Indwelling

By David Fleischacker

I am aware of at least two theological teachings that make significant use of the notion of indwelling. The first deals with the indwelling of God in the soul, and most would think of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The second deals with the mutual indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  To indwell is a profound notion, and I think Lonergan can help us unpack it.

In volume 2 of the Triune God–the one on systematics–and in a number of other places, Lonergan writes about how the known is in the knower, and the beloved in the lover.  It is this type of presence and consciousness that articulates what happens to us when we know and love God, and each other.

To grasp the full scope of this, one must fully break with the extroverted notion of knowing. In the extroverted notion, the object remains “outside” of the knower, and hence love of the object also is perceived as a love of that which is outside of one.  But once one shifts to the interior nature of the act of understanding that has been affirmed true in judgment, then that which is understood indwells in the human subject.  This indwelling takes place because understanding and knowing (Judgment) is isomorphic with the form and act of the reality understood and known.  When the judgment is not merely a judgment on the correctness of understanding (eg. understanding the nature of democracy), but rather is a judgment of fact (eg. this is a democracy), then the reality thus known as fact indwells in the knowing of the knower. It is a presence of the reality that constitutes the realization of the subject.  The “other” really is in one, and even more precisely, constitutive of one.

Then, with this cognitive indwelling, there arises the possibility that the reality can dwell within the very orientation of one’s capacity for self-transcendence. This is what it means for something known to dwell in one’s heart. This is the more complete realization of indwelling.

Existentially we have all experienced this indwelling at some point in our lives.  When we have first fallen in love, witnessed the birth of one of our children, or said yes at one’s wedding, one has experienced an indwelling.  The same experience happens when a loved one dies.  We feel like we have died.  The basis of these experiences is the nature of how realities come to dwell in each of us.  This is a profound reality.

When we turn to faith, and to a Transcendent being, we then begin to realize the greatest meaning and character of indwelling. The mystics are some of the most articulate, but because few have glimpsed such a level of indwelling, few have any insight into what they mean.  Individuals like Saint Theresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, or more recently, Saint Theresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) give us glimpses into the way that God lives at the center of the human soul (this by the way is explained in understanding the transcendental notions and how these notions are created participations in unrestricted intelligibility and intelligence, being and rationality, goodness and responsibility), and that our journey to God is simultaneously a journey into the authentic self.  But to travel this route, much has to be purified and opened up, something which the mystics can teach us far beyond what one finds in Lonergan. But using Lonergan’s call for interiority analysis can help to further clarify this journey within an explanatory context.  One can link the Christian mystics to Lonergan’s way of self-appropriating our cognition, our volition, and most profoundly our capacity for self-transcendence as it culminates in a state of being in love with God. This would allow one to develop an explanatory account of indwelling.  Here, all that I have done is given a few clues.

Lonergan and the Shift to Method

by David Fleischacker

 

Method can be looked at as technique. This of course entirely misses the meaning of method as Lonergan conceived of it. For Lonergan, method is a set of heuristic conceptions that morally guide human self-transcendence, and hence are based on the structure of self-transcendence.

Historically, the cultural need to articulate method arises from the breakthroughs of modern science. It is a great wonder how such a stream of breakthroughs was possible. The answer was the discovery of a fruitful method. To articulate this, even imperfectly as an inductive method (see Bacon for instance), has its fruits.

It is imperfect because it tends to attend only to a few elements of the human subject, most of which are organs that look out onto the world for sensory experiences.  A more comprehensive understanding of the human person will lead to a more profound method. Lonergan makes this shift from an account of the human subject as one of self-transcendence to a resulting transcendental method.  His comprehensive understanding of the human subject is the source of this shift.

Key in his understanding of the human subject are the transcendental notions and their unity. These notions articulate the heart and soul of human presence but we only begin to glimpse the scope of these through a long sequence of steps that Lonergan calls self-appropriation. It requires a heightening of attention to one’s own conscious operations, and when we begin to attend these operations, we begin to discover patterns and overarching structures that ultimately  1) spring from the transcendental notions, and 2)  unite to form a capacity for self-transcendence.  And unless you are going to live for 3000 years, I would suggest you need a guide, and INSIGHT is a good place to start.

If you start with INSIGHT, you should either have already been actively doing math and science, or you will need to do so. Also, you will need to exercise a great deal of common sense and if you have not really done so in life by building and using technologies, building and participating in family, civic, or ecclesiastical economies, or participating in civic or ecclesiastical polity, you should be prepared to do so or at least watch and explore others who do.  Likewise, you will need to study history, and even master one or two of its major trends.  The history of philosophy is a good one. In other words, you need to become more in order for the kind of self-appropriation to take place which is necessary to become an authentic philosopher in the vein called for by Lonergan.

If you do, then such things as a heuristic notion, implicit definition, inverse insight, the empirical residue, higher and lower genera of things, emergent probability, the integral heuristic structure of proportionate being, functional specialization, transcendental method, and dialectic will all come to make perfect sense.  So will notions like isomorphism.   These are explanatory articulations that arise through the kind of self-transcendence that happens when you do math, science, and common sense, then you attend to the interiority of these doings, discover that interiority, and formulate it, and affirm it.  Then, with this self-discovery in mind, you can develop precepts that guide you and others in your existential unfolding.

As you explore the interiority of a scientist, a philosopher, a theologian, an artist, a man or woman of common sense, and you discover how these are united, you will discover more and more the profundity of the transcendental notions and the capacity for self-transcendence.   As you discover the unity of correlations and probabilities into schemes of recurrence and schemes of development, you will discover more and more the profundity of the meaning of central and conjugate potency, form, and act, and the entire nature and character of metaphysics.  Furthermore, you will grasp with greater significance the relationship of interiority and the universe of being.  And as this opens up into human freedom and the free participation of the unfolding of this universe of being and of the unfolding of the human subject in that being, you will discover the existential isomorphism that exists between a self-transcending subject and the entire order of the universe.

Link this existential isomorphism to a divine entrance into the world mediated by meaning and regulated by value, by both unpacking the interiority of this entrance (sanctifying grace, the theological virtues) and the sublation of the world of proportionate being into a transcendent order, then one moves into a supernatural existential isomorphism.  Such individuals provide us with precepts for eternity.

Now that is the kind of method for which Lonergan would call. And it is not a technique, but really an attunement to mystery.

 

Reality or Being — Are these the same?

by Dr. David Fleischacker

This one is more for those who have studied Lonergan a bit.  Sorry to those who have not.

Though most today might think of being and reality as the same, what is meant by both today is not the same as that of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas. For them, Being is not only “that which is,” but a that which is that is necessarily intelligible. Being is intelligible and actual intelligibility is being. And just because you can name something does not mean it is intelligible, hence just because you can name something does not mean it exists.

In contrast to intelligible being is that which is not.  Statements do not get any easier to make which are true. Darkness is an easy example because its descriptive correlate has a relatively easy explanatory basis. It is the absence of any visible light waves.  We can name it but it has no intelligible being (at least in the visible range of light — there may be being beyond the visible light spectrum as a note).  More difficult are those absences that seem so real there must be something intelligible.  So, for example, inertia seems like it must have some kind of intelligibility.  After all great minds searched for the answer to the  cause of inertia for centuries upon centuries. But in the end it belongs to the empirical residue (see chapter 1 of Insight) and one likely will need an inverse insight to get that it lacks intelligible being (also see chapter 1).  More difficult is something like evil. But it too lacks intelligibility.  In fact it not only lacks intelligible being, but it is a privation of being and so introduces the absurd. In either case, these lack intelligibility and thus cannot have being.

