objective witnesses of the past
3.0. Historical objects
3.1. Inventions promote
3.2. History of the arts
3.3. Signs, symbols and languages
3.4. Concepts, propositions
3.5. Contents of faith
3.7. Instruments for transactions
3.8. Making decisions
3.9. Rights and obligations
3.11. The objective historical meaning of artefacts
Chronos & Clio
3.0. Historical objects
History concerns the world as people have made it. In this chapter we discuss the character
of artefacts and their function in history, as witnesses of the past and as instruments in the transfer of experience, in chapter 2 recognized as an engine of history. For this purpose we shall distinguish two kinds of experience. The natural, naïve or
intuitive experience is directly founded in sensory observation. Artefacts and their history, too, are objectively observable. Besides there is an indirect, detached form of experience, in which people make use of some kind of instrument. This may be a material
expedient, like a microscope, with which people may reinforce their visual power. It may also be a logical makeshift, like a theory used to think about a problem. In Chronos & Clio, ‘artefact’ is the collective name for any manmade
object of human conduct primarily characterized by one of the normative relation frames. This is a much wider definition than that applied in technology, where artefacts are technical products, or in archaeology, where artefacts are manmade material remains.
In this chapter artefacts or constructions are often not primarily technical, and by no means always material. In each relation frame artefacts are distinguished from other objects which are not characterized by that relation frame. A painting, for instance,
is a material aesthetic artefact. It is an object characterized by the aesthetic relation frame, an instrument in one’s aesthetic experience. As such it is not an economic artefact, though it can clearly be an economic object. However, its proceeds
at an auction is an economic artefact, established by people, economically typified, not material. The price of a painting is primarily not characterized by aesthetic but by economic relations, and only secondarily by its aesthetic quality,
rarity, and so on. Therefore, besides its primary aesthetic and secondary technical type, the painting also has an economic function. The price of a painting has a quite different history than the painting has as an aesthetic artefact.
Not only thing-like objects are artefacts. Events and processes playing an objective part in history (chapter 1) can also be considered as artefacts if produced or interpreted. Therefore artefacts show an enormous diversity.
The theory of characters attempts to bring some order in this variety, by characterizing the artefacts according to the relation frames.
We shall assume that primarily technically typified artefacts have a singular character, secondarily typified by one of the natural relation frames. Next we shall assume that artefacts being primarily characterized by one of the succeeding relation
frames satisfy a dual character, an interlacement of a generic and a specific character. The generic character is secondarily typified by the technical relation frame, because all artefacts are human-made, requiring technical ability to handle
them. It distinguishes artefacts with a different primary characterization from each other, for instance aesthetic artefacts from semiotic or logical artefacts. The specific character distinguishes various types of artefacts from each other having
the same generic character.
Hence, each artefact is characterized by at least two relation frames. In its own way, it can play an objective historical part, according to the temporal
order of the relation frames concerned. Without signs and the languages as semiotically typified artefacts the collective memory would not even exist. In the following sections we shall illustrate this with many examples.
3.1. Inventions promote technical progress
of natural things and processes only exists of natural laws. In contrast, the characters of human products contain natural laws as well as values and norms. The character of a technical artefact is called its design.
An object made according to a design, satisfies natural laws and ought to satisfy the norms given in the design. Clearly, the design, the character of an artefact, is a collection of natural laws and norms. Nobody is ever completely free
in making a feasible design, because its realization is bound to natural laws. As Francis Bacon observed, nature can only be controlled by obeying its laws.
Maurits Escher drew beautiful examples of impossible designs, being contrary to natural laws. The progress of mankind is reflected in the history of technical artefacts.
technical character is so new that it enters history as an invention. Often an invention is an improvement of an extant design, a renewal. Sometimes it concerns a not yet completed design, in need of further development before it is suitable for production
and use. The boundary between inventing a new character and its subsequent development to a useful design is not always sharp.
Inventions and discoveries mark historical progress, extending
human possibilities. They enable people to extend their freedom and responsibility. In designing, the human activities characterized by the succeeding relation frames play a leading part, first in playful imagination, next in language, experimental and theoretical
research, and the trust people have in new technologies. Inventions alone do not suffice, people have to develop them and apply them in their practices, otherwise they remain toys. Only if tested and used in practice an invention has historical meaning. This
process has a historical life time. Each technology starts as an invention, develops itself into an application, becomes obsolete and comes to its end when replaced by a new technology.
A technical artefact is an object, designed, made and used by people in their technically skilled labour, individually or working in a group. It is secondarily typified by one of the natural relation
frames. Projections of the technical relation frame on the preceding natural frames define six secondary types of technical activities. The following impression may illustrate that skilful activity is as old as humanity, almost everywhere present, historically
grown, and showing an enormous progress especially since the twentieth century.
a. Counting and calculating are secondarily quantitatively characterized skills. As a science,
mathematics researches the quantitative and the spatial relation frame with the characters qualified by these frames. Mathematics is also a skill, the technique of counting and calculating. Of old, children learn to count with their fingers or a bead frame.
In mental arithmetic they apply all kinds of technical tricks, such as the multiplication tables and long divisions. An early application of arithmetic was book-keeping. Later on, mathematics was applied in the sciences and the humanities and in many practical
situations. In order to solve a problem one makes a mathematical model, allowing of calculations and providing quantitative insight. Statistics is a well-known example. For making models and exerting calculations we use an abacus, a slide rule, an adding machine,
a calculator, till or computer.
b. Orientating, measuring, forming and building are secondarily spatially typified acts. Labour leads to formation, transformation, and reformation,
usually with the help of tools. Philosophers of technology sometimes restrict technical labour to material transformation, to production. However, forming refers to the spatial relation frame and is therefore unfit to characterize all technical labour. People
try to bring order and orient themselves in space. For both they use instruments, like a compass or a measuring rod. The science of space is called geometry, long ago arisen as surveying in areas where a large river regularly overflows the country. The aim
of measurement is to collect quantitative data fit for calculations, for instance for the collection of taxes. This is only possible if some kind of law conformity exists for the magnitudes to be measured, a metric system.
In the nineteenth century measuring instruments were mainly based on optics and mechanics, nowadays mainly on electronics, including finding the position of airplanes, ships and cars.
People move mostly with carriages. Human beings have much more freedom of moving around than any animal. The most natural motion of people is walking, but even that is learned and technically supported by shoes, pavement and staircases. A person may master
many more ways to move, think of the motions required for a sport like volleyball. More often we move on a bike, in carriages, boats, airplanes, in lifts and on escalators. The wheel as the proverbial invention dates from about 3400 BC, but only in the sixteenth
century the Spaniards introduced it in Central America.
Navigation is a technical problem for sailing rivers and seas, since the seventeenth century strongly improved by the development of clocks. Modern traffic came about when natural energy sources like running water, wind and animals were replaced by steam engines
in trains and ships, petrol engines in cars and air planes, and electromotors everywhere else. Besides moving themselves, people transport goods and energy. Images, opinions and information move around the earth, nowadays in particular electronically, by telephone,
radio, television and internet. In antiquity and the Middle Ages, too, news spread amazingly fast.
d. With machines people transform energy or matter. Many people associate
technology with the use of machines. Therefore, the transformation of energy and matter, as in chemical industry, seems to characterize technology. Nevertheless this kind of transformation only determines one of six secondary types of technology. The use of
fire is one of the oldest human skills. The inventions of processing stone, bronze, and iron mark the beginning of archaeological eras. In physical labour, too, people transform matter and energy. Corporeal labour is a physically founded technical act, even
if supported by tools and machines. Tools are older than we know of, but machines to transform natural energy into a form useful for people date from the Middle Ages. The watermill and the windmill were not invented in Western Europe, but were applied here
for the first time on a large scale, for grinding corn, sawing wood, making paper and tilling swamps. The industrial revolution started when the working of iron and winning of coal made the construction of steam engines both possible and necessary.
The first steam engines were applied in coalmines.
e. Agriculture is a biotically founded technology. Agriculture as development of living nature has experienced several reforms,
recognizable as such only after the fact. The first land
reform is the transition from nomadic cattle breeding to agriculture (1.1). The prosperity of the later European Middle Ages is reducible to the second land reform.
About 1100 agricultural production increased strongly, partly because of an improved climate, but in particular because of improved methods. One of these is the invention of the deep plough on wheels, allowing tilling the land much more effectively than before.
Another one is crop rotation. By alternatively cultivating a field and letting it lie fallow the next year, one prevents plant disease and exhaustion of the soil. A better method turned out to be a cycle of three years: to grow one harvest in the spring of
the first year, a different one in the autumn of the second year and to let the field lie fallow during the third year. This increased the production by one half. A third improvement was the introduction of shoes and a breast harness for horses. The older
method of a harness around the neck is suited for oxen, but not for horses. Horses are not much stronger than oxen, but they are faster and able to work two hours a day more. Especially the latter aspect meant that the transition from oxen to horse traction
did not occur everywhere without protests, for the labourers had to work longer. In Southern Europe oxen remained more common. Horses need different fodder (oats), which the farmers first had to learn to grow, but which introduction fitted into the three-year
cycle. Increasingly, farmers started to grow materials like flax for the rising industry besides food for their own and for the growing population of the cities. Another agricultural reform occurred in the nineteenth and twentieth century, influenced by industrialization,
mechanisation of agriculture and the introduction of artificial fertilizers.
By scientific research and by schooling, agriculture and cattle rising received a better theoretical basis. The ‘green revolution’ (about 1960-1980) meant the introduction of a new agricultural technology in the third world, such that there is
sufficient food for the whole world population. Where there is still shortage of food, it is said to be caused by faulty distribution, disasters, wars, corruption, exploitation, managerial impotence and plain poverty.
In the final decennia of the twentieth century, information technology was introduced into modern agriculture. Fertilizing, irrigating, draining of land, feeding of cattle, milking of cows and processing of agrarian products are automated to a large extent.
Although all agricultural technology is biotically founded, the word biotechnology received the more restricted meaning of genetic manipulation. Improving plant and animal species is as old as mankind, but the genetic influencing of breeding is specifically
a twentieth century technology. Since the second agrarian revolution the number of agrarian labourers decreased, but only since the second half of the twentieth century less than half of the working population is employed in agriculture.
f. Control is a psychically typified technical act. People always used animals as a source of food and clothes, as a means of transport, to exert labour and to support various kinds of activities like hunting
or safeguarding. Except for food and the production of
clothes, animals cannot be used directly, they have to be tamed and trained, domesticated and controlled. Cattle breeders try to increase the proceeds of meat, milk, eggs or labour performances. Genetic manipulation of animals is not modern, only some methods
like artificial insemination are. In traffic and as a source of labour, animals have almost disappeared in modern countries. All the more they can be found as domestic animals and in many kinds of sports. The psychical relation frame is characterized by control,
inter alia. Besides animal behaviour, all technical acts are controlled, too. This receives special attention if control is a separate part of a technical process. In particular during the twentieth century this has led to automated processes of many kinds.
Automation is not only an instrumental phenomenon, it also occurs in individual human acts. Several kinds of activities or skills (like cycling) that we at first have to learn taking pains, we develop by habituation into automatisms, into the formation of
fixed action patterns in our brain.
Since the seventeenth century, scientific technology takes the lead of the development of technical practices. The overestimation of the natural sciences led to dating the rise of Western technology in the seventeenth
century, when classical mechanics developed, or with the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century, marked by the invention of the steam engine by Newcomen in 1711-1712, improved by Watt in 1765. The view that technology as a science only started in the eighteenth and nineteenth century may apply to the scientific training of engineers. However, the science of mining dates from the sixteenth century and the science of building
even from a century before, in particular in Italy. The scientific research of mechanical clocks booked many successes in the seventeenth century. The underestimation of medieval technology is no doubt connected to the view of the philosophers of the Renaissance on the ‘dark Middle Ages’ and of literates on technical labour.
