Thoughts on Method

This topic contains 39 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Philip McShane 9 months ago.

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  • #474

    Philip McShane

    I am asking for popular musings on the scope of Lonergan’s proposal in the second and third paragraphs of Method in Theology. There is at present a massive hidden disagreement about the interpretation of these two paragraphs: so there is need for FoeRaum, for dialogue, for “a measure of bluntness.”

    Unless his readers are ready to undertake a parallel labor (not necessarily so prolonged inasmuch as they may be less tardy of intelligence) they have little chance of understanding what Lonergan is doing and talking about. This is rather bluntly said, I am afraid, but is there not room for a measure of bluntness at this stage?
    (F.E. Crowe, “The Exigent Mind,” Spirit as Inquiry: Essays in Honor of Bernard Lonergan, Herder and Herder, 1964, 27.)

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  • #501

    Philip McShane

    So far there has been no activity on this site. Perhaps there is no interest in this venture? A sad situation, with Lonerganism facing – or rather not facing – a state of decadence and irrelevance, a state, in particular, of fixed mis-reading of the first two pages of Method in Theology that locks both experts and students in old ways.

  • #514

    James Duffy

    Recently I read the four FoeRaum essays, which I found amusing, provocative, condensed, challenging, and a bit far-out. There are allusions to the first 21 piano concertos of Mozart, Beethoven’s 7th symphony, the beat of Pygmy feet, and the emergence of China as world power. In the second essay there is even mention of Nazi Germany.

    As I type, a bizarre, sad saga involving a president who puts Neo-Nazis on the same moral ground as their protesters is unraveling in the U.S, and I can hear my younger sister asking: “Is this the best we can do?”

    How do I read the first two paragraphs on “Method” in Method in Theology? They speak of two ways of understanding method. The first way conceives method more as an art than as a science, while the second way conceives method along the lines of successful science.

    Is this the best we can do? In the third paragraph, on the top of page 4 of Method in Theology, Lonergan writes that “some third way must be found.” Have we really failed to raise to the level of finding a third way? Must a third way really be found? There seems to be significant disagreement about interpreting the imperative, but the disagreement remains hidden.

    In FoeRaum 3 “Forcing Attention,” there is a provocative parallel drawn between “academic disciplines” and the liberal tradition of nation states. I don’t know if I should laugh, cry, or both. Perhaps McShane or someone else could comment further on the interpretation of these two words that end the paragraph describing what “bolder spirits” do with regard to method.

  • #523

    Philip McShane

    I restrict myself to the comment James asked for: on “academic disciplines,” the last words on page 3 of Method. I suspect that we are all familiar with article or book formats in which, regarding a topic, authors are mentioned and quoted regarding the topic and the writer comes up with either a judgment on the authors’ views or a suggestion of a different one. The format occurs in the humanities but also you find it in economics, political studies, and of course philosophy and theology. Having said that minimum you perhaps now see why Lonergan didn’t bother enlarging on the topic. Either you are doing a decent science, like physics or chemistry, or you are most likely doing what I described briefly. We’ll get back to the problem of science and Aristotle gradually, but our first pause should be with the question, is the standard humanities approach getting us anywhere? Or, to get closer to the discomforting problem: is Lonerganism going anywhere? I am here, if you like, putting Lonerganism in the place of the Church for the reflection on “self-constitution” brought up on page 363 of Method. But I am asking it now in relation to reading page 3 of Method.

    I do now wish to go further at present. The object is to get us musing over the task of reading the first three paragraphs of Method (two on page 3; one on page 4). Those who are already registered on the Forum will certainly have particular interests and questions, and I am always available privately re: those. But I would like us to start with this focus. In conclusion, however, I would note that it is not at all narrow. It is the huge question of the third part of Insight chapter 17. The answer given in that section of Insight is part of the third way.

  • #542

    William Zanardi

    To begin with an empirical question: can anyone cite successful results that conventional forms of scholarship in the Humanities have produced? The next question – assuming examples are cited: how did they do that?

    An example that may come to mind is a variorum edition of some famous work. (I have such an edition of Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”) Basic research does occur and produces successful results. How do the researchers do that? (Editors of Lonergan’s Collected Works might share some of their processes to fill out detailed answers.)

    Do examples readily come to mind of successful results in interpretation? I recently read the third volume of Peter Gay’s “The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud.” An immense amount of research went into the writing of all three volumes. However, the third volume’s interpretations of forms of aggression (its title is “The Cultivation of Hatred”) seemed too indebted to Freud’s categories and perhaps unmindful of the obstacles to explaining what was so richly described. A reader familiar with Girard’s works on violence would find Gay’s text fascinating because of its detailed examples but then would criticize its categories and suggest a recasting of the latter’s interpretations. If the writing of historians remains descriptive, will such criticism and recasting be interminable?

    Perhaps the preceding can suffice to support the suspicion that the “products” of the Humanities get into trouble once more than basic research is attempted. That leads into the next question – for any colleagues in the Humanities: do we think we are doing competent work when we do more than research? If so, how do we do it?

  • #544

    Philip McShane

    Good outreach here, but it seems to invite discussion beyond our basic problem. Yes, good research has happened especially in the case of Joyce. Or Aristotle. But the way there is a well developed mesh of techniques. The problem emerges when there is any move to interpretation, as you illustration shows. Our problem here is to grapple with the basic issue raised by the first three paragraphs of Method. What Lonergan revealed in his works is a massive flaw in all present paradigms of interpretation. SO: he points to a new way, “difficult and laborious”(Method, 4).

    What we are trying to get at in the forum at present is what its members think of the problem surrounding the reading of those first three paragraphs of Method. Do we have consensus or dissension about their meaning or the difficulty of their meaning? If the difficulty of their meaning is acknowledged then the questions raised are to be answered in a remote zone of a new paradigm of interpretation. SO: yes, the last 9 lines you wrote are marvelously right on, having climbed through the complications! What we need is the new paradigm which begins in Insight 17.3 and is sublated in Method. BUT our present problem is to get elementary forum clarity and perhaps consensus on that. The long-term aspiration is to spread that clarity and consensus through the community interested in Lonergan’s contribution.

  • #545

    Philip McShane

    A brief note. I, and James, have received various complicated suggestions and suggested complicated contributions that really do not help our little effort. The effort — welcoming to beginners — centres on initial questions and short suggestions about the meaning of the first three paragraphs of Method in Theology. Perhaps the more learned could recall for us what the paragraphs meant on their first reading of them?

  • #559

    Robert Henman

    In those first three paragraphs of Chapter One of Method Lonergan offers a very brief history of the approaches to method in the sciences since Aristotle.

    In doing so, he notes 3 channels of approach. In the first channel,

      (1) Method is more an art than a science;
      (2) One learns method in the laboratory; and
      (3) One learns from the example of the master and his or her comments on one’s performance.

    Then he goes on to speak of “bolder spirits” selecting the conspicuously successful science and proposing an analogy of science. After that adds that theology must be content to be an academic discipline. Lonergan does not explain at this point what he means by an academic discipline.

    He then proposes that a third way must be found and it is the difficult one which he elaborates on in the rest of the chapter.

    My questions are: (1) What is an academic discipline? and (2) What way is presently being taught in the Lonergan schools?

    Your emphasis on these three paragraphs would seem to imply a problem.

    • #602

      James Duffy

      This is a follow-up to Robert Henman’s post, which ends with two questions.

