Dooyeweerd’s New Critique available

Kerry Hollingsworth of Paideia Press has just released the following announcement:

Paideia Press and The Reformational Publishing Project is very pleased to announce the availability of all four volumes of A New Critique of Theoretical Thought by Herman Dooyeweerd which are now available at

We trust that these considerably cheaper hard cover POD editions will make it much easier for students all over the world to obtain the central texts of The Philosophy of The Cosmonomic Idea.


Volume One is available here @ $19.95

 Volume Two is available here @ $21.95

 Volume Three is available here @ $25.95

 Volume Four is available here @ $14.94 

Koers – Bulletin for Christian Scholarship 81(3) 2016 online

Table of Contents


Annette Combrink

Original Research

Mark Rathbone, Jaco Boettger
Lloyd Daniel Nkoli Tlale, Norma Margaret Nel, Petra Engelbrecht, Mirna Nel
Willem Diederick Basson, Daleen Kruger
Andre Goodrich, Pia Bombardella
Justin Sands
Theuns Eloff, Wynand Greffrath

Review Article

Steve Bishop

Philosophia Reformata 81(2) is now out

An interview with Albert Weideman (part 2)

This is the concluding part of an interview with Albert Weideman part one appeared here. He has a blog here.

albert_weidemanIn your previous books Beyond expression: a systematic study of the foundations of linguistics, and A framework for the study of linguistics you developed a Dooyeweerdian (Reformational) perspective on what Dooyeweerd terms the linguistic aspect. How did you get to know about this perspective?

I suppose the major systematic influences were the examples of Strauss and Hommes. When Hommes’s book on the elementary concepts of jurisprudence came out, I was certain that my own field at that time, linguistics, deserved similar analytical treatment, and that was the stimulus for my first MA dissertation. I was helped along by a very lively discussion group at the University of the Free State that focussed on interdisciplinary work. Afterwards, I was encouraged by Danie Strauss and Kerry Hollingsworth to rework and publish it with Paideia Press as Beyond expression. One thing led to another, and I subsequently brought out a related introduction to linguistics for my undergraduate students, the Framework, negotiating with Kerry’s assistance a joint publication deal with a prominent South African publisher of academic textbooks, Van Schaik. But everything started when I followed in linguistics the footsteps of Hommes in jurisprudence, and emulated the work Hommes and Dooyeweerd had started in that field. So I’m really surprised when I read comments in journals like Beweging, and by people who should really know better, that the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea has done no work in the special sciences. I wonder: is that not where it started? And what about Stafleu’s work in physics, or Strauss’s work in mathematics, or De Witt’s and Diemer’s analyses in biology, or all the other work in aesthetics, ethics, history, and so on? And those are only a superficial few examples.


What do you feel are the strengths of the Dooyeweerdian approach?

Its non-reductionist ontology. In our time, Complex Adaptive Systems Theory, or Dynamic Systems Theory as it is sometimes called, has tried to achieve the same goal. It is highly significant that a Dooyeweerdian analysis reveals the potential reductionism of such anti-reductionist intentions. In this case the emergentism that characterizes CAST/DST is exposed in its attempt to reduce all manner of explanation to the organic or biotic mode of experience. So, while other approaches have tried, Dooyeweerd’s analyses are – thus far ‑ the only reliably non-reductionist perspective I have encountered in academic work.

weideman_framework-1                                  expressioncover


And what are its weaknesses?

I said “thus far” just now, because it does remain possible, of course, that Dooyeweerd’s analyses may yet reveal some major reductionist flaw that we have simply just not thought about, or explored properly. That is the provisionality of the lived ‘reformational’ approach to science, and we should make our peace with that. But right now, that flaw has not yet been revealed. Danie Strauss has mentioned to me that in one interview, when asked about how long his work and influence would endure, Dooyeweerd seriously thought it would all be over about 15 or 20 years after his death. Today we know that he was thoroughly mistaken in that opinion, don’t we? Though one can see the datedness of Dooyeweerd’s thought – he was clearly operating in a post-Kantian, and even neo-Kantian period – it somehow remains relevant, once one allows for that historical relativity. Another instance of where he was clearly a child of his time we can find in his use of the term ‘meaning’ to describe reality. Even though reality, according to Dooyeweerd, does not so much have meaning, but rather is meaning, that term itself reveals how he was influenced by what is today called the very influential ‘linguistic’ or ‘interpretative’ turn in theory.

