Dialectic 556
Sku: 55600D0E060
Archival Number: A556
Author: Lonergan, B.
Language(s): Latin
Decade: 1960
Open 55600D0E060.pdf

11 handwritten schematic pp. Dialectic, horizon, radical transcendental horizon, methodical horizon. Dated March 22, 26, with question mark, from spring 1963 course De Methodo Theologiae.

Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran


55600D0L060      Here the dates are not certain. March 22, 26, with a question mark from BL himself.


The item has to do with dialectic, basic terms, basic sets of antithetical terms. The first page mentions first the real, knowing, objectivity. With regard to the real, there are the perceived (experienced), the understood, the affirmed. With regard to knowing, there are experience, understanding, and judging. If one stops at experience, one is an empiricist; stopping at understanding, there are Platonists, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel; moving to judgment we find realists, Augustine, Aquinas. With regard to objectivity, there are the given, the coherent, and the posited [RD: i.e., experiential, normative, absolute objectivity]. Next mentioned on this first page are the worlds of community, theory, interiority, and religion, their integration by oscillation [RD: cf. 'De methodo theologiae' 1962 and the Regis 1962 institute], and their differentiation and integration, with the comment ‘part for whole.’ Obscurantism is also mentioned, and it can be worldly or pious. Then Horizon: literal, psychological, transcendental.


The second page is headed ‘Horizon 1.’ It has basic terms and transposition, and dialectic, with these in reciprocal relation to ‘horizon.’ With regard to horizon there are listed literal, phenomenological, psychological, sociological, transcendental, and methodical considerations of horizon. Horizon is determined by pole and field. The pole and the field are correlative: the field contains everything that can be attained from a given pole, while the pole is the subject operating in such a way as to attain a given field. One line relates the field to the formal and concrete object, the thing itself, not the ratio rerum, and another relates the pole to habits and the concrete subject.


Literally, horizon is ho horizōn kyklos. The pole is the place where one stands, the point of vision, insofar as it relates to visible things. The field consists of the visible things insofar as they can be seen from such a standpoint.


Phenomenologically, the field has to do not just with visible things but with everything that can be apprehended and desired, insofar as attention is de facto paid to these. There is a shadow where there is no attention, no apprehension, no care whatsoever. There is a penumbra of surrounding things that are indefinitely apprehended: ‘they,’ concerning which there is no serious concern. And there is the field, what is clearly and exactly apprehended, about which there is serious concern, interest. At the bottom of the page, ‘Sorge.’


The next page is headed ‘Horizon 2’ and is concerned with the psychological contribution to the notion of horizon. [RD: this and the social component enter into the 'complexiva' consideration of horizon in 55400D0L060. As we will see, all of this gets swept up into the category of 'relative horizon' as contrasted with 'absolute horizon.']


Psychologically, there is the fact of habit and the genesis of habit. Regarding the fact of habit, we do operate sensitively and corporally, intellectually, volitionally. And we are able to operate because of prime potency and because of second potency, which is first act. There is the phase before: if we acquire the necessary dexterity, if we learn, if we are persuaded; thus the infant is able to walk; we can play the organ; we can type. There is the phase after we have acquired the dexterity, and have learned, and have been persuaded.


As for the genesis of the habit, there is a process from the spontaneous, global, undifferentiated operation to differentiated operations adapted to objects, and then to combinations of differentiated operations, and then to a certain totality (group) of combinations. Piaget avoids the problem of the unity of habits and of merely descriptive classifications because he proceeds from the concrete, the very mode of operation. The field that is attained by such habits and the pole that is the subject adorned by such habits yield the possibility of attention.


The next page is ‘Horizon 3’ and is concerned with the social contribution to the notion of horizon. Here we have the structure of the human good.



Potency of subject

Act of subject

Social mediation






Particular good





Good of order




Interpersonal relations

Terminal values


The particular good is this particular good thing for this person: this dinner for this person, this beatific vision for this person. ‘Operation’ is exemplified in the primitive spontaneously taking the fruit he finds, in Robinson Crusoe. But there is also cooperation heading for the particular good.


The good of order materially consists in the people who desire, and a series of cooperations, and a series of particular goods. Formally it is that order from which de facto the series of particular goods flows. We are not concerned with some ideal, whether it be utopian, theoretical, juridical, ethical, etc., all of which are beings of reason. We are speaking of institutions such as the family, the community, customs (not ethics), education, status, law, economy, technology. These are commonly acknowledged bases that are slow to change, whence the good of order flows, in which cooperations take place, and for which specializations are developed.


The next page continues the header ‘Horizon 3’ and continues to be concerned with the social contribution to the notion of horizon.


The actual good of order is never the only one possible. The cooperation of many and the continuous seriation of particular goods can be attained in many ways. Even within the same institutions, the possible good of order is multiple. But the institutions can and do also change for better or for worse.


The orientation of liberty has to do with originating value, as opposed to the drifter, the inauthentic person. A given good of order is preferred because it incorporates a certain ideal, be it aesthetic intellectual, moral, or religious. For example, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, the hedonistic calculus.


Terminal value is a matter of, e.g., capitalism or socialism, democracy or ‘pater patriae’ (leader, tyrant, etc.); Christian matrimony [or serial monogamy, as was added earlier].


Personal relations can develop from institutions: the role of father and mother, professor and student, etc. They can develop from orientation: thus Hegel’s master-slave or Fessard’s Jew and Greek. These relations are connected with the concrete mode of apprehending institutions, the good of order, specializations.


The next page does not have a header, but continues to be concerned with the social dimension.


