Detoxing Lonergan Studies

This topic contains 46 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Philip McShane 5 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #1175

    Philip McShane
    Moderator
  • #1201

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Perhaps a little pointer re toxic studies would help. It is especially significant and surely troubling for present Lonergan scholarship to find—if, with your help, I can catch their serious attention—that the piece of major toxicity to which I point is pre-functional, a matter of the school simply dodging or not effectively understanding Lonergan’s ridding the academy—normatively—of the messy puttering of “academic disciplines” (Method, end of page 3). Instead of that endless and weed-fertile wasteland, Lonergan offers the challenge of a genetic control of meaning measured by a single paragraph of Insight: the one that goes over the page at 609.  He was not, of course, blind to the difficulty he was posing: it is laid out clearly in lines 2–10 of Insight 604.  It takes serious nasal commitment to sniff out the toxic smell that weaves round the work of generation after generation of Lonergan students. Or am I wrong about this: just creating a stink? I deal with the stink in the website series on Interpretation.  Might you wade in creatively or critically?

  • #1213

    Pierre Whalon
    Participant

    Hi Phil,
    A late-night thought, having re-read the pages of Insight to which you refer:
    My father was a fine organ builder, specifically, a superb voicer. Having watched him for a long time at the voicing machine, I can describe what he did to bring out the best tone of a pipe in the context of its rank and the ensemble. As I reflected upon what he did (and as we discussed it), I can explain why the sounds changed.

    But I have never voiced a pipe myself, and until I do, all I learned is jejune.

    This is what I understand your criticism of Lonergan studies. We end up with people who know about voicing, but never actually use it to do what it’s supposed to do.

    Am I right?

    Pierre

  • #1214

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Hi Pierre,

    A quite complex and interesting piece of puzzling, with too many ramifications to handle briefly. Some points. What you learned was far from jejune, the level of seriousness of explanation depending on how far down and up you went from the initial meaning got by a set of namings connected intelligently. [Aesthetic connectivities can give a psychic lift towards the illusion of larger what-gripping].

    Going down would be a bowing to the pressure that is thematized in the chapter 3 canon of explanation, e.g., gripping the primary physics and chemistry relations of particles that are present in the secondary determinations of voicing. There would also be botanical correlations depending on the structure of the organ.

    Going up would be a journey into neurochemistry and above that the comprehension of Helen Keller’s spontaneity, named on Method p. 70, but sketched in explanatory challenge in chapter one of my A Brief History of Tongue.

    I am tip-toeing around here in a manner controlled by what is symbolized as W3.  But this tip-toeing does, I think, offer a sense of the distance to a heuristics of the two canons of complete explanation.

    Your puzzling raises the question of technical competence: the pattern of Helen’s talk, the pattern of a large zone of “academic disciplines” (Method, 3, end) talk. There are sets and aggregates of insights involved in this development. Here is perhaps where you get the notion of jejune: a competent theoretician of topology can be lost in city streets. Your father had superb technique, but he may or may not have had a reasonable theoretics of sound, a theoretics meshed with the non-systematic spread of insights that gave him handling-mastery.

    Your questions and your discussion are quite beyond present Lonerganistic studies, where—a shocking claim—there is not too much beyond initial meanings involved. Best halt with that wild claim!

  • #1215

    Pierre Whalon
    Participant

    Thanks, Phil,

    Indeed there is a lot more to producing coherent sound from a box of whistles. My father only had a high school diploma, but he spoke several languages, was an organist-choir master, and had very wide interests. So yes, I was amazed when he started doing logarithmic calculations to create a new rank of pipes at a certain scale, or when he described the physics of organ pipes. That’s a favorite of physics textbooks, as you know, and I was a physics major.

    I do have a friend who’s an abstract topologist, and indeed, has two theorems that bear his name. But he’s easily lost in a city … I would say that what you deride in Lonergan studies is way too much description, not enough explanation, little interpretation beyond the closed circle of academicians, and no implementation of the kind that BL describes in Insight 608-611.  Yes?

  • #1228

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Thanks again Pierre,
    And, from you, for all of us, relevant further nudges. Re your father: such natural whatting is at the heart of science, and is manifest in its “more amateur days,” as with, e.g., Faraday.  Your own physics, obviously, grew in you in that mood. I’ll come back to that. But a comment on your last paragraph: deep issues here, re science as universal, re Jesus lost in Jerusalem. Into these we cannot go here.

    So: re physics as introduction to Lonergan. You and I were blessed, and there is no way such a blessing can be short-cutter.  This is the discomforting point made in CWL 6, pp. 121, 155.  It also is something we have to bear in mind in seeding the future.  My first conversations with Lonergan—Easter 1961—were about the narrowness of theological interest. Further, his nudge to me by post in 1968 [to find an economist for his work] was about the simple-mindedness of Christian thinking re economics, but it reaches out beyond that to the whole self-satisfied non-scientific economics of the past centuries.  So, there you have the concrete problem lurking in your conclusion [the topologist of being faces the slums of Mumbai!]. The task of this next generation of those few tuned to W3 is to home in effectively—THERE’S THE RUB!—on the tasks of FS8 and C9. It will require colossal subtlety and patience: I think of the parable of the unjust steward.  The Lonergan community—with the best will in the world perhaps—came out of the tradition of descriptive and decadent Thomism, and now wanders about the over-reaching academic world of modernity and post-modernity, where name-dropping is an unrecognized cover-up, meshed with an abundance of referenced-quotes and a boost from aesthetic descriptiveness. One can name the beautiful buildings of London’s or Paris’s financial districts and even refer to their inhabitants.  How do we lift those namers and those inhabitants to find their pre-Faraday way to the equivalent of Maxwell’s equations as a core topology that is to weave into the slums of Vancouver and Washington and Mumbai?  A first step regarding the Lonergan community—it seems to me—is to embarrass them with Lonergan’s challenge compacted into that single paragraph 609-10 of Insight. “You folks can’t go on dodging the need for a genetic sequencing of views on and in theology or on and in economics: ‘academic disciplines’ ramblings are going nowhere in the topology of our loneliness.”

    • #1234

      Philip McShane
      Moderator

      There has been quite a pause in this Forum site since my last entry. I myself have been busy weaving together the four essays for Divyadaan 2018–2019 mentioned in FoeRaum 5. [see note 1 there]. The end of the last one gave me, might give us all, a nudge forward, to consider a fresh entry into the task of seeding functional collaboration. That article commemorates the 50th year—2019—since Lonergan published his essay “Functional Specialties” (Gregorianum, 1969), an essay that eventually became the fifth chapter of Method in Theology. The focus of the article for Divyadaan is on “The Core,” as I call the dialogue of dialectic he writes of on lines 18–33 of the old edition of that book. I have called that core Lonergan’s 1833 Overture, but now of course it has moved to lines 14–27 of page 235 of CWL 14. No matter: I continue to call it by its old name. At all events, the problem is to face that Core even in the loosest sense, AND in the new context of a fresh entry into the problem, a new sense that emerged out of that final article for 2019.

      The sense is conveyed by the name “short-circuit”: it is the cycle cut back to a cycling—relatively closedly—round from FS1 to FS8 and C9. The cycle can begin anywhere and lead to various dialogues but think of it now as beginning with some concrete situation. I think of two, one being the situation of being in a Christian church, the other being in a cinema. The situation in church raises the question of the reading and preaching of scripture. The FS1 attitude is “this is worth recycling,” where “this” points to certain discomforts. You may think of the large context of my various considerations of N.T. Wright, but get a closer focus, asking “what can be done to lift ‘this’ scripture-use forward a little, progressively?” The ramble into answering the question BACKFIRES, in a sense I have used on various occasions before, and this is the benefit of the short-circuiting. The pragmatics pushes you towards larger questions. The second illustration helps to bring this out: in the present cinema there is inflicted on the audience a heap of nonsense at the beginning of the show, nonsense that was not part of the original entertainment of a century ago. What do you think—think effectively!—should be done about it? The backfiring throws you into the history, economics, and sociology of advertising and entertainment and their norms.

      I won’t go further on this now. I could go on, indeed at length, about this “trinification” of the cycling problem, and do so in a manner that would show a BACKFIRING into the explanatory lifting of CWL 12’s pointers regarding the divine missions, the InWithTo dimensions of future Christianity, the meaning of “Comparison,” the future apokataphatic global meaning of “our.” But the simple point is the main point: the nudge towards the attitude caught by the phrase “The Leaning Tower”; the push for habitually thinking implementationally. Might this give us a new edge? I could see it lifting us slowly but effectively towards a full heuristics of effective interventions in history.

  • #1241

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    OPERATION MISFIT

    Today I find myself recalling a moment in the Bodleian Library in Oxford in the summer of 1969, when I leaped to my view of musicology as in desperate need of functional collaboration. The recall comes from a leap to some present precisions of the same need in sociology. But now I also recall conversations with Lonergan in the Summer of 1966 about his difficulty in starting chapter one of Method. His massive discoveries regarding informed de-truncation (Insight) and formed global collaboration (his notes of February 1965; the sketch of Gregorianum, 1969) were cultural misfits. So, now I find the challenge but, altogether more refinedly than in those musicology days, in present sociology. And I think of “operation misfit”: a book that would parallel Method in Theology but sublate it in its inclusion of Insight [but then ho ho there is that shot in the dark The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History: is it not a decent sublation?] but do the job for sociology. We have the title already above to neatly name the deeper problem: “MISFIT”: “Method in Sociological Futurology: in Transition.” It could be a great and big book, bringing forth a breakthrough later, much later. How much later?

    It would have the same problem as Lonergan had in 1966. In chapter one of my Method in Theology: Revisions and Implementations I suggested that that problem of presupposing Insight (this parallels section 3 of chapter 5 of Method) is solved by facing the need for the division of labour and letting that labour seed the emergence of a culture of positional self-attention. But the problem remains, the problem of homeostasis in both sociology and theology, the problem identified by Lonergan in 1961 as “big frogs in little ponds.”

    Homeostasis? Here I give you a dictionary definition: “The tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes. A simple example of homeostasis is the body’s ability to maintain an internal temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, whatever the temperature outside.”

    A pause over Sociology is enlightening, with quotes from Ralf Dahrendorf, “Out of Utopia. Towards a Reorientation of Sociological Analysis,” (465-80), System, Change and Conflict. A Reader on Contemporary Sociological Theory and the Debate over Functionalism, edited by N.J. Demerath III and Richard A.Peterson, (The Free Press, N.Y., 1967).

    “Homeostasis is maintained by the regular occurrence of certain patterned processes which, far from disturbing the tranquility of the village pond, in fact are the village pond.”(471)

    “The sense of complacency with—if not the justification of—the status quo, which by intention or default, pervades the structural-functional school of social thought is unheard of in utopian literature.” (473)

    “Many sociologists have simply lost the impulse of curiosity, the desire to solve riddles of experience, the concern with problems.” (474)

    Dahrendorf mentions Parsons as symbolic and symptomatic (473ff) and I recall that impression from my encounter with Parson’s stuff in the mid-1960s. But I also recall Parson’s point—see Randomness, Statistics and Emergence, 226—“a general theory of the processes of change of social systems is not possible in the present state of knowledge” (Parsons, The Social System, London, 1951, 486). My previous entry, re postmodern science, should nudge you to suspect that such a theory is not to come from there, or from recent sociology. [Though there are rich process-pointers to the need, e.g., Foucault on shifts in perspectives on sexuality: recall the concluding pages of Lonergan’s “Finality, Love, Marriage”].

    But back to my odd title, with its final words “In Transition.” The transition I seek is the short-circuit move that perhaps may be just a move of strategic conversations, with sociologists, with Lonergan students, both caught in the village pond. The transition pivots on the genesis of an ethos. Might you be part of the luck of its genesis? “You can either sit on your hands or you can put spade to earth and move the first sod” (Crowe, Theology of the Christian Word, 149).

    Of course, you may have more time and energy. You may even sense that in these last entries I have freshened the meaning of the second paragraph of Method in Theology. So, one finds, among the bolder spirits “on the ladder,” Compte (1798-1857) [[see in particular Kenneth Thompson, Auguste Compte. The Foundations of Sociology, Nelson, 1976, who recalls Compte’s writing of a sort of animal “ennui,” and is not closed to seeing the larger meaning I might give it.  That Compte writing is a relevant piece of our reach for a view, Thompson quotes it on pages 153–74 of volume 2 of the 1913 trans. of The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Compte, “Social Dynamics; or Theory of the Natural Progress of Human Society.” One finds in that piece Compte’s musing on stages: to be taken seriously in viewing the pseudo-science of sociology and in conceiving properly of the “axial period”]] and some large, but limited, figures in the century that followed, and quietly discovers that “one descends a rung or more” to arrive at postmodernism’s “academic disciplines.” But make no mistake of short-term optimism.  Your finding and your effort of communication are fated to be a MISFIT in both Lonergan studies and the village pond of present sociology.

