Seminar October 20 on the metaphysical character of relations

Relations: Primary Relative

Concrete Relations: Primary relativity + secondary determinations

After discussing distinctions which are recognized by a negative judgment, Lonergan now turns to relations which are recognized by an explanatorily apprehend conjugate form that is implicitly defined.  As with distinctions, these can be notional, problematic, real, or mixed.  Problematic relations include those in which the explanation is merely provisional (remember that all scientific theories or provisional analytical principles).  Real relations are those which would survive in a fully explanatory account of the universe. 

It is in this section that Lonergan states his most precise account of the connection between the systematic and the non-systematic.  Lonergan had introduced these terms as early as chapter 2. when he discussed concrete inferences on classical laws.  We tended to think of something like the planetary system as systematic and things that were a bit chaotic as non-systematic. That was not precise.  In fact, every concrete relation has both a relative component, hence systematic, and a non-relative component, hence non-systematic.  The determinations of variables takes place within the non-systematic.  And the more the systematic relation contributes to determining the variables, the more it controls the entire set of events.  Still, it is a union of the systematic and the non-systematic that account for the concrete.  This will be further elaborated in the next section.

The union of the primary relativity and secondary determinations holds for both scientific explanations and for metaphysics.  Lonergan quickly reminds us of the terms and relations in metaphysics — central and conjugate potencies, forms, and acts.  As with experience, understanding, and judgment, these terms are defined by relations.  But any concrete specification of the central and conjugate potencies, or forms, or acts, involves secondary determinations.