In fact, the start of Western technology and the break with the developments outside Europe took place much earlier, since about 1100, when the second agricultural reform with its innovations caused a formerly unknown rise of prosperity,
witness the building of the Gothic cathedrals. One could
make a long list of medieval inventions. The inventions of paper (cheaper than papyrus or parchment) and book printing (circa 1450: movable type, block printing being much older) are more peaceful and no less important than all the weaponry applied during
the crusades, the Hundred Year’s War and the religious wars. The chimney, essential for heating in northern areas, has changed society remarkably since 1100. Together with the application of window glass it became possible to heat separate rooms, increasing
the need of privacy. Next I mention the rudder, the compass and all other improvements in shipbuilding (where sailboats replaced galleys), wind and water mills, church bells, mechanical clocks, stringed instruments, the wheelbarrow, the spinning-wheel, an
improved weaving-loom, the button and buttonhole, knitting, iron casting applying bellows, spaghetti, brandy and beer, stone pavement, spectacles, the lace driven by feet, the crank and fly-wheel, horse shoes and stirrups.
Changing ordinary life radically, many of these inventions were known in antiquity and outside Europe and were probably imported.
Outside Europe they often functioned only as toys, as curiosities. Apparently, only the Christian culture in Western Europe was able to bring inventions to practical use. In the twelfth century, the Byzantine, Arab, Indian and Chinese civilizations were more
advanced than the Western-European one. In the thirteenth century, the first four stagnated, whereas Europe made a passing manoeuvre. Herein the technological progress has been an important, perhaps decisive factor.
Medieval inventions like dykes, windmills, the cure of herrings and the superior shipbuilding laid the foundation of the prosperity of the Low Countries in the fifteenth and sixteenth century and
the emergence of the Dutch Republic. In all sections of the population, the widely applied technology requires a conscious and constant willingness to maintain and improve existing apparatus and to learn about it. This leads to a critical and inquisitive mind. In this
way, the late-medieval technology contributed to the emergence of modern science in the seventeenth century, after people had liberated themselves from Aristotelian views. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, technology developed independent of natural science, which like mathematics has long been tributary to technology. One of the founders of seventeenth-century mechanics, Galileo Galilei was inspired by Italian shipbuilding, architecture and musical theory. Besides Italian artists-engineers like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarotti, in
the Netherlands Simon Stevin, Cornelis Drebbel, Willebrord Snellius, Isaac Beeckman, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and Jan Swammerdam were raised in the crafts. René Descartes and Christaan Huygens maintained close contacts with instrument makers. Astronomical research forming the foundation of Isaac Newton’s mechanics, and biological research depended on the telescope and the
microscope, both invented in the atmosphere of handicraft. The likewise handicraft invention and development of the steam engine in the eighteenth century stimulated thermodynamics in the nineteenth century. Only after physics and chemistry displaced the focus
of their research from the first four relation frames to the characters of electricity, magnetism, atoms and molecules,
these sciences were able to promote the technical development of plastics, electro technology, electronics and informatics. Technology accompanied by scientific research is first applied in the nineteenth-century chemical industry, electro-technology and electronics.
Since then it has expanded to any kind of industry. For their progress, scientists were, are and will be strongly dependent on technical appliances.
The technical development since the end of the eighteenth
century is known as the industrial revolution. An important difference, perhaps the most characteristic one, between handicraft and the industrial way of labour consists in the construction of identical, hence exchangeable parts of machines and other apparatus.
In handicraft each product is unique and each part irreplaceable. The industrial revolution could only get going when one succeeded in making and reproducing parts so precisely that one part could replace another one. A theoretical condition for this is insight
in the way a part functions in the larger whole. Therefore one should be able to abstract from anything of minor importance and to concentrate on the essential, meaning those properties which two different objects have in common such that they can replace
A social consequence of the industrial revolution was that not only the products became exchangeable, but the people who made them as well. Each craftsman delivering
a distinct product was as unique as their products. The industrial labourer delivers a prescribed product and is therefore as exchangeable as that product – exchangeable by another worker or by a machine. The standardising of parts led to an excessive
division of labour, in which each labourer only made a part of the end product, becoming alienated from the total product. Karl Marx saw this sharply.
Chronos & Clio
3.2. History of the arts
Art presents an image of history and the character of art has developed considerably in the course of
time. Both provide sufficient reasons to pay it extensive attention in this section. Since the eighteenth century the word aesthetic refers to the perception of beauty by means of the senses (1.2), in particular, but not exclusively, in art. Someone may enjoy
a sunset or its painting. In both cases it concerns an aesthetic subject-object relation, but only in the latter case one speaks of art. Only then the object of the aesthetic relation is primarily aesthetically typified. Art is always human-made.
It is an artefact and is therefore secondarily typified by the technical relation frame.
Artistic objects and events as primarily aesthetically characterized artefacts are objective
instruments in the transfer of aesthetic experience, subjected to the renewal of style as the aesthetic directive temporal order. We can research their various characters, both from the perspective of the viewer (2.2) and from that of the artist. A piece of
art functions in two different aesthetic subject-object relations, the productive one of the artist and the contemplative one of the onlooker. Artists are in need of a public, to show their work to.
All artists develop their own style, a set of norms ordering their acts and recognizable in all their works. Sometimes, but not often, an artist changes their style. Among various artists,
often resemblances of style may be discerned. A style indicates a certain law conformity, a historically and culturally determined regularity, which does not prevent its individual realization. The style of a painter is expressed in their paintings, in their
nuances, like the dimensions, the distinction of foreground and background, the way paint is applied, colour and brightness differences; next by the choice of the subject matter, of symbols, emblems or motives and the way the painter expresses these. The artistic
style is a historically determined set of norms and values, regarding both the primary aesthetic and the secondary technical characteristic of the art. Considering the technical characterization this set even contains natural laws, as far as an artist
has to take into account the properties of the materials he disposes of.
Besides its style, the character of a piece of art is relevant for understanding the history of the arts. Like
many other artefacts, a piece of art has a dual character. The generic character distinguishes art from whatever is not art, whereas the specific
character distinguishes one kind of art from another one, for instance music from painting. No doubt, the generic character of a piece of art is primarily aesthetic. It is distinguished from other artefacts by the aesthetic command, the ability of the artist
by which it is produced. Besides the piece of art itself, also the artistic act (the artistic production) is primarily aesthetic and secondarily technical. Aesthetic command, characterizing a good artist as well as good art, is both technical and aesthetic.
Art cannot be merely aesthetic, because there are many other aesthetic activities. A strictly technical command is necessary but not sufficient. When the aesthetic command is absent, a purely technical command may still lead to good results. A technically
able painter may be able to restore a damaged painting. Photos and pictures may be copied, paintings reproduced, a gramophone record or compact disc contains music and books have a small or large impression. That is almost pure technique. Its production does
not require much aesthetic command. The aesthetic command, the force of imagination, determines the quality of the artist, who we call a genius if he excels in this respect.
disposition of a piece of art is to please an art lover. It has an important objective function in the transfer of aesthetic experience from the artist to the spectator.
This generic character, distinguishing a piece of art from other artefacts, is always entwined with a second, specific character,
distinguishing the arts from each other. Depending on their secondary characterization – the projection of the aesthetic relation frame on the preceding ones – seven character types or profiles may be discerned.
a. Collecting as a primarily aesthetic act is a projection on the quantitative relation frame. A collection is not always intended to be aesthetic. The purpose of a university library differs from that of a
museum. Collecting food is not an aesthetic activity, but real collectors have first of all pleasure in books or stamps. They get excited about a first imprint or a unique postmark, striving after a complete or representative collection on a well-described
domain. The collection should not contain double copies, unless showing fascinating variations. Rarity and quality determine the aesthetic value of each copy, completeness and uniqueness that of the collection. At an exhibition a collector shows his collection
and a museum shows the development of an artist or a style in a historical period. Collections form an important source of information, in particular for historical research.
b. A piece of art may be a material or thing-like object, like a painting, with a specific aesthetically determined spatial shape, dimension and connection. The parts deliver simultaneously
and jointly the intended aesthetic effect of beauty, projected on spatial relations. Usually the artist first makes an aesthetic and technical design. After the artefact is finished, in principle it has an unlimited duration of existence, giving a
lasting impression of the style period in which it is made. These objects may be distinguished further by their fundamental form (painting versus sculpture) or the applied material (ceramics versus woodcarving).
c. Aesthetic productions or events are process-like or event-like artefacts, like the performance of a play, the presentation of a movie, the performance of music, cabaret or the recitation of a poem, in which the parts succeed
each other. These objects projected on the time of motion have a start and an end, an aesthetically determined duration and timing. Events often proceed according to an aesthetic prescription, like the text of a play, the choreography of a ballet,
the score of a piece of music, or the script and the screenplay of a movie. Such an artefact needs an actualisation, a performance, an interpretation.
An aesthetic prescript is therefore primarily typified by the semiotic relation frame and only secondarily by the aesthetic frame.
The playwright, choreographer or composer is to be distinguished from the performing artists. Their activity has the same generic character as any other art, having a specific character characterized by the semiotic relation frame. In the dramatic and musical
arts the players follow the score or the text, the soloist, director or stage-manager providing an interpretation. Some stage-plays may be read as independent literary works. Originally a poem was a prescript for recitation or singing. A romance of chivalry
was a prescript for a narrative. Prescripts may become
independent works, such that the relation between a poem and a recitation, a novel and a narrative gets lost. Yet novels and poems belong to this group. We are used to reading poems and novels instead of hearing them. Until the nineteenth century,
poems and prose were intended to be recited in the theatre or in a small company, whereas one considered the theatre as a dramatizing of poetry and prose.
Hence, reading a novel is an aesthetic event, even if no performing artist is involved.
d. People have pleasure in their achievements, to accomplish something requiring an extraordinary
effort. To test your abilities, to reach your limits, to establish a record, training and exercising, may be considered physically typified aesthetic activities which we like to show each other. Sport is here called a primarily aesthetic recreation, even if
many people exert sport for other reasons, for instance to remain fit. Secondarily sport is a physical exertion. In each sport motion plays a part, but generally speaking it is characterized by dextrous exertion of force. A game is subjected to historically
formed rules of play, determining the character of the sport.
e. People embellish their existence with flowers and plants, and gardening is easily recognizable as a biotically
typified aesthetic act. The beauty of nature is often compared with beauty in the arts, but unlike a garden, nature is not an artefact. Only laid out landscapes and gardens have a cultural history, contrary to nature.
f. As in all human activities, in aesthetic acts the senses play an important part. We look at sport and plastic art, we listen to music, we taste our food, we feel each other for erotic pleasure, and often we combine various
senses in order to project our aesthetic experience on the psychical one. It is a romantic view that art has the exclusive purpose to express emotions,
but of course it cannot be denied that a piece of art sometimes excites an emotion.
g. We often admire the beauty of technical artefacts like steam engines, cars and airplanes, which designers expressly pay attention to the aesthetic aspect. At least since the seventeenth
century painters displayed the beauty of sailing-ships. Working with and making artefacts yields aesthetic satisfaction, but it only becomes aesthetic pleasure if the artefacts themselves are playful, like toys, jokes and rhymes.
The recognisability of these profiles and successive styles allows historians to make the history of art somewhat understandable.
