Sep 18-20, 2009
In 2006 Dorothy Cummings and Christiaan Jacobs-Vandegeer, then graduate students at Regis College, Toronto, organized a conference at which the speakers would be people interested in and influenced by Bernard Lonergan who were not college or university professors, and so who did not usually get a chance to speak publicly about their interests or about Lonergan’s influence on their work and lives. The conference was an immense success. During the 2008-2009 academic year, graduate students at Marquette University, who had heard about the original event, decided not only to sponsor a second ‘Lonergan on the Edge’ conference but also to see whether this could become an annual event at the University. The students formed their own official student group, The Lonergan Society at Marquette University, and put out a call for papers among graduate students in North America interested in Lonergan. They also invited Greg Lauzon, a principal force in the dissemination of Lonergan’s work who had spoken at the original conference, to present one of the papers. Again, the conference was an enormous success, and the Lonergan Society at Marquette University hopes to make this an annual event.
Lonergan on the Edge
To date, nine of the participants in the conference have agreed to allow all or part of their contributions to be uploaded to the website www.lonerganresource.com. Other contributions to the conference will eventually appear on the site. A schedule of all the papers delivered in the conference appears below. An asterisk appears before those contributions which appear on the site.
Lonergan on the Edge
A Graduate Student Conference
Inspired by the Thought of Bernard J.F. Lonergan, S.J.
Raynor Conference Center
September 18-20, 2009
Sponsored by The Lonergan Society at Marquette University
Friday, September 18, 2009
6:30 Opening Remarks Jeremy W. Blackwood
Dr. James South
Chair, MU Philosophy Department
Dr. Robert M. Doran, S.J.
Speaking for Dr. Susan Wood, Chair, MU Theology Department, and introducing Greg Lauzon
* 7:00 Lamenting at the Abattoir: Meditations through Rhythm
Lonergan Project, Marquette University
Saturday, September 19, 2009
* 10:15 Lonergan and the Neural Correlates of Consciousness
Loyola Marymount University
* 10:55 Bernard Lonergan and Thomas Kuhn: The Advance of Knowledge
Christopher Krall, S.J.
University of Toronto
11:35 Lonergan and the Break from Mythic Consciousness: The Position of the Muse and the Emergence of Responsibility
Loyola Marymount University
*1:15 Ethics, Emergent Probability, and Freedom
1:55 Lonergan and Kant: A Dialectic of the Human Good
*2:55 Earth and Residue
The New School for Social Research
* 3:35 Understanding Insight and Attending to Experience: A Dialectical Examination of Two Articles
by Frederick E. Crowe
4:35 On the Metaphysical Background of Lonergan's Shift to Interiority
Loyola Marymount University
Sunday, September 20, 2009
*10:15 The Dynamic Structure of Human Knowing in the Theandric Person of Christ According to St. Thomas Aquinas and Bernard J.F. Lonergan
10:55 Lonergan’s Method and the Rule of St. Benedict
* 11:35 Edith Stein’s Contribution to Lonergan’s Account of Individual Bias
1:15 Lonergan and Jus Pos Bellum
Byron B. George
*1:55 Understanding of the Preferential Option for the Poor within Bernard Lonergan’s Historical-Theological Framework
2:35 Lonergan and Metz in Dialectical Conversation Jeremy Blackwood & David Horstkoetter
Available contributions from this conference:
Greg Lauzon, Lamenting at the Abattoir: Meditations through Rhythm
The paper begins with a summation of the author’s previous paper, ‘Emerging Probabilities and the Operators of Musical Evolution,’ presented at the first ‘Lonergan on the Edge’ in Toronto, 2006. There Greg presented new types of instruments, playing techniques, and theories drawing from Lonergan’s notion of ‘operators.’ He then shows how this is relevant for the discussion of his most recent musical creation, the spring pan kit.