  • #1250

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Two questions have come up in non-forum fashion but they seem worth including in the Forum flow. Indeed I would note that such questions are always welcome non-forum-wise by e-mail: and they allow you to be anonymous, a useful thing if you are e.g. working your way through a thesis in ‘enemy’ territory. In regard to such questioning, I would encourage Forum members to spread the word among acquaintances interested in Lonergan to home in on our Forum efforts, especially to question my stand critically: I find their general decades-long consistent silence disconcerting.

    The two questions in fact come from such ‘enemy’ territory: one about the need for symbols, the other about the need for “The Interior Lighthouse.” I should answer them separately, though inconveniently linked.

    Q. re Symbols/ Diagrams

    The first of the two questions was clearly an objection, a resistance. “Do we really need to get into mathematics to do theology?” was how the question was put.

    Let me try some new angling with it before we get to Lonergan’s central pointing of CWL 7, 151 (the issue there was getting control of the meaning of Jesus: the centre of attention in both questions).

    If someone asks me about Dublin locations I don’t need a map, even after decades of absence. It was Beckett who gave the odd definition of an Irishman: “An Irishman is one who somewhere else is where he was.” I suspect he was thinking of Joyce and himself as exiles, yet quite at home in Dublin’s lanes. You, in your own locale, do not need a map. The place grew on you, into you. I am talking here about a sophisticated commonsense neuro-secure control of meaning.

    A step up from this is the more detailed intentional control that emerges from formal study re cities, e.g., given in some countries to those working towards a license to drive a taxi. One begins with maps but moves in—the move has densely layered neuromolecularity—and away from them. This is still true in these GPS days. We go higher when we think of a concert pianist like Barenboim conducting Mozart’s piano concertos from the piano with no score in front of him. But note: there are still scores and maps, and if you play innovative jazz or bagpipes it ups the mapping problem and achievement. And if you are jazzing or back-packing into the distant future you need an externalization isomorphic to your dreams and screams, calling in community. This was quite clear spontaneously to the founding group of sociologists.

    I could attempt a refined climb up, in between and beyond, those illustrations and these hints, but I leave you, rather, with what I think is the last footnote Lonergan put in the ready-for-publishing Insight: “an accurate statement of initial meanings would be much more complex” (576, note 5). I note here that a key and shocking challenge of my “Allure” book is the invitation to discover that our present state of culture is primarily one of enriched and complexified initial meaning.

    So here we run into the problem of symbolisms of explanation: a zone that, for instance, the London taximan is not concerned with in either its imaging or its reality. Not too many passengers will ask about the city’s market fluctuations of bitcoins. But, having mentioned such an oddity, I would note that one can get into that new zone of exchange with graphings and correlatings and still not be in the world of explanation. Indeed, there is a refined sense in which present economics is not in the world of explanation. Recall Lonergan: present economics works, badly and detrimentally, “by staying on the same level of generality and by making up for lost ground by going into the more particular fields of statistics, history, and more refined analysis of psychological motivation and of the integration of the decisions to exchange.” (For a New Political Economy, CWL 21, 7). So, one can head into a symbolic world with a rich baggage-mix of common sense and common nonsense which contains no forward-looking imaging of explanatory correlations at the level of the topic.

    But my topic here is not primarily economics: it is theology as it needs or uses symbolisms. Lonergan has no doubt about that. So I quote CWL 7, 151 [back up leads are in CWL 2, 4, 18, under “image”, “symbols”].

    The comprehension of everything in a unified whole can be either formal or virtual. It is virtual when one is habitually able to answer readily and without difficulty, or at least ‘without tears’, a whole series of questions right up to the last why? Formal comprehension, however, cannot take place without a construct of some sort. In this life we are able to understand something only by turning to phantasm; but in larger and more complex questions it is impossible to have suitable phantasm unless the imagination is aided by some sort of diagram. Thus, if we want to have a comprehensive grasp of everything in a unified whole, we shall have to construct a diagram in which are symbolically represented all the various elements of the question along with the connections between them.

    Here I pause, realizing that I am on such a roll as could bubble up into a treatise, defeating my purpose of nudging people, with brief pointers, towards a new beginning. So let me cut my nudging short by going on the wild side, as I do in the article “Converging Religions to Effective Historical Intervention” [Divyadaan 30 (2019)], where I write of the problem of leaving radically behind the old coverages—“the chores,” as Lonergan called them (Second Collection, 211)—of the present teaching of theology.  Lonergan fulfilled his obligation to “cover” Christology in the old way by writing CWL 7. “It was because of teaching obligations that I was led to write the book and not because I had nothing better to do” (CWL 7, 3). So, we may seriously ask: What effective teaching back-up is to emerge for his final reference in Method in Theology to scripture, Jesus’ prayer, “may they all be one” (p. 367)?  There is need for an effective sociology of Jesus that would lift the massively complex symbolisms of the founders of sociology—at the moment I am reading of and thinking about the complex structurings of Herbert Spencer, and of theology as supposedly queen of such structuring. (CWL 18, 126-7, 130). We are far far away from a suspicion of the nine-layered diagrammed situation ethics of Jesus that would meet the global needs of the move into the positive Anthropocene.

    Q. re The Interior Light Lighthouse

    So I shift abruptly to the second question, one that comes from a sincere professional and personal poise with regard to contemplative prayer, responding to the reading of some of my stuff that points away from that zone, e.g. from Teresa’s Interior Castle. At the end here I append a reasonable list of references, but you have to keep also in mind my series of criticisms of N.T. Wright and a biblical tradition which backs up the search for Jesus implicitly criticized at the end of the first answer.

    And perhaps that permits me to be even briefer in this answer.

    The foundational contemplative is surely aiming at a cherished and effective heuristics of the sociology of Jesus, far from the God of Abraham and the God of the philosophers, nearer to the truncated but powerful suggestiveness of the story and hopes of sociology and its referents associated with Comte that I wrote of earlier in January.

    Aiming surely? In fact, not aiming at all, in the present ethos, which is that of taxi-drivers familiar with the roads of a city. So, that ethos has to face the climb out of dreadful existential gaping (Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, chapter 13) to some glimpse of what Lonergan means when he writes (CWL 6, 121 and 155) of haute vulgarization, of people “lost in some no-man’s land between the world of theory and the world of common sense,” (121) “never bitten by theory”(155). But, my decent prayerful contemplative would say, ‘being bitten by theory was never my aim: I wish to be lost in God, bitten by loving darkness.’ I would reply that such a loving dark lostness is not the poise of a theology that yearns for “a resolute and effective intervention in this historical process” (Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, 306). In theology there is the high calling to “fuse into a single explanation”(Insight, 610), and that single effective explanation is, at any stage in “the greatest of all works” (Triune God: Systematics, CWL 12, 491), to be a grip on the more-than-the-level-of the-times-“elitist” (Method, 351, line 3) normative heuristics of the story of the sociology of the fullness of Jesus in eschahistory, the Single Explanation of the Father.

    Appendix re The Interior Lighthouse.
    {In fact, footnote 42 of “The Coming Convergence of World Responsiveness” [Divyadaan, 29 (2018)].}

    On my website, HOW 13, “The Interior Lighthouse” introduced the topic, Interior Lighthouse, under that title. Disputing Quests 12, “The Interior Lighthouse II” continued the reflection, as did Disputing Quests 13, “The Interior Lighthouse Zero.” Those essays were followed by Interpretation 4, “The Interior Lighthouse III,” Interpretation 16, “The Interior Lighthouse IV: Twenty Seventh Lea,” and Interpretation 17, “The Interior Lighthouse V: Interpreting God.” The topic, however, goes back to Process: Introducing Themselves to Young (Christian) Minders (1989) and the broad challenge is made explicit in the five essays, Prehumous 4–8, on “Foundational Prayer.” It is the heart of the matter in my recent book, The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History (Axial Publishing, 2015). The drive of that series was towards an appreciation of the need for a contemplative ingestion of Insight if we are to arrive at a sub-population competent “Tower-wise” “to be a resolute and effective intervention in the historical process” (Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, 306). What of the rest of the contemplative population? This short essay is a nudge towards your answer: but the full answer is a complex heuristic requiring “distinguishing the successive stages of this, the greatest of all works” (The Triune God: Systematics, CWL 12, 491).

    • #1260

      Pat Brown
      Participant

      Here is a suggestion regarding one toxic component of contemporary Lonergan studies. I think it is a significant toxic component. It is loosely related to McShane’s comments on the need for symbols (and perhaps to “The Interior Lighthouse”).

      My suggestion is this. Aside from McShane and a few others, there doesn’t seem to be any serious respect in the main drift of Lonergan students and studies for the demands inherent in the canon of complete explanation, including (or especially) in human studies. For that reason, among others, there is no serious sense within Lonergan studies of the need for adequately complex heuristic images and structures, especially of the need for what, at least to the conventionally minded, would appear as implausibly far-out heuristics of the geohistorical complexity of viewpoints. This lack of seriousness regarding the canon of complete explanation, in turn, would seem to make it quite impossible to approach the second canon of hermeneutics with anything resembling the kind of horizon that would reveal it as intelligible, powerful, and meaningful. See CWL 3, Insight, 609-10. Without at least a serious sense of the need for a series of complex heuristic images of the geohistorical complexity of viewpoints, how can one read Lonergan’s talk about “the genetic sequence in which insights gradually are accumulated by man,” CWL 3, 609, in a manner that isn’t just a variation on intellectual sleepwalking, a kind of somnomulent nominalism? And is that manner not both toxic and pervasive in what Kuhn might call “the normal science” of Lonerganism?

      McShane seems to be regarded as an oddity by the general ruck of Lonergan scholars because for decades he’s been drawing attention to this problem with his images of geohistorical Markov matrices, a theological transposition of the Mercator project, and his metawords (conspicuously, W3). But if Lonergan studies regards McShane as an oddity, it must also in all consistency regard Lonergan as an oddity. It was not McShane, but Lonergan, who wrote:

      “All men of all times and places offer a four-dimensional totality of data, of phenomena to be completely explained.” Archives document 70400DTE060, page one.

      The sentence is in an early draft of chapter one of Method titled “The New Context in Theology,” a draft completed no later than early July 1967, because it is mentioned by Lonergan in a letter to John Courtney Murray dated July 2, 1967. There are many further examples. To select just one, in Lonergan’s 48 pages of typed notes on Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Lonergan paraphrases a passage on page 1 of Kuhn’s book this way; “Questions raised by this type of science-image do not lead to genetic account: present science as uniquely a matter of observations, laws, and theories exhibited in textbooks.” Archives document 20400DTE070, at 1. In the left margin next to this passage, Lonergan typed: “Genetic history of science.” Further down the page in the left margin he typed: “New type of history of science.” And to draw the obvious parallel to toxic Lonergan studies in its suppression of both Lonergan himself and McShane, on page 2 of his notes on Kuhn, Lonergan typed this quotation from Kuhn: “Normal science, for example, often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments.” Archives document 20400DTE070, at 2. Lonergan was a brilliantly novel thinker. Has the school that bears his name suppressed Lonergan himself in basic ways because his fundamental novelties are subversive of its basic commitments? If so, “toxic” hardly seems an adequately pejorative description of the situation.

      Finally, on the topic of ‘oddities,’ I append a note from Lonergan that may be relevant. “For the average product of classical culture, theory is beyond the horizon . . . for him, theorists really are just oddities. … What he apprehends in Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, etc., is what is mediated by la haute vulgarisation, by professors, by schools.” A86600DTE060, at 5.

  • #1263

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    I have pondered various extensions of Brown’s appeal. There is, for instance, a massive extending revision of the canon of complete explanation dancing in the wings of Lonergan’s lift of science into the pragmatics of the eightfold cycle. Pushing that forward is foundational work that weaves into such dialectic challenging as Pat is doing in this piece and in a plethora of other searchings and reachings. But I prefer now to leave such advancing aside and push for a proximate closing of an existential gap in the story of Lonergan’s eventual historical effectiveness. Recall Lonergan, “First of all, insofar as there is to be a resolute and effective intervention in this historical process, one has to postulate that the existential gap must be closed” (Phenomenology and Logic, 306). The existential gap here is the present sick gap between Lonergan’s view—flagged by McShane and Brown—and Lonerganism. I do not wish to specify further that gap, but to postulate an effort from us Forum people to reach discomfortingly persons, even among ourselves, on the sick side of the gap. What are you and I going to do, this spring, to stir that closed set of groups and minds that is Lonerganism? Are you here and now nudged—please pause—to reach out effectively “cajoling or forcing attention,” (Insight, 423, line 40), as diplomatically as possible, to the sad failures, persons of Lonerganism? I would wish this difficult personal effort on us—I quote Method 253—“in the style of a crucial experiment. While it will not be automatically efficacious, it will provide the open-minded, the serious, the sincere with the occasion to ask themselves some basic questions.”

  • #1264

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    I was not trained as a Lonerganian but have spent a good number of years communing with Lonergan’s (L) texts and interacting with a few Lonerganians. As much as I was struck by L’s theoretical power, I was also struck by his commitment to implementation, or the problem (and mystery) of implementation.

