The alleged 'essentialism' of Dooyeweerd
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Ed Echeverria argues that Jonathan Chaplin attempts to avoid social constructivism by grounding the normativity (structural-typical invariance) of societal entities in the invariant "possibilities or potentials given with the created nature of the human person" - which is, according to Echeverria, still "essentialist". His own "solution" is to return to the metaphysical legacy of Bavinck's version of Thomism by proceeding from invariant (ante rem) Divine ideas and ideas in the Logos (in re). The author argues that Chaplin and Echeverria need to contemplate in a more comprehensive and systematic way the foundational coherence between constancy and dynamics (change, variability). A systematic analysis has to consider the uniqueness and coherence between the kinematic and physical aspects - accounting for Plato's insight that change can solely be detected on the basis of something constant (persistent) - articulated in natural scientific terms by Galileo (inertia) and Einstein. It is also argued that Echeverria does not realize that the classical realistic distinction between universalia ante rem and universalia in re respectively rests upon the reification of God's law for (Plato) and the orderliness (law-conformity) of creatures (Aristotle). The implication is that Plato stumbled upon God's law as order for and Aristotle upon the universal side of entities. Aristotle holds that when this house does not exist anymore it is not houseness that is destructed. Essentialism cannot be equated merely by acknowledging the existence of (natural and social) entities or the existence of invariant (modal and typical) principles, but in the reification of entities (a legacy of the Greek-Thomistic substance concept). Its counterpole is found in functionalism, the reification of modal functional relationships - but Dooyeweerd is not guilty of either substantialism (essentialism) or functionalism.
- Faculty of Humanities