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RE: [XTalk] Lonergan's Point

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  • David C. Hindley
    Brian McCarthy, ... that I was reading the Memoirs of Frederick Copleston S.J. and came across this: concerning Lonergan s arrival at the Gregorianum in Rome
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 1, 2001
      Brian McCarthy,

      >>This is not an answer to your q. about Lonergan, but it just happens
      that I was reading the Memoirs of Frederick Copleston S.J. and came
      across this: concerning Lonergan's arrival at the Gregorianum in Rome
      he writes: "But at any rate with Lonergan's arrival the Germans no
      longer enjoyed a monopoly of obscure profundity" (p. 99).

      Given that Copleston was the author of a nine-volume history of
      western philosophy, you are forwarned of the difficulty of grasping
      what Lonergan was all about.<<

      Yes, I kind of got the impression that he was the modern Canadian
      Catholic version of the American Protestant all-around critic John
      Stuart Mill. He has proposed well known economic theories as well as
      his theories on psychological cognition, and the philosophies of
      science, politics and religion.

      From what I can gather, his all-around philosophy is known as
      "Critical Realism," but I am having trouble finding a general
      definition or description of its principals (at least the web sites
      I've looked at so far do not seem to do so). I suppose I could read
      his books (several are currently in print, and a larger number out of
      print), and likely will read at least one, but I want to know more
      before I dive into the deep water.

      My earlier forays into Lonergan's world were reading reviews of his
      books and of books about him or his theories. However, it was
      difficult to assess what his unique contribution was. All I could tell
      was that he seems to be associated with post-structuralism, but rather
      than go a deconstructive route he has taken a psychological route to
      define what is "real."

      Just today I located an essay called "The Structure of Cognition" by
      Joe Fitzpatrick at

      www.bjfl.freeserve.co.uk/the_structure_of_cognition.html

      in which the author discusses Lonergan's theory of cognition, which
      consists of three steps: experience, understanding and judgment. "The
      object of experience is data, the given. Data in the first instance we
      might think of as simply the deliverances of sense, of acts of
      sensation, of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling. Lonergan's
      notion of data should not be confused with empiricist notions of sense
      data." "Meaning," he says, "takes place when we make sense of our
      experience, when we achieve an understanding of the data." Crucially,
      I noted that he follows this with the statement: "The kind of meaning
      we establish will depend on the kind of data that are puzzling us and
      the kind of question we ask." Finally, he says that "[e]xplanation
      consists of relating things to each other in a way that answers the
      question."

      In a nutshell, it seems that Lonergan was proposing that the nature of
      our understanding of, and explanation for, an issue is directly
      related to the kind of question asked as well as the kind of data
      being analyzed. One of those reviews I had read back in May last year
      said that scientific and theological questions deserve different kinds
      of explanations that are in relation to the differing forms of the
      questions. For instance, a scientific question deserves a properly
      scientific explanation while a theological question deserves a
      properly theological explanation. The implication I derived from this
      was that the two spheres could be kept isolated from one another, at
      least in theory.

      I do not suppose that this kind of revelation is anything new to those
      involved in the philosophy of science and history, but perhaps the way
      he goes about it is unique. Rikk had suggested Ben Meyer's _Critical
      Realism and the New Testament_ (excuse me if I got the name or title
      wrong as I am working from memory), but I do not like to start into a
      specific application of a theory before I get a handle on that theory
      itself.

      Help, Rikk! <g>

      Regards,

      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    • Bob Schacht
      ... You remembered the author and title correctly. I think you might do well to consider Meyer as an explicator of the theory, not just a specific
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 1, 2001
        At 01:06 PM 4/1/01 -0400, David C. Hindley wrote:
        >...From what I can gather, [Lonergan's] all-around philosophy is known as
        >"Critical Realism," but I am having trouble finding a general
        >definition or description of its principals (at least the web sites
        >I've looked at so far do not seem to do so)....
        >Rikk had suggested Ben Meyer's _Critical Realism and the New Testament_
        >(excuse me if I got the name or title wrong as I am working from memory),
        >but I do not like to start into a specific application of a theory before
        >I get a handle on that theory itself.
        >
        >Help, Rikk! <g>

        You remembered the author and title correctly. I think you might do well to
        consider Meyer as an explicator of the theory, not just a "specific
        application." In fact, I've seen more people refer to Meyer than to
        Lonergan. For example, Tom Wright in Jesus and the Victory of God refers to
        Meyer, but Lonergan is not even in the references.

