Lonergan at Boston College
Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan
17 December 1904
Buckingham, Quebec, Canada
|Died||26 November 1984 79) (aged|
Pickering, Ontario, Canada
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Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan SJ CC (17 December 1904 – 26 November 1984) was a Canadian Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian, regarded by many as one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century.
The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church for men founded by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.
Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?
Lonergan's works include Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1972), as well as two studies of Thomas Aquinas, several theological textbooks, and numerous essays, including two posthumously published essays on macroeconomics. A projected 25-volume Collected Works is underway with the University of Toronto Press. He held appointments at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Regis College, Toronto, as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College, and as Stillman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.
Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole. This includes regional, national, and global economies. Macroeconomists study aggregated indicators such as GDP, unemployment rates, national income, price indices, and the interrelations among the different sectors of the economy to better understand how the whole economy functions. They also develop models that explain the relationship between such factors as national income, output, consumption, unemployment, inflation, saving, investment, energy, international trade, and international finance.
The Pontifical Gregorian University is a higher education ecclesiastical school located in Rome, Italy. It was originally a part of the Roman College founded in 1551 by Ignatius of Loyola, and included all grades of schooling. The university division of philosophy and theology of the Roman College was given Papal approval in 1556, making it the first university founded by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). In 1584 the Roman College was given a grandiose new home by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it was renamed. It was already making its mark not only in sacred but also in natural science.
Regis College is the Jesuit school of theology in Canada, associated with the University of Toronto. Founded in 1930, it is an entirely postgraduate college and a member institution of the Toronto School of Theology.
Lonergan set out to do for human thought in our time what Thomas Aquinas had done for his own time. Aquinas had successfully applied Aristotelian thought to the service of a Christian understanding of the universe.Lonergan's program was to come to terms with modern scientific, historical, and hermeneutical thinking in a comparable way. He pursued this program in his two most fundamental works, Insight and Method in Theology.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, Philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He is an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio, Italy.
The key to Lonergan's project is self-appropriation, that is, the personal discovery and personal embrace of the dynamic structure of inquiry, insight, judgment, and decision. By self-appropriation, one finds in one's own intelligence, reasonableness, and responsibility the foundation of every kind of inquiry and the basic pattern of operations undergirding methodical investigation in every field.
He is often associated—with his fellow Jesuits Karl Rahner and Joseph Maréchal—with "transcendental Thomism", i.e., a philosophy which attempts to combine Thomism with certain views or methods commonly associated with Kant's transcendental idealism.However, Lonergan did not regard this label as particularly helpful for understanding his intentions.
Karl Rahner was a German Jesuit priest and theologian who, alongside Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Yves Congar, is considered to be one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century. He was the brother of Hugo Rahner, also a Jesuit scholar.
Joseph Maréchal was a Belgian Jesuit priest, philosopher, theologian and psychologist. He taught at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Leuven and was the founder of the school of thought called transcendental Thomism, which attempted to merge the theological and philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas with that of Immanuel Kant.
Thomism is the philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work and thought of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. In philosophy, Aquinas' disputed questions and commentaries on Aristotle are perhaps his most well-known works. In theology, his Summa Theologica is one of the most influential documents in medieval theology and continues to be the central point of reference for the philosophy and theology of the Catholic Church. In the 1914 encyclical Doctoris Angelici Pope Pius X cautioned that the teachings of the Church cannot be understood without the basic philosophical underpinnings of Aquinas' major theses:
The capital theses in the philosophy of St. Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the whole science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church.
Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan was born on December 17, 1904, in Buckingham, Quebec, Canada. After four years at Loyola College (Montreal), he entered the Upper Canada (English) province of the Society of Jesus in 1922, and made his profession of vows on the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, July 31, 1924.After two further years of formation and education, he was assigned to study scholastic philosophy at Heythrop College, London, in 1926. Lonergan respected the competence and honesty of his professors at Heythrop, but was deeply dissatisfied with their Suarezian philosophy. While at Heythrop, Lonergan also took external degrees in mathematics and classics at the University of London. In 1930 he returned to Canada where he taught for three years at Loyola College, Montreal.