    A Lonerganian I have great respect for, after some discussion, recently urged me to read Insight Chs 6 & 7. I wonder if part of the problem is that though there is the stated commitment to ‘theory’ in many of Lonergan’s followers, many have fallen under the sway of a ‘common sense’ group bias that in fact resists subordination to genuine human theoretical science and the work and discipline that this involves.

    It is I think understandable, for Lonergan’s project especially if one takes ‘implementation’ seriously, is very radical—this effort to think and act (authentically) at the level of one’s individual and collective history. I would hazard to say that to cross the existential gap Phil refers to, a purity of heart is required for we are facing a problem of history that has profound evolutionary consequences.

    As for what one is going to do ‘this spring’, I’ll not be engaged much with professional Lonerganians but with the many others who know little or nothing of him and yet because they too are involved more or less in ‘being attentive, intelligent, reasonable, and responsible’ in what can only be called most generally an historical process and struggle, there will be much occasion to draw on L’s work and findings as we try to think and act to the level of our own history, context, and times. Lonergan remains highly relevant but also, for me, someone like Freire still has relevance as well, especially for engaging non-academics who really are not using language the same way.
    Hugh

  • #1271

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    The need is to keep on track. Hugh remarks that “Freire still has relevance”: then pull Freire’s perspective in. In the first chapter of “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Freire has the wonderfully odd statement, “Functionally, oppression is domesticating.” Lonerganism domesticates its students into subtly dodging the basic issue. What is that issue?: it is to “Sow What” (the title of chapter one of “Allure,” a chapter massively different from Freire’s eloquent but truncated chapter one). Hugh is right on: “Lonergan’s project especially if one takes ‘implementation’ seriously, is very radical.” Its radicalness is that it demands that we push towards sowing WHAT luminously. And Hugh is still more right on when he writes: “As much as I was struck by L’s theoretical power, I was also struck by his commitment to implementation, or the problem (and mystery) of implementation.” Our problem is to be gracefully, EFFECTIVELY, struck INTO implementation. Whom might you meet this spring with whom you might share—but effectively—the sowing of what, the turn to an effective dialogue of effectively cherishing our lonely whats?

  • #1279

    James Duffy
    Participant

    A reply to Pat, Hugh, Phil.

    To what shall I compare the challenge of sowing what?

    The other day an analogy dawned on me. Seven years ago I was director of B.A. Humanities and Social Sciences, a multi-disciplinary major that consisted of sequences of courses in economics, history, literature, philosophy, finances, methods, and more. As director, I had the task of “captación” (recruiting) of students, a task that department chairs in the U.S. are spared.

    Captación” involved giving talks to high school students, corresponding with them via email and talking by phone, and conducting one-on-one interviews. I remember a conversation with a talented young man who was between humanities and engineering. I did my best to listen and not pounce on him to capture another body for the humanities major.

    There were parts of “captación” that I enjoyed, but I dreaded the bi-weekly meetings when the director of the university would ask, “How many do you have?”

    The humanities major closed in 2013 for lack of bodies (numbers). Forming a creative minority, a dividend of young people ‘released’ to read some classics and engage in apparently impractical debates about how to put ideas into action was not on the agenda of those who decided to close the major.

    As professor of those students, I experienced various failures in sowing what. Here I will briefly comment on two of them.

    First failure
    Since I have a PhD in philosophy, I was asked to design three courses—Epistemology, Social Philosophy, and Modernity and Postmodernity. Teaching “Mo–PoMo” was great fun. We watched films (“Blade Runner,” “Wings of Desire,” “Midnight in Paris”), analyzed “double-coding” in architecture, and read essays of Jorge Borges, fables of Foucault, and Nietzsche’s Use and Abuse of History for Life.

    In the original plan, which I eventually scrapped, I also included a three-week module on empirical residues, space and time, and reference frames. Wow, can you imagine that? What else could that have been but “covering” difficult topics and skimming past precious questions?

    Second failure
    In Social Philosophy, I tried teaching chapters 6 and 7 of Insight, skipping, of course, the previous chapters on heuristic structures and canons of empirical method, complimentary of statistical and classical knowings and knowns, and space and time. Former students—a couple of whom are on their way to London (London School of Economics and the University of Oxford) to pursue an MA in Public Policy—still joke around about cosmopolis. But they do not live and breathe the question “What is this not easy, not busy, timely and fruitful, not pushy X cosmopolis?” I did not succeed in sowing “What is cosmopolis?”

    What is my plan for sowing this spring?

    I have not given up on good will in former students, colleagues, and former teachers. This is in spite of the fact that the socially deteriorated pretentious academic slum, where having a PhD in philosophy, theology, or some other low-rung discipline is likely to be a hindrance to whatting and sowing what, continues to batter us down.

    I wish putting an end to Lonerganism were a matter of the present generation of professors retiring (see CWL 3, 549). In fact, they are retiring; some of them are dying; but Lonerganesque commonsense scholars and teachers continue overreaching and misleading younger generations. A transformation of sophisticated scholarship masquerading as serious understanding is not, will not be a cakewalk. Voegelin writes of modernity “going through many convulsions” before finding its way back to humility in The Ecumenic Age.

    There is an opportunity, I believe, for sowing what in the area of sane economics, where the point, as elsewhere, is appropriation, lifting words and plucking phrases, incarnating them, freshening them up, and setting them in the pulsing flow of life. Be a sport. Try teaching the basics, first to your nearest neighbor in the mirror, then to another neighbor.

    Currently there are over 5,230 topics on Lonergan Google Group. I was involved in a couple of discussions for a few weeks last fall. Should I re-enter the fray? Is there soil in that group for sowing what? Is there an interest in the possibility of implementing complex heuristic images (see Pat Brown’s post above) leading to “cumulative and progressive results”? Will repentance and belief that “some third way, then, must be found” emerge in good time, perhaps when the group gets to 10,000 topics?

    When it comes to whatting and listening kindly to other whatters—be they colleagues, students, or neighbors—I am somewhere in the second paragraph on page 3 of Method, sandwiched, you might say, between “the example of the master” and finding a beautiful and efficient way to reverse the longer cycle of decline (see CWL 3, 254–257), the shithole in which the need to listen and speak effectively has never been greater.

    That is my self-reading of the first three paragraphs of Method, and that is my answer to the questions: What time am I? What is my “psychological present”? (Cf CWL 6, 106–108). “Ni modo” = That’s life; whatever; shit happens. What is your self-reading?

    My spring plan is to stumble forward, continue confessing, come clean, position “Jamecito” (little James) in the story of everything, and invite others to do the same.

  • #1320

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    The question that arises for me in response to Phil’s post above is—is there an objective situation of oppression and if so “what” is it, and how do we “name” it?

    If we agree that there truly is oppression, as Freire means it, then surely this has to be a confusing situation for the established academic, whether he/she be an economist, theologian, or Lonerganian, …. confusing in the sense of there being a challenge to sort out authentically one’s position or “stand” in regard to such a situation of oppression.

    Phil speaks of “truncation” in Freire’s chapter one, and in my experience truncation comes in many guises, affecting both one’s understanding and one’s practice, especially one’s struggle to overcome this oppressive  situation however it is defined.   Phil in his Ch 1 of “The Allure …” also speaks of a “unified science” which I take to be, or to result in, some effective fusion of the “ontic and phyletic” and that unless one has experienced the serious work of mathematics and the physical sciences one will be ill-equipped for this struggle. It is always at least implied that this serious short-coming needs to be overcome somehow.

    I am not going to deny this exactly, but I want to add that unless one has had some experience with others of the struggle of participating in the efforts to forge a genuine “democratic organization” that has some capacity and commitment to “collective action” one also will be ill-equipped or at some disadvantage in this “struggle”.

    Thus “bringing in” of Freire is not just cursory on my part, but may very well help point out some truncation in the envisaging of “the global revolution” and its means resulting from Lonergan’s own intellectual and academic formation.

    In sum I suppose this little dialectical moment only serves to deepen the sense of “functional collaboration’s” importance all along the way …

  • #1323

    James Duffy
    Participant

    Hugh’s post reminded me of teaching liberation philosophy to undergraduates a few years back. Besides Freire’s work in critical pedagogy, other voices in Latin America whom we read in the semester-long seminar included Leopoldo Zea, Enrique Dussel, and Santiago Castro-Gómez. These three thinkers were influenced by Habermas, Levinas, Apel, and Foucault, among others.

    Best I refrain from comparing figures (philosophers) in the usual way—an occupational hazard for philosophers, theologians, and others on the lower rungs of the academic-discipline ladder described in the second paragraph of Method (page 3 in the English, page 11 in Spanish [Salamanca: Ediciones Sigueme, 1994]). Suffice it to say that there was and still is a concern in various parts of Latin America to conscientize, through education, about the historical situation in Latin America, and to orient theoretical praxis to liberation, whatever that jumble of words might mean to individual liberation philosophers.

    The seminar was an adventure in team-teaching. My partner, who was an expert in philosophy of culture from the local public university (UMSNH), was kind enough to go along with my suggestion to read the first two chapters of the Spanish Economics for Everyone (trans. Francisco Sierra Gutiérrez and Jaime Barrera Parra) and excerpts from the Spanish For a New Political Economy (trans. by Armando Bravo SJ). I tried my best, given the overloaded syllabus and negotiations that come with team-teaching, to sow what: What is “democratic economics that can issue practical imperatives to plain men [and women]”? (CWL 21, 5) and to sow how: How might we “liberate many entirely and all increasingly to the field of cultural activities”? (ibid., 20)

    Hugh asks if there a situation of oppression, what it is, and how we might name it. Where I live people recognize oppression as institutionalized corruption, and many feel quite helpless about confronting it. Some folks benefit from a “palanca,” which means a  favor or privilege, usually one that comes from knowing the right person or people. If you do not have “palanca” and you want to avoid the hassle of standing in a long line to retrieve your license after inadvertently driving the wrong way on a one-way road, well then you just pay the corrupt cop a “mordida” (a bribe). Been there, done that.

    What might I do effectively about the mess in which I am complicit? Can I do a little better than learning names such as “manipulation,” “cultural invasion,” and “self-depreciation” and teaching these names to the next generation of students? Can I do better than Piketty’s descriptive statistics in in Capital in the Twenty-First Century? Is the longer cycle of decline just another name to include in a “word map,” or is it more like a first- or second-order derivative, i.e., more like velocity (f′x) or acceleration (f″x) than “going really fast”?

    Freire’s emphasis on respecting local worldviews relates to finding the diamond in the rough, the hidden anomaly.  A research standing model leans into the future while listening to students, neighbors, or a drug-addict, or listening to Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, to find something worth recycling, then passes it along to the next guy or gal on the dream team of standing models. “But we are not there yet.” (CWL 21, 20).

    Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? (You might recognize the song lyrics by Chicago.) Why is the longer cycle so long and so shitty? For how many more centuries will the social situation—that includes the claptrap forcing kindergarten teachers to collect “evidence” that the little princes and princesses smiling at them are capable of “transversal competencies”—deteriorate cumulatively? (Cf CWL 3, 254) What about the precious questions of the little princes and princesses? “For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human.” (P. Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed). And—the $64,000 question—what is this not easy, not busy, not pushy dream-team of acrobats who are going to rescue the oppressed children? “Clearly enough, these approaches [the example of the master and the bolder spirits on the ladder] to the problem of method do little to advance the less successful subjects.” (Method, 4) Really? Clearly enough to whom?

    Our mission—ho, ho, ho, should we choose to accept it—is to sow why and how and what and what might be. These are not Freire’s words or Lonergan’s words, but that’s not important … and there is no need to mention Lonergan or Freire in my base community adventure, unless, of course, I think mentioning one or other is helpful pedagogically. The challenge is patient and kind listening and speaking, incarnating words and sub-words, freshening them up, and setting them in the pulsing flow of my commitment to fumble forward as a babbling babe hoping beyond hope to ‘liberate many entirely and all increasingly to the field of cultural activities.’

    We are all ill-equipped, massively handicapped, early explorers. When it comes to sane economics, we might be like Freire and a host of others—“people not understanding what is happening and why, [so] they cannot be expected to act intelligently.” (CWL 15, middle of 82)  It takes time and a bit of luck to follow up on the leads of the Kepler-crazy discovery of two-flow analysis, to become more than a weekend celebrity and understand better than the Nobel Prize winners Paul Samuelson (1970), Amartya Sen (1996), Joseph Stiglitz (2001), and Paul Krugman (2008).  It takes perseverance and a bit of madness to fantasize future histories in which “protons and pansies and personalities are woven together in the policies of Marx. The chemistry of steam is put on the rails of capitalism and Joyce and Lenin can share a train of thought. Music can become the musak of marketing.” (Phil McShane, Cantower VIII, “Slopes: An Encounter,” at page 14)

    My apologizes to Doug for rambling on and on about La La Land. The short answer to his question is: “This is going to take 150 years.” (A remark  Lonergan made to McShane in the autumn of 1977, quoted in Economics for Everyone: Das Jus Kapital (Vancouver: Axial Publishing, 2017, 3rd ed.), xvii).  It is going to take longer if we sit on our hands.

