and Mediation in Our Knowledge of Being”
by Giovanni Sala
This paper was published in 1972. It therefore draws on Lonergan’s Verbum and Insight, as
well as on the papers “Metaphysics as Horizon”, “Cognitional Structure”,
and “Insight: Preface to a
Discussion”, but not on his later works like Method
in Theology. It can be seen as
the culmination of a series of books and papers:
a Study of Human Understanding, 1957. Revised
A Methodical and Systematic Introduction (in German), 1961. Second edition
Lonergan, “Metaphysics as
Horizon”, 1963. A review of 2.
Experience and the Horizon of Being in Emerich Coreth and Bernard Lonergan” (in German), 1967.
A discussion of 1. and 2.
Coreth, “Immediacy and the
Mediation of Being: An Attempt to Answer Bernard
Lonergan” (in German), 1970. English
version 1972. A reply to 3. and 4.
Lonergan, “Bernard Lonergan
Responds”, 1972. A reply to 5.
Sala, “Immediacy and
Mediation in Our Knowledge of Being: Some Reflections on the
Epistemologies of Emerich Coreth and Bernard Lonergan” (in Italian),
1972. A reply
The great advantage a translator of this work has is the
kind advice of Fr. Sala, who has considerable knowledge of English.
Perhaps the great disadvantage is the number of languages involved.
In addition to Italian, the text contains English, German, Latin, and
Greek (and one word of French). The
important issues of translation can be discussed in relation to these different
With regard to English, I have simply imported Sala’s
English into the translation. Perhaps
the most interesting point here is that Italian, like some other languages, uses
a number of different terms to express the English “insight”.
Sala employs the expressions intendimento
intelligenza (intelligence, understanding),
capire (understanding, grasp), and
atto di intelligenza (act of understanding), with the English word
in parentheses. (Similarly,
Coreth’s German Einsicht is
translated as intuizione (intuition),
with the German in parentheses. Coreth
translates it into English as “insight”.)
The text also contains extensive translations of Lonergan’s English
into Italian, evidently done by Sala himself.
These have naturally been replaced with Lonergan’s original English.
With regard to the translation of Italian, two importantly
different senses of the words “know” and “knowledge” appear in this
translation. These correspond,
perhaps by chance, to two different Italian words used by Sala, conoscenza and sapere,
that are conventionally translated as “knowledge”. With regard to the knowledge that is had in judgment, Sala
uses such expressions as “knowledge of being”, “knowledge ad modum obiecti”, “objectively valid knowledge”, “knowledge
in the true and proper sense”, “effective knowledge”, or knowing something
(including oneself) “as real”, “as an existent”, “or as an object”.
The second kind of knowledge is had in the immediate experience of
oneself in intellectual consciousness, by which one is nonthematically aware of
being. This knowledge is called
“anticipatory knowledge”, “a priori knowledge”, “heuristic
knowledge”, “subjective knowledge”, knowledge “ex
parte subiecti”, or “ad modum
subiecti”. As about the
subject, it is also “experience of oneself”, “awareness of the subject as
subject”, “knowledge of oneself as subject”.
As about being, it is also called “the notion of being” or “the
sense of being”. In this sense, Sala also speaks of the “pure pre-knowledge
of being” (presapere puro dell’essere).
With this distinction, the reader will understand such sentences as
“Our notion of being knows being, but in such a way that all this knowledge
only informs us that we do not [explicitly] know being.”
In a few places I have qualified the words “know” and “knowledge”
with “anticipatory”, “experiential”, “explicit”, or “full” where
it seemed needed for clarity.
Sala’s text contains German expressions with
translations, and these are retained with English translations. There are also numerous passages translated from the German
into Italian. One is from his own
publication 4. above. In this case,
I have simply translated the Italian. Other
passages are from Coreth’s 2. or 5. Passages from 2. have been translated by comparing Sala’s
Italian with the German original. Since
Coreth has translated 5. into English himself, I have copied from his
Here perhaps the most important issue is what English
terminology to use for various concepts related to “being”.
This comes up in translations of Heidegger’s German and also, for
example, in Donceel’s translation of Coreth.
For the global notion, Lonergan himself uses “being” with a small
“b”. Coreth similarly
translates Sein as “being”, and
therefore I have done the same with Sala’s essere. For individual
items that are, Lonergan’s term
“thing” is not used. Coreth
uses Seiend, and translates it as
“existent”. This is the word
that appears in translations from him. Sala’s
most commonly used term is ente, but
he favors the translation of this as “[a] being”. Thus, the reader will find both terms with equivalent
meanings. Sala also uses the terms
“existent”, “reality”, and “entity”.
Sala’s Latin and Greek are sometimes left in the text
with English translations added, and sometimes they are simply replaced with the
English. A special problem arises
with Sala’s quotations from Aristotle in Greek.
Conventional translations of Aristotle commonly render his key
cognitional term νόησις
as “thinking”. Sala
regards this as part of a modern conceptualist misunderstanding of Aristotle
that emphasizes the concept over the preconceptual act of understanding.
He refers to Lonergan’s rediscovery of the importance of insight into
the phantasm and to Lonergan’s discussion of this particular Aristotelian term
in Verbum, p. 196.
Sala believes that “understanding” is the proper translation, and
that word accordingly is used here. Divine
thought is therefore “understanding of understanding”, rather than
“thinking of thinking”.
In the footnotes, I have updated Sala’s original
references with more recent publications of the same sources. In particular, I have called attention to English
translations and to the Toronto edition of Lonergan.
Donald E. Buzzelli