      Method As More an Art Than a Science
      A fairly recent experience of slowly learning from a master is taking salsa and bachata lessons at a dance club where I live in Mexico. In this case the “laboratory” is the dance floor, and Lupita, the dance instructor, does her best to give personal feedback. If we are few in number she will take time to dance with each learner.

      Method As a Successful Science
      Learning a successful science, I believe, is also a slow process involving master teachers. I have some memories of such learning–Newtonian physics as an undergraduate, doing some of the exercises in chapter one of Insight–and some years later teaching “Great Ideas in Math and Science” to undergraduates after finishing the PhD.

      The two realms mix and blend, so there’s no reason to separate a la C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures. There is an aesthetic dimension to successful science and a thinking component to dancing. The point of the second paragraph is that the methods are distinct. Learning a science involves learning terms and relations, becoming comfortable with convenient heuristic symbols, and repeating experiments. Learning how to dance the salso is a different flow.

      What, then, are academic disciplines? I have two answers. First, they are what is currently being taught and published in political science, economics, sociology, education, philosophy, and theology. There is a kind of mastery involved, e.g. in passing M.A. or PhD qualifying exams and then learning how to publish articles and books, but it normally does not involve scientific praxis, much less two-fold attention. My undergraduate and graduate formation at Jesuit universities, on both coasts in the U.S., was in the academic disciplines philosophy and theology.

      Secondly, the meaning of “academic discipline” is to slowly emerge when the third way “that must be found” emerges. Clear enough? Well, no. Those are the first two words in the third paragraph on the top of page 4 (in the English edition), but I beg to differ with the master: it is not “clear enough.” If it were, then there would be greater discussion about finding the third way.

      Is it “difficult and laborious” to begin to find a third way? Here I agree with the master. What is being taught at centers of Lonergan studies is academic disciplines sprinkled with post-systematic expression. Unscientific comparisons, like my essay “Lonergan and MacIntyre” (rejected by The Thomist in 2000!), continue to be the norm. I do not know if it is for lack of humility, patience, charity, kindness, or all of the above, but in the last 45-50 years, interpreters of Lonergan have neglected or mis-understood the invitation of the master to find a third way.

      • #603

        Philip McShane

        A comment on “Clearly enough” should help.
        There is the data of at least a century of writing in the academic discipline style. It can fairly easily be understood, descriptively and prescriptively: hell: we do it in our essays, our theses, etc; like Duffy’s paper, like all the papers of Lonerganism’s meetings and other conferences. This IS academic discipline, learned in boot-camp. [BUT not by those doing decent physics and decent chemistry.] The culture takes it for granted as normative, like the male of the species wearing a tie. But now what we need to puzzle out in better description is what it is, and why it is so. I’m not asking for the climb to a science of this as in Insight 17.3: just a beginning of a suspicion that it is a tie, a badly knotted thing around our minds. Nor is musing on salsa irrelevant: educated humanity being tied – ho ho – into this foolish poise cuts down our time for our real vocation, to dance and care for one another. “The Pygmies spend most of their time singing and dancing.” (CWL 10, 235). We have been led into horrors of busyness by the blossoming of the ecumenic age into industrious jobbery and this is part of it: well, at least, automation [seeing ‘something better than was the reality’ (Method, 251)] points us towards the leisure of the positive Anthropocene Age.

  • #560

    Philip McShane

    Bob Henman has led us to the heart of the issue. We can even slide past the larger question of replacing Aristotle by what Lonergan is calling (p. 4) “a third way.” So I answer Bob’s second question first: what is the way of Lonerganism? It is the way of “academic disciplines.” Is it not strange, then, that this way, found defective by Lonergan on the turn of page 3 to 4, persists? It would seem that it went, or continued, that way because the group does not know what Lonergan meant by those two word at the end of page 3. Should we not, therefore, have been asking Bob’s question from the beginning, after 1972? So let us begin now: BUT does this not throw light on the failure to read Method in Theology with any seriousness?

  • #643

    Hee Sun Byun

    I have been reading page 4, “A method is a normative patten of recurrent and related operations yielding cumulative and prograssive results.”, more than hundreds times. This sentence reveals fundamentals of Lonergan’s method. Yet the more I understand meaning of this sentence the more much questios are resumed. For example, “What is method?” A method of studies, of learning, of research, of thinking, of questionning, of organizing knowing, of understanding self ect…?
    It seems that this sentence is not simple nor easy to get in touch. In order to talk or discuss about the topic on Lonergan’s “method” with students or Lonergan scholars, we need to develop an sub-cultural or spontatious way of communication through internet.
    I would like to ask a qustion on this sentence: I understand that method is a relationship between operations(cause) and its results. But how we could certainly prove this relationships?

    • #644

      Philip McShane

      Yes, a pause over this -“A method is a normative pattern of recurrent and related operations yielding cumulative and progressive results” – helps. The pause is over what we actually do in the art of living, and then we get to line 2 of Method, page 3, conceiving that art. The conceiving is called method: we are at present thinking and talking thus. Method page 53, line 5 helps: the art of living “includes a grasp of hitherto unnoticed or unrealized possibilities,” and method involves thinking about that inclusion. I pause over the final question above: “how we could certainly prove this relationships?” by the clashing of us doing with our account of our doing. It is a cumulative and progressive results, proved by doing and checking.
      Now Aristotle cut back the reflections when thinking out science: Lonergan wants to avoid that. The humanities just don’t think that way regarding the art of art: the master commenting on a performance of a Japanese No-Play is not thinking of Ibsen.
      But Lonergan, shockingly, wants the interpretation of all the arts and sciences to be weaved into a global care. One can suspect that the weave is to be “difficult and laborious” (Method, 4, line 9).

  • #646

    Pat Brown

    I would like to take a brief stab at a “popular musing on the scope of Lonergan’s proposal in the second and third paragraphs of Method in Theology.”

    I wonder if the scope of Lonergan’s proposal in those two paragraphs is better glimpsed if to “difficult and laborious” we add “extremely technical.” Perhaps the “extremely technical” part goes without saying, but Lonergan did say it in early 1968. (It is part of the merely academic mode to quote and then argue, but what he said helps us at least to attend to those two paragraphs more closely.)

    The developments in theology that I am envisaging are extremely technical. They are concerned with its underpinning in cognitional theory, with the relations between value-judgments and an academic discipline, with the nature of interpretation and of historical inquiry of the dialectical techniques to be employed to surmount oppositions between the experts, with the transition from exegesis and history to theological doctrines and systems, with the relation of religious conversion to theological foundations, with the various types of meaning, their variables, and their invariants, with the various dimensions of the task of communications.

    This passage occurs in an archival document, A 750 (fragments from a draft of “Belief: Today’s Issue” [early 1968]), at page 7 of the .pdf. Part of what he names here as “extremely technical” is “the dialectical techniques to be employed to surmount oppositions between the experts.” But the experts in Lonergan studies do not seem to want to apply the full set of “the dialectical techniques” he later sketched on page 250 of Method to the oppositions between themselves. Perhaps they are expecting “the third way” not to be extremely technical because that would not fit in with the current and ordinary way of doing scholarship. But if the current and ordinary way of doing scholarship were already adequate, there would have been no need for Lonergan to sketch a third way.

