Title

Resources for a Christian worldview

DFMSSeminar

The D F M Strauss Seminar Pages

The major documents to be considered are as follows:
 
1. The English summary to Danie's PhD Begrip en Idee.     Concept and Idea translation of Begrip en Idee Ch 1-6
2. Dooyeweerd's PhilRef response 1976
3. Danie's PhilRef response 1984.

English Summary of Begrip en Idee (1973)
 
1. Para 1 p. 196.
2. Paras 2, 3 and 4 p. 196-7 (Plato)                             Digression on Plato, mysticism etc.
3. Para 5 p. 197 (Aristotle)
4. Paras 6-7 p.197 (Augustine, Thomas, Cusanus)
5. Paras 8 pp. 197-198 (Kant)
6. Paras 9-10 p. 198 (Maimon, Husserl)   Hegel query
7. Paras 11-12 pp. 198-199 (Wittgenstein)
8. Para 13 p. 199 (Dooyeweerd)
9. Para 14 p. 199 (unity in multiplicity)
10. Para 15 pp. 199-200 (transcendental-empirical)
11. Para 16 p. 200 (theoretical concepts)
12. Para 17 p. 201 (alternative)
13. Para 18 p. 201 (contents and objects)
14. Para 19 p. 201-202 (modal concept of function)
15. Para 20 p. 202 (limiting concepts)
16. Para 21-22 p. 202 (transcendental critique 1)
17. Para 23-24 p. 202-203 (transcendental critique II)
18. Para 25 p. 203 (concept and idea)
19. Paras 26-28 p. 203 (Conclusion).
 
20 - Summary of Summary -
 
Philosophia Reformata Dooyeweerd "The Epistemo-Logical Gegenstand-Relation and the Logical Subject-Object Relation" 41e pp. 1-8.
 
21. Paras 1-2 pp. 1-2.
22. Paras 3-4 p. 2
23. Paras 5-7 pp. 2-3
24. Paras 8-10 p. 3
25. Paras 11- 12 pp. 3-4
26. Para 13 p. 4
27. Para 14 p. 4
28. Para 15 p. 4-5
29. Para 16 p. 5
30. Para 17 p. 5
31. Para 18 pp. 5-6
32. Para 19-21 pp. 6-7
33. Para 22-23 p. 7
34. Para 24 p. 7-8
35. Para 25 p. 8
 
36. Summary of Dooyeweerd's Defense and Critique
 
Philosophia Reformata Strauss "An Analysis of the Structure of Analysis - the gegenstand-relation in discussion" 49e Nr. 1 pp. 35-56
 
37. Summary and 1. Introduction p. 35
38. 2. Foundational modal aspects and ideas in epistemology pp. 35-36
39. 2.1 Background and implications of the substance concept p. 36
40. 2.2 The Rationalist Tradition and 2.3 Rationalism and Irrationalism. p. 36
41. 3. Kant, neo-Kantianism, Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven pp. 38-39
42. 4. Problems and inconsistencies I - Van Riessen; II - Mekkes, Van Niekerk pp. 39-40
43. 4. Problems and inconsistencies (III - Strauss i-viii) pp. 40-42
44. 4. Problems and inconsistencies (IV - Strauss i-vii) pp. 42-43
45. 5. New Developments - Dooyeweerd's reaction 5.1-5.1.2 pp. 43-48
46. 5. New Developments - Inconsistencies in Dooyeweerd's Epistemology pp. 47-49
47. 5. New Developments - Van Niekerk, Dengerink, van Eikema Hommes pp. 49-52
48. 6. New Persectives - 6.1, 6.2, 6.3    
49. 7 Conclusion
 
50.Summary of Strauss's "Analysis"

 

 

List of Members and Auditors
 
Members:
Ruben Alvarado, The Netherlands
Steve Bishop, Bristol
Romel Bogares, Manila 
Roy Clouser, New Jersey
Piet Cronje, South Africa
Adolfo Garcia de la Sienra, Veracruz
Tony Garrood, UK
Chris Gousmett, Upper Hutt NZ
Chris van Haeften, Holland
Rudi Hayward, London
Kerry Hollingsworth, Grand Rapids
Paul Robinson, London and Belfast
Duncan Roper, New Zealand
Dick Stafleu, Holland
Russ Wolfinger, North Carolina
 
Convenor: Bruce Wearne
Seminar Respondent: Danie Strauss
 
Auditors (official lurkers who do not write seminar papers but who are mandated to add wisdom to the discussion)
 
John Satherley, Liverpool
Henk Geertsema, Holland
Jim Skillen, Annapolis,
Alan Cameron, Wellington
Ted Fackerell Sydney
Andrew Hartley, North Carolina
Keith Sewell, Sioux Center

 

 

 

 

 

Para 1. Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p. 196

On-Line Email Seminar examining some early works of Danie Strauss 

Para 1. Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p. 196 

The opening paragraph of the Summary refers to the way the thesis was put together. It draws attention to the manner in which the candidate understands the form in which he has developed his argument. The paragraph refers to Part I but implies the three parts of the thesis.

          I. Kontoere uit die geskiedenis van die Wysbegeerte ("Kontoere" from the history of philosophy - excursion? overview? contours? reconnoitre? CHECK AFRIKAANS).

    II Systematiese besinning ( Systematic reflection)

    III Die vakwetenskaplijke betekenis van die onderskeiding tussen begrip en idee (The meaning of the distinction between concept and idea for the special sciences).

The formulation of the first paragraph is noteworthy. The historical part ("Kontoere") is described in terms of an explicit systematic philosophical intention. The historical exposition is "guided" by this "systematical hypothesis" which seemingly has two sides - there is concept and there is idea. So the historical part of the thesis examines the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas Cusanus, Kant, Maimonides, Husserl, Wittgenstein guided by this 'two-sided' hypothesis about concept and idea. Rather than give strict definitions of concept and idea, they are both described in terms of what they imply and what they do, how they function in theoretical reflection.

A concept implies a subjectively formed logical unity of a multiplicity of characteristics. There is reference to the twin terms systasis and distasis  (ref a quick look at NC vol. IV provides refs as NC II, 390, 429, 431, 433, 450, 471-2 - an important discussion seems to be pp. 429-431 but we will need some discussion to help clarify what is meant by the phrase "systatical or dystatical logically objectified multiplicity of characteristics"). 

An idea concentrates the diversity of the concept upon that which transcends the limits of all concept formation. (ref Dooyeweerd's wets-idee (law-idea) and of the later formulated three-fold transcendental ground idea and also of the transcendental critique). 

Questions: 

1. Explain further the intention behind the investigation guided by the concept/idea systematic hypothesis.

2. Could you give us some guidance as to how to understand the (concepts of) systatic and distatic objectification in the process of concept formation? What are the terms referring to and how important are they in systematic terms?

3. Could you illustrate by a few examples a systatical logical objectification (concept)?

4. Could you illustrate by a few examples a distatical logical objectification (concept)?

5. Are concept and idea two sides of something else and if so what? (philosophical/ theoretical analysis/ argument)

6. Logical qualification

- why would the "multiplicity of characteristics" be logically qualified?

7. Concept

- is concept to be taken in contrast to percept?; is a concept a particular kind of thought?; how is it related to other kinds of thoughts? is concept the thought or the object of the thought?

8. Direction - concentration, transcendance

- how does "concentrates" relate to "transcends"?; what does transcend mean?; does the idea of transcending imply some kind of direction?; if so, then from what does the directing originate?; is the transcending meant as transcending the content (object) of the concept or the concept formation?  
 

Further observation by Kerry Hollingsworth 19.7.08 

I realize that I am a Johnny-come-lately to this group so I may well be missing some crucial information here. I am wondering if we are not making things difficult for ourselves by working with the highly compact summary rather than the text itself. If we keep in mind that Danie makes much of the fact that his approach is transcendental/ empirical it would seem to me that what he means by conceptual knowledge, and concept transcending knowledge can best be evoked by seeing how he works concretely with the philosophical tradition. Trying to figure out abstractly what a given term in a very compact statement means seems to me counter-productive, and contrary to Danie's actual approach. However, this latter consideration may have already been discussed before I joined the list.  
 
 

BCW 6.7.08





DS responds to first questions 

First of all allow me to thank Bruce very much for the neat way in which he has managed to set up this discussion – Bruce I really appreciate your efforts! 

Background of my concern with and interest in the distinction 
between concept and idea
 

As a second year BA student I became interested in the relationship between philosophy and the special sciences (the philosophical society on campus had a discussion on this theme and I had to set the discussion going). Eventually I wrote my MA Thesis on this distinction (published in 1970 – 358 pages). In it I distinguished 14 systematic philosophical issues influencing all the disciplines – and one of them was the distinction between concept and idea. Subsequently I chose this distinction to be the focus of my PhD at the Free University (1973) (keeping in the back of my mind eventually to narrow down the focus even further, namely by investigating the implications of this distinction particularly for the discipline of mathematics – currently partially embodied in a not-yet-completed manuscript on the foundations of mathematics in which the notion of infinity occupies a central place – some of my new ideas in this regard are made known in different contexts in which I have explained my understanding of what I prefer to designate as the successive infinite and the at once infinite). 

An additional concern is found in the long-standing legacy in which knowledge is identified with conceptual knowledge – ignoring the possibility of concept transcending knowledge (something mentioned by Kerry). 

Remark about the systematic hypothesis 
and the 8 questions asked
 

The intention of the provisional formulation of the distinction between concept and idea was not to unpack the implied systematic account immediately – it was merely given as a hint about what will eventually be subjected to a more penetrating systematic analysis. By following the path of the historical contours the first intuitive understanding of the distinction will slowly unfold its meaning. Therefore it will defeat the purpose of the structure of the argument, with its historical prelude, to explore and discuss the said questions already at this stage of our interaction. However, it may be helpful if I do say something about the (logical) subject-object relation. 

Brief additional explanation of the 
logical subject-object relation
 

Let us accept as our starting-point at this stage a brief explanation of what Dooyeweerd designates as the logical subject-object relation – amended by the insight that analysis differentiates into identification and distinguishing (sometimes analysis is restricted to distinguishing). The hall-marks (features, characteristics, properties) of whatever that can be identified and distinguished are always intimately connected to logical objectification. This is similar to the observation of something observable (sensory objectification) or the designation of something nameable (lingual objectification), and so on. Yet the act of logical objectification (identifying and distinguishing whatever is identifiable and distinguishable) itself is proceeding from a logical subject (the thinking person) – objectification is a subjective act, resulting in obtaining a concept of what has been identified (by distinguishing it from whatever is different from what is identified). A “multiplicity of characteristics” as such are therefore not logically qualified – they are only logically objectified through logical identification and distinguishing – it is only the resulting subjective concept of what has been logically objectified that is logically qualified. 

Remark about the historical section 

A provisional translated version of the Historical Part (Chapters one to six – Chapter seven focuses on Kant and Wittgenstein) is available (in PDF format) for anyone interested in it and willing to read it while being aware of the fact that the translation has not yet been edited! [This PDF file is also send to Bruce.] 

Suggestion 

My suggestion is therefore that we put the first questions on the ice until we have had a chance to experience the unfolding of the historical part. These questions are relevant to a systematic discussion of the distinction between non-theoretical and theoretical thought and when we enter into a discussion of the Gegenstand-relation. 

Yet, if anyone would still find it necessary to have some of these questions answered before we proceed, please don’t hesitate to say so! 

