Method in theology – internal problem: Rejected page
Sku: 472A0DTE060
Archival Number: A472a V72
Author: Lonergan, B.
Language(s): English,
Decade: 1960
Open 472A0DTE060.pdf

Description:

A472a (472A0DTE060) is a rejected page, numbered 3 and headed ‘method in

theology – internal problem.’ The page is an earlier version of p. 3 in the notes

‘method in theology – internal problem’ for the 1964 Georgetown lectures, found

at 85500DTE060. See also the section on ‘the internal situation’ in CWL 22,

beginning p. 385.

These reflections clearly antedate the breakthrough to functional specialization

represented on the very page of which this was the verso side, as presented in

A472, but only by several months.

Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran

 

Transcription:

 Transcription by R. Doran, September 10 2011

 

472A0DTE060

 

A472a (472A0DTE060) is a rejected page, numbered 3 and headed ‘method in theology – internal problem.’ The page is an earlier version of p. 3 in the notes ‘method in theology – internal problem’ for the 1964 Georgetown lectures, found at 85500DTE060. See also the section on ‘the internal situation’ in CWL 22, beginning p. 385.

 

A472a reads as follows:

Presently I shall attempt to sketch the differences between the Greek and the modern notion of science, between classicism and historical consciousness, between a philosophy of the mediaeval type and a modern type of philosophy.

          But if one is ready to grant, at least provisionally, that these are significant differences, then we can conclude to a second approximation to the problem of method [first: Newman's theorem in reverse]. [RD: by ‘Newman’s theorem in reverse is meant that just as Newman insisted that to omit part of knowledge is to distort the whole, so to add a new field is to change the whole. New sciences are flourishing but confusion reigns as to their impact on the transformation of the whole. See CWL 22 at 385.]

          Within a unified theology (a) the operative notion of science cannot be both Greek and modern, (b) the effective mode of consciousness cannot be both classicist and historical, and (c) the philosophic ancilla cannot be simultaneously of the mediaeval and the modern type.

          But the massive entry of positive studies into contemporary theology is also the entry of the modern notion of science, of historical consciousness, and of a philosophy of the modern type.

          It follows that the traditional parts of theology can assimilate positive studies only at the price of shifting from mediaeval to modern conceptions of science, from classicism to historical consciousness, from a mediaeval ancilla to a modern philosophy.

          Nor have the traditional parts of theology a free choice in the matter. Christianity and above all Catholicism is a historical religion; it stands on scripture and tradition; and positive studies tell what scripture means and what traditions have existed.

 

d) Let us proceed at once to a third approximation. Our first approximation was Newman's theorem in reverse; our second was an exigence for theology to adopt a modern mentality; our third has to do with contemporary Catholic apprehension and comprehension of the issues.

          A historical process of change is one thing; a correct appraisal of the change is another. We all live history but, commonly, good history is written not by contemporaries but by later generations. Let us ask then whether, in contemporary Catholic thought, there are factors at work that prevent a clear and exact grasp of what is going on. My contention will be that a view of the whole is blocked both for representatives of a traditional position and for practitioners of positive studies.

          For a traditionalist, then, science is above all certain: certa rerum per causas cognitio. But modern science is never more than probable, never more than the best available opinion at the present time. Modern "science" then is not "science" properly so called.

          For a traditionalist philosophy is certain knowledge of eternal and necessary truth; certain knowledge of eternal and necessary truth is not something that changes with the mere passing of time; hence to speak of a mediaeval and a modern type of philosophy is just so much nonsense.

          Finally, with such views on science and on philosophy, one easily is a classicist, stressing what is common to all men at all times and places, disregarding all differences as accidental, and condemning historical consciousness as inevitably some species of relativism.

          At the opposite pole contemporary Catholic practitioners of positive studies commonly are content to be specialists. They master the techniques of their restricted fields; they pile up "results;" but they do not take theoretical questions very seriously and, much less, do they attempt as the modernists did to answer theoretical questions.

          E. Husserl has argued (Die Krisis der europaischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie, Hague, Nijhoff, 1954) that the more the sciences sub-divide and become specialized, the less there is operative any idea or ideal of science, and the more a mere conventionalism directs operations and awards the acceptance or rejection of results.

          Besides Greek and modern notions of science, there is a pragmatic conventionalism that does not bother about any idea of science; besides classicism and historical consciousness there is mere drifting; besides Greek and modern types of philosophy there is the simpler neglect of phil- [end of page]

 

These reflections clearly antedate the breakthrough to functional specialization represented on the very page of which this was the verso side, as presented in A472, but only by several months.