    Lately I have been thinking that sharing dreams and confessing failures is the name of the game. In some cultures, it is acceptable to share dreams at breakfast. Confessing failures might help others avoid them. If at first you do not succeed, fail better, tell a friend, try again, then fail better and report to the group. Not clearly enough, the brutal group confessions sketched on Method 250 will sort out our positions regarding the monster’s turd, the social surd in which we live and move. (See further Pat Brown, “Functional Collaboration and the Development of Method in Theology, Page 250,” available at: https://seattleu.academia.edu/PatBrown)

    Shall we take a year off from talking about implementing economics and detoxing Lonerganism on this forum and do something about it? We could get together in six months or a year for show and tell; share our dreams, screams, and failures. That would make ‘sowing what’ a timely topic and help detoxify Lonerganism.

  • #1340

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    Jim writes, “Hugh asks if there is a situation of oppression, what it is, and how we might name it. Where I live people recognize oppression as institutionalized corruption, and many feel quite helpless about confronting it.”
    Our situation I think might be recognized a little differently, … and as income disparity or inequality and the structures that perpetuate it. I won’t go into the particulars. Lonergan’s theory of economy has greatly helped to clarify this situation of oppression. However to speak of this notion of “oppression” makes many uncomfortable because it exposes power relationships among people that are further defined by domination. I believe that academia has aided and abetted this situation both directly and indirectly. It is a very long story that many of you are well aware of, I’m quite sure.
    The point is that though Lonergan and Phil’s work is highly relevant there is also this dimension (and there is no ideological partisanship intended here) that can be missed. This dimension takes the primary focus away from the intelligentsia and more towards ordinary people living their lives. And yet it does inescapably circle back to the issues raised by Lonergan and Phil in such depth … think of this schema:
    In my recent experience locally there are two ideas which I believe challenge one to reflect and evaluate where one really stands in this “struggle” against oppression –
    • Democratic organization
    • Collective action
    But both these notions point to the need for –
    • Leadership
    which Jim touches on, and then “leadership” points to the need for “education” and so here we have it –
    • Education
    What is education? But I’d add this qualification to the question – what is education for social change?
    This is ‘what’ I think a thinker like Freire might add to Lonergan in a more conscious manner, thus the value of conscientization even among Lonerganians. And I agree with Jim there is a time and circumstance when the ‘dropping’ (and comparing) of names must be set aside – even that of “Lonergan”, as I think Lonergan himself recommended at one point.

  • #1341

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    Looking Towards A Maritime Spring:
    In comparing Phil’s Ch1 in “The Allure …” with Freire’s Ch1 in “The Pedagogy …” as invited, the question arises for me ‘what is oppression?” and more, ‘what does it add, if anything, to the analysis/discussion?’ Does it, and if so, how does it differ from the notion of ‘inequality’ in Pikety or in Pope Francis’ dwelling upon ‘inequality’ in his Climate Change encyclical? This is not meant as an academic adventure in comparison, for there is a point to it bearing upon implementation because I can link it to the spending of ‘serious time and energy on some difficult little problem'(Allure,p.12) more or less effectively depending on the day, and the details of which I’ll spare everyone. So then is the enquiry still seriously scientific, i.e. linked to the objective and personal issue and problem of forging an adequate human science that involves ‘the effective control of meaning’ as it bears upon the grappling with some ‘real problem’? I believe and hope so.
    Perhaps the light the uncomfortable notion of “oppression” sheds on this discussion and reflection has to do with what Freire writes about of the use of ‘science’ –

    “More and more, the oppressors are using science and technology as unquestionably powerful instruments for their purpose: the maintenance of the oppressive order through manipulation and repression. The oppressed, as objects, as “things”, have no purposes except those their oppressors prescribe for them.”(p46)

    I know the response, is that science used in that way is a truncated science used by truncated persons. Admittedly so – but the uncomfortable notion of ‘oppression’ collaborating with the persistent advocacy for an adequate ‘human science’ guards against this dehumanizing tendency always present especially in the ‘monologic rationalism’ operative in the course of our intellectual history.

  • #1342

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    I wish to make two points, the second point bracketed by a return to the first main point.

    First, then, Hugh’s point “the uncomfortable notion of ‘oppression’ collaborating with the persistent advocacy for an adequate ‘human science’ guards against this dehumanizing tendency always present especially in the ‘monologic rationalism’ operative in the course of our intellectual history”. BUT it does not guard against the destruction of our day-to-day lives.

    Secondly, I focus on the top section of Hugh’s reflection. The course of our intellectual history has to be shifted to the challenge of that paragraph of Insight’s turn of page 609-10. Our intellectual history—let’s just think of Lonerganism—is full of disoriented comparisons of the type Hugh presents: they scream for an effective genetic ordering as Lonergan screamed for that ordering in Insight 17.3.

    Thirdly, back to my first point.  My full focus, my pointing, is towards full intervention in history, but at present it is the search for present efforts of us at interventions that are effectively practical, and that in a sense connoted by my “FS8 to C9” push. Are we shifting ANYTHING? My hope is for a shift of Lonergan studies towards street “fruit to be borne”(Method, 355). I see such hope in our nudging ourselves to find small or large zones of effective intervention in the present flow of global horrors. IF I can get the group participation in the Forum tuned effectively into that novel and difficult intervening consciousness, I would chalk up a little C9 success in my efforts.

  • #1343

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    Not to be disputatious, but in defense …
    we want social change …
    my point at its most basic is that it will not come from the intelligentsia on their own whether Lonerganian or Marxist or Hayekian.
    There needs to be a complimenting and supplementing strategy that involves ‘ordinary people’ and ‘workers’.
    The language of that appeal and strategy will require, as a matter of implementation, other categories, one of them being ‘oppression’ as Freire for one has articulated it.
    (Come to think of it, I don’t believe Lonergan has any equivalent notion.)
    So we will have to agree to disagree on this point if need be … for, in my view and experience, this notion of ‘oppression’ if it is in solidarity with others rightly ‘named’ of a particular local situation by those who actually suffer under it, it can be a first step in the guarding “against the destruction of our day to day lives”.

  • #1344

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Ho ho Hugh you are being disputatious! Further, we should not “agree to disagree.” That is the way of “academic disciplines”(Method 3, end), which needs to be replaced by the strategy of Insight 609–10. That is the pointing of the turn to Method page 4. Further, your view that Lonergan has no comparable notion to what Freire means by “oppression” is sadly comic.

    But back to my previous middle point: we get out of “disputatious agree/disagree” if we follow up on Lonergan’s methodological advice. THAT is a complex task that is not a focus of my attention at present. But we need to put it aside with some degree of luminosity if we are to get on with the present task of trying for—and finding it difficult—concrete interventions. Such efforts will reveal to us that commonsense truncated talk of pope or peasant just does not ground global effective intervention.

    • #1357

      David Oyler
      Participant

      Phil, you start

  • #1358

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Thank you Dave: a good challenge: on the ball.

    I’ll pause later over previous starts, but my start at the moment is here and now, trying to get those in this Forum-chat to start, to try, in some effective way, to intervene in history, however local, even effectively chatting to a Lonerganesque colleague. I am trying to focus us on “implementation” (Insight, 416, third last line) in its new context of functional implementation leading to street “fruit to be borne” (Method, 355). I would note, though, that implementation is a sophisticated element in the entire cycle, summed up in the question “to whom are you talking effectively?”

    I am not being terribly successful here. Nor have I ever been. I went to the International Florida Conference of 1970 with the pointer of a paper on functional collaboration in musicology, thinking I would be one of a group, e.g., who read seriously Lonergan’s challenge of Gregorianum 1969. I have repeated the challenge in a range of disciplines and manners in the past 47 years. A small group gets the point: e.g., the book Seeding Global Collaboration, or Divyadaan 28/2 (2017),  or Bill Zanardi’s volumes. Lonergan offers a precise multi-faceted potentially-effective paradigm shift in science and care for progress. His disciples stay in old ways, the old ways of “academic disciplines” condemned at the bottom of page 3 of Method. I am tired of thinking of them as trapped in invincible ignorance. Is there present in some, especially and effectively in the leaders, or should I say, “misleaders,” an element of mean-minded self-preservation?

  • #1363

    David Oyler
    Participant

    Thank you Phil. So one subject you touch on is what I consider the problem of the audience. Effectively, there isn’t one. So Lonergan tried to fill the gap with the first part of Method, when, in retrospect it may have been more effective to pick up where he left off so folks would need to understand Insight rather than skipping the tough parts and settling for something less. Then there is the question of what the audience would be like. Because the unity of the group is found in method, we all would be part of the audience for each other. Because it requires social development to be sustainable, there needs to be new members coming along. But to have new members effectively learn without the years of struggling in the darkness, there needs to be a coherent social context channeling their efforts. That requires a sufficient mass of folks who know what they are doing and whose achievements provide examples and, concomitantly, incarnate meaning, among other things needed in a culture.  I was going to add some comments on the current world situation being driven by the instability of finality as operator and the possibility of method being unifying, but I will do that in another post. More to come.

  • #1367

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Thank you Dave. You lead me to further comment on the audience. We are in agreement of course re the problem of the book Method. But now notice, as we look again at what you go on to say, that you are speaking quite neatly about the emergence of a science and its eventual stability where there is a “coherent social context channeling their efforts.” That was my topic in the lecture “Arriving in Cosmopolis”: a far-away maturity of a science of effective collaboration. Closer to present day is Quinn’s The (Pre-) Dawning of Functional Specialization in Physics (World Scientific, 2017), and there is some fermenting towards division of labour in other zones of scientific inquiry. SO, the “coherent social context” already exists outside theology and philosophy and needs the boost of defining better the specialization and collaborations which de facto occur now, randomly.

    But back to your audience problem—or ho ho no audience problem. Yes, there is very little of the serious scientific spirit in present Lonergan studies: so no audience, no “coherent social context” of common science. A first comment on that: there is a growing cultural pressure exposing the “breathless lateness” but, e.g., the Christian community is sadly geared to resist such pressure for millennia. What would help the stats (Poisson style initially!) is if the suspicion that functional collaboration began to have some effect. THERE is where the present audience, the Forum folk, can effectively intervene in history. Have they Lonergan contacts that they can persuade—best in the presence of alcohol! [I am recalling here the Post-Keynesian economics book beginning, “after a few drinks we admit we have nothing to teach.” See “Introduction” to A Guide to Post-Keynesian Economics (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1979).]  But I am not optimistic here: we can only try. AND my addressing this little audience is my little try! Lonergan wrote to me in 1968 asking me to find an economist. I have failed. Might I pass on the plea again, with fresh urgency? Look around among acquaintance and neighbors and your kids’ teachers, for an economics teacher, for a shrunken Lonergan scholar.

    AND like you, I have more to say: especially about how obvious the need for functional collaboration is.

  • #1370

    David Oyler
    Participant

    Thank you, Phil. You provide some hope, for after 49 years of working on this I am discouraged by how slow progress is, my own included. Perhaps that is because we may need to be pushed into a corner where we have no choice but to functionally specialize and cooperate. A cosmic object lesson. I see hope in science and also hope in business which requires much global cooperation and organization. Both provide some common context. Another option is that we reach some tipping point where the success of a group of functionally cooperating scientists make some breakthrough and their methodological model gets adopted by others. That would be a step along the way.

    In discussing finality as operator in development on pages 490-1 of Insight, Lonergan notes that a higher integration brings about its own instability leading to the emergence of a new integration. Our social instability today is partially caused by practically irreconcilable viewpoints where the solution is not another viewpoint but a way of resolving differences and progressing. Our social existential gap is measured by the difference between a universal human structure of consciousness which could ground explicit human unity and its fragmented instantiation displayed in the sense and nonsense of our common discourse. So the “emergence of the higher integration” socially would be the emergence of a “higher way of integrating” which we recognize we have in common. I know most of the participants know that, but I just wanted to express “my thought for the day.”

  • #1375

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    And, to your great pointing I am nudged to add, starting with your ending:“I know most of the participants know that, but I just wanted to express ‘my thought for the day.’ ” Right on, with your thought of the day, or of the millennium. But I qualify your final statement, and I do not think that my audience will be offended. They do not KNOW, where I am now talking in Character (Aristotle’s Magna Moralia, first paragraph [see P.S. below] lifted into section 1, “Meaning and Ontology,” of the final chapter of Method, “it constitutes part of the reality of the one that means: his horizon, his assimilative powers, his knowledge, his values, his CHARACTER.”) After 49 years you speak in character of character: the expression is a pointing to a climb not recognized by most of the Lonerganist group, nor by many of the present audience. Might this, repeated and bleated by sheep-skate ram-scan lamb-baste me, nudge this audience to climb more, and, of course, to nudge their Lonerganesque acquaintances?

