Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reformational Philosophy

The Dutch Reformed tradition in philosophy -- often called "Reformational Philosophy" (not to be confused with the "Reformed Epistemology" of Alvin Plantinga, et al., which is an independent development in the Dutch Reformed tradition of Anglo-American analytic philosophy -- has produced a wealth of societies and journals and theorists stemming from Calvinistic tradition of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck and the seminal philosophical work of Herman Dooyeweerd (pictured left) and D.H.Th. Vollenhoven (pictured right) at the Free University of Amsterdam in the last century. Philosophical societies include the Stichting voor Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte (Society for Reformational Philosophy) and the professional journal, Philosophia Reformata. Other related sites include that of The Dooyeweerd Center for Christian Philosophy (Redeemer College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada), Studies relating to Hermann Dooyeweerd (J. Glenn Friesen, Calgary, Alberta, Canada), Herman Dooyeweerd (Steve Bishop, Bristol, UK), The Dooyeweerd Pages (Andrew Basden, Salford, UK), Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) (Philip Blosser, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC), and numerous other links. Of recent interest is the launching of a new electronic periodical, Aspects of Reformational Philosophy, Vol. 1 (2007), No. 1. Philosophers from a Catholic background may be interested in the work on Dooyeweerd by the Jesuit, Fr. J. Marlet, Grundlinien der Kalvinistischen "Philosophie der Gesetzesidee" als Christlicher Transzendentalphilosophie (Munchen: Karl Zink, 1954), which has interesting chapters comparing Dooyeweerd with St. Thomas Aquinas.

A number of sites promote the published work of the premiere Dutch Reformed philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd. Among these one finds, for example, Steve Bishop's New Critique site, self-described as "A Guide to Dooyeweerd's New Critique of Theoretical Thought." This site offers introductory summaries not only of Herman Dooyeweerd's major philosophical work, the four-volume New Critique of Theoretical Thought (2nd ed., 1997)Bishop's "Guide" also offers an introduction to and study guide for Dooyeweerd's In the Twilight of Western Thought, a series of lectures Dooyeweerd gave at Princeton in the 1960s. A survey of Amazon links to the works of Dooyeweerd reveals that English-language translators of his works (originally in Dutch) have been busy over the last decades:Although there is not much in English by D.H.Th. Vollenhoven, Dooyeweerd's brother-in-law, one can find the following:Any intellectual wading more than ankle-deep into the work of these Reformational Philosophers soon realizes that he would be a fool to ignore the wealth of theoretical insights yielded by them over the last century. Dooyeweerd is probably among the two or three greatest Christian philosophers of the twentieth century from any tradition, period. I say this as a Catholic with more than a passing acquaintance with the work of Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, Gabriel Marcel, John Courtney Murray, Bernard Longergan, and Alasdair MacIntyre, not to mention Karol Wojtyla. This is a philosophical tradition, in my opinion, with which every serious thinker ought to be acquainted and conversant.

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