Here is another way to get at the same point.  Let’s make a distinction between being and reality.  Let’s say that reality includes experiential absences, partial constitutive components of being (eg. the empirical residue), privations of intelligible being, and concrete being that is intelligible.  This makes it a larger category than being because it includes named nothingnesses and absences and privations.  Concrete and real being that is intelligible however is only “part” of this world, a larger world that really is not.

The import of grasping what the ancients meant by being and us moderns do not has a number of ramifications.  Without realizing the ancient meaning of being, disciplines like metaphysics will be misunderstood.  Evil will make no sense.  Why?  Because the ancient statements about being cannot be applied to nothingness, absences, and privations without being unintelligible.  And so us proud moderns will tend to think that these ancients were simply careless and unintelligent.  But it is the reality of moderns that is lacking.

Judgment and the Recovery of Being

by Dr. David Fleischacker

Lonergan’s explanatory formulation of the interior structure of judgment dismantles one of the great culprits of the modern world that has left vast reaches of the Western world in a dark age. It is dark because it thwarts self-transcendence precisely in one of the great powers of the human mind.  Judgement makes possible a real presence of a person to that which is.  It mediates a true encounter with intelligible being. In other words, authentic judgment allows being to dwell within one.  This darkness is the real forgetfulness of being.  Heidegger was only partially right. He did recognize something that was true about the fallen state of us.  But he still left one with out the ability to enjoy and rejoice in the goodness of even the littlest beings in the world.  Those little, finite beings–trees, rocks, the human body, stars, planets–were merely ontic things.  For him Being– the Ontological–was all that mattered, and even that notion lacks in Heidegger the liberty that Lonergan comes to discover. It is after all a transcendental notion.

When one proclaims that all is mere perspective, or one announces that one can never be sure of what truly is, or one thinks of reality as out there but not in here (in my head), then one is proclaiming that being is fundamentally unknown.  It is as Kant said, in the noumena.  This is the darkness in which today we are chained and enslaved.  It is a self-inflicted cave of own’s own mind, and if one is completely honest, then Derrida is right, even that cave is a mere trace. It too resides in the darkness.  Even my own thoughts flow in the differance of lost presence.

For most, I think the world of entertainment and work keeps them from facing this haunting darkness which they have absorbed since their day of birth.  Many do escape into a world of common sense and do not bother with these questions.  But if pushed in a direction they do not like, then as an instinctual mechanism of self-defense, they pull out the darkness of the no-nothings.

I remember one day saying to a friend, “don’t you know that you can’t find happiness in hockey — he loved hockey to the neglect of nearly everything. He was able to deconstruct my simple quest with one stutter of his vocal cords and a brush of air sent my way in the wave of a hand.  I knew what he meant.  He meant you can’t really know the answer to what you are asking.  Don’t bother me with it.

Lonergan does not answer this deconstructive shallowness with the same brush of air and grunt.  No such simplicity can be found with his response.  Yet, amazingly, in one book he sends to the grave this particular darkness for any who want freedom from these chains that have been growing and entangling the Western world for 500 or more years.  I suppose one could argue that it has been longer and started with the nominalists, but the other day, someone I know — Dr. Chris Blum — pointed out rightly that without the founders of modernity (Descartes, Hume, Kant, etc.), these nominalists would have been forgotten.

Lonergan in one book opens the doors to the cave. That book is Insight. He let’s in some light. We can discover that the shadows and traces of being are not our genie lamp. With the great skill of a gifted surgeon, Lonergan, at the beginning of the book, asks the reader to examine in themselves the act of understanding. It begins a journey into a massive world of interiority and self-appropriation.  The attentive and careful reader who takes this journey is not asked to trust the writer in the end, though one must trust along the way.  He leads the reader from insight in math and science to that of common sense and things, all before he turns to the excavating work of exploring judgment.

It is a brilliant plan as anyone knows who has seriously read the text.  His first eight chapters remove the rocks that block the path to light and freedom, and then finally he removes the hinges of the locked doors of the cave.

Starting in chapter 9, he then begins to open the door.  In chapter 11, the reader gets asked to walk out of the cave unless he or she is too afraid to do so and simply refuses to see the beauty and the landscape of being.

In the next couple of chapters, through the notion of being and then of objectivity, Lonergan provides an explanatory account of why we can be present to being, and why being can dwell within us.  It gives the subject who has dwelt in the cave of the modern world a new wineskin and a new garment.  More technically, it is a new heuristic foundation to taste the beauty and glory of the real universe of being.

I could repeat Lonergan’s answer with regard to the conditions required for true judgments and the principle notion of objectivity, and why these happen in us all the time.  But for the full meaning of these explanatory formulations to burst forth and make sense, one really does need to travel down all of those earlier chapters of Insight first.

Hence, this blog you are reading is merely an invitation to those who have some inkling that perspectivalism and relativism are unhappy conclusions, and that traces of others are not so joyful as their real presence in filial and agapic bonds of love.

By the way, for those who are not able for various reasons to move into the explanatory account of the freedom and light of true judgment, do not worry.  Lonergan’s account reveals that good sound judgment gives you that liberty even when you are unable to explain why.  You really can love–in a mutual indwelling presence–your friend, your spouse, your child….and God, even if the how remains a mystery.

 

Isomorphic Existentialism

Existential Isomorphism

By Dr. David Fleischacker

I would like to make a simple statement. The finality of the human person is one of existential isomorphism.

Why Existential?

I am sure some will think that I have committed an error in tying the word existential to isomorphism.  Some would be disturbed if they knew what I meant.  Some of the dead might twitch a bit. Nietzsche I am sure would turn in his grave. Most of the 20th century existentialists might will themselves to rise from the dead and burn me at the stake and insist that God is still dead. They might call upon their leader — Friedrich, Friedrich, where art though — so that he could lead them in their inquisition with his sharpened words and golden pen.   So, let me be clear as to my fears of the power of these willful mongers.  Will to power and its maturation in the 20th century notion of self-realization are not what I mean by linking the two terms. Yet, there is a truth in the 20th century existentialists that I would like to return to the world of being and goodness and beauty.  As St. Augustine said about heresies, there is always a great truth in them which is why they can arrest people and capture their imaginations.  The same is true I would argue with Existentialists such as Sartre.  That nugget of truth is that human beings do have something to do with their coming to be in this world (or in their self-destruction).

In other words, I want to recover the rightful place of human freedom or decisions.  I want to place it back into a normative framework of a naturally ordered universe that has its nature in a finality that is oriented as Lonergan argues in Insight toward increasing intelligibility and being and goodness. These transcendentals are the norm of the normativity of all existence, especially when they become conscious and active in the human soul as an actuation of the capacity for self-transcendence.  It takes wisdom to figure this out.

So, what about isomorphism?

In Insight Lonergan argues that the structure of cognition is isomorphic with that of being.  Hence, intellectually patterned experience, insights into conjugate and central forms, and judgments affirming those insights as true are isomorphic to conjugate and central potency, form, and act of beings.

