Lonergan Forum

Main Forum Topics => Method In Theology => Topic started by: Bob Doran on August 30, 2012, 07:37:55 PM

Title: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Bob Doran on August 30, 2012, 07:37:55 PM
The question is related to Fred Crowe's question, What happens to wisdom after about 1964? There are certainly connections between cosmopolis and functional specialization. Do they map completely onto each other? I don't know yet. Lonergan always emphasized the complexity of wisdom. It was Aristotle's intellectual virtue that could discern, however implicitly, the position on being, but it was also a gift of the Holy Spirit. Lonergan's wisdom transposes very easily, I think, into the multidimensional reality of conversion. Cosmopolis as introduced in chapter 7 has some features of such wisdom. It is a communal mentality, a set of habits in a community, habits that are not only intellectual but also more than intellectual. Due to its abiding presence a community pursues integrity at every level: intellectual, moral, psychic, social, and by chapter 20 religious. Chapter 20 presents a religiously transformed cosmopolis. I suggest (nothing more) that functional specialization is part of all that, and a crucial part of it. But do they map onto each other completely? I'm not sure. Certainly they don't unless functional specialization includes all dimensions of conversion at the foundational level: intellectual, moral, religious, and psychic/affective, all of them intending a posture that corresponds to 'Natural Right and Historical Mindedness' in its concern for collective responsibility. We may find that the heuristic of cosmopolis finds the X in functional specialization, once the full reality of conversion plays its foundational role in such an operational division of labor. Could be -- that's as far as I can go at present. Alternatively I wonder whether the call to a community to live in accord with the normative scale of values doesn't come closer to the X that INSIGHT calls cosmopolis. And I'm not sure that the scale of values and functional specialization, however related they may be, map without remainder onto each other. Maybe that is where the question is heading. Rambling thoughts, nothing more.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: TomHalloran on August 31, 2012, 06:09:17 PM
I posted this in the Insight and Method thread but am re-posting here under this new topic that Bob started.

I am convinced that there is a relationship between Lonergan's heuristic notion of cosmopolis and the functionally specialised collaboration that he "sketches" in the second part of Method.  As Mark's exercise (in the Insight and Method thread) in "disposing the data" would seem to demonstrate, it is not simply a relationship of "identity".

My conviction arises on an insight which emerges from another way of disposing the data (i.e., analogically).   
The notion of cosmopolis as  described (sociologically??) in Insight : the functionally specialised collaboration as explanatorially sketched in Method (do the first five chapters convey the explanatory context of Insight??)   : : what : how : : finis quod : finis quo. They are "identical" as ends not concepts.
Recalling that Insight is written from a moving viewpoint, it would seem that cosmopolis only comes fully into the light of luminous subjectivity in the concluding remarks about "implementation of the integral heuristic structure"...
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 07, 2012, 06:10:46 AM
I posted some questions about Phil's  "Method in Theology: Revisions and Implementations" before I had read Bob Doran's post of August 30.  Bob, you raise questions that are very similar to mine, touching upon the importance of conversions at different levels, or as I put it, in different domains of activity.
You raise the questions of the mapping onto one another of cosmopolis and functional specialization and a normative scale of values and functional specializations.  I think of "mapping" as the core cognitive act involved in using a model or a metaphor, in which there is a metaphorical movement from something that is more concrete, or perhaps just better known, to something more abstract or less well known.  Do I read something into your use of "mapping" that you do not intend?
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Bob Doran on September 09, 2012, 03:19:03 PM
I think I was using "mapping" in a more general sense of a complete correspondence of one to the other. E.g., I also asked whether the four-point theologcal hypothesis could be "mapped" without remainder onto a unified field structure for systematic theology and concluded that it could not. A unified field structure requires as well a theory of history. In the instance before us, I'm asking whether what Lonergan functional specialization can be "mapped" without remainder onto what INSIGHT designates heuristically as cosmopolis, and I'm indicating that I have some questions about this.

Sorry I didn't respond earlier. I've been away for most of the weekend.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Phil McShane on September 11, 2012, 10:25:14 AM
In discussing the relation of the X of Cosmopolis to the X of Functional Specialization, it seems to me that one must appeal to the analogy of science, something  Lonergan points to in Method,3-5. He did not have the answer when he wrote the Cosmopolis stuff. So, he was not even in a position parallel to Higgs. The X of functional collaboration is a much more refined structure  than  the X of Cosmopolis, even though its reality is missing  [a point I make in chapter 10 of *Method in Theology, Revisions and Implementations.*]  The key point is the point Lonergan made in including  Implementation in the definition of metaphysics: if metaphysics [or theology: see Method, 355, “fruit to be borne”] is not statistically effective it fails as a science [on that see *Topics in Education* 160, lines 15-17]. That was his task from the 1930s: changing history. Our challenge is to try his solution. How? I hope to tackle that question in October’s* Posthumous 5*. But my basic point is, Is it not high time that we pushed out of the old conventions that appalled Lonergan and had a shot at, say, the eighth functional specialty  in its fermenting of radically  better economics and radically better theology?
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 12, 2012, 08:46:19 PM
Bob,
Would it be correct to say that your more general use of "mapping" implies that you are looking for complete identity between the "map" and the "territory" -- a tacit denial of Korzybski's famous "the map is not the territory"? 
Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Artfulhousing on September 12, 2012, 10:43:29 PM
It seems to me that to speak of “mapping” cosmopolis onto functional specialisations misses the point. Lonergan’s discussion of the characteristics of cosmopolis come at the end of Chapter 7, Common Sense as Object. The challenge of this chapter is to come to some sense of the problem we face in bringing about progress in history. Lonergan is not interested in some grand theory of history but rather a practical theory of history, one which looked toward creating a better future in the face of both the necessity of common sense (“the practicality of common sense engenders and maintains enormous structures of technology, economics, politics, and culture…” Insight p.232) and its inadequacies and impotence. The problem lies not only with common sense but also with science as it currently operates. Lonergan is looking forward heuristically to the nature or characteristics of the solution. Until I had some ‘appreciation’ of the enormity and depth of this problem, the characteristics of the solution made little sense.

The characteristics of cosmopolis outlined in Chapter 7 are further complemented by the solution outlined in Chapter 20, the last chapter of Insight. Central to this chapter is Lonergan’s discussion of belief. It offers not only the possibility of collaboration with God in bringing about a solution but the 31 ‘determinations’ of the heuristic structure of the solution also point to the centrality of human collaboration in bringing about a solution.

It seems to me that one of the problems in speaking of functional specialisation is that it focuses our attention on the functional specialities as individual elements rather than their totality - what together these functional specialties achieve, viz. the constitution of progress. (There are various attempts to name the functional specialties as a totality – McShane refers to Functional Collaboration, Global Functional Collaboration, Cyclic Functional Collaboration, galactic method, fusionism etc; Benton refers to the Global Table; Drage refers to the Great Circle of Feminism.)
If we are to ask what is progress, we could think of the various improvements in living standards, in reaching agreements, in meaning that inform our living, in our personal identity and in our religious sensibilities etc. But these are descriptive definitions of progress rather an explanatory definition. An explanatory definition incorporates the significant and essential elements that constitute or bring about progress. In my view, an explanatory definition of progress is the functional specialities – they constitute progress. Unless, we work our way through all these functional specialties, we cannot bring about a better future.

The characteristics of cosmopolis and the 31 determinations of the heuristic structure of the solution ‘map’ onto the characteristics of the totality of the functional specialities, whatever we may call it, as what practically brings about progress in every field of human endeavour. It is a new meaning of science, a science of progress as collaborative, as functional.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 13, 2012, 06:08:16 AM
Artfulhousing,
If I ask "what is progress?" I have to include an ecological dimension.  I believe that we need to move toward a second industrial revolution that will enable us to produce the goods and services needed to maintain human population in an ecologically sustainable way.  A dimension of the problem of evil consists in the way our current manner of industrial production is eating up non-renewable resources and dumping ever-increasing amounts of waste, some of it highly toxic, into the air, water, and earth.  But movement towards a sustainable form of industrial production is blocked by powerful interests.  I fail to see how functional specialization and collaboration in theology and all of the other scientific and scholarly disciplines will have an effect upon the way decisions are made in the boardrooms of the great corporations that dominate industrial production.  The officers of corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to act in ways that will enrich the owners of the corporations.  Even if they were to all to become free from individual, group, dramatic, and general bias, they would still have that fiduciary responsibility to make profits for the stockholders.  They are prohibited by law from making the common good, either of their own national society or of global society, take precedence over profits in making their decisions.  This is a problem of structure, more than it is a problem of the knowledge or virtue of the men and women who make the decisions that result in the actions of giant corporations.  Changing that structure requires political action, but the political power of corporations has been great enough to block all attempts to make the structural changes that would lead to an ecologically sustainable mode of production.
Another aspect of progress is a more equitable distribution of the wealth that is produced.  The social teachings of the Church tend to focus on distributive justice.
Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: TomHalloran on September 14, 2012, 06:13:27 PM
Dick,
Having read your last post here, I thought you might be interested to read this from the SGEME website:

Cosmopolis… “is concerned with the fundamental issue of the historical process. ….
The business of cosmopolis is to make operative the ideas that, in the light of the general bias of common sense, are inoperative.” Bernard Lonergan; CWL 3, University of Toronto Press, 1992. Page 263-4[239]

INTRODUCTION

The Halifax N.S. gathering of July 6-10, 2009 focused on the topic “Functional Collaboration” in the sense meant by Lonergan in chapter 5 of Method in Theology. The focus was an amateurish version of the reflections that are to identify the group that is eventually to emerge as the members of the eighth functional specialty, called by Lonergan Communications but variously titled by others as Executive Reflection, Marketing, etc. Whatever title is to emerge as relatively definite, the properties of the operations of the group are those identified in section (8) of Method in Theology, p. 132.

The operations can also be associated with a part of the role to be played by “implementation’ in metaphysics, considered by Lonergan as a “conception, affirmation and implementation”. What became clear to the group was that this area of metaphysics has been neglected since the emergence of Insight. So, conception and affirmation, components of a larger implementation, were being carried forward without the feedback benefit of the concrete implementation identified above by (8), the result being a contraction of the original challenge intended by Lonergan in his reflections on Cosmopolis.

The implementation meant by the Halifax group, then, relates to the ad extra effectiveness of metaphysics, to the challenge of Cosmopolis, to the institutional realization of functional collaboration. This website is a place of virtual collaboration through the provision of a manner by which researchers can assist each other in the implementation of collaborative work.

