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Author Topic: Self-Appropriation As Merely Adverting to Given  (Read 3023 times)

dnordquest

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Self-Appropriation As Merely Adverting to Given
« on: November 04, 2013, 07:12:00 PM »
In answer to a question in the first discussion printed in the CW edition of U&B (p.272), Lonergan says that self-appropriation is "merely that 'adverting' to what is given."  The given spoken of is given in self-presence. He goes on to say that "it [apparently, self-appropriation] isn't the understanding, and it isn't the affirmation that follows on the understanding."  He remarks how, in another case, the given is used in verification and he seems to suggest that creating a proper "experimental situation" would allow the advertences to the given needed for self-appropriation.  I can see that self-appropriation must be of what is first "given," but I thought the process of self-appropriation was the application of experiencing, understanding and judging to experiencing understanding and judging -- and that self-appropriation culminated in the judgment that "I am a knower," not in the mere presence of a given, even if that consists of the operations of knowing..

I'd be grateful for guidance.

David Nordquest
Gannon University
Philosophy

Catherine B. King

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Re: Self-Appropriation As Merely Adverting to Given
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2013, 05:33:01 PM »
Hello David:  I think you have all the pieces--but only need to take them apart again, and put them together, of course, while relating them to your own experience.  I hope I can help by developing the last part of your note from my own understanding of what Lonergan's meant (at CK below).   

First you say:  "I can see that self-appropriation must be of what is first 'given,' . . . ."

CK:  Yes--we experience, understand, and judge--this triad of activities is given to us just by being human.  And, as a part of that triad, we desire to know, we wonder and we raise questions, have insights, . . . and all the activities that you probably are aware of from having studied the theory (general empirical method).   

Then you say:  " . . . but I thought the process of self-appropriation was the application of experiencing, understanding and judging to experiencing understanding and judging" . . .

CK:  Yes, it is. Though the nuances and expressions above differ, the meaning is the same.  That is, the application (as used above) OF experiencing/understanding/judging TO the triad of experiencing/understanding/judging means the same as turning your attention to your experiencing (first), so that you become aware of what you have been doing all along qua experiencing. Applying starts by paying attention to (in this case, our experiencing).  We have been experiencing all along (as given). Now, in turning our attention to our experiencing, we are applying, or bringing that experiencing into the X of our "what is it" kind of questions. Now we can become aware of our experiencing as we reflect on it. But further, we can self-identify as we are now in fact experiencing our own experiencing.

CK: Similarly, when we apply the understanding process to that same process, we pay attention to, raise questions about, and then (aha!) have an insight about our understanding process--the one that has been in-process in us all along (as given).  But though we may understand, we don't know yet. So we can apply the judging part of the process to that same process.  Do we judge? And does that judgment end our questions about truth/reality, at least about the question at hand? That is, we can check the process as active in ourselves again and again if we want; and qua Lonergan, we can check the evidence (in our own critical reflections) against the theory until we are ready, or even compelled by our own inner dynamism of that same given process, to make a judgment--in this case, about the whole process, including judging about whether we judge or not.

Then you say: "-- and that self-appropriation culminated in the judgment that 'I am a knower,"

CK:  Yes--I am a knower because (a) I have understood the whole process towards knowing as it happens (the given) and then (b) I have reflected on it and then verified it (passed judgment) for myself in my own critical reflections. That is, I now can know what knowing means (I have understood it) and I can judge it to be so, and that, indeed, I am an knower. I am a knower because (a) I have experienced my experiencing/understanding/knowing, (b) understood those, and now (c) I have judged those as they are, in their giveness, and thus can know those and my knowing.

Then you say: "not in the mere presence of a given, even if that consists of the operations of knowing.."

CK:  If I understand you correctly, you are right--becoming aware of the "mere presence as given" is only the paying-attention-to, wondering, having insights about part of the process and its application, but not all. To know myself as a knower is also to (1) have reflectively understood (checked it thoroughly and to my satisfaction) and (2) have passed judgment (yes/no) on it.   

CK:  Though human consciousness is developmental, we are basically reflective beings in process aimed at knowing (and more).  To self-appropriate (understand my conscious operations) and to self-affirm (to reflectively understand/pass judgment on what I have understood about those operations) is to place my given operations into the light of my reflective abilities which are, in fact, a working (but not always best-used) aspect of those operations. When we do, we not only raise questions about and identify (objectify-X) those operations and understand them as actual (yes, they are so), but we can identify-with them consciously while they are in performance.  In doing the later, we raise the level of our awareness (Lonergan's "heightening") so that self-awareness/knowledge becomes the new and open operating-foundation for my experiencing, understanding, and knowing anything else.

