Distinctions grasped by negative judgment

Insight Forum: Saturday September 29, 2012

On Saturday, September 29th, we will begin chapter 16, Metaphysics as Science in INSIGHT.  The point of the chapter is to reveal the power of the method of metaphysics that Lonergan has put forth in the prior two chapters.  In the last chapter, Lonergan deduced the metaphysical elements from the structure of knowing.  The basic reason that grounds this possibility is the isomorphism between knowing and the known. The human mind is the "light of being." In chapter 16, Lonergan is going to show how some traditional metaphysical discussions can be worked out with certitude and clarity if one follows what he has been doing.

The first traditional discussion into which he dives is the notion of distinctions.  The grasp of a distinction is rooted upon a negative judgment.  This is important.  A positive judgment (X is true) is the ground for grasping being.  A negative judgment distinguishes being (X is not Y).  This should harken us back to the principle notion of objectivity. This is key, key, key to grasping the clarity that Lonergan achieves.

Metaphysically, one can discuss distinctions in terms of distinct ACTs of forms in potencies.  In chapter 15, there were six metaphysical elements: central potency, central form, central act, conjugate potency, conjugate form, and conjugate act.  These then became the basis for discussing development. The distinction of metaphysical terms and relations, and then their concrete realization in generic, specific, and individual beings of this universe are grasped by negative judgments, and because judgments are isomorphic with being, the content of these judgments affirm distinct acts.  

It is from this fundamental isomophism that Lonergan then proceeds with relative ease to discuss notional, problematic, real, mixed, adequate, and inadequate distinctions.