Methodical Hermeneutics
Sku: 36100A0E060
Archival Number: CD/mp3 361
Author: Lonergan, B.
Language(s): English
Decade: 1950


CD/mp3 361, Methodical Hermeneutics, Gonzaga University 1962.  Sponsored by Fr Frank Carpinelli. 

The recording begins with a set of questions and answers relating to an earlier lecture.  The recording has a great deal of noise interference that could not be removed, but the basic sense is retrievable.


The first question is in terms of the organicity of an author’s own work, understanding one writing in the light of another, and so forth, and building up a set of terms and relations that enable one to understand just what an author meant.  A second question has to do with the relation between Lonergan’s methodical hermeneutics and so-called ‘higher criticism.’  Lonergan’s response locates ‘higher criticism’ critically within methodical hermeneutics by presenting a history of the issues.  A third question treats polymorphic consciousness and the relation to deviations.  A fourth question asks about the understanding of the ‘thing’ intended and the relation of knowing the thing to experience, understanding, and judging.


The lecture continues after these questions.  It seems basically to be an early version of the chapter on Dialectic in Method.  Comparison of authors and within the corpus of authors is discussed first.  Comparison yields not answers but the right questions.  Next the organicity of a set of texts is discussed and contrasted with deductive systems.  Reading an author in terms of the group of operations employed by the author is discussed in relation to Aquinas.  Genetic method follows: the method that treats differences that bear a family likeness, the early and later stages of the same doctrine.  Finally, there is the dialectical aspect.  The differences are radical, absolute, irreducible. 


The magnitude of the hermeneutic task is discussed next.  The dialectical oppositions lie in the absolute horizons of the persons doing the investigation.   But the magnitude of the task does not preclude some judgments now. 


Lonergan then refers to an earlier lecture in which he discussed the romantic, classical, and historical approaches to hermeneutics.  The historical corrects and completes the romantic and classical but does not totally supplant them.  The classical ideal is strong on motivated judgment but can lead to anachronism.  The danger is to attribute the classical categories to the author.  What is correct is the transcendence of truth.  What is not correct is an account of the actual thinking of an author in terms of later categories.  Classical procedures can also be simply wrong. Further issues may be introduced if one does not have a set of fundamental categories that are implicit in all thinking.  The fundamental categories of a biblical writer are the same as those of any human being.  But not all would interpret ‘biblical categories’ in that fashion. 


Romantic hermeneutics is strong on intimate grasp of detail, mood, attitude, nuance.  This can be aided by studies of symbols, by depth psychology, etc.   We know more about that sort of thing now, especially regarding trans-linguistic symbols.  The romantic ideal can yield certain judgments, but these are in the minds of the experts, not in the minds of others.  The evidence for historical evidence is too complex to expect more.  There is no transposition into other categories in the romantic ideal.  Further, the romantic ideal tends to make texts a set of isolated moments.  And it is prone to archaism.  This ideal has a hold of German scholarship.  The shift occurs with Heidegger, Being and Time, §§ 72-77.  Interpretation now presupposes a philosophy, as in Bultmann.  Gadamer is also appealed to.

Audio restoration by Greg Lauzon

Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran



No transcription available.