Besides the mentioned internal aesthetic objective function in the transfer of aesthetic experience a piece of art can also be used for other purposes. In a home, office or public space it functions as an ornament or decoration, which style provides us with an interesting view of cultural history. It enhances the social status of the owner. It is a present at a birthday or farewell
party. It may act as an investment or as a security. It may have a liturgical function in worship or an educative function in schools. It is an object for historical research. It may have a function in commemoration, like a monument for slavery. Art may express
an ideological message or an emotion. Art may be imitated, copied or reproduced and used in a commercial or as the jacket of a book.
This means that besides the artist and the art lover
other parties may be involved in a piece of art. In particular the owner may give the piece of art or a copy of it a different destination than intended by the artist. Often a piece of art is not even intended as such. A medieval painting had first of all
a symbolic function in the cult. Besides it had an aesthetic function, to embellish the church. The same painting now exposed in a museum we consider primarily as a piece of art, even if we recognize its symbolic significance.
This application of a piece of art in a non-aesthetic situation does not diminish its aesthetic value, but shows that the aesthetic experience is not isolated from other human experiences. Art is interlaced with all
kinds of human existence. This does not take away that
art is first of all intended as an instrument in the transfer of aesthetic experience, conform the style of its time.
A piece of art, taken out of the context of utilities is a relatively
modern phenomenon. A decoration is an aesthetic addition to a technical article of use. Art is distinguished from decoration because it is an independent aesthetic work. The separation of art from decoration can be seen in the shift of a mural painting to
a framed painting that can be hanged anywhere. The recognition of pieces of art as such started when people began to collect, buy and sell art, when the art trade emerged. These activities make a piece of art to stand apart from its original context. It is
still a form of recognition when a piece of art is made part of a museum collection or brings in a lot of money at an auction. When art was still decoration, artists were usually anonymous, like decorators usually still are. The independence of the arts implies
the independence of the artist, signing one’s work. Medieval art often had a religious destination. During the Renaissance emphasis came to lie on allegories, with a moral purpose. All elements of a painting had a symbolic and ethical significance. Only in the nineteenth century one started to judge art
only on aesthetic grounds. The aesthetic value of a piece of art is no longer judged according to what it represents or its original destination. Art is not semiotic by signifying something, but aesthetic, by suggesting something, by invoking an image, by
showing something. This does not mean that art can never be symbolic or should not contain symbols. But even if that is not the case, or if the symbolism of a piece of art has been lost, it remains a piece of art. This provides an argument to distinguish the
aesthetic relation frame from the semiotic one.
According to Immanuel Kant aesthetic judgments should be without interest.
‘The aesthetic distantiation means that we can admire a piece of art as such, without desire or envy, hence also without anger about the circumstances enabling the piece of art, or the ideology,
the reprehensible thought speaking from it or its purport.’
The movement of l’art pour l’art, art for art, arisen in the nineteenth century, nowadays is called formalism.
It was especially a protest against the dominance of art by moral purposes or by the view, that art should have a message outside the aesthetic framework. This movement reached its zenith in the twentieth century, especially in the paintings by Piet Mondriaan.
Alongside we find the view that art should be engaged, for instance in the emancipation of labourers, in nazism or communism. A more balanced view of art is to accept both the specific character of the aesthetic experience and its interlacement with otherwise
characterized human acts.
Chronos & Clio
3.3. Signs, symbols and languages
Signs, symbols and languages play an important part in history, historiography and philosophy of history, and we cannot avoid discussing them extensively.
This section concerns languages conceived as primarily semiotic artefacts with a character of their own, to be distinguished from other semiotic artefacts like symbols or codes. We shall pay attention to both the lawfulness of a language and its historic
nature, with the most intriguing question, whether or not the ‘natural’ languages confirm a universal character type. As instruments for the transfer of significant experience languages are so important that many people think that the semiotic
aspect is no more than that, that semiotic is identical with lingual. Therefore we shall first make a few remarks on signs and symbols in general.
The semiotic relations arising
because people assign significance to many cases constitute the field of study of semiotics, the science of the general principles of the structure of sign systems. The semiotic relation frame presupposes the technical one, for people make their symbols,
their sentences and their texts themselves. Use of language presupposes forms of language and their command. The semiotic frame also transcends the aesthetic frame, for each symbol, each emblem, each word is not merely an image, but also signifies
something. On the other hand, the semiotic relation frame enriches the technical and aesthetic frames. Complicated technical apparatus require naming their parts and explaining their functioning. Aesthetic experience is deepened when people are able to give
it significance and to interpret it.
People symbolize and interpret their environment, their relations and their acts. People need to communicate their internal experiences to their
fellow men, to utter themselves. They do not only express their feelings, but also their views, thoughts, insights, judgments, questions, their plans, assignments and reports, commands and prohibitions. They attribute significance to things and events, thereby
understanding or misunderstanding the cosmos. By means of signs, symbols and especially language people allot themselves and others a place in the cosmos, in history and in the future. The use of signs, symbols and language is an existential condition for
people and their history. By means of signs people understand, interpret and structure their world: their natural environment, their fellows with their acts, artefacts and associations, themselves and their relation to their God.
Signs can be distinguished from symbols and language, artefacts that are characterized by semiotic relations. We call something a sign if it has an objective function in a semiotic act, but is itself not typified by the semiotic relation frame. A sign provides information, significant knowledge, based on interpretation. For a biologist, a fossil can be a sign of the existence of ammonites,
extinguished sixty-five million years ago. We give someone a beautifully polished fossil as a sign of friendship. A car is a sign of someone’s prosperity and status. Family resemblance is a sign of biotic relationship. A sign never means something as
such. It only exists for someone who assigns the objective sign a subjective significance. A sign is also called a symptom. During centuries, fever was understood as a sign of an excess of blood, hence the practice of bloodletting. Nowadays one interprets
fever as a symptom of influenza.
A sign is not a representation. Only a semiotic act transforms an object into a sign. A fossil is only a sign of evolution if a biologist interprets it as such. Because of a sign we understand
a situation. In a restricted sense also animals can observe signs, if that fits their biotic and psychic needs. Apes are able to learn several dozen signs, sometimes more than a hundred, without forming combinations of signs with a new significance. Animals
communicate with each other by means of signals, for instance warning shouts and marking a territory. These are not semiotic artefacts, but parts of reality as observed by the animals concerned. Such signals concern the elementary necessaries of life of individual
animals and the conservation of the species. An animal signal acts immediately, for instance in a reflex, as a trigger in an action pattern. If the animal is not in the proper state to react, it ignores the signal. In their communication, only people use self-made
symbols, having significance each apart or combined with other symbols.
There is a direct relation between the sign and the signified. When the streets are wet, it is a sign that it has rained, we interpret the sign by means of a causal relation. Similarly, a sign
may point to a biotic, psychic or mathematical relation. In contrast, if a sign rests on a convention, we call it a symbol.
No smoke without fire: smoke is a sign of fire. But a smoke signal is more than a sign. It is a symbol with a significance that people assign to it arbitrarily, after their own discretion, according to an agreement. A symbol is a sign to which people attribute
a common significance, even if there is no non-semiotic relation at stake.
Historians, too, understand the past only by interpreting signs, symbols and texts. They gratefully make use
of philology, the science analysing texts critically. Empiricists, assuming that science especially depends on unbiased observations, doubted the possibility of history as a science, arguing that the past is not directly observable.
Meanwhile it has become clear that the criterion of direct observability is not even applicable to the natural sciences. Electrons, quarks and black holes are no more observable than genetic relations expressed in DNA-configurations. In fact all sciences interpret
signs. Therefore this cannot prevent history from operating as a full-fledged science.
The ability to use language is inborn. Usually children learn speaking before their fifth or sixth year, independent of the culture in which they live or the language they learn. Yet ‘natural
languages’ do not exist. What we call ‘natural’ is a language like children time and again invent or discover for themselves, and subsequently adapt to their environment. Hence, a language is an artefact, grown in history. A ‘living’ language does not live in a biological sense, but is used by living people and changed in their culture. Classical Latin is not a living language, Church Latin
is. Linguists estimate the number of living languages at 5000-7000, of which circa 440 will disappear within one or two generations. Usually a language has two forms, spoken and written. The difference is connected to the applied means of communication: telephones use spoken language, e-mail is written. The relation between a spoken language and a written or printed
one is sometimes fairly strong, as in the European languages; sometimes it is weak, as in Chinese; sometimes unknown, as in languages of which only the written form is handed down. Some languages merely have a spoken form. Sign languages form a separate group,
each with its own grammar and semantics.
The Western alphabetical principle is based on the agreement of a letter or syllable with a sound.
Because the number of sounds is limited, the number of letters in an alphabet can also be reasonably small, but large enough to represent an almost unlimited number of words. The relation between a written and spoken language is never unequivocal. Written
Chinese is spoken in various ways. In England, Australia or America one pronounces the same written English text quite differently.
Spoken and written languages are not always exchangeable.
More than written language, spoken language is fit for the expression of emotions, the transfer of skills and the description of art. The reverse is true for conceptual thought and the accumulation of knowledge in libraries. Therefore, written use of language
contributes more to the history of mankind than spoken language. Especially the invention of the alphabet has led, in the languages that use it, to a relative autonomy of written language. This process is accelerated by the introduction of book printing, twenty-eight
centuries later, and the ensuing becoming literate of the population. By the invention of telephone, film, radio and television, the relevance of spoken language increased. By the rise of fax, text processor, internet and e-mail written language recovers its
It seems obvious that written language is derived from spoken language, but sometimes the spoken form is lost and the written form preserved. Originally a written text was
a prescription for a spoken text, or a mnemonic for the transfer of a message. Who is reading silently often speaks the words in their mind. In a developed society written language received a certain autonomy, a character of its own, independent of,
though entwined with, the corresponding spoken language. The agreement between the spelling of a word and its pronouncement is often far away. Grammar is less binding for spoken than for written language. Spoken language is sustained by differences in pitch
and emphasis, by gestures and facial expressions. Written language uses graphic means like initials, capitals, punctuation and illustrations. A spoken lingual act has the character of an event with a limited duration. A written text has the character of a
thing and can be copied. However, nowadays also spoken language can be recorded and reproduced on thing-like bearers of information like a tape or a cd. A written lingual form like a book or an encyclopaedia may be much more voluminous than a spoken lingual
form would admit.
In spoken language, the phonemes or sounds form a distinguishing element, in written language
the letters (usually called ‘characters’, which might be confusing in the present book) play that part. A collection of phonemes is not a language (it lacks both grammar and semantics) and it is not even a part of the language. Like the alphabet it is a separate code, a set of semiotic objects with a character of its own, interlaced
with the character of the spoken language. Observe that a written language has no relation with phonemes, no more than a spoken language has with letters.
A code could be defined as
a coherent system of symbols including rules for its use. Besides the alphabet, the number system is a code.
Traffic signs, too, are symbols, yet do not form a language. They are part of a code, with the rules of traffic as its character. A traffic sign refers to a traffic situation, for instance a one-way-street.
A sign with an arrow does not point to another sign, but indicates a traffic direction. You cannot explain the significance of a traffic sign with the help of other traffic signs.
a real language, the applied symbols have not merely significance outside the language, but they derive their significance also from each other. Grammar indicates connections between the symbols, whereas semantics determines what these signify, in terms of
the symbols themselves. A dictionary explains the significance of a word in words. Grammar (including syntax) regulates how words are declined or conjugated, how to put them together, how words are connected into sentences and sentences into a lingual act
or text. The semantics determines the significance of words in the context of the sentence and is therefore not independent of the grammar. For spoken language formal or informal rules of pronunciation exist, and for written language more or less standardized
spelling rules. All these rules are norms, not natural laws or normative principles. Some are old and persistent, like the grammar of an ordinary language. Others are recent and easy to change, like spelling rules. Semantics is much more plastic than grammar.
