Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan SJ CC (17 December 1904 – 26 November 1984) was a Canadian Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian, regarded by many as one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century.
Lonergan's works include Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1972), as well as two studies of Thomas Aquinas, several theological textbooks, and numerous essays, including two posthumously published essays on macroeconomics. A projected 25-volume Collected Works is underway with the University of Toronto Press. He held appointments at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Regis College, Toronto, as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College, and as Stillman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.
Lonergan at Boston College
Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan
17 December 1904
Buckingham, Quebec, Canada
|Died||26 November 1984 (aged 79)|
Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Lonergan set out to do for human thought in our time what Thomas Aquinas had done for his own time. Aquinas had successfully applied Aristotelian thought to the service of a Christian understanding of the universe. Lonergan's program was to come to terms with modern scientific, historical, and hermeneutical thinking in a comparable way. He pursued this program in his two most fundamental works, Insight and Method in Theology.
The key to Lonergan's project is "self-appropriation", that is, the personal discovery and personal embrace of the dynamic structure of inquiry, insight, judgment, and decision. By self-appropriation, one finds in one's own intelligence, reasonableness, and responsibility the foundation of every kind of inquiry and the basic pattern of operations undergirding methodical investigation in every field.
He is often associated with his fellow Jesuits Karl Rahner, and Joseph Maréchal with "transcendental Thomism", i.e., a philosophy which attempts to combine Thomism with certain views or methods commonly associated with Kant's transcendental idealism. However, Lonergan did not regard this label as particularly helpful for understanding his intentions.
Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan was born on December 17, 1904, in Buckingham, Quebec, Canada. After four years at Loyola College (Montreal), he entered the Upper Canada (English) province of the Society of Jesus in 1922, and made his profession of vows on the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, July 31, 1924. After two further years of formation and education, he was assigned to study scholastic philosophy at Heythrop College, London, in 1926. Lonergan respected the competence and honesty of his professors at Heythrop, but was deeply dissatisfied with their Suarezian philosophy. While at Heythrop, Lonergan also took external degrees in mathematics and classics at the University of London. In 1930 he returned to Canada where he taught for three years at Loyola College, Montreal.
In 1933, Lonergan was sent for theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1936. After a year of Jesuit formation ("tertianship") in Amiens, France, Lonergan returned to the Gregorian University in 1937 to pursue doctoral studies in theology. Due to the Second World War, he was whisked out of Italy and back to Canada in May, 1940, just two days before the scheduled defence of his doctoral dissertation. He began teaching theology at College de l'Immaculee Conception, the Jesuit theology faculty in Montreal in 1940, as well as the Thomas More Institute in 1945-46. In the event, he would not formally defend his dissertation and receive his doctorate until a special board of examiners from the Immaculee Conception was convened in Montreal on December 23, 1946.
Lonergan taught theology at Regis College from 1947 to 1953, and at the Gregorian University from 1953 to 1964. At the Gregorian, Lonergan taught Trinity and Christology in alternate years, and produced substantial textbooks on these topics. In 1964, he made another hasty return to North America, this time to be treated for lung cancer. He was appointed again to Regis College from 1965 to 1975, was Stillman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University in 1971-72, and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College from 1975 until 1983. He died at the Jesuit infirmary in Pickering, Ontario, on 26 November 1984.
In the epilogue to Insight, Lonergan mentions the important personal transformation wrought in him by a decade's apprenticeship to the thought of Thomas Aquinas. He produced two major exegetical studies of Thomas Aquinas: Grace and Freedom, and Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas.
The University of Toronto Press is in the process of publishing Lonergan's work in a projected 25-volume series, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan. Archival materials are available at bernardlonergan.com.
Lonergan's doctoral dissertation was an exploration of the theory of operative grace in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. His director, Charles Boyer, S.J., pointed him to a passage in the Summa theologiae and suggested that the received interpretations were mistaken. A study of Thomas Aquinas on divine grace and human freedom was well-suited to his interest in working out a theoretical analysis of history. The dissertation was completed in 1940; it was rewritten and published as a series of articles in the journal Theological Studies The articles were edited into a book by J. Patout Burns in 1972, and both the revised and the original version of his study were subsequently published in his Collected Works as Grace and Freedom: Operative Grace in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.
