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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versión On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versión impresa ISSN 0041-4751

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.49 no.3 Pretoria  2009

 

Calvyn in die intellektuele erfenis van die Weste

 

Calvin in the intellectual heritage of the West

 

 

DFM Strauss

Dekaanskantoor, Fakulteit Geesteswetenskappe, Universiteit van die, Vrystaat, Bloemfontein dfms@cknet.co.za

 

 


OPSOMMING

Met die oog daarop om Calvyn se posisie in die intellektuele erfenis van die Weste te bepaal word allereers aandag geskenk aan die Grieks-Middeleeuse agtergrond - met klem op die idee van 'n kosmiese (ontiese) wêreldorde (logos). Besondere aandag word gegee aan die ontwikkeling van die vroeë Griekse wysbegeerte wat via Plato en Aristoteles uitgeloop het op the Stoïsynse filosofie, Cicero en die middeleeuse erfenis wat sy hoogtepunt sou bereik in die denke van Thomas Aquinas. Aandag is ook gegee aan die denke van Augustinus. Die disintegrasie van die Middeleeue is bemiddel deur die laat-Skolastiese nominalisme (veral Ockham) wat veral op Luther 'n regstreekse invloed sou uitoefen. Calvyn het hom egter gedistansieer van die nominalistiese idee van die willekeur van God - soos wat dit vergestalt is in die siening van God se despotiese, absolute willekeur (aangedui as die potestas Dei absoluta). Daarom het Calvyn klem geplaas daarop dat God bo die wette wat vir skepsele gestel is, verhewe is. Hoewel God bo die skeppingswette verhewe is, is Hy egter nie willekeurig nie (Deus legibus solutus est, sed non exlex). 'n Vlugtige aanduiding is gegee van die relatiewe ongedifferensieerde samelewingsomstandighede waarin Calvyn homself bevind het - met verwysing na die leerstuk van verset (Beza en ander denkers). Nadat die deurwerking van die nominalisme verder toegelig is, met besondere verwysing na Kant se siening van die verstand as aprioriese formele wetgewer van die natuur en ook na die keersy-effek daarvan op die ontstaan van die historisme (19de eeu) en die postmodernisme (20ste eeu) is ten slotte gelet op die kontinuering van sommige on-Bybelse elemente in die denke van Calvyn, terwyl ook melding gemaak is van bepaalde positiewe insigte waarmee hy die Christelike lewensen wêreldbeskouing verryk het. In die besonder kan hier gedink word aan die eerste vertrekpunt van die leerstuk van soewereiniteit-in-eie-kring wat al eerder deur Van Prinsterer en Kuyper (19de eeu) onder woorde gebring is en wat in die 20ste eeu deur die reformatoriese wysbegeerte van Dooyeweerd verder uitgewerk is.

Trefwoorde: Wêreldorde; wet; realisme; nominalisme; potestas Dei absoluta; Christerike denke