In each language it is easier to add new words (often by borrowing from other languages) or to apply a new significance to words, than to change its grammar. The existence of norms for the use of language, for instance grammar, pronunciation and spelling rules,
does not restrict the human freedom to use language, but makes it possible and meaningful. In each language, with the help of grammar people can generate an infinity of sentences from
a finite number of words. Only by commanding the rules of the language someone is able to apply them fruitfully and amend them creatively, like for instance poets and cabaret performers do. Someone who does not keep to a grammatical or semantic rule makes
an error, unless he or she intends to renew the language, for norms are not invariant natural laws or normative principles.
Spoken language, written language and sign language each have
their own character if standardized in one way or another. Such a character consists of more or less uniform rules (grammar, semantics, pronunciation, spelling and rhetoric),
accepted by a dominating group (usually the intellectual middle class) and disseminated via education. These rules emerged in the course of history. They continually change, usually gradually, sometimes abruptly, like in a spelling reform.
A language consists structurally of words, sentences, texts and narratives, of symbolic forms of language signifying something. Like pieces of art, lingual forms have a dual character. The generic character is primarily typified by the semiotic relation frame and secondarily by a projection on the technical relation frame, by the formation and command of language. In their lingual acts people understand, form and use semiotic artefacts like words, sentences and texts. These lingual forms are to be distinguished by
their specific character, primarily typified by semiotic relations and secondarily by a projection on a preceding relation frame.
a. As the smallest unit of a language I do not consider a phoneme or sound, a letter or a gesture, but a word as the elementary bearer of significance.
As a projection on the quantitative relation frame a language is not a set of sounds or letters, but a set of words. The use of an alphabet in written language enables to order words in an alphanumerical sequence in a dictionary, describing their lexicographic
significance. A dictionary does not provide a logical definition of a word, but a semantic description by a sentence or a synonym. A vocabulary summarizes the words belonging to the language and the semantics determines their ambiguous or unambiguous
significance. The grammar determines how words can be declined or conjugated, and how one may derive one word from another by prefixes and suffixes, endings and compounds. A word is built from syllables, but usually these have no significance of their own.
By replacing a syllable by another one, or by adding or omitting syllables, the significance of a word changes.
Each word has the disposition to become combined with other words into
a sentence, in which words have a grammatical and semantic function. Only in its context a word gets its definitive significance.
Because of their function in a sentence, grammar distinguishes nouns and adjectives, adverbs, articles, verbs, and its various forms. In a sentence the words stand in a sequence, projecting language on the quantitative relation frame. However, the order is
not quantitative, not primarily subjected to quantitative laws. It is a significant sequence, subjected to the lingual rules of the syntax.
Etymology is the science concerned with the
history of words. For a long time, people thought that words could be reduced to the things they signify, but this turned out to be an illusion. The function of nouns is to name persons, matters, events, acts and their properties (‘the Middle Ages’)
and to classify or categorize (‘this is a horse’). In the eighteenth century one wondered if a natural classification (like that for minerals, plants or animals) agrees with a natural choice of words.
Because the semiotic relation frame is irreducible and language a historically grown artefact, such a natural system is probably not possible.
b. In a sentence words provide
in a grammatical order simultaneously and together a descriptive significance, which they could not give separately. According to syntactic rules a sentence connects words to a new unity, in which each word has its grammatical position. The specific character of a sentence I consider to be primarily semiotic
and secondarily spatial. A sentence has the disposition to take part in a spoken or written text, explicating its significance.
Although we speak a sentence as a succession of words,
its significance is usually only clear when it is finished. A sentence is limited by the first and final word. A composed sentence has parts.
A sentence consists of a number of words, each with its own grammatically and semantically determined position. Change of relative position usually changes the meaning of the sentence. We sustain spoken languages by differences in emphasis, pitch, speed, rhythm,
or by pauses; printed sentences by the use of capitals, underlining, bold printing or initials.
In each language the character of a sentence is determined by its syntax, the
part of grammar giving rules for the structure of sentences. In a sentence words and word groups can be distinguished because of their function in the sentence, like subject, predicate, direct and indirect object.
Each sentence deepens both the form and the significance of the words occurring in the sentence. The syntax determines the variable word form, for instance the personal form of a verb (e.g., I
am, you are, he is). Very important in many languages is the tense in verbal forms, allowing us to distinguish between past, present and future, perfect or imperfect. For this purpose, many other lingual acts are available as well. Each language is
not merely historically formed, but also expresses our common sense of history.
c. The specific character of a text like a chronicle is characterized primarily by semiotic relations
and secondarily by kinetic ones. One sentence follows another, the significance of each sentence influencing that of the preceding and succeeding ones. The text forms the context of the sentence. The information contained in succeeding sentences is connected.
Sometimes one uses copulatives, like ‘first’ or ‘next’.
Hermeneutics provides semantic rules for the interpretation of texts, the exegesis or lingual analysis,
in which texts are compared to texts. Medieval Biblical exegesis distinguished literal from allegorical, and figurative from analogical exegesis. Modern is the difference between lingual, historical and theological exegesis of the Bible.
Besides narratives and texts also words and sentences have an exegetical function. A classifying noun refers to agreements and differences, not by definition but by interpretation. When calling an object a chair, we
interpret it as such. As is well known, it is very difficult to form a logical concept of what we mean by a chair, to give a logical definition of a chair. But in our language the significance is clear and translation into other languages
usually gives few problems. In a translation we use a dictionary, giving one or more translations of all or the most common words. Translating lingual acts does not occur word after word, not even sentence after sentence. The text and the context also determine
the translation. Even then each translation involves rewriting, changing the significance somewhat. Traduire c’est trahir, translation is treason. Each translation rests on an interpretation.
Therefore it is difficult to design a program for a translating computer: interpretation is a human activity.
d. Inter alia, a narrative is distinguished from a chronicle or
report because it gives a stylized interpretation and points to causal connections. A story concerns an event or a progressive series of events, a story line (a plot or act) giving an interpretation, with a beginning, a middle part and an end according to
Aristotle. Each story or discourse is subjected to the norm of relevance. In the story only sentences ought to occur which are relevant, having significance for the course of the tale, no more and of course also no less. At the end of the story the
listener or reader should be able to remember what the tale was about from the beginning. Therefore an oral story should not be too long, and it is advisable to structure the story in short parts. A complicated story like a novel has several narrative lines.
People tell stories in order to bring order into their lives, to determine their identity, their position in society, their convictions, to justify their deeds and to give meaning to their existence, to explain what they do.
We could proceed with this analysis of lingual forms, conceived as projections on preceding relation frames, with questions, commands, instructions and figures of speech. Possibly, these can be
characterized as semiotic projections on respectively the biotic, psychic, technical and aesthetic relation frame. This concerns their generic character, which all languages have in common
and distinguishes each language from whatever is not a language.
Besides, each language has its own specific character, its own grammar and semantics, indicating the differences between
various languages. The agreements between languages not only point to their common descent (5.3), but according to Noam Chomsky also to the existence of a ‘universal grammar’,
being the unchangeable generic character type of the languages. This is expressed in the structure of words, sentences, texts and narratives, questions, commands, instructions and figures of speech, primarily characterized by the semiotic relation frame and
secondarily by the relation frames preceding the semiotic frame. It appears that all languages have this law conformity in common, and that also the inborn lingual capacity of children (the start of their command of a language) is structured by the universal
generic character type shared by all languages.
Chronos & Clio
3.4. Concepts, propositions and theories
Conceptual or theoretical reasoning is to argue with the help of logically qualified artefacts, like concepts, statements or propositions and theories.
Often one experiences these instruments in the transfer of logical experience as being abstract, posing higher demands than words, sentences and texts. Nevertheless, besides science, ordinary life applies them often. In history ideas and theories exert a large
In conceptual arguing, the use of language is indispensable. We cannot imagine concepts without words, statements without sentences or a theory without an elucidation, and
daily parlance does not always make the distinction. We can establish the truth of a statement only after we have understood its significance. The statement ‘x + 2 = 5’ is true if x signifies the number 3 and is false if x
signifies another number. It is neither true nor false if x would signify a person, for the statement ‘Peter + 2 = 5’ makes no sense. From the seventeenth century till the first half of the twentieth century, philosophers like Gottfried
Leibniz, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell and Rudolf Carnap have tried to reduce logic to a universal unambiguous language.
This attempt at reduction turned out to be unsuccessful and seems to be abandoned by philosophy. Yet it has borne fruit, resulting in formal logic. This, however, is not a language but a code, a coherent set of symbols with rules that are not lingual
A theory is an artefact, people making, inventing, improving, using or rejecting theories. We use theories as instruments of thought to form concepts and to prove statements.
Theoretical reasoning is a human activity, in which someone interrupts the direct relation, characterizing natural thought, by placing a theory between himself and the object of thought. A theory mediates between subject and object. It is an instrument with
a logical character, in which only arguments play a part. Other ways to achieve experience, for instance, feelings, images and metaphors, are excluded.
This opposing and therefore critical
attitude is not a privilege of theoretical reasoning. It occurs whenever someone uses artefacts in their acts. A clear example is the way by which somebody extends their observation capacity by the use of a telescope or a microscope. In this case,
too, someone adopts an opposing attitude, taking distance and narrowing their experience. One sees further away, but decreases one’s field of sight. What one observes is disengaged from the coherence in which it naturally functions. This distance taking
attitude is absent both in the natural experience of people and in the functioning of animals. It allows people to take part in nature and to take distance from it simultaneously. Often the results of theoretical thought have a strained relation with natural
thought, contradicting common sense. For this reason, a theory requires proof. But in practice, theoretical thought is never separated from natural thought. Theoretical activity requires common sense and intuition as well.
Each theory functions in three logical relations. In a logical subject-object relation a theory is an instrument between the logical subject (the designer or user of the theory) and the logical object (the
contents of the theory). Each theory has a logical form and a non-logical content. The latter category covers observations, for instance. A theory only contains statements, but a statement may describe an observation. In a logical subject-subject relation,
such as an argument, a discussion or a debate, a theory functions as a proof. The participants in a debate should agree about the starting points and methods of proof, otherwise the discussion is meaningless. They try to convince each other about affairs in
which they did not agree initially. The participants in the debate are bound to logical rules or laws. A theory is indirectly subjected to these laws, functioning in a logical law-subject relation. In all three relations, logical subjects are involved.
We cannot consider theories apart from the people who make use of them.
What is a theory? The Greek word theoria
means something like contemplation. Our word ‘theatre’ is derived from it. Often an unproven hypothesis is called a theory. However, the earliest Greek philosophers already connected theoria to delivering proof, to deductive argumentation. Since then, a theory is an instrument for
the delivery of proof, the logical deduction of propositions from presuppositions (premises), as a movement of thought referring to the kinetic relation frame. When the proof is correct and one assumes that the premises are true, then one ought to accept the
derived propositions as true too. A theory is a deductively ordered set of propositions accepted to be true.
Fundamentalist philosophers assume that a theory should start from well-known and generally accepted evident truths, in order to derive initially unknown statements. Fundamentalism or foundation
thinking is an ideology supposing science to dispose of sources of absolute truth, not open to critical empirical research.
