here, too.) It is in Polish here.
But now for something completely different. I received an email about Lonergan, which I have boiled down to this:
Dear Auntie Seraphic,
Who is this Lonergan person?
Who Is Lonergan?
P.S. I bought your book!
Dear Who Is Lonergan,
I'm delighted to answer your question on Lonergan. (And thank you for buying my book!)
Father Bernard Lonergan, SJ, was born in Buckingham, Quebec, Canada in 1904. He joined the English-speaking Canadian Jesuits as a young man and eventually went to the Gregorian, where he studied theology and produced a groundbreaking thesis on Aquinas's thought on Grace. At some point he also got tremendously interested in epistemology--how people come to know things. He wanted to take on modern philosophies, although in a respectful way. One of the underlying themes in his huge work Insight is his post-war fear that if people didn't find common ground there would be a massive nuclear catastrophe.
So he sat down and figured out what everyone could agree on. What everyone had to agree on was "experiencing, understanding, judging and deciding" since all those things--and questioning--are self-evident. The minute you ask, "Is there questioning?" , you have to say "Yes." And Lonergan determined that experiencing, understanding (which follows the question "What is it?) and judging ("Is it really so?") are the three steps necessary for knowing. Deciding takes us into the realm of the ethical: "Now that I know that, what do I do?"
Now Lonergan was a product of his times and of his religious order. As you may know, the Society of Jesus was one way before Pedro Arrupe became General and a completely different way afterwards. Lonergan's best work has the unmistakable stamp of St. Ignatius of Loyola on it, and to his dying day he was a Thomist and thus also an Augustinian. However, after the Second Vatican Council (and Arrupe), Lonergan turned his thoughts towards economics, the recent rejection of children as THE primary reason for marriage, and ecumenism. In this he was obedient to the Second Vatican Council, particularly as that Council was interpreted by the SJ.
He became a cult figure to increasing numbers of young Boomer theology students including, to his surprise, lay men and young women. (Before the 1960s, Lonergan taught only seminarians.) These students were products of their own generation and seized Lonergan's ideas to bolster up their own. Today people of all kinds of academic backgrounds and varying politics meet at Lonergan conferences, often with very little in common but a love of Lonergan's ideas. There are even atheist Lonerganians, which seems rather mad to me. I wonder if Father Lonergan, who died in 1984, is amused to discover that sometimes the "common ground" is he himself.
The elephant in the room is Lonergan's language. Lonergan was a good writer, but his thought was so precise and so detailed that his work is very hard to read and understand. The best interpreters of Lonergan work diligently to make his work accessible to new students. The worst add to the difficulty by making up their own Lonergan-inspired terminology. Between Lonergan's language and the esoteric attitude of his Boomer disciples, many students are completely turned off. "Insight" was reputedly the "hardest" course at my theologate, so I took it. And it was pretty hard, although thank heaven I "got" it and produced a good term paper.
One of the strengths of the classic Jesuit system of teaching is something called "Ignatian repetition." Usually this is a spiritual technique, but it serves in teaching as well. As the Jesuit theologate in Toronto is a major repository of Lonergan's thought, important Lonerganian themes are repeated over and over again from class to class. Gradually students learn Lonergan's thought the way people learn languages.
I find Lonergan's epistemology convincing and helpful when I consider the situation of young Single Catholic women today. To paraphrase Father Lonergan, "The dating world is before us in pieces, and it is up to the men and women of good will to put it together again." And part of that is strict attention to what really is.
You may have noticed how I mention "being rooted in reality" over and over again. This is because very often people do not make their decisions on what is true, but what they have uncritically accepted as true, or want to be true, or fear to be true. In the experiencing, understanding, judging scheme of knowing, a thinker can only move from understanding (in which hypotheses are raised) to judging (in which hypothesis are tested) when all the facts (or data) are in. My sanity has been saved on many an occasion by the admission that "I don't have enough data to make a judgement."
I gave a paper on Lonerganians themselves (see photo, above), which unsurprisingly, the Lonerganians who heard it rather enjoyed. My research suggested that a major factor in students' interest in, or rejection of, Lonergan's ideas was the Lonerganians themselves. My advice to young traditionalists who are disturbed by what they have heard about Lonergan is to see beyond the presenter to Father Lonergan himself and then always remember the historical circumstances in which Father Lonergan lived: the Society of Jesus both before and after the Second Vatican Council. He was influenced by St. Ignatius, Aquinas, Augustine, John Henry Newman--and then the Second Vatican Council.
I am told that the theological craziness of the 1970s disturbed him very much, but that is anecdotal.
Beginning to read Lonergan, especially without a good professor, can be a hair-raising experience. I recommend beginning with Chapter 2, "The Human Good", of his Method in Theology. (This is available also in other language, including in Polish as Metoda w Teologii. The Polish MwT is out-of-print, but it can be found in specialist libraries.) It will give you a brief glimpse into what he is all about.
I hope this is helpful!
Grace and peace
P.S. Lonergan was not a Kantian. I mention this only because any Catholic man with a philosophical background who has only dabbled in Lonergan tends to dismiss him as a Kantian. But he was not a Kantian, as has been demonstrated again and again. Which I hope you will say airily if the subject ever comes up.