  • #1046

    Hugh Williams

    It is good to see you all are at it again. Phil writes in his comment from August 17 above – “I am here, if you like, putting Lonerganism in the place of the Church for the reflection on “self-constitution” brought up on page 363 of Method.” This for me gives the entire undertaking a special relevance. The context of my life since I last tried to keep up with such a conversation/dialogue has changed only slightly but nonetheless significantly. “what can I say” about this? St. Paul asks this question fleetingly but with urgency several times in his letter to Romans.

    The Church here is in its local Roman Catholic form struggling with “desuetude” so it seems to me as the Bishop just before he retires ‘hurriedly’ tries to “revitalize and realign” (much more realignment than revitalization in my humble view) because of the pressure of “too few priests” and “too much “real estate”. It may be the biggest shake up in the last 100 years. Now we have Lonergan, a Canadian theologian writing Method In Theology (1971, nearly fifty years ago). And here we struggle to read and understand it — its first few pages as indicated. I have two things to say, one a question and one a comment. 1) Is the ‘passing’ connection between Lonerganism and the church of significance for an undertaking such as this? and 2) It is one word in Lonergan’s paragraphs that first gives me pause — “desuetude”. It is the last word. A quick reference goes to — “disuse”. But why not use that — why use “desuetude”? My hunch is that there is more meaning intended than simply disuse — there is some reference to the (our/my) subjective state of becoming “accustomed to disuse” and this in reference to Lonerganism, theology, and the church. Hugh Williams

  • #1047

    Philip McShane

    Yes, Hugh, desuetude points to a settledness in disuse. The connection with Lonergan is what we are teasing out of this first page of Method. Curiously, sane method would follow leads in the first paragraph: does this shape work as a container for fruit?, does this weir work for catching fish? The “bolder spirits” move to a pseudoscience that lets the practical question slip. You get dis-useful structures out of this: at home in a type of thinking about religion that simply does not hit town or gown.

  • #1049

    Doug Mounce

    I’d like to mention how almost everyone seems to agree about the nature of method, and, at the same time, so many also disagree about art and science. When I use the term “science”, for example, I always mean the root *scientia* or general “knowledge”. FWIW

    In any case, I was following a different thread that led me to Chris Friel’s work, “Anthony Kenny and Bernard Lonergan on Substantial Form” where this excerpt below inspired me to come here because I thought you might enjoy this as data for advancing thoughts on Method:

    “All I can do is make one or two gestures towards Lonergan’s Insight. But I will at least give a more thorough exposition to Lonergan’s reading of a particular text that can be fairly regarded as foundational. This is found in *Metaphysics Zeta*, to which I alluded in my first sentence. Lonergan, however, was particularly enthusiastic, not about the first, but the last chapter, in which Aristotle announced the need for a fresh start.”

  • #1050

    Philip McShane

    Re Agreement on Method: there is little. The point of the Forum is to draw effective attention to the manner in which Lonergan’s disciples reject Lonergan’s advances in Method. They continue in the “academic disciplines” mode mentioned at the end of the first page of Method and wiped out in the next page. Indeed that mode was clearly wiped out in section 3 of Insight chapter 17. So: Lonerganism stands not only against the core of Method in Theology, but also against the achievement of Lonergan in re-orientating Interpretation as a science. That is what we must face in the Forum: we cannot get caught up in the old mode of “academic disciplines”.

  • #1051

    Doug Mounce

    Agreed, didn’t mean to sidetrack the discussion with my little academic project. Just-wanted to mention what anyone might say about method with a small “m”. Or, the precepts, has anyone ever disagreed with them? Okay, there I go again!

    What I really wanted to understand is why Lonergan might have been excited about A’s call for a “fresh start” in *Metaphysics Zeta*?

  • #1052

    Philip McShane

    Certainly Lonergan had good things to say about that book of the Metaphysics in both his Verbum articles (CWL 2) and his Logic lectures (CWL 18). But the shift of 1965 dropped Aristotle — and his shadow over Aquinas — as a shocking — in retrospect!! — deformatory poise re human inquiry. So, the third paragraph of Method points to a “third way, difficulty and laborious”. Our problem in this section of the Forum is to grapple with the meaning of those first three paragraphs. We don’t seem to be getting towards that grappling. The Lonergan school has failed miserably to read those paragraphs. What puzzles me here is that there seem to be no questions being raised about them. What, for example, is meant by “academic discipline” style of inquiry?

  • #1059

    Hugh Williams

    This may be an aside but I feel it needs to be said …
    You and I and others have not completely agreed on this claim by Lonergan, if it be so, which I have in some respects pondered in depth that the Aristotelian “line” through Aquinas and beyond is a “deformatory poise re human enquiry”. Gilson who was in his own way an adherent of this “poise” has ably shown that the poise was deformatory in its overreach and subsequent distortions but not in its essence (see Methodical Realism, 1935,1990, 2011)… and that there was and is value and continuing relevance in its approach to the question of being (for this is ultimately what we are talking about). Lonergan and his followers have things to learn from this “line and its poise” as we/they/it do from Lonergan, so I would argue. And it is this latter situation that I take to be the ‘necessary’ question/focus here and now – what can any of us learn from Lonergan, and in this instance, from the three paragraphs we are directed towards?
    What I feel is quite shocking in these paragraphs is this – that in the first two ‘methods’ there is either a ‘master’ or ‘successful science’ in place providing a model to be imitated. Our situation now, it is being argued, is one where there are neither ‘masters’ nor ‘models’ in this older sense that are adequate to the challenge that lies before us and by whom or by which to be instructed. Instead we have to ‘learn’ in ‘new ways’ on our ‘own’ and ‘together’ and this is ‘difficult and laborious’. Method is Lonergan’s effort to work out a ‘basis’ for this third way of learning.
    But again I’m not entirely sure, if my reading is correct, that we are entirely on our own with neither master nor model. The emphasis on ‘learning’ over ‘teaching’, ‘discernment’ over ‘pronouncement’ strikes me and being right, in my view, in the sense that even in the selection of ‘masters’ and ‘models’ one’s appreciative and critical faculties have to come into play. And today this process has perhaps unprecedented import (as in economics) requiring this profound rethinking of ‘method’and ‘methods’.

  • #1060

    Philip McShane

    You have correct suspicions about the struggle re method, and certainly in a geohistorical push Gilson would be in there, especially in what I call “mibox analysis,” but our problem here is to stay in focus in our effort to read this page 3 of Method. I don’t want to go back over Lonergan and I conversing in 1966 about the problem of starting. Perhaps best think of his first pointer in his chapter on Interpretation re “understanding the object” (Method, 156). What is the object? It includes and focuses on humanity’s procedures in moving from the spontaneity of the first time of humanity to the second time (CWL 12, 401).

    Between these two times is an axial period of well over three millennia. Think now of Lonergan’s view of that reality as he is poised to write his last book: he did not know how to relate it to Insight for the reader—something he begins to talk about in the fourth paragraph—but he plunges in with his giant context, “distinguishing successive stages of this, the greatest of all works” (CWL 12, 491). It will take generations to read his first three paragraphs properly.

    The present disgrace is that his leading disciples seem to miss the pointing entirely. The first and third paragraphs point to the two times of the temporal subject. The second paragraph swings brilliantly through the axial period that lies in between “the two phases of a temporal subject: the first is a prior phase, when by one’s natural spontaneity ….” (CWL 12, 405). How many people are up to reading these three paragraphs adequately? SO: the present effort is a focused pedagogy that just might change the waiting time for the end of the axial period, the move from the negative Anthropocene Age to the positive Anthropocene Age.