Lonergan’s concern for the historical process produced over three decades [1935-1965] three central ideas that are still inoperative. In chronological summary, he provided an analysis of the business cycle, an analysis of the structure of human knowing, and an eight-fold method designed to implement his first two ideas. It is on this third discovery that this society is focused. The commitment is to support the initiation of functional collaboration in the various sciences, arts and technologies in a way that would lead to a new integral global care for evolutionary progress.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: robert henman on September 15, 2012, 07:36:57 AM
In respone to Dick's comments and perhaps a further context for Tom's, I would add a need for a renewed appreciation for patience and time. It is one thing to have an idea, quite another to have a plan of implementation. The idea of an evolution in and of consciousness is an idea to be appropriated. It's implementation is a plan grounded in that appropriation. Functional collaboration and specialization reach for such patience. Phil McShane mentions 9011 as a possible time of fruition. Can we intussuscept such a vision of implementation?   
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 16, 2012, 04:04:21 PM
Yes, patience is certainly a necessary virtue.  I believe that collaboration, including functional collaboration, is something of a political process.  To ask "we are we going to do?" is to ask a political question that involves processes by which the collectivity called "we" can arrive at a collective decision.  I regard functional collaboration is a partial specification of a political ideal, in which the members of the collectivity decide to cooperate both in the search for truth and in attempting to acts in ways that are consistent with truth.   The closer a collectivity comes to making and sticking to those two decisions, the closer it approximates a collectivity I would be willing to call "cosmopolis."

The "supernatural solution" would reduce some of the difficulty inherent in making these collective decisions to the extent that the members of a collectivity have accepted the gifts of loving God with all their hearts, and of loving their neighbors as they love themselves.  To the extent that Christians succeed in creating such a community, with the grace of God, to that extent they have participated in creating the Kingdom of God.  Moving closer to that ideal would create the conditions in which it would be possible to move closer to the ideal of cosmopolis.

I am uncomfortable with speaking of ideas as being either "operative" or "inoperative."  That way of speaking and writing seems to me to obscure the fact that the only way an idea is effective is for a person, or a collectivity, to decide to act upon it or in conformity with it.  I believe that it is important to remember that collective action depends upon a collective decision.   

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Phil McShane on September 28, 2012, 07:08:40 AM
Certainly we could debate  on about the nature of functional specialisation and its relationship to cosmopolis but it seems that the nature of both would be best revealed by simple experiments with some of Lonergan’s suggestions about functional collaboration. I wish to point out three, three that moreover suit different types of people or different stages of enculturation in Lonergan studies. 
[1] One can have a shot at functional research. This is, oddly, easier than one might expect. It is a matter of working towards an attitude of “this is worth researching or recycling”. So, you are interested in, say, some point in Lonergan or Darwin or Gadamer or Rahner. Then you pin down the point as best you can within your present horizon.  Think of Boyer talking to Lonergan about the problem in a piece of Thomas (CWL 1, xviii). Try to get a decent grip on the problem and then check around with colleagues: has it been done before, is my viewpoint up to tackling it?  The stance here is one of a normal successful science (see Method, 3-5). It is a way of showing “a fundamental concern for method, eliminating totalitarian ambitions” (Second Collection, the interview from Florida 1970, edited by McShane, 213).
[2] a second way of moving into functional collaboration is to place yourself (privately for starters!) at line 20 of Method 250: “each investigator proceeds to distinguish …. Etc”. But here I would note that it is not a matter of naming Lonergan’s achievements. It is a matter of discerning one’s own, like Liddy did in his little book on “startling strangeness”. Try for a life-narrative … how many years, for instance, have you spent struggling into theory in some science.  This can only be a stumbling business until you chat with others. That chatting gives an informal way of getting a glimpse of the “final objectification”(250: line 28).  When functional collaboration matures, these narratives and positionings will be complex e.g. efforts to say just how one handles the search for “things” in some particular science, or how one meshes in prayer with Grace “to embrace the universe in a single view” (Insight, 442: see McShane, Posthumous 4, “Conversing with Divine Friends”).
[3] the third way is less strenuous in that it offers a spectrum of efforts to communicate Lonergan’s economics. One is balanced between FS 8 and ordinary journalism: one may have a decent grip on “the need for two types of firm” or just a suspicion that the present stuff is a disaster. This third way shows how difficult FS8 is, or, if you like, how difficult it is to add implementation to the present truncated metaphysics. A successful group effort here could change the globe and history in these next decades. 
 
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on September 30, 2012, 05:19:49 PM
I have always thought that the achievement of cosmopolis depends upon the integration, not just of theology, but of the arts and sciences more generally.  Having taught at a liberal arts college for many years, I have connected this with the kind of integration idealistically proposed in theories of liberal education.  I have also thought a good bit about the functional integration of sociology.  Some of the people who worry about the fragmentation of sociology point to the more than forty-five sections in the American Sociological Association as evidence for this.  I argue that what Lonergan calls "field specialization" and "subject specialization" might be evidence for wide diversity of interests, if not for the lamented "fragmentation."  But I also believe that functional specialization holds out the possibility for integration.   
1.  Field specialization is the basis for many of the sections of the American Sociological Association, and for many of the substantive courses in sociology departments – the sociologies of family, religion, education, and medicine, for example. 
2. Subject specialization is expressed in the differences between disciplines or departments in a college or university.  Anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, political science, and sociology are usually in different departments and have different journals and professional associations.   
3. Functional specialization is an emphasis upon one of the different activities we engage in, and the functional specialties are very similar as we go from one field specialty or one subject specialty to another.
Sociologists are most familiar with research methods and theory as functional specialties within sociology.  Lonergan's description of functional specialities in theology suggest similar functional specialties in sociology.
(1) research:  For sociology, I suggest that this is what we often call "data construction."
(2) interpretation: In sociology, interpretation is necessary in both qualitative and quantitative studies.
(3) history: Sociologists need to be aware of the histories of the institutions that are the objects of their inquiries, as well as the histories of the intellectual tools they use in the conduct of these inquiries.
(4) dialectic:  Lonergan's distinction between positions and counter-positions provides explanations for the social conflicts sociologists study, and for the disciplinary conflicts about how to conduct our inquiries. Levine, Donald N.Levine has described the dialectical relationships among sociological schools of thought in his  1995 book,   Visions of the Sociological Tradition
(5) foundations: Alvin Gouldner in The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology called upon sociologists to become more aware of their "domain assumptions."  The popularity of the notion of "paradigms" has alerted sociologists to the existences of different foundational beliefs.  The difference between this specialty and dialectic is that in the focus on foundations, the inquirer is explaining his or her own commitments, rather than describing in a more non-committal way the different foundational beliefs embraced by others.
(6) doctrines:  This name for a functional specialty seems more appropriate for Catholic theologians than for sociologists, since we do not have revealed sociological truths, or popes and councils that can provide authoritative interpretations of revealed truths.  I have thought of calling this "hypothesis testing," but that seems pretty far reomoved from what I understand Lonergan to mean by "doctrines."  Also, in all of the previous functional specialties, the process of formulating tentative hypotheses and then testing them seems to be involved.
(7) systematics:  This corresponds very closely to the sociological specialty of higher-level theory construction.  There has been a distinction in sociology between "grand theories" and "theories of the middle-range."  Both seem to me to correspond to systematics.
(8) communication.  Previously, this was (somewhat contemptuously) called "popularization."  In recent years, there have been concerted efforts to establish "public sociology" as a respected specialization in the discipline.  The aim is to make the findings of sociology more generally available to non-sociologists.
I mention this because I believe in ecumenical dialogue, not just between people with different religious convictions, but also between people in different disciplines.  I have always marvelled at the way some educators expect students to integrate what they learn in the different arts and sciences, when the teachers in these disciplines remain so isolated from one another.  I will stop here, however, as this post is already too long.

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Phil McShane on October 01, 2012, 09:14:29 AM
Hello Dick,
Your comments on functional specialization and sociology open doors: far from being too long they cry out for an article or a book. Rahner noted the relevance of FS to the social sciences in his Gregorianum article of 1971 and I had already noted its need in musicology at the Florida Conference in 1970, but it just did not catch on. Re theology as particular zone: a tricky issue. There is an implicit theology in all areas, but that is a very complex question. When I ran the seminars in the past year or so (see my FuSe series) the first series of eight were to be general categorical, the next eight with focus on special cats of Christian theology and the final eight on special cats of world religions. The effort died after the fifth seminar due to lack of collaborative time and efforts, but it pointed to a global collaboration, both disciplinary and omnidisciplinary. Your effort gives us a pointer towards a fresh beginning. 
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: mounce.d on October 09, 2012, 10:38:51 AM
Does Lonergan continue to hold or develop in Cosmopolis and FS the ideas
he presented with Insight Chs. IX and X on dynamic knowing and wisdom?

We might notice how Lonergan approaches the dynamic structure using his
previous work for individuals and communities, and here he approaches the
idea of knowledge (or science) beyond common sense by elaborating on the
mathematician and "scientist" as particular types in their unique
collaborations.  This changes the general category of science from any
generally produced knowledge, but allows BL to illustrate a sense of
movement across the levels with isomorphic balance between the two types.
In one sense, the one shared with common sense, the terms of dynamic
knowing generally are conditioned.  In the other, that used by the
empirical scientists (most-likely meant-to-be physicists, chemists and
biologists) we have the reverse interest to arrive at concretely combined
judgments of fact with the important implication of inter-subjective
belief.  While the mathematician moves from particular terms up toward
general conditions, the "scientist" isomorphically moves down from general
principles to particular instances.  For both, the nature of knowledge is
dynamically structured with general conditions and concrete combinations.
The curiously different limit for these types, as it remains for the
nature of insight itself, is that insight only is probable because,
even-when these types are fully-operational in knowledgeable outcomes,
insight remains outside of the residue, outside of the intelligence beyond
sense (our modern experiments and theory mostly are imaginative
projections,) and outside the joining of the two regardless of performance
in one direction or the other.

Although science (empirical products) and math (theoretical conditions)
are not noted as having the same role as technology for providing the
potential advance over time, time is the carrier forward for these
operations and outcomes.  Lonergan concludes the chapter with a technical
discussion of the assumed analysis in how particular propositions can be
(and have been) turned-into concrete principles using the existential
terms embedded in all logic.  The technical extraction of existential
terms from the judgment operation is a simple driver of the possible
advance by decisive action.

This leaves irrational insight as the general case for the mathematician
and the particular case for the physicist because their conjoined upper
and lower blades will always include the context for a larger synthesis
which is the definition for these existential terms in any of the
particular work or general theory at any level of development.  Such terms
furthermore only can be "wisely" chosen as Aquinas originally knew (Sum
Theol I-II 9.66 a.5 ad4m.)

Wisdom therefore develops over time outside the general conditions of
concrete combinations, and we shouldn't be surprised that judgments are
made on virtual conditions because we've already exhaustively seen how
science and math are founded in abstract notions.  The Virtually
Unconditioned is thus itself the principled result of a wise notice and
choice about the existential terms in all dynamic knowing; knowledge being
the judged facts that are a personal commitment.

