Dooyeweerd's philosophy entails no support for Apartheid whatsoever

01 March 2017

In an article on Afrikaner nationalism, apartheid and the perversion of critique, Rèné Eloff argues that E.A. Venter and H.J. Strauss drew upon the philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd to justify separate development and that the foundational moment of Dooyeweerd's philosophy involves an interpretive violence that accommodates this interpretation, accompanied by a political violence which is accommodated by the mystical foundation of its authority. This article is a response to what Eloff attempts to argue. Unfortunately Eloff's article is burdened by ambiguities, lack of factual data, non sequitur arguments and in particular, regarding the transcendental critique, not realizing the difference between the structural intention of the transcendental critique and its misunderstanding by him in terms of a genetic perspective. In addition he does not realize that Derrida's ideas of the "institutional presupposition" and the mystical foundation of its authority are confusing the distinction of structure and direction. Eloff employs the genetic idea of the "foundational moment" of Dooyeweerd's philosophy, through which the latter supposedly could be linked to Apartheid, but does not succeed in achieving his aim. Although available to him, Eloff did not take notice of the analysis of the article of Derrida (on Law and Justice: the mystical foundation of authority) by the author of this response-article. In it Derrida's view of Law and Justice is analyzed in detail while even highlighting shared convictions between Derrida and Dooyeweerd. In another publication of Derrida (not quoted by Eloff) we find an appeal to the same philosophical method used by Dooyeweerd (and Einstein), namely the transcendental-empirical method. Shortcomings in Eloff's argumentation made it necessary to investigate the relationship between Dooyeweerd and Kant in some more detail, and to follow it up with an assessment of the relationship between Dooyeweerd and Derrida (showing that Derrida's thought is motivated by the humanistic motive of nature and freedom and that he not only confuses the distinctness of structure and direction, but also embodies in his thought the fusion of the directional antithesis between good and evil by identifying it with structural traits of reality). The irrationalistic element in Derrida's law-idea puts him, rather than Dooyeweerd, in a position to could have supported Apartheid. What Eloff says about Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique misses the key argument of the transcendental critique, based upon Dooyeweerd's view of the Gegenstand-relation, namely the issue of a supra-modal central point of orientation for the inter-modal synthesis. It turns out that there is no single statement in Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique from which anything supporting the Apartheid dispensation could be validly inferred. The only alternative option, namely to attempt to show that Dooyeweerd's idea of law and the state entails or supports the assumptions and practice of Apartheid, is doomed to failure from the outset, because Dooyeweerd's idea of the state and the nature of civil private law and public law rejects emphatically any encroachment upon the freedom and equality of its citizens. Although Eloff's account of the political views of E.A. Venter and H.J. Strauss is basically correct, it is not properly informed in many respects. Of the two main influences on their political conceptions only one is mentioned explicitly, namely the ideology of a "volk". The colonialist idea of guardianship (voogdyskap) as such is left unmentioned