J (judgement)   –>    Conjugate and Central Act

U (understanding)–>    Conjugate and Central Form

E (experience)–>  Conjugate and Central Potency

It is not just any E, U, and J that matters to this isomorphism.  The relevant conscious and intentional operations are those that have moved into explanatory accounts of this world–hence insights that emerge in intellectually patterned experience, and then are verified in judgments about the truth of those explanatory insights.

What this means is that in true explanatory knowledge, the human soul has come to be a mirror (as St. Thomas notes) of that which it knows, and it knows that which it knows by becoming a mirror to that which it knows.

Adding the term “existential” goes beyond what Lonergan does in Insight. And as mentioned, I want to expel it of the licentious willfulness that one finds in 20th century existentialist philosophers. I want to recover an older meaning of existence found in St. Thomas and Aristotle, one that links together being and becoming into a harmonious unity.  The act of will is only an act of will when it is based on an intelligibility, and thus it is an authentic volitional act when rooted on form, not on nothingness (which actually is impossible because we cannot create from nothing).  It really combines some of Lonergan’s later developments in Insight with those of his later life, namely the link of metaphysics and its isomorphism with intellectually patterned consciousness to the moral order and the level of decision.  In short, when decisions are based upon the fullness of the cognitive isomorphism with being, then one’s decisions shift one to an explicit participant in the unfolding potency of being [as a note, even one who operates in the world of common sense is a participant in the unfolding potency of being, but only implicitly.  Common non-sense however is evil because it is a failure to participate in this finality of the universe.], and thus participate in a moral isomorphism with the emergent universe and its finality.

I would like to add one other piece that identifies a more complete existential isomorphism, namely when the entire neural and motor-sensory operations, along with their landscape of emotions and passions join in on the isomorphism. For this to take place, the neural and motor-sensory levels need to reach an integrity in which they are intelligibly ordered in the higher levels of the moral and cognitive isomorphism (see what Lonergan does in his last chapter in Insight “Special Transcendent Knowledge”).  In other words, all levels of development when united in a sublating or subsuming fashion into the highest reaches of conscious intentionality form an authentic existential isomorphism of the soul with an emergent universe.

Interestingly, the university when setup right has as its specific end this existential isomorphism in which the totality of the person (organic and neural, motor-sensory, intellectual, rational, volitional, religious) is mediated toward this unity with the finality of the universe.

Just a thought that has tremendous ramifications.

Part 6: Horizontal and Vertical Finality in Marriage, Love, and Finality

By David Fleischacker

Four ideas about the generic relationship of horizontal and vertical finality stand out in Lonergan’s 1943 essay – “Finality, Love, and Marriage.” It is important to note that I have not passed much beyond exploring the first section of the 1943 essay, which makes general statements about finality.  In his later sections, he treats of love and the personalist elements of marriage within the framework of finality, and so these later elements will be crucial to comprehend what he contributed with this essay.  That will be for future blogs.

 

First Idea: Horizontal as Essential, Vertical as Excellent

The first deals with linking horizontal to what is essential, and then vertical to what is excellent.  This is mentioned a number of times (see for instance pages 18, 22-23, and 48).  Essence refers to what something is (Lonergan uses nearly the same formulations of horizontal, vertical, and absolute finality in his 1976 essay, Mission and Spirit, but instead of essence he just writes that the proportionate end “results from what a thing is” — A Third Collection, page 24).  Essence constitutes a kind of limit to the types of activities or operations that a thing can engage upon or into which it can develop.  The excellent refers to a higher level perfection that can emerge from the lower.  Lonergan’s use of essential and excellent is directly linked to the course he was teaching on marriage at the time,  and to Casti Cannubii, in which the essential and excellent ends of marriage were distinguished.  I find it interesting that he defines horizontal in terms of essence, but he does not define vertical in terms of excellence.  Rather, he defines vertical finality in terms of a dynamic emergence of properties that arise from a conjoined plurality.

This distinction between horizontal and vertical finality seems to be lost by the time of Insight where the terms are not used at all. I would argue that this is a result of a broader, more general formulation of finality in which it is understood as proportionate or isomorphic with the notion of being (and hence the desire to know).  Finality is the “upwardly but indeterminately directed dynamism towards ever fuller realization of being” (Insight, chapter 15, section 6). As such, it is simply the potency of the universe for the emergence and maintenance of each and all intelligible being.  However, Lonergan does use the term “vertical” in a similar fashion to its use in 1943, though only once, when discussing the relations of a lower manifold to a higher order (Insight, chapter 15, section 7.3).  Hence he is not speaking of finality but of developmental relations. And instead of horizontal, he speaks of lateral developments.  In Insight, the only kind of distinction he makes regarding finality is in terms of minor and major flexibility (hence not horizontal and vertical), but explanatorily these are not different, especially in terms of the meaning of finality as a potency that is a directed dynamism (Insight, chapter 15, section 5). In Insight, finality as such is not merely within an individual, or species, or genus, but it is the potency for fuller being in each and all individuals, species, and genii.

There is one key notion that links the 1943 essay and Insight.  It is the notion of a concrete plurality which becomes formulated into terms of both the non-systematic and statistic residues in Insight.  The potency of a plurality of acts ends up being central to understanding the open ended dynamism of each individual, species, and genus. Take for instance a carbon atom.  The carbon atom itself is a chemical conjugate, and if in act, it is an existing chemical atom.  Within an existing atom of carbon, the concrete plurality that is a potency for other chemical forms is the sub-atomic elements which are either quarks or compounds of quarks.  These quarks and compounds of quarks are the lower manifold pluralities that have the potentiality for being informed as other chemical elements or compounds.   In carbon, there are sufficient materials to form other elements or compounds through atomic or nuclear changes–as long as the total masses of these elements and compounds does not exceed that of carbon.  One could theoretically form hydrogen or helium, or any other elements up to carbon from a carbon atom. Hence this concrete plurality of sub-atomic elements is the location of the potency for dynamic change.

In 1943, Lonergan tended to limit this dynamic notion of finality to vertical finality, since such finality is based in the “fertility of a concrete plurality” (and this is equal to an indeterminate but directed dynamism to his use of vertical finality).  However, one finds this concrete plurality to some degree in his use of horizontal as well.  There are a few points in his 1943 essay where Lonergan identifies a statistical relationship between two events on the same horizontal level (namely the conjugal act and conception—see page 46, footnote 73), but he tends to identify horizontal as rooted in essence still, rather than the potency of a non-systematically related set of aggregates that can become “conjoined” into an order whether on the same plane of being or a higher plane.

As mentioned, later in his life, Lonergan does reintroduce vertical and horizontal finality in his third collection that reprints a 1976 paper titled “Mission and Spirit.” He more or less repeats the same definitions as given in 1943 but without the link of horizontal to essence/natural law and vertical to concrete plurality and statistical law. Hence has a similar meaning as in 1943, but he has the developments of Insight in the background, along with the question of evolution.  It is almost if he had re-read the 1943 piece, and decided to bring the notions of horizontal, vertical, and absolute finality to attention.  Just a few years earlier, in Method in Theology published in 1972, he introduces horizontal and vertical liberty (not finality) taken from Joseph de Finance (Method, pages 40, 122, 237-8, 269) but there is no clear indications of any connections to finality and the 1943 essay (one can make connections however).

