Religion, Life, & Society: Reformational Philosophy

Course Schedule, Fall 2014


Compositional notes: The course resembles a three-voice fugue, preceded by an improvisatory, context-setting prelude on “modernity.” The fugue itself begins with questions about how reformational philosophy positions itself in Western thought. This “Exposition” gets “developed” in a section on postmetaphysical ontology, and it gets recapitulated, but in a new key, in a section on “philosophy after foundationalism.” As in a fugue, the texts for each week include a “subject” (sounding the main theme), a “counter-subject” (sounding with or against the main theme), and an “answer” (restating the main theme in ways that change it). The “subject” texts come mostly from Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven, and some by Vollenhoven come from the Vollenhoven Reader (“VR” below) edited by John Kok. Most of the “counter-subject” texts come from After Philosophy (“AP” below). The “answer” texts are by contemporary reformational thinkers who have succeeded Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven.


Topic and Week




                                                                      Prelude: Modernity and Its Discontents

1. Pluralism

September 17

Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Cul- ture (1945-48), pp. ix-15, 28-61, 219-24; 52 pp. [1979: vii-xii, 1-15, 28-60]

Nancy Fraser, “From Redistribution to Recognition?” (1997), 29 pp.

Griffioen, “Is a Pluralist Ethos Possible?” (1994), 15 pp.

2. Progress

September 24

Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Culture (1945-48), pp. 63-88, 225-33 (Glossary); 34 pp. [1979: 61-87]

“General Introduction” & Jean-François Lyotard, “The Postmodern Condition” (1982), AP 1-18, 67-94; 46 pp.

Sweetman, “Of Tall Tales and Small Stories: Postmodern ‘Fragmatics’ and the Christian Historian” (1996), 19 pp.

3. Power, Faith, and Culture

October 1

Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Culture (1945-48), pp. 89-110;

21 pp. [1979: 88-110]

Julia Kristeva, “Stabat Mater” (1977), 27 pp.

Zuidervaart, “Good Cities, or Cities of the Good?” (2005), 15 pp.

                                                                               Exposition: Modes of Critique

4. (Anti-)Thetical Critique

October 8

Vollenhoven, “Calvinism and the Reformation of Philosophy” (1933), VR 21-53; 33 pp.

Alasdair MacIntyre, “Relativism, Power, and Philosophy” (1984), 381-411; 31 pp.

Zuidervaart, “Earth’s Lament: Suffering, Hope, and Wisdom” (2003), 15 pp.

5. Transcendental Critique

October 15

Dooyeweerd, “Christian Philosophy: An Exploration” (1956), 37 pp.

Karl-Otto Apel, “The Problem of Philosophical Foundations in Light of a Transcendental Pragmatics of Language” (1975/76), AP 245-90; 46 pp.

Zuidervaart, “The Great Turning Point: Religion and Rationality in Dooyeweerd’s Transcendental Critique” (2004), 25 pp.

6. Transformational Critique

October 29

Klapwijk, “Antithesis, Synthesis, and the Idea of Transformational Philosophy” (1986), 15 pp.; Klapwijk, “Reformational Philosophy on the Boundary between the Past and the Future” (1987), 34 pp.

Hans-Georg Gadamer, “Hermeneutics as Practical Philosophy” (1976), AP 319-38;

20 pp.

Sweetman, “Epilogue: Antiquity and the Future of Reformational Tears” (2007), 23 pp.

Development: Philosophy after Metaphysics

7. God and Cosmos

November 5

Hart, Understanding Our World (1984), pp. 318-49, 360-70; 40 pp.

Jacques Derrida, “The Ends of Man” (1972), AP 119-58; 40 pp.

Zuidervaart, “Existence, Nomic Conditions, and God” (1985),

19 pp.

8. Law and Subject

November 12

Vollenhoven, “Norm and Law of Nature” (1951), VR 103-111; Vollenhoven, “The Unity of Life” (1955), VR 146-56; Vollenhoven, Introduction to Philosophy (1941/1945), pp. 1-20; 28 pp. total

Richard Rorty, “Pragmatism and Philosophy” (1982), AP 21-66;

46 pp.

Hart, “Creation Order in Our Philosophical Tradition” (1995),

30 pp.

Vollenhoven, Introduction to Philosophy, pp. iii-xxxii (optional)

9. Societal Structures

November 19

Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Culture (1945-48), pp. 189-217 (29 pp.) [1979: 189-218]; Vollenhoven, “Sphere Sovereignty for Kuyper and for Us” (1950), VR 89-94 (6 pp.)

Jürgen Habermas, “Philosophy as Stand-In and Interpreter” (1983), AP 291-315; 26 pp.

Chaplin, “Dooyeweerd’s Notion of Societal Structural Principles” (1995), 21 pp.

                                                   Recapitulation: Philosophy after Foundationalism

10. Structures and Direction

November 26

Vollenhoven, Introduction to Philosophy (1941/1945), pp. 21-62; 42 pp.

Hilary Putnam, “Why Reason Can’t Be Naturalized” (1982), AP 217-44; 28 pp.

Seerveld, “Dooyeweerd’s Legacy for Aesthetics: Modal Law Theory” (1985), 39 pp.

11. Creation, Fall, Redemption, Shalom

December 3

Vollenhoven, Introduction to Philosophy (1941/1945), pp. 62-106; 44 pp.

Paul Ricoeur, “On Interpretation” (1983), AP 357-84; 24 pp.

Olthuis, “Be(com)ing: Humankind as Gift and Call” (1993), 20 pp.

Wesselius, “Points of Convergence between Dooyeweerdian and Feminist Views of the Philosophic Self” (1997), 15 pp.

12. Wisdom, Theory, Practice

December 10

Vollenhoven, Introduction to Philosophy (1941/1945), pp. 107-43; Vollenhoven, “Faith: Its Nature, Structure, and Significance for Science” (1950), VR 72-77; Vollenhoven, “Scripture Use and Philosophy” (1953),VR 122-30; 50 pp. total

Charles Taylor, “Overcoming Epistemology” (1987), 459-88; 30 pp.

Hart, “Conceptual Understanding and Knowing Other-wise” (1997), 35 pp.



Note: The course schedule is set up for a 13-week semester, and it includes one week (September 10) for introductions to the course and to one another. There is no session on October 22 (Reading Week).