    But now, yes, “yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” (the end of Joyce’s Ulysses, with Molly very much in character) I add to hope in this 3rd millennium of Roaming Christianity. In my 1984 salute to Lonergan [it is available in Cantower 33, section 2] I suggested that economics would eventually be the break-through. Yes, there we have the core of an “instability leading to the emergence of a new integration.” Robinson and Eatwell, An Introduction to Modern Economics, (1973: a publishing etc failure) end page 51 with the claim, “it is time to go back to the beginning and start again.” But they go on to make a pig’s arse of the job. [I use that book in my Economics for Everyone, but I was picking useful twists out of the mess]. There are serious groups of humanist economists wading round the arse-product of standard text, not realizing that the one-circuit colon-stuff just does not work.  Can we find some odd group who would sniff this out, for example, exposing [a] nonsense about wages, [b] nonsense about savings equal investments? [a] and [b] are centuries-old error-zones.

    Piketty’s fancy footwork in this zone, by the way, gets no further than Robinson.

    The hope is [can our characters weave in—slowly, patiently—to shift “Common Meaning and Ontology,” section 2 of Method chapter 14?] that economic science will emerge in these next decades. On the farce of undergraduate economics see chapter 3 of The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History. It does not take genius to sniff the non-scientific mess that is being taught. It only takes a humble imagination to nose about and catch on, in growing horror and hope, to the childishness of the childhood of humanity, to the pretense of science that has passed for political economics: “our social existential gap,” as you say. Has Trump’s idiot budget got some value after all, “better than was the reality” (Method, 251)?

    P.S.: Here’s the beginning of the Magna Moralia.
    “Since our purpose is to speak about matters to do with character, we must first inquire of what character is a branch. To speak concretely, then, it would seem to be a branch of nothing else than statecraft. For it is not possible to act at all in the affairs of state unless one is of a certain kind, to wit, good. Now to be good is to possess the excellences. If therefore one is to act successfully in affairs of state, one must be of good character. The treatment of character then is, as it seems, a branch and starting-point of statecraft. And as a whole it seems to me that the subject ought rightly to be called, not Ethics, but Politics.”

  • #1380

    Robert Henman
    Participant

    Audiences, Interpretation, Communication and Implementation

    There are many varied audiences for any particular communication on any topic. Lonergan details this process in Section 3.5 and 3.6 of Chapter 17 of Insight. Beyond familiarity with Lonergan`s display is the act of actually performing an instance of communication. Reflecting on that performance one may be able to home in on their deficiencies, not just in their communicating, but even in their assessment of their audience. We assess audiences perhaps too often without even thinking about it. Much of our assessment may be biased. We speak like babies to children, loudly to the elderly and we do so often quite spontaneously because we have not thought it through and because we do not understand what they are.

    Understanding the topic is very relevant to understanding ones audience. The probabilities related to successful communication are increased if one has some understanding of ones audience. How can we verify our understanding of an audience prior to our delivery? For verification requires that one has some insight or understanding in mind. And if we do, from whence or how did we achieve this insight? It might help to list some of the possible audiences that one may address in attempting to communicate.

    1. Journals
    2. Textbooks
    3. University undergraduates
    4. University graduates
    5. Professors
    6. Scientists, social & natural
    7. Pre-school teachers
    8. School teachers-Elem. Mid and Hi.
    9. School-aged children-Elem. Mid and Hi.
    10. Community Groups
    11. Politicians
    12. Business people
    13. Elder groups
    14. Male groups
    15. Female groups
    16. Mixed gender groups
    17. Different ethnic groups
    18. Sympathetic groups
    19. Unsympathetic groups

    And one can go on. What we all have in common is our minds and for some the possibility of a curiosity that has not been totally befuddled by the cultural malaise. Now in terms of a neuroscientist speaking to fellow neuroscientists, he or she can usually assume a certain degree of understanding and hopes to add some small bit to that understanding. When we think of the implementation of Generalized Empirical Method or Functional Specialization, we cannot assume any understanding by the vast majority of the common or academic world. Speaking to a group of non-academic people we can at least assume some curiosity. Unfortunately, most common sense people are unable to leap to the vastness or implications of what one is communicating. Now the scientists might but only if one can communicate such a project in terms of their own language, their own science and even with that there are no guarantees. (Terry Quinn’s two books on physics are in this zone.)

    Recently, in Spain, (organized by my wife, Olive, to keep me out of the bars) I was invited by a group of British seniors belonging to the University of the Third Age, or the U3A, to speak on curiosity, Globalization and Economics, the first topic, titled “Curiosity: Beyond Darwin,” I have taught in the university for over three decades to undergraduates. I took some time prior to the lectures to reflect on what my audience might be like in terms of backgrounds. I had no initial way of finding this out so I simply asked people at the beginning of the lecture. Few raised their hands at all at my asking who were teachers, parents, bankers, etc. Three raised their hands as former teachers, so I made a quick decision to focus on what possible experience and understanding they might be bringing to the discussion. (Was I leaving people out by doing so?) It paid off for one retired teacher. Near the end of the discussion on curiosity, the woman shared a story of a friend who was teaching 3 year old preschoolers and has a curriculum to teach. She asked with all sincerity, which led me to believe she had caught the focus of the talk; “What can he do?”

    I replied: first he has to save himself, teach the curriculum and nurture their curiosity as best he can and secondly, I said, “Save as many as he can.” I recalled afterwards, thinking on my response, Ian Holm’s response to Dennis Quaid in the film, “The Day After Tomorrow,” when Quaid asked Holm over the phone, “What can I do?” Holm replied; “Save as many as you can.” The phone then went dead as the advancing ice age moved in. I suspect my response was of no more help to this woman than Holm’s was to Quaid, but the mood created by such a response is somber indeed. The woman left immediately after (like a phone gone dead) and I would have liked to have continued the conversation as I know my response was far from adequate. Now, saving as many as you can, is a bit melodramatic, but saving someone from the negative Anthropocene is no easy task, and doing so in a class of young children is no easy task with the pressures of current schemes of unintentional self-neglect.

    Is it any easier in communicating to university students or professors or Lonerganism? I have actually found it easier to keep a child’s curiosity going than the majority of my undergrad students. But what of my random group of seniors, 25 approximately, where only one asks a genuine question? I am hoping the woman returns for the second lecture so that I can continue the conversation. More on that after I write up the talk on Globalization and Economics which is the real focus of my second talk.

    Returning to my topic of communication and interpreting an audience, I did focus on curiosity, not just as a topic, but on the audience’s possible curiosity. It is the only common feature that members of a given audience might share. I say might, because of the fragmentation of the negative Anthropocene age. The statistics of one serious questioner out of 25 is revealing of the task in communicating to a general common sense audience. One does have to allow for the fact of possible silence due to personalities suffering from inhibitions to asking questions that they may have in mind. These are issues that simmer below the surface when communicating with general audiences and one makes the effort within the context of emergent probability. Some one may grasp something.

    The larger issue, and one would think more relevant, is communicating with human scientists and economists who are perpetuating the Negative Anthropocene (NA) and Lonergan Students who are unknowingly perpetuating both NA and Lonerganism. So, even though my lectures here in Spain are outside those audiences, it draws me into reflecting on the nature of these three audiences mentioned here. Can I rely on their curiosity as a common ground? Within the context of my above comments, the probabilities would seem low for general audiences. Are the probabilities better in the world of Lonerganism and scientia? Is there any other common ground that would be statistically operative within emergent probability? “…if the possibility of the universal viewpoint exists but is not exploited, then objective interpretation is possible but does not occur.” (Insight, 1970, page 583, lugging CWL 3 to Spain was a bit much).

    Yesterday, Friday, February, 9th, I took in Darkness Hour with Gary Oldman (He deserves an Oscar) and we need the mindset of a Churchill in terms of combating the counterpositions. As Churchill led the Lords into admitting their own patriotism, can we lead Lonerganism into admitting it is missing something?

    Robert Henman
    February 2018
    Spain

  • #1388

    Mike Shute
    Participant

    Thanks for your account Bob. I wonder if we might add communicating with ourselves to the list:) I mean that both to others like yourself and internally —in our own inner conversation.

    As I was a student of Fred Crowe I was encouraged quite bluntly to work functionally, that is, at the minimum to be able to identify the specialty I was working in. This lead me to try to imagine and work out just what the procedures of the specialties were (at least the ones I was struggling with) and to try to grasp how they communicated with each other and were united. My own grasp of the differentiation of the specialties has only slowly improved but it has helped to hold on to a notion of their integration. Also, there is the necessary work of personal detoxification. It takes some effort and commitment to undo the damage aspects of the education system.

    This way of working expands to include how I teach, which is an exercise of functional communications, however feebly understood. I kept this in mind when I taught. And teaching was, I also discovered, not confined to a classroom, which is part of what you are driving at, no?

    The medievals were on to something when they used the phrase “things are received in the manner of the receiver.” As you point out it helps when you are talking to an open curious mind and it also helps if you keep your own mind curious. What do you do with the uncurious? I tell jokes, most of which are kids jokes.

    Which brings me to the topic of this thread. Lonergan studies is not monochromatic, that is, insofar as it includes people like yourself who are open and curious and committed to a third-way method and the various grades of openness between. Still, I suspect there are two relatively simple things we can do—be aware of our own need to detoxify and communicate it—as we have been doing here, and use humour. (Insight 18.3.3).

    So could we not also imagine this work as a spiritual exercise?

  • #1392

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    Phil writes above – a)that my comparison between Lonergan and Freire is a “disoriented” one” found prevalent in Lonerganism and then b)”Further, your view that Lonergan has no comparable notion to what Freire means by “oppression” is sadly comic.” (It may be “sadly comic” but I am giving testimony to what I read in both Insight and in Method.) Before retreating to “lick my wounds” or again retreating or disappearing into “hiding,” I cannot not ask how is this term “oppression” actually and comparably understood in Lonergan. In Freire it seems to have a strong objective sociological dimension and context as well as a subjective dimension. And for the brief moment above when Phil did invite the comparison with Freire and especially his CH 1 in “Pedagogy” with Phil’s CH 1 in “Allure” I do find certain striking differences that are further contextualized by Freire’s Preface. Is there then some link between “toxicity” and “oppression”? And really is it that different from what one finds in any highly developed intellectualism as perhaps has happened with Hegelianism? … and perhaps in a different way in Thomism?

  • #1395

    James Duffy
    Participant

    Hello to those following along. Here are some reflections on some issues raised earlier today by Hugh and Mike, also a comment or two on Robert’s post from yesterday on diverse audiences.

    I do not believe there is reason for any of us participating in this forum to hide. Debate is good. “Iron sharpens iron.” Detoxing (something I did twice as a younger man as part of a treatment for eczema) is difficult if I go into hiding, which is where Lonerganism is vis a vis the purifying exercises described on Method page 250.

    The disorientation of doing academic comparisons is widespread, not just in Lonerganism. It is so widespread that it is hard to notice. After all, what is wrong with comparing what Lonergan and Piketty have to say about capital and income? In my experience, it has not been and is not easy to break from comparing figures this way, so I appreciate Mike’s point regarding being aware of the need to detoxify James, even risk communicating my journey.

    Laying one’s cards, one’s life on the table, is brutal. Fred Crowe was on to this years ago when he wrote: “Is an Augustinian confession of what we have been, of the past that has made us what we are, required as an integral part of theology when we enter upon the tasks of dialectic and foundations?” Crowe was writing about specific, difficult, redemptive tasks dodged by Lonerganism.

    Obviously it would make no sense for me, James, to confess for Augustine. I could quote Augustine, Lonergan, Kierkegaard, Marx, whomever, in my confession, but probably best to speak in first person, keep the focus on James. I am not denying the role of indirect discourse—I often do it by quoting on this forum, and indeed I quoted Crowe above—but if that’s all I am capable of, then I am just a shadow, incapable of making words my own, freshening them up, sharing them appropriately, at the right time, in the right way, for the right people, and for the right reason (thank you very much, Aristotle).

    Perhaps a further comment on what I wrote February 3 might help. “For how many more centuries will the social situation—that includes the claptrap forcing kindergarten teachers to collect “evidence” that the little princes and princesses smiling at them are capable of “transversal competencies”—deteriorate cumulatively?” What I wrote about the deteriorated and deteriorating social situation in kindergarten is something I am currently involved in as an editor. Kindergarten education has its moments, e.g. the teacher asks learners to dance and sing, but there are aspects related to the mad accumulation of measurable evidence that are sad and darker, I’m afraid, than many realize.

    I’m not on the frontline, i.e., in the classroom with toddlers (originally I thought Robert Henman overlooked this group in his post yesterday, but they are there implicitly in 18. Sympathetic groups), but if I were, I would not mention a word about Lonergan. LOL? Ditto if I were in front of a group of primary, secondary, or high school students. Nor would I in front of a group of undergraduates or graduates, even though I have done that on various occasions. Wow, why not now? From my experience, it simply does not lead to integral growth, just to name-dropping, people talking without speaking, without having exercised their natural right to what, to raise questions.