After his return from Rome, Lonergan wrote a series of four articles for Theological Studies on the inner word in Thomas Aquinas which became highly influential in the study of St. Thomas' accounts of knowledge and cognition. The articles were later collected and published under the title Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas.
In 1945 Lonergan gave a course at the Thomas More Institute in Montreal that extended from September to April 1946 entitled "Thought and Reality," and the success of that course was the inspiration behind his decision to write the book Insight. While teaching theology at Collegium Christi Regis, now Regis College federated with the University of Toronto, Lonergan wrote Insight: A Study of Human Understanding, inaugurating the generalized empirical method (GEM). GEM belongs to the movement of "transcendental Thomism" inaugurated by Joseph Maréchal. This method begins with an analysis of human knowing as divided into three levels – experience, understanding, and judgment – and, by stressing the objectivity of judgment more than Kant had done, develops a Thomistic vision of Being as the goal of the dynamic openness of the human spirit.
In 1973, Lonergan published Method in Theology, which divides the discipline into eight "functional specialties." Method is a phenomenon which applies across the board in all disciplines and realms of consciousness. Through his work on method, Lonergan aimed, among other things, to establish a firm basis for agreement and progress in disciplines such as philosophy and theology. Lonergan believed that the lack of an agreed method among scholars in such fields has inhibited substantive agreement from being reached and progress from being made; whereas, in the natural sciences, for example, widespread agreement among scholars on the scientific method has enabled remarkable progress. The chaper on "Religious Commitment" in Method in Theology was delivered in a lecture at The Villanova University Symposium and published in: The Pilgrim People: A Vision with Hope, Volume IV, edited by Joseph Papin (Villanova University Press, 1970). Karl Rahner, S.J., however, criticized Lonergan's theological method in a short article entitled: "Some Critical Thoughts on 'Functional Specialties in Theology' where he states: "Lonergan's theological methodology seems to me to be so generic that it really fits every science, and hence is not the methodology of theology as such, but only a very general methodology of science." Lonergan's thinking in Method was, indeed, inspirational in bringing theological and psychology together in a unique way, e.g. Bernard J.Tryrrell, "Christotherapy: A Theology of Christian Healing and Enlightenment Inspired by the Thought of Thomas Hora and Bernard Lonergan" in The Papin Festschrift: Wisdom and Knowledge, Essays in Honour of Joseph Papin, Volume II, edited by Joseph Armenti, Villanova University Press, 1976, pp. 293-329.
While at the Gregorian University, Lonergan composed a two-volume Latin textbook, De Deo Trino (third edition, 1964). It has recently appeared in the Collected Works together with an interleaf English translation under the title The Triune God: Doctrines (2009) and The Triune God: Systematics (2007).
In The Triune God: Doctrines, Lonergan begins with an examination of the dialectical process by which the dogma of the Trinity developed in the first four centuries. This section was previously published in English as The Way to Nicea. The second section of the work advances dogmatic theses on (1) the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, (2) the divinity of the Holy Spirit, (3) the distinction of the divine persons by relations of origin, and (4) the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son (the Filioque). The fifth and final thesis is that the Trinity is a theological mystery in the strict sense and can only be understood analogically. A concluding scholion presents New Testament evidence in favor of the "psychological" analogy of the Trinity.
In The Triune God: Systematics, Lonergan develops the theory of intelligible (or spiritual) emanations in God as propounded by Thomas Aquinas. The volume begins with a discussion of the method of systematic theology which seeks an imperfect but highly fruitful understanding of the mysteries of faith by means of analogies. The following chapters develop an analogical conception of the divine processions (as intelligible emanations), relations, persons, and the two missions of the Word and Spirit.