The spring pan kit ties in with the previous paper’s discussion of industrial percussion at abandoned factories. In this case the scene is an abandoned slaughterhouse. Lonergan’s notion of elemental meaning and Eugene Gendlin’s process called Focusing are used to present rhythms played on the machinery in an attempt to express the moments of suffering and death of the animals. This will provide a segue for discussion on the nature of suffering in a predacious world with respect to all life including humans.
Rhythm is presented as a symbol of unity and balance between humans and their environment in an effort to promote compassion and respect for all life. This is best demonstrated through the phenomena of temporally ambiguous groove-based rhythms often found in drum circles. An attempt to demonstrate this type of rhythm on the spring pan kit is presented. The audio includes the introductory remarks of Jeremy Blackwood, James South, and Robert Doran.
Thomas Cappelli, Lonergan’s Savant
Neural science has taken interest in savants who can do complex mathematical computations seemingly without mental effort. Without a comprehensive theory of the relationship between the mind and brain structure, some neural scientists such as Dr. V. S. Ramachandran reduce these savants’ anomalous abilities to merely neurological fluctuations. Absent a coherent cognitional theory, a latent reductionism has gained momentum due to the overwhelming data which support that the physiological structure of the brain affects the mind. It is only very recently, however, that these scientists have come to recognize the mind’s ability to affect the brain’s configuration and so a polemical tension has emerged, for a reductionistic neurology cannot account for such research as Richard Davidson’s in which meditating Buddhist monks altered the structure and function of their brains over tens of thousands of hours. Here Lonergan’s theory of emergence is employed both to take into account the necessary role that brain physiology plays and to explain how it is possible for the mind to alter brain structure and function. Lonergan explains that ‘There can be autonomous sciences of physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology, because on each earlier level of systematization there are statistical residues that constitute the merely coincidental manifolds to be systematized on the next level. It follows that higher laws and higher schemes of recurrence cannot be deduced from lower laws and lower schemes of recurrence, for the higher is engaged in regulating what the lower levels leave as merely coincidental’ (Insight, 631). In other words, there are various aspects of the psychological level that are not governed by the intelligible laws of that level. This ‘coincidental manifold’ is what is potentially ordered by the mind. Without this nuanced understanding of the relationship between neural physiology and the mind it is impossible to explain how brain structure can both affect and be affected by one’s mind.
Christopher Krall, S.J., Bernard Lonergan and Thomas Kuhn: The Advance of Knowledge
Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions greatly influenced the common perception of scientific investigation and the collective advancement of knowledge. His sociological theory depicting science periodically advancing by sudden, radical transformations, labeled a scientific revolution, has become the accepted understanding of the scientific enterprise. Between the few individuals who instigated the major shifts of understanding, normal science proceeds through puzzle-solving. From its first publication in 1962, this work has been widely criticized. Bernard Lonergan, however, was interested in Kuhn’s ideas. Like Kuhn, Lonergan investigated the advancement of knowledge. Unlike Kuhn, Lonergan brought the knowing process down to the individual critical mind going through the general empirical method. Several key aspects distinguish Lonergan’s idea of a higher viewpoint from Kuhn’s notion of a revolution. The paper proposes a critical analysis of the works of both Thomas Kuhn and Bernard Lonergan. It presents a summary of the work of Kuhn and his notion of the paradigm. During this gradual growth of normal science, tension builds as anomalies arise. A crisis occurs which erupts into a revolutionary shift toward an incommensurately new realm of understanding. This perpetual cycle continues on, forgetting the past and grasping for what is yet undiscovered. This theory does not accurately describe the advancement of scientific knowledge. I will show how Kuhn strategically sidestepped controversial scientific issues. I will then compare Lonergan’s work to Kuhn’s by pointing out the corresponding aspects as well as the differences. Instead of an outside paradigmatic structure dictating the inner, investigative drive of a community of scientists, Lonergan’s method is inside out. He describes an individual’s personal, detached, disinterested, pure desire to know the truth. The joint work with others then leads to ever higher viewpoints. The conclusion is that Lonergan does not fall into the same mistakes as Kuhn because he takes into account the larger context of the total human person ever seeking a more perfect and true knowledge.
