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preface || intro || 1 ||  2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7 || 8 || 9 || 10 || 11 || 12 || Conclusion

Transforming Light



So far we have illustrated pieces of the puzzle: the gradual expression of Lonergan's own intellectual conversion. But there are a set of notes from 1951 in which he explicitly, and to my knowledge for the first time, uses the term "intellectual conversion." These are the first clear account of what Lonergan will later call "the third stage of meaning," that is, the stage of human culture in which human interiority is systematically analyzed.

The notes are an outline of a course of twelve hours taught at the Thomas More Institute between March and May, 1951, and entitled "Intelligence and Reality." This was during the time when he was well into working on Insight and the outline is reflective of what will emerge in Insight. The notes are typed by Lonergan in schematic form. We will highlight the elements that focus on what he here calls "radical intellectual conversion."


Lonergan states his topic: not Whether knowledge exits? a question he deems "a blind alley;" but rather, What is knowledge?.

He begins by highlighting many of the aspects of the act of understanding that he had highlighted in his previous writings. He distinguishes between the spontaneous insights in art, skills, crafts, technique, and the "analysed" [sic] insights of mathematics, science and philosophy. Both are insights, but the latter involve analysis allowing a person to facilitate the act of understanding in another "by talking to him." "Analysed" acts of understanding provide simpler and neater examples. This is a shorter expression of what he will say in Insight to justify his use of so many examples from mathematics and science.

In these notes he again employs his favorite geometrical example, the circle, in the analysis of understanding.

Link between sensible date, imagined representations, and objects of thought. What is an object of thought? For the moment it is what you can think about but cannot see or imagine. Point: position without magnitude. Line: length without depth or breadth...Geometers talk about them, cannot imagine them. How does one reach objects of thought? Imagine cart-wheel; ask why round (formal, not efficient instrumental material or final)

Definition: parrot repetition or expression of understanding necessary and sufficient for uniform roundness grasped in imagined presentation.

He also illustrates the meaning of a "higher viewpoint" by understanding the movement from understanding arithmetic to understanding algebra. In Insight he illustrates this by showing how allowing the operations of arithmetic their full generality (to reveal the possibility of negative numbers, for examples) provides "a virtual image" in which one can grasp the possibility of algebraic operations. Here he merely notes:

Mathematical series of higher viewpoints

image - insight - object of thought - symbol

symbolic image - insight - higher object of thought

Toward the end of this first section on the act of understanding Lonergan describes intellectual mastery with regard to a particular set of "analysed" insights:

Where others only see multiple incidental particular contingent

Where others just read and pronounce the words

Where others just gape at symbols

acquired mastery without hesitation

grasps unity in multiplicity, essential over-ruling incidental, universal illustrated in particular, necessary relating contingent

There is also a section on judgment which Lonergan defines by distinguishing questions for intelligence and questions for reflection. Among other things he notes:

Present total increment a tiny fragment with respect to totality of true judgments...

Habitual character of knowing: only one judgment at a time; either general and vague; or precise but particular. Woods or trees. We want to contemplate. We can only add.

The next section is on reflective understanding.

Insight, meeting question for reflection, making judgment possible and rationally necessary.

grasps sufficiency of evidence; problem, What is sufficient?

At this point he introduces the notion of "the virtually unconditioned," that is, a conditioned whose conditions are understood de facto to be fulfilled. Among other examples he refers to concrete judgments of fact and there, in a parenthesis, he inserts "importance of Newman."

All judgments have ultimately the same basis; virtually unconditioned.

Kinds of evidence vary; possibility of expressing evidence varies. Act and criterion invariant.

Opinions, if judgments, reduce to virtually unconditioned; eg best available scientific opinion, ie squares with known relevant data...

As a corollary he critiques the "escapism" of any ultimate appeal to logic, technique, method, rule, contrivance:

Ultimate appeal has to be to inner acts, personal acts; your knowledge is your responsibility. Bear witness to truth. You cannot impose it.