Examples are the rationalist view that the axioms of a theory should be self-evident; the positivist view that unbiased observations provide an undeniable source of truth; the firm belief of almost all philosophers that the laws of logic are inescapable, for
people and for God as well; the standard view that mathematics is founded in logic; the authoritarian view ascribing authority to the utterances of great scientists; and the religious fundamentalism deriving scientific data from a religious text. A non-fundamentalist
scientific world view rejects the pretension of science to be capable of leading to absolute truth. Critical-realists like Karl Popper believe that a theory should start from new and daring hypotheses, by logical reasoning arriving at testable conclusions.
There is some agreement between logical and semiotic artefacts: concepts and words, propositions and sentences, a theory and a narrative. The question may rise whether various complexes exist (analogous to languages) of concepts, statements and theories
having a character of their own? The answer is confirmative. Such a complex is called a special science or field of science, each having its own methodology and history, its own concepts and coherent theories, its periodicals, scientific society, conferences
and university departments. The knowledge of a field of science is usable in other fields, if they apply similar concepts. Like the vocabulary of a language grows by finding new significances, each field of science continuously develops new concepts.
Like a language has a grammar, a field of science has a method to generate new statements and theories, to find solutions for its problems. Related sciences like physics and chemistry have corresponding
methods. Unrelated sciences like sociology and mathematics have widely different methods. Historiography, too, has its own methodology.
Each method is logical, deductive and inductive, theoretical and experimental. The method determines the character of the field of science, such that one may speak of different cultures, like different languages agree with different cultures. The
philosophy of a field of science does not only study its presuppositions, but also its methodology.
A part of science, intended as a practice, need not be a field of science.
A field of science investigates the law side of reality and is as such a practice of its own.
Besides practices exist that do not investigate but apply the results of science. The practice of a court of justice differs from that of jurisprudence. In justice one uses concepts, statements and theories, often derived from jurisprudence. But the
method of justice differs from that of jurisprudence and these have different characters. Likewise, a general practitioner has a practice applying medical knowledge. To exert pure medical science he leaves to others.
3.5. Contents of faith
In their endeavour
to improve the world people make use of documents, like transmitted stories, manifests or programs, in which they express their belief in the future. Often this is a myth.
The word myth
(from muthos, spoken word) has originally the meaning of a faith story, often concerned with the past, the emergence of mankind, of the tribe or village. Sometimes a myth also contains an expectation regarding the future.
In this case one sometimes speaks of a utopian scheme. A myth marks the transition from prehistory to history. Usually, a myth cannot be proved and therefore received the negative image of an unreliable story. Someone accepting its truth does so because believing
the story. Such a myth we find in Genesis 1-3, the story of creation, fall into sin and the promise of a redeemer. A myth does not present verifiable historical facts. It presents a world view having a connective and inspiring function in a community. In an
association the foundation or the mission statement sometimes plays a comparable part, like a confession of faith in the church, a statement of principles in a political party, or a scientific world view directing research in a field of science.
A myth is different from literary fiction, like John Tolkien's The lord of the rings. You may enjoy Tolkien’s book or the movie without believing anytime in the existence of hobbits, elves and orks, or the spell of a ring. Similarly,
you may enjoy the literary quality of the psalms or Isaiah’s prophecies without accepting them as faith documents. But nobody can be a Christian without believing that the Bible as a faith story is the true foundation of their religion.
A faith story like a myth is not a scientific text. Since the nineteenth century, scientific research of the scriptures has sown doubt about the reliability of the Bible. This research supposed wrongly
that for Christian faith the Bible acts as a historical book or a scientific discourse. The Bible has not the intention to write history in Leopold von Ranke’s objectivist sense (1.11). Just like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey,the
Bible books may be used as documents for historical research, for each faith document has an historical origin. It is delivered by former generations, or put into words by a prophet like Moses or Mohammed, an apostle like Paul, a preacher like Buddha, a reformer
like Martin Luther, a philosopher like Karl Marx or a scientist like Charles Darwin. During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, mechanism and determinism were prevalent myths in physics and beyond, succeeded by evolutionism since the twentieth century.
For the church, the Bible is not first of all a historical document, but a normative directive for faith. Nobody needs to accept on historical grounds that Jesus is the son of God – the Bible
itself indicates that this is a confession of faith, not a scientifically verifiable fact. No more does anybody need to believe on the basis of historical research that Jesus has risen from the death, even if the Bible mentions a large number of witnesses
having met him alive after his death. Christians accept the resurrection not primarily as a historical fact, but as the corner stone of their confession. It is a dogma, a hopeful statement of faith. Meanwhile no Christian can doubt the historicity of the man Jesus. Because God became man, he is part of human history. We could say that a myth as a faith story is primarily characterized
by the relation frame of faith and secondarily by the semiotic one. Dogmas (often accepted by the church or another authority after theological investigation) appear to be characterized secondarily by the logical frame, and icons by the aesthetic frame.
A faith story may be immanent or transcendent. An immanent myth is directed to someone or something within the observable world. Nature religions, ancestor worship, the Orange myth in the Netherlands
or Northern Ireland, humanist stories about the social contract or the Enlightenment, and the Communist Manifesto (1848) are examples. Transcendent faith stories refer to someone outside the created world, about the creator and redeemer, about one or more
gods. Theism and deism are transcendent faiths; pantheism and atheism are immanent.
Some transcendental faith communities attract attention because being based on a book, a written revelation: Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. They believe the truth of their book, but like
any text it requires an exegesis. Various currents within each of these faith communities differ by varying interpretations, from orthodox to liberal. Orthodoxy objectifies faith to a precisely described content of faith, guarded by ecclesiastical
or scriptural authority, to which one can only subject oneself (Islam = submission). Jewish, Christian, Islamic and humanist fundamentalists show remarkable similarities, both in their literal interpretation of the Holy Scripture and in their intercourse
with dissenters, characterized by intolerance, even if this does not necessarily deteriorate into violence.
Liberalism takes faith to be subjective and noncommittal, each human being determining what he believes. According to a third view, a faith story is neither objective nor subjective, but normative. It indicates according to which
values people ought to believe and live. In the faith community they elaborate these values into norms, applying them in freedom and responsibility, taking into account the circumstances in which they live.
More than Catholics, Protestants emphasize the personal rather than the communal confession of faith. They become responsible members of the church by making a public confession. The French word protester does not mean to
protest (that is protester contre), but to witness
or to confess. The word protestatio was used for the first time in 1529 as the name of a document presented by Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli at the diet of Speyer, as a confession of the faith they shared.
Je proteste que Jesus Christ est le Seigneur du monde: a Protestant is a confessor. Therefore, Protestantism started before the Reformation, for instance with John Wyclif in England and John Hus in Bohemia. The ‘modern devotion’, from
Geert Groote and Thomas à Kempis till Desiderius Erasmus and Menno Simons, strongly influenced Dutch Protestantism, which is not so exclusively Calvinian as is often assumed.
Also the image that people make of their god is an artefact. As far as this is literally a sculpture, a representation, it
is aesthetically founded in the cults (5.2). Jews, Christians and Muslims base their image of God on their holy writ. The Bible teaches that man is created after the image of God, as his deputy on earth. This has given rise to speculations about the analogia entis, the analogy of God’s being and human being. From neo-platonism, rationalist theologians and
philosophers derive a logically founded rational image of God, imagined as a perfect being. In particular the medieval proofs of God’s existence assume that God may be defined as a perfect being. Since the thirteenth century these were influenced by Aristotle’s philosophy. He replaced the concrete fallible Olympian gods by the abstract ‘first mover’, who as an unchangeable and perfect being does nothing but
contemplate himself (2.2). Muslim savants transmitted knowledge about Aristotle. With respect to the rational image formation of God, Muslim philosophers like Averroes may have influenced Western theology. The Renaissance replaced the proofs of God’s existence by the theodicy, the justification of God’s acts on rational grounds, especially because of the question why the perfectly good God admits of evil.
The view that real being is perfect and unchangeable is found in the theological proposition that God is perfect and therefore unchangeable, assuming that whatever is changeable cannot be perfect. The Bible presents an entirely different image. It is
not strange that Jack Miles published a biography, in which God acts as the principal person in a literary work. The Bible nowhere indicates that God would be unchangeable in all respects.
God accompanies the history of people. He reveals himself in the Old and New Testament as a concrete person in historical situations. Compared to Homer’s epics, the Bible presents itself as a historical book.
Chronos & Clio
presents is a universal form of companionship, to be distinguished from economic being of service.
The present (a book, for instance) is an object in this act, but it is itself not characterized by that frame. In contrast, customs, habits, manners and conventions may be considered to be artefacts qualified by the relation frame of keeping company, shaping
social intercourse. In a petrified society, manners are formal and extensive. In a developing society, customs (etiquette) allow people the freedom to keep each other’s company in a responsible way. Manners are habits, they have been formed
in the course of time, they differ locally, they change and are influenced by the situation in which one happens to be. Customs are norms which one ought to keep, based on the invariant and universal value of mutual respect. Whoever diverges from a habit without
any apology shows lack of respect and is impolite. They should be ashamed, and their relatives or friends are ashamed because of one’s behaviour. Shame is a strong means for maintaining the customs of company.
The words ‘habit’, ‘habitude’ and ‘habituation’ are related to ‘habitat’, the natural home of a species of plants or animals. The set of
habits which someone achieves in one’s education and applies is called one’s habitus, determining one’s behaviour to a large extent, making it predictable.
Someone accepting the common habits finds a place, a living in the community. Who refuses to do so is not socially integrated. Guests accept the customs of their host, who respects the diverging habits of the guests. Immigrants ought to take up the customs
of their new country. Somebody keeping the customs in all circumstances and respecting those of others has good manners and is a civilized person.
Chronos & Clio
3.7. Instruments for transactions
In the course of time people have invented many artefacts to enable commerce. Each transaction
rests on an agreement or contract between two or more parties. Besides contracts, price, money, capital and credit are economic artefacts, instruments in the transfer of possession.
believe that possession of goods or services is the general expression for the economic subject-object relation, in which the object is not necessarily economically characterized. One can hardly speak of an economic good if nobody possesses it. In a tribal
society, land belongs to a family or a village and cannot be transmitted, except by inheritance, when the land goes to the oldest son. In such a society land is not an economic good, it is not negotiable. Only in an economically differentiated society private
possession is possible, in the hands of individuals or associations. Until the nineteenth century, possession was mainly a private affair. Since then it is concentrating in enterprises and banks, insurance companies and pension funds.
Although economy primarily seems to concern the exchange of material goods, the economy of mutual servicing (neighbourship) may be older. Before one started to exchange products, farm workers got
their due in the form of food and shelter. In an economic sense, possession is something someone may dispose of temporally or permanently and that they can transfer to someone else. Hence nobody possesses their head or hand in an economic sense, as
long as they cannot transfer it or hire it out to someone else.
Possession is not necessarily a material object. For instance, people dispose of the power of labour, a specific skill
or a patent, which he may place as a licence at the disposal of somebody else. Possession requires management, anticipating the political relation frame, whereas property is a juridical relation. Rightful possession implicates the existence of unjust possession,
acquired by deceit or theft. One can possess something rightfully without being the owner, for instance by borrowing or renting it. Than one cannot sell it, though one may sublet it. Possession implies the duty of care, anticipating the relation frame of care.
All natural objects and many kinds of artefacts can be objects for commerce, but one should not possess people. Trade of children, women and slaves ought not to occur. Human rights are inalienable and therefore no economic goods.