Jen Kendall, Ethics, Emergent Probability, and Freedom
This paper compares Kant and Lonergan on ethics and proposes that their respective worldviews – determinism and emergent probability – bear great significance for their ethics and for knowing what it means to live a good human life. In short, Lonergan’s ethics is different from Kant’s in two fundamental ways: their views on the natural sciences and their positions on human knowing (with the latter shaping their understanding of the former). Thus, Lonergan’s ethics are different from Kant’s because he differs from Kant when it comes to the natural sciences; and he differs from Kant regarding science because he differs from Kant on human knowing. This will have ramifications on their approaches toward freedom, and subsequently, ethics:
Kant needed to identify an activity of the human being that escaped the inherent determinism of natural science as he understood it. But Lonergan is saying there is not an inherent determinism in natural science in the first place…And that means that the world Kant saw as threatening human freedom and human dignity is for Lonergan not an issue. Patrick Byrne, Class Lecture, “Kant and Lonergan,” April 16, 2009.)
Lonergan employs the method of intentionality analysis to discover what scientists are doing when they are doing knowing. Upon examining classical and statistical investigations, Lonergan arrives at a startling conclusion – the universe is not solely composed of systematic processes, but rather, is also full of nonsystematic processes. This ultimately leads to emergent probability (of which the paper provides images by turning to the graphic novel, Watchmen), an explanatory worldview that points to the radical openness and dynamism of our universe. Particularly important to escaping determinism is Lonergan’s discovery of statistical residues.
Next, the paper compares the two thinkers on human freedom, proposing that their worldviews again prove crucial. Lonergan distinguishes between essential and effective freedom (Lonergan, Insight 643). Kant is concerned with the former while Lonergan focuses on the latter, as essential freedom is of little to no purpose if we are not effectively free. This leads to the problem of liberation. Recognition of this problem is critical for better human living. Precisely because our world is not deterministic and because it is emergent probability that is the intelligibility of our universe, what is of the utmost importance is effective freedom. It makes no difference if we are essentially free and leave our history and the movement of our history up to mere chance. The universe will continue to move and emerge whether our not we take up our historical vocation of directing it. The paper concludes by turning to higher integrations as the solution to the problem of liberation, which includes a discussion of God’s role and the supernatural solution.
Clayton Shoppa, Earth and Residue
The paper proposes a preliminary incursion into the various latent connections between Heidegger and Lonergan, perhaps beginning a larger project on the two, the focus of which will be the earth and world of Heidegger’s “Origin of the Work of Art” and Lonergan on the empirical residue.
The two thinkers ostensibly differ in their commitments, approaches, and projects, whether phenomenological or poetic ontology or the critical realism of the generalized empirical method, but they also proceed from at least some common assumptions reflecting their shared Aristotelian and Medieval indebtedness.
The paper treats the self-sheltering function of the earth, its abiding consistency conditioning worldly disclosure, as an analogical image for understanding the residue of the empirical left behind by the act of understanding. Insights prescind from the random “material” of the particular as such to grasp, as by Thomas’s agent intellect, the intelligible of the particular as universal. What is excluded is denied that same intelligibility in a way relevantly similar to the way the earth, in Heidegger’s post-phenomenological poetics of being, shelters itself. Knowing that the earth shelters itself requires us to bring the earth up to the clearing of the world, which, in Lonergan’s language, amounts to the inverse insight about the unintelligibility of what must remain empirically residual.
The paper concludes with some brief remarks highlighting the important etymological and philosophical connection of residue and the Latin residuum or residere as related to Heidegger on dwelling, on being at home where explanation fails.