Buckingham is a town located in the Outaouais region in the western portion of the province of Quebec, Canada. Since 1 January 2002, it has been part of the amalgamated city of Gatineau, which merged five former municipalities, including Masson-Angers, Buckingham, Hull, Aylmer and Gatineau, into a single entity. According to the 2011 Census, the population of the town was 23,589.
Loyola College was an anglophone Jesuit college in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It ceased to exist when it was incorporated into Concordia University in 1974. A portion of the original college remains as a separate entity called Loyola High School.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian, who co-founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General at Paris in 1541. The Jesuit order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of special obedience to the sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions. They therefore emerged as an important force during the time of the Counter-Reformation.
In 1933, Lonergan was sent for theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1936. After a year of Jesuit formation ("tertianship") in Amiens, France, Lonergan returned to the Gregorian University in 1937 to pursue doctoral studies in theology. Due to the Second World War, he was whisked out of Italy and back to Canada in May, 1940, just two days before the scheduled defence of his doctoral dissertation. He began teaching theology at College de l'Immaculee Conception, the Jesuit theology faculty in Montreal in 1940, as well as the Thomas More Institute in 1945-46. In the event, he would not formally defend his dissertation and receive his doctorate until a special board of examiners from the Immaculee Conception was convened in Montreal on December 23, 1946.
Lonergan taught theology at Regis College from 1947 to 1953, and at the Gregorian University from 1953 to 1964. At the Gregorian, Lonergan taught Trinity and Christology in alternate years, and produced substantial textbooks on these topics. In 1964, he made another hasty return to North America, this time to be treated for lung cancer. He was appointed again to Regis College from 1965 to 1975, was Stillman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University in 1971-72, and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College from 1975 until 1983. He died at the Jesuit infirmary in Pickering, Ontario, on 26 November 1984.
Lonergan names Augustine and John Henry Newman as major influences upon his early thinking.J. A. Stewart's study of Plato's doctrine of ideas was also influential.
In the epilogue to Insight, Lonergan mentions the important personal transformation wrought in him by a decade's apprenticeship to the thought of Thomas Aquinas.He produced two major exegetical studies of Thomas Aquinas: Grace and Freedom, and Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas.
The University of Toronto Press is in the process of publishing Lonergan's work in a projected 25-volume series, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan. Archival materials are available at bernardlonergan.com.
Lonergan's doctoral dissertation was an exploration of the theory of operative grace in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. His director, Charles Boyer, S.J., pointed him to a passage in the Summa theologiae and suggested that the received interpretations were mistaken.A study of Thomas Aquinas on divine grace and human freedom was well-suited to his interest in working out a theoretical analysis of history. The dissertation was completed in 1940; it was rewritten and published as a series of articles in the journal Theological Studies The articles were edited into a book by J. Patout Burns in 1972, and both the revised and the original version of his study were subsequently published in his Collected Works as Grace and Freedom: Operative Grace in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.
After his return from Rome, Lonergan wrote a series of four articles for Theological Studies on the inner word in Thomas Aquinas which became highly influential in the study of St. Thomas' accounts of knowledge and cognition. The articles were later collected and published under the title Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas.
In 1945 Lonergan gave a course at the Thomas More Institute in Montreal that extended from September to April 1946 entitled "Thought and Reality," and the success of that course was the inspiration behind his decision to write the book Insight. While teaching theology at Collegium Christi Regis, now Regis College federated with the University of Toronto, Lonergan wrote Insight: A Study of Human Understanding, inaugurating the generalized empirical method (GEM). GEM belongs to the movement of "transcendental Thomism" inaugurated by Joseph Maréchal. This method begins with an analysis of human knowing as divided into three levels – experience, understanding, and judgment – and, by stressing the objectivity of judgment more than Kant had done, develops a Thomistic vision of Being as the goal of the dynamic openness of the human spirit.
