Archival Number: CD/mp3 821
Author: Lonergan, B.
CD/mp3 821, lecture 'Self-transcendence: Intellectual, Moral, Religious, delivered at Hobart and William Smith Colleges 10 October 1974. Sponsored by Don Miles.
Lonergan was introduced by Professor Mary Gerhart. The Self. The first distinction is between substance and subject. One is a subject on different levels. From the viewpoint of substance, human nature is always the same. But the subject is not an abstraction. The being of the subject is becoming. The subject has more and more to do with one's own becoming. There is a critical point at existential moments, when one realizes that one's decisions determine what one is and is to be. The opposite is drifting. And our self-direction is extremely limited. Self-transcendence. Dreamless sleep, dreaming, waking, inquiring, reflecting, and deliberating are distinguished as stages. The analysis is familiar to all students of Lonergan's work. The last four (experience, understanding, judging, deciding) form an interlocking unity. Each later level sublates those that precede. Human authenticity is a matter of following the built-in law of the human spirit found in these four levels. Intellectual Self-transcendence. The first distinction here is between the world of immediacy and the real world mediated by meaning, made possible by the addition of understanding and judgment. There is an identity of the person who was an infant and is now an adult. Nor does one migrate from one world to another. But there is a difference in the worlds as apprehended, and in the apprehensions themselves. Only too easily people can practice adult cognitional procedures without a clear grasp of what they are doing. Intellectual self-transcendence is taking possession of one's own mind. Moral Self-transcendence. Poole's Towards Deep Subjectivity presents a notable example, in a photograph, of 'ethical space.' There is nothing recondite about morality. Good and evil bear witness to each other. People are unwilling to accept blame. One's cause is not blameless, but one points in a pretence to the greater good, and so on. Ideology enters in to justify inauthenticity. And there is moral impotence to be overcome if one wishes to move beyond these complexities. Sound judgment and good will are requisites for good action, and acquiring them is a long and difficult task, calling for sound judgment and good will themselves. There is a vicious circle here that leads us to ask whether moral development is a trap. But the fact is that one becomes a moral being by transcending oneself. Religious Self-transcendence. Capacity for self-transcendence is not stable achievement, which occurs only when one falls in love. There is the love of intimacy, of one's fellow human beings, and of God, God's love flooding our hearts through the Holy Spirit given us. Professor Heiler as found parallels in other religions. Religious love is the basic fulfilment of our conscious intentionality. Religious experiences are highly ambiguous. By their fruits you shall know them, not by psychological introspection. This fulfilment is God's free gift. It sets up a new horizon of transvalued values and transformed knowing. It is conscious without being known. The religious word is also highly significant. It is through its word that religious enters the world mediated by meaning and motivated by value. A distinction is drawn between the prior word and the outer word of religion, and the complexities of the outer word are discussed in some detail.
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