Later he says:

Real issue: existence theorem.

Anyone may define terms and set up analytic propositions ad nauseam.

Aquinas I, II, 65, 5, 4m: conclusions to principles; principles to terms; terms to wisdom.

Wisdom - Habitual cluster of reflective insights with respect to ultimates....

Fundamental importance of Newman. Concrete judgment of fact, key to knowing existence, being in act.



Early in these notes Lonergan treats of "explanatory abstraction," a more technical analysis of the act of understanding. Abstraction, he notes, is basically enriching. He appeals to the personal experience of grasping the idea of something, "the pre-conceptual, intelligible form emergent in sensible data." For example, in the example of the circle enriching abstraction grasps that if the radii are equal, no bumps are possible; it must be a circle. Such necessity and impossibility are grasped in the image, not in general.

The "empirical residue," another term he will use in Insight, is what is always left out in cases of explanatory abstraction: such as "instance, interference of different laws, continuum."

An "explanatory system" is a related set of explanatory abstractions. He distinguishes primitive and derived concepts. The derived are defined by the primitives.

Primitive: terms and relations; relations fix terms;

terms fix relations; both from idea; both simultaneous

Here he touches on what is central to these notes and to Insight, implicit definition: the terms fix the relations and the relations fix the terms and both are rooted in insight. This technique, which in Insight he attributes to the geometer, David Hilbert, he here applies to understanding human knowing.

For example, in a section entitled "Data, Images, Percepts" Lonergan defines these elements by their relationship to understanding.

We cannot understand without understanding something.

Ergo, there has to be a component in knowing that is presupposed and complemented by inquiry and insight.

Ergo, definition of data, images, percepts by relation of presupposition and complementation to inquiry and insight.

After referring to the data sought in the empirical sciences, Lonergan refers to the data of consciousness: "acts of seeing, hearing, imagining, desiring, fearing, inquiring, understanding, conceiving, reflecting, judging, choosing." Direct understanding is to sensible data as introspective understanding is to the data of consciousness. There is no difference qua understanding.

Begin from experience of understanding; relate to inquiry, presentations, concepts, in process of maths, class phase, statistical phase.

There are limiting experiences in this process:

constructs also experienced; identity of experimenter, experimented on, experimentation.

Lonergan also mentions the "fallacy of amateurish introspection:"

Data images percepts are ineffable.

Without distinction relation identification

Hence indirect definition by relations

Hence fallacy of amateurish introspection

What is this "fallacy of amateurish introspection?" Based on what Lonergan will write in Insight, I would contend that it would be any attempt at introspection based on a model of knowing as "taking a good look," so that introspection is conceived as "looking within ourselves." Genuine introspection is the heightening of our human consciousness that is involved in understanding the dynamic structure of our own knowing.

Here he merely notes that the various levels of human consciousness are related by presupposition and complementation. Thus, in a section on the "Structure of Knowing" he notes:

Level of experience, of intelligence, of reflection...

Levels related by presupposition and complementation...

The significance of implicit definition is its complete generality: it consists in explanatory definitions and omits nominal definitions.

The exclusive use of explanatory or postulational elements concentrates attention upon the set of relationships in which the whole scientific significance is contained.


Toward the end of an early section on the act of understanding and its formulation in explanatory systems Lonergan asks whether the relations involved in an explanatory system must be mathematical.

Seems to be a secondary principle of relevance that requires relations to be mathematical with decreasing stringency as one advances from physics to chemistry, from chemistry to biology, from biology to human sciences

Chemistry defines hundreds of thousands of compounds by mere hundred elements. Defines elements by pattern of relations of periodic table. Periodic table not a mathematical series though with many mathematical aspects and relations.

He then treats of "heuristic abstraction," which in Insight is clearly integral to what he calls the classical empirical method of science.