Danie Strauss

(27-07-08)

Para 2 p. 196

Para 2. Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p. 196

Paragraphs 2-4 Plato.
2  Phaeido
3. Politea
4. Parmenides

Para 2 Plato’s Phaido
The text is very dense here – it is after all a summary. A SMOG count gives it 18.73, putting it appropriately at the post-graduate level.
Below Danie’s text is in Courier.  I have attempted to summarise the text with diagrams.

In the first stage of his theory of ideas, as it is developed in the dialogue Phaido, Plato discovered something of the difference between a (distinguishing) concept and an idea (concentrating conceptual diversity).



Each of the discontinuous static ideal forms functions individually as pseudo-unity ( -orgin) of the multiplicity of images in the sensible world. Although Plato did not explicitly give account of the differences between the transcendent eidè and our (subjective) knowledge of them, it is clear that he (at least implicitly), intends that every eidos is correlated with an (eidos- ) idea by means of which the diversity of images is to be concentrated on its (pseudo- )original unity.



The ideal form had to be static otherwise we could not attain knowledge.
Eidos comes from the Greek είδος.

Since the eidè, in the final analysis, only imply a metaphysical duplication of the world of the senses, Plato still had to give an account of the origin of the eidè themselves.

Questions

1. Why was Plato the first?  What was in his ‘cultural coffee’ that enabled him to see the difference between a concept and an idea?

2.  Are the brackets there to mark out a difference between a common or garden idea or concepts? Or are they clarifying the meaning of each?

2.1 What is the difference between a (distinguishing) concept and a concept?

2.2. What is the difference between an idea and an idea (concentrating conceptual diversity)?

3. Why is the distinction/difference between idea and concept so important?  (And my favourite question at the moment – I’m listening to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue at the moment so the question is pertinent! – ‘So what?’)

4. Why a discontinuous static form?  Are there continuous static forms? What’s the difference?

5. How do eidè, eidos, concept, idea and form (inter-)relate?




Dear Bruce and friends,


I have to confess right up front that I have this obsession about Plato and usually feel compelled to defend him at the drop of a hat. Plato cannot be understood if the reader does not take into account that there is no "PLATO" as such. The greatness of Plato lies in the fact that he was continually thinking through the fundamental problems and hence his thought was always is a process of continual development. Even when he finally saw that the lawfulness observable in the sensible world was subject to change, and that therefore there had to be an unchangeable law behind the sensible world to which the sensible world conformed, (Plato's Realism) he still spent the rest of his life developing and refining this latter insight.


Contrary to the common opinion it was Plato who was the real empirical thinker. The charges that have sometimes appeared in our general circles about Plato the Idealist are simply absurd. Plato worked concretely from the empirical world of constant change, back to the Really real world of unchanging law. That he was constantly refining and re-articulating what what he observed in the empirical order of things, we need to be clear that the sensible world of appearance does not evoke the eternal laws of the background world, but, on the contrary, a particular sensible horse is only possible because it is a given instance of the unchangeable law for horse itself.


I have attached a couple of items that I used to hand out that give a sense of Plato's development and the very basic structure of his Realism.


Regards

  The Development of The Platonic Corpus
1. Non-Mathematical Objectivism
   A. Monistic Individual. Interactionism. Typ 2 Contradic. Occas.
 Ion, Hippias Minor, Protagoras, Socrates Apology,
 Crito, Laches.
   B. Anthropological Interactionism. 1st Type
 Charmides
   C. Dualism
        A. Individualistic
        Euthyphro, Menexus
        B. Partial Universalistic
        Gorgias

2. Math Objectivism, Partial Universalistic Dualism (397)
 Meno

3. Realism   Dualist Partial Universalism   (390)
         Symposium, Phaedo, Hippias Major, Republic
         Monism   (377)
  
 1a. Instrumentalism, Primary Impetus Theory, Partial Universalism

      Parmenides, Euthydemus, Cratylus.
 1b. Vitalism. Secondary Impetus Theory, Partial Universalism
      Theaetetus, Lysis, Phaedrus, Sophist, Statesman.
 1c. Ennoetism. Without Impetus Theory, Partial Universalism
      Philebus
 1d. Non-Contradictory Occasionalism. Partial Universalism
      Timaeus, Critias.
 1e. Contradictory Occasionalism.
      Laws

 

Kerry:
Your post and the two attachments are helpful.
Your suggestive account might also explain why a "static Plato" (to ontos on) is so very hard to contemplate let alone understand!
I won't say you've brought Plato down to earth, but what you say puts the discussion of his empirical attitude within reach.
Bruce


DS Response 2 
(05-08-2008)
 

Steve's Questions

1. Why was Plato the first? What was in his ‘cultural coffee’ that enabled him to see the difference between a concept and an idea? [Plato at the beginning or the first to notice the distinction?]

DS: Of course it is the case that before Plato both concepts and ideas were used. For example, Theodor Sinnige remarks that for Parmenides most terms at once have a metaphysical and a spatial connotation (Matter and Infinity in the Presocratic Schools and Plato, 1968:86). What Sinnige calls a “metaphysical connotation” is what I eventually accounted for as modal terms used in an idea-context (more recently I gave preference to the expression: a concept transcending use of modal terms). [Compare Parmenides, B Fr.8:3-6).] Within Greek philosophy Plato occupies a position similar to that of Thomas Aquinas in medieval philosophy and Kant in modern philosophy – and interestingly in all three cases the distinction between concept and idea played a key role. The concentration tendency within Greek philosophy – particularly found in the thought of Socrates – paved the way for Plato to arrive at his dialectical account of conceptual diversity and the (form as) original unity. 

2. Are the brackets there to mark out a difference between a common or garden idea or concepts? Or are they clarifying the meaning of each?

DS: Dropping the brackets does not change my intention. 

2.1 What is the difference between a (distinguishing) concept and a concept?

DS: There is no difference – using the qualifier “distinguishing” simply underscores a key element of every concept, namely that by demarcating what is conceived it is at once distinguished from what is distinct from what is conceived. [My more detailed account always underscores the fact that analysis rests on identification and distinguishing.] 

2.2. What is the difference between an idea and an idea (concentrating conceptual diversity)?

DS: Every idea is an idea in the sense of concentrating a conceptual diversity or is exploring an element of the given diversity (by exploring the meaning of such an element in a concept transcending way – in Afrikaans I coined the phrase “idee-matig” = having the measure of an idea. [The first full paragraph on page 197 highlights an important feature of a concept, namely that it cannot grasp what is individual. Individuality can only be approximated “idee-matig,” i.e., by using modal terms in a concept transcending manner.] 

3. Why is the distinction/difference between idea and concept so important? (And my favourite question at the moment – I’m listening to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue at the moment so the question is pertinent! – ‘So what?’)

DS: If philosophy is important, then the ultimate ideas lying at its foundation are also important. Moreover, when an attempt is made to grasp genuine ideas in a concept theoretical thought gets caught up in antinomies. The acquisition of concepts implies that conceptual delimitation took place, that (ontic) boundaries have been recognized; but this demarcation is (regulatively) made possible by ideas (concept transcending knowledge – this point is ummarized in the fourth last paragraph of the summary – on page 203). 

4. Why a discontinuous static form? Are there continuous static forms? What’s the difference?

DS: The background of this remark is found in the metaphysical notion of the Eleatic school where static being was seen as an undifferentiated (continuous) whole. Via Empedocles Plato eventually differentiated this metaphysical idea of a continuous whole, ending up with discontinuous (= distinct) static forms. 

5. How do eidè, eidos, concept, idea and form (inter-)relate?

DS: In Plato's initial understanding static ontic forms were introduced in order to escape from the agnostic fate of a world in which there is only change. Only if there is something to hold on to – something persistent – amidst all change, will it be possible to account for the possibility of (conceptual) knowledge. Plato thus realized that change can only be detected on the basis of what endures (constancy), but accounted for this sound insight in speculative metaphysical terms, by placing these static forms (eidos is the singular and eidiè the plural) in an assumed supra-sensory (intelligible) world. [Plato actually stumbled upon God’s law for creatures, while Aristotle (with his notion of the universal substantial form of things) stumbled upon the orderliness of things.] The eidè ultimately still represent a conceptual diversity in Plato's thought – which had to be concentrated in the idea of the good as the original design of the formed cosmos within the divine Nous. Since for everything within the world of becoming (genesis) there must be a correlating eidos within the transcendent realm, the dialectical tension between form and matter confronted Plato with the impossibility of having an ontic form for matter (because matter is form-less). In his later dialogues he attempted to remedy this impasse by introducing an “ideal matter”. His idea of the origin of the cosmos was dialectiaclly broken apart – the Nous is only form-origin, finding in opposition to itself the formless matter as an equally original given.

DFMS


Dear Bruce and Friends,


I grow more and more to the conclusion that someone like Plato, or a Dooyeweerd for that matter, are "so hard to understand" because they are so profoundly rooted in the reality of the here and now. Very little is taken for grated, all tradition is up for critical scrutiny, every schematism is investigated, no authority is sacred, and, above all, the empirical reality that stares one in the face is their primary concern. Most of us are not so "rooted" regardless of our many conceits and protestations to the contrary as most of us have not learned the primary characteristic for "rootedness" which is careful and nuanced observation of the empirical condition in which one finds himself. 

Plato was a master of close empirical observation. This is why he wrote in the dialogue form. By employing a dialogical process the possibility of floating off into abstractions devoid of empirical and historical grounds were, at a minimum, greatly reduced. Vollenhoven's chronology (now in need of some revision by the way) indicates Plato's constant struggle to get a grip on the real nature of cosmic reality. He tries to work out each of the major possibilities, non-mathematical objectivism, mathematical objectivism, each with their monists and dualist variations, and then realism with a half dozen nuances. But note that he is always thinking, always developing, always intimately caught up in the restless struggle that is cosmic reality.

Few thinkers in my view at least, are capable of matching him in either empirical insight or nuanced articulation. Note, for example, Danie's remarks on question 4 about Plato's development of the continuous to the discontinuous ideas. Also of considerable note is the point that Danie has made in some other places as well about the contrast between Plato and Aristotle, namely Plato's sensing of God's law for creatures and Aristotle's stumbling on the orderliness of temporal reality, the 
law-conformity of things. 

I usually argue that Aristotle's love of schematic order and logical niceties shackled him to the temporal order, whereas Plato's profound rootedness in reality freed him to transcend it.

Regards

Kerry Hollingsworth


There was the question: "So what"? I like that one. The answer appears to beg the issue: "If philosophy is important..." Is philosophy important? Then, mainly what for?
Chris


Para 3 p 196

Para 3. Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p.196

Paragraphs 2-4 Plato.
2  Phaeido
3. Politea
4. Parmenides


Para 3 Plato’s Politea
Again Danie’s text is in Courier and I have attempted to diagramatise the ideas.

In the Politea Plato makes plain that every eidos owes its very existence and being to the idea of the good (idea tou agathou) which transcends all the eidè in dignity and power.



Being seated in the formative power of all the divine craftsman, the idea of the good (as original design of the eidè) escapes the possibilities of further rational definition – unlike the other virtues which are describable in terms of a synoptical intuition of their essence. Plato therefore confines himself to a comparison of the idea of the good with the sun.



                                          

Although only implicitly, Plato nevertheless for the first time in the history of philosophy discovered the fundamental structural difference between a discursive concept (focussed on the diversity of the eidè) and an idea (concentrating conceptual diversity by directing it towards the idea of the good as original divine design of the eidè). 


                                                  


The idea of the good, nevertheless, only functions as form-giving principle, and is dialectically opposed to the sensible material world of becoming.