    We desperately need to get into focus on this Forum if we are to arrive at “a resolute and effective intervention in this historical process” (CWL 18, 306).

  • #1061

    Doug Mounce

    What’s everyone think of that definition on page 3, “So too today the English word, science, means natural science.”?

  • #1062

    Philip McShane

    This is a neat question that can push us forward. At it’s best it locates us in what I call The Lonergan 1833 Overture (the last sixteen lines of Method 250) in some loose form. Then one has to express, at least to oneself, what one thinks of science and natural science as its proper “illustration”. One may find that, contrary to Lonergan’s suggestion, one is doing theology without being able to read Lindsay and Margenau. One has to recall one’s own story of involvement in science: perhaps, sadly, it is only a world of haute vulgarization (see CWL 6, 121 155). What do I personally think of the question? I think geohistorically within my reach for Lonergan’s refined meaning that swings comfortable through the human story (see CWL 21, p. 11, that second paragraph that swings through Egypt, Babylon, India, China, etc). So one can name zones of the globe and its human times in which natural science is indeed thought to be the only respectably science. An engineering colleague tells me that in her university the physics department looks down on her department of engineering. Etc., etc.

    But the important thing for us is to “get” now a better haute vulgarization sense of the meaning of page 3 of Method. Lonergan is heading us towards a grip on the history of human inquiry, a grip that can take us a decade to savour sufficiently to participate in functional collaboration. Pause and muse over my answer to Hugh: was it a shock or did you just nod your head at the obvious? The turn of the page points to the emergence of a complex integral set of recurrence schemes that Lonergan is seeding as refining his view of metaphysics and answering his puzzle re the X of Cosmopolis (Insight, 263). If you find it obvious, then you have parted ways with Lonerganism, grouply biased against reading Method pages 3-4 properly. If you find it obvious, then your authenticity demands that you pick up the challenge to make “a resolute and effective intention in the historical process” (CWL 18, 306), which at present certainly means nudging your colleagues in Lonergan studies to get beyond their pleasant self-deception and start again, perhaps with Archimedes on the first page of Insight’s first chapter (See my Cantower 27, section 2).

  • #1066

    Philip McShane

    This post is entered in all zones of the Forum, for I wish to draw attention to the urgent need for a precise “effective intervention” (Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, 306) in the committedly—though ignorantly, especially in brain-washed students—decadent and destructive flow of Lonergan studies.

    I have identified the three first paragraphs (call them T1, A, and T2) of Method (3–4) as placing the entire book in the full and shocking context of the two Times (T1 and T2) of the temporal subject (The Triune God: Systematics, CWL 12, 403–409) with the Axial period between. Now you have an initial meaning for the three paragraphs. [The second, “A”, paragraph raises massive questions of psychological disorientations weaved round the emergence of language, breeding and breathing in talk of language that sucks us and soaks us and suckers us molecularly into truncation: A for Axial, or might I use my wife’s new word, Assholy—there’s a nice view of Whitson’s “Convergence” problem!]. Lonergan is writing to Axial people, as a molecularly evolutionary sport who edged into T2 and reached a decently full “distinguishing of the successive stages of the greatest of works” (The Triune God: Systematics, CWL 12, 491).

    His disciples, who for the most part missed the meaning of the first page (3) of Method, are locked into an “Axiadermatosic disciplines” approach and have little clue about Lonergan’s brilliant pointing to the positive Anthropocene Age grounded in a new global science of humanity. Do we all know, even vaguely, what the two end words of Method page 3 mean? If not, we should be battling here towards their meaning. So, for example, economics is at present an academic discipline, fucked-up and fucking up everything else.

    In all our areas, then, this is a key naming that needs a struggle beyond initial meanings. The struggle should focus on the disgustingly missing effort of Lonergan students—60 years on—to be honest about Insight 17.3. Might we struggle here, or by e-mails, AND make an effective intervention in Lonergan studies by airing our disgust to any Lonerganesque context we can reach? [P.S. Feel free to send this post to Lonerganesque acquaintances.]

  • #1081

    Hugh Williams

    Phil et al, I’ve done the best to reread Insight 17.3 on The Truth of Interpretation. I also sense the discerning frustration in the post above. Dare I suggest that “Lonerganism” simply may not on its own resources be able to implement what it desires for human thinking and collaboration. A friend and I, oh so gently, were hinting at this in our joint paper in The Lonergan Review vol.11 no.1, spring 2010. Lonergan’s thought cannot solely of its own resources produce or implement what it points towards. I find it interesting and important that Lonergan at the end of Insight 17.3 enters into some comparison with Hegel and at least sees this difference – that Hegel desires a dialectical necessity and completeness for (his ?) thought which Lonergan does not. Rather he understands his own efforts as being open to “non-systematic matters of fact”, though he further on defines and narrows such non-systematic matters as “every valid conclusion of empirical human science”. My friend and I later parted ways on Lonergan’s economics admittedly because in part at least I was a poor exponent of this complex economic theory, so there was much misunderstanding. But that was not the only thing at play. Lonergan as a Jesuit is part of the Thomistic tradition of thought which is involved with the ‘Church’ and its ‘grace’, however these be defined. And many people, perhaps even within the Lonergan camp, have a well-conditioned aversion to this “tradition”. Phil makes reference to this ‘Church’ above and with reference to some sort of heuristic “replacement” (which I’m unsure of …). My daring point is this that this “Church”, which Lonergan’s thought greatly can help understand its meaning and deeper interpretation, is a name for a ‘world’ of “non-systematic matters of fact” necessary to assist in this work of implementation which goes way beyond Lonerganism, scholarship, and academia.

  • #1082

    Philip McShane

    Hello Hugh,
    It is both sad and amusing to find you rise beyond a misinterpretation of Lonergan. What emerges from Lonergan is an integral heuristic basis of effectively [flat Bell Curve initially, but after the 10th millennium tightening that curve considerably] lifting human history out of the negative Anthropocene. The functionally-collaborative nine-fold situation-room topology of analysis will reach Gandhi’s 10,000 villages, and of course villages of New Brunswick. Might we move to a 2020 vision start?

    The zone you tackled is a first attack point re decadent Lonerganism. You might find my Interpretation series a help. Lonerganism is vulnerable there in that it does not ask them to face the 1965 discovery.

    But, from your struggle, are you not finding it amazing that in a pressured summer of 1953 Lonergan solved a huge centuries-old messy problem of academic gossiping, including economic gossiping? Solved effectively? Well, no. But there is in his perspective the seed of a shocking global shift of care. So, Hugh, courage: and others too. We need to find a serious economist who will not behave like Namaan the leper (2 Kings 5:1-19) initially did: “this Canadian stream is nothing compared to towers of Samuelson and Mankiw” [built so gloriously on the swamps of Keynes!] Let us continue the disheartening search.

  • #1083

    Hugh Williams

    Phil you write “It is both sad and amusing to find you rise beyond a misinterpretation of Lonergan.” Where does the misinterpretation lie – can you help me with that … is it in the claim that Lonergan continues within the tradition of Thomism, or the work of the “Church”?

    I suspect you see me struggling among the two ways that do very little to “advance” us and things. (If so I will not deny it…) While the purpose of this part of this “elementary forum” is to nudge and even push some of us towards Lonergan’s “third way” for ‘method’ … and this for the revitalization of theology …meant to serve the “Church” understood most fundamentally as the ‘mystical body of Christ’, that is, if I read you correctly in “Interpretation” which you directed me to in the link above …?