Heuristic notion: a unknown b employed in making it known. eg x an equation involving x

Basic heuristic notion "nature:" a unknown, will be known when I understand; b employed in reaching understanding, for similars are similarly understood...

Applied to a sensible similarity b similarities of conjunction, separation, sequence, sequences of proportions, etc., etc. Curve fitting.

He then goes on to define empirical method as "a method of ever closer approximation to complete account of the data that are given." Classical empirical method, which in Insight he associates with the names of Galileo, Newton, Clerk Maxwell and Einstein, involves the selection of a possible explanatory system that fits the data in a given domain. For example, a term such as "mass" is a non-mathematical higher term in the total explanatory system of modern physics.

Masses are what stand in certain relations that are established experimentally. Lever, spring, balance, impact, free fall. Not "heavy" "light" "weight;" no direct experience; mass is a term defined by experimental relations between masses. Cp. "E" and "H" defined by Clerk-Maxwell's equations.

"Heavy," "light" and "weight" are common sense terms that denote things in relation to our sensitive being. They are not scientific or explanatory terms. In an article written soon after this, Lonergan makes the same point with regard to theological categories.

Just as the equations of thermodynamics make no one feel warmer or cooler and, much less, evoke the sentiments associated with the drowsy heat of the summer sun or with the refreshing coolness of evening breezes, so also speculative theology is not immediately relevant to the stimulation of religious feeling.

Lonergan here uses the term "conjugate" to denote terms defined by their relations. Such conjugate terms are empirical when their defining relations admit experimental proof. Explanatory systems are relevant to empirical inquiry when their higher terms are empirical conjugate terms.

In the concrete, explanatory "laws" are set forth with the proviso caeteris paribus, that is, "other things being equal." In fact, this is the recognition that things are not always equal and classical laws are realized according to schedules of statistical probabilities.

In these notes Lonergan refutes the determinist viewpoint that would reduce the concrete world to a full set of abstractions.

Misconception of concrete; it is not a full set of abstractions

Misconception of explanation: initial situation unexplained, and so all subsequent concrete sit unexplained

Irrelevant to world in which we live: nothing in conclusions that not in premises; something in subsequent not in prior situations

Misconception of science. Prophet predicting miracles is not science. Science is comprehensive. Grasp of whole by clustering insights, mastery.

The reality of indeterminacy in chance aggregates opens the way to the statistical phase of empirical method. He illustrates indeterminacy through the analysis of a cast of dice:

not necessarily in data or in description of data

slow-motion picture of dice

possibility of assigning trajectory and momentum of every movement

but not possible to assign law governing relations between successive elements

just opposite of classical supposition

The intelligibility of the statistical phase of empirical method is probability.

Chance aggregate means aggregate as not understood

Probability aggregate means same as understood.

Probability means that the divergence of the concrete from the systematic must be non-systematic. An example: in a truly random outcome in the casting dice there is no systematic influence favoring any one of thirty-six possibilities. Any deviation from the probability 1/36 will be non-systematic; if there were a systematic deviation from that probability, one would search for a cause, such as the loading of the dice.

Later in the notes Lonergan speaks of the form of groupings of aggregates in the concrete universe as "emergent probability:"

probability, because actual occurrence is governed by probability; emergent probability because events that actually occur affect the expectations of what is to occur.

The notes also have a section on "Things." In Insight Lonergan defines a thing as a unity, identity, whole differentiated by descriptive and explanatory conjugates. Here he speaks of the identity in temporally distinct data:

Differentiation by descriptive or conjugate terms; by probable expectations; individual, revert to data.

Unity and identity: presupposed by inquiry (change not annihilation, substitution, advent), by verification, application

3 invariants: identity, conjugate, frequency.


In these notes the section entitled "Radical Intellectual Conversion" is immediately preceded by a section on "the pure desire to know."

Such a pure desire to know, Lonergan states, is the wonder prior to our questions. It is not inhibited by a lack of interest in understanding. Nor is it interested only up to a point and for the sake of something practical.