What is the relation between an individual and the society in this regard?
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on October 14, 2012, 08:46:57 PM
Lonergan calls the first functional specialization “Research,” but I prefer to call it “Data Construction.”

I regard data construction as a functional specialty in sociology; I believe that I cannot make good judgments without referring to data.  Texts in research method often speak of “collecting data,” but I think this is misleading.  Data are not like wildflowers in a field, just there waiting to be “collected.“ Researchers construct data by recording their experiences in a system of symbols.  My experiences on archaeological digs illustrate this.  When we uncover an artifact, it is not “data” until we locate it precisely within the 3 dimensional grid within we we excavate.  The artifact is described in terms of that grid, assigned a number that specifies it’s locus, photographed, and drawn.  We have then constructed a datum!

When we use numbers as the symbol system to record our experiences, we are more likely to designate our data construction as “measurement.”  When we construct data relevant to testing a hypotheses, we are engaged in what Lonergan calls “special research.”  When we construct data without any intention to verfify or falsify a hypothesis, it is was Lonergan calls “general research.”  He says this:

General research locates, excavates, and maps ancient cities. It fills museums and reproduces or copies inscriptions, symbols, pictures, statues.  It deciphers unknown scripts and languages.  It collects and catalogues manuscripts, and prepares critical editions of texts.  It composes indices, tables, repertories, bibliographies, abstracts, bulletins, handbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias.  Some day, perhaps, it will give us a complete information-retrieval system (MT 127).

I have to paraphrase this in my own words for it to be useful to me.  I begin by eliminating “general research” as the subject of active verbs. (I am mildly obsessed with avoiding reifications and personifications of abstractions.)  Here is a first try:  All data construction that is not guided by efforts to verify or falsify hypotheses can be characterized as “general research.”  Those who emphasize description can be said to be doing “general research.”  Maps, archaeological digs, ethnographies, surveys and critical editions of texts are examples of this.

To these activities,as a sociologist I add such things as the mapping of a wide range of contemporary phenomena (not just cities), census taking, the keeping of various sorts of statistics by governmental and non-governmental organizations, the reporting of the news, sample surveys, and observational studies.  In terms of the ideal of a complete information-retrieval system, it would also be necessary to include the posting of information to the internet, and the construction of more efficient ways of retrieving electronically stored data.

Just as the artifacts discovered and recorded by archaeologists were not originally created so that archaeologists could find them and transform them into scientific data, so also people are continually creating symbolic representations of social reality without intended them to be transformed into sociological data.  Sociological data construction requires recording things within a system of symbols, a sociological frame of reference.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on October 15, 2012, 08:44:41 PM
Lonergan's second functional specialization is "interpretation."

While sociologists recognize that data construction – or data “collection” – is a functional specialization, we often treat “interpretive sociologies” as distinct schools of thought or paradigms within sociology.   Some sociologists say that interpretive sociology is more “humanistic” than “positivist sociology.”  I do not deny that there are differences between self-styled sociological humanists and positivists, but I deny that it is only the humanists who engage in interpretation.  Positivists eagerly talk and write about what their data mean.  That’s interpretation.  In theology, interpretation is most often of written texts, but in sociology we also interpret a wide variety of non-verbal symbols, such as statistical data, tests of significance, rituals, music, and the visual arts.  Of the interpretation of texts in theology, Lonergan says that it “grasps meaning in its proper historical context, in accord with its proper mode and level of thought and expression, in the light of the circumstances and intention of the writer” (MT 127).  Of the interpretation of both verbal and non-verbal symbols, I say that the context is not only historical, but also cultural and sub-cultural and individual.  I believe that meaning is always personal, that persons mean things by the symbols they create, use, and interpret.  In his section on the truth of interpretation (IN 562 ff.), Lonergan says that the interpreter must attend to the circumstances of the audience as well as of the writer.  The same thing is true of the interpreter of non-verbal symbols, including those that are enacted, such as a ritual or a dance, as well as those that result in a relatively permanent artifact, such as a written text or a painting.

I don't think that I contradict Lonergan by trying to interpret symbols, including written texts, in their interactive contexts.  I do think that my "symbolic interactionist" perspective might be in tension with some modes of theological interpretation.  This is because of the special status of texts that the interpreter believes to be the revealed word of God.  My sense is that some, but not all, theological interpreters of scripture believe that the words, sentences, and larger units of Biblical text really do mean something in themselves, independently of the meaning any human attributes to them.  I agree with Peter Berger on this point (although I disagree with him on some others) that as a sociologist I have to practice "methodological agnosticism."  This means that, if I were to attempt to give a sociological interpretation of Biblical texts, I would have to focus on what the human writer of the text meant by the words he wrote, in the historical and cultural context he was in when he did the writing.  And I would also have to focus on what kinds of habitual beliefs and values he thought the members of his audience had.  Further, I would also have to focus on how historical changes and cultural differences have led different readers of the text to attribute meanings to it that differ from what the original writer intended to say, or what members of his intended audience actually thought he meant.

Those sociologists who treat interpretive sociology as a field or subject specialization within sociology have obscured the degree to which all sociologists engage in interpretation.  Those who deny this are performatively inconsistent in their denials.  That is, they have to interpret what I mean by my assertion before they can deny it.  And when their data construction efforts involve asking people questions, they actually do spend a great deal of time in getting the formulation of their questions right, so that their respondents do not attribute a meaning to them that the inquirers did not intend. 

By recognizing interpretation as a functional specialization rather than as the exclusive method of a particular school of thought in sociology, self-styled humanists and positivists can engage in a collaborative sociological enterprise, within which they regard data construction and interpretation as necessary moments in the research process.   

In "The New Science of Politics," Eric Voegelin says that the method of political science (but I include sociology) is the "critical clarification of symbolic representations of social reality," and argues that these symbolic representations, created by the members of a society, are the primary data for the social inquirer.  Both data construction and interpretation are moments within that part of the process Voegelin calls "clarification."  The question for intelligence is "what meanings do the various people connected to a particular symbolic representation attribute to it?"  The meaning I attribute to "critical" in his formula derives from my interpretation of what Lonergan wrote about dialectic.

The residual conflicts between positivists and humanists also call for the functional specialization called "dialectic."
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on October 18, 2012, 07:17:11 PM
Lonergan' third functional specialization is "history."  He relates history to psychology and sociology:

"These sciences may be modelled [sic] on the procedures of the natural sciences.  In so far as this approach is carried out rigorously, meaning in human speech and action is ignored, and the science regards only the unconscious side of human process.  In this case the relations between history and human science are much the same as the relations between history and natural science.  However, there is much psychology and sociology that does recognize meaning as a constitutive and normally controlling element in human action.  To their study the historian leaves all that is the repetition of routine in human speech and action and all that is universal in the genesis, development, breakdown of routines.  Moreover, the more psychology and sociology the historian knows, the more he will increase his interpretive powers.  Conversely, the greater the achievements of historians, the broader will be the field of evidence on human speech and action that has been opened up for psychological and sociological investigation (MT 180).

I do not think that is is possible for a psychologist or a sociologist to engage in research with human subjects without communicating with them.  To the extent that communication takes place, there are going to be interpretations of the meanings of the words and actions of the researcher by the subjects of the research, and interpretations of the words and actions of the subjects by the researcher.   If there is experimentation, the researcher has a moral and legal obligation to explain to the subjects just what is going to be done to them in the experiment, and must get their informed consent. 

All psychological and sociological data are historical, because they are symbolic representations of events that have occurred in the past.  The past event might be very recent, as in an interviewer's recording of a research subject's answer to a question asked but a minute ago.  Or it might be an event from a more distant past, as in an account of a civil war battle in a soldier's letter to his mother.

Lonergan says that historians "leaves all that is the repetition of routine in human speech and action" to the psychologists and sociologists.   I disagree.  The historians I have read pay a great deal of attention to the repetition of routines.  They write about repetitive practices that occurred in the past.  In the prohibition era, smuggling, homebrewing, and frequenting speakeasies were frequently repeated actions.   Historians write about routine practices in families, in agriculture, in government, etc. 

I think that the biggest difference between historians and sociologists is in the kinds of enriching abstractions they prefer.  In the interest of constructing coherent narratives, historians abstract from the complex networks of relationships among individuals and institutions that exist within a short duration of time.  In the interest of constructing maps of relationships among individuals and institutions within a short duration, sociologists abstract from sequences of events that are related in longer temporal durations.  I do not claim that historians never engage in the mapping of relationship among things in different institutional domains, or that sociologists never construct narratives. 

I consider narrative to be both a heuristic structure that guides inquiry, and a rhetorical form in which the results of inquiry can be written.  Historians place a high value on narrative both as heuristic and as rhetoric. But that does not mean that they must never use classical, statistical, developmental, or dialectical heuristic structures.  I believe that historians who are informed by Lonergan's cognitional theory will use all of these heuristic structures when they are appropriate for their questions and subject matter.   

As a functional specialization in sociology, I see history as a specialization in the use of narrative heuristically and rhetorically.  Concretely, a sociologists engaged in this functional specialization will be engaged in activities that are very similar to the activities of men and women who call their subject specialization "history."

I conclude with five points:   (1) All sociological data have been constructed at a time and place.  (2) Interpreters of data need to take into account the temporal and cultural context of their data.   (3) All interpretations also take place at specific times and places.  (4) The symbolic expressions of earlier interpretations are data for later interpretations.  Historiography is, at least in part, a narrative account of a sequence of interpretations.  (5) There are dialectical as well as temporal relations between and among interpretations.   

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Artfulhousing on October 19, 2012, 08:35:47 PM
Richard
I agree with you that the FS Research reaches beyond texts to any meaningful expression. As Lonergan says in Chapter 3 of Method, “Meaning is embodied or carried in human intersubjectivity, in art, in symbols, in language, and in the lives and deeds of persons.” (p.57). Here I add my own elaboration as well as a qualification to your discussion of Research.

First, my elaboration. The various meanings of our lives find expression in the materiality of the world. These expressions encompass both external events (states or actions) and internal events (states, actions, experiences etc.). They include attitudes, beliefs, opinions, feelings, emotions, values, habits, expectations, motivations, skills, capacities, personal and social characteristics, material characteristics (of buildings, of habitats, of environments), language, clothes, decorations, art, music, sounds, dance, performance, video, film, symbols, signs, customs etc. This diverse manifold of expressions as meaningful events is both the starting point and the end point for social science. Sociologists begin with an already constructed world of meanings.

