The Method of Theology 9:2
Sku: 31800A0E060
Archival Number: CD/mp3 318
Author: Lonergan, B.
Language(s): English,
Decade: 1960

CD/mp3 318, second half of ninth lecture in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Jeremy Wilkins. Lonergan moves now to speaking about the tasks of judging the correctness of one's understanding and stating what one has judged to be the correct understanding. There are all sorts of interpretations of the same text. Human understanding is infallible only per se, and the possibilities of the per accidens are large. The need for judgment is a need to know what the text de facto means, not what it must mean. The criterion is always, Does the insight meet all the relevant questions? Judgment on the correctness of one's understanding of the text is a piecemeal affair: 'At least the author means this; at least he does not mean that.' One ends up with a series of judgments with a series of qualifications. Moreover, the relativity of the whole against which the text is read imposes a necessity for restricted, qualified, limited judgments. While the whole determines the meaning of the parts, still it does so only from certain viewpoints. And the larger whole can be changed: witness the importance of Qumran for understanding the context of the fourth Gospel. Furthermore, there are limits to the extent to which we can understand the context of another. Stating the meaning of the text is a more complex issue. Lonergan summarizes first the views of Descamps, who represents the commonsense communication of the commonsense meaning of the text. The interpreter has acquired something like the common sense of another time. In the light of that common sense, one arrives at the meaning of the text. And the meaning one arrives at is expressed in terms of that acquired common sense. There is also scientific communication of a commonsense understanding of the text. One finds that the same problems are recurring and the same ideas keep cropping up again and again, with slight differences in meaning. And so one begins to work out categories, to notice developments in categories, to classify different categories and relate them to one another. Thus one begins the movement towards theory. In scientific communication, one is moving beyond the explicit context of the single authors. One is moving to a synoptic view, and one is moving from hermeneutics to history. Moreover, there can also be a. movement from the world of community to the world of theory with regard to the exegetes themselves. Just as one can understand developments in biblical thought, so one can understand developments in biblical criticism. Again, the human sciences are relevant to the problems that arise in the scientific communication of commonsense understanding of texts. And philosophies and theologies, since they thematize the problems of horizon and conversion, are also relevant to an understanding of the meaning of the texts. If all these different considerations are to be put together, one comes to the question of a basic context. The basic context is what in chapter 17 of Insight is called the protean notion of being. Basic context is a heuristic notion. It is what becomes determined as the number of successful efforts at exegesis increases. As a first approximation, it is the pure desire to know unfolding through experience, understanding, and judgment, and leading to the statements found in authors and in interpreters. Secondly, it is this concrete reality of the pure desire found in multiple instances that develops through time and is subject to aberrations, and so it is a genetic and dialectical context of contexts.

Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran

Audio restoration by Greg Lauzon


No transcription available.