There is to this pure desire a "disinterestedness," that characterizes genuine science. It reflects the unlimited character of our ability to question and our desire for the absoluteness of truth. Error results from the interference of inhibiting and reinforcing desires with this pure desire to know.

Lonergan then makes a first approximation to explaining intellectual conversion by describing it as "turning from what seems to what is."

Intellectual conversion is incidental if it is a turning "from a particular error to a particular truth."

In a somewhat extended sense Lonergan in his later years would often apply the term "intellectual conversion" to the great cultural break-throughs in the world of theory: for example, the Greek achievement in philosophy and the Christian Church's break-through to a systematic defense of the divinity of Christ at the Council of Nicea. Lonergan often seemed to imply that the meaning of intellectual conversion varied according to the level of cultural development. That is, what at an earlier "stage of meaning" might qualify as an intellectual conversion, might at a later stage itself require a "radical intellectual conversion."

In these notes radical intellectual conversion is an intellectual conversion that appropriates the dynamics of incidental intellectual conversion.

Intellectual conversion is radical if it makes explicit and deliberate the pure desire to know and it acknowledges the existence and influence of inhibiting and reinforcing desires. Radical intellectual conversion effects the transition from the spontaneous to the explicit and the deliberate. It is, in fact, what Lonergan's whole work aims at accomplishing: not just the correction of one or other error, but the explicitation of the dynamic principle for combatting any error.

Thus, fidelity to the pure desire to know effectively combats other inhibiting or reinforcing desires. It is not an adherence to some particular truth, but rather to the very principle whence truth is reached. Ultimately, it issues in a radical intellectual conversion.

By emphasizing the need for a radical intellectual conversion rooted in the pure desire to know, there is no danger of one's method being a mask for some particular favorite doctrine. The procedure is also invulnerable: "to object is to appeal to obscurantism, to stupidity, to silliness."

Lonergan goes on to contrast radical intellectual conversion with Descartes' universal methodic doubt. The latter method is unreasonable for it involves an equal suspicion for the true and the false. If carried out, such doubt would result in mental infancy: "acquired habits of mind do not await our bidding to vanish." It also involves an excessive commitment: doubt everything means prove everything and for people in every walk of life such a "claim to omni-competence results in a charge of incompetence." De facto, Descartes did not himself return to mental infancy and become a pre-Socratic.

Finally, Lonergan notes the function of radical intellectual conversion. First, it is a bludgeon against obscurantism, stupidity, silliness. Psychologically, it pulls one out of the flow of percepts, the memories and anticipations added to data that come from the orientation of efficiently and economically dealing with one's environment. It pulls one out of what Lonergan will later call "one's own little world." It pulls one out of the attitude that the world of sense is the criterion of reality; it pulls one away from deprecatory remarks about the "bloodless ballet of categories;" it pulls one away from spontaneous utilitarianism and pragmatism.

Positively, the function of radical intellectual conversion is to head us for "whatever is intelligently conceived and reasonably affirmed." It is related to Aquinas' "natural desire to see God."

It seems obvious that in these notes "radical intellectual conversion" plays a role parallel to what will be the center of Insight: the explicit self-affirmation of the knower:

By "self-affirmation of the knower" is meant that the self as affirmed is characterized by such occurrences as sensing, perceiving, imagining, inquiring, understanding, formulating, reflecting, grasping the unconditioned, and affirming.

In Insight all of these acts that constitute the content of the self-affirmation of the knower flow from the pure desire to know. To the extent that the pure desire to know is operative, it issues in these acts and this content of self-affirmation. In effect, it is what the 1951 notes call "radical intellectual conversion:" making explicit and deliberate the pure desire to know as the way of turning away from other inhibiting and reinforcing desires towards "whatever is intelligently conceived and reasonably affirmed."

Such a radical intellectual conversion can provide a universally acceptable starting point for philosophy inasmuch as each philosophy is set forth as true.

