen. There is a short review of Dooyeweerdianism by J.G. Vos that we have preserved among the Papers of Dr. Robert G. Rayburn, but that falls much later, in 1974, written in response to a problem on the campus of Geneva College at that time.
By J. OLIVER BUSWELL, JR.
[The Bible Today 42.7 (April 1949): 209-210.]
Transcendental Problems of Philosophic Thought : An Inquiry into the Transcendental Conditions of Philosophy, by Dr. H. Dooyeweerd, Professor of Philosophy, The Free University of Amsterdam. Eerdmans, 1948, 80 pages, $1.50.
The philosophy of Professor Dooyeweerd is called, “Philosophy of the Idea of Law.” The author explains that the words “idea of Law” are not an adequate translation of the Dutch word Wetsidee. The phrase is used, however, for lack of a better English term. The author has been noted for his writings in the field of jurisprudence. The list of his chief works, (page 79f), includes such titles as “The Cabinet in Dutch Constitutional Law” 1917, “The Struggle for Christian Politics” 1924, “The Structure of Juridical Principles and the Method of Jurisprudence” 1930, etc. This sounds interesting. I read the book very carefully, looking for the notion of the “idea of law,” hoping to find something corresponding to the thought which the words naturally convey to the reader. I thought I was to be entirely disappointed until I came to the next to the last page of the text. There I learned that “every concept of the different aspects” is founded upon three types of ideas, those which have to do with (1) “mutual relations,” (2) “radical unity,” and (3) “Origin.” Then the author gives this explanatory statement . . . these three ideas are bound together as a coherent complex and this complex we call “the idea of law” of a philosophical system. (Page 76)
Well, if that is what Professor Dooyeweerd calls “the idea of law,” then that is what he calls it.
The author has much to say against “the autonomy of human reason.” He regards those who believe in such autonomy as not among his “congenial spirits” (page viii). He says that “… the autonomy of scientific thought is self-refuted.” (Page 49) Nowhere does the reader find a clear definition of the word “autonomy” as Professor Dooyeweerd uses it. If “the autonomy of human thought” means that human thought is independent of God, human minds not created by God, and human thinking capable of proving God in error, then of course the autonomy of human thought must be rejected by all who believe in God.
However, such a definition of the term “autonomy” would be unjustifiable. The Kantian use of the notion of autonomy certainly does not exclude external standards of truth and right, or the grace of God. See, for example, Book IV, Apotome II, Section IV, of Kant’s Religion Within the Boundary of Pure Reason. The title of the section referred to is “That conscience is at all times her own guide,” and the title of the Scholion which follows it is “Of means of Grace.” Read the rest of this entry »