Questions
1. How useful are the diagrams?  
(a) How could they be improved?
(b) Do they convey what you were meaning sufficiently?

2. Why does Plato compare the idea of the good with the Sun?  Does he have no concept of a transcendent being?



Dear Steve
 
Thank you for the effort with in diagrammes and other graphics.
I think it may be too early to expect participation on the improvement of these from the silent others.
For me: Please continue.
In fact it may become the foundational effort towards of a special edition on reformed thinking. It will not be the first time that later editions are enriched by illustrative materials  (Steven Hawking and Bill Bryson recently ).
 
I count myself with the current young generation that needs a story board.
Even if it is not usually associated with high philosophy - I think.
 
Regards
 
Piet

 


Dittos Piet.
 
Coincidentally I've been trying to create a diagram for the content in para 15.  At the risk of jumping the gun a little, please see the attached, as it builds roughly on what Steve nicely portrayed and I'm in need of early gut check to determine if it resonates at all.  So I definitely echo Steve's Question 1:
 
1. How useful are the diagrams?
(a) How could they be improved?
(b) Do they convey what you were meaning sufficiently?
 
Given our other recent thread, am also now interested in how objectivity and subjectivity fits into all of this, but don't wish to divert focus. 
 
Blessings,
 
Russ

Danie's response

Dear Steve
 
Thank you very much for the colorful response to paragraph 3 of the Summary of Concept and Idea. The Diagrams are indeed illuminating for they capture the relationship between a conceptual diversity (of eidè) and the idea of the good as their divine design. To my mind they sufficiently convey the intended meaning.
 
You ask why Plato compared the idea of the good with the sun and if he did not have an idea of transcendent being.
 
We may start with the last part. The Platonic approach does indeed accept transcendent being – in the sense that the eidè as ontic forms transcend the sensory world of becoming. However, since his view actually duplicates the world of the senses – every eidos (as Urbild) has its copy (Abbild) within the world of becoming – the issue of transcendence is repeated as soon as the relation between the eidè and the idea tou agathou is contemplated. Plato holds that the idea tou agathou transcends the possibility of intellectual definition – and precisely for that reason he decided to revert to the significant comparison of the good with the sun. I quote two sections from the full text of Concept and Idea (see PDF file, Chapter 1, pp.10, 12).
 
An analysis of the different properties used by Plato to designate god – amongst which are those that god is immaterial and spiritual, stand above the gods and that they are impersonal – does not imply that for Plato god can be identified with anyone of these properties. Plato does call god explicitly good (Politeia 379 b and 380 b), but this does not mean that he holds that the good is god!
…
The discontinuous, static ontic forms (eide) incapable of being united in one idea in Phaido, were therefore only in Politeia focused on the original form (original image, primordial design) of the idea tou agathou: every eidos is in truth only knowable in its concentric relatedness to the idea tou agathou. But the idea of the good as concentric Urbild is not an eidos amongst the eide, to which it after all furnish existence and being, for it surpasses all eide in dignity and power.


Although the narrator provides a closer circumscription of justice in terms of a synoptic intuition of its essence, it appears that a more precise determination of the idea of the good as concentric primordial form is not possible at all. Already in Politeia 506 d 6-10 we have met the evasive answer of Socrates, namely that he is afraid that a circumscription of the good transcends his powers and that consequently he has to be satisfied with comparing the good with the sun. According to Plato the synoptic intuition of essence (phrased in modern terms: the human ability to conceive) certainly falls short when an account is required of the idea tou agathou as original form of the divine workman. For that reason he also cannot provide a “conceptual definition” of it. W. Jaeger remarks: “Plato does not try, even in the succeeding sections of the book, to define accurately the nature of Good itself.” Subsequently he writes: “During the course of the discussion, it has become doubtful whether it is possible to apprehend the Good through any intellectual definition.”
 
Danie Strauss
(15-08-08)

Para 4 p 196-7

 Para 4. Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p.196

Paragraphs 2-4 Plato.
2  Phaeido
3. Politea
4. Parmenides


Para 4 Plato’s Parmenides
Again Danie’s text is in Courier.

The direction-giving and concentrating way in which the idea of the good functions in the Politeia simultaneously reveals the limits of our cognitive faculty – the central theme of Plato’s dialogue Parmenides.

As soon as Plato attempts to (positively) think the dialectical view of the origin through in all its consequences, theoretical thought inevitably entangles itself in the antinomical confirmation and denial of all characteristics concerning both the One and the Many; or it ends up with the total negation of all conceptual determinations concerning the One and the many.

In this way Plato accentuates the necessity of the correct use of (theoretical) limiting concepts (i.e. ideas).


Questions
1. How does the way the good functions in the Politea reveal the limits of our cognitive faculty?

2. What does Plato see as the limits of our cognitive facility?
 
3. What do you think of Kerry’s (is this the same as Vollenhoven’s?) classification of Parmenides as “Monism: (377)
   1a. Instrumentalism, Primary Impetus Theory, Partial Universalism”?


Dear Panellists

 

My regards to Danie who has the unthankful task of explaining his summary to an audience (myself included) who found his original work too taxing to read at the stage of publication. And now starts nibbling - if only at the crust of the pie.

 

Below are some questions I pose from my own still-novice-perspective and which I would like to add to those posted by Steve.

 

Regards

 

Piet

 

Par 4

 

Q4: “correct use”

a) Did Plato indeed insist on or demonstrate the “correct use” of  limiting concepts? Or is that our interpretation?

b) Can we say that  “correct” for Plato (by implication) is a practice (thinking discipline) that results in no or less antinomies and contradictions (simultaneous confirmation and negation)?

 

Q5: “Dialectical” view of Origin:

a) Does this refer to a basic unstable position where either the One or the Many may be taken as the original state of affairs?

b) Why is the word “dialectical” used and not “dualistic”? 

Suggestion: Is dialectical the dynamic and practical implication of dualistic, the last being a static starting point in a given train of thinking. To complete the circle: “dialectical” shows the alternate preferencing or domination of one of the two (dualistic) taken at the starting point. To fast forward: The static partners/ potential competitors at the starting point (dualistic) then acquire dynamics (dialectics) which are driven by every new problem situation that is encountered, it seems? When one of the two (or more) partners attempt to move to a monistic position?

c) Does the term "dialectical" allow for more than two options (although, in the case of Plato, there are apparently only two)? And allowing for more than two was possibly a starting point for the creation-diversity-systematics that also produced the Dooyeweerd legacy?

My view: Immanent thought tried to reconcile or reckon coherence by means of immanent features. Dooyeweerd did the Biblical thing by finding a coherence maintaining original outside of immanent reality. In this sense then achieving the correct use of limiting concepts = not using an immanent feature of creation (e.g. a modal aspect) as the coherence maintaining original. But this goes far beyond the lack of contradictions and antinomies. Both of these negative results are in fact immanent. I am however not always sure if the "maintenance of coherence" is  the function of either the given dimension of time, or the given reality of retrocipations and anticipations in a modal sense or the loving and merciful hand of God the Creator. Sometimes we seem to jump too quickly to the latter (God of the gaps postulate) while we could in fact also have explained it in immanent terms - assuming of course that a non-reductionist position is also possible without being a christian. Maybe coherence results from all of the three mentioned but belongs only to God in an ultimate sense.

 

Q6: You have explained many times the difference between antinomies (inappropriate application of a norm or law, e.g. in any ism) and contradictions (logical promiscuity). Yet every time I have to work my mind around it and I forever find myself trying to find fresh ways in which to understand it at gutlevel.  So please suffer my following questions:

a) Is a  contradiction just one form of antinomy? Hence: Is a contradiction internal only to the logical aspect hence a specific form of anti-normative behaviour)

b) Will all antinomies by definition result in contradictions?

c) Did Plato ever use something similiar to antinomies and did he differentiate between antinomies and contradictions?

 

Q7: Is the dialectics in a dualism related to the one partner being used in a concept manner and the other in a concept transcending manner? And if so, is this also the case in Plato?

(This line of questioning seems to me also relevant to making progress with Kant - once we get there)



Response by DS to Steve and Piet

(on Plato's Politeia and Parmenides)

Response to Steve:

1.

The good of Politeia and limits of concept formation

The question reads: “How does the way the good functions in the Politea reveal the limits of our cognitive faculty?”

Answer:

First a general remark: The history of philosophy is burdened by the identification of knowledge with conceptual knowledge. MY aim in Concept and Idea (CI) is to show that our “cognitive faculty” embraces more than conceptual knowledge, for concept transcending knowledge is still a form of knowledge. Just consider the position of Aristotle mentioned in the first sentence of the first full paragraph on page 197, where he states that concepts are always formed in terms of the universal form of things. (The first footnote on page 20 of the full text version of CI explains this in more detail – what is individual is not merely beyond conceptual knowledge but beyond the grasp of knowledge as such.)

 

For Plato concepts (and what can conceptually be defined) are bound to the (universality of the) eidè. For that reason he side-stepped the challenge to define the idea of the good – and instead embarked upon his comparison with the sun (in the allegory of the cave). Viewed in coherence with the nature of the divine workman it is clear that the eidè originate from the idea of the good having its seat in the divine demiurg. The continued influence of Anaxagoras and Socrates (nous and dynamics) is clear: as workman the divine nous is, through the primordial design of the idea tou agathou, the origin of the eidè and so the form-giver of the world of the senses.

 

2

Plato on the limits of conceptual knowledge in Politeia and Parmenides

The second question of Steve reads: What does Plato see as the limits of our cognitive faculty?

Once again note that Plato also identifies conceptual knowledge with knowledge – therefore we should not follow his (conceptually restricted) understanding of knowledge. In Politeia this issue is explained in terms of the difference between the eidè and the idea tou agathou. The inability of Plato to conceive the idea tou agathou “”through any intellectual definition” (Jaeger), or to describe it “in any rational terms” (De Vogel) – in spite of the fact that the idea of the good is the primordial form (Urbild) to which the intuitively understood eidè owe their existence and being – reveals the remarkable way in which Plato sees the diversity of eidè concentrated in the formative power (the “Ordnung aller Ordnungen” – Krämer; “ordnungstiftende Macht” – Baumgartner) of the divine idea tou agathou. In the diversity of eidè human knowledge of the supra-sensory ontic forms of things find an important limit and consequently it cannot arrive at an intuition of the essence of the idea of the good. Plato is here confronted with the structural difference between a distinguishing (intuitive) concept (in Politeia concentrated on the intuition of the eide) and a conceptual diversity concentrating idea (in Politeia focused on the idea tou agathou as divine original form of the eidè). Insofar as the eidè (particularly in Phaido) themselves acted as pseudo-original forms, we already had to establish that in it something is revealed of the difference between a real diversity and its original unity (correlated with the distinction between concept and idea). As an effect of the metaphysical duplication of the world of the senses the eidè ultimately function as a genuine diversity (multiplicity). It is only in Politeia that the eidè are concentrated on the original unity of the idea of the good of the divine workman (see CI:13).

 

In the dialogue Parmenides Plato explores the limits of concept-formation in his attempt to show that of the One (as origin without multiplicity) nothing positively could be said. the first antinomy of Parmenides understands the One in the sense of absolute origin – just as the idea of the good as primordial design of the divine craftsman is the origin of all form-giving in Politeia. The effects of the negative results of the first antinomy, that exclude all positive determinations of the One, is generated because the hypothetically posited absolute One transcends the limits of concept formation.

