"Created reality displays a great variety
of aspects or modes of being in the temporal order.
These aspects break up the spiritual and religious
root unity of creation into a wealth of colours,
just as light refracts into the hues of the rainbow
when it passes through a prism."

Herman Dooyeweerd
(1894-1977)

Although Herman Dooyeweerd was not generally known outside of his native Netherlands during his lifetime, he was in fact one of the most original philosophers of the twentieth century. Dooyeweerd further developed Abraham Kuyper's seminal insights, particularly his notion of sphere sovereignty, with a higher degree of theoretical consistency and sophistication.

With respect to his general philosophical framework, Dooyeweerd has made at least two unique contributions. First, he has developed a systematic philosophy rooted in the conviction that all theoretical thought has pre-theoretical and nonfalsifiable religious underpinnings. In other words, there is no such thing as religiously neutral theory.

Second, Dooyeweerd's philosophy eschews all reductionisms. Although this principled antireductionism is by no means peculiar to Dooyeweerd, his own contribution consists in (1) his placing this insight within the larger understanding that God's creation is not a haphazard product of chance, but an orderly cosmos subject to laws and norms given by his grace; and (2) his effort to spell out those aspects of reality that are themselves irreducible but, if placed in an apostate religious context, nevertheless lend a certain plausibility to the reductionist project. This effort led to the development of Dooyeweerd's famous modal scale.

Dooyeweerd brings into his specifically political theory these fundamental insights into the nature of theoretical thought. If reductionism is a danger in unbelieving philosophy in general, it is a continuing threat to our ability to make sense of the political realm as well. Indeed the most influential political theorists in the modern West have in some fashion attempted to reduce politics to something else, often economics. In this respect Dooyeweerd is part of a larger effort to recover the distinctly political, as seen in the works of Sheldon S. Wolin, Hannah Arendt, Bernard Crick and Leo Strauss. Moreover, in contrast to the tradition of political realism, the singular virtue of Dooyeweerd's political theory is that it sees power and justice, not as dialectical polarities, but as indispensable and complementary elements in understanding the unique nature of the state and of governing authority within the state. To find out more, read David T. Koyzis, Introductory Essay to Herman Dooyeweerd's Political Thought (y en español: "Introduccion a la Teoria Politica de Herman Dooyeweerd"), forthcoming in a volume of Dooyeweerd's selected political writings to be published under the auspices of the Dooyeweerd Centre.

The following essay (in PDF format) represents an experimental attempt on Koyzis' part to rework Dooyeweerd's modal theory: Dooyeweerd Revised: A Proposed Modification of the Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd with Special Attention to the Modal Scale and Structures of Individuality. This essay is not to be taken as Koyzis' final word on the matter and may not be quoted as such.

Dooyeweerd is author of In the Twilight of Western Thought (1960), The Roots of Western Culture (1979), A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (1953), and The Christian Idea of the State (1967). He taught at the Free University of Amsterdam between 1926 and 1965.

Dooyeweerd links:

Dooyeweerd Centre

Andrew Basden's Dooyeweerd pages

Glenn Friesen's Dooyeweerd pages





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