  • #1084

    Philip McShane

    Hi Hugh,

    The general spread of misinterpretations is that Lonergan is, varyingly, not speaking forth a general science of global heuristics that has an independence of Lonergan, that, further, a later genetic account of method will show, in increasingly empiricality, to be increasingly effective in rescuing us from millennia of axial puttering, grounded in greed and ignorance.

    Yes, this is a broad sweep, but it is no broader than the first three paragraphs of Method. It is sad and amusing that none of the senior Lonergan experts are joining in here to show me the error of my weights and ways.

  • #1085

    Hugh Williams

    Your first paragraph above is what is most unnerving – not that this work be concerned with both the “metaphysics of being” and “Christian theology” let us say, but with something that claims to be a “science”. … and does so seriously. One is asked to believe in this ‘work’, not as a ‘fantasy’ but as a ‘science’. The divide among Lonerganians I suspect is drawn here … does one believe there is a real science in this and if so how seriously does one take it (or perhaps more sympathetically – how seriously is one capable of taking it?). If I may recall from the history of philosophy, it seems to me this all follows along the line in Aristotle who (despite his mistakes) I believe did take himself seriously as an empirical scientist, whereas Plato did not, or could not, or did much less so, … though he did take himself seriously as a mathematician. There is something very different in these two beginnings and orientations relevant to the present state in Lonerganism you are referring to (and even academic disciplines and schools more generally) so it seems to me. It is relevant that Thomas did follow Aristotle in general and for the most part. Now the object of this science, according to Lonergan, is the procedures of the human mind wherein, it is claimed strikingly, that we will find “a transcendental method present in every cognitional enterprize” and that this grasp of this “method” is now necessary for us today in both our metaphysics and theology so that we can get down to much more effective work collaboratively on “the present dire global needs” while contributing much less so to “the flow of books and essays and lectures and conferences from this sick shrinkage of Lonergan’s vision.”

    Well what of the evidence for this “science”? As one “sod” of many that has been turned somewhat I would say that my evidence for the most part is negative in this sense, that ‘being attentive, being intelligent, being reasonable, and being responsible’ if not firmly adhered to but instead so “let go” then the ‘integrity’ of any human situation or institution declines tragically. This I know and am certain of, but as to the positive consequences or development resulting from this method when adhered to seriously by some more or less working group – on this I simply am much less able to say anything of certainty. I am left in some fundamental sense with something called “faith and hope”…
    … so here we have something quite strange, a ‘science’ which our future seriously depends upon also depending upon a ‘faith’ in some real and fundamental sense …

    • #1092

      Philip McShane

      Hugh: this is a quite magnificent locating of our problem, even picking up nicely on my omissions, re Church etc, in my disgustingly short previous reply. Your locating deserves lengthy considerations, and indeed could lead the whole group to a refreshing pause. The pause, at best, would be a pause within the [ho ho yes non-existent] science invented by Lonergan, a pause within his scientific dialectic structure, so compactly expressed in lines 18–33 of Method 250. The Lonergan people just don’t want to go there.

      But let us not putter round with that failure. Let us take you ending: “here we have something quite strange, a ‘science’ which our future seriously depends upon also depending upon a ‘faith’ in some real and fundamental sense …” Yes, yes, indeed! So you bring me back to the skipped part of your previous reflections. Lonergan’s shocking achievement is a product of Christian philosophizing and—please, all, pause on this—it is the product of an evolutionary sport in this axial period of human history. Plato, Aristotle, John Damascene, Thomas, and others [and there are women there: I think of the two Georges of the nineteenth century, not British Kings!] were evolutionary sports. So, for example, the frontispiece of Insight refers to an insight of Aristotle missing from Aristotelianism, and no harm in recalling Lonergan’s point: “… being able to conceive, not without labor, the philosophic concepts of form and matter.”(CWL 2, 38) Lonergan lifts that to a quite new level, but his followers have failed to do the Aristotelian exercise. So, in his pointing to “study of an organism” (Insight, 489) he repeats the invitation at the level of chemistry: “to this end there have to be invented appropriate symbolic images of the relevant physical and chemical processes” (ibid). This would be part of an undergraduate degree in the new science: it is not part of the interest of present Lonerganism.

      So, yes, Faith and hope. Have you read my commentary on Insight 722, re tuning into the hope and zeal of the cosmos? [in Divyadaan 2017, the second volume of the year: I can send it to you or anyone interested]. The page winds round the problem of repentance. It is a long road to an effective Christianity, e.g., that would stop such destructive idiocy as the goings-on of Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy de Vos. And so on, through the contemporary failures. Lonergan wrote of this in his “Essay on Fundamental Sociology” of 1936 and spent his life thinking out the scientific basis of an effective intervention in history. His disciples continue to paddle around in old ponds: “big frogs in little ponds” was a remark he used chatting in 1961.

      So yes, Faith and hope: the positive Anthropocene is a distant thing. We shall be pushed to it by not being able to breathe by the end of this century. But God’s project is long term. The Earth still has a couple of billion years before the molecules move on into the neurodynamics of Jesus.

  • #1094

    Hugh Williams

    I’d be very very interested in that Divyadaan article, if it be not too much trouble.
    Ah, “repentance”. I think of the biblical story of Israel …
    … and I can say that a small group of us from the back roads of New Brunswick did meet with some focused commitment and “collaboration” over the winter months of Lent two years ago reflecting on “liturgy and the sacraments” pausing fervently over the mysterious and somewhat ‘estranged’, in recent years at least, “sacrament” of penance/reconciliation. (“Confirmation” was an entirely other matter, looking to the future as it seems to do – we simply were not ready to deal with that.) There was a moment of lucidity for all of us together I would venture to say, even emotional catharsis … rare. (I’d also mention that the priest at the time stayed with us through these 6 or 7 Lenten gatherings.)

    Two things might be relevant here, a) there was a profound sense that the Christian mystery cannot be adequately handled individually but requires serious (intelligent) collaboration. And b) the uncanny (even confusing) way the language of the Bible especially in the Hebrew Testament moves from individual to communal or collective reference. This somehow is especially relevant for this business of “repentance”, is it not ? And yet here and in so much else this balance of the individual and the communal is so hard to reach … Is this not somehow relevant here?

  • #1098

    Philip McShane

    Again, yes, Hugh: stuff to follow up, with our group hoping for that “rare” “moment of lucidity for all of us together I would venture to say, even emotional catharsis”. We need to share such a moment as you present us with: we cannot go it alone. But to share it is to reach out in strenuous fantasy. Collaboration is the key, and collaboration on the huge scale of a global structured 8-fold science of care. I think of Lonergan ending a ten-page 1936 letter to his superior [for which he was chastised] with the question “what on earth is to be done?” and going on there to neatly reject sitting on our butts waiting for providence. The last dozen pages of Insight has the word “collaboration” or its equivalent occurring 33 times. He found his way to an answer to the problem of structure collaboration eleven and a half years later. His solution to the problem of collaboration, the “third way, difficult and laborious” (Method, 4) has been disgustingly dodged. James Duffy’s entry expresses his righteous discontent with the state of affairs.