 

Let me illustrate this position with reference to one argument of Plato. The attempt of Parmenides to grasp the absolute One strikingly reveals the limited nature of human thought – of the One as absolute form-giving origin nothing positive could be expressed in conceptual terms.

 

Similar to the way in which the idea of the good as primordial image of the divine demiurg in Politeia, by means of the eide concentrated in it, merely serves as form-giver of the sensory world of becoming, we meet in Parmenides a dialectical opposition between the One and the Unlimited Other. Krämer declares: “The First principle is thus determined as Hen and it is in a strict correlation opposed to plethos (apeiron), the unlimited multiplicity.” When these two poles are strictly taken in their meaning as origin, Plato connects them with negative consequences regarding concept formation – as it appears from the first and fourth antinomies of Parmenides.

 

The first antinomy proceeds from the assumption that the One is absolutely one. But then it is impossible to say that it is a whole, for a whole is that which contains all its parts, implying that the One then is many (137 c 4­d 3). Likewise the One is without limits (137 d 7-8) and formless (neither round, nor straight: 137 d 8-e 1). In the further elaboration of this antinomy the narrator shows that the One is nowhere (neither in itself, nor in something else), that it does not move nor prevail in a state of rest, that it is not identical or different from itself, not similar or dissimilar to itself or anything else, and so on (138 a-142 a). Thought through consistently in this sense nothing positive can be said of the absolute One.

 

Given the ultimate dualism between the One and Multiplicity Plato's position in Parmenides is not monistic but dualistic. I did not enter into an analysis of the other categories mentioned by Kerry (intrumentalism, primary impetus theory and partial universalism). I only want to note that Vollenhoven uses the designation universalism to refer to an emphasis on what is universal (distinct from what is individual), whereas Dooyeweerd uses it in the sense of holism (the choice for a basic denominator of the meaning-diversity – as opposed to atomism).

 

Response to Piet

1.

Question 4: Did Plato indeed insist on or demonstrate the “correct use” of limiting concepts? Or is that our interpretation?

 

The structural difference between concept and idea is ontic and therefore accessible to anyone reflecting on the nature of knowledge, yet the way in which an account is given of the is ontic is in the grip of the specific ground-motive and ground-idea of a thinker, explaining why there is such a significant difference between the approaches of Plato, Kant and Dooyeweerd in this regard. From what has been mentioned above it is clear that Plato indeed did insist that it is not possible to conceptually define the idea tou agathou.

 

This leads us to the second question regarding a “simultaneous affirmation and negation”. I would prefer to distinguish between as sense of solidarity and on its basis critique. For example, one can appreciate Plato's insight that change pre-supposes something constant (a sense of solidarity) but differ from his speculative, metaphysical postulation of transcendent, static ideal ontic forms (critique). Plato discovered something important, but did not provide us with a correct account of it.

 

Question 5(a):

The opposition of the One and the Many (in the dialogue Parmenides) is not an ontical state of affairs, it is a (dialectical) directional ground-motive (keeping in mind the distinction between structured direction and direction-giving structure).

 

5(b):

Piet now addresses the issue of dualism and dialectic. The term dualism is used on two levels: (i) one can characterize a religious ground-motive as dualistic and (ii) one can employ a transcendental ground-idea that is dualistic. The term dialectic is normally employed (by Dooyeweerd) in the context of the dynamics of a religious ground-motive. Given this dynamics each of the two pole of a dialectical ground-motive opposes (threatens) the other pole in the sense of attempting to eliminate it but at the same time it pre-supposes that other. Since there is no deeper point of unification, the only alternative is to assign primacy to one to the dialectically opposed motive in a dialectical ground-motive – and Dooyeweerd analyzed the historical unfolding of such dialectical ground-motives by showing how alternatively the primacy of the one pole is succeeded by the primacy of the other. A dialectic concerns two opposing poles – bringing us to 5c.

 

5(c):

Dooyeweerd proceeds from the biblical view according to which everything has been created in Christ (within the correlation of law and what is factually subjected to law), everything consists in Christ (Col. 1:15 ff.) and the redemption in Christ is life-encompassing. The biblical ground-motive does not fall prey of a two or three pole dialectic – the opposition between sin and redemption is not structural because it concerns the religious antithesis manifesting it within all domain of life.

 

Question 6 (antinomy and contradiction):

An antinomy is inter-mdal because it attempts to reduce aspects to each other. Every antinomy implies logical contradictions, but not every contradiction presupposes an antinomy. The illogical concept of a square circle is contradictory – it confuses two spatial figures (within the spatial aspect) and is therefore intra-modal in nature. Plato did not distinguish between inter-modal antinomies and intra-modal contradictions. Antinomies violate the ontic principle of the excluded antinomy (principium exclusae antinomiae) that is foundational to the logical principle of non-contradiction.

 

Question 7: “Is the dialectics in a dualism related to the one partner being used in a concept manner and the other in a concept transcending manner? And if so, is this also the case in Plato? (This line of questioning seems to me also relevant to making progress with Kant - once we get there)”

The dynamic of dialectics, as manifested in a dialectical religious ground-motive, can only be approximated by means of concept transcending ideas – regarding both poles. In his dialogue Parmenides Plato is therefore confronted with the fact that both poles of the dialectical ground-motive of Greek thought can only be approximated in a concept transcending way. Every possible religious ground-motive solely allows for such a concept transcending account of its meaning – be it in the thought of Plato of Kant.

Para 5 p 197

Dear All,

Here is my contribution for paragraphy 5 on Aristotle and Plotinus.  It is an interpretive summary, comments please where I may have got things wrong, and additional questions if appropriate.


Para 5. Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p.197
 
Whereas Plato had been analysed with respect to his early discovery of the idea/concept distinction Aristotle is identified here in terms of a "problem-tradition" (my term).  Since there is no mention of idea in this paragraph it can be assumed that the problem that surfaces with Aristotle is at least in part due to his having lost sight of Plato's breakthrough.  The problem identified by Strauss is that of individuality which is made acute because, as a principle of matter, it is beyond the reach of concept-formation which has to do with "the general form of things".  This problem then becomes of perennial importance within the philosophical tradition.
It is the negative theology of medieval philosophy where the problem of individuality and concept-formation receives greatest attention.  Strauss though steps back, historically, and gives Plotinus as an example of how negative theology faces this problem.  He points out that if individuality is a principle of matter then that causes embarrassment for Plotinus who puts matter at the bottom of the scale of Being while putting the One at the top.  He is then forced to cancel the impression of an identification of the One with matter through a series of radical oppositions.  Strauss notes that the One is beyond concept-formation (the same as matter), however the use of emanations or hypostase by Plotinus gives us Nous, just below the One, which is within "the scope of a real concept".
 
Questions:
For Aristotle is a  concept something in reality that can be grasped or is it the thought that grasps reality? (cf. question 7 on para 1)
"individuality and matter are beyond the reach of concept-formation" why is this a problem?
Does Aristotle have no place for ideas in distinction from concepts in his philosophy?  Why?
Why focus on Plotinus and not some medieval representative of negative theology?
Is Nous (in Plotinus) to be viewed as a hypostatization of a concept?
What does it mean to say that Nous is "within the scope of a real concept"?
Would recognising both concepts and ideas have helped Aristotle and Ploninus in resolving the problem concerning individuality? How?

Rudi Hayward

 


D S Response to Rudi's questions


Rudi Hayward asked the following questions (my answers are inserted in-between): 


1. For Aristotle is a concept something in reality that can be grasped or is it the thought that grasps reality? (cf. question 7 on para 1) 


Answer: Both. For Aristotle a concept conceives what is general:
oJ de; lovgo" ejsti; tou' kaqovlou (Metaph. 1035 b 34–1036 a 1). Compare Metaph. 1036 a 8: kaqovlou lovgw. One can translate o{ro" with concept, lovgo" with expressed concept and oJrismo" with definition. Therefore one can say that for Aristotle concept grasp what is universal and they display universality (later on this distinction will be captured by the difference between universalia in re and universalia post rem. 


2. "individuality and matter are beyond the reach of concept-formation" why is this a problem? 

Answer: As such it is a positive feature – Aristotle realized that concept formation is blind towards the individual. At the same time it is something negative, for from his positive insight Aristotle jumps to the (mistaken) conclusion that it is unknowable – because he already identified knowledge with conceptual knowledge. 


3. Does Aristotle have no place for ideas in distinction from concepts in his philosophy?  Why? 

Answer: It is merely the limitations of the summary created this impression – in the full text the way in which Aristotle wretled with the distinction between concept and idea is fully accounted for – covering several pages! Aristotle by and large has a positive approach to his form-origin and a negative theological assessment of (formless) matter. In a metaphysical sense he advances autonomously – beyond the limits of true concept formation – to the intended origin of everything, the un-moved mover, that is an eternal, living and complete substance and pure activity (cf. Metaph. 1071 b – 1072 b: De Anima 415 b). Aristotle thus concentrates the form-diversity on the form-origin which he positively designates as the eternal, living, perfect (first) substance, pure activity as unmoved mover and thinking on thinking, final cause of everything, and so on. In an intrinsically antinomic way he even attempts to withdraw the unmoved mover from all spatial, as well as temporal determinations. In the thought of Aristotle the two ultimate principles of origin are positively and negatively assessed, but what they share is that they exceed the limits of concept formation. 


4. Why focus on Plotinus and not some medieval representative of negative theology? 

Answer: The choice of Plotinus finds its ground in his significant position – in-between Platonism and medieval scholasticism – something I began to understand after I read the encompassing work of K. Kremer: Die neuplatonische seinsphilosophie und ihre wirkung auf Thomas Aquin (Leiden: Brill, 1966, 508 pages). Most of the subsequent significant thinkers exploring the via negative merely produced variations on what has been developed by Plotinus.

5. Is Nous (in Plotinus) to be viewed as a hypostatization of a concept?

Answer: The reason why I relate the Nous in the thought of Plotinus to concept formation is because it continues Plato’s solution to the problem of change.
Remember that Plato postulated something persistent (enduring) to account for the possibility of knowledge and then (metaphysically) elevated his static, ontic forms to a super-sensory level. The second reason is that the NOUS embodies an essential trait of a concept, ascribed to it throughout the history of philosophy, namely that it constituted by a multiplicity brought into a unity  -and that is what Plotinus says of the NOUS, it is the hen-polla (one-in-many).

6. What does it mean to say that Nous is "within the scope of a real concept"? 

Answer: Every idea in the NOUS is (in a Platonic) sense the universal model that is copied in a multiplicity of things within the world of the senses, and therefore it is a true one-in-many. Furthermore, since the NOUS itself is characterized as the one-in-many, it must also give access to concept formation.

7. Would recognising both concepts and ideas have helped Aristotle and Ploninus in resolving the problem concerning individuality? How?

