This page, which is being extended all the time, discusses:
Physical things function as subject in the physical and earlier aspects, plants function as subject in the biotic and earlier aspects, animals function as subject in the sensitive and earlier aspects (though it might be that some higher animals function as subject in the analytical aspect). But human beings can function as subject in all aspects. Some laws are determinative and cannot be broken and yet the functioning subject responds to them; others are normative and may be broken, or at least there can be latitude in the functioning subject's response to them.
Functioning must not be misunderstood as only active behaviour.
Dooyeweerd allows for subject-subject relationships, in which two or more things function as subject together in an aspect. It may be that all interaction in any aspect is subject-subject (e.g. physical equal-and-opposite-force, or lingual conversation). Because subjectness is defined by aspect and not by entity, Dooyeweerd's view also allows for subject-subject interaction not just of humans but also of other things. This probably links to Margaret Gilbert's Plural Subject Theory, but without its constraint that wills must be pooled, nor to humans.
So much for the natural types of entities, but what about what Karl Popper might have called World 3 entities - things that are conceptual, abstract, non-physical in their essense? From a Dooyeweerdian perspective there seem to be two types: constructed and abstracted.
First, manufactured or constructed entities, such as a house, a symphony, an utterance, a law of the land, a creed? Here we focus on their functioning as objects rather than subjects. As subjects they only function usually in physical ways - e.g. the house, of itself, as 'mover', merely exerts physical pressure on the ground, the symphony, of itself, as 'mover', is only a piece of paper or a CD and as such merely exerts physical forces, and so on. But of course their real meaning is more than this; it lies in their object-functioning, not their subject functioning. The house object-functions socially, the symphony object-functions aesthetically, etc. (Notice how, in this way, we understand what a thing is, not in terms of a fundamental or 'ideal' entity type, but in terms of its meaning.)
Now, what about abstracted entities? Such as a thought, a concept, or perhaps even my thumb (though I'm not sure whether that is correctly in this group of entities). That is, things that are part of what happens around us, but are distinguished by us observers from all else around, and given a name. What about their functioning? This is tied up with certain types of enkapsis, and we will not discuss this here.
The observations about the functioning of constructed entities lead us to a very important perspective on human activity.
The implication of Dooyeweerd's stance is that:
That is everyday functioning, and it is multi-aspectual in nature. Dooyeweerd maintained that everyday functioning is not to be seen as a deficient form, inferior to theory-informed functioning, because in everyday functioning the full meaning of all aspects is more likely to be manifest, whereas in theory-informed functioning, some aspects are elevated and others suppressed. This means that philosophy should listen sensitively to everyday life, and be informed by it (though not accept it uncritically). Philosophers like Thomas Reid, Pierre Bourdieu and Michel de Certeau have recognised something of this. But Dooyeweerd understands it more deeply.
Everyday functioning more successful the more we integrate all the aspects in what we are doing and go with rather than against their laws.
I started a separate page to discuss multi-aspectual functioning. See also pages on Dooyeweerd's approach to everyday experience, everyday thinking, and discussion of abstraction.
Starts with entities
Starts with aspectual laws
|and tries to account for activity and change by means of 'behaviour' that is seen as a property of these entities. Consider, for instance, the popular fashion in information systems for 'object-orientation'.||and accounts for activity and change by means of response to given laws.|
|These behaviours or actions are secondary to the entities.||This functioning is primary and gives the entity its meaning, and the laws enable it.|
|Ultimately, what behaviours or actions an entity might effect is arbitrary, in the sense of not being limited or defined.||Functioning of an entity is guided by the aspects.|
This page, "http://dooy.info/functioning.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: ?. Last modified: 25 January 1999 corrected the subtitle of Clouser's book, added reference to Argyris. 17 February 1999 Added introductory section and on difference. 9 October 1999 Added sections on entities and centrality of human functioning; reordered sections. 7 February 2001 copyright, email. 27 April 2001 moved section on three types of thinking to thinking.html, new ending. 2 August 2002 link to maf.html. 3 March 2003 .nav. 14 November 2003 labels: everyday, lifeworld; more on their dignity. 14 August 2004 contact. 26 January 2005 headings for multi-aspectual, tacit, everyday lifeworld. 22 April 2005 link to everyday. 10 May 2005 more links to other everyday stuff. 3 September 2015 corrected '../'; rid counter; new .nav. 9 June 2016 subject.subject, Gilbert plural subject. 15 February 2018 replaced lifeworld with Reid, Bourdieu and de Certeau; link to everyday.html; new .end, .nav. 25 September 2021 canonical. 8 August 2022 three kinds of functioning, new .end, .nav, bgcolor, canon.