So, I have come to understand Research as answering the empirical question: what events have occurred or are occurring? As events they occur at some time and place. As events they are just given, diverse, diffuse, unquestionable, yet to be understood (see Insight p.405-6 on experiential objectivity). The primary orientation of the qualitative and quantitative research within the social sciences is to answer the empirical question by documenting the occurrence of events. They are also concerned with frequencies of events and with associations between events over specified period of time within a specified geographical area. These events occur now or, they have occurred in the more or less remote past. They can be in this place or in some far distance place. They can describe a sequence of events.

Second, my qualification. The problem I see with quantitative and qualitative methods within sociology is that they largely operate within a taken-for-granted common-sense mode and much of the data gathered has its relevance within a framework which takes the perspective of one or other economic, social, political, cultural or religious group (or shifts between them depending upon the circumstances). Within this framework, researchers ask all sorts of questions and seek answers to them supposing that these questions can be answered through an empirical investigation.

I would suggest, however, that Research as a functional specialty can be better understood within the context of answering one particular question, a what-is-it-question? You hint at this in your discussion of Research when speaking of your archaeological experience. Within Research, a researcher will begin with some answer to this what-is-it-question? They pre-suppose this answer as a heuristic, a guide. (Within a common-sense framework, this answer is implicit.) Their orientation, however, is towards the data. They are looking for data which been ignored by or overlooked in their current answer and will provoke a revision to the current answer.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on October 20, 2012, 11:26:38 AM
Artfulhousing,
I am sorry that the subject you started on "functional collaboration" never elicited more responses, because you wrote some things in your initial post that I believe to be important.  So I am taking the liberty of quoting your points, omitting some of your elaboration of those points:
"(i) While Chapter 5 of MiT articulates the relevance of FC for the development of theology, it has relevance beyond this. ...

"(ii) While MiT articulates the relevance of FC for the development of one research field, viz. theology, its wider context is within a practical theory of history,  ...

"(iii) I began to understand the eight functional specialties in terms of eight questions and the eight methods we use to answer those questions. ...

"(iv) In a common sense mode I describe these eight questions and relate them to the functional specialties as follows: Research as answering as an empirical question, Interpretation a theoretical question, History a historical question, Dialectic a critical/evaluative question, Foundations a transformative question, Doctrines/Policies a policy question, Systematics a strategic question and Communications a practical question. Though Lonergan clearly makes a stand on the importance of theory, MiT seems to unfold functional collaboration within a common sense framework. ...

"(v) ... As I began to appropriate the orientations of the eight questions and the differing way in which I answer them, I came to the view that these eight questions are a complete ordered set of questions. In other words, they are all the questions we can ask about something. They are ordered in that they regard the ‘stages’ in process from the current situation to creating a new situation.

"(vi) As a complete ordered set of inter-related questions, I came to the conclusion that FC is a theory of science. Rather than describing science as knowledge, or in terms of precision or its empirical base, FC outlines the significant, relevant and essential questions that constitute or bring about science (just as experience, understanding and judging constitute knowing and are the elements in a theory of knowledge). This is an explanatory definition of science, one that incorporates not only knowledge but also incorporates implementation and the creation of something worthwhile.

"(vii) Finally, as a completed ordered set of inter-related questions, I also came to the conclusion that FC is a theory of progress, it is what constitutes or brings about progress in any field of human endeavour. We cannot move forward in any area unless we answer each of these eight questions. ...

"viii) We can work as individuals and seek to answer each of these questions in turn. We can, however, be more effective if we collaborate, if we develop expertise in the different methods for answering different questions. These questions are often complex and difficult."

I returned to your post in the other subject line because in your post of October 19, responding to my post on the first functional specialization, you wrote: "I have come to understand Research as answering the empirical question: what events have occurred or are occurring?"   That reminded me of your exposition of the ordered set of question that you say constitute both a theory of science and a theory of progress.  I agree that we can be more effective if we collaborate, and collaboration requires us to try to interpret what the others mean when they speak or write.

The empirical question you pose seems to me to be the question behind general research.  I stated what I mean by this term: "All data construction that is not guided by efforts to verify or falsify hypotheses can be characterized as 'general research.'  Those who emphasize description can be said to be doing 'general research.'  Maps, archaeological digs, ethnographies, surveys and critical editions of texts are examples of this."  How might a map be considered a documentation of "events that have occurred or are occuring?"  It seems to me that a map is a record of some of the things that are or were present within a defined territory.  It differs from a simple list of those things, because it also documents the spatial relationship between and among the things that are included.  It can specify the location of the occurrence of one or more events, but abstracts from the temporal sequences of events that had occurred at the various locations.

So your phrasing of the question behind general research leaves out the documentation of things that I do not call "events."  I agree that the map-maker's experience of the confluence of two rivers was an event, but argue that his intention in drawing this confluence, and indicating its location with reference to other significant features of the territory he is mapping, is not to document his experience upon first seeing the rivers merge, which was the event, but to map the content of what he experienced, which is not an event.

I did not elaborate upon my understanding of "special research," other than in saying that it is data construction that is guided by efforts at verifying or falsifying hypotheses. 

Your qualification of my discussion of data construction seems to me to bear upon "general research" rather than "special research."   When a researcher constructs data in order to verify or falsify a hypothesis, she is not operating within what I understand to be a common sense framework.  A person who is operating in a common sense framework does not formulate and test hypotheses, and does not try to formulate explicit definitions of terms. 

You seem to have rejected my characterization of research as "data construction" by saying "much of the data gathered has its relevance within a framework which takes the perspective of one or other economic, social, political, cultural or religious group (or shifts between them depending upon the circumstances)."   Perhaps by putting it this way you do not mean to disagree with my denial that we ever "gather" data, but that we must always construct it.  I say this, because by adding that a "framework" or "perspective" is always the context for the "gathering" of data, you seem to be making a point that is similar to mine.  That is, a researcher always constructs her data FROM a framework or perspective.  Where we seem to differ is that I believe that in data construction to verify or falsify a hypothesis, the definitions of the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis, provide the framework or perspective from which the data are constructed.  To the extent that the key terms in a scientific hypothesis are defined by how they are used in theoretical explanations, the data that are constructed to verify or falsify that hypothesis are not constructed from a common sense perspective.   To the extent that the key terms in a hypothesis are drawn from common sense discourse, without having been theoretically clarified and criticized, I agree that the data will be constructed from the common sense perspective of some non-scientific social group.

Scientific research, and the data construction that is a key element in scientific research, occurs within scientific communities.  Genuinely scientific communities may include theoretical disagreements, but their disagreements are those that ought to be settled by empirical data.  For these disagreements to "engage," rather than be no more than instances of people talking past one another, there has to be a frame of reference within which there are enough similarly defined theoretical terms for opposing hypothesis to be verified/falsified on the basis of data that have been constructed from within that common frame of reference.

The guiding value for scientific research must be truth, and genuine scientists must subordinate all other desires to the pure desire to know.   To the extent that data are constructed for other purposes, they are likely to be biased in the very process of how they were constructed. 


 
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Phil McShane on October 25, 2012, 12:37:51 PM
Dick and "ART",
as I mentioned in my brief comment on ART's Collaboration Reflections, I am just getting into tune with these reflections. Both pushes are great, and I see no problem in "data" collecting, sorting, or whatever. In the first seminar,on research, [FuSes zero to 9 on the Website] we revealed how data, in any serious field, are always in the context of  perspective .... in physics there is the standard model, in literature there is a spectrum of models. But my puzzle now is, how do we carry this larger reach forward?  It would even be a goodly start if Lonergan authorities commented on us three as quite off the mark, but there is a dreadful silence from ...."The Establishment".   
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Artfulhousing on October 25, 2012, 07:31:00 PM
Dick
I’ve been mulling over your response to my comments on the FS Research. First of all, my main concern has been to develop some sense of what Research might mean within the context of the totality of the functional specialties (Functional Collaboration) so I have overlooked for the moment Lonergan’s distinction between general research and special research. You give an example of “the map”. As you note, preceding the map is a range of events. But the map itself is also an event, an event constructed/produced by someone who meant something by it. Insofar as other persons can pick it up, recognise it for what it is and use it, then it has significance for them. But if we ask about the meaning or significance of the map, then we asking a question which goes beyond its immediate use and immediate meaning.

You write: “Where we seem to differ is that I believe that in data construction to verify or falsify a hypothesis, the definitions of the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis, provide the framework or perspective from which the data are constructed.” I would suspect that it is not so much around data construction that we differ. Rather, in the context of Functional Collaboration, we have different understandings of hypothesis as a framework. Let me elaborate with three lines of response.

(1) I would regard your phrasing of the issue ‘verify or falsify a hypothesis’ and ‘defining the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis’ as secondary to the process of understanding the meaning or significance of some events. What is primary is a question and the discovery of an answer through insight. In my view, verification regards not the data but rather the adequacy of the process we go through to reach an answer. In summary, verification lies in answering the questions have I been attentive to the data? Have I been intelligent and asked and answered all the relevant questions?

(2) I would note that sociologists (and other reseachers in the human sciences) use the term ‘hypothesis’ in various ways. So within quantitative and qualitative methods hypotheses regard the associations between events such as the association between low-income and crime, or smoking and cancer, or “the institutional, policy and economic shifts that may explain rising income concentration” and the rise of the super-rich (American Sociological Review October 2012). Or, hypotheses may regard the motivations of social agents such as the greed of financiers in the GFC or in the production and reproduction of dominant ideologies. I would regard these types of hypotheses as associations in time and place developed within the FS Research rather than hypotheses or theories reached in the FS Interpretation.

