Reformational Philosophy


On Education, Inspiration and Inwardness in Kierkegaard and Levinas

Renée D. N. van Riessen

In the history of philosophy, from Plato to Hegel, the identification of knowledge and recollection has always been very influential. The present article demonstrates how Kierkegaard, reacting to this idea of identification, develops a different epistemology. As a result, recollection and eternity make room for a focus on the human relation to temporality and finiteness. This new, Christian, thinking about time is the underlying motive of the comparison which Kierkegaard (in Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript) makes between the teaching mission of Socrates and Christ’s teaching. Considering a number of parallels between the Christian thinker Kierkegaard and the Jewish philosopher Levinas, the author further explores the implications of their thought on education and inwardness. Generally speaking, there is agreement about the idea that education should lead to the cultivation of humanity. Kierkegaard’s as well as Levinas’ thought demonstrate that a philosophical articulation of the dimension of inwardness cannot be neglected in this context. In addition to this, the question must be raised how inwardness relates to exteriority and eternity.


1. Introduction

Kierkegaard was right: the ultimate choice is the one between the Socratic recollection and the Christian repetition: Christianity enjoins us to REPEAT the founding gesture of the primordial choice. (Žižek 2001, 148-159)

“You don’t know what you know”: this was the title of a well-known grammar book (Van Dort-Slijper et al. 1976) at the time when I studied Dutch language and literature. But it could just as well be a slogan summarizing the teaching of Socrates, since the basic principle of his teaching, the hypothesis so astonishingly demonstrated by Socrates in Plato’s Meno, is that learning is a form of recollection. Central in this Platonic dialogue is the question whether virtue can be taught, and in line with this question the protagonists Socrates and Meno end up in a discussion about the question whether it is possible to learn what one does not know.


Read the whole article in our magazine Philosophia Reformata, 2013/1.

This article analyzes Kuyper’s theory of science in the light of his neo-Calvinist worldview. First we discuss his thesis that there is an inner connection between faith and science. Tensions become visible between a reformational and a scholastic line of thought (1-4). The next part deals with the humanities and theology. Kuyper turns out to have been influenced by the scholastic Logos theory, yet in theology he also defends the idea of a correlation between faith and revelation (5-7). The third part focuses on the self-organization of the sciences in the university. It shows how Kuyper’s doctrine of sphere sovereignty leads to “Free Universities” independent of church and state (8–10). The final part is a critical evaluation pointing up four challenges in Kuyper’s theory of science. They concern the mediating role of worldviews, the need for a transcendental hermeneutics, the concept of transformation in science and the importance of a correlative theology based on creation (11-15).


Whoever “speaks” of Kuyper speaks of Calvinism. And whoever speaks of Calvinism risks falling directly into error. In our day and age we are easily inclined to associate Calvinism with a certain type of church organization, church confession or theology. We think for instance of the Reformed- Presbyterian church order, of the Westminster Confession of Faith, or of the theological doctrine of predestination. For Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) these were all a part of Calvinism, to be sure. Yet for him the scope of the label extended much further. He presented Calvinism as a comprehensive vision, even as a renewed shaping of Christianity derived from biblical revelation. And it was to his mind the sixteenth-century reformers, Calvin in particular, that put this global vision front and center.


Read the whole article in our magazine Philosophia Reformata 2013/1.

Unity is not an independent construct or end in itself. There is life-giving strength in coherence and unity. An organism that would die when all alone can live and thrive when part of a coherent whole or community. Parts that are unrecognizable when disconnected become distinct and identifiable when interconnected.


Read the whole article of Roger Henderson in our magazine Philosophia Reformata.

Bringing Soren Kierkegaard in discussion with Reformational Philosophy


In reformational philosophy engagement with Soren Kierkegaard never really did get off to a good start. The present contribution is meant te reintroduce Kierkegaard in reformational philosophical discussions by focussing on the question of truth. How does the thinker as thinker relate to truth and what is the role of the I-self relationship in the search for truth?


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Do we invluence our social skills as we do philosophy? Sophie Stadhouders knows. She investigated this question in children from group five and six of the primary school. Together with her ​​friend Veronique Swiebel she wrote a report about it. That was awarded with a KNAW prize last June.


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Principles are absolute principles which can not be tampered with. The theologian Bonhoeffer had nothing of such principles have. Example, he was convinced pacifist and yet he plotted an attack on Hitler. How can this be reconciled? The response from Bonhoeffer has aroused farmer Jan Huijgen from his ethical slumber.


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