Lonergan produced two textbooks in Christology. In 1956 he produced a supplemental volume De Constitutione Christi Ontologica et Psychica; the fourth and final edition of 1964 was presented in the Collected Works with an interleaf translation as The Ontological and Psychological Constitution of Christ (2002). Lonergan clarifies the metaphysical principles of Christ's constitution as one person in two distinct natures, and transposes that framework to address the consciousness of Christ as a single subject of two distinct conscious subjectivities.
Beginning with an edition of 1960, Lonergan introduced his own textbook for his Christology course, De Verbo Incarnato. Subsequent editions were published in 1961 and in 1964. De Verbo Incarnato is divided into four parts. The first part is an interpretation of the divinity and humanity of Christ as presented in the New Testament (thesis 1). The second part recapitulates the formation of the dogmatic theological tradition of Christology up through the monothelite controversy in the seventh century (theses 2-5). The third part, which covers much the same material as The Constitution of Christ but in a somewhat different manner, formulates what Lonergan calls "theological conclusions" from the hypostatic union regarding the ontological constitution of Christ as one person in two natures (theses 6-9), and his psychological constitution as a single subject of two subjectivities (thesis 10). The fourth part concerns "what belongs to Christ" (de iis quae christi sunt), including his grace, knowledge, sinlessness, and freedom (theses 11-14). The fifth and final section regards the redemptive work of Christ, in three theses: redemption in the New Testament (thesis 15), the satisfaction given by Christ (thesis 16), and "Understanding the Mystery: The Law of the Cross," presenting Lonergan's synthetic understanding of Christ's work (thesis 17).
He also produced a separate treatise on the Redemption, of uncertain date and never published. This treatise treats, in six chapters divided into 45 articles, good and evil, divine justice, the death and resurrection of Christ, the cross of Christ, the satisfaction given by Christ, and the work of Christ.
Among Lonergan's more noteworthy contributions to Christology include his theory about the ontological and psychological constitution of Christ, his interpretation of Christ's human knowing, and his interpretation of Christ's redemptive work.
Both De Verbo Incarnato and the supplement on Redemption are in preparation for the Collected Works. The plan is to present two volumes, The Incarnate Word, which would include theses 1-14 in Latin with an interleaf English translation, and The Redemption, which would include theses 15-17 and the supplement on Redemption.
In the 1930s and early 40s, Lonergan developed an intense interest in macroeconomic analysis, but never published the manuscript he developed. In later life while teaching at Boston College, Lonergan returned his attention to the economic interests of his younger days. The University of Toronto Press has published his two works on economics: For a New Political Economy and Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis.
Lonergan described his philosophical program as a generalization of empirical method to investigate not only data given through exterior sensation, but also the internal data of consciousness. More specifically, objects are known while considering the corresponding operations of the subject and vice versa, experiencing and the subsequent operations of the intellect being components of both knowing and reality. Method, for Lonergan, is not a technique but a concrete pattern of operations.
Lonergan maintained what he called critical realism. By realism, he affirmed that we make true judgments of fact and of value, and by critical, he based knowing and valuing in a critique of consciousness. GEM traces to their roots in consciousness the sources of all the meanings and values that make up personality, social orders, and historical developments. A more thorough overview of Lonergan's work is available at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Lonergan's ideas include Radical Unintelligibility, GEM, and Functional Specialization. Given the fact that no science can today be mastered by a single individual, Lonergan advocated sub-division of the scientific process in all fields. One of the leading voices in the effort to implement functional specialization is Philip McShane.