(3) Within the context of Functional Collaboration, I would suggest we need a more precise meaning of ‘hypothesis’, particularly in term of the relationship between the FS Research and the FS Interpretation. In my initial discussion of Functional Collaboration I described the role of the FS Interpretation as answering a theoretical question. I would go on to suggest that the theoretical question is a what-is-it-question, a question of definition, or more precisely, a question of explanatory definition. The FS Research pre-supposes some answer to this what-is-it-question as a heuristic (or hypothesis). When I ask a what-is-it-question such as ‘what is a theory?’, I come with some understanding of theory (however inadequate). But there are aspects that puzzle me, that don’t quite fit, that may or not belong. So answering my question has two movements; first, towards the data (with my current understanding/theory as a guide) – the role of the FS Research which identifies data not taken account of in the current theory; second, the discovery of a new answer (which differs from my previous understanding, indeed may transform it) – the role of the FS Interpretation. The nature of that answer is somewhat complex and brings in a discussion of ‘emergent probability’, a discussion you have flagged elsewhere in this Forum.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on October 26, 2012, 12:53:08 PM
Artful Housing,
You wrote [My responses are bracketed and in boldface]:
I’ve been mulling over your response to my comments on the FS Research. First of all, my main concern has been to develop some sense of what Research might mean within the context of the totality of the functional specialties (Functional Collaboration) so I have overlooked for the moment Lonergan’s distinction between general research and special research.  [It is important for being clear in our discourse that I do not believe that words mean things in themselves.  I believe that it is always a person who means something by a word.  From your second sentence above, I understand you to believe that “research” can mean something that is independent of the meaning attributed to the word by any individual person, whether it be Lonergan, you, or me.  Please correct me if I am mistaken in attributing that belief to you.]
You give an example of “the map”. As you note, preceding the map is a range of events. But the map itself is also an event, an event constructed/produced by someone who meant something by it. [What I mean by “event” is a concrete reality that has a specific temporal duration and occupies a specific volume of space.  I don’t usually call a map an “event,” because I don’t generally think of it as having a temporal beginning and end, but I agree that a map-maker (or printer) brings a specific map into being, and that it occupies a volume of space until it is destroyed or decays.  I generally think of a map as a product, an artifact, rather than an event.  The drawing or printing of the map is an event, and each time a person reads the map it is an event.] 
Insofar as other persons can pick it up, recognise it for what it is and use it, then it has significance for them. But if we ask about the meaning or significance of the map, then we asking a question which goes beyond its immediate use and immediate meaning.  [These sentences confirm the suspicion that I expressed above that you think of the map as having a meaning that is somehow independent of the meanings individual persons attribute to it.  But I might still be mistaken.  My intention here is not to initiate a debate about whether or not words or maps mean things in themselves, but to make my beliefs clear.]
… (1) I would regard your phrasing of the issue ‘verify or falsify a hypothesis’ and ‘defining the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis’ as secondary to the process of understanding the meaning or significance of some events. What is primary is a question and the discovery of an answer through insight. In my view, verification regards not the data but rather the adequacy of the process we go through to reach an answer. In summary, verification lies in answering the questions have I been attentive to the data? Have I been intelligent and asked and answered all the relevant questions? [In the sense that I must understand a hypothesis before I can verify or falsify it, understanding is “primary.”  But I do not believe that understanding a hypothesis is more important that judging it to be (probably) true or false.  I don’t understand why you say that “verification regards not the data,” but then say that it lies in answering questions, one of which is “Have I been attentive to the data?”]
(2) I would note that sociologists (and other reseachers in the human sciences) use the term ‘hypothesis’ in various ways. So within quantitative and qualitative methods hypotheses regard the associations between events such as the association between low-income and crime, or smoking and cancer, or “the institutional, policy and economic shifts that may explain rising income concentration” and the rise of the super-rich (American Sociological Review October 2012). Or, hypotheses may regard the motivations of social agents such as the greed of financiers in the GFC or in the production and reproduction of dominant ideologies. I would regard these types of hypotheses as associations in time and place developed within the FS Research rather than hypotheses or theories reached in the FS Interpretation. [I believe that researchers generally treat hypotheses as propositions that they neither affirm nor deny.  I agree that the contents of these propositions are highly variable, but I contend that there is an invariant structure to all well-formulated hypotheses.](
3) Within the context of Functional Collaboration, I would suggest we need a more precise meaning of ‘hypothesis’, particularly in term of the relationship between the FS Research and the FS Interpretation.[I believe that the invariant structure of hypotheses is present in both functional specializations.  If you disagree, could you give me an example of a hypothesis in either one of them that is not a proposition for which affirmation or denial is being withheld until the questions for reflection have been satisfactorily answered.] 
In my initial discussion of Functional Collaboration I described the role of the FS Interpretation as answering a theoretical question.   I would go on to suggest that the theoretical question is a what-is-it-question, a question of definition, or more precisely, a question of explanatory definition. [I have a different understanding of interpretation as a FS.  I interpret it as a focus upon what the writer of a text – or, more generally, the creator of a symbolic representation or expression – meant at the time he/she wrote/created it.   My  hypothesis is:  What Lonergan meant when he wrote about interpretation as a functional specialty draws upon what he wrote in Insight about “the truth of interpretation” and “methodological hermeneutics.”  Perhaps you agree with my hypothesis about what Lonergan meant, but prefer to define interpretation as “answering a theoretical question.”  Or, perhaps you disagree with my hypothesis about what Lonergan meant, and want to propose the alternative hypothesis: What Lonergan meant when he wrote about interpretation as a functional specialty is that it is answering a theoretical question.  I believe that it is only by verifying/falsifying these two hypotheses that we can get at the truth of interpretation with regards to what Lonergan said about this functional specialization]
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Artfulhousing on November 01, 2012, 05:25:23 PM
Richard
We are getting into difficult territory here, particularly for a Forum (with short discussion notes). But two related comments.

First. Yes I agree with you, words do not mean things in themselves. They are but sounds in the air, black marks on a page or computer screen. Yes, they are meaningful expressions of an individual person. At the same time, however, they are not just that. They are also social and communal. In using words I am seeking to communicate with someone and to do so I am using words that are commonly understood by others (a linguistic community). Moreover, there is often a gap between what I mean and the words through which I express that meaning (It depends upon my understanding of my audience, my understanding of how best to communicate with them, my linguistic skills etc.) (see Insight Ch17, Section 2.4). Further, words operate within a context, a context which I presuppose and which is not always understood by me. So, just as I may not grasp the full significance of what I do, so also I may not grasp the full significance of what I write. (Here we are in the realms of the functional specialties, Foundations, Policies, Systematics and Communications.)

Second. You write, “What Lonergan meant when he wrote about interpretation as a functional specialty draws upon what he wrote in Insight about “the truth of interpretation” and “methodological hermeneutics.” As an hypothesis, I’m not sure that this takes us very far. But let me have a go at that Section 3 of Chapter 17 of Insight. In his discussion of The notion of a universal viewpoint, Lonergan notes that our capacity to understand a text depends upon our capacity to envision the full range of possible alternative interpretations that a text might mean – as possibilities, as a totality of possibilities, as an ordered totality of possibilities. We cannot approach or make sense of a text (the data) without such a framework. We cannot approach or make sense of a writer of a text without such a framework. The role of the FS Interpretation is to develop such frameworks.

So in the area of housing within which I work, if I am to understand the data, if am to grasp an actual housing system, if I am to grasp the dynamic within a developing series of actual housing systems (in history), if I am to evaluate this dynamic of development, then I need a framework (an ordered totality of possible housing systems).

At this point I can only refer you to my first attempt at doing some such thing in a paper for a Housing Conference of the International Sociological Association: http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_129713_en.pdf (http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_129713_en.pdf).

Go to the illustration on rent beginning on pages 6. It is my attempt to think through empirically something in my own field that I am familiar with. What I found most helpful (and difficult) was to distinguish between (i) what is relevant, significant and essential to rent (i.e. what constitutes it or brings it about – these are the conditions for its occurrence, (ii) what are its particular characteristics which are ordered by the role rent plays in other (higher) things (i.e. in constituting these things) and how this role changes the characteristics of rent, and (iii) the relationship between these various roles. Without some such theory of rent (which incorporates all the possible alternatives and accounts for all the particular characteristics of rent systems as they differ from country to country and even within countries), I cannot even begin to notice what has not been taken into account (the data which Research seeks to gather).
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 04, 2012, 11:27:45 AM
Dialectic, Lonergan’s fourth fs, and sociology 
[Artful Housing, I am not ignoring your post of November 1, but want to read your paper on rent before I respond.”]

Dialectic in Insight
Lonergan uses “dialectic” differently from either Hegel or Marx.  Hegel’s dialectic of synthesis, antithesis, and synthesis was a dialectic of concepts, and Marx transformed this into a dialectic of matter.  Lonergan’s use of the term is closer to that of Plato and Aristotle.  He summarizes his argument: “dialectic denotes a combination of the concrete, the dynamic, and the contradictory; but this combination may be found in a dialogue, in the history of philosophic opinions, or in historical process generally."  He says, “there will be a dialectic, if (1) there is an aggregate of events of a determinate character, (2) the events may be traced to either or both of two principles, (3) the principles are opposed yet bound together, and (4) they are modified by the changes that successively result from them” (IN 217).  I add that the combination can also be found in the history of sociological frameworks and in social processes generally.   It is important for me that Lonergan introduces his notion of dialect in his chapter on “Common Sense as Object,” in part 5. “The Dialectic of Community.”   
   
Sociological examples of dialectic
Just as the fs interpretation has been misinterpreted as a distinct school of thought in sociology, so also has the fs dialectic been misinterpreted as a distinct school of thought.  Marxist sociology is an obvious example, but Randall Collins Conflict Sociology (2010 [1975]) is a dialectical sociology in the tradition of Max Weber rather than Karl Marx.   In The Social Construction of Reality (1967), Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann wrote about a non-marxist social dialectic: "Externalization and objectivation are moments in a continuing dialectical process.  The third moment in this process, which is internalization (by which the objectivated social world is retrojected into consciousness in the course of socialization), will occupy us in considerable detail later on…. only with the transmission of the social world to a new generation (that is, internalization as effectuated in socialization) does the fundamental social dialectic appear in its totality" (p. 61).  George Ritzer’s Sociology: A Multiple Paradigm Science (1980) and Donald Levine’s Visions of the Sociological Tradition (1995) go beyond interpretation and history to dialectic.  Many sociologists explicitly acknowledge (1) that there are dialectical processes in the societies they study, and (2) that one of the kinds of dialectical processes in their own society is among sociologists who embrace different frames of reference.   One of the places in which dialectic routinely occurs is in the review of literature that generally introduces articles in journals.  The formula “they say …, but I say …” is dialectical.

Reasons for conflicts
For Lonergan, dialectic requires uncovering the reasons for conflicts, comparing them in terms of their similarities and differences, and judging them in terms of their importance (MT 128-130).  In advocating "dialogical sociology," Levine is not content with pointing out the contradictions between different histories of sociology, but draws out the temporal and logical connections between them.  He describes how each vision of sociology develops out of arguments with older visions, and how different traditions are grounded in different national cultures and different ethical assumptions (1995 100, 317). 

Dialectic as comprehensive
He argues that a dialogical account of the history of histories of sociology provides a more comprehensive vision of the sociological tradition than any of the alternative forms of history -- positivist, pluralist, synthetic, humanist, or contextual (1995 96-100).  This is consistent with Lonergan's (MT 129) contention that the "aim" of dialectic is a "comprehensive viewpoint."  Both Levine and Lonergan reject the absolute relativism which denies the possibility that one viewpoint could be any better than another.  They both (Levine, 1995 329;  (Lonergan, MT 130) advocate ecumenism, rather than relativism.  Ecumenism demands a balance between commitment to one's own beliefs and respect for those who believe otherwise, and a commitment to continuing the conversation among those of different beliefs. 