I suppose a weakness for me is the way in which even potentially simple distinctions that he introduced are misunderstood. But whether that is entirely preventable, or Dooyeweerd’s own fault, is another question. Take the temporal order of aspects, for example. Despite their author’s explanations, and the fact that they are not a hierarchy, but a sequence in time of ordered facets of creaturely life, people have interpreted them as such. So because the dimensions of love and faith are in terms of time the last in the temporal order, a hierarchical view quickly promotes them to the top (and most important part) of a hierarchy, adding insult to injury by imposing a kind of grace and nature split between them and the rest. Or the way that people appear to be unable to conceptualize phenomena in other than concrete terms. That means that aspects of experience get confused with actual things or objects with a typical structure. In my own field, the lingual dimension of experience, the experiential modality, is often confused with the object that we call ‘language’. Perhaps these misunderstandings could have been avoided, but it is easy to say such things in hindsight.


You have mentioned that you prefer the term ‘responsible’ to the term ‘Christian’ to describe Reformational work and action. Why is that? And what are the advantages of using ‘responsible’?

Indeed, and that choice of term is not something that I have yet spoken about publicly. Why do I choose to use the term ‘responsible’ (instead of ‘Christian’) to characterise and describe reformational work and action? Though that is a sensitive issue within Christianity, it goes back to my view of God’s Word: that it is something we discover in obedience. We discover it not only by listening to the pointers in Scripture that refer us to it, but also from the point of view that it is the Word that was in the beginning, as that Word of God which makes creaturely life possible (and sustains it in God’s son). My view is that our lives are structured by living in response to this Word; that that Word-response structure in fact characterises our being and life. I am always painfully aware that that is a view that is a few lightyears removed from a fundamentalist understanding of the Bible, and therefore an embarrassment, even and acutely within the reformational community, for those who hold on to such a misunderstanding by looking at the collection of books that is the Bible as God’s only Word for us. Instead I believe that something that refers us to something else cannot at the same time be that entity. A signpost cannot be the destination.

And as to the term ‘responsible’, I suppose that English would be happier with ‘responsive’, but it is not an entirely inappropriate understanding of it to think that our human actions are done in response to principles, and that if we act in accordance with these principles, those conditions that we obey to complete our actions, then we are acting responsibly. In my case, as a language test designer, I can therefore respond to certain design principles by making an assessment instrument that is trustworthy, caring, accountable, aligned with language learning and policies, useful, yielding interpretable and meaningful results, defensible theoretically, attractive, differentiated, valid, reliable, of definable scope, and systematic. Surely it would be irresponsible to be satisfied with a test that is haphazard, unreliable, invalid, monotone, unattractive, has meaningless results, is useless, uncompassionate, and so forth? Thus ‘responsible’ seems to me to describe better the reformational intention to be obedient to God’s Word in all respects, everywhere. If some want to call that ‘Christian’, I’m happy with that, but for me ‘responsible’ just fits better, and is certainly more descriptive.


Are there any other projects in the pipeline?

There are in fact several. I am awaiting publication of a contribution I wrote for the 2017 Routledge World Yearbook in Education on the refinement of the idea of consequential validity in language assessment, and another in a special issue of Language and Communication that will commemorate the work of Alan Davies. That deals with the question of whether responsibility (as I define it) encompasses ethicality and accountability in language assessment, and I suppose from the above you can guess what my answer will be. But it is not so obvious to the uninitiated, or the unreflective amongst those who devise language assessments.

And then there is my ongoing collaboration with John Read in Auckland, and with colleagues from other continents as well, most of that relating to language testing.

Finally, I have been given the green light by Springer to put in a proposal for a book that will deal entirely with a topic that not enough applied linguists are yet interested in: the development of a theory of applied linguistics. I hope I’ll have the chance to start work on that in the last half of 2017.


What do you do for fun?

That’s easy! My wife and I love going to the movies, and we have very eclectic tastes, so it’s not only those films that are showing on the art circuit. Personally, I love being fit, and nothing pleases me more than a game of volleyball; at the gym I go to we play the young biokineticists in training every Friday at 07:00. By ‘we’ I mean a bunch of really senior people. At age 68, I’m the youngest member of the team, so you can imagine how pleased we are when we beat youngsters of not even 20 years of age. Playing volleyball on the beach when I eventually retire is something I yearn for. Oh! And squash. I play three to four times a week, and represent my province in the national tournament annually. I’ve been playing for 44 years, and it’s a wonderful game.