In 1973, Lonergan published Method in Theology, which divides the discipline into eight "functional specialties." Method is a phenomenon which applies across the board in all disciplines and realms of consciousness. Through his work on method, Lonergan aimed, among other things, to establish a firm basis for agreement and progress in disciplines such as philosophy and theology. Lonergan believed that the lack of an agreed method among scholars in such fields has inhibited substantive agreement from being reached and progress from being made, whereas in the natural sciences, for example, widespread agreement among scholars on the scientific method has enabled remarkable progress. The chapter on "Religious Commitment" in Method in Theology was delivered in a lecture at The Villanova University Symposium and published in: The Pilgrim People: A Vision with Hope, Volume IV (ed. Joseph Papin, Villanova University Press, 1970). Karl Rahner, S.J., however, criticized Lonergan's theological method in a short article entitled: "Some Critical Thoughts on 'Functional Specialties in Theology'" where he states: "Lonergan's theological methodology seems to me to be so generic that it really fits every science, and hence is not the methodology of theology as such, but only a very general methodology of science."Lonergan's thinking in Method was, indeed, inspirational in bringing theological and psychology together in a unique way, e.g., Bernard J. Tyrrell, "Christotherapy: A Theology of Christian Healing and Enlightenment Inspired by the Thought of Thomas Hora and Bernard Lonergan" in The Papin Festschrift: Wisdom and Knowledge, Essays in Honour of Joseph Papin, Volume II (ed. Joseph Armenti, Villanova University Press, 1976, pp. 293–329).
While at the Gregorian University, Lonergan composed a two-volume Latin textbook, De Deo Trino (third edition, 1964). It has recently appeared in the Collected Works together with an interleaf English translation under the title The Triune God: Doctrines (2009)and The Triune God: Systematics (2007).
In The Triune God: Doctrines, Lonergan begins with an examination of the dialectical process by which the dogma of the Trinity developed in the first four centuries. This section was previously published in English as The Way to Nicea.The second section of the work advances dogmatic theses on (1) the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, (2) the divinity of the Holy Spirit, (3) the distinction of the divine persons by relations of origin, and (4) the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son (the Filioque). The fifth and final thesis is that the Trinity is a theological mystery in the strict sense and can only be understood analogically. A concluding scholion presents New Testament evidence in favor of the "psychological" analogy of the Trinity.
In The Triune God: Systematics, Lonergan develops the theory of intelligible (or spiritual) emanations in God as propounded by Thomas Aquinas. The volume begins with a discussion of the method of systematic theology which seeks an imperfect but highly fruitful understanding of the mysteries of faith by means of analogies. The following chapters develop an analogical conception of the divine processions (as intelligible emanations), relations, persons, and the two missions of the Word and Spirit.
Lonergan produced two textbooks in Christology.In 1956 he produced a supplemental volume De Constitutione Christi Ontologica et Psychica; the fourth and final edition of 1964 was presented in the Collected Works with an interleaf translation as The Ontological and Psychological Constitution of Christ (2002). Lonergan clarifies the metaphysical principles of Christ's constitution as one person in two distinct natures, and transposes that framework to address the consciousness of Christ as a single subject of two distinct conscious subjectivities.
Beginning with an edition of 1960, Lonergan introduced his own textbook for his Christology course, De Verbo Incarnato. Subsequent editions were published in 1961 and in 1964.De Verbo Incarnato is divided into four parts. The first part is an interpretation of the divinity and humanity of Christ as presented in the New Testament (thesis 1). The second part recapitulates the formation of the dogmatic theological tradition of Christology up through the monothelite controversy in the seventh century (theses 2–5). The third part, which covers much the same material as The Constitution of Christ but in a somewhat different manner, formulates what Lonergan calls "theological conclusions" from the hypostatic union regarding the ontological constitution of Christ as one person in two natures (theses 6-9), and his psychological constitution as a single subject of two subjectivities (thesis 10). The fourth part concerns "what belongs to Christ" (de iis quae christi sunt), including his grace, knowledge, sinlessness, and freedom (theses 11-14). The fifth and final section regards the redemptive work of Christ, in three theses: redemption in the New Testament (thesis 15), the satisfaction given by Christ (thesis 16), and "Understanding the Mystery: The Law of the Cross," presenting Lonergan's synthetic understanding of Christ's work (thesis 17).
He also produced a separate treatise on the Redemption, of uncertain date and never published.This treatise treats, in six chapters divided into 45 articles, good and evil, divine justice, the death and resurrection of Christ, the cross of Christ, the satisfaction given by Christ, and the work of Christ.
Among Lonergan's more noteworthy contributions to Christology include his theory about the ontological and psychological constitution of Christ,his interpretation of Christ's human knowing, and his interpretation of Christ's redemptive work.
Both De Verbo Incarnato and the supplement on Redemption are in preparation for the Collected Works. The plan is to present two volumes, The Incarnate Word,which would include theses 1–14 in Latin with an interleaf English translation, and The Redemption, which would include theses 15–17 and the supplement on Redemption.
In the 1930s and early '40s, Lonergan developed an intense interest in macroeconomic analysis, but never published the manuscript he developed. In later life while teaching at Boston College, Lonergan returned his attention to the economic interests of his younger days. The University of Toronto Press has published his two works on economics: For a New Political Economy and Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis.
Lonergan described his philosophical program as a generalization of empirical method (GEM) to investigate not only data given through exterior sensation, but also the internal data of consciousness.More specifically, objects are known while considering the corresponding operations of the subject and vice versa, experiencing and the subsequent operations of the intellect being components of both knowing and reality. Method, for Lonergan, is not a technique but a concrete pattern of operations.
Lonergan maintained what he called critical realism. By realism, he affirmed that we make true judgments of fact and of value, and by critical, he based knowing and valuing in a critique of consciousness. GEM traces to their roots in consciousness the sources of all the meanings and values that make up personality, social orders, and historical developments. A more thorough overview of Lonergan's work is available at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Lonergan's ideas include radical unintelligibility, theological critical realism, and functional specialization. Given the fact that no science can today be mastered by a single individual, Lonergan advocated sub-division of the scientific process in all fields. One of the leading voices in the effort to implement functional specialization is Philip McShane.
Frederick G. Lawrence has made the claim that Lonergan's work may be seen as the culmination of the postmodern hermeneutic revolution begun by Heidegger. Heidegger replaced Husserl's phenomenology of pure perception with his own linguistic phenomenology. Gadamer worked out this seminal insight into his philosophical hermeneutics. According to Lawrence, however, Heidegger, and in a lesser way Gadamer, remained under the influence of Kant when they refused to take seriously the possibility of grace and redemption. Lawrence makes the observation that Heidegger—influenced also by Augustine's inability to work out a theoretical distinction between grace and freedom—conflated finitude and fallenness in his account of the human being. "Sin" is therefore absorbed into "fallenness," and fallenness is simply part of the human condition. Lonergan builds on the "theorem of the supernatural" achieved in medieval times as well as on the distinction between grace and freedom worked out by Thomas Aquinas, and so is able to remove all the brackets and return to the truly concrete, with his unique synthesis of "Jerusalem and Athens."
In 1970 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
In 1971, Loyola College, one of Concordia University's founding institutions, awarded the Loyola Medal to Lonergan.Concordia also awarded Lonergan an honorary doctorate in 1977.
An annual Lonergan Workshop is held at Boston College, under the leadership of Frederick G. Lawrence. The proceedings of the Workshop are published under the same name, Lonergan Workshop, edited by Frederick G. Lawrence. The Workshop began in Lonergan's lifetime and continued after his death. The West Coast Methods Institute sponsors the annual Fallon Memorial Lonergan Symposium at Loyola Marymount University. The Lonergan Symposium has been meeting for 32 years.
Boston College has a Lonergan Institute, and also publishes the bi-annual Method: Journal of Lonergan Studies. The journal was founded, and edited until 2013, by Mark D. Morelli. The Lonergan Studies Newsletter is put out four times a year by the Lonergan Research Institute, Toronto; it provides the most up-to-date bibliographical information on the Lonergan movement. Recently, Seton Hall University has put out The Lonergan Review .
Lonergan Centres have been set up in various places (see below, External links). The Lonergan Research Institute at Toronto holds the Lonergan archives as well as a good collection of secondary material, including a complete collection of dissertations on Lonergan's work. Much of the primary archival material is available online at the Bernard Lonergan Archive (see below, External links), and a site for secondary material has also been set up, thanks to the work of Robert M. Doran.
Christology, literally "the understanding of Christ," is the study of the nature (person) and work of Jesus Christ. It studies Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two aspects; and the role he plays in salvation.
Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts.
Christian philosophy is a development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from a Christian tradition.
Systematic theology is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith. It addresses issues such as what the Bible teaches about certain topics or what is true about God and his universe. It also builds on biblical disciplines, church history, as well as biblical and historical theology. Systematic theology shares its systematic tasks with other disciplines such as constructive theology, dogmatics, ethics, apologetics, and philosophy of religion.
Biblical hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible. It is part of the broader field of hermeneutics which involves the study of principles of interpretation for all forms of communication, nonverbal and verbal.
The Lonergan Institute is a center of research at Boston College, specialising in the work of Canadian philosopher Bernard Lonergan.
Thomas Forsyth Torrance,, commonly referred to as T. F. Torrance, was a Scottish Protestant theologian. Torrance served for 27 years as professor of Christian dogmatics at New College, in the University of Edinburgh. He is best known for his pioneering work in the study of science and theology, but he is equally respected for his work in systematic theology. While he wrote many books and articles advancing his own study of theology, he also edited the translation of several hundred theological writings into English from other languages, including the English translation of the thirteen-volume, six-million-word Church Dogmatics of Swiss theologian Karl Barth, as well as John Calvin's New Testament Commentaries. He was a member of the famed Torrance family of theologians.
Philosophical theology is both a branch and form of theology in which philosophical methods are used in developing or analyzing theological concepts. It therefore includes natural theology as well as philosophical treatments of orthodox and heterodox theology. Philosophical theology is also closely related to the philosophy of religion.
Daniel A. Helminiak is an American Catholic priest, theologian and author. He was a professor in the Department of Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology at the University of West Georgia, near Atlanta. There from 1995 to 1997 and 2000 until early 2018, he regularly taught Human Sexuality, Statistics for the Social Sciences, Foundations of Neuroscience, and Animal Mind. On the graduate level he has taught courses related to the psychology of spirituality, which is his specialization and the focus of his research, lecturing, and writing. He is most widely known for his international best-seller What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality.
The Summa Theologiae is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas. Although unfinished, the Summa is "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity. It is a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West. The Summa's topics follow a cycle: God; Creation, Man; Man's purpose; Christ; the Sacraments; and back to God.
In Christian theology, the Imitation of Christ is the practice of following the example of Jesus. In Eastern Christianity the term Life in Christ is sometimes used for the same concept.
Reginald Horace Fuller (1915–2007) was an Anglo-American biblical scholar, ecumenist, and Anglican priest. His works are recognized for their consequential analysis of New Testament Christology. One aspect of his work is on the relation of Jesus to the early church and the church today. For this, his analysis, which uses the historical-critical method, has been described as neo-orthodox.
Comparative theology is a relatively new discipline within theology, which holds together "comparative" and "theology" in creative tension. It represents a particular type of theological practice committed to deep interreligious learning ("comparative") while staying rooted in a particular religious tradition ("theology"). Moreover, while many of its proponents come from the Christian religious tradition, it can have as a starting point the theology of any religious tradition.
Hugo Anthony Meynell, Meynell Langley, Derbyshire, England, is an English academic and author. Born half a year after the death of his father, Captain Godfrey Meynell, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for action against Afghan raiders in India's Khyber Pass, Hugo grew up as a member of an English family which arrived in England with the Norman conquest of England. He was educated at Eton, and King's College at the University of Cambridge where he obtained his PhD. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1993, and is listed in the Canadian Who's Who.
Divyadaan: Salesian Institute of Philosophy is a centre for philosophical studies at Don Bosco Marg, Nashik 422 005, India, offering bachelor's and master's degree courses in philosophy.
Frederick G. Lawrence is an American hermeneutic philosopher and theologian, and a specialist in Bernard Lonergan, teaching in the Department of Theology at Boston College, Boston, USA.
The knowledge of Christ refers to one of two possible, and at times related, topics in Christology: one addresses how Christians come to know Christ, the other focuses on the knowledge of Christ about the world. Discussions regarding the knowledge of Christ have had a central place in Christology for centuries. In the 20th century, the interplay between the two concepts was epitomized in the title of a book by Hans Urs von Balthasar: "Does Jesus Know Us? Do We Know Him?"