In these notes radical intellectual conversion is also connected with the section on "the starting place of philosophy." There he says that philosophy begins with the invitation to radical intellectual conversion. It takes any person where they are and invites them to advance towards whatever is intelligently grasped and reasonably affirmed. Philosophy cannot be based on the arbitrary decisions of each person; it must be scientific and, as such, based on a fundamental set of concepts and relations. Such a basic set of concepts and relations must be such that:

(a) Relations fix concepts and concepts fix relations.

(b) Relations are not free constructions as in mathematics but have experiential basis as in empirical sciences.

(c) Relations are universally accessible, for science is universally accessible.

(d) Relations have a certain inevitability; they cannot be evaded...

(e) Relations and concepts must be fruitful; supply a key to the integration of the whole sweep of human knowledge.

(f) Relations and concepts must not be subject to radical revision; it must be possible to add refinements, developments; it must not be possible to change the whole shape of the picture.

Lonergan's thesis in these notes is that such a set of relations and concepts is supplied by an analysis of our knowing and by descriptive and "terminal," that is, explanatory, categories.

What is significant in these notes is the insistence on the fact that the self-knowledge generated by radical intellectual conversion is an explanatory knowledge. The method of "implicit definition," is invoked. Here this technique is applied to cognitional structure as such.

We began from description of insight but moved on to analysis; i.e., relating insight to images and inquiry and definitions and explanatory systems. End result was a set of terms defined by the relations of a scheme; level of experience (sense data, perceptual images, free images; data of consciousness); level of intelligence (inquiry, direct understanding, formulation); level of reflection (questions for reflection, grasp of unconditioned, judgment). Each element explained by relations to others in terms of presupposition and complementation.

These "relations" between the elements are experiential and universally accessible, that is, everyone has the conscious experience of these dynamisms of experiencing, understanding and judging. The point is to arrive at an accurate knowledge of these dynamisms of human knowing.

These relations also possess a certain inevitability, not on the level of the contents of our concepts and judgments, but rather on the prior level of the dynamism involved in coming up with any concepts or judgments at all. Here he invokes Aristotle's technique of dealing with the sceptic.

Go to the root of the Aristotelian technique. What is to be done with the disputant that denies principle of contradiction? Get him to talk. I.e. intelligent and reasonable talking will make a man realize that he is committed to principle of contradiction. More deeply, it will make him realize that he cannot avoid experience, effort to understand, formulation of what he understands, reflection and judgment on formulation.

Just by being the person that one is, one is committed to experience, to intelligence, to reasonableness.

Hermit can cut down on experience, but he cannot eliminate it...

One cannot intelligently repudiate intelligence; and one is committed by being what one is to reject unintelligent repudiation.

One cannot reasonably repudiate reasonableness; and one is committed by being what one is to reject unreasonable rejection.

From such a procedure one can arrive at a metaphysics that moves beyond descriptive categories that describe what we do not yet understand to "terminal" or explanatory categories that implicitly define the objective differentiations within the universe of being. For example, the inevitability of the distinction between act, form and potency arises from the inevitability of our cognitional process.

Between Act and Form. Act corresponds to the "Yes" of judgment; it is what can be known only by the "Yes." Form corresponds to the intelligibility grasped and formulated by understanding.

Between Form and Potency. Form corresponds to the intelligibility grasped by understanding. Potency accounts for the empirical residue, to what is abstracted from in all direct understanding. Instance, incidental, non-systematic divergence, continuum.

Inevitability restricted to proportionate beings. Angels without potency, just act and form. God, pure act.

The fruitfulness of this approach is that such relations are embedded in the correct understanding of any object on which we have data.

Embraces all positive science and mathematics.

Provides basis for human science.

Admits development to natural and dogmatic theology.

Such a procedure is beyond radical revision - for which we would need a new type of knowing. It combines the empirical with the a priori.