What books are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just read Kees de Bot’s A history of applied linguistics: 1980 to the present. And in fiction, I have just finished the remarkable story of a woman who got left for dead in a concentration camp during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), but survived and became a psychotherapist who treated war victims afterwards. It’s called Kamphoer (Camp whore), and has probably been translated into other languages, but I read it in my first language, Afrikaans. Its author is one of my colleagues at the University of the Free State.


And finally, if you were on a desert island what two luxuries would you take with you?

That’s easier to answer than I thought when I first saw this question. First, I would take a huge bag of salt; I am informed that drying sea salt by evaporation leaves you with a substance that has too high a magnesium content for one’s stomach to deal with, and I just cannot eat without salt, I’m afraid. Second, I’d probably go for a magnifying glass, so that I can at least make a fire. That makes up my first two choices. If I had a third choice, that would have been for a really sturdy bow and arrows. I don’t think I’d be able to survive without protein.


An interview with Albert Weideman (part 1)


Hi Albert, many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Could I start by asking you to tell us something about yourself?

I’ve been a teacher and academic for most of my working life, though in the last days of apartheid I also spent some time in the non-governmental sector, the NGO world, as well as in the banking sector after that, before I returned to academic life. I love building organisations, and seeing them flourish and serve. In my youth, my wife and I were founder members of the Democratic Party, the forerunner of South Africa’s main political opposition, the Democratic Alliance. That has been the story of my life: always in opposition, never supportive of the mainstream, and that also shows in my academic career. I sometimes wonder how that would feel like, being part of the majority. As my career has progressed, I have become more and more of a mentor and advisor to younger people, especially young academics at the start of their professional lives. My wife, who comes from a sober reformational family, teases me that I slip almost too easily – by default ‑ into the role of a counsellor! But I get a real kick out making it possible for my students to flourish.


Who (or what) are the major influences on you?

I was very fortunate in encountering the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea in my undergraduate years, at the end of the 1960’s. I began reading Dooyeweerd in my second year, and it was a revelation. For the sheer joy of it I re-read Vernieuwing en bezinning a second time in my third and final year, just in case I had missed something the first time! Dooyeweerd was always accessible to me, both in the original Dutch and in English, and so lucid… I could never quite understand the complaints that he was difficult to follow. But a turning point was the visit that Henk van Eikema Hommes paid to South Africa in the early 1970’s. His views on the abomination of apartheid turned the tide for me and a number of others, politically. I have also been fortunate in making the early acquaintance of Danie Strauss, who was a year or so ahead of me at the University of the Free State. The published version of his master’s dissertation persuaded me that reformational philosophy could significantly contribute to a reworking of the disciplines I had chosen to work in: linguistics and applied linguistics. We have been mutually supportive of each other’s work since those early times right up to the present. Such was the reformational spirit in my formative years at university that I devoured everything I could lay my hands on that looked like a further working out of reformational philosophy in the special sciences: the work of Rookmaaker and Seerveld, for example, Goudzwaard and Hart, Verburg and Bakker, and then, significantly, Schuurman.


Your work has been in the area of applied linguistics, could you briefly explain what is meant by that?

Applied linguists make language courses, design language tests, or develop language policies.

After I had done the systematic study of the foundations of linguistics, I was allowed a year of overseas study. That was only enough time to do another MA. This time I thought I should do something that sounded a little more practical, and that would be more useful to the actual English second language teaching I was doing at the time. So I enrolled at the University of Essex for another MA, in linguistics and applied linguistics. It was there, in 1983, that I saw the value of Schuurman’s insights (in his 1972 doctoral thesis) into the ‘applied’ sciences: that they were less applications of science than disciplines concerned with design.

