Problematica, II. De historia
Archival Number: A571
Author: Lonergan, B.
9 handwritten pp. Dated May 14. Headings: historia existentialis, historia narrata, historia "critica," relativismus historicus, historia et existentialismus. From spring 1963 course De Methodo Theologiae.
57100D0L060 May 14
Problems II. History
(1) Existential history is to the existence of the community as memory is to the existence of a given individual. If I suffered from amnesia, I would not know that I was (a) Canadian, (b) Catholic, (c) a religious, (d) a priest, (e) a professor of theology, (f) residing in Piazza della Pilotta. Perhaps I would do some strange things. Equally a community that has no memory of itself ceases to exist. There are taken away accepted modes of acting, the foundation of mutual understanding, of common conversation, collaboration, common deliberation, common decision.
(2) Narrative history: The larger and older a community is, the less does memory suffice, the simple handing on from father to son, and the more there is needed for the existence of the community a composed and narrated history that is recited or written. This history does not intend a mere collection of facts or even principally a collection of facts, but has an existential goal: through the narrated facts it communicates a vision of the world, a Weltanschauung; it occupies itself with a task that is informative (quid sit), explanatory (cur sit), ethical (what is to be praised and blamed), prophetic (quid faciendum), apologetic, artistic. To this end it selects the facts and orders them insofar as they help bring this about. What is principally intended takes on a flow of words: Rem tene, verba sequentur. What is not principally intended is said with an economy of words, as much as possible, within the limits of well disposed ordered speech.
(3) ‘Critical’ history ‘Historismus’as in K. Heussi, Die Krisis des Historicismus (Tübingen 1932).
(a) It describes itself. (1) It intends to determine the past facts themselves. Wie es eigentlich gewesen, what really happened. So it is not concerned with deep causes, ultimate reasons, but with events as we all know them in our daily life. Harnack’s Das Wesen des Christentums is not historical except perhaps marginally. Hegel is methodical, Toynbee Spengler. (2) It admits no presuppositions, whether philosophical, religious, cultural, or national; it is Voraussetzungslos. It does not deny that historians find it difficult to free themselves from every subjective influence, but it states an ideal of objectivity. Facts are real in themselves, with interconnections, etc., and these real facts and their connections the historian wishes to apprehend as they are on the side of the object.
New page: (3) Since narrative history is not content just with the facts, it creates the crisis of narrative historians. It seeks a supplement from all other remains of the past in order to narrate in an orderly fashion the facts, at least those of major importance, according to assigned times and places, persons, actions, described motives. (4) It seems obvious, sane, inevitable. Even today it is regarded as most evident and certain by all who do not think seriously about historical method. E.g., the historical Jesus: inquiry about the facts is the principal element of the history to which all else is subordinate. If one cannot determine the facts, to that extent one knows nothing about the historical reality, the deeds that were done.
(b) The fate of critical history. It is rejected as methodically erroneous in … according to Heussi between 1920-1930. There is removed the presupposition concerning objective and structured facts to be inspected and narrated. In this presupposition there is an error, not because there don’t really exist persons, actions, and interrelations, but because knowledge is mythically conceived as perception. In fact, data give way to understanding, and this leads to judgment. Presuppositions cannot be excluded concerning common principles; quidquid recipitur … But this solution presupposes philosophy. The commonly acknowledged philosophy leads to relativism: (a) presuppositions cannot be excluded; (b) but no criterion of solution is given in what is presupposed. There is a movement from truth to correctness.
(4) Historical relativism:
Either (a) on the side of the principle, philosophy etc. cannot be excluded, and Voraussetzungslosigkeit is a myth. Then between philosophies there is no sure selection. There is a transition from truth to correctness. Historical documents: for every assertion there is given a document; documents are critically evaluated; quo altius exigitur monumentum, eo magis apparet subiectivitas.
Or (b) on the part of the object: descriptively, who, what, when, how, why, when; explanatory: comparative, synthetic, genetic, but not dialectical, for then there enters judgment, which is not a matter of Verstehen or Entscheiden. It is not known by the Greeks, by essentialists, by empiricists, by idealists, by existentialists.
This element in the object is a very small problem [?]. Tertullian employed two notions of reality. What is reality? It is essential under the dogmatic aspect. The synthetic and genetic are psychological, cultural, social, and affect the horizon as relative.
(5) History and existentialism: No presuppositions à many unknown and false presuppositions. Correctness à conventionalism. Some other words here are not clear.
(1) there is a certain inductive technique by which there is attained what is acknowledged by everybody everywhere: historical-critical method is extrinsic only, in the realm of exteriority, and mundane, in the realm of the world. The historical Jesus = historische.
(2) There are extra-scientific assertions in the order of Weltanschauung, ontology, metaphysics, dogmatic theology. If these are taken literally, they are myth, systematic conception, but they admit an existential interpretation which is reduced to the subject: the geschichtliche Jesus.
(3) There is the question put to me to which I respond in the existenziell manner, Der kerygmatische Iesus. The entire question is whether there is given objective truth besides that which is attained by extrinsicist and mundane science.
For the dogmatic theologian there exists a problem regarding the very method of history. If it proceeds in accord with what are commonly acknowledged, it proceeds in accord with (1) ‘critical’ history, (2) historical relativism, (3) some form of existentialism. Excluding exaggerations. That is, without method, it does not know what it is doing.