The Method of Theology 10:1
Sku: 31900A0E060
Archival Number: CD/mp3 319
Author: Lonergan, B.
Language(s): English
Decade: 1960

CD/mp3 319, first part of tenth lecture in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Archbishop Marcel Gervais and the Archdiocese of Ottawa. The lectures of the final day attempt the same kind of sketch of history that was given on the previous day of hermeneutics. A fundamental distinction is between the history that is written about (Geschichte) and the history that is written (Historie). A heuristic notion of Geschichte, something to be known by the total set of true historical statements, can be developed to form a general notion of history and of the methods of historical study. It is under that heading that what Lonergan says falls. First there is needed a clarification of the notion of human time. One and the same subject recalls the past and anticipates the future as well as living in the present. The extension over time is the possibility of history. The interlocking of individual times through social living gives a common time for the society and a social continuity, a common basis of common understanding. Existential history is the knowledge of the past that makes social continuity possible, the memory of the past that makes social continuity possible. It is parceled out among the members of a society. Narrative history puts these partial views together. It fulfills simultaneously many different functions: explanatory, artistic, ethical, apologetic, prophetic, and existential. Critical history revises narrative history. It proceeds from the sources critically, scrutinizes them for authenticity and trustworthiness, locates their origin in place and time, analyzes their precise meaning and bearing, proceeds to an understanding of the sources, and does not present itself simply as belief. The understanding of the sources can be mediated by human or natural science. It is communicated by telling 'how it really happened.' The critical historian does not operate professedly on any theoretical level but employs a commonsense type of intelligence, a specialization of in the concrete and particular. The problem of Historismus arises against the backdrop of attempts to do history a priori in the light of Hegel's dialectical system and the reactions against this by the historical school. Dilthey discovered that, de facto the members of the historical school were living on the capital of the Enlightenment and Hegelianism, and he tried to do for historical studies what Kant did for natural science. Three different things are to be distinguished in the discussion of Historismus: historical consciousness, historical relativism, and historical method. Historical consciousness is concerned with the intentional essence of people and human society. Human development is the development of meanings. These explain the development of institutions, of all cultural achievement, civilization, religion. But the historical process moves not just in terms of human intentions but also in terms of their limitations. While the course of history is a matter of meanings and the development of meanings, of intentions and their execution, still the results depend upon the interplay of these meanings. The approach through historical consciousness heads into a philosophic relativism if an adequate philosophy for this new view is lacking. Dilthey's exclusive attention to the intentional separated from the natural heads to a relativism. The problems raised by historical relativism have not been given any commonly accepted solution in the circles from which that problem arose. With regard to historical method, the basic point is, Can history be written independently of any systematic, philosophic presuppositions, assumptions? The necessity of some philosophic assumptions becomes clear when one states that history is a set of propositions that purport to be true. A point on which the issue arises concretely is perspectivism, and this problem will be discussed more fully in the final lecture.

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Audio restoration by Greg Lauzon


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