Someone may acquire possession by an economic act, by buying, renting or inheriting. Whatever someone possesses, he can sell, hire out, give away or leave. Whoever gets something as possession by cheating a commercial
partner, by paying a too low price or by stealing or robbing, contradicts the economic norm: ‘thou shalt not steal’.
Possession, management and property are inalienable elements of economic acts. Who like Karl Marx considers property as theft, denies economic activity. In contrast, a civilized man satisfies the minimal economic norm of quid pro quo, or expands it
into the norm that in any transaction all parties make a profit.
A transaction is an economic act in which people exchange goods and/or services for an agreed price. Philosophers and
economists have deeply thought about the question of whether it is possible to ascribe an intrinsic or absolute value to an object or service, apart from transactions. This is inspired by the traditional view that the norm for economical conduct would
be quid pro quo, such that the exchanged goods should have objectively the same value. They distinguish intrinsic utility (value in use),functioning in a subject-object relation, from relative exchange value, established in a subject-subject
However, utility is not a purely objective property of the object, for it depends on a subject-object relation. Someone may attach more value to an object than someone else may do, and the situation too determines value. The utility
of a glass of water depends on your thirst. The law of diminishing surplus value says that the more you possess of something, the less its surplus value is. If an object would have the same value in use for anybody, trade would even be impossible. Barter is
only profitable if the good acquired has more value than the good traded in. The exchange value is no more an objective property of a product. In an economical chain in which a product from the producer via wholesale and intermediate trade reaches the shops,
the exchange value increases in order to allow the traders to compensate for their costs and to make a profit.
It belongs to the calling of people to place their given talents to each
other’s disposal. To be of service is the meaning of economy and differentiation is the economic meaning of history. Someone may place their possessions to someone else by letting or hiring it out. This leads to a relation of debt: someone owes money
and interest to someone else. Also this relation is subjected to the norm that both parties should make a profit. Who borrows money ought to pay it back with the agreed interest at the agreed time. Interest should not be excessive, not deteriorating into usury.
Nobody ought to acquire so many debts that redemption becomes hopeless. Yet sometimes an occasion may arise that debts should be remitted partly or entirely, in order to give someone the opportunity to make a new start. In that case the duty of care surpasses
the right of repay. An economic norm is that someone pays their debts, until they cannot do that anymore. A bankruptcy is a form of finishing a debt, which should never lead to slavery, as was quite usual in the past.
In suit of Aristotle, medieval philosophers assumed that money only serves as an objective measure for prices.
They considered it unnatural if money could bring forth young. Therefore it was forbidden for Christians (as it still is for Muslims) to ask for interest when making a loan, at least from co-believers.
Giving and accepting interest they left to believers of a different faith, in particular Jews, bearing the stamp of being usurers. The philosophers assumed that saving money makes only sense if it serves as a nest egg, an old-age benefit or insurance for adversities.
They did not understand that in economy the perspective for the future plays another part. Entrepreneurs invest in order to make earnings later on. Giving and taking credit with interest is an economical transaction, from which both parties hope to profit.
Capital means investing in the future. Hunters investing time and labour in making a spear or a bow and arrows are early capitalists, their hunting gear being their capital. They run a risk, for
if they do not catch anything they could better have spent their time and energy to collecting fruits. Capitalism in the modern sense of the word emerged during the Renaissance, stimulated by Protestantism, objecting less than others to taking interest and
making a profit.
3.8. Making decisions
Besides rules or laws, also decisions,
plans and compromises are political artefacts shaping history. The difference between a law and a decision mainly concerns the way it is enacted, and therefore the authority they have. Their generic character appears to be secondarily characterized by the
technical relation frame, in the ability to make decisions which a good manager ought to have. The specific characters of rules may widely differ. In a company these are usually economically characterized, in a church by the frame of trust, but even then economic
decisions cannot be avoided. On the public domain government rules prevail above those of other associations. Recommendations, orders and instructions based on rules are primarily political artefacts as well
In a decision making process, one distinguishes the stages of preparing, making, exerting and evaluating of decisions. At the preparation one determines requirements, desirabilities and possibilities, when making decisions one makes
a choice or states priorities.
A decision may have an incidental or a general, i.e., lawlike character. If someone decides to buy a car, or if the president nominates a minister, these
are incidental decisions. If the government decides to increase income tax, it is a general lawlike decision. Lawlike decisions are called laws, rules or regulations and are often collected in constitutions, law books, statutes, articles, etc. Incidental decisions,
such as appointments, are usually subject to general rules, like a collective labour agreement. In early history, incidental decision making preceded the making of laws, having priority sometimes. The next stage is that a government is itself subject to laws.
Both individuals and associations are competent to take decisions. In an association a competent board is in charge, sometimes delegating part of its authority to a lower organ or a subordinate.
In a complex association decision making is complex too and often hierarchical. Sometimes decisions at a lower level require consent on a higher level. As a consequence, within an association a hierarchy of decisions exists. An international treaty is higher
than the constitution that in turn has precedence over a law. National laws have precedence above local regulations. In case of contradictions, the higher rule prevails. If in concrete situations the application of decisions leads to contradictions or obscurities,
a higher instance has to turn the scale. The specific character of decisions appears to be semiotically founded. Decisions are expressed in words, communicated, interpreted and evaluated. Often this happens in a meeting.
The laws or rules within an association, like a state, a church, a company or a club, form a coherent set. It did not exist always, it has grown in the course of history, it differs locally, and it changes continuously. In such a system,
the philosopher of law Herbert Hart distinguishes two kinds of laws. Rules of the first kind have content, prescribing, preventing, regulating or constraining human acts in the domain for which the law is valid. These rules grant rights or impose obligations upon members of the community. Rules of
the second kind are only concerned with the status of the rules of the first kind. These determine how laws of the first kind are made or amended, uphold or abolished, pointing out which laws are legal and hence valid within the legal system. Apparently, the
first kind of laws is primarily politically characterized, the second kind juridical.
According to Hart, the most fundamental of the latter rules is ‘the rule of recognition’.
It rules how doubts and uncertainties are settled, providing the authority to resolve them. It is the source of legal validity, from which the legality of any law, minor by-law or legal document is derived, as well as the legitimacy of any court of law and
its proceedings, and any action by a legal officer. In
some countries (like the United States, Germany and the European Union) a supreme court decides whether primary rules are valid according to secondary rules. In other countries (like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands) parliament has this privilege. In
many countries, the way rules of the first kind are made is laid down in the constitution, often together with a Bill of Rights, a declaration of the rights and duties of the citizens. In clubs similar rules may be found in the statutes, less easily
amendable than additional regulations.
Chronos & Clio
3.9. Rights and obligations
Only people and associations can be juridical subjects having rights and obligations. Animals have no rights, but people have obligations with respect to animals, with respect to all what
lives, the environment and valuable artefacts, being juridical objects. In general, these objects are not typified by juridical relations. In a lawsuit concerned with a house as part of a heritage, the house is a juridical object, although
the juridical relation frame does not characterize a house. Rights and obligations, too, are not subjects but objects. They follow from habits, contracts or rules and are, therefore, juridically characterized human-made artefacts. Habits are artefacts primarily
typified by the relation frame of keeping company, contracts by the economical one, and rules and decisions by the political frame. Only the rights and obligations following from these are primarily juridical artefacts. Also the fundamental rights, which do
not follow from habits, contracts or rules, are artefacts formed in history. Besides in subject-object relations, as juridically characterized artefacts also play a part in subject-subject relations, when the right of somebody implies the obligation of someone
else. Therefore, rights and obligations are not absolute. There are situations in which various rights contradict each other, or somebody cannot keep their obligations. Someone’s conscience is often decisive in the choice one has to make in such a situation.
In other cases a judge makes a decision binding all parties.
In many societies unwritten law exists, sometimes called customary law, but in a modern society to a large extent rights
and obligations are laid down in the constitution, other laws and rules given by a government, in statutes and regulations of associations and in agreements. They form the written sources of justice, to be found in official and non-official publications. In
the eighteenth and nineteenth century many people subscribed to the legal positivist’s view that written law (the letter of the law) is the only source of positive justice (1.9), hence the equivocation of ‘justice’ with ‘law’
in English. Other sources of justice were only acceptable if the law referred to them. The argument for this formalism was the legal security and legal equality, which would be harmed if a judge would not stick to the objective, literal text of the law.
Principles of justice have been actualized into countless norms. As formal sources of justice one distinguishes, in order of prevalence: treaties, being agreements between states; the
constitution, laws and other regulations ordained by an organ of the state; rules and decisions valid within an association; jurisprudence, being the interpretation of law texts, established in juridical practice, sometimes based on the intentions of the legislature,
as follows from reports of its considerations; contracts and customs, which are not always documented. Besides, there are informal sources, like the principle of good or bad faith, and logical analyses by jurists, secondarily typified by, respectively,
the relation frame of trust and that of logic.
Besides one speaks of historical sources of justice, like the French Code Civil (1804), Roman law (rediscovered in Bologna
in the eleventh century); the canon law of the Catholic
Church, especially important for family law; and old German or Anglo-Saxon law, important for goods, neighbour and heritage law.
Finally, material sources of justice may be called. These are political or societal developments forming the historical background for formulating justice. For instance, the Second World
War gave rise to treaties laying the foundation of the United Nations and the European Union. Also changing views, for instance regarding homosexuality, may give rise to changes of the law.
In different countries, present-day laws differ quite substantially, though there are at least three causes why legal systems are similar. The first cause is the intuitive feeling of justice, the juridical consciousness for values, common to all people.
The view that a sales contract has juridical consequences including rights and duties binding for buyer and seller is the same in all cultures, even if it is differently formalized in written laws. All cultures know some kind of property right, though private
property of land is absent in some cultures. In a little differentiated society there is no individual right of property. This only belongs to the family or the tribe. A remains of this is the right of inheritance. The right of property of land in continental
Europe (in contrast to the Anglo-Saxon countries) does not include the subterranean minerals. Secondly, the juridical systems in different states often have the same historical roots, like Roman law, laid down by emperor Justinian I in the Codex Iustinianus
(534), or the Code Napoleon for continental Europe. In the Anglo-Saxon countries Roman law has had less influence than the common law tradition, valid for the whole state. It developed gradually from customary justice, which was often locally
different. Third, the increasing contacts between people
in various countries and cultures necessitate a certain amount of harmonisation of different juridical systems.
For instance, the United Nations has formulated the fundamental human rights in a universal declaration binding for all member states. The European Union tries to harmonize justice on its territory.
People have, grant, receive and lose rights. Some rights are transferable, and sometimes a judge may take away someone’s rights, for instance one’s freedom of movement. Fundamental human rights are inalienable, as
John Locke observed. In a free society these are due to all. They are irreducible to other values and cannot be founded rationally. Medieval philosophers summarized the normative principles under the term natural law (ius naturale), in contrast to human lawgiving (ius positivum). Sometimes one considered natural law to be the ordered structure of the cosmos, the law for the nature of things, plants, animals and men. In this case, the normative principles are conditions for human existence. Others identified
the natural law with the divine law revealed in the Holy Scriptures, in particular the Ten Commandments. Since Hugo Grotius humanism transformed the idea of natural law into human rights. Some assume that the fundamental rights are products of cultural development. Protestant philosophy considers the fundamental rights to be temporal actualizations of irreducible and invariant normative principles of justice. This view is also expressed in the requirement of the United Nations that its member
states subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Only the verdict of a court of justice can someone rob of one or more of one’s fundamental rights, for instance the right to move freely on the public domain.
Unlike civil rights, human rights are not granted by the state, but should be recognized by each state. In 1948 the United Nations laid down the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Men, inspired by the Catholic
philosopher Jacques Maritain. In thirty articles, this
declaration describes the fundamental human rights, since then accepted by all members of the UNO, at least on paper.