    An exercise that is along the lines of Mike’s suggestion regarding detoxing self is the following. Talk to the man or woman in the mirror (Mike’s addition to Robert’s list: self-as-audience) or write in a journal a la Progoff regarding child-friendly education emerging, from kindergarten right through graduate school, in the next 1,000 years. Improvise, no references to favorite philosophers or gurus, just flow as best you can, focusing on ordinary people, in this case children, teenagers, and young adults, bruised and battered as they are, as we are, by the shitty longer cycle of decline. Convenient symbols are allowed of course, as is apparent gibberish. You might share the monologue or journal with your spiritual adviser.

    You or I could do the same thing with “charity” or “toxicity,” quickly finding out that our heuristics, if you or I have any, are shabby (as I discovered six years ago while trying to compare two houses), and that we simply do not understand the biochemistry of charity, or the chemistry of toxins the way, e.g., my brother-in-law who works for the state of New Jersey does.

  • #1404

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    I hear you James. I was being a bit rhetorical but not entirely. I’ve just completed a rereading of Lonergan’s Epilogue from Insight. I find it to be an outstanding interpretive key for his project and especially this mammoth and daunting text. It also helps me to work out, to some degree on my own (almost), this tension I’ve ‘constructed’ between Freire and Lonergan, which Phil has generously contenanced. Why did I, do I, bring such an irksome issue to the fore? I mentioned a ‘Maritime spring’ and who my interlocutors will/might be (not academics). In the two Ch Ones from Freire’s Pedagogy and Phil’s Allure I take the fundamental concerns to be ‘(in)justice’ and ‘knowledge’ respectively. No irreconcilable dichotomy but just starting concerns of the ‘conversation’. So we are in issues of ‘communication’ for sure, but so important for the problem of ‘implementation’. So then ‘oppression’, in the deeper sense, is a starting point, it must be especially when working in a sector where most of the direct work is done by ‘unorganized’ $13/hr (at best) ‘non-government workers’ though ‘managed’ indirectly by $30 to $40/hr indirect ‘government workers’. Lonergan’s economic theory helped to see this … and its implications (though just setting up this income difference can be so emotionally charged and bring on much misunderstanding, and yet the avoidance or repression of such an issue cannot be allowed to win the day, for then there is the ongoing “destruction of our day to day lives”. In addition I would challenge any of you if you have not experienced this, to meditate on this ‘local’ material difference/inequality and its biological, psychic, and intellectual implications/consequences which Freire thematizes). But Lonergan, as I read him, does not dwell on this situation of ‘oppression’, not directly. But he does as a systematic thinker, perhaps the preeminent systematic thinker for our times as Phil argues, provide the fuller context to prevent this concern from becoming “ideological”(truncated) in the negative sense. This truly is an issue of implementation, so it seems to me.

  • #1408

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Thank you Hugh. Yes, you are right on! You are a model indeed of our present troubles. You have pushed and found the impossibility of “intervention in the historical process.” You have made Lonergan’s point. So what then is our “gap”? You are more down to earth than Freire or others like Ortega y Gasset, who pushed for a massive change of intellectual culture and indeed inspired Lonergan with his phrase “at the level of the times.” You appreciate the concrete challenge better. So: what’s the gap?

    It is as simple as the illustration from my early university days teaching mathematical physics. There was no gap: my students knew there was a culture of explanation whether I used the word “energy” or “electricity.” They faced the climb into science.

    Symbolic of the gap, certainly for me, is chapter 5 of Insight, “a natural bridge over which we may advance from our examination of science to an examination of common sense”(Insight, 163). I still recall my shock reading chapter 5 in 1957, AND I had done graduate studies in relativity and quantum field theory. But I also had read Joos, Theoretical Physics the year before and could recognized a compendious graduate text. [my most recent article, “Insight and the Interior Lighthouse: 2020–2050,” Divyadaan 28/2 (2017), 279–300 draws a neat parallel between the two pages 722, of Insight and of Joos’ book]. 99% of the readers of Insight have been commonsense readers who just don’t see or sense the gap. They slip past chapter 5. It is a gap between Lonergan and the entirety of axial intellectualism. It offers a vastly different meaning of “oppression” or “new culture” than good people like Freire or y Gasset. It is like talking to an audience about electricity when what you mean is 

  • #1415

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    Phil recently has said that Lonergan was asking for a work ‘in his canons of hermeneutics doing luminously what the genetic history of mathematics does (for physical science?) truncatedly’. To the extent I come close to grasping what is being said and meant here, … and I daringly added the bracketed phrase …
    I’d also add this – in finishing rereading Lonergan’s epilogue from Insight I make these margin notes:

    Lonergan, clearly as a follower of St. Thomas Aquinas, does not only study what St. Thomas says but he has set out to do for our times what Thomas did for his own times.

    Not knowing the history of Thomism exactly with its condemnations, conflicts as well as the posthumous ‘progress, decline, redemption’ even, we nonetheless in this ‘detoxifying process’ would benefit from this comparison from the history of thought, Christian thought in particular, to see the need for the virtue of ‘patience’ (defined by St. Thomas as keeping a calm soul in the face of adversity and not allowing sadness to weaken one so as to be unable to escape from the difficulty).This is bound to be a slow even painful process of development where a fourth level of development that draws upon the theological virtues of ‘faith, hope, and charity’ is more than required … for it is of the reality of things human, is it not? Does this connect at all with Mike’s ‘spiritual exercise’ reference above?

  • #1416

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Thank you Hugh.
    So much to push forward from but my main concern is that we do push forward, so I focus on the final question: what is the meaning of “spiritual exercises”? I am not speaking for Mike Shute, though I know he will applaud my effort. Might I say, in silly brevity, that the spiritual exercises Mike has in mind are the reaches for explanatory self-understanding that are brutally named on page 537 of Insight? [A first run would begin at line 29; the fuller run, “where we are in God,” pulls in the whole page.]

    I have written extensively on this: see on the website, Prehumous 4-8, five essays on “Foundational Prayer” relevant to our reflections. The key point there is a distinction between apophatic and kataphatic prayer. Later I wrote of this in The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History, where, in four interlaced chapter-appendices, I pushed for kataphatic prayer and theology, and I contrasted the kataphatic approach with, e.g., Teresa of Avila’s venture towards The Interior Castle. Still later I moved into pointers regarding “The Interior Lighthouse,” and as an appendix here I shall give references to those pointers.

    But let me take another route here. Think now of “The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius,” probably the best known Catholic version of all such exercises. They end with an exercise titled “Contemplation for Obtaining Love,” which is a type of application of the senses to the beauties of the world.

    The exercises are given—I have given them myself—over 8 days, but fully they are a month-long commitment.  They are given and received by commonsense people, even if they be considered either theologians or mystics [a name covering many stances, but mainly connected to apophatic traditions]. In the new culture they—and in particular that final contemplation—are to be swept into the ethos of poised explanatory spiritual exercises, exercises done in luminous “mibox.”

    What do I mean by that? There we meet the catch; indeed, “the problem of general history, which is the real catch.”(CWL 10, Topics in Education, 236, line 7). It is the catch of Insight generating a culture: and so, in some of my reflections on “The Interior Lighthouse,” I have referred to Insight as ‘A Book of Common Prayer.’ It is to be the common prayer of Tower people, but to have a haute vulgarization flow into global common sense, perhaps even as early as the next millennium.

    The catch now is the spiritual exercises that lead to your arrival in ‘mibox’, which is your box.

    I have returned to pointing towards those exercises recently, and presented the key “mibox” diagram,  e.g. at the beginning of Disputing Quests 16, dealing with Doran’s dispute with Wilkins (Disputing Quest 14, “Doran versus Wilkins,” introduces the diagram late in the text). 

    But the diagram AND the beginning of the spiritual exercises are in the fifth chapter of my introductory book Wealth of Self and Wealth of Nations: Self-Axis of the Great Ascent. It presents to the spiritual exerciser the challenge of getting to grips with those poises in oneself named—in any language —“is? is! is.” [I asked Lonergan once, in an evening chat of 1971, when he got clear on this: his answer, “when I got that far in Insight!” : so don’t presume a quick result to your exercises]. I won’t go into the complexities of the climb in Christian prayer that would poise one luminously in the Trinitarian meaning of InWithTo, but rather stay with that final exercise of Ignatius. The exercise is massively transformed: where, for instance, is the beauty of “the tasted and the seen” to which Ignatius often refers?

    The catch—the puzzle of our discussion too—is that there is a general ethos in our culture that respects some decade-long climb to Avila’s higher mansions or Zen’s fuller reaches, but there is almost no ethos of respect for kataphatic climbing. What, for instance, do you mean by “God”? I mean Gijk.  I mean the God of my W3 diagram. I mean the God of my prayer, “Double You Three, in me and all: Clasping, Cherishing, Cauling, Craving, Christing.” My God, as meant by me, is neither the god of the philosophers nor the God of Abraham. But what, you might say, is your meaning? Well, try the climb up through Insight to section 9 of the 19th chapter, push for a decade—cycle-toned—through to the 26th place and then add a 27th place which I identify with the 27th Question of the Summa, and on on on to the Third Part of the Summa. Then, and only then—with a cyclically transposed Summa—are we on the common ground of the future Tower of Able in theology, able to pursue the serious demands of the shambles of our axial times. “To put it bluntly, until we move onto the level of historical dynamics, we shall face our secularist and atheist opponents, as the Red Indians, armed with bows and arrows, faced European muskets.” CWL 17, Philosophical and Theological Papers 1965-1980, “Questionnaire on Philosophy: Response,” 366.

    I append a list—from a footnote of one of my Divyadaan essays—of pointers to the challenge of “The Interior Lighthouse.”

    On my website, HOW 13, “The Interior Lighthouse” introduced the topic, Interior Lighthouse, under that title. Disputing Quests 12, “The Interior Lighthouse II” continued the reflection, as did Disputing Quests 13, “The Interior Lighthouse Zero.” Those essays were followed by Interpretation 4, “The Interior Lighthouse III,” Interpretation 16, “The Interior Lighthouse IV: Twenty Seventh Lea,” and Interpretation 17, “The Interior Lighthouse V: Interpreting God.” The topic, however, goes back to Process: Introducing Themselves to Young (Christian) Minders (1989) and the broad challenge is made explicit in the five essays, Prehumous 4–8, on “Foundational Prayer.” It is the heart of the matter in my recent book, The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History (Axial Publishing, 2015). The drive of that series was towards an appreciation of the need for a contemplative ingestion of Insight if we are to arrive at a sub-population competent “Tower-wise” “to be a resolute and effective intervention in the historical process” (Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, 306). What of the rest of the contemplative population? This short essay is a nudge towards your answer: but the full answer is a complex heuristic requiring “distinguishing the successive stages of this, the greatest of all works.” The Triune God: Systematics, CWL 12, 491.

  • #1435

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    … coming off a rereading of Lonergan’s Epilogue in Insight I consider this –

    When Phil asks

    “do you view humanity as possibly maturing in some serious way or just messing along between good and evil whatever you think they are?” …

    This is a question of human development which also confronts the human reality of ‘good and evil’ and does so in terms of “maturation”, a peculiar departure from terms like ‘overcoming’, ‘perfecting’, ‘progressing’, ‘advancing’, and ‘succeeding’.

    How am I to answer? Has anyone answered? Can one actually answer these days without succumbing to a touch of Pelagianism?

    One can try, or one can ignore it. Or perhaps more accurately one can be struck dumb by such a question. For in all honesty there are questions one can truly answer only with one’s life. And perhaps this is one of them.

    But one should not be struck dumb for long, for there is the kataphatic spiritual exercise, we are told. We are to ‘gird our loins’ and to get on with it.

    In Phil’s book The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History, we have his effort at an ‘answer’ to – “what say ye of the Christ?”

    A question one can only truly answer with one’s life. For few I find try, most would prefer to ignore, and all, if we be honest are struck dumb by it …

    This is why in the tradition, there is the ‘work’ of liturgy, the people’s work for such questions cannot be borne alone, nor are they meant to be.

  • #1441

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    “How am I to answer?”

    The question is posed by Isaiah 2:2-4, and Lonergan gives his positive answer to it after his lengthy contemplative “Essay in Fundamental Sociology” [Published in Shute’s book, Lonergan’s Early Economic Research (University of Toronto Press, 2010)] in his final words, “Is this to be taken literally? It would be fair and fine, indeed, to think it no figure.” No nonsense, please, about Pelagianism! The dynamics is to be that mentioned just before Lonergan quotes Isaiah, “charity, an eternal fire of optimism and energy.” But note my challenge, dodged by theology and prayer in these past centuries of apophatic contemplation and common sense arrogance. The challenge is the challenge of Insight. The challenge is The Interior Lighthouse not The Interior Castle.