Frederick G. Lawrence has made the claim that Lonergan's work may be seen as the culmination of the postmodern hermeneutic revolution begun by Heidegger. Heidegger replaced Husserl's phenomenology of pure perception with his own linguistic phenomenology. Gadamer worked out this seminal insight into his philosophical hermeneutics. According to Lawrence, however, Heidegger, and in a lesser way Gadamer, remained under the influence of Kant when they refused to take seriously the possibility of grace and redemption. Lawrence makes the observation that Heidegger – influenced also by Augustine's inability to work out a theoretical distinction between grace and freedom – conflated finitude and fallenness in his account of the human being. "Sin" is therefore absorbed into "fallenness," and fallenness is simply part of the human condition. Lonergan builds on the "theorem of the supernatural" achieved in medieval times as well as on the distinction between grace and freedom worked out by Thomas Aquinas, and so is able to remove all the brackets and return to the truly concrete, with his unique synthesis of "Jerusalem and Athens."
In 1970 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
An annual Lonergan Workshop is held at Boston College, under the leadership of Frederick G. Lawrence. The proceedings of the Workshop are published under the same name, Lonergan Workshop, edited by Frederick G. Lawrence. The Workshop began in Lonergan's lifetime and continued after his death. The West Coast Methods Institute sponsors the annual Fallon Memorial Lonergan Symposium at Loyola Marymount University. The Lonergan Symposium has been meeting for 32 years.
Boston College has a Lonergan Institute, and also publishes the bi-annual Method: Journal of Lonergan Studies. The journal was founded and edited until 2013 by Mark D. Morelli. The Lonergan Studies Newsletter is put out 4 times a year by the Lonergan Research Institute, Toronto; it provides the most up-to-date bibliographical information on the Lonergan movement. Recently, Seton Hall University has put out The Lonergan Review.
Lonergan Centers have been set up in various places (see below, External Links). The Lonergan Research Institute at Toronto holds the Lonergan archives as well as a good collection of secondary material, including a complete collection of dissertations on Lonergan's work. Much of the primary archival material is available online at the Bernard Lonergan Archive (see below, External Links), and a site for secondary material has also been set up, thanks to the work of Robert M. Doran.
Benjamin Franklin Meyer (1927–1995) was a theologian and scholar of religion. Born in November 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, he studied with the Jesuits, his studies taking him to California, Strasbourg, Göttingen, and Rome, where he received his doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1965. He taught briefly at Alma College and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley before joining the faculty at McMaster University in 1969, where he taught in the religious studies department until 1992. Meyer's areas of specialization included the historical Jesus, the early expansion of the Christian movement, and the hermeneutics of Bernard Lonergan. He authored several important monographs over his 30-year career. He died on 28 December 1995 in Les Verrières, Switzerland.Catholic moral theology
Catholic moral theology is a major category of doctrine in the Catholic Church, equivalent to a religious ethics. Moral theology encompasses Roman Catholic social teaching, Catholic medical ethics, sexual ethics, and various doctrines on individual moral virtue and moral theory. It can be distinguished as dealing with "how one is to act", in contrast to dogmatic theology which proposes "what one is to believe".Charlotte Tansey
Charlotte Hunter Tansey (c. 1922 – August 26, 2010) was a Canadian academic, educator and writer who founded the Thomas More Institute for Adult Education in Montreal, in 1945.Charlotte Tansey was born in Montreal, Quebec, the daughter of Michael Tansey and Charlotte Hunter. She had a brother, Peter, and sisters Barbara, Carol and Mary. She studied English literature at College Marguerite Bourgeoys of the Université de Montréal, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1943, and then received her Master of Arts from McGill University in 1946; she wrote her thesis about Gertrude Stein.She was a founding director of the Thomas More Institute for Adult Education in 1945, and was later its president for 18 years up until her retirement in 1998. The institute was set up to make it easier to pursue an undergraduate degree by taking night classes. The educational philosophy valued question and debate rather than lectures. The school was affiliated first with the Université de Montréal, and later with Bishop's University.Her scholarly publications included co-authorship of "Creative Memory: Five Suggestions for Categorization of Adult Learning" (Adult Education Quarterly; 1974) and Caring about Meaning: patterns in the life of Bernard Lonergan (1982). She also received honorary doctorates from Concordia University, Bishop's and Burlington College.She died at age 89, from kidney failure, on August 26, 2010 at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.Frederick G. Lawrence
Frederick G. Lawrence is an American hermeneutic philosopher and theologian, and a specialist in Bernard Lonergan, teaching in the Department of Theology at Boston College, Boston, USA.Hugo Anthony Meynell
Hugo Anthony Meynell (born 23 March 1936), Meynell Langley, Derbyshire, England, is an English academic and author. Born half a year after the death of his father, Captain Godfrey Meynell, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for action against Afghan raiders in India's Khyber Pass, Hugo grew up as a member of an English family which arrived in England with the Norman conquest of England. He was educated at Eton, and King's College at the University of Cambridge where he obtained his PhD. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1993, and is listed in the Canadian Who's Who.Human spirit
The human spirit is a component of human philosophy, psychology, art, and knowledge - the spiritual or mental part of humanity. While the term can be used with the same meaning as "human soul", human spirit is sometimes used to refer to the impersonal, universal or higher component of human nature in contrast to soul or psyche which can refer to the ego or lower element. The human spirit includes our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, and creativity.