    “What on earth is to be done?” Talking about it here is not the purpose of this Forum. We need desperately to seed the honesty of humble collaboration. Lonergan points to that pre-functionally in Insight 17.3: stop writing little monographs comparing Jones and Smith and tackle communally the genetics of e.g. what Jesus asked us, implicitly, to care for as he talked of his own wanting in John 17, “that they may all be one”. This was Lonergan’s last scripture quotation at the end of Method (367). I would refer us to Jesus magnificent entry in John’s gospel, chapter one, verse 38, “what do you want?” that is answered for us by Jesus there in John 17.

    What on earth is to be done? Get together in a new global science of care that was quite beyond Aristotle and Thomas, that is in the muddled ferment of every modern area of human inquiry. It is time to give Christianity an effective shot. Become characters of care in the sense of the first paragraph of the Aristotelian Magna Moralia. There is much more to be said but, heavens, I began saying it when I pointed, in the Florida Conference of 1970, to the need for Lonergan’s structure in musicology. Boston College, the next year, began its “academic discourse” workshops and dodged the key issue, and has dodged it since. Are there younger caring people reading this, or can we reach them someway? “Is my proposal utopian? It asks merely for creativity, for an interdisciplinary theory that at first will be denounced as absurd, then will be admitted to be true but obvious and insignificant, and perhaps finally be regarded as so important that its adversaries will claim that they themselves discovered it?” (Lonergan thus concludes his essay, “Healing and Creating in History,” CWL 15, 106) Was Jesus’s desire and proposal utopian, a quaint figure of speech? “Is this to be taken literally or is it figure? It would be fair and fine to think it no figure” (end of Lonergan’s 1936 “Essay on Fundamental Sociology”).

  • #1099

    Hugh Williams

    Phil et al,

    Read James’ reflections also. And it prompts these thoughts on Lonergan’s beginning paragraphs from Method.

    One of the very “difficult and laborious” aspects of the entire venture of focused and reflective collaboration among “Christians”, though not limited to such strange beings, is in the actual getting together physically and not just virtually.

    I’m struck by how difficult this is to do these days. I’m not talking about passing conviviality but actually committing to getting together over a period for a relatively sustained and focused study, reflection, discussion, listening. Sounds like an academic seminar, I know, but this is not what I’m talking about. My reference to Lenten gatherings over a period of five or six years is an example. I like Lent because it is supposedly a time of “penance” with a beginning, middle, and end in sight, and also the gatherings don’t have to be particularly attractive but one can regard and even enjoy them as an actual “penance” of sorts.

    Without some such commitment then Lonergan’s method, or something like it, simply cannot come into play for the collaborative reflections/discussions it requires. Here I’m speaking of gatherings among ordinary folk not necessarily Lonergan scholars. But if the method is based truly upon the fundamental procedures of the human mind in some way, then Lonergan’s approach will become relevant inevitably even amidst the ‘many distractions’, especially if some effective advance towards meaningful and progressive social change is to occur. This is why I keep referring to the word “church” (and perhaps why Lonergan himself was focused on the future of theology) because it simply is a sociological fact still in the parts of the world where I live, at least, that it is this institution in all its variety and foibles where there remain occasions/opportunities/even the necessity for regular and recurrent gatherings of people with some degree of commitment to a deeper reflection on things that are going forward not always for the best. Nor should we underestimate the value and relevance of “liturgy” for this entire venture. I agree that these gatherings can be plagued by evasiveness and triviality. (But we also do need to acknowledge that with talk of “new evangelization” under Pope Francis there does seem to be a genuine call for reform and renewal, quite radical in some instances, that present particular opportunities as never before.) But evasiveness and triviality nevertheless are inherent in the human condition generally and it does have its particular marks among cultures dominated by “liberalism” and “individualism”, which is pretty much everywhere. But when people do make this type of commitment for at least limited periods some of the frustration James refers to can subside … or at least that has been my experience …

    One more point … I recall Michael Shute speaking of his looking out for “signs” of ’emergent probability’ to help feed his hope for implementation. There is something in that to ponder …

  • #1100

    Philip McShane

    Yes, Hugh, again you nudge us to face concretely the full problem. Some may falter over this, granted that Hugh is focusing on “normal Christians”, not, then, what I am pushing for more regularly, people collaborating in what I call “The Tower of Able” or better “The Leaning Tower of Able.” That is a way of identifying a distantly future global taken-for-grantedness of human intervention in history (CWL 18, 306) that is Bell-Curve effective: a central characteristic of the positive Anthropocene age.

    Now some of us may say, well Phil is off again into the stratosphere. Pause, then, over the fact that you actually make some sense of what I say: I am weaving in a pattern of positive ‘haute vulgarization’ into our get-together and I see no reason why that pattern and patter should not become an ethos in concerned group gatherings in all churches, temples, gurdwara (Sikh gathering spot), etc.

    Back to James’ reflections. The sad sick fact is that Lonergan students seem reluctant to enter that commonsense ethos, an ethos that is at the heart of Lonergan’s climb from the late 1920s to his 1965 discovery. What I am talking about here is “The Leaning,” and so back to Hugh’s first paragraph, actual psychic togetherness. The sort of thing that prevails in a car factory or a good laundry: “we” are trying and succeeding to get out good cars and clean clothes.

    I am here, of course, simply repeating Method 355, re “fruit” but also poising to give a brutal nudge: Lonerganism is “effete” (Method, 99, line 10).

    Will that nudge be effective in history, even as written here, and shared by us? If it is not, is it because we are not “Leaning”? Are we Monday morning quarter-backing, or—for me and perhaps you a better image from Ireland—“the hurler on the ditch”?

    Back to Hugh: “without some such commitment then Lonergan’s method, or something like it, simply cannot come into play for the collaborative reflections/discussions it requires. Here I’m speaking of gatherings among ordinary folk not necessarily Lonergan scholars.”

    Lonergan’s method was a man’s concern for effectiveness, and so he lifts metaphysics out of a stale academic settledness by neatly adding in the word “implementation” to his definition: an addition implicitly rejected by his disciples. BUT it is a lift that is to be an ethos in future religious groups: the world is our village, and my amendment to all constitutions stands as a challenging question to each of us. “Do you view humanity as possible maturing—in some serious way—or just messing along between good and evil whatever they are?”

    I would suggest that a negative answer is the ethos of present Lonerganism, present Vaticanism, Sikhism, etc. So, yes Hugh: groupings and liturgies are involved. AND, I would say, a massive shift to positive contemplation instead of the bent at present to escape into a cloud of undoing. I do not see “‘new evangelization’ under Pope Francis” as reaching that far. The sin against the Holy Spirit—not thinking effectively—is rampant. We continue to sing “Lead Kindly Light.” As God said to the Irishman who stayed on after Mass to pray for a win in the lottery, “Buy a ticket.”

    AND now: might you tell yourself this effectively, and have a shot and telling your neighbours, Lonerganney or normal?

  • #1114

    Hugh Williams

    These thoughts shared above prompt me to reflect again on the three (four) paragraphs from the introduction to Method. … but to do so in relation to the goings-on in my ‘world’ here locally and in relation to the question of “relevance”. I see Lonergan (L) outlining densely three ways of approach to ‘method’: a) the modelling (and copying) of the ‘masters’ performance in the lab or seminar room, b) the aspiration and even actual ascendance to a position of some standing in the leading sciences of the day and then forming on that basis an analogy for science more generally, and c) L’s third way based upon the fundamental procedures of the human mind, formally pointed towards but left as yet practically undeveloped.