  • #1446

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    As I move into my 87th year there is obviously a death threat, or rather an increasing likelihood of a Nijinsky leap out of all the stage’s world beyond InWithTo The Specter of the Arose. [I have written of the parallel between the choreographies of Nijinsky and Lonergan is “Converging Religions to Being InTo Love With Jesus EtC.”, an article for Divyadaan 2020. In it I recall Nijinsky’s famous final mime-boggling leap up up up out of the window in Le spectre de la rose]. Until then I like to think that I am a live threat to Lonerganism, but this is not true. I seem to be, rather, a faint embarrassment: yet, still, I like to think that polite companions of Lonergan conferences sometimes feel a specter of my inserosion. Here, of course, I am recalling Lonergan’s quip, “Doctrines that are embarrassing will not be mentioned in polite company” (Method, 299). Should I think of a Farewell Address?

    For my farewell lisped adbreath—a “Death Threat to Lonerganism”—I think of two doctrines I would focus on, one from Insight: the paragraph 609-10, the other from Method in Theology: the last lines of 250 that I name “Lonergan’s 1833 Overture.” No need for me to add comments on them: I have written abundantly about their doctrines being dodged by the entire Lonergan community. I add now the shock this morning of a flash-fresh reading (yes, even after 60 years of reading that passage) of a piece of Insight’s poise in Lonergan’s search for Cosmopolis. It is the piece just prior to his asking himself and his readers, “what is cosmopolis?” (Insight, CWL 3, 263)  Here you have it, 150 words down.  Might you have a flicker of my W3 character-detection as you think of your own allegiance—total, partial, doubting, fading?—to Lonerganism?  Lonergan is asking for a climb to an allegiance that is to be effective in lifting us into the positive Anthropocene —named by him “the second time of the temporal subject”(The Triune God: Systematics, CWL 12, 403)—an allegiance bursting with charity’s “eternal fire of optimism and energy” (the end of Lonergan’s 1934 “Essay in Fundamental Sociology”) poised forward in “a resolute and effective intervention in the historical process” (Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, 306) in a character-eyesized intussusception “of Christ’s prayer: ‘. . . may they all be one.’” (2nd last paragraph of Method)

    Reed, then: be shaken by his wind words about that allegiance as he readies himself to write his few pages on Cosmopolis, pages that flame up from his 1934 essay. He writes of an allegiance that

    commands man’s first allegiance, that implements itself primarily through that allegiance, that is too universal to be bribed, too impalpable to be force, too effective to be ignored. (Insight, 263).

    Might I suggest that that allegiance is not Lonerganism? Nor does Lonerganism’s representatives even think of their movement as a road to that allegiance (I think of the present Chinese leadership’s bluff of being on the way to some ideal socialism): or do they? Or do you?

  • #1494

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    The problem of effective intervention is really my focus here when I write of detoxing Lonerganism or religiosity generally. But try a simple exercise. Think of the story of the Church, or of yourself. An absence of effective intervention is “going with the flow,” [perhaps worth your checking the index of Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18 on “drifting”] and you may find that that is your conclusion about both yourself and the Church. Think of the Church, either in its history or its ‘now.’  The ‘now’ Church, thought of either in its hierarchic operations or in its local behavior, seems settled in conventional ways that place it in relative non-interference with the good and bad moves in civilization. Think of the standard parish community: Sunday service + perhaps a bible study in the old “not the full object” (Method, 156) sense. One can find the equivalent in the larger church: a sort of self-preservation, first pre-Constantine, and afterwards—beyond the times of the political papacies—no serious interventions [I am simplifying: e.g. see Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, pb NY 2015), index under Catholics. “The rule of law was most deeply institutionalized in Western Europe, due to the role of the Roman Catholic Church” (p. 11).] But stay with the now-Church and muse in an uninformed way about, e.g., papal pronouncements and journeys round the globe: they are not serious interventions. They are driftings.

    I am unfamiliar with the detailed pastoral structures of the Catholic Church, but I suspect that bible-study in parishes is symbolic of broader goings-on. I am recalling now Lonergan’s correspondence with me re stale ecclesiastical economic thinking.

    Perhaps, simply, best to raise the full heuristic issue and then point to the need to muse over the FS task of sifting out and nudging forward the seeding of glocal interventions. The full heuristic—only vaguely yours for the asking—is a whole, holeless, richly-isomorphically informed pressure on both all social situations, continents and conurbations, and their sociological analyses. A mammoth task of the large community that is to be the future eighth specialty, leaning into C9.  Think, think, think, of W3 spread out globally, geohistorically, over the 8 tiers of situation rooms, C9 possibilities, and the full range of referents involved. Think of this suggested massive heuristic imaging and strained imagining as a comment on the single sentence of Insight 767 (lines 6-7). “An adequate understanding reveals the manner in which man can remedy the evil in his situation.” Pause over our suggested full meaning of “situation.” Does this not give you a lead to thinking out the shocking leap beyond that Epilogue to an effective suspicion of the painful emergence of an effectively functioning Cosmopolis, perhaps by the end of this millennium?  That thinking out, this spring, by you-now could be your-now seeding of a distant converging effective religiosity. Sharing it in your neighborhood would be a larger effective seeding, perhaps disturbing effectively some contented busy drifters.

  • #1498

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    It seems to me that we need to stay ambiguous about hope, thus not loosing graceful hope. On the one hand there is the short-term hope that there could be a break-up in Lonerganism’s narrowness symbolized by its faulty reading of Method’s 2nd paragraph, indeed of the word “bolder” in line 10 of that first chapter.  The “bolder spirits” established a “3-structured” view of science alien to the primitive pre-axial minders, who needed results, who therefore had hidden in their compact simplicity the 8-fold way that is the topic of the book Method.  Might we get our colleagues to read that first page properly in these next two years, thus to arrive at 2020 vision?  Then I would have you, if yes-saying, identify a concrete interference in history that would result in YOU reading that page patiently, consultatively, imaginatively: finding thus how hard it is to read one’s way to proper reading out of a culture of drifting-reading [on drifting check the index to Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18]. My previous entry here helps, and I turn back to it now. Read the Epilogue (Insight, 767, lines 6-7) sentence again—and again and again! “An adequate understanding reveals the manner in which man can remedy the evil in his situation.” Let me make a simple but drastic point now. This is the Faraday Lonergan writing of his suspicion about possibilities of electricity to remedy a variety of evils.  The Lonergan of Method is Maxwell, and the massive leap of Maxwell’s global understanding, expressed partly in the eight parts of his 4 equations, is paralleled by Lonergan’s eight parts of collaboration. The previous entry hints vaguely at the electrifying results:

    a whole, holeless, richly-isomorphically informed pressure on both all social situations, continents and conurbations, and their sociological analyses. A mammoth task of the large community that is to be the future eighth specialty, leaning into C9. Think, think, think, of W3 spread out globally, geohistorically, over the 8 tiers of situation rooms, C9 possibilities, and the full range of referents involved.

    Does this parallel not nudge us to fresh hope?

    But there is the realism of the failure to read identified in the beginning of my entry here and—here is the rub of interference, of self-interference— possibly identified by you battling, or not, with that first page to read properly the words “bolder spirits.”  The bolder spirits have done not a little to lead us to the axial world of “academic disciplines” and of Trump’s arming the professors.

    That realism, discovered with some shock and horror by this recommended exercise, would tune up short-term hope.  Will I get a Bell curve response to my suggestion, or even a skimpy Poisson thingy? Concretely, in a simpler statistic, will I get 5% of you to try this interference in your own life of reading?  The negative answer throws us back—or forward—to the long-term hope expressed in Insight (136–7, 146, 149–50).  In the next ten millennia the idea of reading properly—and the more alert of you will now think freshly of that Faraday problem of Insight 17.3—will emerge again and again, until eventually it will twist into an effective recycling.  Such is the full heuristic perspective of hope in humanity’s journey. But would it not be a nice feature of the rest of your life to find a seeded recycling changing this century and this millennium? Even having students of Lonergan generally being pulled into a 2020 vision of a whirlwind shift of progress against, e.g., the NRA: the Non-Reading-Attitude, that lobbies successfully our schools and universities?

    But now the rub again: how many of you are effectively interested in reading the first page of Method properly, interferingly?

  • #1508

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    At present various members of our group and I have been in contact off-Forum, and of course I welcome that. Some discussions and queries lead to Forum entries, such as the two today, one regarding economics on the other part of the site, and one regarding the significance of the work and writings of Brian D. McLaren [you can check on him at http://www.brianmclaren.net]. It s worth pausing over McLaren: it throws light on our struggle. There are others such as he of course—like Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle—who inspire spiritual people in different ways. But you can follow the trail of my focus here on McLaren, knowing that there would be parallel comments on their work in relation to ours. [I slide over the manner in which I would put such people into a genetic sequencing of efforts to steer spiritualities towards a creative future associated with the paragraph Insight 609–10].

    I have at hand six of McLaren’s books: less than a quarter of his output, but sufficient to tune into his perspective.  And I wish you to join me there so that we may sense better, effectively, the meaning of “a resolute and effective intervention in this historical process” (Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, 306).  McLaren’s most recent book seems to echo this. “Could it be that the Spirit of God is calling the church to stop trying to save itself, and instead to join God in saving the world?” (The Great Spiritual Migration, 2016, 148). “We call upon Christian leaders and parents to begin afresh with children, youth, and college-aged adults” (Ibid., 158). The final Part Ten of his A New Kind of Christianity (2010) is titled “The What-Do-We-Do-Now Question” and its first chapter asks “How Can We Translate Our Quest into Action?” In his earlier book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (2007) the title of chapter 32 is magnificent: “An Unfolding, Emergent, Spiraling Process.” Wow: Is this guy not on track with CWL 18, 306?  I ask you to pause over the end of the first page of that chapter 32, and muse with me in the light of my recent entries. McLaren talks of sharing “the dreams of our best and brightest—from Saint Francis to Martin Luther Kong Jr., from Saint Patrick to Nelson Mandela, from Harriet Tubman to Mother Teresa, from Oscar Romero to Mahatma Gandhi, from Saint Claire to Jane Goodall.”

    Then he swings into italics to end well this inspirational page:

    The way to dismantle the suicide machine is to deny it the fuel on which it runs: confidence—confidence in its framing power.  The way to create a generous, generative, and human alternative society in place of the suicide machine is to believe the good news of the kingdom of God.

    I do hope that you have little trouble in grasping that this is indeed not pointing to “an effective intervention in the historical process.” Might humor help? I recall Newman, out boating on the sunny Bloomsday of 1833 writing “Lead Kindly Light amidst the encircling gloom.” We have in McLaren a kindly leader leading lightly, leading human good will astray. He and many others like him touch hope-starved and lonely people. The cloudy hope of such prevalent movements are part of the longer cycle of decline, part of the suicide machine that screams to us for a push towards effective understanding.  Recall Lonergan quoting Karl Popper in “Healing and Creating in History” :

    The main trouble of our times—and I do not deny that we live in trouble times—are not due to our moral wickedness, but, on the contrary, to our often misguided moral enthusiasm: to our anxiety to better the world we live in? (CWL 15, 98)

    It was not anxiety but patient questioning that led the Faraday of Insight to the Maxwell of Method. I echo here a previous entry and, well, why not a re-read, perhaps now with a new effectiveness?

    Read the Epilogue (Insight, 767, lines 6-7) sentence again—and again and again! “An adequate understanding reveals the manner in which man can remedy the evil in his situation.” Let me make a simple but drastic point now.  This is the Faraday Lonergan writing of his suspicion about possibilities of electricity to remedy a variety of evils. The Lonergan of Method is Maxwell, and the massive leap of Maxwell’s global understanding, expressed partly in the eight parts of his 4 equations, is paralleled by Lonergan’s eight parts of collaboration. The previous entry hints vaguely at the electrifying results mentioned in the previous entry: “a whole, holeless, richly-isomorphically informed pressure on both all social situations, continents and conurbations, and their sociological analyses.  A mammoth task of the large community that is to be the future eighth specialty, leaning into C9.  Think, think, think, of W3 spread out globally, geohistorically, over the 8 tiers of situation rooms, C9 possibilities, and the full range of referents involved.”

  • #1519

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    Phil,
    When you write above –

    he swings into italics to end well this inspirational page:

    “The way to dismantle the suicide machine is to deny it the fuel on which it runs: confidence—confidence in its framing power. The way to create a generous, generative, and human alternative society in place of the suicide machine is to believe the good news of the kingdom of God.”

    I do hope that you have little trouble in grasping that this is indeed not pointing to “an effective intervention in the historical process.” Might humor help? I recall Newman, out boating on the sunny Bloomsday of 1833 writing “Lead Kindly Light amidst the encircling gloom.” We have in McLaren a kindly leader leading lightly, leading human good will astray. He and many others like him touch hope-starved and lonely people. The cloudy hope of such prevalent movements are part of the longer cycle of decline, part of the suicide machine that screams to us for a push towards effective understanding. Recall Lonergan quoting Karl Popper in “Healing and Creating in History” :

    “The main trouble of our times—and I do not deny that we live in trouble times—are not due to our moral wickedness, but, on the contrary, to our often misguided moral enthusiasm: to our anxiety to better the world we live in?” (CWL 15, 98)

    It was not anxiety but patient questioning that led the Faraday of Insight to the Maxwell of Method. I echo here a previous entry and, well, why not a re-read, perhaps now with a new effectiveness?