In fact human rights are still coupled to civil rights, such that refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons are without rights in many countries, having fewer rights than ordinary citizens in many other countries.
Several countries even deny their own citizens the human rights to which they formally subscribe. European citizens may appeal to the European Court of Justice if they believe that their government violates their human rights.
The right of life and self-defence appears to be biotically founded. Any person has a right to live and any person has the obligation to respect, protect or save the life of another person. The interdiction of manslaughter
is one of the most fundamental in any society. In the course of history, the right of self-defence has shifted from the individual to the tribe, from the settlement to the state. Initially the rights of individuals were subservient to those of the larger community.
In an underdeveloped society individuals and associations have no rights. They can only expect grace from the powers to be. Roman justice was the first to allow civil rights, initially conceived of as the right of self-defence against the state. It was restricted
to the patres, the heads of established families, represented in the Roman senate, and it collapsed during the Byzantine empire. After Christianity became the state religion, the secular
and clerical authorities struggled for power until the end of the Middle Ages. The Reformation actualised the right of insurrection. The right to make war (ius belli) is only allowed to
sovereign states, not to other associations and not to parts of a state. The fact that the United Nations (uniting sovereign states) restricts this right, does not diminish this principle. When individuals and/or associations come into conflict with each other
or the state, they have to turn to a court of justice, whose judgment will be carried out by the state, if necessary with the use of violence. Nowadays, conflicts between states are more and more subjected to the judgment of a court of justice.
In contrast to the rights of life and self-defence, freedom rights are usually not secondarily characterized by the biotic relation frame, but for instance by the political relation frame
(freedom of association); the economic frame (the freedom to exchange goods and services); the frame of keeping company (freedom of meeting each other); the frame of trust (freedom of opinion and worship); the logical frame (freedom of scientific research);
the semiotic frame (freedom of speech and writing); the aesthetic frame (freedom to express oneself in imagination, for instance in cartoons); or the technical frame (freedom of choice of profession). All these freedoms are accompanied by obligations, such
that the freedom of somebody does not stand in the way of another one’s freedom. State laws restrict freedom rights in a political way. Obligations implied by a contract and respect for the freedom and responsibility of other persons restrict rights
in an economic or social sense. Hence freedom rights are projections of justice on the preceding relation frames. They especially concern the functioning of individuals and associations on the public domain.
Besides freedom rights there are political rights, applicable to the members of a state as well as of any association. For instance, this applies to the right to vote, the right of information and consultation, the right of approval,
the right to criticize governors and the right to end the membership of an association.
Chronos & Clio
One could mention countless artefacts that are not characterized by the frame of loving care, but have their destination in this frame. Medicines belong to the oldest artefacts
in health care. Eyeglasses were invented in the thirteenth century, the frame connecting the glasses with one’s ears only in the nineteenth century, when health technology started to soar highly. The performance and enjoyment of the arts can have an
important therapeutic effect. A love letter is a lingual piece with a love destination. Much scientific research is directed to care. Faith utterances are meant as consolation for sick or dying people and their next of kin. People use artefacts like pictures
to keep cherished memories of good and bad days.
Besides these artefacts having their destination or purpose in the frame of care, we can distinguish artefacts primarily typified by
this frame. By this I mean the objective circumstances in which people (or objects) need precaution, care or after-care. Even somebody who gives help should be in the circumstance to do so. Someone who is in a situation of distress needs help from whoever
is available and capable. Often this requires an amount of expertise or competence.
Circumstances requiring care are, for instance, one’s health, hygiene, appearance, or security;
purity of air, soil and water; labour and the assurance of income in case of illness or unemployment. Next we know the care for the quality of technical products, building, schools, science, economy, decision-making, accounting and justice. In all these cases
the obvious norm is to act carefully. It is not difficult to show that these examples are primarily characterized by care and secondarily by various other relation frames.
are artefacts, because (except natural disasters) people cause them and they can be completely or partially prevented or remedied. People are responsible for the circumstances they live in. They ought to enlighten the circumstances of those who ask for care,
which have to act on it as well. In the nineteenth century one realized that a good water supply and sewers could preclude contagious illnesses like cholera.
Maintenance of everything that we are responsible for belongs to household care: cleaning of the home, washing and repairing of clothes, servicing of a car, and gardening, maintenance of tools, utensils and pieces of art. For this we have all kinds of instruments,
from dishwashing brush to washing-machine.
The relation frame of care characterizes the safety of people too. Safety as precaution means protection against natural dangers, against unwanted
consequences of technology or undesirable use of power with technical means. By building a house we protect us against heat or cold, against wind and rain. We protect us and our children against the dangers of electricity by applying reliable isolation and
a safe construction of electric appliances. We protect us against the risks of traffic by buying a well designed car, by servicing it regularly, by driving carefully, and by taking into account the behaviour of others. We protect us against burglary by reliable
locks, and putting valuables in a safe. Safety is part of the labour circumstances, to which an employer should pay careful attention. Safety and maintenance appear to be secondarily characterized by the technical relation frame. Another form of protection
as a precaution is insurance against the financial consequences of circumstances like unemployment, illness, fire or old age. Insurances appear to be not technically but economically typified.
In a developed society, the government formulates requirements to labour circumstances in factories and offices, with respect to safety, hygiene and health, wealth, labour time, and minimum wages. It is striking that in the laws concerned all relation
frames play a part, both those that precede the technical one and those that succeed it.
In problems of safety and health, for instance, it concerns spatial, physical, chemical, biotic and psychic circumstances. In welfare besides social, economic, political and juridical factors, information and participation are relevant. Employers have an obligation
of care for their employees and both are obliged to take care of the course of affairs in the company.
Chronos & Clio
The objective historical meaning of artefacts
In each relation frame we can distinguish between artefacts being characterized
by that frame and other objects which are not. Besides people and associations which always act as subjects, all things, events, situations and processes can be object in each normative relation frame. For instance, each thing and each event can be a sign
as an object in the semiotic relation frame, if a person or an association recognizes it as such. Only if it is specifically made by men, we speak of a symbol as a semiotic artefact. Artefacts are not merely relevant for the relation frame by which
they are characterized. They play an objective and instrumental part in all normative relation frames. Without signs, symbols and language, social relations, commerce, government and justice were impossible, and where necessary, we adapt our language. In this
way, artefacts have an open character. Conceived as human-made objects or events caused by people, artefacts have an objective meaning for history as well. They function as instruments in the transfer of experience. They are subjected to the normative
order of time in the relation frames by which they are characterized, like pieces of art showing aesthetic renewal. Because the technical relation frame characterizes all artefacts either primarily or secondarily, artefacts should at least satisfy objectively
the historical norm of progress. Therefore artefacts have a history of their own, constituting an important instrument for historiography as the interpretation of signs from the past. Indeed, each artefact is an objective sign of the history of the activity
of humans as subjective makers and users. Artefacts are objective witnesses of the past.
Although always being characterized technically – whether primarily or secondarily –
artefacts are not always material. An historical narrative is an instance of an immaterial artefact. People give their history objective meaning by telling a story about it. Some philosophers of history reduce historiography to a representative narrative interpreting the past (narrativism). Hayden White argues that an historical narrative is bound to a literary form. He distinguishes figures of speech or tropes like metaphor, metonym, synecdoche or irony, corresponding respectively with tragedy (Alerxis de Tocqueville), comedy (Leopold von Ranke), romance (Jules Michelet) and satire (Jacob Burckhardt),
as applied by historians from the nineteenth century. According to Arthur Danto a historical narrative is further distinguished from a chronicle because a narrative cannot be told by a contemporary of the narrated event. A narrative sentence like ‘in 1533 the Dutch Father of the Fatherland was born’ cannot have been stated before or in 1533, or even many years afterwards,
because William of Nassau only later became recognized as such. A narrative sentence describes an event by irreversibly connecting it in a historically relevant way with a later event. In this way a historical discourse may give an explanation based on insights or concepts achieved much later than the event concerned. Therefore history renews itself continuously.
Narrativism is probably influenced by analytical philosophy, having much support especially in the Anglo-Saxon
countries. Since the linguistic turn (circa 1970), this philosophy considers lingual analysis to be the nucleus, if not the whole of philosophy. Earlier continental philosophy of inter alia Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer
took hermeneutics (Verstehen, i.e., understanding, according to Dilthey) as the starting point or presupposition of the social if not all sciences.
In any case it is an important instrument for both lingual and historical research.
A historical narrative is distinguishable from fiction because the author accepts a number of restrictions, according to rules forming a usually silent protocol for historiography. These normative prescriptions surpass the semantic and aesthetic
rules which an historical narrative has to satisfy as well. The difference between a biography and an historical novel (or between an historical documentary and an historical movie) is now which rules prevail. Artefacts are not entirely arbitrary and can only
be used if people manipulate them responsibly, according to the norms valid for them, which they themselves have derived from invariant values. Only then artefacts can fulfil their objective historical meaning. In particular this applies to historical narratives.
Stafleu 2003. In Stafleu 2002, chapter 1 and 8 the possibility of artefacts having a dual character is not yet mentioned.
Schuurman 1972, 384. See Verkerk et al. 2007 about technical design.
Bacon 1620, 39, Aphorism 3.
Of course, this does not concern the life of an individual apparatus. One distinguishes the here mentioned technical service life from the economic one, determined by the demand of the apparatus.
 The metric of a magnitude (like
length or weight) consists of a unit, a scale, and rules for making calculations with the magnitude, see Stafleu 2002, 1.2, 3.1.
Duby 1961-1962, 13. Meanwhile in China agriculture developed in a no less revolutionary way, see Landes 1998, 41-46.
In some European countries one more agricultural revolution is mentioned, occurring in the eighteenth century and characterized by the draining and irrigation of lakes and morasses and the expropriation of agricultural land (formerly in common property or
property of churches and monasteries) in favour of more modern management. See Procacci 1968, 218-222, 230-245.
Achterhuis 1988, 311-328.
Diamond 1997, chapter 9.
Stafleu 2002, chapter 7.
White 1962; 1978; Duby 1961-1962; le Goff 1964, 76-77, 245-276; Stafleu 1992, chapter 6; Eamon 1994; Landes 1998, chapter 4.
Since 1954, the early development of technology in China is described in the multi-volume work of Joseph Needham (ed.), Science and civilization in China.
 Landes 1998, chapter 3.The influence of the Byzantine and Arabic
culture on the Western-European one is demonstrable, that of the Chinese and Indian far less. Bala 2006, 62 calls the Western-European medieval culture a ‘sandwich’ of Chinese technology and Arab science.
 De Vries
and van der Woude 1995.
Science historians are not always aware of this. They usually consider the relevance of technology for experiments and instrumental observation subservient to the formation of theories. Widely divergent explanations of the rise of natural science in Western-Europe
are to be found in Dijksterhuis 1950; Hooykaas 1972; Landes 1983; 1998; Cohen 1994; 2007; Gaukroger 2006.
Gaukroger 2006, 35, 41-43.
Romein and Romein 1938-1940, 178-205, 451-469; Dijksterhuis 1950, 358-368.
Stafleu 1998, chapter 3; Jonas 1979, 195. Simultaneously natural science disengaged itself entirely from philosophy and theology.
Gadamer 1960, 141. This form of art, in which the serial order of symbols determines its identity, Goodman calls allographic. The earlier mentioned thing-like art and performances, which identity depends on a unique product, he calls autographic,
Stalmaker 2001, 399-400; Carter 2001, 510-511.