        Bob


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Don Denton
        David Hindley s summary of Lonergan s cognitional theory seems adequate. If you would like a concise and effective summary from Lonergan s own hand, see the
        Message 3 of 6 , Apr 2, 2001
          David Hindley's summary of Lonergan's cognitional theory seems adequate. If
          you would like a concise and effective summary from Lonergan's own hand, see
          the first chapter of his _Method in Theology_. Secondary sources on
          Lonergan abound, but one that incorporates biographical with philosophical
          analysis is Frederick Crowe's _Lonergan_. Crowe is an editor of Lonergan's
          Complete Works and possibly the foremost Lonergan scholar.

          A few comments about Lonergan's visibility in NT and HJ studies. This is
          due mostly to the efforts of the late Ben Meyer, as others have pointed out.
          Meyer's _Critical Realism and athe New Testament_ is important, but more
          accessible is his last published work _Reality and Illusion in New Testament
          Scholarship_. The latter is intended to be primarily an exposition of
          Lonergan's cognitional theory, with some application in hermeneutics and NT
          studies. Meyer's work in NT studies has lately received recognition by the
          references of Tom Wright, but I would qualify Wright's use of Meyer,
          especially what Wright has called Critical Realism [CR]. For that matter, I
          would also qualify Meyer's use of CR, which he claims to borrow from
          Lonergan.

          Lonergan seldom used the term to characterize his work, but Meyer has used
          it as a general label for what he has borrowed from Lonergan. Confusion
          arises because there are other philosophical positions that call themselves
          CR but have little or no contact with Lonergan's work. The separation in NT
          studies began with Wright, who in _The NT and the People of God_ began to
          use the term (referencing Meyer) somewhat monolithically, without
          recognition of the differences between Lonergan and others, and with still
          another version, his own, added to all of these.

          To categorize Lonergan as poststructuralist is somewhat bizarre. He made
          little or no reference to structuralism or poststructuralism in his works.
          I think he can be better classified as a hermeneuticist (he frequently
          references Gadamer in hemeneutics and Collingwood in historiography). He
          was concerned with the cognitional operations by which knowledge is
          possible, and with the horizons within which knowledge takes place. But he
          was also concerned with metaphysics: He believed that reality is not
          "already out there now" to be read off the "facts," but is rather what is
          known through true propositions (in this way he was contintuous with the
          tradition of Roman Catholic Scholasticism from which he came; he was a
          Jesuit involved in the branch of the aggiornamento of Catholic theology
          usually associated with the transcendental Thomists). And true propositions
          are known by the exercise of insight and judgment upon the data of sense.
          None of this sounds compatible with a poststructuralism that would confine
          "reality" to texts, or deny positive meaning to terms in the name of free
          play.

          Don Denton
        • David C. Hindley
          ... This is due mostly to the efforts of the late Ben Meyer, as others have pointed out. Meyer s _Critical Realism and the New Testament_ is important, but
          Message 4 of 6 , Apr 2, 2001
            Don Denton noted:

            >>A few comments about Lonergan's visibility in NT and HJ studies.
            This is due mostly to the efforts of the late Ben Meyer, as others
            have pointed out. Meyer's _Critical Realism and the New Testament_ is
            important, but more accessible is his last published work _Reality and
            Illusion in New Testament Scholarship_.<<

            Yes, I am finding that no library with which I have a borrowing
            relationship has a copy, and none are available through Amazon or
            Barnes&Noble's used bookseller networks. There *are* however, copies
            of _Reality and Illusion in New Testament Scholarship_ available from
            both libraries and used booksellers (though out of print, like
            _Critical Realism and the New Testament_).