    I think you are here providing your position with a sharper and clearer pointedness than usual. Dare I ask for an amendment – for when the Rev. Brian McLaren writes or asserts that “believing in the good news of the kingdom of God” is ‘the way to dismantle the suicide machine’, I’m with him there on that point provisionally. Can we then set aside multiple issues of formulation and simply bring in Aristotle’s distinction—it is ‘necessary’ but not ‘sufficient’. This move allows us to say that, yes, this is necessary in ‘some profoundly mysterious way’ for any effective intervention but is not sufficient for effectiveness. I make this seeming quibble because of other errors and dangers marked out in the history of Christianity and the Church if such a distinction is not made or applied.

  • #1520

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Hugh: you are magnificently on the ball. But we have been helped by off-Forum work together. I wish my senior colleagues would try the same! But let us hope Forum readers get the point. First, though, I would add a helpful pointing towards the future. You mention Aristotle: that gets us into the mode of “academic disciplines.” When the page is turned—Method 3 to 4 I mean—we talk our position within a science. A physicist would not say, “let’s use Maxwell’s distinction” or some such. SO: it is YOU, Hugh who is making your neat distinction. But heavens, neat it is! AND I would wish us all to push it, and to note how difficult it is to push. So: a single connection. It is not sufficient, either for McLaren or for N.T. Wright to read and write about the meaning of the New Testament in, may I say, some close and closed empirical sense. [Recall the slogan “Sola Scriptura”]. You do better if you “UNDERSTAND THE OBJECT” (the heading of Method, 156). Realistically and scientifically, that means have the best up-to-date understanding of the object, which means take off within the frontline perspective of the genetic sequence of efforts to understanding the object. The object is the Kingdom of God. But see where I have landing us and the task: in the paragraph that turns page 609 in Insight to 610. This is the paragraph I have been writing endlessly about: the problem that is not faced in the puttering of endless comparative talk e.g. about New Testament meanings, or about Rahner and Lonergan, or about Piketty and Lonergan, etc. Best halt. But, again, thank you for nudging us.

  • #1523

    Philip McShane
    Moderator

    Some off-forum correspondence nudges me on. They lead me to invite you to pause over the strange parallel I made: Insight and Faraday/ Method and Maxwell. A neat approach is to go back to Lonergan at 29, writing his “Essay in Fundamental Sociology” with his focus very much on the whats-to-be-done attitude and even he mentioning a cycle of intelligent interference with the flow of history giving rise to a better intelligence to interfere. The cycle notion is there, but quite vague. Lonergan weaves his climbing way through fifteen years to his beginning of Insight in 1949 and wants to solve the problem of effective interference so clearly stated a decade later in his lectures on existentialism, CWL 18, p. 306. The problem of an X called cosmopolis is on his mind. He is gripped by the seed of the solution: the potential of Christ’s “spirited” community. He is also gripped by the pattern of scientific inquiry: from his studies, from his venture into the mess of economic science, from Aristotle’s nudges, from Thomas’s pick up of Aristotle in his effort to organize theology. We have his Epilogue to Insight to keep us in context now, but note that it was not his preferred ending to his climb. He was disturbingly derailed into this preliminary ending of his search. Still, he appreciated the need to think out and communicate the heart of the “bolder spirits” venture, the heart of the scientific revolution—he had taken both Thomas’ pointing and Butterfield’s in that matter. AND he had lived with the distortion of that part of the human quest through his years of philosophy and theology. He was searching for the form of Jesus’ answer to the shambles of finitude. Evident to him was that he had to rescue the name “form” from the destructive vulgar pretensions of theologians.

    In my ramble here I slide past modern philosophy’s mess, and its epistemological muddles, though obviously he had to shake off that sloppy self-neglect on his journey.  Decent science has its own epistemology. So, e.g., A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity, (Sir Edmund Whittaker, Harper, 2 volumes pb, 1960) to which we shall return, bows occasionally to Descartes but is not all engaged with the Frenchman’s Follies. But its author knows—in that spontaneity that sometimes survives education—of what the history is: the story of what, not yet tuned to savoring its own bent.  So, Sir Edmond Whittaker leads you mercilessly into whatting about electricity for 800 pages. Lonergan did his own amazing tracking of the journey, a tracking vibrant in his private remarks in Dublin (1961) regarding the walled-off Church and “big frogs in little ponds.” His disciples, in the main, have not taken him seriously. 

    At all events, it remains that his book Insight is addressed to a future threatened by those frogs. The frogs teaching theology continue to derail horribly the what’s of youth.  So, my talk of Faraday and Maxwell means nothing to them.  They echo McLaren’s point with more sophisticated cloudings.  So back I go, in redeeming hope, to Lonergan at 30 and his “what on earth is to be done?”, written to a superior who was annoyed by that letter of 1935.  My hope is in the what to be done by heaven in history. Lonergan’s battered search eventually turns up the missing parts and structure of his 1934 cycle, and my hope is to be twirled into his twirling of the sloppy and pretentious 8 bits of theology into the cycle through the slowly interweaved pressure of advancing sciences and technologies in that whirl: biting theological asses. That biting is to be far more discomforting than the analogy that pulls in Faraday and Maxwell. Yet, for the intellectually honest, the parallel can bring present light and hope.

    Whittaker adds to my parallel. “For the birth of modern science, then, a necessary condition was an emancipation from Thomist philosophy” (Vol 1, p. 3): Thomism, not Thomas. For the birth of the new modern cyclic science, a necessary condition is the emancipation from Lonerganism. There is, alas, no sweet and gentle continuity between Lonerganism and what I call “Futurology.” One cannot, for instance, slide from the ‘comparisons’ that haunt our Lonergan conferences to the genetic control offered by Insight 609–10, or by its theological sublation, a front line thesis on the mystical body.

    Time will tilt, in all the rich meanings of that word. The electricity of Jesus will be lifted from an odd phenomenology of hair-raising events to an operable global radiance of Christoffer electromagnetic symbols. The phenomenology I mention has nothing to do with Faraday but belongs to earlier times: but it fits neatly here in that Faraday’s efforts are way beyond, in my parallel, the messings of Lonergan’s followers. But best leave musing on that for another day. There is a decent popular introduction to Maxwell’s Equations in Bernard Lonergan: His Life and Leading Ideas, pp. 175–78. The book, of course, gives a background to my rambles above.

    • #1537

      Philip McShane
      Moderator

      Yesterday I presented the following discomforting challenge to those who participate annually in the LPS section of the ACPA meeting. I suspect that it was not well-echoed in that community. I present it to you here, and then turn to the problem of identifying the echo-chamber, the detox-chamber, the detox-mibox.

      I received this week, as you all did, courtesy of Michael Sharkey, the four presentations of the LPS session of the ACPA meeting last November. Might I risk a possibly Poisson-statistical “resolute and effective intervention in this historical process” (Phenomenology and Logic, 306)? The meetings and their papers, sadly, are, and have been, locked into the “academic disciplines” (Method in Theology, 3: end words) approach of comparative muddlings rejected there on the turn into page 4.  But it was soundly rejected in Insight, most clearly in that single canon-paragraph at Insight 609-10 that points to the new genetic heuristics needed “if interpretation is to be scientific” (ibid., 587), a perspective that grounds the redemption of present muddled theology and philosophy through a precise functional heuristics of Comparison (Method, 250). The achievement of Insight’s third section of chapter 17 has bewildered the entire Lonergan community since the beginning, and gross misreadings of Method—which book brings the issue and the need for genetic control back crisplyallows interpreters to putter inconsequentially forward, as Lonergan remarked to me in Dublin in 1961, as “big frogs in little ponds.”  “One may expect diligent authors of highly specialized monographs to be somewhat bewildered and dismayed” (Insight, 604, line 3) by the shift to a science of hermeneutics, when they are working in their usual obscure “academic disciplines,” but surely those who consider Lonergan to be of significance might have a shot, sixty years after his dazzling achievement, at climbing towards that science?

      My selected echo-chamber, detox chamber? It is the horrid suggested space and pace of Lonergan’s 1833 Overture, with its dreadful further and final objectifications. I pace in that space on the grave concerns of conferences, as a serious foundations person should: such persons are recycled, willy nilly, in a willy nilly detoxing night play. [I pull you into a new version of the Willy Nilly Knight Game, quoting the site: “Willy-Nilly Knight is the great story, based on the legend of King Arthur. Immerse yourself in a single-player, isometric, story-driven RPG with real-time gameplay and turn-based combat, set in the colorful fantasy universe. Will you find the power to save the world in the war of gods? Find your answer.”]

      The foundations persons, must need live in a focused Interior Lighthouse of caring fantastically, cunningly, globally, for the drive towards the billions-person neurodynamics of the eschatological Trinity, the blossom of “the greatest of works” (The Triune God: Systematics, CWL 12, 491). That focus is to be cyclically radiant, inviting character-eyes (Method, 356, the full twelve words of line 12) dialectically and foundationally to nerve-cohabit in “doubly-constitutive” (Method, 357, line 4) “terminal values” (Method spread of terms of page 48, but indwelting ever-freshly Method 51, the paragraph of lines 9-19) the page 356 of Method that spans, in its referents, the global heuristic pressure of an “absolutely supernatural” (Insight, 746, line 14; 747, line 10) heuristics of situations and its roomsthe symbolically layered eight as well as the detailed dens and caves, hotels and hovels of humanity’s lonely whats. They must contemplate, then, a quite different effectiveness than the vague hope expressed in a sentence of the Epilogue of Insight about which I wrote previously:

      Read the Epilogue (Insight, 767, lines 6-7) sentence: “An adequate understanding reveals the manner in which man can remedy the evil in his situation”. Let me make a simple but drastic point now. This is the Faraday Lonergan writing of his suspicion about possibilities of electricity to remedy a variety of evils. The Lonergan of Method is Maxwell, and the massive leap of Maxwell’s global understanding, expressed partly in the eight parts of his 4 equations, is paralleled by Lonergan’s eight parts of collaboration. The previous entry hints vaguely at the electrifying results: “a whole, holeless, richly-isomorphically informed pressure on both all social situations, continents and conurbations, and their sociological analyses. A mammoth task of the large community that is to be the future eighth specialty, leaning into C9. Think, think, think, of W3 spread out globally, geohistorically, over the 8 tiers of situation rooms, C9 possibilities, and the full range of referents involved.

      Thus are we and dare we, ontically and phyletically, enter the neuroworld of the Word made molecular, the “Wholly Frail” (The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History, i-ii).

  • #1624

    Doug Mounce
    Participant

    Any chance of getting the text from p. 250 published here for reference?

  • #1638

    Hugh Williams
    Participant

    Phil, you mention you are participating in the Loyola Lonergan Symposium in April.
    In checking out the symposium, I read Charles Tackney of the Copenhagen Business School asserting that the European Union, because of the extraordinary experiment it is involved in, has undertaken the biggest educational reform in human history since the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum of 1599.

    Comment and Question:
    Habermas, at one time if not still one of the most important public intellectuals in Europe, has pointed out that any social life is nourished by springs that well forth spontaneously and that are pre-political. He raises the question—to what extent can peoples united in states live exclusively on the basis of the guarantee of freedom of the individual within a uniting bond that is antecedent to this freedom (or within social bonds that are antecedent to this freedom)? He argues that this uniting bond is the democratic process itself, involving as it does a communicative praxis that can be exercised only in common and that has as its ultimate theme the correct understanding of the constitution. This concern for the constitution needs to be linked to a self-critical politics of memory. The principles embodied in the constitution are to be accepted both in their abstract substance and in their emergence in the historical context of a people’s history as a nation. However, the cognitive and theoretical consideration of principles on its own is insufficient because an abstract solidarity mediated by the law arises among citizens only when the principles of justice have penetrated more deeply into the complex of ethical orientations in a given culture. Unfortunately and perhaps tragically there is presently a crumbling of citizen’s solidarity in the larger context of history, where there is no political control over the dynamic of global economy and global society … the balance of market, state, and community is at serious risk because the market and the state are undermining social solidarity, i.e. the coordination of action based upon values, norms, and a language intended for mutual understanding.

    Tackney raises the question—if Bernard Lonergan’s ‘critical realism’ might have some contribution to make to this ‘major effort’ underway to address this problem of crumbling social solidarity through educational reform, especially in higher education.

    I’d be interested to hear what members of the Lonergan network know of this undertaking and the import given to it by Tackney. Is the claim as to the significance of the reform effort true? . . . and is the Lonergan network or elements of it in any position to contribute in some way?

    [I hope these observations, comments, and question are not leading us too far astray. I feel there may be some relevance …]
    Hugh

The topic ‘Detoxing Lonergan Studies’ is closed to new replies.