Persistence of conflict
Dialogical sociology will not end sociological conflict, nor will dialectic in philosophy and theology end the conflicts endemic to those disciplines.  Dialectic and ecumenical dialogue are responses to the realization that conflicts will persist.  Levine calls upon sociologists to engage in ecumenical dialogue, and thereby to provide a model for the world community of "a way of resolving the cultural crisis of our time" (1955, 328-329).  Followers of Lonergan might well call upon philosophers and theologians to engage in ecumenical dialogue, thereby providing the world community with a model of how to resolve the cultural crisis of our time.   

Lonergan-Levine difference
Lonergan differs from Levine in the account he gives of reaching the more comprehensive viewpoint.  For Levine, this comprehensive viewpoint is described as a collective attribute that can be realized through the construction of narratives.  Dialogical sociology results from the combination of the practice of dialogue and the construction of a dialogical narrative.  For Lonergan, the comprehensive viewpoint is described in more individualistic terms, as the result of what he calls personal self-appropriation as a knower and an actor.  This self-appropriation can lead to conversions -- intellectual, moral, and religious.  Lonergan argues that the differences between the converted and the unconverted are persistent reasons for social and cultural conflicts (MT 128-130; 235-266).   

Metasociology or sociology
Since I regard dialectic as a functional specialty within sociology, I disagree with sociologists who say that dialectical analysis takes sociologists away from the “real” work of sociologists.   An important part of the real work of sociology consists in the testing of alternative hypotheses that are presented as explanations for events, rates, and states.  This requires me to be as explicit as possible for the reasons why I judge one hypothesis to be more likely to be true than the alternatives.  My criteria of judgment include consistency between the hypothesis and my frame of reference as well as consistency between the hypothesis and the data I, and others, have constructed that bear upon the truth or falsity of the hypothesis (Lonergan’s “special research”).  My reflective insight is a grasp of connections between the hypothesis and my frame of reference as well as between the hypothesis and the relevant data.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: mounce on November 07, 2012, 10:46:17 PM
So, no one has been posting, and that makes my life at work a living hell (I resort to perusing reddit, for God's sake (without finding Tollbooth, I might add (apologies for LISP grammar)))).  In any case, I would love to hear details about how Adrial's studied position may have shifted with Jeremy's publication on entitative habits, but maybe I am asking too-much; yet, I am asking!
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Adrial Fitzgerald on November 08, 2012, 11:51:27 PM
Hi, Doug

For the details that you mention, please see note 30 (addendum 1) of ch. 5 of the blog (the note beings on p. 75 and continues on p. 76), the background for which is the phenomenology in ch. 2.  Let me know how it reads to you, and thanks for the interest :)


Adrial
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 09, 2012, 08:01:38 AM
Hello Dick:  I enjoyed reading your sociological narrative. Speaking of dialectic, a couple of questions emerged for me from my reading of it:: In your note, you relate Lonergan and Levine and focus on their call for ecumenism:

“Lonergan's (MT 129) contention that the ‘aim’ of dialectic is a ‘comprehensive viewpoint.’  Both Levine and Lonergan reject the absolute relativism which denies the possibility that one viewpoint could be any better than another.  They both (Levine, 1995 329;  (Lonergan, MT 130) advocate ecumenism, rather than relativism.  Ecumenism demands a balance between commitment to one's own beliefs and respect for those who believe otherwise, and a commitment to continuing the conversation among those of different beliefs.”

First, I wonder if a focus on the balance between “commitment to belief” and “respect,” as right as this is for ecumenical dialogue, really captures what a rejection of “absolute relativism” means, at least for Lonergan? 

Though later in your note, referring to your own work, you say  “This requires me to be as explicit as possible for the reasons why I judge one hypothesis to be more likely to be true than the alternatives,” 

So I ask, since (a) Lonergan’s work is mainly philosophical (rather than sociological); and since (b) relativism is a philosophical issue (regarding truth/falsity) that comes forward in social situations; since (c) you refer to giving reasons, to making judgments, and to gaining truth in your own dialogical self-demands in your note, why regress to assigning merely believing to Lonergan’s  analysis (I don’t know Levine’s work), or to relating relativism and belief, as if they were dialectical opposites?

To take it to its inferential assertion: asserting that Levine or Lonergan have “better beliefs” is hardly a defense against relativism, especially of the absolutist kind, and even if asserted in the most open-hearted of ecumenical situations.

My other question is related to your note:


“One of the places in which dialectic routinely occurs is in the review of literature that generally introduces articles in journals.  The formula “they say …, but I say …” is dialectical.” 

This, and the rest of your note here are true—as far as it goes.

However, I think where the sociological rightly embraces dialectic, it seems to leave off where foundations picks up. Though you rightly develop Lonergan’s view in your section on the differences between him and Levine:


“For Lonergan, the comprehensive viewpoint is described in more individualistic terms, as the result of what he calls personal self-appropriation as a knower and an actor.  This self-appropriation can lead to conversions -- intellectual, moral, and religious.  Lonergan argues that the differences between the converted and the unconverted are persistent reasons for social and cultural conflicts (MT 128-130; 235-266).”   

. . . from my own understanding, the above is correct. However, it’s also a brief rendition of what the functional specialty foundations is all about, or the correct philosophical (at least) “position” from which to begin asking questions of the documents and discussions under consideration. 

Perhaps the difference is just this: between the focus and historical place of sociology at present, on the one hand, and philosophy and philosophical discourse, on the other?

Best, Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 09, 2012, 08:55:00 PM
Hi Catherine,

Thanks for your comments. 

Do I believe (“think,” “assert” “affirm”) that trying to maintain a balance between (a) commitment to my own beliefs and (b) respect for those who believe otherwise captures what Lonergan meant by rejecting absolute relativism?  No.  The reason I don’t believe that it captures what Lonergan meant is that I believe that, ultimately, Lonergan’s commitment to orthodox Catholic doctrine was the foundation upon which he rejected relativism.  However much he theologized his faith, I believe that he really believed that his faith was a gift from God, not a set of propositions, each of which he judged to be true on the basis of a reflective insight into the adequacy of arguments and evidence.

You end by suggesting that my treating relativism and belief as dialectical opposites is the result of the difference “between the focus and historical place of sociology at present, on the one hand, and philosophy and philosophical discourse, on the other.”  I believe, rather, that the more important difference lies between sociology and philosophy, on the one hand, and theology, on the other.  I agree with the sociologist Peter Berger (a believing Protestant) that sociologists have to practice “methodological agnosticism.”  Catholic theologians, in contrast, must practice “methodological orthodoxy.”   Those who don’t are likely to be punished.

I am not a professional philosopher, and admit that some philosophers might disagree with my claim that, like sociologists, they practice methodological agnosticism.  Practicing methodological agnosticism does not require me to attempt the impossible “value free” version of sociology (or philosophy). 

In trying to be as explicit as possible about my reasons for affirming one hypothesis and denying another, if I discover that one or several of my religious beliefs are important reasons for my judgment, I have to acknowledge this, rather than engage in some sort of bad faith cover-up.

Sociologists and anthropologists do talk about relativism.  Cultural relativism is closely connected to methodological agnosticism, but neither is “absolute,” in the sense that for a Catholic theologian belief that Jesus is both God and man is absolute.  I don’t consider Lonergan’s faith in the incarnation to be “merely believing.”

One of the beliefs that I attribute to Lonergan and that I embrace in my work as a sociologist is that performative consistency is an important criterion for judging a proposition to be true.  Absolute relativism is false because it is performatively inconsistent.  But, of course, this will not persuade absolute relativists, because they reject performative consistency as a criterion of judgment.  If defense against absolute relativism requires converting absolute relativists, there is no defense. 

So I do believe that absolute relativism and belief are dialectical opposites, and the belief that I put in sharpest dialectical opposition to absolute relativism is a belief in the validity of “retortion,” refutation of a position on the grounds that it is performatively inconsistent.

Best regards,
Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 10, 2012, 10:31:35 AM
Hello Dick:  I appreciate greatly your thoughtful response. Also, I know that you are bridging two enormous fields of thought and writing here (sociology and philosophy, not to mention inroads into religious doctrine); and I applaud you in the endeavor to explore the relation of those fields. However, let me offer a correction from this side of things (philosophy and this philosopher/theologian), I hope without giving offense? So here goes: First, you say: 

“Lonergan’s commitment to orthodox Catholic doctrine was the foundation upon which he rejected relativism.”


Not so. Briefly, his work Insight (1958/Collection 3/2000) rebuts this assumption thoroughly, and especially his development of general empirical method (cognitional theory and the call to self-find/affirm); and then  epistemology, specifically what he refers to as the virtually unconditioned and its relationship to both cognitional functions and activities, on the one hand, and ethics and metaphysics, on the other.  Besides that and the belief issue, I think the rest of your paragraph is closer to what Lonergan was about: 


"I believe that he really believed that his faith was a gift from God, not a set of propositions, each of which he judged to be true on the basis of a reflective insight into the adequacy of arguments and evidence."

  A religious, but not a philosophical foundation. The great difference is in what he means by belief on the one hand, and knowledge, on the other. And no, it’s not “methodological agnosticism.”  Or as you say:

“Some philosophers might disagree with my claim that, like sociologists, they practice methodological agnosticism.  Practicing methodological agnosticism does not require me to attempt the impossible ‘value free’ version of sociology (or philosophy).”

That is not to say Lonergan was not committed to his faith, which (I take it) is why he wrote Method in Theology in the first place. Though they may not have accepted him as such, he was their philosopher par excellence in the strain of Aquinas. As such, rather than “methodological agnosticism,” or “orthodoxy” or a “bad faith cover-up,”  In Method, Lonergan actually offers a philosophical corrective of those involved with Church doctrine in terms of where the Church and we are in history, in terms of the history of philosophy, and in terms of the relativism that results from the mis-q’s in that history in the post-Aquinas era.

Actually, if you are interested, in 2009 I gave a paper in LA on why Lonergan is not well-accepted in academia. I have linked it below.  One reason is the pervasive assumption that your note suggests: that his foundations are mainly religious and, thus, not empirically or critically grounded.

A few other issues from your note—I’ll try to be brief. 

First, in common conversations, we often interchange believe (“think,” “assert” “affirm”).  However, as a philosophical technical point, these are differentiated issues that carry specific and very different—and concrete—meaning. Such meaning is intimately connected with the epistemological issues above. I can only refer you again to Insight, those references. .

The last part of your note is extremely incisive. Let me copy it below and then make a very brief comment.


“One of the beliefs that I attribute to Lonergan and that I embrace in my work as a sociologist is that performative consistency is an important criterion for judging a proposition to be true.  Absolute relativism is false because it is performatively inconsistent.  But, of course, this will not persuade absolute relativists, because they reject performative consistency as a criterion of judgment. If defense against absolute relativism requires converting absolute relativists, there is no defense.  . . . So I do believe that absolute relativism and belief are dialectical opposites, and the belief that I put in sharpest dialectical opposition to absolute relativism is a belief in the validity of ‘retortion,’ refutation of a position on the grounds that it is performatively inconsistent.”