    The first approach tends in great part towards academic and sophisticated irrelevance, especially in regards effectively to the problems of our times. The second tends in large part towards a narrow specialization and thus as well can be marked by a type of irrelevance as regards the central issues of our human condition. It is then the third option, if this summary critique of the first two options be approximately true, that now must be tried.

    I must confess my own method has been shaped largely by the first approach but not entirely for I have worked also in a field of practice, though not by any means a leading successful science, where academic irrelevance was not, nor could be countenanced for long, though the practice like so many has been impacted frequently by waves of mindlessness and chronic stupidity. So it has seemed to me …

    … but what then of this third option so ‘difficult’ and so ‘laborious’ … where has it been tried and what has been the experience? … and is it really that different from the pursuit of the ‘true’ and the ‘good’ and (lets not forget) the beautiful? I see this difference in L – that for this pursuit to be effective within any real world context requires what Thomists have called more generally – a good measure of self-possession, an effective capacity for self-communication, and eventually and inevitably a desire for and openness to self-transcendence. There is this real developed continuity in Lonergan with the Thomistic tradition, it seems to me …

    • #1115

      Pat Brown

      I would like to follow-up on Hugh’s reflections, Phil’s most recent response to Hugh, as well as James’ reflections, concerning the neglected significance and resonance of the first paragraphs of Method. Phil’s thesis is that “Lonergan’s method was a concern for effectiveness, and so he lifts metaphysics out of a stale academic settledness by neatly adding in the word ‘implementation’ to his definition: an addition implicitly rejected by his disciples.” James comments on the meaning of “academic disciplines.” “Vaguely, ‘academic disciplines’ include Lonerganesque philosophy and theology that are, as far as I can make out, just funky sub-cultures of the academic philosophy and theology that I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student. What the heck is this ‘third way’ that ‘must be found’”?

      I think one can read the first three paragraphs of Method in an ordinary way and yet miss their very non-ordinary meaning. To me, those paragraphs culminate in an invitation to initiative, an invitation to discover a new way, a way that has not yet been found. “Some third, way, then, must be found …” Method, 3. That new way is, at a minimum, a central and resounding challenge to the way things are currently done in the academic world. It is far more than that, as Phil’s responses bring out beautifully. ‘A future science of global care’ seems like a fairly plausible characterization, unless one thinks that the concerns so evident in the section on “Cosmopolis” in Insight simply dropped off Lonergan’s radar as he moved on in the 1960s, in the conventional telling, to the greener pastures of continental philosophy’s treatment of hermeneutics and history.

      In other words, the unmistakable invitation in the first three paragraphs is to do things very differently than they have been done, especially in the academic world. In an early draft of the first chapter of Method, Lonergan wrote of his labors to construct a “next context,” and in that new context “attention centers on changes in norms and procedures.” Archival document 58700DTEL60, pages 3-4. I don’t think Lonergan’s disciples took his demand for “changes in norms and procedures” in the academic world seriously. To the contrary, Lonergan studies have lumbered along in the same old familiar academic “norms and procedures” that pre-existed Lonergan’s attempt to intervene in the generally pre-methodic and pre-scientific state of the academic disciplines.

      Lonergan recognized that the new way to be found—a way way beyond the present modes of the academic world—will require a great deal of initiative, exercised in the face of a great deal of inertia. As Lonergan says in the archival document mentioned earlier, “the fact of the matter seems to be that once a context has been established in a culture, it can be expelled only by the enormous labour of constructing a new context.” Ibid., at 2. The old culture and old context of the academic disciplines is very well established.

      As far as I can tell, “initiative” is, like “implementation,” one of the great themes of Lonergan’s thought and life, and, like “implementation,” it has largely escaped the notice of his followers. “Risk[ing] the initiative of change” (Method, 135), namely, changes in the norms and procedures of the academic world, has not exactly been a leitmotif of Lonerganism. It seems to me that the movement’s capacities for effective initiative have been startlingly low.

      A human being’s “capacities for effective initiative are limited to the potentialities of the community for rejuvenation, renewal, reform, development. At any time in any place what a given self can make of himself is some function of the heritage or sediment of common meanings that comes to him from the authentic or unauthentic living of his predecessors and his contemporaries.” “Existenz and Aggiornamento,” CWL 4, at 227 (emphasis added).

      Surely it is not a controversial proposition that functional collaboration is somehow connected to the possibility of a series of enlargements of a community’s capacities for effective initiative (where the relevant community can be as large as the genus of humanity). But if the receiving community’s current potentialities and capacities for effective initiative are sufficiently narrow, hardened, shrivelled, or stunted, the initiative that is functional collaboration will never become effective (“never” in the rhetorical sense that its emergence as an effective force for enlarging the boundaries of the attainable human good will be unnecessarily delayed for centuries).

      Was the first sentence, quoted from “Existenz and Aggiornamento” above, a painful fragment of Lonergan’s unwritten autobiography? Were the human group’s “capacities for effective initiative” on his mind as he wrote those first three paragraphs of Method? How could they not have been? How could those paragraphs fail to raise for their readers, however compactly, the existential question raised by the first four specialties: “They challenge to a decision: in what manner or measure am I to carry the burden of continuity or risk the initiative of change?” Method, 135.

      I believe Lonergan labored for decades to create an organon for enlarging our capacities for effective initiative, a framework for functional collaboration. That organon is not co-planar with, nor is it remotely compatible with, present academic disciplines and their present procedures. It is not compatible with present “norms and procedures” but instead requires massive changes in those norms and procedures.

      It is not surprising that those changes have not yet been implemented. It is surprising that the need for them has not yet been noticed.

  • #1116

    Hee Sun Byun

    Hugh’s summary on the Method for third way is clear to me. Yet the issue of “implementation”, however, Pat’s reply is very helpful, is real problem in Korean academic communities. Futher, it seems that an effective initiation of “implementation” of Lonergan’s Method is almost impossible in Korean society. For instance, being human is not “being digital”. The scientific world is somethig ‘out there right now’ for Korean’s mind, yet most intellectuals do not distinguish between the sicentific methods and the scientific mind or conscious intentional operations of scientific normativity. The only commonality of both is to be “concept of science” in which their mind and world or things are being together.

    I would just express my difficulty on the implementation of the Method in Korean academic communities. I think that it is not just cultural matter. It seems that is a matter of basically human arbitrary or biases. Yet it is not easy to find any pattern of arbitrarism related and recurrent with in academic normtivities of Korean academic communities.

  • #1117

    James Duffy

    Hee Sun Byuan, thank you for expressing your difficulty, one which I share with you. Yes, there are sociocultural contexts, or “cultural matrices” (Method, xi) in which we live our academic and non-academic lives. If I had a nickel for every experience of culture shock or embarrassing faux pas from the last sixteen years, I would be that much closer to retirement.

    I would add to what you wrote that implementation is not only difficult in Korean and Mexican cultures, but difficult in any culture. Why? As you write, academic communities in all parts of the world suffer from arbitrary decisions and biases. Also, as you write, most intellectuals are not mindful of our method. It simply was/is not part of our training to practice double attention (see “Religious Knowledge,” Third Collection, p. 141) in physics, the “successful science” Lonergan appealed to in Method.