In the models of Daniel A. Helminiak and Bernard Lonergan, human spirit is considered to be the mental functions of awareness, insight, understanding, judgement and other reasoning powers. It is distinguished from the separate component of psyche which comprises the entities of emotion, images, memory and personality.John Teske views human spirit as a social construct representing the qualities of purpose and meaning which transcend the individual human.John F. X. Knasas
John Francis Xavier Knasas (born 1948) is an American philosopher. He is a leading existential Thomist in the Neo-Thomist movement, best known for engaging such thinkers as Bernard Lonergan, Alasdair MacIntyre and Jeremy Wilkins in disputes over human cognition to affirm a Thomistic epistemology of direct realism and defending the thought of Jacques Maritain, Étienne Gilson and Fr. Joseph Owens. He holds the Bishop Wendelin J. Nold Endowed Chair as Professor of Philosophy at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston and earned his doctorate at the University of Toronto, under the direction of Fr. Joseph Owens.Joseph Maréchal
Joseph Maréchal (1 July 1878 – 11 December 1944) was a Belgian Jesuit priest, philosopher, theologian and psychologist. He taught at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Leuven and was the founder of the school of thought called transcendental Thomism, which attempted to merge the theological and philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas with that of Immanuel Kant.List of Catholic philosophers and theologians
This is a list of Catholic philosophers and theologians whose Catholicism is important to their works.Lonergan's Discovery of the Science of Economics
Lonergan's Discovery of the Science of Economics is a 2010 book by Michael Shute, in which the author provides an account of Bernard Lonergan's solution to a fundamental problem in economic theory.Lonergan (surname)
Lonergan is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Andrew Lonergan (born 1983), English football goalkeeper
Arthur Lonergan (1906–1989), American art director
Augustine Lonergan (1874–1947), U.S. Representative from Connecticut
Bernard Lonergan, (1904–1984), Canadian Jesuit Priest, philosopher-theologian, economist
Dan Lonergan, Australian sports commentator and writer
Dean Lonergan, New Zealand rugby league player and current events promoter
Jennifer Lonergan, Canadian educator and nonprofit business executive
John Lonergan (1839–1902), Union Army captain in the American Civil War
Julia Lonergan, Australian judge
Kate Lonergan (born 1966), British actress
Kenneth Lonergan (born 1962), New York playwright, screenwriter, and director
Lenore Lonergan (1928–1987), stage and film actress during the 1930s and 1940s
Lloyd Lonergan (1870–1937), New York scenario and screenwriter
Mike Lonergan, American basketball player, coach
Richard Lonergan (1900–1925), American underworld figure and labor racketeer
Sam Lonergan (born 1987), Australian Football player
Tom Lonergan (Australian footballer) (born 1984), Australian rules footballer
Tom and Eileen Lonergan, married couple of American Peace Corps volunteers who went missing in 1998 and are presumed dead
Walter Lonergan (1885–1958), second baseman in Major League BaseballLonergan Institute
The Lonergan Institute is a center of research at Boston College (a private university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts), specialising in the work of Canadian philosopher Bernard Lonergan.