From the social perspective, the field consists of the opportunities to which it is useful to pay attention, and the pole is the social actor. The factors have to do with what is proximately possible and with what is proximately not possible but remotely possible if certain changes are introduced. What is proximately possible has to do with the what and how being known, with the presence of those who can learn quickly and be persuaded quickly. The category of ‘What is proximately not possible but is remotely possible given certain changes’ generates a list of different things: railroads, automobiles, industrialization in Great Britain, in Russia, the invention of printing, universal education, Rerum novarum, Quadrigesimo anno, Deus scientiarum Dominus, liturgical change.


The next page has the header ‘Horizon 4’ and is concerned with the transcendental aspect.


Explicit attention may be paid to horizons, and judgments and decisions made in their regard. There is deliberate omission of what lies beyond the horizon. This is omitted because no attention is paid to it. Thus from a practical standpoint there is omitted what is useless in itself or because nothing can be done about it. From a metaphysical standpoint there is omitted what is not real, beings of reason, what is mythical, fiction, false, illusory, legend, deception. From a critical standpoint there is omitted what is not knowable, the Ding-an-sich. From a scientific standpoint there is omitted what cannot be scientifically determined by scientific method. From the standpoint of historical consciousness there is omitted that which is antiquated.


The transcendental dimension is present implicitly, with regard to the ratio of horizon, when no explicit thought is given to horizon, but explicit thought concerns utility, reality, knowability, opportunity, science. This holds for every philosophical, theological, methodical position. This is true when the discussion is not technical but symbolic and indirect, suggesting, in symbols, works of art, literature, propaganda.


The radical fundamental transcendental aspect is grounded in the individual, social, historical development itself of the subject. This foundation is objectified in symbolic, philosophical, theological, methodical reflection. It asserts its effects in the phenomena of horizon either immediately or mediately in symbols, philosophy, theology, method.


The next page continues this discussion. It is headed ‘Radical transcendental horizon.’ It begins with a diagram that could not be reproduced here but that can be viewed by going to the item itself. The diagram was provided by Armando Bravo in his typescript of the Latin of these notes.

 (note by RD: ‘eth’ in the diagram should be ‘rat’ [rational]).


The page goes on to discuss rationalism and materialism. Rationalism excludes faith, mysteries, hope. It wants charity but on a humanistic foundation. Materialism rejects ideological superstructures. It can be collective, individual, dogmatic, skeptical, ontological, gnoseological. There is the intellect, there are customs, values are not absolute but are means only. Reductionism always labors under this difficulty that it proceeds by reason. A closed reductionism is directed to what is below, while a closed aetherialism is directed to what is above.


The next page has the heading ‘the pole of the methodical horizon.’ It begins with another diagram that could not be reproduced here but may be found in the item itself.

Then there is a chart contrasting the pole itself in terms of exercite (implicitly) and signate (explicitly). The pole considered exercite is the conscious being that lives, knows, and chooses. The pole considered signate is the conscious being that knows himself or herself to live, to know, and to choose: what is the subject, what is the act, what are the objects.


The development of the pole is considered in its individual aspect: the age of reason, the autonomy of the adult. But it is considered also in its socio-historical aspect: (a) from a primitive stage to the ancient high civilizations; (b) the classical age: philosophy, science, history, individualism; (c) historical consciousness: man acknowledges and assumes his own autonomy and historical responsibility. All of that has to do with the spontaneous unfolding, but there is also a deliberate unfolding, where the development is from the global through differentiations to integration. Here the center moves from what above is the ‘subiectum psychicum’ to the ‘subiectum intellectual, rationale, ethicum.’ This shift happens either exercite or signate: exercite in attending to objects; signate when the subject’s notion about the subject influences the development of the subject. That is, the subject constitutes himself not only consciously but also rationally and deliberately.


There is mentioned also the fragmentation of development. Differentiation: differentiation out of undifferentiated operations needs complementary differentiations for integration to take place. Differentiations proceed from the pole exercite more easily in concrete matters, but signate with erroneous knowledge, ineffective will, so that integration is not possible without a reorganization or revolution. The critical moment is reached when there is an opposition between the spontaneously functioning pole and the pole as signatum, as objectified.


The next page starts out with the affirmation that the transcendental is the total horizon outside of which either there is nothing or there is nothing that I can know.


In Scholasticism this affects the meaning of the transcendentals: being, one, true, good, and from there it affects the meaning of all the categories.


From an absolute standpoint, the horizon is transcendental; it affects everything, even if it employs a Scholastic way of speaking. The meaning of being, one, true, good is affected even if  it is denied that there is any sense of speaking of being, one, true, and good. For example, for Kant the horizon has to do with phenomena to be ordered by ideas and categories, and the noumenon is the limit-concept that names what lies beyond the field of possible knowledge.


The psychological horizon is not attended to but its reality is not for this reason denied. The transcendental horizon can be attended to but cannot be acknowledged. The idealists know very well the objects of common sense, but they affirm that common sense indulges in illusions.


The final page in this item treats ‘horizon methodicus,’ methodical consideration of horizon. Materially, it consists of all transcendental [psychological] poles and all transcendental [psychological] fields. Formally, it can be considered heuristically or programmatically insofar as these have been genetically or dialectically ordered.


The process: (a) the fields themselves; (b) the polymorphic human subject; (c) the field determines the pole; (d) fields are to be ordered genetically and dialectically to one another insofar as the poles are ordered genetically and dialectically to one another.


From above we have Newtonian mechanics, Einstein, quantum physics, Mendelieff; from below, empirical laws. Together they yield systems. [This last page is very sketchy.]