Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Eye of the Heart

Eye of the Heart: Knowing the Human Good in the Euthanasia Debate

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 430
  • Book Info
    Eye of the Heart
    Book Description:

    What is the role of feelings in the euthanasia debate? This is the central question in William F. Sullivan's unique philosophical and ethical exploration of the issue,Eye of the Heart. Employing the principles and techniques of the great Canadian theologian and thinker Bernard Lonergan, Sullivan offers a concrete examination of the role of feelings in grasping moral values and the key role that feelings play in ethical decision-making. The heart has its reasons, he argues convincingly, and it is a type of reason that bioethicists, philosophers, and legal scholars all need to know.

    Sullivan draws on his experiences as a practicing physician to analyse the distinguishing elements of human knowing, illustrating them through common examples of decision-making in health care. He highlights the occurrence of various types of insight, particularly 'deliberative insights' that occur in the process of making value judgments. These deliberative insights are affective, and through them, a person apprehends moral values.

    Eye of the Heartproposes that feelings are relevant to knowing moral values and orient us towards moral self-transcendence. The implications of this stance in ethics are drawn out for the euthanasia debate.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7476-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  3. Abbreviated Titles
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
    Michael Vertin

    In a book that he published in 1972, Canadian philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan proposed a technique for managing and even profiting from the complexity that invariably bedevils advanced studies. He labelled the technique ′functional specialization.′ Though he developed it for the discipline of theology in particular, Lonergan envisioned functional specialization as potentially fruitful for any scholarly or scientific discipline, as well as for the complete set of such disciplines.¹

    Essentially, functional specialization is a particular way of organizing an investigative enterprise. We can illuminate it by comparing it with two other approaches.Fieldspecialization organizes the investigation in terms...


    • 1 The Euthanasia Debate and the Problem of a Philosophy of Heart: Questions, Context, and Arguments
      (pp. 3-24)

      Two questions have motivated my research for this work. First, what role does affect or ‘heart’ play in evaluations or value judgments?¹ Second, what are some of the ramifications of the stance taken on this question by the Canadian philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan for the euthanasia debate?² In response to the first question, I will set forth and critically reflect upon Lonergan’s contention that ‘apprehensions [of values] are given in feelings.’³ Subsequently, I will critically affirm the accuracy of Lonergan’s account and use it to provide a detailed analysis of my own performance as a physician in making fact...


    • 2 Affective Elements of Two End-of-Life Stories and the Euthanasia Debate
      (pp. 27-56)

      At the heart of the euthanasia debate are stories of particular individuals who have personally faced the question of whether they should intentionally end their lives by some active means, that is, by some form of active voluntary euthanasia. My hypothesis is that a key insight into different conclusions persons might reach on the personal question of euthanasia is that those conclusions are correlated with differences regarding the affective elements that underpin them. Moreover, I will argue later that the divided public view of this matter also, at least in part, correlates with different views regarding the relevance and role...


    • 3 Historical Views on the Relevance and Role of Emotions in the Moral Life
      (pp. 59-86)

      The goal of this chapter is to highlight some of the historical discussion on the relevance and role of affecdvity in value judgments and to situate Lonergan’s position within this spectrum of views.

      The issue is not new and has been raised by major thinkers within and beyond Western philosophical traditions.¹ In this chapter I will sample a range of historical positions answering the question ‘What is an emotion?’ In each case I will indicate whether the thinker whose ideas I survey considers emotions relevant to moral knowing, and if so, whether the content of such knowing is ever epistemically...


    • 4 Lonergan on Cognitional Structure: A Phenomenology of Mind
      (pp. 89-115)

      As I noted in chapter 1, Bernard Lonergan (1904–1984) was a Canadianborn Jesuit philosopher and theologian, whose best-known writings areInsight: A Study of Human Understanding(1957) andMethod in Theology(1972). As William Fennell points out in theCanadian Encyclopedia, Lonergan’s principal contribution lay in the area of method, where he demonstrated ‘the methodical interrelation of the natural and social sciences, philosophy and theology.’¹ Lonergan’s view of the basis for this methodological unity is his critical-realist cognitional theory. Central to Lonergan’s realism is his claim, which I will elaborate presently, thatobjectivity(toward which thinkers in various disciplines...