Answer: Both Aristotle and Plotinus indeed explicitly struggled with the difference between concept and idea. Regarding Aristotle, compare point 3 above. Regarding Plotinus I mentioned in my summary the pairs of opposing terms needed to differentiate between the One and Matter. The difference between the One and the Nous is that between idea and concept. Nous, as one-in-the-many, is characterized as being but the one is considered to transcend being (ejpevkeina o[nto", En. V,5,6,11). In fact Plotinus amply illustrates in his thinking that modal terms can be employed in concept transcending ways – as soon the the position of Origin of the One (without any positive characterization) is considered. Contradicting his negative theological approach he had to use creational terms in a concept transcending way in order to avoid its identification
with Matter and to assign contents to it. For that reason Plotinus had to use positive expressions, such as referring to the One as the first beautiful
(to; prw'ton kalovn, En. I,6,9,40 and 43), as the Absolute Beautiful (oujtokalon) and Absolute Good (aujtoagaqovn) (En. I,8,13,10). The terms Beauty and Good are here employed in a concept transcending way, both referring to the intended absolute original Unity. When Plotinus employs the Good in the sense of the absolute Unity and when beauty is not used in this sense, then it the Good may be seen as the source (phghv) and origin (ajrchv) also of the (non-original) beauty (touë kalouë En. I,6,9,42). Occasionally Plotinus explicitly characterizes the One as being elevated above the good (uJperkavlon, En. VI,9,6,41; cf. VI,7,33,19 ff.). The term good is therefore employed both in a conceptual and a concept transcending sense. Compare also the way in which Plotinus speaks of the second copied good (to; ajgaqoueide", En. V,3,16,18-19), derived from the absolute Good. Similar to the way in which he speaks of a Beauty above beauty (kavllo" uJper kavllo", En. VI,7,32,29) he also knows a Good above the good.
   Every negative theological approach is doomed to fall back on a last rest of positive statements (affirmations) in order to ensure that the “unnameable” origin has a distinct content.
 
 
DFMS

Transitio comment

Dear Danie and Seminar:
 
Let me as "convenor" add just a few comments.
 
1. Thanks: Thanks a lot for this Danie. It's good to have such extensive resources and also to hear from you as to the aim with which you approach these matters. It may have been as an "aside" but it was very helpful to me, and coheres well with the material as a resource for ongoing reflection on our work. Thanks to Steve for his stimulating set of questions (and diagrams) and to Piet for his unwillingness to remain silent even when he is chewing tough fodder. We look forward to our next contribution - 3. Para 5 p. 197 (Aristotle) - from Rudi Hayward. I will volunteer for 4. Paras 6-7 p. 197 (Augustine, Thomas, Cusanus).
 
2. Promoting Continuity of Philosophical Reception: Members! Please keep in mind that moving on to the next paragraph does not mean that the discussion, evaluation and critique of paras 1-4 is finished with - it is a good start but this is NOT a matter of "been there done that!"
 
If some are a little bemused by the lack of traffic from the rest of the list commenting on, or adding to, the questions, or commenting on and interrogating Danie with respect to his extensive and comprehensive answers, we should keep in mind that this material takes time to master and we are also building a resource by which Danie's work can be evaluated not only by ourselves now but also by ourselves when we have mastered the accumulated material, and also by any others we hope to encourage into the "meta-seminar" of reformational philosophy itself. And that is a work that has to be ongoing.
 
3. Future Resource Developments: In this regard I invite members to think about appropriate ways to have this seminar and its detailed answers/ resources successively available in an ongoing way for later generations. A blogging site? Rudi and Steve and Kerry would be obvious people to advise on / make initiative for this kind of "aethereal" venture. Maybe a "Moodle Community".
 
4. Comment: Why Plato and Aristotle et al? Why bother? The material is not easy and as Seminar Convenor let me assure any member who finds the going tough that I share solidarity with them in this. One interpreter of Greek philosophy captures the difficulties I have had trying to understand this as "we're either floating in thin air or trying to walk through molasses" (Prof R Nirenberg http://www.albany.edu/~rn774/fall96/philos.html#hera 
 
Le me try to draw attention to the reason why the examination of the philosophy of the ancient Greeks has to be a part of our philosophical horizon. What are we doing here? Let me offer a summary or overview of how I understand where we are at this point in the seminar...
 
Danie's Thesis Summary indicates his judgement that Plato's peculiar problem with articulating concept and idea went through (at least) three phases as represented by the way the texts of Phaedo, Politeia and Parmenides allow us to identify this distinction (or the crucial moment in the argument where the distinction is blurred or misformed) within these dialogues.
 
If you are like me, wrestling with the text before us at this point - which is part of what Kerry pointed out is a highly condensed Summary of Danie's doctoral thesis (translation is becoming available; please ask if you would like a pdf copy) which is also a commentary on some of the major commentaries on Plato and it doesn't take too long before the effort to understand what is written raises the "Why am I bothering with this?" question.
 
And at that point Danie's clarification of his own aim (ie why he bothered) in para 1 (Response to Steve's Question 1 on the limits of concept formation) is helpful: "The history of philosophy is burdened by the identification of knowledge with conceptual knowledge." So, this not only assists us in understanding Danie's aim (or (counter-) burden) for writing the book, if not in his vocation as a philosopher, but also contextualises his method for dealing with Plato in this way. It is thus to trace the fine grain of the "burdensome" tradition by which knowledge has been identified with the results of the logical functioning of our thought. The first part of the thesis therefore seems to be an attempt to historically chart some high points from the history of philosophy where this burdening is operative in order that it might help us appreciate our own philosophical task to conceptualise in a way which is not so burdened by the identification of knowledge with conceptual knowledge. Danie and others: any comments on my summary of the summary at this point?
 
Apart from the sceptical blurring that all too quickly follows in the train of the "Why bother?" question, do we not begin to see how a post-modern - if not pre-post-modern - motif arises (in our thinking also) to challenge any Christian attempt to explore the kind of issue Danie is reviewing here? Reading, for instance, Chapter 1 in Dooyeweerd's Roots, it becomes evident how the content and doctrines of the Christian religion have, time after time, been re-cast in scholarship that accommodates the form-matter religious ground motive. If we are to develop a Christian scholarship that is thoroughly permeated by the biblical ground motive then it will pay us to deepen our self-critical appreciation for how this debilitating "burdening" of philosophy finds its roots also in the fine grain of Ancient Greek philosophy. 
 
Tolle lege.
 
Bruce
 

Paras 6-7

4. Paras 6-7 Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p. 197

Orientation:

The author's intention here is to summarise (in English) a critical attempt to identify some key "peaks" in the topography of western thought by investigating how the distinction between concept and idea has been variously, consecutively, cumulatively, similarly and/or alternatively understood since its emergence in the philosophy of Ancient Greece. Thus far he has covered Plato (428/7- 348/7 BC), Aristotle (384-322BC) and the later neo-Platonic thought of Plotinus (205-270 AD).

Clearly, it is worthwhile for contributors to consult the translation of Danie's thesis (or the original Dutch) when they make a contribution on paragraphs from the English-language "Summary".

Plato is given exegetical treatment from pp. 1-18 in the (translated version of the) thesis; Aristotle pp. 19-23; Plotinus pp. 24-30.

Paras 6-7:

We now come to the author's summary of Chapter 4 (pp. 37-47) where he has considered Dionysius Pseudo-Areopagita (6th century? pp.37-38), Augustine (354-430 AD pp.38-40), Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274 AD pp.40-45) and Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464 AD pp. 45-47).

Introductory:

In Danie's answer to Rudi's question (No. 7) he states "Both Aristotle and Plotinus ... struggled with the difference between concept and idea." The subtlety in Strauss's compact expository summary here makes more sense when I referred (retreated?) to Chapter 4 "Converging views of some medieval philosophers". The chapter begins:

Although the nature of concept and idea continued to play an important role in medieval thought one does not find systematic reflection on it ... (p. 36).

So I ask:

  • Question 1: Can we say that this "lack of systematic reflection" on the nature of concept and idea is related to the ongoing influence of neo-Platonism (via Plotinus) upon Christian thinking? If so, how is the impact manifest? Why was systematic reflection on the distinction eclipsed during the medieval period? What happens, in general terms when concepts are formulated in terms of Platonic ideas? (or: are these the questions that the exposition is seeking to answer?)

For the rest I have formulated some questions which occur to me on reading this and for which I may simply require a better grasp of this phase of the history of philosophy.

Para 6: First and Second Sentence:

The first sentence of the paragraph summarises what we have come to know as the medieval synthesis (accommodation), in which the attempt is repeatedly made to interpret biblical teaching in Greek philosophical terms. As the arguments of Christian thinkers who were committed to a neo-Platonic view, their thinking bespeaks a "compulsion" (logically speaking) to "go behind" creation to what must have been in God's Intellect as ideas before the act of creation.

  • Question 2: Is the second sentence - "Even before creation every creature is present in God's Intellect as idea" - is this an example of a concept that lacks such systematic reflection, lacks insight into its own conceptual character?

Para 6: Third Sentence: As I read the sentence beginning "In this way the idea of God's original unity ...", along with the relevant chapter, I find myself asking whether this is meant to refer to ideas in my own (the thinker's) mind or to the ideas that are said to be inherent in God's mind. Thus the next question:

  • Question 3: What question does the neo-Platonic view of ideas inherent in God's Intellect seek to address?

Para 6: Fourth and Fifth Sentences:

  • Question 4: So what is this Christian-Neo-Platonic view of "God's original unity" suggesting about God's relation to creation?
  • Question 5: What ideas lead the way for negative theology to play such an important role in Medieval thought? Is negative theology invoked as a kind of limit on the pagan (deprecating) consequences of a modified pagan way of philosophizing?
  • Question 6: Augustine for example interpreted Exodus 3:14 in neo-Platonic terms. Would it be any less unbiblical to say "God did create matter without form"? or "God did not create matter with form"? or "God did create matter with form"? In other words: does the word "matter" matter? ie does it matter that we could use the word as a synonym for "earth" as in the biblical record (Gen 1:2)?

Para 7:

  • Question 7: Could we say that Cusanus is representative of a "further secularising" of Augustine's negative theology?


BCW 15/9/2008





DS Response 6

 

Paragraphs 6-7 – Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p. 197

 

Dear Bruce, thanks for pointing to the provisional English translation of the full text!

 

Bruce: Paras 6-7:

We now come to the author's summary of Chapter 4 (pp. 37-47) where he has considered Dionysius Pseudo-Areopagita (6th century, pp.37-38), Augustine (354-430 AD pp.38-40), Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274 AD pp.40-45) and Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464 AD pp. 45-47).

 

Introductory:

 

In Danie's answer to Rudi's question (No. 7) he states "Both Aristotle and Plotinus ... struggled with the difference between concept and idea." The subtlety in Strauss's compact expository summary here makes more sense when I referred (retreated?) to Chapter 4 "Converging views of some medieval philosophers". The chapter begins:

 

Although the nature of concept and idea continued to play an important role in medieval thought one does not find systematic reflection on it ... (p. 36).

So Bruce asks:

Ÿ         Question 1: Can we say that this "lack of systematic reflection" on the nature of concept and idea is related to the ongoing influence of neo-Platonism (via Plotinus) upon Christian thinking? If so, how is the impact manifest? Why was systematic reflection on the distinction eclipsed during the medieval period? What happens, in general terms when concepts are formulated in terms of Platonic ideas? (or: are these the questions that the exposition is seeking to answer?)

 

Danie responds:

From my analysis of the thought of Plotinus, it is clear that in spite of his negative theological approach, aiming at a negation of all positive affirmations, he not only had to use terms derived from the diversity in creation but also had to stretch them beyond their normal domain of employment – for example when he spoke of “beauty above beauty” and a “good aboye good.” Without realizing it, he explicitly employed (modal) terms stretched beyond their limits – in other words, he used those terms in a concept transcending way. My analysis of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas highlights this fact: both thinkers constantly used concepts and ideas without realizing it and oftentimes confused them without realizing it. To my mind this confusion is caused by the “ongoing influence of neo-Platonism (via Plotinus) upon Christian thinking” (to use Bruce's words).

 

It seems as if the medieval thinkers were focused to such an extent on the ontological and metaphysical issues that they never effectively succeeded in stepping back and ask the implied epistemological questions.

