David Fleischacker, PhD, December 2008 (written 10 years ago)
In 1943, Lonergan had written an essay on marriage, love, and finality. In this essay he makes use of metaphysics to develop the intelligibility of marriage and family in such a manner as to provide a systematic understanding of the Church’s teaching as it had been developed in Casti Connubii. He intended on the essay to become a springboard for a larger exploration of the meaning of marriage and family. The key metaphysical analogy used in the essay is that of finality.
Lonergan distinguished a variety of types of finality, two of which were central for the issue at hand, namely horizontal and vertical. They are key in understanding the hierarchy of being and the good. They are also important for developing an understanding of the distinction and relationship of all fields of knowledge from physics to theology. They are important for understanding human reality as well, especially as an embodied interiority in which the body has its own horizontal ends, but is vertically related and integrated into motor-sensory experience, understanding, knowledge (level of judgment), the will (level of decision), and supernatural life.
Thus, it has a place in marriage as well. Horizontal and vertical finality are key for understanding the essential (procreative) and excellent (unitive) ends of marriage. Lonergan writes in 1943 that
If then, reason incorporates sex as sex is in itself, it will incorporate it as subordinate to its 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 (Collection, 46).
This presents an important fact about horizontal and vertical finality. One cannot have vertical finality without the realization of horizontal finality. The above quote is part of a paragraph that was explaining the relationship of sex and marriage. Lonergan started the paragraph by claiming “marriage is a rational form, the incorporation on the level of reason, not of the child nor of the fecundity of the parents, but of sex and of the finality of sex to the child.” Then, a few sentences later, he wrote “marriage is more an incorporation of the finality of sex than of sex itself” (45). That finality was the horizontal finality of sex (male and female fecundity in conjugal union) to the generation of a child. It is intrinsically oriented toward the creation of a child. To remove this horizontal finality of sex and the conjugal act is to eliminate the vertical meaning as well.
This point explains why in Catholic doctrine consummation is so important for the sacramental bond and its indissoluble state. It explains the unique relationship that men and women have to each other in such a context. It also explains why contraception would be an act against the finality of sex, first against the horizontal, and subsequently against the vertical as well.
In later writings, Lonergan only strengthens and refines his understanding of horizontal and vertical finality, especially in INSIGHT, where he integrates conjugate forms and their statistical realization in schemes of recurrence into a metaphysical account of development in terms of finality. Working through Lonergan’s position on higher and lower levels and their development in terms of horizontal and vertical finality allows for one to comprehend the true unity of the horizontal to the vertical in all fields of science. Eliminate, for example, Kreb’s cycle, and one will destroy the higher organic conjugates of the cell, and any developmental finality of the cell. Eliminate neural processes, and one destroys the vertical existence of the sensate forms and their psychic development.
Lonergan and Marriage
In the case of marriage, eliminate the horizontal finality of the pro-creative schemes of recurrence, and one destroys the unique rational and volitional relationship that emerges and develops between a man and woman. Thus, one does not have the “rational” relationship of a civic marriage without this conjugal relationship. And one does not have the sacred relationship of a sacramental marriage without this conjugal relationship. In initiating and then hindering these procreative schemes of recurrence and their developmental finality, one metaphysically destroys all of the vertical meanings that build upon these schemes.
Thus, Lonergan’s position is not against the teaching of the Church on marriage and family. Quite the contrary. Some of Lonergan’s most significant contributions to philosophy, especially to metaphysics, results in affirming the natural intelligibility of the procreative and unitive aspects of marriage, and the unity of these aspects with each other. The analogy of horizontal and vertical finality provides substantial grounds for making this claim.
This of course, is not a position that some Lonergan scholars have taken regarding the Church’s teaching on contraception. Some had made use of a 1968 letter that Lonergan allegedly  had written which questions the Aristotelian basis of the Catholic teaching on marriage, conception, and contraception. However, even if written by Lonergan, careful analysis of the letter does not lead to any definitive position on the issue. If one thinks that a statistical relationship between the conjugal act and conception negates Catholic teaching against contraception one has failed to understand Lonergan on statistics and finality. For Lonergan, statistical probabilities are integral to finality. This may change the Aristotelian view of a natural causality of conception, but in turn, it grounds a deeper understanding of nature that supports both Casti connubii‘s and Human vitae‘s condemnation of contraception even better than Lonergan’s 1943 essay had accomplished. In the end, contraception is just as much a surd as it would be if the Aristotelian understanding of conception were correct. Why? Because initiating the procreative schemes in the conjugal act, and deliberately introducing something that blocks the schemes from completing is against the entire horizontal finality of these schemes and the conjugal act. One is actuating the finality for a child and yet privating that same finality, and thus in the decision to introduce contraception, one is acting against the intelligibility, being, and goodness of the conjugal act and its meaning. This surd privates the emergence of the higher orders that build upon it, thus it not only an essential surd, but an excellent surd (to use those 1943 terms). That is a surd that makes the decision to contracept absurd. Thus, objectively it is an evil, a privation of intelligibility, being, and goodness that should not take place. Thus, to avoid this evil, every conjugal act needs to be open to the finality that it intrinsically possesses.
 Bernard Lonergan, “Finality, Love, and Marriage” in The Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 4 (University of Toronto Press, 1988), 17 – 25.
 Perhaps a better analogy is one derived from adult stem cells. The oocyte and spermatozoa are more akin to stem cells, which then form the embryonic stem cell, which is the beginning then of an embryonic child. Destroying stem cells in the body will destroy the realization of their horizontal finality into mature cell types and thus the organic conjugates that are supported by these developmental sequences. So, if one destroys all of one’s bone marrow, one can no longer generate new blood cells which in turn support all the systems in the body. This in turn will stop the life and development of the motor-sensory levels, which in turn will stop intellectual and moral development.
 This also provides a way for understanding Natural family planning as well, and its right uses, though that goes beyond the current point on contraception.
 I say “allegedly” because When Dom Sebastian Moore asked Lonergan to whom the letter was written, Lonergan responded that he did not even remember writing the letter. There is no name of the person to whom the letter was address. Also, the letter is not signed by Lonergan. Furthermore, the statement about Aristotelian biology is followed by an overstated conclusion that would be unusual for Lonergan. Finally, there is no mention of the transposition that Lonergan himself made in INSIGHT of Aristotelian heuristics to those of modern biology and the relations between the two.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Dr. David Fleischacker
I would like to make a simple statement. The finality of the human person is one of existential isomorphism.
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.
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.
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.
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.