The Method of Theology 8:2
Sku: 31600A0E060
Archival Number: CD/mp3 316
Author: Lonergan, B.
Language(s): English,
Decade: 1960

CD/mp3 316, second half of eighth lecture in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Rev. Conrad Dietz. The second lecture focuses on meaning. Besides linguistic meaning there are intersubjective, aesthetic, and symbolic meaning, and they influence linguistic meaning. Intersubjectivity is manifest in the spontaneous relationship between different human beings that antecedes the distinction between the I and thou. Intersubjective meaning can be perceived in a person's countenance, in the movements of one's eyes, lips, facial muscles, head, fingers, hands, arms, torso, legs. Lonergan gives as an example the phenomenology of a smile and distinguishes it from the type of meaning found in the conceptual order. Conceptual meaning tends to univocity, whereas intersubjective meaning expresses a number of quite different things. Conceptual meaning may be truthful or lying, and it may be true as opposed to false. Intersubjective meaning may be true as opposed to mendacity, or it may be an intended deception, but it is not properly the type of meaning that is true or false. Intersubjective meaning is less differentiated than linguistic meaning, where distinctions are drawn that do not occur on the intersubjective level. Conceptual meaning refers to something else, to a meant, whereas intersubjective meaning is part of the constitution of the intersubjective situation. Lonergan takes his notion of aesthetic meaning from Susanne Langer. Art is an objectification of a purely experiential pattern. What Lonergan is really interested in here is the notion of a purely experiential pattern. Besides being mere instruments used solely for extraneous purposes, our senses can and do have a life of their own. The purely experiential pattern is a pattern in conformity with the spontaneity of sensitivity in its own realm. That spontaneity as not interfered with by any physiological or psychological theory of perception theory of perception is human sensitivity in its native openness to its object and to its fundamental finality. Such a purely experiential pattern is a liberation of sense from ulterior purposes of adjustment to industrialized civilization or of subservience to scientific pursuits. When sensitivity is so liberated, its spontaneity and its vitality come to life. It manifests itself in its native experiential patterns in all their possible varieties. Sensitivity liberated from sheer instrumentalization involves a transformation of the objective world. And insofar as aesthetic meaning objectifies such sensitivity, it is a step beyond intersubjective meaning, which can and often does occur without any objectification. Symbolic meaning is in the realm of affectivity. A symbol is an image that evokes or is evoked by a feeling. Because affectivity provides a profound revelation of the orientation of the subject, it is a key to knowing persons. And because all desire is ultimately desire of God, there is in symbolism and in the symbol ultimately a profound religious significance. The influence of symbolic meaning in linguistic discourse appears when class names or universals give place to representative figures, univocity gives place to a plurality of different meanings all of which are meant, proof gives place to reiteration and variation on the same theme, the principle of the excluded middle gives place to a superdetermination that combines opposites, negation gives place to a positing and then an overwhelming of what is posited, the single theme is replaced by the simultaneous development of different themes called condensation. St Paul in his more impassioned passages displays liberal use of representative figures, multiple meanings, and reiterations.

Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran

Audio restoration by Greg Lauzon


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