Website Series

The Cantower series takes its name, in part, from Ezra Pound’s great poem. But it takes its inspiration from the method of structured collaboration pioneered by Bernard Lonergan, a method resolutely opposed to the ineffectual ivory tower in which much of the contemporary academic world remains trapped. The series made its debut on Easter Monday 2002, beginning with the question, from Eric Voegelin, “Where does the Beginning Begin?” Cantowers 27–31 parallel the first five chapters of Richard Feynman’s Lectures on Physics. See The Feynman Lectures on Physics, edited by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands (Boston: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1964; sixth printing 1977). Those Cantowers also place the first five chapters on empirical science in Lonergan’s magnum opus Insight: A Study of Human Understanding in a challenging, metatheoretic, non-commonsense context. Insight chapters 15-20 and the Epilogue are paralleled by Cantowers 15–20 and Cantower 21, “Epilodge.”

Field Nocturnes
This series of forty-one essays was undertaken as the 300-page project of reading the single paragraph in Insight that begins “Study of the organism begins from the thing-for-us, from the organism as exhibited to our senses.” Insight, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 3, 489. Field refers to Lonergan’s use of the word in Phenomenology and Logic (CWL 18), while Nocturnes, a reference to both Chopin and John Field, points to a community of functional collaborators, each member of the community in his or her luminous darkness.

Field Nocturnes CanTower
Field Nocturnes CanTower is a series of seventy-six essays that continues the first series of Field Nocturnes, a continuation that merges with the previous series of Cantowers. The title emerged as an affirmative answer to the question, “Is there a fourth stage of meaning?” It refers to optimism about future global collaboration, an optimism associated with an effective Cosmopolis.

A series of eight essays whose name is composed of “Structure of Dialectic”―the title of the section that includes page 250 of Method in Theology―and “aware.” The title might also be related to Searching Out Friendly Dialogue about Action. The essays represent a shift from the Cantowers series towards a strategy of elementary collaborations with individuals or groups, casual or organized, public or private. It is also an introduction to the Quodlibet series.

A series of twenty-one essays that continues the Sofdaware reflection on page 250 of Method in Theology. The Quodlibets series intends a collaborative effort in relation to Lonergan’s suggestion about dividing up any serious cultural work. Towards the end of the series McShane reaches out towards other collaborators, whose names are mentioned in the flow of essays.

A series of twenty-seven foundational essays whose name derives from “joists,” the beams that hold up the planks of a floor or the laths of a ceiling. The series has to do with building, indeed with the building of collaboration. Some of the essays are broadly heuristic, such as Joistings 21, on the three definitions of generalized empirical method. Others get into detailed methodologies, such as the two advanced essays on Quantum Theory (Joistings 24 and 25).

A series of thirteen essays whose title is related to Dante and Eldorado. Central topics include teaching and studying, prayer and thinking. A central thesis is that people can take their own efforts to think as something that merits or needs serious empirical investigation. The expression in these essays is as simple as possible, with layers of remote meaning.

A series of twelve essays, some treating pedagogical issues such as teaching high school economics (Prehumous 1), others getting into detailed methodologies, such as the five essays on foundational prayer (Prehumous 4¬–8) and functional systematics (Prehumous 9–10). The second essay in the series, “Metagrams and Metaphysics,” is a convenient collection of diagrams used in many of McShane’s articles and books.

A series of twelve essays tuned to Chopin’s preludes that focuses precisely on history and hope in the context of Fred Crowe’s gallant struggle to “move the first sod.”  Theology of the Christian Word: A Study in History (New York, Paulist Press), 149. Underlying the series is the hope of generating something of a mood, an ethos, which would lift those interested in history towards collaboration, with functional collaboration as an objective.

A series of thirteen essays directed towards making a beginning in functional collaboration. This series begins with the Lonergan’s suggestion about transposing the subtleties of interpretation in Insight chapter 17 into a functional context. In the first essay McShane comments on three possible meanings of SURF―Sally Up Round Freely; Seeking an Understanding of the Reach of Finitude; and Sensibility’s Upgrading its Relating to Forms.

A series of ten essays that aims to foster discussions of a wide variety of personal transitions, some of which are to emerge from responses to the series. Thus “bridgepoise” can mean a poise before attempting to cross, a poise on the bridge, and a poise that is the result of the crossing. Bridgepoise 2, “Transition to Educational Collaboration,” and Bridgepoise 3, “Liberal Arts: The Core of Future Science,” were written for two Conferences in 2010.