Second Idea: Horizontal within the field of natural law and vertical within the field of statistical law

Horizontal finality  results  from  abstract  essence;  it holds  even when  the  object  is in isolation;  it is to a motive  or  term  that  is proportionate to essence.  But vertical  finality is in the concrete; in point  of fact it is not from  the isolated  instance but from  the conjoined plurality; and it is in the  field  not of natural but  of statistical  law, not  of the  abstract per se but  of  the  concrete  per accidens. (22)

Tied to linking horizontal to “abstract essence” is the idea that it is in the field of natural law (I am presuming this is what he is implying above, but I could be wrong) rather than in the field of statistical law. The notion of natural law as well as the location of horizontal finality are modified by the time of Insight.  “Nature” in Insight is formulated in terms of a heuristic notion that is like naming an unknown “X” that needs to be understood (Insight, chapter 2, section 2.2).  In this context, nature, and one could argue natural laws, and statistical fields are not distinct, but rather closely linked. Nature as transposed into correlations identify the conjugate forms, and statistics deals with ideal frequencies of the actuation of those forms.  Hence, in Insight, Lonergan differentiates nature (and natural laws) into correlations (or functional relationships) and their statistical ideal realizations.  I would argue as well that developmental operators also belong to the realm of “nature” for Lonergan.  Hence, in Insight, Lonergan will shift finality not only to potency, but to a potency that is an indeterminate but directed dynamism to fuller being. Lonergan was moving in this direction with vertical finality in 1943, but had not worked it out in terms of horizontal yet.

 

Third Idea: Horizontal is not dynamic, the Vertical is the source of dynamism.

The claim that horizontal finality is not dynamic on the one hand and that vertical is dynamic on the other is closely related to the above two ideas.   Because Lonergan was conceiving of horizontal finality in terms of essence and a type of static natural law, he had not thought through the dynamism for fuller being that actually takes place due to horizontal finality.  Since in Insight, he works out his notion of finality in terms of potency and then how this notion fits in with his general theory of development (Insight, chapter 15, sections 5 – 6), even what he is getting at with horizontal finality will turn out to be dynamic as well, because there can be fuller realization of being on the same genus of conjugates.  Think for example about the illustration of arithmetic development in chapter 1.  Arithmetic is presented the first of three levels in math, and there are both deductive and homogeneous expansions at this level.  These expansions are developmental in nature, and they arise in the potency of operating with numbers from the moment one “combines” or adds numbers.  Or look at Lonergan’s formulation of minor and major flexibilities of development. Both illustrate these same points since both “rest on an initial manifold” and thus are rooted in a kind of potentiality that Lonergan would have a called a plurality in 1943 (Insight, chapter 15, section 6).  Minor flexibility refers to something that can have some variation while it unfolds into its mature state, but it still reaches the same mature state.  In major flexibility, a thing can unfold in a new and surprising manner which results in a shift in its mature state (Insight, chapter 15, section 6).  This shift could be a different species but on the same genus, hence horizontal, or it could be to a new genus, hence vertical. An example would be if a grass became a shrub (I am presuming these are different species, and the complexity of the change from one into another may be extremely difficulty or unlikely—I do not want to enter into the explanatory challenges to this within the realm of biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology, though I acknowledge the challenge) (If you would like to see a bit into my understanding of explanation within biology, take a look at my blog on Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box).  In this case, the relationship of the initial potency to this new species is a horizontal finality.  However, the major shift could be a shift from a lower to a higher genus, in which case then a vertical development has taken place, and the relationship of the initial potency to this vertical realization is one of vertical finality. Such an example would be the shift from a vegetative form of life into something that is sensate.  This is perhaps best illustrated by the development of an animal (dog, cat, etc.) from a single zygote that starts with cellular operations (or what was traditional called the vegetative level–a lower genus) and then adds sensitive operations (a higher genus).

In 1943, Lonergan tended to see horizontal finality in a static manner because of his formulation of it in terms of a kind of an essence (interestingly, he defines it similarly in his 1976 essay, so one wonders a) whether I am right in thinking that he had a more static notion of essence in 1943, or b) whether Lonergan had thought through the notion in light of Insight when he reintroduced it in 1976).  However, his illustrations show that there are dynamic elements to this as well.  I already mentioned the statistical link between the conjugal act and conception.  Another example is the link between fecundity, the conjugal act, and the adult offspring (41).  Adult offspring require development of course.  And Lonergan is thinking of adult offspring in terms of the matured and differentiated organic operations, not in terms of how these are then sublated into educated adult offspring, or religiously educated adult offspring.  And so, when he uses the phrase “adult offspring” alone, he identifies it as having a horizontal relationship to fecundity and the conjugal act (which is the actualization of fecundity in the union of two semi-fecundities).  Yet, there is clearly a developmental relationship, similar to what he later calls a homogeneous expansion or development.  Perhaps a more significant example is when he talks about the two levels above the organic, namely the life of reason and the life of grace.  With the life of reason, he talks about how the potency for a life of reason in both the man and the woman at this civil level is horizontally related to the historically unfolding good life (42).  This clearly recognizes a developmental unfolding which is not fully determinate, yet  dynamically directed by the desire to be intelligent and reasonable.

Fourth Idea: The vertical emerges all the more strongly as the horizontal is realized the more fully

If, then,  reason  incorporates sex as sex  is in itself,  It will incorporate it as subordinate to its horizontal end , and  so marriage will be an incorporation of the  horizontal finality of sex  much more  than of sex itself;  nor is this to forget vertical finality, for vertical and  horizontal finalities  are  not alternatives, but  the vertical emerges all the more strongly as the horizontal is realized  the more fully. (46)

Notice here that there is a kind of dynamic element implied in the horizontal.  Again, if we grasp that horizontal finality is a potency for dynamic realization of being (development), and it is distinct from mere flexible ranges of operations that are already in place, then such development is from an initial potency, and it is the dynamism in that potency that gives rise to it.  And this dynamism can be more fully or less fully realized.  If one turns to Lonergan’s arithmetic illustration in Insight, one can see this point right away.  Arithmetic provides the “image” for algebra.  The more arithmetic one does, the more one will apprehend general intelligible patterns in arithmetic. These patterns are algebraic. Adding A to B results in the same answer as adding B to A.  This results in the rule that states A + B = B + A, an algebraic rule.  And this is just one rule. If one has engaged in a number of operations over and over again not only with addition, but with subtraction, multiplication, division, powers, and roots, then one will begin to grasp all kinds of other patterns.  One will see that multiplying A to B results in the same answer as B to A.  In contrast, one will notice that one cannot do the same for subtraction or division (A-B does not equal B-A, nor does A divide by B equal B divided by A — unless A and B are the same).  Algebra emerges all the more strongly as arithmetic is realized the more fully.  The same is true in chemistry and biology.  The more that one carries out rightly designed experiments on matter, the more fully insights arise into patterns of elements and compounds.  And the more these are unfolded within living organisms, the more one understands higher order organic properties.  Through DNA and biochemical processes, one grasps more fully the organic operations of the cell. And as one unpacks these cellular operations within multicellular organisms, the more one grasps the operations of those multicellular organisms (eg. respiration, immunity, digestion, etc.). These cognitive expansions horizontally and vertically have ontological parallels within all developmental entities.

