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Philosophical Encounters

Philosophical Encounters: Lonergan and the Analytic Tradition

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 250
  • Book Info
    Philosophical Encounters
    Book Description:

    Philosophical Encountersdefends Lonergan from the kind of attacks typically made against his position and conveys something of the deep influences on Lonergan?s mind that help to account for its distinctiveness.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7842-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    It was apparently George Bernard Shaw who observed that the United States and Great Britain are two nations separated by a common language. Something similar might be said of the two systems of philosophy that are the focus of attention in this volume – Anglo-American analytic philosophy and the Thomist critical realism expounded by Bernard Lonergan. For these are two philosophies separated by a common set of terms. Each of the two, for example, speaks of idea, logic, existence, data, introspection, and the correspondence theory of truth, but each attaches a quite distinct and differing meaning or role to each of...


    • 1 The Structure of Cognition
      (pp. 13-34)

      I shall begin by saying what we are doing when we come to know something and then go on to explain why doing that is knowing. The first task is largely descriptive, taking note of the process we go through when achieving knowledge. It is something that teachers in particular – people who are professionally involved in the business of helping others to achieve understanding and knowledge – should recognize fairly easily. The second task is explanatory. As explanatory it becomes prescriptive, because once we have achieved an explanation of why something constitutes knowledge it is possible to discriminate between legitimate and...


    • 2 Epistemology: Lonergan and Hume
      (pp. 37-51)

      It is striking how the two philosophers Lonergan and Hume set out on similar enterprises and with remarkably similar tactics. On tactics, Lonergan quotes with approval Hume’s remarks in the Introduction toA Treatise of Human Naturethat ‘one does not conquer a territory by taking here an outpost and there a town or village but by marching directly upon the capital and assaulting its citadel.’¹ Hume’s intentions at the outset of his enterprise are clearly stated in the same Introduction:

      ’Tis evident, that all the sciences have a relation, greater or less, to human nature; and that however wide...

    • 3 The Notion of Belief: Lonergan, Needham, and Hampshire
      (pp. 52-63)

      Human intersubjectivity, Lonergan argues, is something that occurs spontaneously in a variety of contexts.¹ I preface an account of his notion of belief with this remark lest the misleading impression be given that Lonergan believes all intersubjective communication to be rational and premeditated. More than most modern philosophers, he is aware of community-feeling and fellow-feeling, of psychic contagion and emotional identification – of forms of interaction that are not the object simply of choice or decision. Moreover, he is aware of the irrational forces that can inhibit or block the path towards the accumulation of insights and sound judgments.²

      Lonergan’s account...

    • 4 Subjectivity and Objectivity: Lonergan and Polanyi
      (pp. 64-74)

      The relation between subjectivity and objectivity is rightly coming under scrutiny in present-day studies in the humanities, since it brings critical reflection to bear on a split or fissure that has deeply affected European culture over the past three or four hundred years. This split undergirds further dichotomies such as mind-body, inner-outer, and spiritual-material as well as the individual-society. It is the philosophical ally of that elevation to paradigm status of the logico-scientific model of knowledge, which has called in question traditional forms of human knowledge and belief incompatible with its declared method of verification in the moral, the religious,...

    • 5 Problems and Solutions: Lonergan and Russell
      (pp. 75-104)

      The reason for focusing on Russell in this chapter and on Wittgenstein in the next is that they above all have created the mould that has shaped the analytical tradition – they are its supreme architects. In this and the next chapter, I am going back to source. If we can understand Russell and Wittgenstein, we can begin to see where the analytic movement is coming from. Both men are giants of twentieth-century English-language philosophy, whose photographs, unusually for philosophers, would frequently be recognized by the averagehomo academicusif not by the man in the street. Russell’s face looks out...

    • 6 Descartes under Fire: Lonergan and Wittgenstein
      (pp. 105-146)

      To move from Russell to Wittgenstein is to move from clutter to clarity. While the content of Wittgenstein’sTractatus Logico-Philosophicus¹ is not always transparently clear, it is immediately obvious that immense pains have been taken over its form. The argument advances by means of a series of propositions set out in a studied order aimed at helping the reader to come to a methodical understanding of the position being advocated. Each major proposition is numbered and is supported by several subsidiary propositions whose numbers indicate how they relate to the major proposition. The whole work is carefully shaped, with a...

    • 7 Town Criers of Inwardness: Lonergan and Rorty
      (pp. 147-174)

      It is not surprising that the philosophy of Richard Rorty, as articulated in his much-acclaimed and widely influential workPhilosophy and the Mirror of Nature,¹ has attracted fairly extensive comment from followers of Bernard Lonergan.² For in season and out of season Lonergan attacks the notion that understanding is like looking, that knowledge is some kind of copy or representation of reality ‘out there,’ and that the mind is analogous to an inner or spiritual eye that does the looking. Rorty and Lonergan agree that the major Western epistemological tradition has for too long been dominated by what Rorty calls...


    • 8 Hume’s ‘Is-Ought’ Problem: A Solution
      (pp. 177-186)

      David Hume first raised the ‘is-ought’ problem in this famous passage fromA Treatise of Human Nature:

      I cannot forbear adding to these reasonings an observation which may perhaps, be found of some importance. In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark’d, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations conerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surpriz’d to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions,isandis not, I meet with no...

    • 9 Lonergan and Wittgenstein on Logic
      (pp. 187-195)

      The basic position on logic of Lonergan and Wittgenstein is that both greatly esteemed logic and considered logic important BUT ... It is limited in certain respects or its limitations came to be recognized ... One of Lonergan’s refrains inInsightis ‘logic is static, science is dynamic.’

      Logic is static. It can bring clarity to definitions, it can help towards a precise grasp of terms, it can aid in exploring the presuppositions and implications of a particular intellectual position, it can establish the validity of inference, and so forth. But logic is not the principle of movement, of development,...

    • 10 Education, Psychology, and Philosophy
      (pp. 196-210)

      Bernard Lonergan is one of those thinkers whom it is difficult to define and pin down with exactitude, a feature that does not serve him well in an age when we like to pigeon-hole our celebrities. Lonergan is usually referred to either as a theologian or as a philosopher and sometimes he is called a philosopher-theologian. He is also with good reason referred to as a methodologist. But there is a very good case to be made for the claim that he is – perhaps first and foremost – an educationist. By calling Lonergan an educationist I am not just referring to...

  7. Glossary of Key Terms
    (pp. 211-224)
  8. Bernard Lonergan: Biographical Note
    (pp. 225-228)
  9. Index
    (pp. 229-233)