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Hermeneutics and Method

Hermeneutics and Method: A Study of the 'Universal Viewpoint' in Bernard Lonergan

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 336
  • Book Info
    Hermeneutics and Method
    Book Description:

    Using the Thomist notion of wisdom as a key for interpretation, Coelho traces the flowering of the universal viewpoint into a mature theological method ? one that holds out the hope of an effective transcultural mediation of meanings and values.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7569-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Ivo Coelho
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Our aim is to study the development of Bernard Lonergan’s notion of the universal viewpoint, and we may begin by trying to indicate just what is meant by the term universal viewpoint. When it first appears in chapter 17 ofInsight,¹ the notion of the universal viewpoint is a heuristic structure or an a priori for interpretation. Very simply, a heuristic structure is a cognitional tool enabling discovery of an unknown. The famousxused in algebra as a name for the unknown quantity that is sought is an elementary example of a heuristic notion. The point to be grasped...


    • 1 Early Anticipations of the Universal Viewpoint
      (pp. 17-30)

      We begin by examining three notions from Lonergan’s early writings that seem to be early anticipations of the universal viewpoint: the ‘pure form of speculative development’ found in the introductory pages of his doctoral dissertation (1940),¹ the technique of psychological introspection found in theVerbumarticles (1946–49),² and the notion of wisdom, also to be found in theVerbumarticles. As has been indicated in the Introduction, this is a line of research suggested by Crowe; whether or not it pays off should become evident as we go along.

      TheGratia Operansintroduction presents the problem of interpretation as...

    • 2 The Universal Viewpoint: Background Notions
      (pp. 31-48)

      The universal viewpoint is a heuristic structure that is introduced and discussed in a chapter ofInsightentitled ‘Metaphysics as Dialectic.’ Accordingly, an examination of the notion of heuristic structures in general and of dialectical heuristic structure in particular, of the method of metaphysics and of metaphysics as dialectic, will serve to establish the general context of the universal viewpoint. It wil be seen further that all four topics have to do in some way with wisdom, and so the present chapter serves also as a link between the pure form of speculative development, the technique of psychological introspection, and...

    • 3 The Universal Viewpoint in Chapter 17 of Insight
      (pp. 49-77)

      The immediate context of the universal viewpoint is hermeneutical method, while its larger context is dialectical metaphysics. But dialectical metaphysics has already been examined in the previous chapter, and so the present chapter need only situate the universal viewpoint within the context of hermeneutical method. However, this hermeneutical method itself follows from theories of objectivity and meaning.¹ Accordingly, the present chapter begins with the theories of meaning and objectivity presupposed by hermeneutical method, goes on to discuss hermeneutical method itself, and finally takes up the notion of the universal viewpoint.

      The psychological introspection of theVerbumarticles, besides being a...

    • 4 Expansion and Transformation of the Universal Viewpoint
      (pp. 78-98)

      The universal viewpoint established in chapter 17 on the level of a metaphysics of proportionate being undergoes an expansion and a transformation in the final chapters ofInsight. Theexpansionoccurs when the metaphysics of proportionate being opens out in chapter 19 into a metaphysics of being in general. Thetransformationis prepared by chapters 19 and 20, but mention of the theologically transformed universal viewpoint is to be found only in the epilogue. Examination of this expansion and transformation will serve both to corroborate the conclusions of our previous chapter and to set the stage for successive chapters, for...


    • 5 Upper Blade for Hermeneutics or History
      (pp. 101-112)

      Part One has studied the universal viewpoint in the context ofInsight. Part Two asks about the universal viewpoint in the period from 1954 (the completion ofInsight) to about 1968. While a more natural break-off point might have been the ‘breakthrough’ to the set of eight functional specialties in February 1965, I have thought it better to include in Part Two not only the ‘breakthrough’ but also the ‘encirclement,’ at least as far as the acquisition of new theological foundations is concerned.¹

      The epilogue ofInsighthad mentioned a historical theology which operated from the firmer and broader base...

    • 6 Basic Context
      (pp. 113-124)

      In contrast toDe intellectu et methodo(1959), which introduced the problem of method in various ways before going on to a consideration of method itself,De methodo theologiae(1962) dispenses with preliminaries and straight-away presents general notions concerning method.¹ Only after that does it go on to determine the questions or problems.² This is done in two steps. The first problematic³ is rooted in ‘basic antitheses,’ and is concerned with the status of theology as a science.⁴ This, it would seem, is a new way of stating the problem of the chasm and the question of the relevance of...