It is important to note that the vertical cannot emerge and be sustained without the proper operations of the horizontal.  If you eliminate the realization of the finality of stem cells which maintain and perfect cellular systems, then the systems will cease to function (respiration, immunity, etc).  And if these organic events and schemes cease, then sensitive operations and schemes will cease, along with the potential for deductive and homogeneous expansions of sensitive operations.  And if sensitive operations and their development fail, then there will be no insight into images, or judgment based on insights and evidence, or decisions based on judgments of fact and value, or the development of viewpoints.  The lower has to flourish for every higher order to flourish that is dependent upon the lower.

In terms of finality, this means that the more vibrantly that the horizontal finality is realized, the more fully the vertical can be realized.   Both the horizontal and vertical are rooted in potency, and the fact that the same potency is for both, and that the realization of higher is dependent on the lower, means that the two finalities are always necessarily dependent upon each other.  The ability to see is rooted in the neural networks that are tied to sight.  This potency to see is realized horizontally when the eyes are opened, the optical neurons are activated by light waves, and the associate and sensory cortices are integrating the neural activities initiated by the light waves.  It is realized vertically when these lower activities arise into a conscious sensory percept.  A similar relationship accrues to the development of sensory operations in relationship to the development of neural patterns, and these developments are actualizations of the finality, or potentiality, of each of these levels.

And interestingly, the higher can come to assist in the greater realization of the lower.  Problems, needs, and wants that arise with regard to higher level operations require a type of expansion–sometimes a shift, and even potentially a conversion–of the lower orders such that these can then bear fruit for the higher.  Lonergan in his later life sometimes called this the top down element, or the gift element, that allowed for the flourishing the lower.  This does not mean that the higher is free or independent of the lower.  Rather the fulfillment or realization of the higher still depends upon the lower, even if the higher is self-assembling, and acts as a mediator of the perfection of that lower. So to continue the illustration of an animal, associations of the percepts can take place through a kind of willful use of the sensory organs (cortices, etc.).  An animal can “pay attention” to this or that, it can shift its body or head to see or hear or taste or touch or smell something.  This higher order guidance and activation of the lower level neural manifolds allows for the further unfolding of those lower manifolds so that they can contribute to the construction of associative memories, imaginative constructs, and even feelings.

This point about the dependence of the vertical upon the horizontal–the dependence of the dynamic unfolding of the higher upon the lower–is expressed in a mulitude of ways in Lonergan’s later writings. In Insight, examine chapter 8 on things, or chapter 15 on explanatory genera and species.  In Method in Theology, see his formulation of the levels of consciousness and the levels of the functional specialities.  In 1943, the fecundity that is actualized through a union of two semi-fecundities has a horizontal relationship to adult offspring.  The more fully this fecundity is realized at the horizontal level, the more fully it provides for a realization at the higher vertical levels and ends (good life and eternal life).  One could differentiate these ends and levels in light of Lonergan’s later writings both within the parents (the four/five levels of consciousness) and the levels of the child.  One could as well, place these within the unfolding of all levels of being from quarks to the actuation of the capacity for self-transcendence in a state of being in love with God.

I intend on saying more about these higher levels in later blogs. At this point, I wanted to just comment on a basic metaphysical principle regarding the relationship of the lower to a higher level of being, whether that being is conscious or not.  If one eliminates the finality at a lower level, one destroys the possibility of the emergence of the higher.  And the more that the lower flowers, the more that the higher can flourish.

Grasping this finality within marriage sets up a heuristic that allows one to explore marriage in a differentiated and integrated way.  The differentiation is over the different generic levels of reality as sublated within human historical process.  As integrated, these provide the mode of inquiry into the relations of higher and lower orders of intelligibility as well as the potency for new types of operations and new levels of conscious life.   In this 1943 essay, Lonergan  introduced this heuristic first so that he could then suggest specific ways to explore the meaning of marriage.

Part 5: Horizontal and Vertical Finality, and a 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 (a 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 does 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.

Part 4a: “Conjoined Union” in Finality, Love, and Marriage

by David Fleischacker

 

As I was thinking about the meaning of a “conjoined union,” the key kind of potency in such a union is not merely finality, but a kind of realized finality. Realized because it is then sublated within the higher levels of being and/or consciousness.  The “conjoined” refers to a set of conditions that converge, and out of which convergence some type of event emerges.  All conditions arise from previous conditions except when something is created from nothing, which is accomplished solely by a divine act.  The conditions can be completely unique, hence fully non-systematic, or they can arise with various kinds of regularities.  In Insight, Lonergan called these regularities “schemes”.  I would like to note three types of regularities.

1. Source regularity.  When a regular set of events arises from a resource that has a significant supply of the conditions needed for the occurrence of the event, then we have source regularity.  Examples include the energy emitted from the sun and gasoline — though there is a circular scheme with this later examine but we are developing schemes upon it which are beyond the circular rate of renewal.  You can think of this as a one way trip.  It is a kind of entropy, but along the way things happen.   We are not talking of circular schemes here, in which the sets of conditions end up replenishing the originating point.  Rather, this is a sufficient pool that then provides a regularity of subsequent events that can be calculated statistically, although usually there is a slow decline of the statistical regularity until the source is depleted.  These are non-renewable resources, and depending on the overall structure of the universe, it may be on this kind of a course.

2. Circular schemes of recurrence.  This is what most reader’s of Insight think about in terms of regularity.  When we think of event A fulfilling conditions for the occurrence of B, and B of C, and C of A, or any more complicated sequence such that the conditions form a cycle or circuit.  These would be renewable resources. However, Lonergan would say that these schemes of recurrence fall within a larger non-systematic environment.  Hence, as long as the conditions remain the same, this circular or even flexible range of circular schemes will remain intakes.  The “remain the same” means both that the positive conditions remain in place, and that no interfering conditions come online.

3. Schemes of development.  Some things become “regular” because of regular schemes of development.  Examples include the regular formation of adult offspring, or the regular sequence of ecosystem development (for example when a fire burns a number of acres), and the ecosystem undergoes a kind of rebirth.  One of the more interesting and recent discoveries is that of stems cells. These have a development relationship to matured functional cells within multi-cellar organisms. These system maintains the cell/organ systems in multi-cellular organisms.

Whenever conditions come together and an event or new thing arises, they form a conjoined union of a plurality.  One can calculate the statistical probabilities of such conjoining of conditions that leads to an event or a thing–though sometimes this proves to be impossible on a practical level.  And, in every case, one can discover a finality in the potency of the pluralities.  Whether the plurality is one of hydrogen and oxygen molecules in an kind of aggregate that contains some electrical energy being exchanged, or one is speaking of the male and female semi-fecundities, there is a finality in all of these conditions that includes both horizontal–if these stay within the same genus of correlations and functional relations (and this would include both deductive and homogenus types of expansions — see chapter 1 of Insight)–or vertical if one examines the relationship from a lower to a higher genus.

