The Dutch philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd reflected on the diversity and coherence of everyday experience like no other philosopher has done, and came up with around fifteen distinct aspects. Just as, in architecture, the east, south and north aspects of a building are distinct ways of seeing a building, and none can be derived from the others, so Dooyeweerd's aspects are distinct ways of 'seeing' reality that cannot be derived from one another.
He asked "In what ways is it possible to be meaningful? In what distinct ways is it possible to 'see' things - understand and interact with things?" The fifteen aspects he came up with are as follows [Note 1]:
|discrete amount||Quantitative||This 1 page is about 15 aspects, and has a certain number of words.|
|continuous space||Spatial||This page is laid out in rectangular areas.|
|movement||Kinematic||The page invites your gaze to move across it.|
|energy + mass, forces||Physical||This page emits light.|
|life functions + organisms||Biotic /
|Certain of your nerve cells are activated by this page.|
|sense, feeling, emotion||Sensitive /
|This page can be seen.|
|distinction, conceptualization||Analytical||You can distinguish things on this page, and think about them.|
|achievement, construction, history, technology||Formative||You construct an impression of this page.|
|meaning carried by symbols||Lingual||You understand (or not!) some of what this page tells you.|
|'we': relationships, roles, convention||Social||You have role as reader. |
This page is not conventional.
|frugal management of resources||Economic||Trying to get all that is needed into this page.|
|harmony, play, enjoyment||Aesthetic||Is this page interesting? Does it 'work' as a whole?|
|due: responsibilities+rights||Juridical||Does this page do justice to the topic, and to you as reader?|
|self-giving love, generosity||Ethical /
|Does this page go beyond doing justice?|
|vision, aspiration, commitment, belief||Pistic /
|I believe in what I am writing on this page, and believe it's important.|
Fifteen - rather difficult to remember? The alternative table below might make it easier.
Each aspect is a "modality of meaning" "a meaning-aspect" [[NC, I:29; II:141], a way in which things can be meaningful. Each is a constellation of meaning, rich and diverse, centred a on a meaning-kernel or nucleus. For each of which we offer a page. Aspects are also called modalities or spheres. To see the constellations in pictorial form, along with a summary of each aspect, see systematic descriptions of the aspects together.
When you click each aspect above you get its individual page, which discusses details of:
Each heading in each page has a small letter x , which will take you directly to an explanation of that section.
"I enjoyed going for walks in the dunes in the evening. During one of these walks in the dunes I received an insight (ingeving) that the diverse modes of experience, which were dependent upon the various aspects of reality, had a modal character and that there had to be a structure of the modal aspects in which their coherence is reflected. The discovery of what I called 'the modal aspects of our experience horizon' was the point of connection."
cited in Henderson [1994:37-38]
"In fact the system of the law-spheres designed by us can never lay claim to material completion. A more penetrating examination may at any time bring new modal aspects of reality to the light not yet perceived before. And the discovery of new law-spheres will always require a revision and further development of our modal analyses. Theoretical thought has never finished its task. Any one who thinks he has devised a philosophical system that can be adopted unchanged by all later generations, shows his absolute lack of insight into the dependence of all theoretical thought on historical development."
New Critique, II,p.556]
Just as aspects of a building are not merely subjective views, but are given by the building itself, so Dooyeweerd's aspects are no mere subjective attributions of meaningfulness, but are given by the very nature of our complex reality itself.
|Why Are Aspects Important?|
One, several many; |
more and less
Here, there, between, around, |
inside and outside
|Kinematic||Flowing & going||Change|
|Physical||Forces, energy and matter||Irreversible persistence and causality|
|Biotic / Organic||Living as organisms in an environment||Sustained being and functioning that is not wholly controlled by the environment|
|Sensitive / Psychic||Feeling and responding||Interactive engagement with world|
|Aspects of Human Individual|
|Analytical||Conceptualising, clarifying, categorising and cogitating||
Independence from the world; |
Conceptual and theoretical thinking
|Formative||Deliberate creative shaping of things||Achievement, innovation|
|Lingual||Expressing, recording and interpreting||
Intelligible externalisation of our intended meaning; |
Referring beyond to whole web of meaning
We, us and them; |
relating, agreeing and appointing
|Economic||Managing limited resources frugally||Sustainable prosperity|
|Aesthetic||Harmonising,, enjoying, playing, beautifying||Delight that seems non-necessary|
|Aspects of Structures of Society|
appropriateness, debt and reward, structures of policy and legality
|Due for all|
|Ethical||Attitude; self-giving love||Extra goodness, beyond the imperative of due|
|Pistic / Faith||
Vision, commitment, certainty and belief |
aspiring, trusting, worshipping
Courage, hope and openness to the Divine; |
change in the attitude and direction of society
The above table is taken from the IJMAP paper A presentation of Herman Dooyeweerd's aspects of temporal reality. See the paper for expanded discussion of each aspect, or else see the webpage for each aspect.
This page, "http://dooy.info/aspects.html", is part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Questions or comments are very welcome.
Compiled by Andrew Basden. You may use this material subject to conditions.
Written on the Amiga with Protext, in the style of classic HTML.
Created: 1997. Last updated: 6 23 October 1997, 7 May 1998 (major update the structure of the aspect pages, from comments received at 1998 CTS Swehol Working Conference), 18 May 1998. 26 July 1998. 13 August 1998. 30 August 1998 all the aspect pages were re-structured and tidied. 5 February 1999 kernels. 27 June 1999 added pointer to aspectual analysis of marriage. 5 March 2000. 30 July 2000. 4 October 2000. 7 February 2001 mailto, copyright. 17 July 2001 link to knowledge.html. 18 October 2001 social. 16 January 2002 updated the aspect dates. 15 July 2002 some links updated. 2 August 2002 links to maf.html and some additions to text; new dates on aspects. 14 September 2002 5 aspects updated. 20 November 2002 link to various using/. 12 January 2003 link to anticipation.html and summary.
3 March 2003 page revamped: it now has a list of things about aspects that link to asp.html. 10 June 2003 differentiated characteristics from roles of aspects, added a few, and tidied and rearranged other stuff; removed dates from aspect links cos difficult to keep up to date. 26 September 2003 link to tips. 14 January 2004 Human and social aspects. 3 December 2004 links to examples of aspects. 10 May 2005 revamped page with better links. 23 November 2005 unet, new .nav. 3 February 2006 link compare.asp; rid counter. 19 March 2008 asp.neighbours, anticipation; correction to examples. 14 October 2008 better wording to link to asp.neighbour. 16 June 2009 better examples; nonaspl; redid Intro to be 'faster'; breaks in aspects; redid aspectual kernels. 10 May 2010 aspects.aspects.html.
22 September 2010 nearly finished revamping and rearrangement of page to remove long paragraphs and split it up a bit. The previous version is available.. Brought in 'easier' understanding table. 24 September 2010 typos. 13 April 2013 link to ijmap paper; more in list of 'using'. 8 March 2017 NC,II,556 note; new .end, .nav, cells centred. 28 February 2018 lingual: intelligible. 30 October 2018 aspects.smy. 17 November 2020 "modality of meaning", "meaning-aspect". 4 May 2022 aspects not just subjective; new intro re building. 8 August 2022 correcting centredness; new .end,.nav, bgcolor,canon.