So if you ask me what applied linguistics is, my answer would be that it is a design discipline. It designs solutions to large-scale or pervasive language problems. The people who use these solutions encounter them in the shape of language courses (for new languages that we need to learn), language tests (of our ability to use language), and language policies, i.e. the official arrangements that we make to overcome potential language difficulties within organisations and institutions, large and small. The ‘applied’ label means that applied linguistics uses scientific insight – not only from linguistics, but potentially from all relevant theoretical corners – to give a rational basis to its designed interventions. So it’s not only linguistic insight that gets used to build a theoretically defensible plan to solve the language problem, which in turn means that the label is doubly problematic: first, we don’t really ‘apply’ theory, but merely rationalize the design afterwards, and, second, it’s not knowledge only of language that is brought into play, but also insight into learning, pedagogy, motivation, culture, the resources available to implement the solution, and so on.

It was at Essex, too, that I encountered, as external examiner, the late Alan Davies, a world-renowned applied linguist and thoughtful Quaker from Edinburgh who encouraged me to pursue further my interest in characterizing the nature of applied linguistic work. We kept in touch from that moment in 1983 that he interviewed me as part of my examination, right up to his death in November 2015. I think that my insights into applied linguistics as a design discipline intrigued him, since the reformational view on this is radical: it is not science that prescribes the language solution, but the technical fantasy of the designer of that solution that takes precedence. That is a hard reality for modernist applied linguists to swallow, since they consider science to be the final authority on every solution.


What motivates your applied linguistics research?

First, that the solutions that we can design for potentially huge language problems will alleviate the plight of those most in need. Our solutions must enable language development to take place; they must make it more worthwhile and useful to learn a new language when we need to. Second, we need to relieve not only the learners, but also the teachers, from toil and drudgery, by designing and employing efficient solutions. Third, we need to be accountable not only to the users of our solutions, but also to the public at large, about how we arrived at them, and why. For example, in the subfield of language testing, we should take care, as the designers of these assessments, that their results are not abused to prevent those at a disadvantage from gaining access to resources. A language test cannot be the sole criterion, for instance, for deciding whether someone gains access to tertiary education. Language is only one component of our educational life, not all of it. There are many other components that also need to be taken into account when we take a decision about whether someone is allowed to enter into higher education. As the designer of tests of the ability to use academic language I must, therefore, guard against the misuse of these tests to exclude some, and include others.

This work that I do in language assessment is always carried out with reference to the foundational questions of applied linguistics. It has the advantage, therefore, of keeping me in touch with both the practical designs that applied linguists devise, and with their philosophical undertow.


respdesCould you tell us something about your new book? Why did you write it what was your main aim in writing it?

Responsible design in applied linguistics: theory and practice (Springer, 2017) is a philosophical overview of the main trends in applied linguistics since its inception some six or more decades ago. It identifies the main divide in approach as modernist versus postmodernist. It provides illustrations stretching over all these decades, and seven different, historically successive styles of doing applied linguistics. It does this with a new – but certainly not mainstream ‑ definition of applied linguistics. And finally, it attempts to make a case for the development of a proper theory of applied linguistics as a discipline of design.


In the prologue of this new book you take the opportunity to make clear your own position – this isn’t usually the way that academics write – what prompted you to take such an approach?

The Springer series editor encouraged me to make an extended biographical statement to declare what he calls my ‘positionality’ as an author. That is called autoethnography. Autoethnography is fully part of a postmodernist approach in my field, and I feel that it provides reformational scholars with the opportunity to place their cards on the table: very few now doubt the postmodernist premise that neutrality in science is impossible, though when reformational philosophy proposed that in the heydays of modernism some 70 or more years ago, they were scorned. When I arrived in Auckland on a research visit late last year, I had already read a number of so-called autoethnographic narratives of applied linguists who had made such declarations of where their work and motivation derive from. But in Auckland I met up again, after many years, with one of my classmates at Essex in the early 1980’s: Gary Barkhuizen, now an established academic working on teacher and professional narratives. That, and the invitation of the series editor, prompted me to make my own declaration. If readers want to look at the whole story, a reflection on that narrative, now the Prologue of Responsible design in applied linguistics, has been published in Journal for Christian Scholarship.

New book from Albert Weideman: Responsible Design in Applied linguistics

2016. Responsible design in applied linguistics: theory and practice

This book offers a unique systematic account of the discipline of applied linguistics.
No mere history of applied linguistics, this volume presents a framework for interpreting the development of applied linguistics as a discipline. The framework of design principles it proposes not only helps to explain the historical development of applied linguistics, but also provides a potential justification for solutions to language problems. It presents us with nothing less than an emerging theory of applied linguistics.

Link  to Springer book.