    There is an arbitrary decision and bias festering in Lonerganism as well. What is it? A refusal to deal with the issues that you are raising. Instead of admitting that “some third way” must be found and implemented, we continue in the “academic discipline” mode of philosophy and theology. I include myself because I am struggling to understand and implement the new way, “in Vico’s phrase, a scienza nuova” (CWL 20, 223, a review of works on the nature of Christian Philosophy). I resonate with what Pat Brown wrote regarding “the old culture and old context of the academic disciplines [that] is very well established.” Five days ago I described my own formation at Jesuit institutions in philosophy and theology under the topic “Answering Random Questions of Life.”

    I am (not) afraid that this all sounds so bleak. We need, I believe, long-term patience and hope, together with humility to identify the arbitrariness and biases lingering in us that so easily get passed along to our students, friends, neighbors, and significant others. What might we do to in our lifetime to effectively nudge ourselves and communities towards the second time that Lonergan writes about? (CWL 12, 403–409) How do we begin to implement something we barely understand?

    Here are some possibilities that occurred to me while preparing for the Second Lonergan Workshop in Latin America in Mexico City, June 13-14, 2013.

    A. Encounter Groups*

    • Professors focused on teaching
    • In a graduate or undergraduate seminar, attempt the exercise of narratively positioning yourself in a footnoteless monologue regarding the “level of the times.” Then invite undergraduate or graduate students to do the same.
    • Implement an essay written for your students that invites and cajoles self-appropriating apparently trifling problems (Obviously [?], without footnotes to CWL).
    • Informal discussion with colleagues regarding teaching (or pastoral) experiences, frustrations, doubts, etc. and how these experiences intimate sets and sequences of differentiated consciousness.
    • Professors focused on research
    • Prepare short, one-to-two page papers on what you and your colleagues think merits recycling in CWL.
    • Humbly self-interpret an unpublished text (manuscript) or a published article or book with a friendly eye on reversal. (See further Philip McShane, FuSe 18, “Ways to Get Into Functional Collaboration”)
    • Professors focused on directing theses
    • Discuss with colleagues in person or virtually what might be done to help graduate students (and thyself) begin to appreciate the strangely new differentiation of roles and tasks.
    • Invite graduate students to add a section to their thesis “Further Relevant Questions” that intimates an appreciation for the need to collaborate transdisciplinarily (see further Method, 366-367).

    B. Walkabouts
    Contemplatively walk around the campus, neighborhood, or zoo. Afterwards take turns describing what was seen. Then humbly try to talk about the real campus, neighborhood or elephant (see Method, 83). Include a “show and tell” of heuristics.

    C. Exploring Potentialities
    Song and dance, joke sessions, poetry recitals. If “explanation does not give man a home” (CWL 3, 570), much less do pseudo-explanation and post-systematic Lonerganesque chatter (see Method, 304). Should we be dancing more, and speaking less? “You should be dancing, yah / You should be dancing, yah” (Bee Gees)

    * Frederick Crowe writes of encounter groups, challenging and being challenged to self-scrutiny, in a discussion where the spirit of the meeting would be self-revelation. See The Lonergan Enterprise (Cowley, 1980), 92-93.

  • #1118

    Philip McShane

    Let me proceed, comically echoing Pat Brown and complementing James Duffy, thinking of Lonergan doing an outline for me, fingers poised between us in 1966, prefaced by “well, its easy: you just double the structure.” What might parallel this if I speak to you regarding the third way, the Method p. 4 topic which keeps coming up in this Forum?

    Well, the strategy of effective human inquiry is easy: your early tribes puzzle out, in any situation, what meets the needs of betterment. You bring your group insights to bear, generating partial improvement, detect again in the changed situation and so rolling on, trying always to cloudily ensure, as a group, that the rolling gathers no moss, but “nomos.” So develops, e.g. the relevant meaning of water with “cumulative and progressive results” (Method, 4 and 5). The work, of course, increasing splits up, but at best it is done, so to speak, in a cloud of willing spontaneity.

    You recognize in that paragraph the first paragraph of Method?

    So, a few, on the job or on the side, try to figure out both the splits and the cloud. “What-to-do?” is found to have “what’s the scene?” at its heart, and lining up the answer to that hearty lesser question then becomes a focus—nomos or moss?—for some few. The answer can be organized, even generate rules. Is there critical poising over full correctness? Wow, that is not even yet a human ethos of the twenty first century! But rules and axioms are rather a neat Tao: Moses brings tablets down the mountain and Archimedes writes about Floating Bodies. Christianity floats out of Jerusalem and weaves its rules, even finding a house in Rome. Some, on the job or on the side, see a looseness regarding where the human group is heading. Is there not an inevitable vagueness, maybe an ultimate fuzziness, about where the aggregate of situations is going? That aggregate is not like bodies of water or in water, settling down. It is more like Shakespeare’s stage, with dramatic options and talk about options of performance and about layers of purpose of performance: bread, circuses, or well-bred bodies, and hierarchies to rule the bodies? What, prey pray pry, is well-bred in such a panoply? So, attention to the spilts and the clouds breeds autonomous splinters of inadequate prying (recall Husserl’s “Crisis” stuff: Phenomenology and Logic, CWL 18, 256 etc).

    AND now: are we freshly at the bottom of Method 3?

    So, forget the rhetorical nudges of the next paragraph.

    The seeds of the correct way have been found by me, Lonergan. It took me a while: I was clouded in my cloud-detecting by the messing describe in the second paragraph of Method—or if you like it large—described slimly by Husserl. I really didn’t get how much Aristotle had messed with Thomas’s minding of reality. You get that only when you let the concrete dynamics of space and time (Insight, 194–6; 722) breed you and breath in you with gulps of repentance. “Groups of perceptions repeat themselves over and over”: there you have, at the bottom of the first page of Lindsay and Margenau (Foundations of Physics), the nudge that blossoms in the last paragraph of Insight, chapter 5, with its beginning “The answer is easily reached.” The mess of paragraph 2 in Method rolls on and on but also people roll on and on in the quite inhuman mess [so much the worse in that we have lost sight and site of the human worse in which we breed]; we are being pushed towards the primitive challenge of a group withdrawal ‘to ensure, as a group, that the rolling gathers no moss, but nomos.’ So, we are back in the above first paragraph freshly. You have joined me in my discovery page of 1966: but have you? You might have another shot at it by joining me in my Gregorianum essay of 1969: now a chapter in the faulty book, Method in Theology. The faulty book has allowed its own battered bending towards haute vulgarization to let a following grow up around the trivialization of what, and is, and what we might be, and ‘being in love with God’ (Method 107), to speak of which accurately and effectively demands that ‘the world of interiority has been made the explicit grounds’ (ibid.) of such speech. That effective accuracy is to emerge in my third way of minding reality: cycling globally and concretely towards ‘cumulative and effective results.’ (Method, 4). Would that my disciples stopped their chit-chat and got into rewriting and promulgating effectively chapters 2, 3, and 4 of my faulty book. But I said that already in lines 20–23 of page 287 of that faulty book. And this whole mess pivots on you all simply dodging—how much dishonest pretense is involved?—the non-functional challenge of the single paragraph that ends Insight 609. If you few reading here are interested then you might make an effective start yourselves but yes include nudging younger people to break from the misleading guidance of my first generations of disciples, busily ‘drifting’ (Phenomenology and Logic, index), sometimes not unknowingly, in old destructive ways.

    Thank you Bernard, for this heavenly nudge!

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