The notes of 1951 explicitate the notion of being as the objective of the pure and unrestricted desire to know. Such a pure desire penetrates all the contents of our knowledge; it places each content in the context of all the others; and it is open to ever further acquisitions.

The pure notion of being is the pure desire to know inasmuch as it heads towards the absolutely universal and the absolutely concrete.

Plato, "If you ask because you do not know the answer, how will you recognize the answer when you get it?"

Process has begun; will proceed in determinate fashion to reach result under determinate conditions.

The composite notion of being is the pure desire to know in conjunction with the elements that leads towards answers or with answers.

Being is universe; a being is what pertains to universe.

But what is universe? Depends on your formulations and judgments; and these are part of the composite notion of being. Materialist, phenomenalist, idealist, essentialist.

Radical intellectual conversion opens one to the analogous notion of the composite notion of being. As Lonergan's early intellectual conversion was rooted in an understanding of the real distinction of essence and existence, so here he affirms the distinction within being of essence and existence.

Composite notion of being is analogous.

Notion is analogous 1) if component elements 2) if relation between components and 3) if this relation defines notion.

Notion of being has components "Is it?" and "It is."

There is a relation between them: essential to existential

Objectivity is rooted in the pure desire to know issuing in radical intellectual conversion.

Radical intellectual conversion commits us to realism; for conversion is to intelligently grasped and reasonably affirmed, therefore to what is known in true judgment.

In a realist philosophy, as distinct from a relativism, an empiricism or an obscurantism, an object is what is known in true judgment; hence "object" and "being" are equivalent terms. Lonergan rejects "the problem of the bridge," of getting from "in here" to "out there" as a false conception of the objectivity of human knowing.

Realist objectivity is transcendent.

Object is being, everything, all of everything.

Nothing is left over from which to cross; no possibility of immanence.

Object is being; but differentiation of being from within; hence "I" and "thing" are known through differentiating "being."

Knowledge of real subject, real object, and real distinction is a set of judgments.

"I am" "It is" "I am not it" "I make these judgments."

As he affirmed in Verbum, such transcendence is rooted in the fact that our intellect is a created participation in uncreated light.

lumen intellectus nostri est participatio quaedam creata lucis increatae; Thomist transposition of Augustinian vision of eternal reasons in incommutable light.


Opposed to such realism are many and varied forms of "confrontationism:" roughly, that knowing is or should be "taking a look." Under this Lonergan again lists virtually all the schools of philosophy outside of critical realism. The "look" at the basis of confrontationism may be sensitive perception as in the various forms of empiricism, or some intellectual intuition that Kant sought for in vain and that naive realists dogmatically assert.

It presupposes that human knowing is complete prior to judgment; judgment is merely affixing a rubber-stamp on knowing that as knowing is considered as already complete. For confrontationism, knowledge is not primarily by identity between subject and object, a perfection in the subject, but dualistic: the object over against the subject.

For confrontationism the analysis of knowing is an impossible undertaking: to analyze knowing is to eliminate it. To take it apart is to make it impossible to put the pieces together again. This was, of course, Etienne Gilson's concern about any analysis of the conscious subject in Catholic philosophy, any "transcendental turn" to the subject.

The source of confrontationism is the fact that the human person is born an animal, and achieves animal integration spontaneously. For this reason the human animal is prone to make intelligence and reason merely another organ at the service of animal nature. Our orientation tends towards successful living in the world of sense.

On the other hand, there is for the human person the possibility of another orientation: that is, towards the universe of being by means of the pure desire to know and radical intellectual conversion. This is the significance of the "Platonist flight from sense, the Pythagorean five years of silence," and Lonergan adds, "relativity and quantum mechanics."

The weakness of confrontationism is that it leads to fictitious intuitions, falsifications of knowledge, disappearance of knowing in immanence, idealism.

It can be asserted. It cannot be concluded. No reasons can be given for it except assertion that otherwise knowing would be impossible. No reasons can be given, because for confrontationist confrontationism has to be primitive and beyond analysis or explanation.