    • 7 Methodical Horizon
      (pp. 125-132)

      The writings of 1962 revealed the replacement of ‘universal viewpoint’ by ‘basic context.’ The texts of 1963 instead contain clear indications of a shift from the language of ‘viewpoint’ to that of ‘horizon.’ The notion of horizon features in practically all the articles, lectures, and courses of 1963. This notion was first introduced in the 1957 lectures on existentialism.¹ In 1962 it was objective rather than subjective, for it was described as ‘the world, the totality of objects with which one can promptly deal in virtue of one’s acquired habits.’² In 1963 instead it is described as being fixed by...

    • 8 New Theological Foundations
      (pp. 133-148)

      In our conclusions at the end of chapter 4 we had noted two sources of tension in the post-Insightperiod, the first being the involvement of the universal viewpoint in faculty psychology, and the second the elements of classical fundamental theology in the theological transformation of the universal viewpoint. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 have revealed the attempts to make a consistent shift from faculty psychology to interiority analysis and the effect of these on the universal viewpoint. The present chapter instead will focus on the attempt to overcome the classical notion of theology and its effect on theological transformation...


    • 9 Transcendental Method
      (pp. 151-158)

      In Part Two we have seen how the universal viewpoint is replaced by the basic context of 1962, and then how its functions are taken over by the total and basic horizon or methodical horizon of 1963. Subsequently, we saw that the notion of horizon seemed to become marginal, while transcendental method gained ascendancy. In the present chapter we will ask about the precise relationship between the methodical horizon of 1963 and transcendental method, and we will do this by following the vicissitudes of the term horizon, first in the (mostly unpublished) material of the years 1964–67, and then...

    • 10 Research, Interpretation, History
      (pp. 159-173)

      By 1969, the ‘Background’ chapters ofMethod in Theologyare stable, except for the position of the chapter on functional specialties, which will shift in 1970 from chapter 2 to chapter 5. The ‘Foreground’ is presented for the first time, though as yet the chapters ‘Doctrines,’ ‘Systematics,’ and ‘Communications’ have not appeared. ‘Horizons and Categories’ is moved from the ‘Background’ to the ‘Foreground,’ and is now chapter xi.

      An early draft of the chapter on research may be found in a text entitled ‘MiT vii: The Tasks of Theology.’¹ ‘Ch. vi: Research’ (1969) is practically identical to this text.


    • 11 Dialectic and Foundations
      (pp. 174-188)

      We may recall that in 1965, while the fifth specialty was foundations, the fourth specialty was not dialectic but conversion, and dialectical method formed part of the functional specialty history. A chapter ii entitled ‘The Tasks of Theology,’ dated probably 1966 or 1967, indicates that this situation remains unchanged, but also reveals that the fourth functional specialty, conversion, is itself somehow concerned with dialectic.¹ The text speaks of ‘a single if dialectical view’ or ‘a comprehensive view’ of different types and measures of conversion; such a comprehensive view would provide foundations for theology that would be ecumenical and not merely...

    • 12 The Universal Viewpoint in Method in Theology
      (pp. 189-205)

      The relationship of the universal viewpoint to transcendental method depends on the relationship between methodical horizon and transcendental method. But the latter relationship is not yet clear, for chapter 7 suggested a link between methodical horizon and transcendental method and chapter 9 confirmed that link but was unable to clarify its exact nature. A first task is, therefore, to clarify the link between methodical horizon and transcendental method.

      We begin by clarifying the meaning of transcendental method inMethod in Theology. The first chapter ofMethoddescribes transcendental method thus:

      [I]t is a heightening of consciousness that brings to light...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 206-216)

    Our aim has been to study the development of Lonergan’s notion of the universal viewpoint in the period extending fromInsighttoMethod, and at this point our conclusions might be summed up in terms of (1) an interpretation of the notion of the universal viewpoint that upholds Lonergan’s self-interpretation through the simple expedient of a better grasp of the notion of heuristic structures and of its roots in wisdom; (2) an outline of the development of the notion of the universal viewpoint, which also illuminates several points of detail such as the fate of scientific interpretation inMethod, the...

  10. Appendix A: Archival Material: Chronology
    (pp. 217-220)
  11. Appendix B: A Note on the Emergence of Chapters 7–11 of Method in Theology
    (pp. 221-222)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 223-292)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-322)
  14. Index
    (pp. 323-345)