With these convergence of conditions whether through source regularity, circular schemes of recurrence, or schemes of development, we can further clarify Lonergan’s introduction of conjoined plurality in his 1943 essay.  He notes that a specific finality arises in the conjugal act (conjoined plurality of two semi-fecundities) that is to adult offspring on the one hand and to higher orders of reason and charity within and between the man and the woman on the other.  The conjugal act follows the pattern of a source regularity that then follows up with a scheme of development. Why this specific act?  Because this specific act is the coming together of two correlative pluralities (male and female semi-fecundities), that is then a realization of the finality of these pluralities. Why a realization? Because this conjoining in the conjugal act is what can be sublated into the higher orders both of reason and charity that constitute the relationship of the man and woman properly as husband and wife (there are other ways of conjoining man and woman as well, but these have other horizontal and vertical finalities), and that is then a realization of a key step in the horizontal finality to adult offspring, and a vertical finality with the adult offspring to an educated adult offspring and a Christianly educated adult offspring.

I will treat more about this relationship of horizontal and vertical finality in the next blog.

Part 4: Statistics and Finality in Finality, Love, and Marriage

By David Fleischacker

 

In part two of this series, I mentioned that the “repetitive” element of the physical, vital, and sensitive spontaneity is differentiated into schemes of recurrence based on classical laws and statistical probabilities, and then schemes of development with one stage being not only an integrator but also an operator, hence possessing a finality, for later stages.

Concrete plurality and statistics

One element that does seem to stay the same between 1943 and 1957, though is explored more fully in Insight, is the relationship between the concrete plurality and its statistical possibilities that constitutes the potentiality that is horizontal and vertical finality.

As to the difficulty that frequently procreation is objectively impossible and may be known to be so, distinguish motives and ends; as to motives, the difficulty is solved only by multiple motive and ends; as to ends, there is no difficulty, for the ordination of inter­course to conception is not a natural law, like ‘fire burns,’ but a statistic laws which suffices for an objective ordination.[1]

It is important to note that even though the relationship of the conjugal act to conception is statistical, it has an objective ordination to the end of adult offspring. If one backs up in the article a bit, this statistical element is linked to a concrete plurality.

This we term vertical finality. It has four manifestations: instrumental, dispositive, material, obediential. First, a concrete plurality of lower activities may be instrumental to a higher end in another subject: the many movements of the chisel give the beauty of the statue. Second, a concrete plurality of lower activities may be dispositive to a higher end in the same subject: the many sensitive experiences of research lead to the act of understanding that is scientific discovery. Third, a concrete plurality of lower entities may be the material cause from which a higher form is educed or into which a subsistent form is infused: examples are familiar. Fourth, a concrete plurality of rational beings have the obediential potency to receive the communication of God himself.[2]

Notice the use of “concrete plurality.” From my reading, it has the same meaning as coincidental manifold in Insight. When a coincidental aggregate is understood in its finality, both horizontal and vertical, then that aggregate is a coincidental manifold. In each case, an aggregate of activities or materials have the potency to be formed into some higher order. In the types mentioned in the quote above, the second, third, and fourth are of particular interest in this essay. The parental contributions to the generation of an adult offspring provide a material that causes the vegetative and even motor-sensory levels in their child. But the motor-sensory level provides but a dispositive cause for the emergence and activation of intellectual, rational, and moral consciousness. This is because intellectual, rational, and moral consciousness is “headed toward the systematization, not of the particular animal that I am, but of the whole universe of being.”[3] These higher levels of consciousness cannot be caused by the lower sensitive manifold because these are intrinsically independent of the empirical residue. In other words, these are spiritual and thus the lower sensitive level is incapable of being a “material cause.” But the sensitive level is still a manifold, and needs to be for the higher levels of consciousness to operate (insight is into phantasm, for example, and cannot take place without phantasm). In other words, the higher orders of spiritual consciousness are extrinsically dependent upon the empirical residue, and thus the lower has a dispositive causal relationship to the higher. [4] Then, finally, in the reception of divine revelation, a concrete plurality of human beings as a community form the recipient of that gift, hence the relationship of that concretely plurality to the gift is a vertical finality of obediential potency.

 

Conjoined plurality and emergence

In every case, the concrete plurality must form a set of conditions for the emergence of a conditioned, whether on the same horizontal order or of a higher vertical order. So, there is a need for some kind of unification of the concrete plurality in order for the conditioned to emerge. A bit later in the essay, Lonergan will call this unity a conjoined plurality.

But vertical finality is in the concrete; in point of fact it is not from the isolated instance but from the conjoined plurality; and it is in the field not of natural but of statistical law, not of the abstract per se but of the concrete per accidens.[5]

This quote was discussed in the last blog with regard to “statistical law.” But now I want to draw attention to the conjoined plurality. Notice how the isolated instance is not the point of potentiality for vertical finality, but rather it is the conjoined plurality that forms that locus. This is ABSULUTELY key. There needs to be a coming together of the right conditions for vertical finality to become a real potentiality. These conditions and their convergence each have a frequency, and thus as well, an ideal frequency rooted in the ranges of possibilities. As organisms become more complex, this range increases just as there is an increasing flexible circle of ranges of schemes of recurrence, and one might add, of development. [6]

The conjoined plurality arises in a statistical manner, with actual frequencies converging on an ideal. And it is true whether one speaks of instrumental, dispositive, material, or obediential potency. All involve frequencies of conditions and the conditioned. If one does not have the right distribution of molecules within a tree, then carving it into a canoe will result in failure. There has to be an ideal distribution of the molecules that allow for what descriptively we would call a “straight tree with its grains running evenly. Or there has to be the right distribution of molecules in a bio-soup if there is to be the likelihood of the emergence of a self-replicating molecule.[7] Or sensitive images need to be in the right disposition if there is to emerge an insight. Or the individual receptive of divine revelation need to have the right disposition and sets of relationships to receive a public, communal divine revelation.

The statistics is a necessary element in finality. In Insight, Lonergan works this out metaphysically.

Finally, the foregoing account of potency, form, and act will cover any possible scientific explanation. For a scientific explanation is a theory verified in instances; as verified, it refers to act; as theory, it refers to form; as in instances, it refers to potency. Again, as a theory of the classical type, it refers to forms as forms; as a theory of the statistical type, it refers to forms as setting ideal frequencies from which acts do not diverge systematically; as a theory of the genetic type, it refers to the conditions of the emergence of form from potency.[8]

Notice here that he is saying in an extremely succinct manner how correlations that define conjugate forms, along with statistical ideals frequencies and finality (as well as development) are linked in terms of the basic metaphysical elements (potency, form, and act). This could be further unpacked into his theory of generalized emergent probability. Concrete plurality is naming a situation in which frequencies that converge on an ideal frequency provide the potentiality for the emergence of forms from potencies, hence new acts, with their frequencies. This is all articulated in general metaphysical terms and relations which reveals with precision a close unity between statistics and finality. That close relationship, as the quotes above indicate, already existed in Finality, Love, and Marriage, and Insight. Obviously, Insight has unpacked and expanded upon all the elements involved in this relationship, but fundamentally, the link seems the same. A statistically distributed plurality provides a probability for emergence, and the potency of this plurality for emergence is finality.

Fecundity, statistics, and finality

Now let us turn to fecundity and its realization.