Significantly, as the young Lonergan had asserted in the Keeler review, confrontationism cannot deal with the fact of error.

What is intuited a has to be there to be intuited (one cannot intuit what is not there) b cannot be corrected by second intuition (why should second look be any better than first, or if better, then why not third still better, fourth still better &c.)

Most of all, confrontationism leads to the arbitrariness found in so many philosophical schools.

What are we confronted with?

Most obviously, sense presentations. If only that, then materialism.

Essences, then Plato, Avicenna, Scotus, &c.

Objects of thought, then idealism, immanence, with reaction to irrationalism.


A particular instance of confrontationism is found in the mechanical model of modern science which has had a profound effect on modern philosophy.

Understand modern philosophy from influence on it of modern science; from recent advance of science return to phil. perennis.

Elsewhere Lonergan would say that scientific thought has provided the "undertow" to modern philosophy. To a great extent such an undertow has consisted in a mechanistic view of the universe.

Here Lonergan brings out that such a mechanical model of the universe is rooted in the scientist's tendency to attempt to representatively imagine the objects of his inquiry.

I see phenomena in cathode tube, cloud chamber, spectroscope, pointer reading; infer electron; very definite tendency to add to identity a set of imaginable qualities.

Unverifiable, unless electron can be seen.

The scientist must be content with imagination as heuristic, as symbolizing the objects of his questions;

Imagination as representative: no good. Scientist is scientist because hypothesis verified, not because of imagination; imagination for poets artists orators.

Like the presupposition of Kantian thought, modern science has been plagued by a confrontational model of knowledge, a model contradicted by recent scientific advances.

Kant: denial that mechanical model, representative image, could be confrontationist knowing of thing in itself.

Inability to reach significance of "being" because of failure to see that judgment results from grasp of unconditioned.

Scientific thought has undergone a radical change.

Relativity and Quantum mechanics eliminate representative images. Only remaining possibility is "being."


Lonergan concludes his notes on "Intelligence and Reality" with a section entitled "What is the good of Philosophy?" He begins by saying:

The unrestricted desire to know introduces the infinite into human life. Makes possible knowledge of the universe, conceptions and plans for the good of the universe, the unleashing of vast human energies in the executions of such plans, attainment of such ideals.

On the other hand, without the actual self-knowledge brought about by successful philosophy one's existence is precarious:

Subject is thrown back on experience of self (a) as self-regarding center (b) as capable of ecstatic devotion to cause or person. Oscillates violently between extremes: (a) contempt of liberal bourgeoisie (b) materialist ideal with religious devotion (c) new bourgeoisie of officials kept in line by delation and purges.

Only the pure desire to know - such as Augustine became aware of in reading Cicero's Hortensius - can help the person transcend stupid selfishness on the one hand, and blind and ecstatic devotion on the other. The pure desire to know is an achievement in the personal subject; but it is the root of objectivity and impartiality.

Its goal is serene and objective apprehension of universe, of self in universe, of role of self in universe. Its consequence is agape, love of intelligible order of whole; neither self-regarding nor ecstatic; but joy in both good it brings me and the price I must pay.

Lonergan relates such philosophy rooted in radical intellectual conversion to the need for moral and religious conversion.

Still philosophy does not provide final answer. Man can conceive an ideal for individual and society, but he cannot execute it. Necessity of grace. Xtian dogma; and secular experience: Ovid, Video meliora proboque, deteriora autem sequor. Man can become confused, fail to reach even philosophy. Descartes and rationalists. Kant and idealists. Kierkegaard and existentialists.

Ultimately the answer is religious conversion. He quotes a text from Romans 5 that he will often quote in his reflections on theology.

Divine childhood: live by divine revelation and by divine grace. New knowledge beyond mastery of human understanding; centered in Xt our Lord. New love "poured forth in your hearts by Holy Spirit who is given you."



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