You’ll be interested to know that what Lonergan refers to as the virtually unconditioned (as I mention above from Insight) or, to use your language, the virtually absolute (rather than Relativist or Absolutely Absolute) is basically the technical development of what you are saying above and, more importantly, the call to affirm what we are doing when we are knowing in the first place, and notably as clearly distinguished from believing.  So the point of self-consistency is not only the conceptual point, it’s the self-performative point.

The further point about those who reject self-consistency, and their own epistemological performance, as grounds for a reflective embrace of empirically-based reasonability is that, in fact, (a) they have no basis to even give an argument; and (b) neither they nor we have reason to accept such an argument. And we do want reasons--and so do they--not only individually, but as the now-reflectively embraced historical grounds of all of the arts, sciences, and humanities, not to mention all-time commonsense.

If the relativist is to participate in the conversation, they'll have to performatively come in on our grounds and not theirs (as in absentia). But participatory nihilism is the danger of living in a democracy of thought.  "Retortion" just keeps the status quo in relative peace (pun intended), which is what we must do if we are not to embrace nihilism ourselves.

But relativist “arguments” not only make no sense on the individual level, more broadly their embrace of arbitrariness rejects the entire history and tradition of thought whose womb they came from. Such thought as a reflective view (and it can only BE a reflective view) is, in fact, philosophical fascism and doesn’t belong in an academic community. Under such a view, on principle we cannot move towards, and even claim at times, reasonable truth. Science would be philosophically defunct. All those papers and movements of thought are a waste of time. Under such a view, we also cannot claim falsity; and there goes critical method out the fascist window, where before reasonability, collaboration, and adherence to critical tenets set the conditions for all of the things relativists live in and enjoy. Relativists live in the earth’s philosophical atmosphere while thinking they live in a bubble unconnected with it. 

“Retortion” is an interesting word, but under the relativist’s view, we are merely playing a game biding our time until we die. I’m not doing that—are you?  Is anyone? But I’m probably preaching to the choir here. The points are this: (1) that belief is about meaning, whereas relativism is about truth—related, but two different venues where, correlatively, and when differentiated, the dialectical opposites will differ. And (2) the other choice is not a pre-scientific- revolution Absolutism that is grounded in religious or Catholic orthodoxy but rather a more solid embrace of what is basically sound in your last two paragraphs above.

Regards, Catherine


Paper given at the West Coast Conference in 2009 addressing several reasons why Lonergan's work is not well-accepted in the mainstream: http://educationasimplementation.blogspot.com/ (http://educationasimplementation.blogspot.com/)
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 10, 2012, 10:33:25 AM
Arttfulhousing,
I apologize for the delay in responding to your post of November 1.  In the midst of teaching and serving as an interim department chair, it has taken me some time to read and digest your paper, "Comparative housing research and policy: social housing rent-setting in western countries."  http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_129713_en.pdf (http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_129713_en.pdf).

1.  Subject and Field Specialization

Your subject specialization seems to me to be sociology, since the paper was presented at a meeting of the International Sociological Association.    Housing research is a field specialization -- a division of the field of data about which sociologists -- and other human scientists -- inquire.    In the human sciences, as has often been noted, subject specialization and field specialization are cross-cutting categories.

2.  Functional Specialization

You relate Oxley's categories of functional specializations to Lonergan's.  You write: "[Oxley] advocates 'a more scientific approach' (90) to comparative housing research and proposes that teams with different purposes and methodologies collaborate on projects: explorers, empiricists, theorists, and scientists" (p. 1).  This is a different set of categories than the eight Lonergan proposes, but I agree with you that it is important for social scientists to connect the ways social scientists have categorized functional specialties with the way Lonergan categorized them.  I report my work in sociological theory and methods primarily to other sociologists, students of sociology, and other social scientists.  I do not report primarily to philosophers and theologians, but I do believe that conversations across departmental and disciplinary lines are extremely valuable. 

Michael Burawoy and Jonathan VanAntwerpen offer another set of four functional specializations in in sociology, in their essay "Berkeley Sociology: Past, Present and Future" [http://burawoy.berkeley.edu/PS/Berkeley%20Sociology.pdf]
They argue that in the relatively short history of Berkeley sociology, professional sociology, critical sociology, policy sociology, and public sociology have coexisted within the department (p. 3).  Their relations to one another have often shifted, but professional sociology has most often been dominant.   This is the orientation that corresponds most closely with the scientific approach Oxley advocates in comparative housing research.  It would make this post far too long to try to draw out all the possible comparisons and contrasts between Lonergan's eight categories, Oxley's four, and Burowoy's four, but ISTM that there is a strong tendency in housing research to emphasize what Burowoy and VanAntwerpen call "policy sociology," which has "specifically defined goals responsive to the needs and interests of specific clients."  I interpret Oxley's call for a more scientific approach as advocating research that puts the satisfaction of the pure desire to know above meeting the interest and needs of officials charged with making decisions about public housing policy. 

3. Universal viewpoint and interpretation

In the context of commenting on my description of  interpretation as a functional specialty in sociology, you bring up Lonergan's notion of a universal viewpoint. You write:  "Lonergan notes that our capacity to understand a text depends upon our capacity to envision the full range of possible alternative interpretations that a text might mean – as possibilities, as a totality of possibilities, as an ordered totality of possibilities. We cannot approach or make sense of a text (the data) without such a framework. We cannot approach or make sense of a writer of a text without such a framework. The role of the FS Interpretation is to develop such frameworks."

I interpret Lonergan as describing an ideal notion of interpretation rather than what any real human person does in interpreting a text.  I do not believe that I have the capacity to know the full range of possible alternative interpretations of a text.  I don't believe that Lonergan had that capacity.  I do believe that I have the capacity, however, to know more than one possible interpretation, and that I ought to approach a text with the heuristic anticipation of there being more than one possible interpretation. 

Universal viewpoint in housing research

You write: "So in the area of housing within which I work, if I am to understand the data, if am to grasp an actual housing system, if I am to grasp the dynamic within a developing series of actual housing systems (in history), if I am to evaluate this dynamic of development, then I need a framework (an ordered totality of possible housing systems)."

You write: "Go to the illustration on rent beginning on pages 6. It is my attempt to think through empirically something in my own field that I am familiar with. What I found most helpful (and difficult) was to distinguish between (i) what is relevant, significant and essential to rent (i.e. what constitutes it or brings it about – these are the conditions for its occurrence, (ii) what are its particular characteristics which are ordered by the role rent plays in other (higher) things (i.e. in constituting these things) and how this role changes the characteristics of rent, and (iii) the relationship between these various roles. Without some such theory of rent (which incorporates all the possible alternatives and accounts for all the particular characteristics of rent systems as they differ from country to country and even within countries), I cannot even begin to notice what has not been taken into account (the data which Research seeks to gather)."

You have followed a strategy that seems to me to be reasonable, but reach a conclusion that seems to me to be unreasonable.  The reasonable strategy is: (1) you draw an analogy between interpreting a text and understanding a housing system, and (2) you focus on rent, which is a more specialized field specialization within the field specialization of housing research.   But I don't think it is reasonable for you to conclude that you "cannot even begin to notice what has not been taken into account" unless you have a theory of rent "which incorporates all the possible alternatives,"  I consider this to be unreasonable for the same reason that I think it is unreasonable to say that I cannot interpret a text until I know the full range of possible alternative interpretations of that text.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Artfulhousing on November 12, 2012, 06:14:08 PM
Hi Dick
Four comments on your response.

First, the theory I was developing was a theory of a particular object, rent. It is within a particular field, viz the economy. However, in developing my theory of rent I was not operating within the subject specialisation of economics. The intent of the theory of rent I proposed (and to some extent, I did this) was to move across and relate a range of subject specialisations: economics, politics, cultural studies and personal development (we could also include theology here). While rent is part of an economy, its particularity is ordered by and systematised by politics, culture and personal development. The intent (but by no means the actuality) is to develop a complete theory of rent, one which holds the totality of rent and its possibilities as a whole as it moves through the other functional specialties. A subject specialisation such as economics would only deal with one dimension.

Second, while I referred to the work of Michael Oxley in the article, I did so more to ‘set the scene’, to open up a possibility of linking different types of research and implementation. My own view is that there is something in the basic orientations that parallels FS. However, he has not radically differentiated between these orientations and so remains very muddled. Our key task is to differentiate the differing orientations without ourselves as we move from the current situation to a new situation. It is only when we can grasp just what is functional in this process (how the different orientations relate to one another) that we will grasp what is functional about functional specialisation.

Third, I don’t think Lonergan was offering an ideal of interpretation rather he was offering the reality of interpretation. His theory of knowledge (which systematically relates the key elements of experience, understanding and judgment) indicates what constitutes knowing – unless you are attentive, intelligent and reasonable you do not know. Similarly, his theory of interpretation indicates what constitutes an understanding of a text or any other human expression (such as a set of practices or activities). If this does not occur than understanding does not occur.

Fourth, you say that my conclusion is unreasonable: “I think is unreasonable to say that I cannot interpret a text until I know the full range of possible alternative interpretations of that text.”

Within a certain context the range of possible alternative interpretations can be quite limited, say in our day-to-day conversations. It is reasonably easy to interpret texts or sounds within the confines of this taken-for-granted common sense horizon. But once we move into other contexts, the range of possible alternative interpretations is far larger and more remote from our own. Think of the breakdowns in communications between generations, between labour and management, between ethnic and racial groups, between cultures and religions within our own countries. Extend that further to the breakdowns between nations, between us and their generations, ethnic, cultural and religious groups. Extend that even further to the vast differences between us and nations and cultures of the very remote past. Ken Melchin (Living with Other People, p.27-31) discusses the subtle differences in ‘valuing’ between people that lead to different attentiveness, different understandings, different appreciations of what is important. This is the problem of interpretation – these taken-for-granted ‘valuings’. The challenge is to move to a scientific approach to interpretation and to do this we need a heuristic that encompasses the full range of possible alternative interpretations. (See Insight 585-87, Chapter 17, Section 3.1, particularly the last paragraph)
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 15, 2012, 09:40:29 AM
Theories of Meaning and Communication

Artfulhousing, in your reply #18 on October 19 in “Cosmopolis and functional specialization,” you quote MT page 57: “Meaning is embodied or carried in human intersubjectivity, in art, in symbols, in language, and in the lives and deeds of persons.”  You elaborate upon this in a way that I believe to be consistent with what I understand Lonergan to have meant:

“The various meanings of our lives find expression in the materiality of the world. These expressions encompass both external events (states or actions) and internal events (states, actions, experiences etc.). They include attitudes, beliefs, opinions, feelings, emotions, values, habits, expectations, motivations, skills, capacities, personal and social characteristics, material characteristics (of buildings, of habitats, of environments), language, clothes, decorations, art, music, sounds, dance, performance, video, film, symbols, signs, customs etc.”