            >>To categorize Lonergan as poststructuralist is somewhat bizarre. He
            made little or no reference to structuralism or poststructuralism in
            his works. I think he can be better classified as a hermeneuticist (he
            frequently references Gadamer in hemeneutics and Collingwood in
            historiography).<<

            Perhaps I picked up that idea from looking back at some of the authors
            I had seen associated with Lonergan. Rikki Watts appears to be a big
            fan of his, and some of his posts last May cited G. B. Caird and C. H.
            Dodd almost in the same breath (unless I am confusing his posts with
            that of an admirer), who are also advocates of Rhetorical/Narrative
            schools of biblical criticism. I guess these are properly
            manifestations of structuralist approaches, not post-structuralism, as
            their roots and trunk derive from Redaction Criticism, onto which have
            been grafted to elements of secular narratology, which is the main
            form of literary Structuralism. To clinch it, Rikk had mentioned
            having done some work on "symbol" intertextuality in Art History, and
            this made me think of the "New Criticism" of the 1930's - 50's which
            closely paralleled secular narratology, and the work of
            poststructuralist Julia Kristeva.

            However, on the web site I earlier mentioned, Greg Hodes has an
            artlcle named "Foundations and Aporiai: The Intellectual Realism of
            Bernard Lonergan" (aporiai being a favorite topic of narrative
            criticism, which likes to perceive them as illusionary, as they would
            not be expected in a well edited text, and as a result, can be
            explained as rhetorical devices), and Christine Jamieson had an
            article named "The Significance of the Body in Ethical Discourse:
            Julia Kristeva's Contribution to Ethical Discourse," Kristeva being
            well known in post-structural circles for her seminal work on
            intertextuality.

            Perhaps I am just getting confused in my old age <very likely>.
          • Rikki E. Watts
            Brian, I heard someone once remark that Lonergan was like Anselm nothing easy was to his taste. Rikk
            Message 5 of 6 , Apr 5, 2001
              Brian,
              I heard someone once remark that Lonergan was like Anselm nothing easy was
              to his taste.

              Rikk

              on 4/1/01 1:40 PM, Brian McCarthy at brmcc@... wrote:

              > David,
              >
              > This is not an answer to your q. about Lonergan, but it just happens that I
              > was reading the Memoirs of Frederick Copleston S.J. and came across this:
              > concerning Lonergan's arrival at the Gregorianum in Rome he writes: "But at
              > any rate with Lonergan's arrival the Germans no longer enjoyed a monopoly of
              > obscure profundity" (p. 99).
              > Given that Copleston was the author of a nine-volume history of western
              > philosophy, you are forwarned of the difficulty of grasping what Lonergan
              > was all about.
              >
              > Brian McCarthy
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@...>
              > To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
              > Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2001 7:23 AM
              > Subject: [XTalk] Lonergan's Point
              >
              >
              >> Rikk Watts said:
              >>
              >>>> If one is going to include Brown etc. then surely NT Wright, if not
              >> in all details, then at least in terms of method where, perhaps in the
              >> footsteps of Ben Meyer but unlike so many others, he seems to have
              >> grasped the point of Collingwood and Lonergan.<<
              >>
              >> Collingwood I know about, but I'm hearing Bernard Lonergan's name
              >> being spoken about quite a bit (well, mainly by you and privately by a
              >> couple of your students), and the Critical Realism movement, but I'm
              >> having difficulty finding a definition for it. Could you enlighten me
              >> (us) with a nutshell synopsis of what it is all about?
              >>
              >> My guess is that it is a postmodern reaction to the anti-metaphysical
              >> assumptions in most scientific approaches, and has a poststructural
              >> orientation. I found a web site of a journal dedicated to his
              >> contributions at:
              >>
              >> http://www.lonergan.on.ca/
              >>
              >> Regards,
              >>
              >> Dave Hindley
              >> Cleveland, Ohio, USA
              >>
              >>
              >>
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