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Time and Change in Vollenhoven

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image of Philosophia Reformata

Within the movement of reformational philosophy much attention has been given to the topic of time. Dooyeweerd initiated the discussion in the mid-30’s with his first publications on this topic. What turned out to be most challenging was not so much his treatment of time as such—e.g. his distinction between “cosmic time” and “modal time”—but the anthropological implication of the supra-temporality of the heart that transcends the temporal human functions of body and mind. Vollenhoven long remained in the background of this debate, at least in its printed form, though it is common knowledge that he did not share this implication as regards the human heart. Only when he relinquished his leadership role in the Association for Calvinistic Philosophy in 1963 did he feel free to express himself more openly on matters in which he differed with Dooyeweerd. In that year Vollenhoven gave three lectures on the topic of time. Five years later, in 1968, he reviewed the topic again. The material of these lectures has recently been published.3 It is now possible, despite the somewhat fragmentary character that such lecture notes usually have, more or less to reconstruct Vollenhoven’s view and to assess its chief points of difference with Dooyeweerd. However, this whole topic is too broad to be treated adequately within the confines of one article. Therefore I shall limit myself to the first step of such a discussion and concentrate on reconstructing Vollenhoven view of time, or rather offer an interpretation of that view, on the basis of his later thought. The scattered remarks about time found in Vollenhoven’s earlier work will also be brought to bear. The main trend of the ensuing discussion is therefore expository and constructive.


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