ABSTRACT

In order to assess some prominent facets of Calvin's position within the intellectual legacy of the West the Greek-Medieval background is first of all highlighted - with a focus on the idea of a cosmic (ontic) world order (logos or law). Particular attention is given to the line of development from early Greek philosophy, via Plato and Aristotle, up to Stoic philosophy, Cicero, the medieval legacy culminating in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. The fundamental dualism present in Greek thought - between form and matter (the constant and the changing) - exerted a lasting influence on medieval thinking. Cicero assumed an immutable, incorruptible and non-arbitrary universal law which is valid per se. He distinguishes between being a Roman citizen on the one hand, and participating in the Roman populus (the public) on the other. When Thomas Aquinas entered the scene in the 13th century his account of medieval society was based upon an attempted synthesis between Aristotle's philosophy and biblical Christianity respectively. He accepted the dual teleological order of Aristotle with its hierarchy of substantial forms arranged in an order of lower and higher. It was designated as the lex naturalis (natural law) which is related to the transcendent lex aeterna (eternal law) as contained within the Divine intellect. By virtue of its substantial form the human being depends upon the community for the satisfaction of its needs. However, the disintegration caused by the late Scholastic movement known as nominalism (in particular Ockham) then entered the scene. Luther was influenced by this nominalism but Calvin reacted against its idea of arbitrariness. For that reason he emphasized God's law for creation and rejected the nominalistic conception of the absolute, despotic arbitrariness of God's will (the so-called potestas Dei Absoluta of God). His alternative claim is that although God is elevated above his laws for creation, He is not arbitrary (Deus legibus solutus est, sed non exlex). A brief indication is given of the relatively undifferentiated societal condition prevailing in the world in which Calvin lived - with reference to the doctrine of resistance (Beza and others). The longstanding over-estimation of human reason caused Thomas Aquinas to relativize the radical effect of the fall into sin and for that reason he held the view that human reason was only "wounded" by the fall - a view that was continued by Calvin. However, the biblical appeal of the legacy of Calvin also contains a number of positive insights that we still have to appreciate. He emphasized the constancy and steadfastness of God's law for creatures and also explicitly rejected the idea of chance and fate - dating back to the Anankè (later on known as the Moira) of ancient Greece. This emphasis is all the more remarkable in the light of the powerful nominalistic movement which denied any universality outside the human mind, thus eliminating both the (universal) law for and the (universal) orderliness or creaturely reality. This nominalistic view reached its rationalistic conclusion in the thought of Immanuel Kant (18th century) who carried it through to its ultimate consequences - by elevating human understanding to become the apriori formal law-giver of nature. The other side of the rationalistic orientation of modern nominalism is found in the irrationalistic focus both of historicism (19th century) and postmodernism (20th century). The thought of Calvin does not fit into this humanistic tradition. In respect of human society he did show an understanding of what eventually became known as the principle of sphere-sovereignty (introduced by Groen van Prinsterer and Abraham Kuyper during the 19th century). Calvin substantially contributed to an enrichment of our Christian world and life view - carried through in more detail by the reformational philosophical tradition.

Key words: World order; realism; nominalism; potestas Dei absoluta; Christian thinking


 

 

Full text available only in PDF format.

 

 

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1 Hippasus van Metapontum het klaarblyklik teen 450 v.C. hierdie ontdekking gemaak. Daardeur het hy skynbaar 'n wiskunde geheim verraai deur dit publiek te maak (sien Riedweg, 2005:107 en Fowler, 1999:289-302).
2 Ooreenkomstig die gerypte Griekse siening kon slegs die vrygebore Griek deelhê aan die politieke besluitnemingsproses en aan die regspreking - en langs hierdie weg tot 'n vervulde lewe in die polis kom.
3 Ander uitdrukkings is: vera lex (ware wet), summa lex (hoogste wet), lex divina et humana (goddelik en menslike reg), en so meer (sien Van Zyl, 1989:297-298).
4 Calvyn sou later aequitas in die sentrum van sy sosiale etiek plaas (sien Haas, 1997:12). Haas stel ook: "The ultimate intention of all the commandments is love, fulfilled in Christ and effected by equity" (Haas, 1997:90).
5 Dit verklaar waarom hy die aardse staat ook aandui as Babylon en waarom hy die heerser daarvan Diabolus noem.
6 Op die natuurlike terrein is die menslike rede outonoom - dit kan selfs natuurlike bewyse vir die bestaan van God lewer (vgl. Summa Theologica, 1, 2, 3). Nogtans, só meen Thomas, word die bo-natuurlike waarhede benodig om hierdie insigte te vervolledig en te vervolmaak.
7 "In Duns Scotus began to emerge a concept of law as a limiting boundary between God the absolute Sovereign and the creature as absolutely subject to God" (Dooyeweerd, 2008:60). In Deel I van sy Institusie praat ook Calvyn van skepselmatige onderworpenheid aan God (Calvyn, 1931-1:198).
8 Vollenhoven verwys na 'n geskrif van A. Pelzer: Lez 51 articles de Guillaume Occam censurés, en Avignon, en 1326, in: Revue d'Histoire ecclésiastique, XVIII, I, 1922, met name artikels 1-3 and 5. Vgl. Vollenhoven, 1933:220 -Aantekeningen , p.22, voetnoot 345.
9 "Dies ist ein charakteristisch neuzeitlicher Sachverhalt, Nicht die Welt, in der ich mich vorfinde, garantiert mein Dasein. Diese Garantie geht nicht verloren, und wenn ich die Welt wiederfinde, dann als Gegenstand meines selbstgewissen Denkens und darum als Objekt, das ich hantieren kann" (Von Weizsäcker, 2002:130-131).
10 Obermann skenk in die besonder aandag aan die feit dat Luther in die nominalistiese tradisie staan - sien Obermann, 1986:126 e.v.
11 Veral in Engeland het die gedagtes van Marsilius van Padua 'n betekenisvolle effek gehad. Thomas Cromwell het selfs opdrag gegee dat hierdie geskrif in Engels vertaal en aan sy hof versprei moet word.
12 Vergelyk hierby die uiteensetting van Haas (1997:11).
13 In sy Aantekeningen (bladsy 27) gee Vollenhoven die verwysings na Calvyn se geskrifte waar hierdie formulering te vind is: "De plaatsen zijn De aeterna-praedestinatione, 1552 (Corpus reformatorum 36, kolom 361) en Commentarius in Mosis libros V, 1563 (Corpus ref. 52, kolom 49 en 131)" (voetnoot 480).
14 "Calvin läßt Gottes allmächtigen Willen durch Billigkeit und Recht geregelt sein" (Bohatec, 1940:15).
15 Volgens Bodin blyk die absolute mag van die soewerein uit die feit dat wette gemaak kan word waaraan die onderdane sonder hul instemming gebonde is (Bodin, 1981:222).
16 Calvyn kontinueer ook nog 'n dualistiese siening op die verhouding van siel en liggaam - soos onder meer blyk uit sy verwysing na wanneer die siel uit die "kerker van die vlees losgemaak" word (Calvyn, 1931-I:173).
17 Uit hoofde van die ekumenies-Christelike oriëntasie van die reformatoriese wysbegeerte het Dooyeweerd weliswaar later verkies om sy wysbegeerte nie meer as Calvinisties aan te dui nie (vgl. Dooyeweerd, 1997-1:524: "Why I rejct the term Calvinistic philosophy").

