The Method of Theology Discussion 7
Archival Number: CD/mp3 330
Author: Lonergan, B.
CD/mp3 330, seventh discussion in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Regis College Jesuit Community, Toronto. (1) Is horizon proper to the world of common sense, or found in all worlds? (2) Is understanding the thing prior to understanding the word? (3) Schmaus shows that theology can be made accessible without a knowledge of philosophy. Where would you situate Schmaus? (4) The judgment of the interpreter, the whole that is sufficient, growth in judgment, measuring up to the level of the inspired author: how could one so measure up? Horizon is the limit of what one can apprehend, choose, is willing to do, and has the skills to do. Horizon is not limited to any particular world, though it is most easily illustrated in the world of common sense. The thing and the words: A text can be a tool for learning about the thing, but in general the more one knows about the thing the better prepared one is to provide an accurate interpretation of what the author has to say about it. Philosophy and theology: Theology in the full sense, with a demand for exactitude, demands techniques, including metaphysical techniques. The fundamental use of metaphysics in theology is, Do you mean something or do you not? And if you have two propositions, do they mean the same thing or different thing? Most metaphysical questions in theology reduce to the metaphysical equivalence discussed in chapter 16 of Insight, the metaphysical conditions of the proposition being true. There are hordes of college students who cannot grasp that, and then it is best to leave out the metaphysics. You do what you can with the audience you have. The fundamental difficulty is a paralysis over philosophy. A lot of the difficulties are fictitious, and many come from mistaken attempts at metaphysics. The function of the critical work is to clear these away. People who are getting a college education really don't want to remain entirely in the field of common sense. Theory is what prevents common sense from degenerating into myth. Judgment: how does one determine the whole that is relevant to a given judgment? It is not possible to determine what the whole is. That is what creates the problem of judgment. The hermeneutic circle and the relativity of the whole are the issues. They set a demand for modesty in the judgments. There is a meaning given by the text that can be made more determinate from the context, but there is something in the text that determines the context. There is a mutual influence, on different levels. It calls for an esprit de finesse or Newman's illative sense. One has to be aware of the genetic series of modes of expression. The further back, the less differentiation between them. There are qualified judgments that can be made, and when the proper qualifications are made, the judgments are not open to revision. Developing in common sense and growing to the stature of the author: Insight chapters 6 and 10 treat the development of common sense through the accumulation of insights. A similar dynamic applies in the development of linguistic capacities. But Lonergan adds he is not talking about measuring up to the level of the inspired author, but about the classics.
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