Eric Morelli, Understanding Insight and Attending to Experience: A Dialectical Examination of Two Articles by Frederick E. Crowe
Early in this decade Frederick Crowe published two articles, ‘For a Phenomenology of Rational Consciousness’ and ‘The Puzzle of the Subject as Subject in Lonergan,’ in which he advances three philosophical and three historical claims: (1) that we cannot get a direct insight into insight but must settle for an imperfect ‘insight by proxy’; (2) that we cannot attend to the subject as subject but must settle for an imperfect access to the subject through a proxy; (3) that, because of the ways formulated in theses (1) and (2) in which the data of consciousness escapes intelligent grasp, the reality of the subject and so a part of being may be ‘heteromorphic’ with knowing; (1’) that, after the publication of Insight, Lonergan became aware of the problems involved in understanding insight and attending to the subject; (2’) that he found their solutions in the form of insight and attention by proxy; and (3’) that the direction of Lonergan’s thought points toward the possibility that subjectivity is “heteromorphic” with knowing. If these claims are true, then the aim of Insight is unattainable, and the core of Lonergan’s metaphysics and subsequent philosophy, transcendental method, must be rejected as the product of fanciful speculation. The gravity of these claims combined with the authority of their source has caused a stir, and the paper attempts to set the record straight. It is argued that Crowe’s analyses of insight and subjectivity are radically wrongheaded, and that a review of the documents Crowe cites as well as other loci classici and archival material reveals that Lonergan’s thought never underwent the development Crowe claims it did. Finally, Morelli explains dialectically how Crowe may have arrived at his counterpositional claims in order to render his mistakes more intelligible and to protect against the tendencies present in each of us to repeat them.
Gregorio Montejo, The Dynamic Structure of Human Knowing in the Theandric Person of Christ According to St. Thomas Aquinas and Bernard J.F. Lonergan
Luke 2:52 states that Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God progressed in wisdom, age, and grace. The Council of Chalcedon’s formulation of the hypostatic union states that in Christ one and the same person is both fully divine and fully human, so that while he is one and the same, his two natures are distinct, unchanged, and unconfused. Thomas Aquinas takes into account the full implications of the hypostatic union by affirming that Jesus Christ, according to his divine nature, enjoyed divine knowledge, but also exercised his human cognitional capacities to acquire experiential knowledge. Aquinas recognizes that human knowing encompasses a twofold operation of the mind; an act of understanding that grasps the intelligibility of data, and an act of judgment through which the truth of understanding is verified. For Thomas, if the theandric person of Christ is both God and man then he must not only possess beatific knowledge but exercise the natural operations of the human intellect as well. Bernard Lonergan furthers this recognition of the incarnate Word’s human knowledge by positing an analogy between the ontological and psychological constitution of Christ, so that just as there is one divine person who subsists in two natures, so there is also one divine subject of two consciousnesses. As the Word is the subject of divine consciousness based upon the divine nature common to all three persons of the Trinity he knows the ineffable mystery of God’s essence, yet as man Jesus ventures through his human cognitional abilities towards a formulation of effable human knowledge. Christ’s task then is to grow in wisdom, age, and knowledge (Luke 2:52), so that he can manifest and communicate the divine mystery in an incarnate way. However, the question remains as to the precise interaction between Christ’s beatific knowledge and his human knowledge. In this paper I explore the Thomist notion that the structure of the human mind in its teleological orientation to beatific knowledge cannot be known except as the subject reflects on its operations in coming-to-know the Trinitarian Mystery, coupled with Lonergan’s development of the psychological analogy between the intelligible emanations of human consciousness and the Divine precessions. I argue that in the theandric person of Christ there is a relation between the human operations of intellectual, rational, and moral consciousness manifested in judgments of value, and carried out in acts of knowing and loving, with the Triune consciousness of the Father in a manner analogous to the grasp of sufficient evidence that necessitates judgment, with the Son in a consciousness analogous to the dependence of such judgment on the grasp of sufficient evidence, and with the Spirit in a consciousness analogous to the dependence of the act of love on the grasp of sufficient evidence and rational affirmation. Thus, the mission of the God-man is to embody and communicate incarnationally the intellectual, moral, and affective self-transcendence that is the elevation of the human subject to the Trinitarian life of God.