CK: Many people have said the above in many different ways since Lonergan walked around on the earth. And I haven't covered all of the actual nuances above. However, I hope I have hit on the right language to help you in your own understanding.  But of course the judgment is yours to do and no one else's.

Keep going--it's worth the effort.

Regards,

Catherine B. King
« Last Edit: November 05, 2013, 05:39:02 PM by Catherine B. King »

dnordquest

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Re: Self-Appropriation As Merely Adverting to Given
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 05:55:10 PM »
Hi Catherine:

Many thanks for the careful, thoughtful and stimulating reply.  I especially like your phrase  "identify with them consciously while they are in performance."  That seems to sum up the central point to self-appropriation wonderfully.

I thought that in the passage I referenced Lonergan might have slighted somewhat the role he regularly ascribes to understanding and judging in self-appropriation, but your interpretation must be correct.  Why would he do such a thing?  Anyway, I will reflect on the passage and on your comments and will try to see how to make it all fit.

I've enjoyed reading other postings of yours and your website, which I recently discovered, as well.

Thanks again!

David

Catherine B. King

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Re: Self-Presence, Two Kinds
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 05:08:19 AM »
Hello David: 

My guess is that for Lonergan, like for us all, in a Q & A, things are spontaneous and, thus, often we leave out some things and condense others; whereas in writing, we can take advantage of our reflective capacities, develop insights, and rewrite until we are satisfied with it.  (My own experience is that writing and rewriting can be a frightful experience in its endlessness.  Sometimes, we just have to stop, on principle.)  I'm certainly open, however, to hearing another interpretation of the Lonergan Q & A you speak of.

Also, you mention self-presence. To me, the fountain in the courtyard metaphor that Lonergan uses is provocative, but not really as clear as it could be. My understanding of self-presence became better informed from my having read Emil Piscitelli's work on Language and Method.  I also wrote an appendix to my own work, which is published online at the below webpage. 

Briefly, though, as I understand it, conscious structure affords us two kinds of self-presence.  The first is in the basic structure of language itself, which means that the internal dialogue is me (implied speaker) speaking about something X to me (implied listener) (Piscitelli 1977 dissertation, and his more recent published work, which I have not read yet).  In that sense, however, we are present to ourselves as our internal dialogue is, in fact, myself talking to myself. I understand that this is just basic thinking that we all experience, where my images and feelings and memories are supportive of that process: thinking about, or conversing internally about any X.  In order to think in the way that we do, we have to be self-present in this way.

The second kind of self-presence is what I mentioned in the last note.  Putting myself reflectively in the basic structure as object-X. That is, the basic language structure (subject-object-subject) above allows that I can also take myself as that X-content/object and apply my questions to it/myself. So that I can speak TO myself ABOUT myself internally (I can think humanly).  In this way, we can understand that we can become self-present in this second way--as I become reflective of myself or think-about myself as other. Thinking about myself as object is, then, another way to be self-present.  Also, the first kind of self--presence is foundational/constitutional and is how we are relatively free to become transformed and to change ourselves by our own choosing--by bringing the basic method of mind (paying attention to with our set of questions) to ourselves as object through our "given" self-presebce,

At any rate, I'm glad to be of help.  Good luck in your studies,

Catherine
Appendix on self-presence:

]https://docs.google.com/document/d/11ZsPZLGgOsih1JyvAxGFl6XSoc-h-Qt7E9CX_lznXus/edit
[/url]

dnordquest

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Re: Self-Appropriation As Merely Adverting to Given
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2013, 04:43:06 PM »
Catherine,

Many thanks for the very helpful reply!
 
I think you are right about the Q & A.  I enjoy reading Lonergan's  replies to questions, as they often supplement the lectures and also give new and vivid examples.  However, they are hardly his last word on a subject.

Your distinctions among types of self-presence is nicely done.  I'll have a look at the appendix.

Dick Moodey is my colleague at Gannon and showed me his copy of your Finding the Mind. I'll look forward to reading it when I get caught up.

Best,
David

Richard Moodey

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Re: Self-Appropriation As Merely Adverting to Given
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2015, 12:58:19 PM »
David and Catherine,

Catherine's reply sticks very close to Lonergan's own language. I like to put it in the language of Michael Polanyi, whose thought is similar to, but certainly not identical to Lonergan's. What a person does in self-appropriation is to make explicit what had previously been tacit. We know by experiencing, understanding, and judging, but prior to self-appropriation, we know it without saying it. Polanyi argues that we always know more than we can say, but he does not argue that there is no value in making some of that tacit knowing explicit. So in his chapter on self-affirmation, Lonergan explicitly asks, "Am I a knower?" And he explicitly states the conditions for answering "yes." And he argues that personal appropriation of ones own cognitive operations will result in affirming that these conditions have been met.

Best regards,

Dick
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac