Part 5: Horizontal and Vertical Finality, and further note on Conjoined Plurality in Finality, Love, and Marriage

by David Fleischacker


Quick note on horizontal and vertical finality

I am not going to say much on this today, simply because I am still trying to formulate my findings in a more precise manner.   In Insight, Lonergan is able to develop a formulation of horizontal and vertical in terms of the lower and higher viewpoints and levels of being, and these levels of being are identified as genera.  Hence the developments on a single level of being, a single genus, are horizontal, and the finality of the potency for those developments on that level is horizontal finality. Note that in Insight, the notion of development includes but is not limited to the notion of finality–this is a distinction that Lonergan does not seem to make in 1943 in this essay.  In 1943, Lonergan roots horizontal finality in the essence of the thing.  Thus horizontal finality is cast in terms of a potency within an essence for a set of operations or ends that are proportionate to the essence.  This is getting at the same thing as is found in Insight, but the language is more compact, and he did not introduce the notion of explanatory genera and species to clarify the meaning of horizontal and vertical.  Yet he seems to have something close to a genera in mind when he differentiates the levels of being. I am still working out the precise meaning of this differentiation and how it compares to his formulation in Insight.


Further note on Conjoined Plurality.

One other thing that I do want to add is a further note on “conjoined plurality.”  When one introduces a conjoined plurality (coming together of conditions to inaugurate a conditioned), this constitutes a realized horizontal finality, and this becomes a realized horizontal finality only if it is a sublation into a higher order. In the human being, this realized horizontal finality did not take place because of a circular scheme of recurrence at the level of the conjoining (level of spontaneous nature to use Lonergan’s 1943 language). So what does this mean for the man and woman? The conjoined union of a man and woman does not take place because of organic schemes of recurrence. Rather, one has to move to higher level operations to account for the union. The man and woman have motor sensory operations that bring them together, and these in turn, because they are human, are sublated within yet higher levels of conscious operations.  These motor-sensory operations themselves would not be completed without intellectual, rational, and volitional operations (even if these are minimized to hedonistic utilitarian or narcissistic pursuits).  So, the higher level operations complete the lower.  Let’s put this another way. In contrast, the schemes of procreation in plants are completed by vital, physical, organic schemes. But in human beings one has to introduce motor-sensory operations and intellectual/rational/volitional operations in order to account for the conjoining of the conditions at the level of nature (vital, physical, organic), a conjoining which then inaugurates the finality to adult offspring on the one hand, and a sublating relationship into the life and relationship of the man and the woman on the other.  In short, the conjoined union of a man and woman does not have its origins in organic schemes of recurrence. There are no such schemes. Rather, at the level of organic nature, these remain a plurality, a kind of aggregate, until these conditions are brought together through operations at the level of experience, understanding, judgment, and decision, all of which are rooted in a state and actualization of the capacity for self-transcendence.  And notice that each higher level completes something in the lower.  Understanding grasps a link between conditions and a conditioned, and judgment affirms the link as true.  If these conditions have not been completed, then a decision is an act that fulfills a condition, and if sufficient, a conditioned comes to be, and the decision then transforms “being.”  More can be said on this, but in general without an actuation of the life of reason (of understanding and of judgment) and without the actualization of the moral level, there would not be a human conjoining of these conditions that inaugurate the horizontal and vertical finality of fecundity.