 

Bruce continues:
For the rest I have formulated some questions which occur to me on reading this and for which I may simply require a better grasp of this phase of the history of philosophy.

 

Para 6: First and Second Sentence:

The first sentence of the paragraph summarizes what we have come to know as the medieval synthesis (accommodation), in which the attempt is repeatedly made to interpret biblical teaching in Greek philosophical terms. As the arguments of Christian thinkers who were committed to a neo-Platonic view, their thinking bespeaks a "compulsion" (logically speaking) to "go behind" creation to what must have been in God's Intellect as ideas before the act of creation.

 

Danie responds:

Yes, Bruce, this is indeed the case – by attempting to reach up to the Divine Intellect these thinkers tried to attain a conceptual grip of God – instead of realizing that God transcends all concept formation.

 

Bruce – Question 2:

Is the second sentence – "Even before creation every creature is present in God's Intellect as idea" - is this an example of a concept that lacks such systematic reflection, lacks insight into its own conceptual character?

 

Danie responds:

Yes, it is. Remember that Plato duplicated the diversity within creation within his realm of static ontic forms (eidè – ideas) – to be distinguished from the idea tou agathou. A systematic reflection on the nature and difference between concept and idea would have caused reservations regarding postulating “ideas (eidè) in Mente Divina.” These thinkers indeed did not have an insight into the fact that they “pulled” God down in order to manipulate the divine mind in terms of the one-many, i.e., in terms of a (duplicated, creational) conceptual diversity. Thomas eventually completed the theo-ontological circle: the perfections within the creature are first projected into the “essence” of God, and then, in a neo-Platonic sense, these perfections within the divine mind are than “copied back” into creation!

 

Bruce on Para 6: Third Sentence:

As I read the sentence beginning "In this way the idea of God's original unity ...", along with the relevant chapter, I find myself asking whether this is meant to refer to ideas in my own (the thinker's) mind or to the ideas that are said to be inherent in God's mind. Thus the next question:

Ÿ         Question 3: What question does the neo-Platonic view of ideas inherent in God's Intellect seek to address?

 

Danie responds:

My assessment of Plato was that he stumbled upon (the diversity within) God's law but then, metaphysically, elevated the law to become supra-sensory models (Urbilder) that are copied within the world of becoming (genesis). Neo-Platonism intensifies this legacy by transposing these ontic forms into God's Mind. By not understanding the distinction between God and God's law and what is subjected to God's law properly, these thinkers, in accepting universal ante rem, transposed God's law into the “essence” of God.

 

Bruce on Para 6: Fourth and Fifth Sentences:

Question 4: So what is this Christian-Neo-Platonic view of "God's original unity" suggesting about God's relation to creation?

 

Danie responds:

Neo-Platonism is still largely in the grip of the Greek form-matter motive (Plotinus: hen-matter). The original “one” is still form-giving whereas the matter is form-receiving. In the synthesis philosophy of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas the view on God's relation to creation is corrupted by the above mentioned theo-ontology through which the diversity within creation is projected into God's Mind.

 

Ÿ         Question 5: What ideas lead the way for negative theology to play such an important role in Medieval thought? Is negative theology invoked as a kind of limit on the pagan (deprecating) consequences of a modified pagan way of philosophizing?

 

Danie responds:

Negative theology in all its positive (!) forms is nothing but an escape route that did not succeed in coming to terms with the inevitability to use creational terms in a concept transcending way in order to refer to God. One can therefore say that in itself negative theology embodies a pagan way of thinking, explaining why it directly contradicts the positive biblical mode of speech where, without any hesitation, God is positively designated (as love, almighty, omnipresent, just, and so on).

 

Ÿ         Question 6: Augustine for example interpreted Exodus 3:14 in neo-Platonic terms. Would it be any less unbiblical to say "God did create matter without form"? or "God did not create matter with form"? or "God did create matter with form"? In other words: does the word "matter" matter? ie does it matter that we could use the word as a synonym for "earth" as in the biblical record (Gen 1:2)?

 

Danie responds:

In Greek thought there were ultimately two principles of origin, frequently designated by the term Aristotle introduced to capture this legacy: matter and form. In the Chapter on Aristotle I gave some significant quotations and statements from the extensive work published by Heins Happ in this regard. The mere fact that both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas did not speak in terms of creation when it came of (unformed) matter, shows that the Greek dualism is still functioning within synthesis philosophy. For that reason matter indeed matters! It is the equivalent of the “nothing” that is imperfect and lacking – and according to Augustine the changeful world originates through the interplay of these two principles of origin. For that reason “matter” or “nothingness” cannot simply be equated with the creation-idea found in the Book of Genesis.

 

Para 7:

    Question 7: Could we say that Cusanus is representative of a "further secularising" of Augustine's negative theology?

 

Danie responds:

In the true sense of the word Cusanus is a transitional figure. On the one hand he continues the Platonic and neo-Platonic view of “arche-typical model” and its “copies” and on the other he elevates the number-idea to become the model for his idea of God – thus anticipating the complete secularization of the idea of God – i.e. the reification of mathematical thought in modern Humanism. His view of God as the coincidence of opposites (coincidentia oppositorum) transcends a purely negative theology while upholding the Platonic view on “copying.” The influence of negative theology (including Augustine's view) is certainly still present in his thought although it is just the correlate of an affirmative theology. Yet, theologically speaking, negative theology enjoys a priority in the thought of Cusanus.

 

 

22-09-2008

Para 8 p 197-8

Par 8 p 197-8 CH 5 (p49-61): Summary and Questions by Piet Cronje

Danie sketches the background to Kant by introducing the following lines:

a) the march of the modern rationalistic scientific ideal. This movement wanted to control all of nature by means of rational tools, chief amongst them mathematics and physical science.

b) some pre-Kantian philosophers (Descartes and Locke) , while supporting this march of the rising rationalistic science, nonetheless attempted to salvage areas of human performance from being subjected to the rigorous methods of the new science.

c) The philosopher Hume, however, no longer even tried to salvage an area of freedom for the human personality, but dissolved all diversity into feelings (as impressions).

In response, Kant then sets out deliberately to limit the application of this science in a quest to salvage the freedom and autonomy of the human personality. On the one hand Kant accepted the contributions made by Hume. However, he also wanted to improve the rules for operating in a domain designed for protecting the autonomy of the free human personality - as were attempted by Descartes and Locke but also (not mentioned by Danie, here) by the newly inspired contribution of Rousseau.

Danie then takes us through the very intimidating maze of Kantian distinctions. It is very difficult to do justice to the mature Kant in this short space and I have started my own idiot��s guide to Kant on the second page of this communication. I also now remember why I could not finish this publication 30 years ago! I think some white space, tables and sketches may relieve suffering!

Eventually it appears to me that Danie makes the following main conclusive claims (p 60-61) which was not elaborated in as much detail on p 197-8:

1. Kant��s distinction between thing-in-itself and appearance is intrinsically contradictory

2. This contradictory distinction creates a dialectic that prevents Kant from arriving at a workable and convincing description of how his transcendental idea (concept of pure? reason) integrates and concentrates the concepts of understanding (based on appearances).

3. Plato was more successful in finding a successful concentration (i.e. regulative operation) of empirically based concepts than was Kant. Plato gave the idea of the good an ideal reality while Kant does not give his ideas that status.


Questions:

Q1: What would you single out as a very telling piece of evidence of intrinsic contradiction in Kant��s distinction between the thing-in-itself and appearance? The fact of the distinction cannot in itself constitute a contradiction (this can be read as the implication of p 198). After all, we know well that it takes time to align our presentations (on the basis of impressions as appearances) to a point of validity �C recall our introduction as adults to computers in the 1980��s.

Q2: Can you provide an instance of how Kant��s idea structure failed to achieve successful integration and concentration (regulative operation)? (p62) �C Even as he was successful in saving space for faith (p.198)

Q3: Why do you say that Kant does not give his transcendental ideas an ideal reality? After all, if he recognizes them as operational, does that not imply them as real?

Q4: One wonders if the mechanistic and linear thinking of mainstream science in the day of Kant possibly oversimplified his distinctions, e.g. gapless, choice-less and dull mechanistic necessities in the natural sphere of appearances). Will you take a guess at how he would have responded to our era of multiple situations, universes and matrices of possibilities that actually questions our ability to observe correctly and completely (postmodernism)?

Q5: Does a dualism/dialectic/contradiction develop when one part in a field is arbitrarily given blessings (formative and invigorating structuring) from a super-sensory sphere and another is denied it? (Refer: Q4).

 

 

Some exhibits of my struggle to get to an understanding of Kant/Dooyeweerd/Strauss. Not intended for response.

Comment: It is fairly easy to see how a judgment can be analytical either on the basis of a priori knowledge or on the basis of a posteriori knowledge. Kant poses the problem of how a priori synthetic judgment is possible. According to Kant all theoretical sciences contain synthetical judgments apriori. He reveals that space and time are both pure forms of sensory intuition and in this capacity makes possible synthetic judgments apriori. Q1. I still cannot figure out why synthetical judgments apriori for Kant are made possible by space and time as intuitions.

Comment: Are there two kinds of intuition in Kant: Sensory intuition and another one? The reason I ask is that at one stage intuition seems to use the form of appearances to postulate the unknowable but thinkable existence of the Thing-in Itself. At another stage it appears that intuition is solely related to objects (insofar as they are viewed as appearances). Q2:Is intuition for Kant the unifying operating root of knowing below the two areas he use?(natural science and metaphysics) (apriori and a posteriori knowledge) Or is it the judgement at the end of the concept  eveloping process?




Response 7 by Danie 
Answers to the questions raised by Piet Cronje
 

Question 1: The distinction between thing-in-itself and appearance.

    DFMS: This distinction is an expression of the ground motive dialectic between nature and freedom. It is dialectical because it is at once mutually excluding and pre-supposing each other. For Kant freedom (negatively) excludes natural necessity to be free means to be free from natural necessity. From a Christian perspective we know that human freedom presupposes the substrate in nature (the first three bodily structures), but that it ought to be evaluated in a positive way obedience to God-given principles.

    Question 2: Can you provide an instance of how Kant's idea structure failed to achieve successful integration and concentration (regulative operation)? (p62) � Even as he was successful in saving space for faith (p.198).

    DFMS: The two 'law-givers' are mutually exclusive � within the domain of sensory appearances human understanding serves as (a priori formal) law-giver while the autonomous personality (as an aim-in-itself) serves as moral law-giver (through the categorical imperative).

    Question 3: Why do you say that Kant does not give his transcendental ideas an ideal reality? After all, if he recognizes them as operational, does that not imply them as real?

    DFMS: I don't think I say this! Kant in fact rejected a �nature thing-in-itself� � in order to make room for (example) the human soul as a thing-in-itself. While the latter is for Kant unknowable, there must be a thought-form in which we can think it as being unknowable � and that is the Kantian idea.

    Question 4: One wonders if the mechanistic and linear thinking of mainstream science in the day of Kant possibly oversimplified his distinctions, e.g. gapless, choice-less and dull mechanistic necessities in the natural sphere of appearances). Will you take a guess at how he would have responded to our era of multiple situations, universes and matrices of possibilities that actually questions our ability to observe correctly and completely (postmodernism)?

    DFMS: A proper understanding of the link between Kant and postmodernism runs through an analysis of the role of modern nominalism � something not dealt with in Concept and Idea because my new understanding of the complex nature of nominalism only emerged in 1980. Perhaps we should leave a discussion of nominalism aside for the moment and perhaps discuss it in connection with the section dedicated to it in Philosophy: Discipline of the Disciplines? � once this work has appeared.

