Document: Al Wolters, “Ground Motive” in ANAKAINOSIS, Vol. 6 No. 1 (1983).

Excerpt: “Ground-motive” is an expression coined by the translators of Herman Dooyeweerd to render the Dutch word grondmotief. It designates a fundamental category in Dooyeweerd’s thought, referring to the structure of the religious depth-dimension which underlies all human thought and culture. It may be helpful, especially to the English-speaking student of Dooyeweerd’s work, to make a number of observations about the Dutch word grondmotief.

To begin with, it should be pointed out that Dooyeweerd did not at first use this term, but initially preferred the expression grondthema, “fundamental theme.” The first major statement of his theory of the four ground-motives of Western culture is contained in an article published in Philosophia Reformata in 1941, under the title “De vier religieuze grondthema’s in den ontwikkelingsgang van het wijsgeerig denken van het Avondland,” (The four religious fundamental themes in the development of philosophical thought in the West). The sub-title of this article (“A contribution toward determining the relationship between theoretical and religious dialectic”) is also significant, since it alludes to the fact that in this article Dooyeweerd conceives of the “fundamental themes” as playing a pivotal role in relating theory and religion. It is via these grondthema‘s that religion influences theoretical thought.

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Anakainosis, Vol. 6 No. 1: Ground Motive – Al Wolters.pdf