    • 5 Lonergan on Cognitional Objectivity: An Epistemology and Metaphysics of Mind
      (pp. 116-136)

      In the previous chapter I gave an exposition of Lonergan’s answer to what he takes to be the first of three basic questions for philosophy, namely, the phenomenological question, ‘What am I doing when I am knowing facts?’ His answer was that when I am knowing facts I engage in a series of complementary cognitional acts of experiencing, understanding, and judging. In the present chapter I will continue to focus on judging and address Lonergan’s second basic question, which is the epistemological question, ‘How does engaging in the phenomenon of judging result in epistemically valid knowing?’ That is, how does...

    • 6 Lonergan on the Role of Affect in Evaluations: A Phenomenology of Heart
      (pp. 137-169)

      From the account of the phenomenology and epistemology ofmindI no move to a phenomenology and epistemology ofheart. In this chapter I seek to highlight Lonergan’s view regarding where, as a matter of phenomenal fact, feelings enter into our cognitive processes in general and, more particularly, where they enter into our apparent knowledge of actual or possible values.¹

      Although I will distinguish between the knowing mind and heart, I want to begin by emphasizing the fact that feelings and evaluations first emerge in concrete living. The distinctions I will be making between knowing facts and knowing values, and...

    • 7 Lonergan on the Objectivity of Evaluations: An Epistemology and Metaphysics of Heart
      (pp. 170-200)

      In chapter 4 I examined Lonergan’s answer to the phenomenological question, ‘What am I doing when I am knowingfacts.’ In chapter 5 I considered Lonergan’s second basic question for philosophy, which is the epistemological question, ‘How does this process of experiencing, understanding, and judging yield genuine knowledge of facts?’ In chapter 6 I extended the phenomenological analysis of knowing facts or judging to include those cognitive activities of evaluating, by means of which one comes to knowvalues. In this chapter I will provide an account of how, according to Lonergan, this purported knowledge is sometimes genuine. Lonergan’s answer...


    • 8 A Critical Assessment of Lonerganʼs Account of the Role of Affect in Evaluations
      (pp. 203-232)

      In this chapter I shall summarize and critically assess Lonergan’s philosophical contributions to the global question of how and where feelings enter into evaluations. In the next chapter I will draw out some practical implications of his position for how one ought to understand and assess particular evaluations that prompt persons to consider euthanasia.

      I will pursue the goal of assessing Lonergan’s position in two ways. The first way will be to summarize his position as a response to a series of questions that regard the role of feelings in evaluations, and the consequent epistemic status of such evaluations. This...

    • 9 Ramifications of Lonerganʼs Position for the Euthanasia Debate
      (pp. 233-270)

      The goal of the present chapter is to engage the polemical euthanasia debate and to make a positive and original contribution to the debate itself. I hope to highlight how accepting Lonergan’s account of cognitional and decisional subjectivity has important ramifications for understanding and appraising key evaluations that are at the centre of medical-ethical debates such as that on euthanasia. More specifically, I will highlight some ramifications of Lonergan’s position for the euthanasia debate on three distinct levels: first, for understanding and assessing particular stories from which requests for euthanasia might arise; second, for the ethical debate concerning such requests;...

    • 10 Ramifications of Lonerganʼs Stance on the Eye of the Heart for Philosophy and for the Euthanasia Debate
      (pp. 271-293)

      I began this discussion with two questions that have motivated my research: ‘What role does affect orheartplay in value judgments?’ and ‘What are some implications of Lonergan’s stance on the role of affectivity in value judgments for the euthanasia debate?’ With these two questions in mind, then, I shall now attempt to draw together the various strands of the discussion by first recapitulating Lonergan’s theory of value judging, which affirms both the role of affect in evaluations and the possibility that such evaluations, like fact judgments, can be epistemically objective, and then go on to specify in my...

  11. Aferword
    (pp. 294-304)

    Following this analysis of the cognitional role of affect in knowing the human good, using the euthanasia debate as an illustration, some readers may still be inclined to ask what remains for them the crucially important question: ‘So what?’ What, if anything, does all this analysis and its application to the euthanasia debate mean or matter? More particularly, what does it mean or matter for those working in the empirical fields of medicine, psychology, and related health-care professions; for those working in the more general or theoretical fields of philosophy, theology, and related disciplines; for those working in fields such...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 305-312)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 313-390)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 391-398)
  15. Index
    (pp. 399-407)