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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


STRAUSS, Danie. Reflecting on state and society. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2017, vol.57, n.2-2, pp.668-679. ISSN 2224-7912.

In classical antiquity and during the medieval era political life was organized in kingdoms or empires in which the ruler (monarch or emperor) was not yet appreciated as occupying a public-legal office. But throughout the history of reflection on state and society two theoretical orientations dominated the scene, namely atomism (individualism) and holism (universalism). These approaches hampered a proper understanding of the relationship between state and society. In his contribution to the discussion of state and society published by the Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe, Goosen (2016a) explains that we cannot return to the Greek polis (city state) but that it can remind us of the limits of the state. The ultimate motivation of Greek philosophy, given in the dialectical basic motive of matter and form, is briefly explained with reference to the way in which the polis intended the cultural formation of a person in all areas of life. What is foreign to Greek culture is the acknowledgment of the sphere-sovereignty of diverse societal entities. It was only much later that the Calvinist legal scholar, Johannes Althusius, though inconsistently, realized that societal institutions such as churches and marriages are not integral parts of the state for only provinces and municipalities are true parts of the state. These issues are kept alive in the thought of Goosen and Malan. The contribution of Goosen to the discussion receives attention, unfortunately showing that the crucial objections raised by him are misdirected. This is illustrated by briefly looking at Goosen's remark regarding the alleged influence of other philosophers on the thought of Dooyeweerd, while in fact it was Dooyeweerd himself who explained his own intellectual development by stating that he "was strongly under the influence first of the Neo- Kantian philosophy, later on of Husserl's phenomenology." Goosen does not show an awareness of the fact that I am perhaps the one who has exercised the most severe criticism on crucial aspects of Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique, epistemology and theory of the Gegenstand-relation. He also does not realize that Dooyeweerd's critical analysis of modern philosophy is in the first place meant as self-criticism. The shortcomings in Goosen's appeal to hermeunetics are then articulated before attention is given to the relation between Goosen, Dooyeweerd and Thomas Aquinas. It is shown that Goosen did not substantiate his claim that Dooyeweerd elevated his (alleged neo-Thomistic) understanding of Thomas Aquinas to be the standard interpretation contributed by him. A recent dissertation completed at the Radboud (Catholic) University in Nijmegen still affirms the value of Dooyeweerd's critique of the Thomistic substance concept. Goosen also totally misunderstood insights advanced by Münch, Rawls and Habermas which I appreciated positively because they approximate the idea of sphere-sovereignty. What is not noticed by Goosen is my statement about the simultaneous presence of both atomistic and holistic elements present in the thought of Rawls. These issues will be further explored in independent research articles, dedicated to the philosophical presuppositions present in reflecting on state and society.

Palavras-chave : empire; state; philosophical trends; basic motives; individualism; universalism; sphere-sovereignty.

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