A series of thirty-nine essays, twenty-seven written by McShane, twelve written by colleagues and students. The series runs parallel to the sixteen e-seminars scheduled for 2011–2015. The first 8 seminars deal with the eight functional specialties of Lonergan (hence the capital F and S in the title), but attending only to the general categories; the second set is to focus on the special categories. The series could well be put in the context of chapter one of McShane’s book, Method in Theology: Revisions and Implementations.

A series of eighteen essays that opens up towards a global tradition called Fusionism, which is a new dynamics of integral inquiry within a functional collaboration that is to be omnidisciplinary. The essays are to be increasingly collaborative, increasingly leaning towards a self-verified, standard, open perspective on history and its fulfilment.

Futurology is a series that followed the publication of the book Futurology Express (Axial Publishing, 2013). The series has the dual function of inviting collaboration on the neglected zone of Eschatology and of fostering more generally the move into the collaborative specialties. McShane published the series, together with a Prologue and Epilogue, in the book The Everlasting Joy of Being Human (Axial Publishing, 2013).

A series of twenty-one essays which include a new preface to McShane’s book Randomness, Statistics, and Emergence (Posthumous 2), a commentary on Inside (Posthumous 3, later published in Spanish in Revista de Filosofía), further commentary on the phrase, “Thought on method is apt” (Posthumous 16 and 21), and an attempt to rewrite chapter 4, “Religion,” of Method in Theology (Posthumous 11, 13, and 21). There is also a theological nudge towards what might be called a five-point hypothesis implicit in the meaning of “Clasping,” “Cherishing,” “Calling,” “Craving,” and “Christing” that emerged after three and one-half years of contemplating a passage from Lonergan’s The Triune God: Systematics (CWL 12, 471-73).

Questions and Answers
A series of fifty-six Questions and Answers that were part of a campaign to identify zones of inquiry where the next generations can focus their thinking, publishing, and professional gathering. In particular, McShane invited questions regarding the character of functional talk, a difficult and novel differentiation of expression necessary to the maturing of the functional collaboration constitutive of a future Cosmopolis.

Economics’ New Standard Model
An on-line seminar during the winter months of 2014-2015 and, more remotely, the beginning of a massive cultural change.  The title contains the word new as does Lonergan’s typescript title of 1942, “For a New Political Economy.”  The seminar has a modest objective, communicated feebly but easily by noting a gap, an existential gap, expressed by economics course descriptions of present universities and their failure to treat local economies.  Appreciating both the gap and the possible exception of seriously treating local economies is the seeding of the New Standard Model in economics.

Lonergan Gatherings
A series of essays addressed both to those who are gathering material from Lonergan or a teacher of Lonergan’s perspective and to others who are wondering what place Lonergan’s 1969 Gregorianum article “Functional Specialties in Theology” has in the gathering and the gatherings.  One of the central questions of this series is: “Do you view humanity as possibly maturing—in some serious way—or just messing along between good and evil, whatever you think they are?”  These essays are in continuity with the recently published book, The Allure of the Compelling Genius of History: Teaching Young Humans Humanity and Hope” (Vancouver: Axial Publishing, 2015).

A series of essays promoting new patterns of collaboration. The first is secular and focuses on physics, while the second focuses on Jesus and thus on the sacred. The third is a commentary on the words “academic disciplines” as they appear on the bottom of page 3 of Method in Theology. The fourth takes off from a correspondence with a colleague striving to read HOW3. The fifth essay is a lengthy pause over “The Truth of Interpretation,” the third section of Insight chapter 17. The sixth essay suggests that one can move towards generating a geohistorical heuristic mindset without subscribing to the fuller venture of functional collaboration.

Disputing Quests
The context of this series, written between September 2016 and May 2017, is the second half of the central page 250 of Method in Theology, from line 18 to 33, which I have named regularly Lonergan’s 1833 Overture. It describes a final tactic of the functional specialty Dialectic. It is a discomforting tactic, not just a Luther-like “Here I stand” but a blunt and precise “here you stand.” Such stand-taking and confrontation can, of course, occur at any stage in the cycle of collaborations, e.g., a historian “at pains not to conceal his tracks but to lay his cards on the table.” (Method in Theology, 193)

The new series is a fresh beginning of the search for the meaning of Interpretation as treated by Lonergan in section 3 of chapter 17 of Insight. The approach is to be through simplifications and broad applications. Those interested in an effort to get at the meaning and find the applications of this difficult piece of Lonergan’s writings are encouraged by the first three essays in the series to send questions to There are tentative plans to open a forum for questions and comments in July of 2017.

There is at present a massive hidden disagreement about the interpretation of Lonergan’s proposal in the second and third paragraphs of Method in Theology: so there is need for FoeRaum, for confrontation, 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.)