Method: General considerations
Archival Number: A473 V73
Author: Lonergan, B.
A473 consists of a single typed page with various reflections on method: definition, method in science, logic and method, transcendental and special methods. It is related to Lonergan’s attempt to write a version of chapter 1 of Method in Theology, as are some of the other items in this folder.
Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran
Database and descriptions © Copyright 2010 by Robert M. Doran
1 By a method will be understood an open pattern of recurrent and related operations. Illustration from empirical science.
2 Method discovered by reflection on successful performance. Such is the general case. Thinking out the means to an end is a special case.
[RD: In other words, Lonergan is now rejecting the exclusive definition of method in terms of means and end. There were some earlier formulations along those lines.]
For the general case includes ends that are not known in advance; scientific discovery is not of the already known but of the as yet unknown.
3 Philosophy of science reduces method to an application of the norms immanent in human conscious and intentional operations. Be attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible. Cf. Insight.
4 Science is not value-free in the sense that it is valueless. At least the originating values of the science must be acknowledged.
Distinguish method as HCF [highest common factor?] of what all will readily accept, and method as involved in a dialectic of values.
In the latter case each methodologist acknowledges originating and terminal values, and the series of different methodologies presents subsequent methodologists with the task of comparing, relating, judging the series.
Theological method cannot prescind from values; it will be within the dialectic; it may include a dialectic as justifying the position adopted.
5 Both logic and method apply the immanent norms of the dynamism of human consciousness to conscious and intentional operations. But logic limits itself to applying such norms to terms, propositions, inferences, and more generally to instruments, tools, of expression.
Distinguish Aristotelian logic (involved in linguistic and grammatical structures), modern logic (involved in mathematical structures and procedures), and a pure logic which derives solely from the immanent norms or conditions of possibility of intelligent and rational consciousness.
Method applies the immanent norms of conscious and intentional operations to conscious and intentional operations. It is more concrete than logic, more concerned with genesis (rather than end-products), more detailed in its precepts.
Both method and logic involve the subject in an intellectual pattern of experience. Cf.
6 Transcendental and Special Methods.
Transcendental method depends solely on immanent norms and structures. It provides the common basis for special methods. It regards any object whatever. It is not discovered by examining a special class of ‘transcendental’ operations, but it is the discovery of the transcendental component in all operations. Similarly, it is particularized, expanded, only by appealing to what is established in special methods. Cf.
Special methods add further determinations from the character of special fields or classes of objects.