    Question 5: Does a dualism/dialectic/contradiction develop when one part in a field is arbitrarily given blessings (formative and invigorating structuring) from a super-sensory sphere and another is denied it? (Refer: Q4).

    DFMS: When an aspect of reality is reified (absolutized) a number of mishaps appear: (i) it is antinomous (keeping in mind that an antinomy is inter-modal in nature); (ii) such an antinomy entails logical contradictions (i.e. in addition to violating the principle of the excluded antinomy it disobeys the logical principle of non-contradiction; (iii) consistently thought through it often terminates in a dualistic position (like the intention revealed in Descartes�s dualistic account of a res extensa and a res cogitans). A dualistic ground motive by definition informs a dualistic view of reality, as a rule expressing itself in a series of antinomies and contradictions. 

Brief remark about the synthetic a priori  
in the thought of Kant

Everyone entering into a study of Kant�s thought has to take cognizance of the fact that he aimed at justifying the employment of synthetical judgments a priori (within mathematics, physics and metaphysics). At the time of writing Concept and Idea I did not understand what was actually at stake in this task taken on by Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason (CPR). My own emphasis on the criterion of critical solidarity continued to haunt me, because I was unable to tell what the state of affairs was that Kant discovered in his search for the synthetic a priori. It was much later, somewhere during the nineties, that I realized that the synthetic a priori is the way in which Kant accounted for what I prefer to designate as the modal universality of every modal aspect, i.e. the fact that an aspect co-conditions every possible entity functioning within it. Modal laws hold universally, for all possible classes of entities, whereas type laws only hold for a limited class of entities, namely those belonging to that type. But explaining this story takes us too far � I explained it in an article: Kant and modern physics. The synthetic a priori and the distinction between modal function and entity, in: South African Journal of Philosophy, Vol.19, Nr.1, 2000:26-40. 

One last remark. For Kant the intuition is enclosed within sensibility while understanding (with its categories) is enclosed within logicality. He struggled to bridge the gap between sensibility and understanding with an appeal to the Einbildungskraft (fantasy).





Piet DFMS: Piet Follow-up
Q1: What would you single out as a very telling piece of evidence of intrinsic contradiction in Kant’s distinction between the thing-in-itself and appearance? The fact of the distinction cannot in itself constitute a contradiction (this can be read as the implication of p 198). After all, we know well that it takes time to align our presentations (on the basis of impressions as appearances) to a point of validity – recall our introduction as adults to computers in the 1980’s. This distinction is an expression of the ground motive dialectic between nature and freedom. It is dialectical because it is at once mutually excluding and pre-supposing each other. For Kant freedom (negatively) excludes natural necessity – to be free means to be free from natural necessity. From a Christian perspective we know that human freedom presupposes the substrate in nature (the first three bodily structures), but that it ought to be evaluated in a positive way – obedience to God-given principles. My question is actually about two things:

a)A micro-instance from Kantian text on which the mega-conclusion that you give as an answer is built.

b)Is here from the realtime way in which we grow our understanding (through perceptions, experience, education and reflection) not some justification for the vagueness Kant attributes to the ding-an-sich?

Q2: Can you provide an instance of how Kant’s idea structure failed to achieve successful integration and concentration (regulative operation)? (p62) – Even as he was successful in saving space for faith (p.198) The two “law-givers” are mutually exclusive – within the domain of sensory appearances human understanding serves as (a priori formal) law-giver while the autonomous personality (as an aim-in-itself) serves as moral law-giver (through the categorical imperative). Sorry. I don’t understand. Two law-givers? Perception / faith and logical operations?
Response 7B (Further Questions by Piet)

Piet added the following remarks:

My question is actually about two things:
a)A micro-instance from Kantian text on which the mega-conclusion that you give as an answer is built.

b)Is here from the real-time way in which we grow our understanding (through perceptions, experience, education and reflection) not some justification for the vagueness Kant attributes to the ding-an-sich?

Sorry. I don’t understand. Two law-givers? Perception / faith and logical operations?

Kant simply used a distinction well-known to our everyday experience, namely between what something is and how it can appear to us in different ways (just walk around a table or a tree and you will notice many different ways in which the table or tree can appear to us. However, given the whole philosophical legacy from Greek thought onwards, this seemingly innocent distinction acquired a heavy metaphysical burden. In Greek thinking the substance concept “explored” this distinction speculatively (remember that Aristotle postulated his proten ousian as something purely individual and that he then had to introduce a secondary substance (the universal substantial form of things) in order to safe-guard the possibility of conceptual knowledge. During the medieval period this Greek substance concept (with its distinction between essensce and apperance) served philosophical theology in its distinction between God in Himself and God as revealed to us (in His “appearance”). This distinction is still alive, for example in the thought of Bavinck who explains that the theologia archetypa concerns the knowledge with which God knows himself and that the theologia ectypa is the knowledge of God as accommodated and ‘anthropomorphisized’ to be suitable for the finite human consciousness (Bavinck, H. 1918. Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, I. 6, 4, p.144).

Within modern (Humanistic) philosophy the distinction between essence and appearance gave expression to the motive of nature and freedom – explaining why Kant restricted the science-ideal to appearances and the identified the freedom of the soul with freedom (the personality ideal).

Against this additional back-ground remark all Piet's further question could be answered by providing quotations from Kant's first and third critique:

“Now let us suppose that the distinction, which our Critique has shown to be necessary, between things as objects of experience and those same things as things in themselves, had not been made. In that case all things in general, as far as they are efficient causes, would be determined by the principle of causality, and consequently by the mechanism of nature. I could not, therefore, without palpable contradiction, say of one and the same being, for instance the human soul, that its will is free and yet is subjected to natural necessity, that is, is not free. For I have taken the soul in both propositions in one and the same sense, namely as a thing in general, that is, as a thing in itself; and save by means of a preceding critique, could not have done otherwise. But if our Critique is not in error in teaching that the object is to be taken in a twofold sense, namely as appearance and as thing in itself; if the deduction of the concepts of understanding is valid, and the principle of causality therefore applies only to things taken in the former sense, namely, in so far as they are objects of experience – these same objects, taken in the other sense, not being subject to the principle – then there is no contradiction in supposing that one and the same will is, in the appearance, that is, in its visible acts, necessarily subject to the laws of nature, and so far not free, while yet, as belonging to a thing in itself, it is not subject to that law, and is therefore free” (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, B, xxvii-xxviii).


“The common but fallacious presupposition of the absolute reality of appearances here manifests its injurious influence, to the confounding of reason. For if appearances are things in themselves, freedom cannot be upheld” (the italics are mine – DFMS; Kritik der reinen Vernunft, B:564).


In his Kritik der Urteilskraft Kant explicitly defends an a priori law-giver for nature and one for freedom:

“Understanding is the a priori law-giver of nature as sensory object, towards a theoretical knowledge of nature in a possible experience. Reason is the a priori law-giver for freedom and its own causality, as the supra-sensory in the subject, geared towards an unconditioned practical knowledge. The domain of the nature concept, under the one, and that of the freedom concept, under the other legislation, is totally separated from all mutual effect which each in itself (each according to its own basic laws), could have had upon each other, by the large abyss dividing the super-sensory from appearances. The freedom concept does not determine anything in respect of theoretical knowledge of nature; the nature concept likewise also nothing regarding the practical laws of freedom: and insofar it is not possible to construct a bridge from the one domain to the other” (Kritik der Urteilskraft, 1790-A, 1793-B, 1799-C; B:LIII).


[“Der Verstand ist a priori gezetsgebend für die Natur als Objekt der Seinne, zu einem theoretischen Erkenntnis derselben in einer möglichen Erfahrung. Die Vernunft ist a priori gesetzgebend für die Freiheit und ihre eigene Kausalität, als das Übersinnlichen in dem Subjekte, zu einem unbedingt-praktischen Erkenntnis. Das Gebiet des Naturbegriffs, unter der einen, und das des Freiheitsbegriffs, unter der anderen Gesetzgebung, sind gegen allen wechselseitigen Einfluß, den die für sich (ein jedes nach seinen Grundgesetzen) auf einander haben könnten, durch die große Kluft, welche das Übersinnliche von den Erscheinungen trennt, gänzlich abgesondert. Der Freiheitsbegriff bestimmt nichts in Ansehung des theoretischen Erkenntnis der Natur; der Naturbegriff eben sowohl nichts in Ansehung der praktischen Gesetze der Freiheit: und es ist in sofern nicht möglich, eine Brücke von einer Gebiete zu dem andern hinüberzuschlagen” (B:LIII-LIV).]

Danie Strauss (October 25, 2008)

6. Paras 9-10 Summary Begrip en Idee 1973 p. 198


Orientation:

Our attempt to follow the author's mountaineering over key "peaks" in the topography of western thought - investigating how concept and idea have been variously and cumulatively understood has taken us to Plato (428/7- 348/7 BC), Aristotle (384-322BC), the later neo-Platonic thought of Plotinus (205-270 AD), Dionysius Pseudo-Areopagita (6th century?), Augustine (354-430 AD), Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274 AD), Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464 AD), and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Now we come to Maimon (1753-1800), Husserl (1859-1938 pp. 63-69) and Wittgenstein (1889-1951 pp. 71-85).  

Introductory:

We note that there are three chapters on Kant that conclude the "historical part" of the work.

Chapter 5 Kant and the Distinction Between Concept and Idea; the current Chapter 6 Maimon: altering and expanding the Kantian idea and the transcendental idealism of Husserl and Chapter 7 Kant and the Tractatus of Wittgenstein 

  • Question 1. Can you briefly explain the heavy weight you give to Kant in Begrip en Idee and identify some key differences between the three chapters as they have a bearing upon your emerging argument?
 

Maimon:

Salomon Maimon (1753-1800), a Lithuanian "wandering" Jewish philosopher , migrated to Germany and became involved in the Berlin circles of the Jewish enlightenment movement, and formed an association with Moses Mendelssohn. His contribution has kept interest alive in his philosophical "hero" Maimonides (1135-1204) the celebrated Jewish philosopher and he is linked via Fichte with the Marburg neo-Kantianism of Hermann Cohen (1842-1918).  

According to Thielke and Melamed http://www.seop.leeds.ac.uk/entries/Maimon/ "Maimon argued that God's image in humanity is the intellect and that to the extent that we activate and develop our intellectual capacities we become closer and more similar to God... the result is a genuine form of radical - and pantheistic - idealism. ... our minds are limited reflections of the divine or infinite mind; our active powers are conscious, he claims, in mathematics, where we display a 'god-like' ability to create content according to rule of thought." 

So his attempt to critically extend Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is subversive. 

Chapter 6 Maimon: altering and expanding the Kantian idea and the transcendental idealism of Husserl begins: 

Maimon agrees with Kant that space and time are forms of sensibility but adds that these particular forms of sensibility are founded in the general forms of understanding. This addition explains why Maimon even believes that space and time are both concepts and intuitions in such a way that the latter presuppose the former (p. 18). The sharp division drawn by Kant between (the spontaneity of) thought and the (receptivity of) sensibility is clearly undermined by this view of Maimon. The creative power of (sovereign) thought acquires prominence, but through it the Kantian attempt to secure a supra-sensory sphere of autonomous freedom was threatened. 