Wittgenstein 1921, 4.0141.
Huizinga 1938, 176-177, 208. The Quran, too, is intended for recitation, which is one reason why it is difficult to translate, Armstrong 1993, 168.
Seerveld 1964, 90. See also Gadamer 1960, 153; Eagleton 1983, 18; Burke 2004, 95-96.
Graham 1997, chapter 2 and 70-73; Nussbaum 2001, chapters 5 and 14.
A joke often rests on a play of words, or a playful combination of matters that are usually not connected, a bisociation or an incongruence, see Koestler 1964, 35; Cohen 2001, 377.
In contrast, according to Seerveld 1994, 68, ‘“Symbolical” … is the norm for art … the criterion for whether something is art or not … the decisive factor for art.’ Hart 1984, 195, 405 goes even further by identifying
the ‘aesthetic and semantic functions’.
Kant 1790, 34-36; Graham 1997, 12-15; Baumeister 2001, chapter 9.
Guépin 1983, 291 (my translation).
Carroll 2001; Pappas 2001, 24.
Seerveld 2000, 11, 58-60.
Various views of language are influenced by nominalism, via positivism and analytical philosophy of language arriving at present day constructivism (5.4). This movement is characterized by the neglect of the structure of a language, which is also recognizable
in artistic currents like dadaism, see Conrad 1998, chapter 5. In the twentieth century structuralism formed a counter movement, first in France (Ferdinand de Saussure: Cours de linguistique générale, 1915), later in America (Noam Chomsky:
Syntactic structures, 1957), see de Witte 1970; Staal1986; Pinker 1994. See also Foucault 1966, who, however, does not want to be called a structuralist. Structuralism also plays a part outside the science of language, for instance in Bunge’s
philosophy of the sciences (Bunge 1967a,b), in Lévi-Strauss’s anthropology (Boyne 2000; van Keulen 2005) and in the historiography of the Annales etc. (de Vries and van der Woude 1995, 18-19).
1944, 27; Langer 1960, 35.
See Foucault 1963 about the history of the ‘medical view’ on symptoms.
The assumption that scientific observations should be unbiased is invalid for any science. Just like any other science, history works with hypotheses and theories, see Danto 1985, 96-111, besides applying methods specific for history.
Scientific American, August 2002, 64. Pinker 1994, 280-282 estimates that half of all languages are threatened, and that only ten percent is reasonably safe.
1966, 136-139: Written language is based on one of two different principles, the first following the meaning of words, the second analysing and writing the sounds. See also Pinker 1994, 207; Diamond 1997, chapter 12.
spoken language has a characteristic set of phonemes. In all spoken languages together linguists count at least 558 consonants, 260 vowels and 51 diphthongs. Till the age of six to eight months, children are able to distinguish all 869 phonemes. After that,
their brain restricts itself to a much smaller set, occurring in their mother’s language. American English uses 52 phonemes, the Kalahari-desert language !Xũ (Khoisan) holds the record with 141 phonemes; see Scientific American, August 2002,
14. According to Pinker 1994, 187-188, Dutch uses 35 phonemes, English 40, Polynesian 11.
The rule for our number system, invented in India, is that in a number the position of a digit determines in part its value. (This necessitated the introduction of zero). The character of a number system does not only consist of semiotic rules, but also of
mathematical laws about addition and multiplication. The Roman number system has different semiotic rules (it lacks zero) and has therefore a different character than the position system. Digits are symbols, without constituting a language. Digits can be combined
into numbers and numbers can be added and multiplied, but these combinations are quantitative, not semiotic. The symbols in mathematical formulae are connected in a mathematical way, but mathematical formulae do not form a language. Only metaphorically we
can speak of a mathematical language. The statement that mathematics is the language of natural science is a metaphor, intended to express that many scientific relations can be projected on mathematical relations.
Rhetoric, the theory of eloquence, determines which metaphors, figures of speech and tropes (projections on the aesthetic relation frame) a language allows.
 Pinker 1994, chapter 5.
1953, 43; De Witte 1970, 59; Smart 2000, 453-455.
Foucault 1966, chapter V.
In different languages the order of the words is often radically different, much more than the significance of the words, see Foucault 1966, 107.
In terms of the theory of sets, contrary to a part of a sentence, a word is not a part, but an element of a sentence.
De Witte 1970, 66-74. In a sentence the verb (in various forms) expresses a relation between the subject and the predicate, see Foucault 1966, 116-121.
 Gadamer 1960, 181, 307, 309, 386-390.
1981, 210-219; Somers 2001, 362.
On the character of concepts, propositions and theories, see Stafleu 1987; 2002, 8.3; on models see Stafleu 1998, 6.2.
Carnap 1928, 1939. Reversely, there have been philosophers treating grammar as a part of logic.
Popper 1959, 59; 1983, 33; in contrast, Popper 1983, 113, 178 and 292 affirms that a theory is a deductive set of statements.
Stafleu 1987, 15-19; Braithwaite 1953, 12, 22; Bunge 1967a, 51-54; 1967b, I, 381.
Wolterstorff 1976; van den Brink 2004, 44-45.
Fischer 1970; Bentley (ed.) 1997.
Verkerk et al. 2007, 262 and chapter 9.
Dooyeweerd 1953-1958, II 325-330; Langer 1960, 188; Smit 1987, 83-85; Troost 2004, 232-233; Von der Dunk 2007, 157-234; Ankersmit 2005, 400-405.
I Corinthians 15, 6.
I Corinthians 15, 14: ‘and if Christ was not raised, then our gospel is null and void, and so is your faith.’
Clouser 1991, chapter 3. Theism confesses a personal god being concerned with the creation; deism assumes that the creator does not meddle with the creation; pantheism identifies god with nature and atheism denies the existence of a transcendental god.
Borradori 2003, 36, 50.
MacIntyre 1981, 71 observes rightly that also ‘to protest against’ contains a confession of faith.
MacCulloch 2003, xx.
Huizinga 1919, chapter 14, 16; Romein and Romein 1938-1940, 31-56, 75-97; Duby 1961-1962, 252-253; Israel 1995, I, chapter 3; MacCulloch 2003, 22-23; 2009, 510-511, 535-543.
 Perhaps, in Genesis ‘image’ does not mean
a picture, but a deputy, compare Genesis 1:26 with 5:1-3. Also outside the Bible, an image may count as a deputy, as representation, Baumeister 2001, 137.
Lovejoy 1936; de Vogel 1967; 1974; Bos 1996. Strauss 2009, 192: ‘In his Summa contra Gentiles (I,34) and Summa Theologica (I,13,1), Thomas Aquinas explains that we can know God through His creatures because, in an eminent way, God bears
all the perfections of things within Himself. We know God by means of these perfections as they flow from Him into creatures.’
Kohnstamm 1948, 286-289; Taylor 1989, 140.
Weinberg 1964, 128-139. Bishop Étienne Tempier of Paris’ condemnation (1277) of 219 rationalist propositions furthered a critical attitude towards the views of Aristotle and Averroes, see Weinberg 1964, 171-172, 235-238; Grant 1986, 54;
Lindberg 1992, 236-240; Gaukroger 2006, 48-49, 59-77. One of these propositions was that the world is not created but eternally existing, a logical deduction from the perfectness of the first mover, who could impossibly be the creator of an imperfect world.
Hegel 1840, 29; Arendt 1958, 284-285; Nadler 2008. In the twentieth century, existential philosophy posed the question whether nothingness would not be more perfect than the all compassing being.
 Miles 1995, 392; Armstrong
Auerbach 1946, chapter 1. The Bible also has a history of its emergence, in contrast to the Quran, which according to the Muslims is revealed to Mohammed as an eternal and uncreated document.
 de Jong
2007, 271-272, 305.
de Jong 2007, 387, 390-396.
De Swaan 1988, chapter 6.
Smith 1776, 34; Jevons 1871, 424-425.
Aristotle Ethica Nicomachea, book 5.5, cited in Medema, Samuels (eds.) 2003, 14-15; Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, cited in ibid. 25.
 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, cited in Medema, Samuels
(eds.) 2003, 24-29.
Weber 1904-1905; Russell 1946, 198-199; MacCulloch 2003, 604-607; de Jong 2007, 194-205; Graafland 2007, 107-109. Contrary to Luther, Calvin did not object to taking interest. In Geneva he introduced a maximum rate of interest of five percent, Hoogerwerf 1999,
97. The Bible, too, only knew a prohibition of taking interest of needy fellow members of the nation, Graafland 2007, 221-223. Goody 2006, chapter 7 rightly observes that capitalism in a wider sense not only emerged in Europe.
1961, 89-96; Dworkin 1967, 65-68. Hart calls these kinds of rules ‘primary’ respectively ‘secondary’ in a different meaning than applied in Chronos & Clio.
Knowles 1962, 155-163.
Franken et al. 2003, 101.
Rutgers 2004, 50, 186; Fukuyama 2011, 254-261.
Donner 1997; Hirsch Ballin 1999.
Tebbit 2005, chapter 7.
Tebbit 2005, 9-14; Haldane 1991. The medieval idea of natural law is strongly different from the modern idea of natural law in the natural sciences, arising since the seventeenth century
et al. 2003, chapter 2.
Hoogerwerf 1999, chapter 7.
Huntington 1997, 208-214.
Kymlicka 2002, 254-255; Verschraegen 2003.
De Swaan 1988, chapter 4.
This form already dates from Greek and Roman antiquity, Partner 1995, 31: ‘The openly identified narrator who is the known author; the substitution of collected information for inspiration by muse or authorial omniscience; the use of prose for a complex
extended narrative; close attention to causal relations, motive and fortune as the determinants of events; the organized state as the defining unit of human society, and the predominance of political action and war as subject matter are all legacies from antiquity.’
Fischer 1970, 130: ‘Narration is not the only form of explanation they [i.e. historians] use, but it is one of the more common and most characteristically historical forms … A story explains how and what – not why - … explaining is
understood to mean … making clear, plain, and understandable ...’
Ankersmit 1983, 182-190; Roberts (ed.) 2001. In contrast, Foucault 1963; 1966 prefers an ‘archaeology’, in which various layers in history are laid bare. Yet also his Birth of a clinic can be read as a story having the end ‘the medical
revolution for which Broussais in 1816 laid the foundation’ (236), and the point of one of the story lines: Only when the death was accepted in the medical experience, illness could be separated from the counter natural and be incorporated in
the living body of the individuals.’ (239, my translation.)
White 1973, 2: ‘I will consider the historical work as what it most manifestly is – that is to say, a verbal structure in the form of a narrative prose discourse that purports to be a model, or icon, of past structures and processes in the interest
of explaining what they were by representing them.’
E.g. White 1973, 143: ‘The Romantics repudiated all formal systems of explanation and tried to gain an explanatory effect by utilizing the Metaphorical mode to describe the historical field and the mythos of Romance to represent its processes.’
Danto 1985, 115-142, 354.
Munz 1997, 852: ‘In order to do justice to time, it must be described in a narrative form. Any other form of description fails to take account of the fact that the past bears the mark of the arrow of time.’
in Danto 1985, 385.
Gadamer 1960, 157; Hübner 1978, chapter 13; Burke 2005, 7.
Ankersmit 1983, 130-156.
Partner 1995, 33-34. Such a rule is the ‘Reality rule’: ‘that the historian writes about the past wie es eigentlich gewesen’ in the words of Leopold von Ranke, or: ‘historians are concerned and committed to tell about
the past the best and most likely story that can be sustained by the relevant extrinsic evidence’, Vann 1995, 53.