The Institute offers courses and seminars on Lonergan, his principal writings, and subjects that those writings illuminate, such as hermeneutics, political theology, science and religion, Christology, aesthetics, self-knowledge, economics, the Trinity, and the history and philosophy of science and mathematics.
The Lonergan Institute is also responsible for the Perspectives and PULSE programs at Boston College; these are interdisciplinary projects dealing with philosophy, theology, service, and other aspects of academia.Michael Shute
Michael R. Shute (born 21 September 1951) is a Canadian scholar and Professor of Religious Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is known for his research on the works of Bernard Lonergan and moral decision-making.
Shute is a co-editor of Journal of Macrodynamic Analysis.Radical unintelligibility
Radical Unintelligibility, a term coined by Bernard Lonergan, is the philosophical idea that we can act against our better judgment. We can refuse to choose what we know is worth choosing. It is the refusal to make a decision that one deems one ought to make. Mortal sin is radically unintelligible: when we commit a mortal sin, we fully consent to do something despite knowing that it is wrong to do it.Res Philosophica
Res Philosophica (formerly The Modern Schoolman) is a peer-reviewed academic journal covering all major areas of philosophy from antiquity to the present. Established in 1925, it is one of the oldest philosophy publications in North America. The journal publishes both articles and reviews, and occasionally publishes special issues on specific topics. Contributors include Robert Audi, Lynne Rudder Baker, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Étienne Gilson, Jürgen Habermas, Norman Kretzmann, Bernard Lonergan, Jacques Maritain, Wildrid Parsons, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Paul Draper, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. The Modern Schoolman is published by the philosophy department at Saint Louis University, in cooperation with the Philosophy Documentation Center.
In 2013, beginning with volume 90, The Modern Schoolman was relaunched as Res Philosophica.Robert M. Doran
Robert Michael Doran (born 20 June 1939) is a Canadian theologian and Emmett Doerr Chair in Catholic Systematic Theology at Marquette University. He is known for his research on the works of Bernard Lonergan.The Lonergan Review
The Lonergan Review is a peer reviewed academic journal dedicated to the exploration of the thought and legacy of Bernard Lonergan (1904–1984). The purpose of the journal is to promote continuing interest in the field of Lonergan studies. It was established in 2009 as the official journal of the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute by the Center for Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University, and is distributed by the Philosophy Documentation Center. Richard Liddy is its director.The Origins of Lonergan's Notion of the Dialectic of History
The Origins of Lonergan's Notion of the Dialectic of History: A Study of Lonergan's Early Writings on History is a 1993 book by Michael Shute, in which the author provides "a study of previously unavailable material from the 1930s on the subject of history by Bernard Lonergan".Theological critical realism
In theology, the term critical realism is employed by a community of scientists turned theologians. They are influenced by the scientist turned philosopher Michael Polanyi. Polanyi's ideas were taken up enthusiastically by T. F. Torrance, whose work in this area has influenced many theologians calling themselves critical realists. This community includes John Polkinghorne, Ian Barbour, and Arthur Peacocke. The aim of the group is to show that the language of science and Christian theology are similar, forming a starting point for a dialogue between the two. Alister McGrath and Wentzel van Huyssteen (the latter of Princeton Theological Seminary) are recent contributors to this strand. The Anglican bishop and New Testament scholar N. T. Wright also writes on this topic:
... I propose a form of critical realism. This is a way of describing the process of "knowing" that acknowledges the reality of the thing known, as something other than the knower (hence "realism"), while fully acknowledging that the only access we have to this reality lies along the spiralling path of appropriate dialogue or conversation between the knower and the thing known (hence "critical").
Wright's fellow biblical scholar, James Dunn, encountered the thought of Bernard Lonergan as mediated through Ben F. Meyer. Much of North American critical realism—later used in the service of theology—has its source in the thought of Lonergan rather than Polanyi.
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