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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan

Hugo A. Meynell
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan
    Book Description:

    An excellent introductory survey which combines brevity, lucidity and adequate documentation with critical reflection.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1675-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-ix)
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Of all contemporary philosophers of the very first rank, Bernard Lonergan has been up to now the most neglected. In what follows I shall attempt to summarise his philosophical position, in such a way that attention may be drawn to it from a wider audience than has been so far forthcoming.

    In my own opinion,Insight,the largest work Lonergan has written, is at a conservative estimate one of the half-dozen or so most important philosophical books to have appeared in the course of the present century. Thoroughly understand what it is to understand, and not only will you understand...

  6. 1 Elements of Insight
    (pp. 9-16)

    Insight is a phenomenon with which everyone is acquainted at least to some extent. It occurs whenever anyone comes to understand anything. It is a release from the tension of inquiry, and is apt to come suddenly and unexpectedly (when, as it were, the pieces of the puzzle which one had been working at apparently in vain suddenly fall into place). Once acquired, an insight is not readily lost, but becomes part of the habitual texture of one’s mind. A good paradigm case of the occurrence of an insight is provided by the famous story of Archimedes. He had been...

  7. 2 Scientific Insight
    (pp. 17-47)

    Galileo’s discovery of the law of falling bodies is at once a model of scientific procedure, and notably similar to the process already described ‘from the image of a cartwheel to the definition of a circle’. Just as we started from the clue of the equality of the spokes, so Galileo ‘supposed that some correlation was to be found between the measurable aspects of falling bodies’. Then he did three things: he showed by experiment the wrongness of the old view that the speed of their fall varied with their weight; turned his attention to two measurable aspects of a...

  8. 3 The Method of Metaphysics
    (pp. 48-88)

    The central principle of Lonergan’s epistemology is that knowledge is what is to be had by the threefold process of experiencing, understanding, and judging, and that reality is simply what is to be known by this process. There is presupposed in this account not only the mere flux of experience, as in the radical empiricism derived from Hume which has been thoroughly worked out by twentieth-century logical positivism, but also the inquiring intelligence which puts questions and expects answers. ‘The Humean world of mere impressions comes to me as a puzzle to be pieced together.’¹ To follow through this viewpoint...

  9. 4 The Problem of Interpretation
    (pp. 89-107)

    ‘If Descartes has imposed on subsequent philosophers a requirement of rigorous method, Hegel has obliged them not only to account for their own views but also to explain the existence of contrary convictions and opinions.’² It seems that all philosophies, both actual and possible, rest on cognitional activity either as correctly conceived or as distorted by oversights and mistaken orientations. We ask the question whether there is a single basis from which any philosophical theory or system can be interpreted rightly, and we argue that our cognitional analysis provides such a basis. ‘In this fashion, thea priorielement of...

  10. 5 Practical Reasoning
    (pp. 108-130)

    As has already been said, insight is as significant in practical living and the area covered by common sense as it is in philosophy and the sciences. In the affairs of daily life as well as in abstruse theoretical matters, one may get the point or fail to get it. It is in practical matters too, particularly those pertaining to the individual’s moral character and the place in the human community at large of his class and group, that a more or less deliberateflight from insightis apt to occur. (Self-knowledge is a difficult and painful business; there are...

  11. 6 God and Philosophy
    (pp. 131-141)

    We have seen how the ‘self-appropriation of one’s own intellectual and rational self-consciousness begins as cognitional theory’, and ‘expands into a metaphysics and an ethics’. It remains to be seen how it ‘mounts to a conception and an affirmation of God, only to be confronted with a problem of evil that demands the transformation of self-reliant intelligence into anintellectus quaerens fidem’ (an understanding seeking for faith).² An analysis of the nature of human understanding, and so of the world of existing things that confronts that understanding and is gradually mastered by it, leads to the conception of an ‘unrestricted...

  12. Lonergan and the Problems of Contemporary Philosophy
    (pp. 142-168)

    Lonergan’s work is concerned with the central philosophical issues of ontology and epistemology, and consequently has relevance to most of the questions with which philosophers are characteristically concerned. To avoid inordinate length, this chapter will amount to little more than a series of notes and suggestions. It will be convenient to divide it into comments on(a)Lonergan’s theory of science,(b)his epistemology and metaphysics,(c)his moral philosophy, and(d)his philosophy of religion.

    Lonergan’s philosophy as a whole might be summarised as a thorough working-out of the following maxim. Reality, or the concrete universe, is the goal...

  13. Afterword
    (pp. 169-184)

    It may be wondered what the bearings of Lonergan’s thought are on the most recent work in philosophy, of the kind which has held the centre of the stage over the late 1970s and the 1980s. Very characteristic of this philosophy has been scepticism about the possibility of providing foundations of a philosophical nature for knowledge, morality or culture in general. Indeed, the conviction that the search for such foundations rests on a mistake could be said to constitute the central conviction of what has been called ‘postanalytic philosophy.’¹ In this respect, the trend of the style of philosophy which...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 185-186)

    It will be evident, from what I have written here, that, unless I am very much mistaken, Lonergan’s philosophy is one of the outstanding achievements of our time, and applicable to a vast range of pressing intellectual, moral, social, political, educational and religious problems. Its neglect up to the present seems to me both astonishing and deplorable. Practitioners of the relevant fields of inquiry on the whole do not attempt either to use or to refute Lonergan’s arguments, but take the simpler course of failing to advert to their existence. If this short introduction does anything at all to reverse...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 187-204)
  16. Glossary
    (pp. 205-209)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 210-221)
  18. Index
    (pp. 222-224)