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IN THE TWILIGHT OF DOOYEWEERD’S CORPUS: The Publishing History of In The Twilight of Western Thought and the Future of Dooyeweerd Studies

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image of Philosophia Reformata

When it comes to studying the ideas of Herman Dooyeweerd as found in the volume In the Twilight of Western Thought: Studies in the Pretended Autonomy of Philosophical Thought, one should be tempted to ask, Will the real Herman Dooyeweerd please stand up? Under normal circumstances, it would seem unnecessary to ask such a question about a volume which is one of Dooyeweerd’s best-known works in English. Based upon lectures given in North America in 1958, it is often identified as the best English-language introduction by Dooyeweerd to his own system of thought.2 However, In the Twilight has appeared in three separate editions, none of which are explicitly or clearly enough related to each of the others or to the original lectures which they are supposed to represent. In short, this is a question of provenance. No, there is no doubt that the substance of the work is Dooyeweerd’s. Yet, none of the editions sufficiently identifies the relationship these essays had to previous editions or to the original lectures, the nature of the lectures themselves (exactly when and where they took place), and what role Dooyeweerd had in bringing the lectures to publication or seeing them later revised. Some 45 years distant from the original publication, some of these questions can be answered, but not all. Nevertheless, they should not be ignored. For In the Twilight of Western Thought to be valuable in the present-day to readers interested in Dooyeweerd’s thought, what little can be established concerning the editorial process must be made known and the remaining uncertainties of its publication and revision history must be publicly established. Furthermore, differences between the editions must also be catalogued and made accessible to readers of his work. The purpose of this essay is to document the history of the lectures, their initial publication, and revisions. Secondly, this essay includes a catalog of the differences between the various editions. As the publishing history of In the Twilight of Western Thought makes evident, in order for the work of Herman Dooyeweerd to continue to have influence, his published and unpublished works must be carefully catalogued, their provenance clearly determined, and the publishing, translation, and revision history of each carefully delineated.


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