 

 

Danie Strauss word in 1971 as Senior Lektor in Wysbegeerte aan die destydse UOVS aangestel. In Januarie 1976 is hy bevorder tot medeprofessor en in Oktober 1977 word hy aangestel as professor en hoof van die Departement Wysbegeerte aan die UOVS. In 1994 vertrek by na Kanada waar hy as eerste Direkteur van die Dooyeweerd Centre die publikasie van die versamelde werke van Herman Dooyeweerd in Engels van stapel stuur. Hy keer in 1997 terug na Suid-Afrika en vanaf 1 April 1998 tot 31 Desember 2001 ageer hy as Dekaan van die nuwe Fakulteit van Geesteswetenskappe aan die UOVS. Benewens 15 selfstandige publikasies, 35 internasionale konferensievoordragte en 20 bydraes tot versamelde werke het sowat 230 vakartikels in nasionale en internasionale tydskrifte uit sy pen verskyn. In 2005 is 'n werk oor die wysgerige grondslae van die moderne natuurwetenskappe deur die Duitse Uitgewer Peter Lang gepubliseer - Paradigmen in Mathematik, Physik und Biologie und ihre philosophische Wurzeln (216 pp.) (Frankfurt am Main). In 2006 het 'n werk oor die sosiologie ook by Peter Lang verskyn - Reintegrating Social Theory - Reflecting upon human society and the discipline of sociology (310 pp.) (Oxford /NewYork).

Danie Strauss was appointed as Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the then UOFS in 1971. In January 1976 he was promoted to associate professor and in October 1977 he assumed the position of professor and head of the Department of Philosophy at the UOFS. In 1994 he went to Canada, where, as the first Director of the Dooyeweerd Centre, he initiated the publication of the collected works of Herman Dooyeweerd in English. He returned to South Africa in 1997 and from 1 April 1998 to 31 December 2001 he was Dean of the new Faculty of Humanities at the UOFS. Apart from 15 independent publications, 35 international conference papers and 20 contributions to collected works, he has published about 230 articles in national and international journals. In 2006 his work on the philosophical foundations of the modern natural sciences was published by Peter Lang Publishers - Paradigmen in Mathematik, Physik und Biologie und ihre philosophische Wurzeln (216 pp.) (Frankfurt am Main). In 2006 Peter Lang also published his work Reintegrating Social Theory - Reflecting upon human society and the discipline of sociology (310 pp.) (Oxford /New York).

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