….the actuation of sex involves the organistic union of a concrete plurality, and as such it has a vertical finality.[9]

Fecundity that is differentiated into two sexual genders is actuated through the “organistic union” of these genders.  In other words, it is in this union that vertical finality of fecundity emerges.  In a later blog, I will discuss the range of this vertical finality, because it includes both an intrinsic self-transcendence within the subjects who are sublating this finality into higher levels and ends of the human subject (notice how easy this will be to translate into the higher orders of conscious intentionality), as well as a  vertical finality within their “adult offspring.”  At the moment however, I want to highlight that the statistical features of this organistic union require that these be a union of two semi-fecundities.  It is the actualization of fecundity that is under consideration, and for that to take place within a plurality of semi-fecundities means that a unification has to take place for the actualization to be initiated.[10]

In short, the fact of a statistical, conjoined plurality or coincidental manifold is neither an elimination of the finality to an adult offspring nor to the finality to higher orders within the man and the woman and the child, but rather, it is the central locus of that finality.  It is the potentiality that is that finality.[11] It is that conjoined plurality (the conjugal act itself) that is integrated into the higher levels and ends of marriage.  Understanding this locus that is elevated is what would lead one to say as Lonergan did in Finality, Love, and Marriage that the “statistical law” that is found in the relationship of the conjoined plurality to concenption

…suffices for an objective ordination.[12]

 

[1] Finality, Love, Marriage, 46 footnote 73.

[2] Finality, Love, Marriage, 20.

[3] Insight, 515.

[4] Insight, 516.

[5] Finality, Love, Marriage, 22.

[6] Insight, 459.

[7] This is just one theory of the emergence of life, life being anything that can “reproduce” itself.

[8] Insight, 432 – 433.

[9] Finality, Love, Marriage, 43.

[10] There are other ways of course, given modern technologies, to actuate the adult offspring, but these usually involve by-passing and hence failing to actuate one or the other, or both of the semi-fecundities as such.  More on that later – once I finish exploring the meaning of this essay, I will then turn to some of its ramification in lights of current questions and debates. And of course, there are ways to eliminate the finality to an adult offspring by through hindering the actuation of one or the other or both of the semi-fecundities. Both by-passing and hindering involve a loss of the conjoined plurality within the man and the woman as subjects.

[11] Lonergan links potency and finality in Insight, 444-451.

[12] Finality, Love, Marriage, 46 foot 73.

Part 3: Statistics in Finality, Love, Marriage

By David Fleischacker

Dedicated to Br. Dunstan Robidoux, OSB on his birthday

Lonergan does discuss statistics within this 1943 essay, however, it is clear that he has not developed the notion of statistics to the level one finds in Insight 14 years later.  But it is not as far as one might think. Yet, one wonders if this will undo much of what he says in this essay regarding the role of finality within marriage. The next few blogs will answer that query explanatorily. But, the short answer is that it does not. I would argue that his expansion of the notion of statistics in Insight reinforces his notion of finality, and hence a key piece of the argument based upon that notion in this 1943 essay.  For this blog, we will focus just on the six times that Lonergan uses the term statistics in Finality, Love, and Marriage, and in the next blog discuss its relationship to finality.

Use 1: Statistical Law

Lonergan’s first use of the term “statistics” (actually “statistical”) takes place within his development of vertical finality.

But vertical finality is in the concrete; in point of fact it is not from the isolated instance but from the conjoined plurality; and it is in the field not of natural but of statistical law, not of the abstract per se but of the concrete per accidens.[1]

Notice the notion of “conjoined plurality” which reminds one both of coincidental manifolds or coincidental aggregates and its role in statistics in Insight, as well as the non-systematic convergence of conditions upon a conditioned.[2] Both the non-systematic convergence, and the coincidental aggregates are grounds for statistical probabilities. Both are based on acts of forms of potencies.  Every act can be examined in terms of its frequencies.  One could specify the frequency of some act within a particular spatial-temporal time frame, such as death rates within a particular region over a year. This is the absolute type of frequency.  There is as well a relative type which is discovered in terms of the alternative sets of conditioneds that can arise within a set of conditions.  In other words, the relative type of statistical probabilities are those based upon the possibilities of things and the realization of their conjugate forms in relation to the actualization of other things and the realization of their conjugates within a set of conditions.  This is how conjugates set boundary conditions for statistical probabilities.[4] In the absolute type of statistic, it is not the relative rates of alternative conjugates, but the rate of a conjugate within a particular spatial-temporal frame of reference. The relative rates are based upon possibilities that arise from converging conditions.  A simple illustration of the absolute rates are the standard birth rates which include boundaries set within space and time, and thus are not merely boundaries set by classical laws or systematic processes. Birth rates include the empirical residue (spatial-temporal given-ness) as part of what they mean.  In contrast, getting the genes for green or brown eyes (hence the proteins that give color to the eyes) is based upon the conjugates themselves (the alleles) and thus is based on the possibilities of conjugate forms (alleles) as setting the boundary conditions.

Use 2: Statistical Law

The second is found in a footnote to the first.

There is a noteworthy affinity between modern statistical law and the contingens ut in maiori parte, between modern ‘chance variation’ and the contingens ut in minori parte.[5]

This, I think, is getting at some of our common sense descriptive terms that refer to statistical frequencies. When we say it happens all the time, or it rarely happens, or it happens for the most part, or it happens once in a while… we are using statistically based descriptive terms. Descriptive because we do not have an insight into actual probabilities.   Lonergan is simply noting how the notion of “statistics” has its history within the tradition and was not entirely absent until it became popular in gambling and genetics.

Use 3: Statistical Infallibility

In the third use of statistics in the article, it falls within the hierarchies of the three ends of human existence which sets up the context for the three ends of marriage.  The three ends divide into three levels, and the first level is focused on “nature”—which he limits to “physical, vital, sensitive spontaneity” (a restricted sense of the term as Lonergan notes)—it is repetitive, spontaneous in its formation of community, and efficient in how it operates. At first glance, there does not seem to be any role of statistics, yet in his discussion on “efficiency” he mentions how it operates with “statistical infallibility.”

While nature with the ease of a superautomaton pursues with statistical infallibility and regularly attains through organistic harmonies its repetitive ends, the reason and rational appetite of fallen man limp in the disequilibrium of high aspiration and poor performance to make the progress of reason a dialectic of decline as well as of advance, and the rational community of men a divided unity of hatred and war as well as the indivisible unity of fraternity and peace.[6]

One can think of the simple example of a coin toss.[7]  As long as both sides of the coin have a negligible difference in mass distribution, then the fact of two sides sets the boundary conditions for the probability around which multiple random tosses will oscillate.  One can then specify the “likelihood” of getting heads or tails on any random toss.  The point is this that the more the tosses, the more it approaches the probability or ideal frequency. That increasing movement to the ideal frequency is likely the “statistical infallibility” that Lonergan has in mind when he uses this term.  And when organisms operate, they use this type of ideal frequency to live.  There are ideal frequencies of water supplies, food supplies, zones of protection, and many other needs of the organism for survival which are provided around a statistical probability upon which the organism depends for its existence. In evolutionary terms, one might say that a sequence of organisms adapted themselves to these ideal frequencies.  With the introduction of molecular biology, which really grew rapidly after Lonergan wrote this essay, one comes to a deeper sense of the role of ideal frequencies within the molecular and biochemical pathways of the organism. Everything makes use of these probabilities.  Most of us, for example, have heard of the Krebs cycle.  The cycle is not a physical machine, but it is a kind of chemical one, which operates not only using specific types of atoms and molecules within a controlled environment (mitochondria), but the statistical frequency of these molecules occurs in such a manner as to set the rates of ATP production.  ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) is the energy molecule of every cell.   This production has to occur at certain rates which increase or decrease with the needs of the cell and cellular activities (it increases for example if we get up from sitting and go for a walk).  The point is this that if you have high enough frequencies of events (such as coin tosses) you will make the ideal rate that you want.  In an everyday way you can call that a kind of infallibility. The fewer the events, the further you might diverge from the ideal. Unlike the Krebs cycle, water and food supplies for most organisms are not always numerous events in a given spatial-temporal frame of reference, and hence there can be periods of draught or starvation. But over the long run, there is an ideal around which actual frequencies of such supplies oscillate unless the “boundary conditions” change – such as when an oasis becomes a desert.

