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Dooyeweerd's Suite of Modal Aspects

This page is the entry point to Dooyeweerd's suite of fifteen aspects, with a link to a page for each of aspect as follows. An introductory explanation of what aspects are (Dooyeweerd's theory of aspects) may be found half way down this page, with links to take you further.

Each aspect is a constellation of meaning, rich and diverse, centred a on a kernel or nucleus, and for each of which we offer a page:

The structure of each aspect page is explained in ax.html, and each heading in each page has a small letter x , which will take you directly to the relevant explanation of that heading. Aspects are also called modalities or spheres. The kernels of the aspects are displayed as a table in kernels.html. How to identify aspects.

Some examples of aspects in various human situations:

Fifteen - rather difficult to remember? Several breaks can be identified in the sequence, shown above, (based on Dooyeweerd's notion of inter-aspect dependency):

On the Validity of Dooyeweerd's Suite

Dooyeweerd reflected on what the aspects of our experience may be, and delineated fifteen. To what extent is Dooyeweerd's suite of aspects 'correct'?

On the one hand, Dooyeweerd made clear that his suite should not be seen as any 'given truth'. On the other, among the various suites of aspects proposed by others (e.g. Maslow's famous hierarchy) Dooyeweerd's is probably the best suite available at present and there are reasons why we might trust it. We are compiling a tabular comparison with other suites of aspects.

However, Dooyeweerd wanted the suite to be under continual development. Several in the Dooyeweerdian community have suggested modifying Dooyeweerd's suite, usually adding new aspects. We discuss how to judge candidate aspects. There is a page discussing whether there are any other aspects and a page of Tips for identifying aspects and for differentiating neighbouring aspects.

Dooyeweerd's Theory of Modal Aspects

Dooyeweerd's theory of aspects is perhaps his most visible and famous contribution. In the realm of philosophy it deserves to be so because it accounts for diversity without dualism and coherence without monism or reduction. It also provides the basis for much else of Dooyeweerd's thought, such as his theory of entities, theory of knowing, delineations of scientific areas, and his account for everyday living. His aspects are also extremely useful.

In the theoretical realm, each aspect delineates a distinct scientific arena. In the practical realm, they theory offers us a framework by which to understand and tackle interdisciplinarity and thorny issues such as environmental sustainability or information systems success. In our everyday experience, the aspects recommend themselves to our intuition, and become a natural way of thinking.

An aspect is a sphere of meaning, and all the aspects together constitute a framework, which Dooyeweerd called the law side of created reality. This is a framework that enables the cosmos to Exist and Occur. The aspects are what explain the diversity and coherence of everyday experience, and indeed the whole of human life.

Many thinkers speak of aspects to indicate distinct categories that should be considered separately (as for example in "IS evaluation must therefore take into account both the technical and social aspects" [Hirschheim and Smithson, 1999:402]). But Dooyeweerd went much further: aspects are much more than mere categories. Starting from his transcendental critique of philosophy as a whole, Dooyeweerd argued that aspects have a number of characteristics and roles that make them philosophically interesting. According to Henderson [1994:37-38], Dooyeweerd recounted shortly before his death in 1977 how the shape given to his idea of aspects occurred to him:

"It does sound strange" he says, "but it is really true that the direction in which I worked out my philosophy and my encyclopedia of jurisprudence has no predecessors. I can still reconstruct how I got its basic idea. .. 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."

Here below is a list of characteristics and philosophical roles of aspects, which are described briefly in the central page, asp.html. A discussion of what constitutes aspectuality - the aspectual concept, the whole set of aspects taken together - can also be found in the aspectuality page.

Characteristics of Aspects

Philosophical Roles of the Aspects

An Original, Brief Introduction

Click here for original aspects.html page, which, up to 3 March 2003, gave a brief introduction of what aspects are.

This 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.

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: revamped and rearranged as new file.