Discussion on Insight 1 Audio
Archival Number: A822
Author: Lonergan, B.
CD/mp3 822, Discussion on Insight Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 1974 Part 1. Sponsored by Mary Gerhart.
The first two questions on the tape seem to be items that were asked after Lonergan’s lecture ‘Self-transcendence.’ Then the tape shifts to a discussion on Insight that Lonergan conducted prior to his lecture, based on responses to questions that were given to him ahead of time.
Does your analysis of cognition in any way relate to the claims to knowing in mystical traditions? Insofar as they are mystical in the full sense, it makes a contribution of what you can set aside. The mystical tradition is something with a content but not one derived from the world of experience.
Are the stages of self-transcendence successive, hierarchically ordered? Fundamentally, they are comparative. You need them all to have any. The relation is properly called sublation, a twist on Hegel’s Aufhebung. Sublation goes beyond but also enriches: the use of intelligence sharpens the senses. Chronologically, moral self-transcendence is more likely to occur if religious has occurred, and intellectual if both moral and religious have occurred. The relation is interdependent.
Insight is divided into two parts, Insight as Activity, and Insight as Knowing. To speak of insight as activity without insight as knowing is much like Husserl’s epochê. Again, one could also divide the book into three parts: the first two are chapters 1-8, What am I doing when I am knowing?, chapters 9 to 13, Why is doing that knowing?
The book begins with mathematical examples, not for the sake of difficulty but to make it easier: in mathematics there are no feelings to interfere; we understand what we ourselves make, and maths is pure creation; and every person of common sense has insights, but they are hard to pin down. Mathematical insights can be very carefully defined. Some examples are given at the board. There can be insights that are not conceptualized, as is illustrated in Euclid’s first proposition. The examples are standard Lonergan examples that can be found in several publications. There is something besides concepts and arguments, and that’s what the book Insight is about.
Next, Lonergan comments on the difference between intuition and insight as concepts. Intuition is supposed to apprehend what is given, already out there now, and it is certain. The object of an insight is not actual, but what possibly is relevant, to the point. An insight is expressed by a hypothesis, not by a statement. And you have to catch insights on the fly if you are going to know you have them. It is similar to Carl Rogers’s client-centered therapy, with regard to feelings.
Then he treated a question that asked him to relate insight to definition. In the early Platonic dialogues Socrates is asking for definitions that nobody can give, because ordinary language does not define. Aristotle was able to give the definitions by inventing a technical language. Explanatory definitions contains something that, if it were not in the definition, would have to be given in a postulate. A descriptive definition enables one to pick out what one is talking about when one is using the words. An implicit definition gives generalization. And a heuristic definition causes sne to understand something by giving a name to what one will know when one does understand.
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No transcription available.