So, in the points that Lonergan makes about nature – hence about physical, vital, and sensitive spontaneity, along with the actuation of the spontaneity, which has an end in the emergence and maintenance of life, one does find some hints of the statistical element.  It is repetitive and this includes a kind of statistical infallibility that makes it so.  This means that the link of the physical, vital, and sensitive spontaneity and its horizontal finality to its ends involves a statistical element.

Since fecundity is a particular feature of physical, vital, and sensitive spontaneity, one can assume that it too has a statistical infallibility, at least when one examines the entire human race as a whole.  There will be repetitive conceptions and births, and adult offspring because of this statistical probability.

 

Use 4: Statistical spontaneity

The fourth quote is found on the same page, and makes a similar point though he is using it to complete his contrast of the three ends of the human person.

It is not the statistical spontaneity of nature, nor the incoherent liberty of man, but the gratuitous action of God.[8]

Here the contrast is how the end that is natural has a statistical element to it that is not deliberate and rational nor is it the same as the operations of God.  This does not add anything significant to our discussion about statistics.

 

Use 5: Statistical laws and probabilities

In the fifth use, he is discussing the concrete plurality of a man and a woman who come together in union, and how this united concrete plurality is the point at which vertical finality resides that is then integrated into the higher levels and ends of the human person (I will treat of this in a latter blog).  He then goes on to illustrate this vertical finality within the non-human worlds of life – vegetative and sensate life.

Further, the actuation of sex involves the organistic union of a concrete plurality, and as such it has a vertical finality. Such an upward drive follows from our general theory. In the vegetal and animal kingdoms it has its verification in the measure of truth that may be attributed to theories of evolution in terms of statistical laws and probabilities regarding combinations of genes through random mating.[9]

The key here is that he is formulating a connection between statistical laws and probabilities with the emergence of new species and even new genii.  The concrete plurality refers to the plurality of genetic alleles and combinations.  In Insight, when Lonergan is linking the lower manifolds to vertical relationships, he calls the manifold a coincidental manifold. These operate in a statistical manner with regard to inheritance.  And in turn, this provides a finality.  He was obviously aware of what became known as the Modern synthesis in evolutionary theory, which linked Darwin and Mendel in the late 1930 and early 40s.

 

Use 6: Statistical Laws

The last quote actually raises some questions.  It focused upon the level of nature, but moves from the statistical relationship of nature to its end in the emergence and maintenance of life, and specifies this to the level of fecundity, organistic union, and adult offspring. It is found in a footnote.

… As to the difficulty that frequently procreation is objectively impossible and may be known to be so, distinguish motives and , ends; as. to motives, the difficulty is solved only by multiple motive and ends; as to ends, there is no difficulty, because the ordination of inter­ course to conception is not a natural law, like ‘fire burns,’ but a statistical law which suffices for an objective ordination.[10]

What is the question that this raises?  Lonergan refers to natural law, and links fire and burning.  This account of fire and burning is a descriptive account, and he calls it a law.  But explanatorily, fire burning involves both conjugate forms and statistical realizations of those forms (in terms of chemical and physical changes), so that in the explanatory context, there is a statistical element to fire burning. Likewise, regarding the relationship between the conjugal act and conception, the relationship involves a set of correlations as well as statistical frequencies of those correlations. So, metaphysically, there is no different between the fire burning and conception.  Both involve conjugate forms with a certain frequency of actualization that diverges non-systematically from an ideal frequency.  I would argue that there is a bit of development at this point in Lonergan’s thought from the point of view of this essay to his writing of Insight. In Insight, I would argue that he linked together natural law and statistics more thoroughly, and instead of natural law as descriptively formulated, he differentiated classical laws and statistics. In chapter 10 of Insight, the “self-affirmation of the knower,” Lonergan reveals this development.

Cognitional process does not lie outside the realm of natural law. Not merely do I possess the power to elicit certain types of acts when certain conditions are fulfilled, but, also with statistical regularity, the conditions are fulfilled and the acts occur.[11]

Still, is there a truth in what he is saying?  Sure.  In this case, he seems to say that something that is natural has a relationship to its end that has a kind of determinate certainty to it that other types of events do not have. He might very well have in mind “statistical infallibility” with regard to “fire burns.” It is a bit like asking “What is the probability that the sun rises each day?”  Not everything however does have that kind of regularity, and when you limit the spatial-temporal boundary conditions sufficiently on certain types of events, then the regularity is not so regular.  This is what happens when one moves from a large population to individuals on just about any type of event, including the realization of the end of fecundity. So when one looks at a single couple, and asks about the probability of their being able to realize their fecundity, then one no longer speaks of statistical infallibility.   But this is not surprising.  When one looks at the thousands of conditions needed for fecundity to take place, and that each of those conditions requires a certain ideal frequency, then the regularity that one might call “statistical infallibility” belongs not to the individual, but to the species.

This particular sixth quote however reveals something crucial in Lonergan’s entire argument in the essay, namely the link of statistics and finality.  In the next blog, due to arrive on June 11th, I will explore the relationship of statistics to finality within Finality, Love, and Marriage.

[1] Finality, Love, Marriage, 22.

[2] In Insight, the phrase “coincidental manifold” gains significance as Lonergan develops his notion of a thing, and the higher and lower orders of conjugates, in which the lower provide a coincidental manifold that can be systematized by the higher (262-263). He develops it more precisely in chapter 15, “Elements of Metaphysics,” where he develops explanatory genera and species (437), finality (444), development (451-452).  Coincidental aggregates is used earlier in relationship to statistics as is the notion of the non-systematic.

[4] Insight, 103.

[5] Finality, Love, Marriage, 22 footnote 16.

[6] Ibid., 39.

[7] The understanding of a coin toss and its final outcome largely is descriptive for most people, but fortunately the descriptive and explanatory accounts of both a coin toss and its final resting place in being either heads up or down result in a similar result. In other words, the descriptive conjugates and explanatory conjugates for this sequence of events results in the same set of events.  Sometimes descriptive accounts are significantly differentiated by explanatory accounts, and hence the “statistical” accounts end up being different. This is true of human height for example, which is caused by a multiplicity of explanatory conjugates—many genes and environmental factors.

[8] Finality, Love, Marriage, 39.

[9] Finality, Love, Marriage, 43.

[10] Finality, Love, Marriage, 46, footnote 73.

[11] Insight, 330.