Kirstin Carlson, Edith Stein’s Contribution to Lonergan’s Account of Individual Bias
Edith Stein’s account of intersubjectivity in her Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities can enrich Lonergan’s account of ‘individual bias’ (i.e., the bias of the egoist) as presented in Chapter 7 of Insight. Lonergan there diagnoses individual bias primarily as a lack of intellectual development, for the egoist sustains his self-interested perspective only by refusing to raise the questions that would render it inadequate. While Lonergan’s analysis is arguably both accurate and important, I incorporate Edith Stein’s work on intersubjectivity to show that the egoist’s resistance to relevant questions is only possible insofar as he dulls his affective responsiveness to the subjectivity of others. I use Stein to show that individual bias essentially involves a refusal to cultivate our capacity for sympathy, and as such, it involves a lack of development that is affective/intersubjective as well as intellectual.
Lonergan himself indicates that egoism involves a refusal of affective/intersubjective development when he claims that egoist position can only be maintained by overcoming the drive of intelligence as well as the ‘spontaneous demands of intersubjectivity’ (246). But it is precisely the nature of spontaneous intersubjectivity, what its demand is, and the sense in which its demand can be overcome, that I employ Stein to help elucidate. The ambiguity on these points, I believe, rests on the unstated relationship between Lonergan’s observations that: 1) each individual’s desires have an insistence for her that the desires of another can never have and, 2) each individual’s desires spontaneously resonate with the desires of others. Because Lonergan affirms that we are by nature social animals, he thereby insists that one’s spontaneous desires can never be purely egoistic. Still, he leaves unexplained just how and why some have a wider sympathy than others, and just in what sense and to what degree our spontaneity is intersubjective.
Thus, a central objective of the paper is to draw upon Stein’s phenomenological analyses of the psychic/sentient and mental dimensions of human persons in order to delineate the ways in which we are unavoidably responsive to others, on the one hand, and the extent to which we can develop or hamper this natural responsivity, on the other. The paper then shows the extent to which the egoist’s spontaneity must be intersubjectively influenced, but also shows that the egoist essentially cannot allow the kind of spontaneity involved in the conscious sharing of life that occurs between those who are fully open to one another’s subjectivity. More specifically, I show that it is only by disallowing another’s subjectivity to fully register within his own life that the egoist can ignore the relevant questions with relative calm. The paper concludes by arguing that that the egoist’s spontaneity and intelligence work together to maintain individual bias: it is an ill-formed, self-oriented spontaneity that ties the egoist’s intelligence to a restricted sphere, and it is the detached stance afforded by intelligence that the egoist uses to ‘objectify’ others so as to manipulate them for his own ends, thereby limiting the scope of his spontaneous/affective responsiveness.
Rohan Curnow, Understanding of the Preferential Option for the Poor within Bernard Lonergan’s Historical-Theological Framework
Perhaps the most famous criticism of so-called transcendental method’s agnosticism towards history is perhaps J.B. Metz’s evaluation of Karl Rahner’s work, that he ‘wins the race without running it’. Perhaps in the same vein, Latin American theologians have explicitly commented on Lonergan’s work. At a 1975 congress in Mexico City, the proceedings of which were published as Liberación y cautiverio, Lonergan’s work on method was heavily criticised. Hugo Assmann contended that Lonergan’s theology does not lead to history. José Comblin made two negative assessments one of which was glib, whilst the other was scathing. The first claimed that if medieval theologians had to engage in the task of theology as Lonergan envisaged it, they would not have stuck at the theological task for even fifteen minutes. The second suggested that Lonergan’s thought was made to order for the task of supporting the ideologies of Latin America’s juntas and dictatorships. In the light of these criticisms—and I am sure there are more—the paper presents an investigation of the understanding of the preferential option for the poor that is possible from within Lonergan’s broader historically sensitive theological framework. The author suspects that his stance is in fact incredibly potent, and would like to use this conference to gain feedback on this suspicion with an eye to more fully treating the issue in his dissertation. He anticipates that he would draw a focus on Lonergan’s notion of foundations, and also his understanding of history. In pursuing the investigation, he uses Lonergan’s Method in Theology, but also draws on Robert Doran’s two major works Theology and the Dialectics of History, and What is Systematic Theology?