  • Question 2: Can we say that whereas Kant wanted his critique to provides a basis for recognising rationalism ("Under the influence of Hume's criticism of causation, Kant discovered that the rationalistic method accomplished too much: it not only proved theses which transcended possible experience; with equal cogency it proved their antitheses, too" L W Beck), we see in Maimon an (attempted) extension of Kant's "doctrine of ideas" via a rationalistic route?
 

Para 9: First Sentence:

"Maimon undermined Kant's restriction of the understanding to sensibility and basically, again ascribed primacy to the mathematical science ideal".

  • Question 3: From what I've read, it's hard to gauge whether Maimon saw himself as a philosopher correcting Kant, as a philosopher extending Kant, or as a philosopher who thought that his own reflections could bring Kantian philosophy back to the right path of the mathematical ideal. So has Maimon's importance been found in his identification of tensions and problems that were taken up in later decades by other philosophers? Do we know what Maimon thought about Kant's "Copernican Revolution"? Would perhaps Kant's Copernican Revolution in the direction of "strengthening a predisposition to rationalism" (LWBeck's terms) make his restriction less undermined by Maimon's version of rationalism?
 

Para 9: Second Sentence:

"He extended Kant's doctrine of ideas by distinguishing between ideas of the understanding and ideas of reason and he gave them a new function in physics and mathematics."

  • Question 4: Can you give us, by way of contrast between them, examples of how Kant's "older" views in physics and mathematics were extended with a new function by Maimon?
 

Para 9: Third Sentence:

"To overcome antinomies he uses the notion of an absolute mind undelimited by any sensibility  precisely the notion that Kant (in terms of the primacy of the personality-ideal) considered to be the root-cause of all antinomies."

  • Question 5: So, could Maimon retain Kant's three cognitive faculties of the mind (sensibility, understanding and reason) when, with the mind absolutely undelimited, the phenomena of space and time which for Kant comprise nature and are no longer indefinitely extendable? If so, how?
 

Husserl: (1859-1938)

"Ideas in their real referential meaning cannot find room in Husserl's transcendental 'idealism'"

Para 10:

  • Question 6: So, does this mean you are suggesting that with Husserl's later development ideas are effectively 'reduced' to mere theoretical concepts?
 
 

BCW 30/10/2008

Hegel

From Rudi Hayward 31 Oct 2008

I hope it is not inappropriate to add two question at this point.
 
1.  Is it not misleading to criticise the term "idealism" when applied to Husserl without giving an alternative account of what the term "idealism" should refer to, and further without suggesting a more appropriate word to capture what is usually meant by the term?
2.  Why is Hegel, and most of 19th century philosophy, absent form the historical narrative?
 
I realize the second question could be easily answered with an appeal to lack of space, one can not cover everybody, but Hegel is also largely missing from Dooyeweerd's analysis of humanistic philosophy in the NC I.  What is it about Hegel's philosophy that makes it a less worthy object of philosophical reflection?
 
Thanks.
Rudi

From Richard Betts: 1 Nov 2008

Rudi, you ask why is Hegel neglected?
 
Isn't it because he plays his own tune to such an extent? In trying to become 'the Aristotle of the modern world', he stepped out of the mainstream to become a new mainstream. He is like a 'cult' within philosophy. People either love him and agree with his self-assessment as the universal genius, or ignore him as a blind alley. It is rare to see a balanced view of Hegel. His influence has been distorted by his own inflated hubris and is still hard to pin down.
 
Second, it depends where you look in the philosophical world. Hegel pretence to universal competence was clearly mistaken, in the sense that he did affect psychology (e.g Freud), aesthetics (loads of thinkers) and political philosophy (not just Marx) quite profoundly, but his contribution to the natural sciences, mainstream logic and mainstream epistemology was in places quite risible, and it fizzled out quite quickly when his dominance of European departments came to an end. He expects you to think in Hegelian terms and it is not easy to translate into other systematics. He is the William Blake of philosophy: difficult, but very rewarding when you pay sufficient attention and approach him on his own terms.
 
Dooyeweerd was influenced by the reaction against Hegelian philosophy on the continent, in favour of Kant (which I take to be the main historical definition of Neo-Kantianism). He was also connected with anti-revolutionary politics through Kuyper's influence, where Hegel was related in many minds with Marxism and revolution (the Right Hegelians seem to have moved to the English-speaking world by then - through Bosanqet and Green I believe).
 
Finally, isn't it also a national matter? Kant has until recently been little understood in the English-speaking world of philosophy, and his influence restricted to the first 2 Critiques. I woudl say that Hegel was rejected wholesale in the early twentieth century, with much anti propaganda from Bertrand Russell (e.g. his history) which has affected several generations. What fascinates me is how much Russell, Ayer and the Logical Positivists actually owed to Hegel and how close were many of their positions to idealism. Thje revival of realism in the English-speaking world since the War has finally left Hegel as a total irrelevance. He is getting revived now, though, and has been doing so in certain areas for a few decades.
 
These were just my thoughts on your question. It has often intrigued me also!

DS Response 7C

Response 7C

General remark

It is important to realize that in Concept and Idea I am not writing a history of philosophy! Furthermore, the history of philosophy features both in the historical and in the systematic part. For that reason one does find references to the 19th century in the systematic part (pp.164-174). By the way, Dooyeweerd does discuss Hegel in various works in diverse contexts. In addition to 30 references to Hegel found in the historical part of the Encyclopedia of the Science of law , one also finds a section of three pages in R&S-I (pp.25-28 – Collected Works Edition). Hegel surfaces 9 times in the Intro of the Encyclopedia of the Science of law; 7 times in Crisis; 5 times in R&S-II; 29 times in his Inaugural of 1926; 15 times in Roots; etc. etc.

Idealism

Although the term “idealism” was first used only in the 18th century its scope was supposed to cover most of the history of philosophy. The status of the human mind or spirit – vis-à-vis the human body of matter – occupied a key position in this legacy (for example in the thought of Leibniz). Idealism is meant to designate the view that reality is to the human mind, understanbding or consciousness. Within the German tradition idea often meant general concepts whereas the English and French practice was to use this term for representations. Kant, in his so-called critical idealism, twisted this view through his peculiar distinction between appearance and thing-in-itself (the form of our epxerience is apriori, its matter aposteriori). Post-Kantian idealism made both consciousness immanent. Husserl pursued the motive of logical creation underlying Kant's elevation of human understanding to be the formal (apriori) law-giver of nature, but he did not follow Kant's critical idealism up to the freedom of the human soul as a thing-in-itself. Because it was his study of Kant's critical idealism that inspired Husserl to switch from his initial realistic position (Logische Untersuchungen – Wahrheiten an sich; truths in themselves: LU-I:229) to his transcendental phenomenology, his rejection of a domain with things-in-themselves meant that in terms of the Kantian legacy he no longer maitained Grenzbegriffen (concept transcending ideas) – and for that reason I stated that within his transcendental idealism the real referential meaning of ideas is absent (the systematic issue behind this problem is discussed in Part 2 of Concept and Idea).

In addition to all of this – from a systematic (Christian philosophical) point of view – one may perhaps classify the traditional opposition of “materialism” and “idealism” as follows: materialism encloses reality within the physical aspect of reality whereas idealism selects some or other (post-physical or post-biotical) human subject-function as basic denominator for reality. Physical entities are subjects in terms of their (qualifying) physical subject function; yet in relation to human being physical such (“material”) entities are possible objects – dependent on subjective human acts of objectification. Against the background of these distinctions one may therefore also define materialism and idealism respectively as “objectivism” and “subjectivism.”

Danie Strauss
(November 1, 2008)

DS Response 8

DS – Response 8 

Question 1. Can you briefly explain the heavy weight you give to Kant in Begrip en Idee and identify some key differences between the three chapters as they have a bearing upon your emerging argument? 

The answer is twofold: (i) Kant was the first philosopher that systematically reflected on the distinction between concept and idea per se. (ii) His philosophy is exceptionally powerfull in its influence. I mention just one fact: the three main subdivisions of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason provided the spring-board for the three mutually clashing schools of thought within 20th century mathematics (namely intuitionism – trancendental aestehic; logicism – transcendental logic; axiomatic formalism – transcendental dialectic). 

Question 2: Can we say that whereas Kant wanted his critique to provide a basis for recognizing rationalism ("Under the influence of Hume's criticism of causation, Kant discovered that the rationalistic method accomplished too much: it not only proved theses which transcended possible experience; with equal cogency it proved their antitheses, too" L W Beck), we see in Maimon an (attempted) extension of Kant's "doctrine of ideas" via a rationalistic route? 

Yes, Maimon indeed explored the meaning of this distinction in a rationalistic manner – but unfortunately caused a lapse back into the primacy of the science-ideal. 

Question 3: From what I've read, it's hard to gauge whether Maimon saw himself as a philosopher correcting Kant, as a philosopher extending Kant, or as a philosopher who thought that his own reflections could bring Kantian philosophy back to the right path of the mathematical ideal. So has Maimon's importance been found in his identification of tensions and problems that were taken up in later decades by other philosophers? Do we know what Maimon thought about Kant's "Copernican Revolution"? Would perhaps Kant's Copernican Revolution in the direction of "strengthening a predisposition to rationalism" (LWBeck's terms) make his restriction less undermined by Maimon's version of rationalism? 

By reverting to the primacy of the science-ideal Maimon expanded and inverted Kant's thought at the same time. This twist is seen in Maimon's understanding of the complete row of all natural numbers where he concludes that this row is not an object that could be given in our intuition, for it is a mere idea through which the successive progression into infinity is viewed as an object. However, according to him, reason here contradicts itself “insofar as it views something as an object that according to its conditions can never be seen as an object.” He explains the solution to this antinomy as follows: an infinite number (because our perception is bound to the form of time), cannot be represented other than as an infinite succession in time (which consequently is not capable of being completed). In the case of an absolute understanding, by contrast, the concept of an infinite number is thought of at once, without any passage of time. “For that reason that which understanding, according to its limitation, views as a mere idea, according to its absolute existence is viewed as a real object.” The absolute understanding which is not bound to any sensibility is introduced by Maimon in order to solve the antinomies, whereas Kant maintained that it is precisely when understanding is separated from all ties with sensibility that the first and final step is given in the unaccountable extension of understanding beyond its limits, which irrevocably leads to antinomies. What Maimon considers to be (from the primacy of the science ideal) the solution of the antinomies of reason, is according to Kant (from the primacy of the personality ideal) indeed the source of all antinomies! 

Question 4: Can you give us, by way of contrast between them, examples of how Kant's "older" views in physics and mathematics were extended with a new function by Maimon? 

The ability ascribed by Maimon to an absolute understanding provides a speculative justification of the acceptance of the actual infinite – which eventually became the most important building block of Cantorean and post-Cantorean mathematics. Maimon did not anticipate similar developments within physics as such. 

Question 5: So, could Maimon retain Kant's three cognitive faculties of the mind (sensibility, understanding and reason) when, with the mind absolutely undelimited, the phenomena of space and time which for Kant comprise nature and are no longer indefinitely extendable? If so, how? 

As mentioned above Maimon indeed altered Kant's understanding of understanding and reason in such a way that it enabled him once more to give priority to the science ideal – and his introduction of an absolute mind (capable of observing an infinite succession at once) demonstrates this fact. 

Question 6: So, does this mean you are suggesting that with Husserl's later development ideas are effectively 'reduced' to mere theoretical concepts? 

Yes, Husserl merely paid lip service to the word idealism because he fully undermined the primacy in Kant's thought of the supra-sensory domain of the personality ideal – Husserl opted for the primacy of an intuitionist, transcendental, phenomenological science ideal. 

DFMS 
(24-11-2008)