My theory of meaning differs from what I understand to be one aspect of Lonergan’s theory.   In contrast, the theory of meaning I attribute to you does not differ from the theory of meaning I attribute to Lonergan.  This makes it much more difficult for me to communicate successfully with all those who, like yourself, agree with the aspect of Lonergan’s theory of meaning with which I disagree.     

What I disagree with is a way of speaking and writing of meaning as if it were impersonal.  Both you and Lonergan write about meaning as something impersonal that exists prior to being “embodied,” “carried,” or “expressed.”  In the context of speaking or writing about a specific person, I agree that the insight by which she grasps a meaning is prior to her verbal (or non-verbal) expression of that meaning.  But I do not agree that there can be an impersonal insight by which a meaning is grasped and subsequently embodied, carried, or expressed in the variety of ways to which both you and Lonergan refer.

I want to be as explicit as possible about what I affirm and what I deny.  Some of my affirmations are:
1.   Individual persons grasp meanings by personal insights.
2.   Individual persons express their meanings by speaking, writing, painting, dancing, sculpting, building, etc.
3.   When individual persons interpret the words, deeds and products of other individual persons, they attribute meanings to those words, deeds, and products.
4.   I can never be certain that the meanings I attribute to your (or his or her) words, deeds, or products are identical to the meanings you (or he or she) intended to express by those words, deeds, or products.
5.   You (he or she) can never be certain that the meanings you (he or she) attribute to my words, deeds, or products are identical to the meanings I intended to express by those words, deeds, or products.
6.   When you (he or she) and I are engaged in theoretical discourse (in an intellectual pattern of experience), we can move towards discovering progressively more of our agreements and disagreements about the meanings we attribute to the spoken or written words, the deeds, and the products that we share as elements in our environments.
7.   When you (he or she) and I are engaged in discourse that is dominated by other patterns of experience, especially common sense and dramatic, we lose interest in trying to be explicit about our agreements and disagreements about the meanings we attribute to specific things.  We aren’t interested in explicit definitions or arguments about them.
8.   Theoretical discourse requires the critical clarification of common sense expressions.

Some of my denials are:
1.   Groups, collectivities, and categories of persons do not have insights and cannot grasp meanings.  (To attribute insights to collectivities is to use the “big person metaphor” for collectivities.)
2.   There are no impersonal meanings “out there” that can “find expression” in words, deeds, or products.
3.   The “conduit metaphor” of communication implies a false theory of both meaning and communication.

Michael Reddy (“The Conduit Metaphor”  Pp. 284-324 in A. Ortony, ed., Metaphor and Thought [Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press, 1979]) argues that about 70 percent of the English language statements about communication employ some version of what he calls the “conduit metaphor.”  According to it, meanings are objects that are “put into” words or other symbols.  The “package” of the meaning and symbol is then sent through some kind of “conduit” to the receiver of the message, who then “unpacks” the meaning from its carrier.  The meaning put into the package is identical to the meaning the receiver takes out of the package.

In theoretical discourse, I (a) try to avoid all expressions that suggest agreement with either the big person metaphor or the conduit metaphor, and (b) try to be explicit about my disagreement with expressions that suggest agreement with either of these misleading metaphors.

In common sense discourse I try to avoid being the kind of boring pedant who keeps calling attention to the fallacies associated with these two metaphors.

Best regards,
Dick Moodey

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 16, 2012, 08:48:19 AM
Hello Dick:  Your note to Artfulhousing deserves more comment than I will offer here. However, let me take a stab at the issue of Lonergan and the personal? I hope Art doesn't mind:

My take on it is that Lonergan would agree with you that  there cannot be "an impersonal insight by which a meaning is grasped and subsequently embodied, carried, or expressed in the variety of ways."  Another way to say that is that (paraphrased from around Lonergan camps) there is no science without a scientist. And we can extrapolate from that example to everyone and everything under the sun (as it were). 

But I sense (where sense is a metaphor for a notion and line of questioning) that a problem MIGHT be that you MIGHT be assuming an association of (a) the impersonal with what is objective-true-real, and thus (b) the personal with what is (merely) subjective and, thus, not and cannot be objective-true-real? If so, that would be the fallacy at work in the argument? More on that in a minute, but the forshadowed philosophical question is this: 

Can meaning be objective-true-real?


Further, the above is implicitly connected with your reply to Art about his (and Lonergan's) take on meaning. That is, you quote Art's note where Art begins with:  "“The various meanings of our lives find expression in the materiality of the world." 

Let me quote your next paragraph in total, then comment. You say:


"What I disagree with is a way of speaking and writing of meaning as if it were impersonal.  Both you and Lonergan write about meaning as something impersonal that exists prior to being 'embodied,' 'carried,' or 'expressed.'  In the context of speaking or writing about a specific person, I agree that the insight by which she grasps a meaning is prior to her verbal (or non-verbal) expression of that meaning.  But I do not agree that there can be an impersonal insight by which a meaning is grasped and subsequently embodied, carried, or expressed in the variety of ways to which both you and Lonergan refer."

Here's the thing--and it's sticky, but also it's the MOST important issue, at least in the Lonergan camp, and perhaps also in all of the academy today:  Neither Lonergan nor Art (I trust Art will correct me if I am wrong in this) assume that meaning is IMpersonal merely because it is embodied or carried or expressed in materiality.  We DO assume, however (and articulate in the theory in Insight et al), that meaning can be and often is objective-true-real, though it need not be.  That is, what is meaningful/intelligible  waits for reflective understanding and judgment for us to have knowledge of its truth-objectivity-reality.  (There are differentiations here that are covered well in Insight.)

But this brings us to your two other statements that, again, I copy below:


"4.   I can never be certain that the meanings I attribute to your (or his or her) words, deeds, or products are identical to the meanings you (or he or she) intended to express by those words, deeds, or products.

"5.   You (he or she) can never be certain that the meanings you (he or she) attribute to my words, deeds, or products are identical to the meanings I intended to express by those words, deeds, or products."

Though meaning is myriad, as you suggest, nothing prohibits any of us asking whether I have your meaning right and, thus, from finding out whether it is so or not, that I do or not--as certain as can be.  Of course you are right about the recalcitrant sloppiness of commonsense discourse. The other side of that, however, is that, in that frame, we do get on with it quite well sometimes. The other-other side of it is that, from those great differences of meaning can come equally great creativity. How dull if everyone had the exact same background that we all interpreted exactly the same.

But the point of it is this: what is meaningful-intelligible about anything is the product of the what is it? question and its subsequent insight for direct understanding. Further, what is objective-true-real is that same intelligibility/meaning, only now coming under the critical question Is it really so? and its subsequent reflective insight or set of insights which antiticipate a yes/no judgment--it is true or not--that is objective, factual, true, real. That is, a very personal movement of thought issuing in knowledge of reality. 

The core of the problem above (as I see it) is that it's not about meaning in this case, but rather about various assumptions about how that meaning relates to the objective-true-reality complex, which in turn affects our notions of personal/impersonal.  My take on Lonergan is that insights are all personal, thought they can be ABOUT what is relatively impersonal or personal, subjective or objective, or objective statements about the subject and subjectivity, etc.

 If what is objective-true-real MUST BE the impersonal however (as you seem to assume in your critique), then THERE is where the fallacy lies. So that ,where Lonergan's theory agrees with you is that IT"S PERSONAL. Where the disagreement lies is in understanding that what is personal need not be merely subjective (qua personal) but also can have an objective-true-real component. Or said another way, known reality is not split between the personal (in-here) and the impersonal (out-there), the in-here non-reality and the out-there reality (materiality).  Further, that is not to deny spatial relations. It's to deny that seeing is knowing and that knowing true-objective-reality is limited to the (impersonal?) material and its spatial/temporal relations.

I also think the other two theories you quote from are riddled with similar "issues" that call for dialectical treatment. But enough for now. I hope you and/or Art are not offended at my interjecting into your dialogue here.

Best, Catherine
.
Title: Re: Addendum/Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 21, 2012, 11:46:54 AM
Hello again Dick:  As an addendum to my previous note: since this discussion is located in the "cosmopolis and functional specialization" section, I thought it might be good, at least briefly, to "locate" the above conversation in its proper area of functional specialization:  Foundations.

That is, one out-take of studying philosophy via Lonergan's development of it (and its history) is that we discover this: whatever anyone takes up as an intention and, later, as a formal study, is already affected by their philosophical eyes, as it were, and whether we know or have understood any of its depth, or not.

So that foundations, in its philosophical aspect, often have direct import on our arguments about many issues, and do so in all of the sciences, fields, and any other arenas of study. In this case, we can name the argument about Lonergan and the personal. That is, the assumptions employed in your references to what is personal and impersonal, have foundational/philosophical import that can be teased out of the argument.

We don't end there, of course; and your note as being in this section raises other questions, e.g., about how foundations relate to cosmopolis. However, I'll address those questions in a separate note.  Taking from the above, however, I suggest to you that the discussion has analytic import for other quotes from other sections of this forum--which I have copied below and with a brief comment at CK:

Best, Catherine 
   

Moody:  "I fail to see how functional specialization and collaboration in theology and all of the other scientific and scholarly disciplines will have an effect upon the way decisions are made in the boardrooms of the great corporations that dominate industrial production.  The officers of corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to act in ways that will enrich the owners of the corporations.  Even if they were to all to become free from individual, group, dramatic, and general bias, they would still have that fiduciary responsibility to make profits for the stockholders.  They are prohibited by law from making the common good, either of their own national society or of global society, take precedence over profits in making their decisions.  This is a problem of structure, more than it is a problem of the knowledge or virtue of the men and women who make the decisions that result in the actions of giant corporations.  Changing that structure requires political action, but the political power of corporations has been great enough to block all attempts to make the structural changes that would lead to an ecologically sustainable mode of production."

CK:  To the italicized above, if officers were truly "free of . . . biases," then they would be in a conscious position to question and to look for a place for mediating the moral ground of such a stated responsibility--especially if it is clear that the long-term view shows the current situation as being (a) without vision and (b) wholly self-destructive.

Moody/oct. 14/ "I regard data construction as a functional specialty in sociology; I believe that I cannot make good judgments without referring to data.  Texts in research method often speak of 'collecting data,' but I think this is misleading.  Data are not like wildflowers in a field, just there waiting to be “collected.“ Researchers construct data by recording their experiences in a system of symbols.  My experiences on archaeological digs illustrate this.  When we uncover an artifact, it is not 'data' until we locate it precisely within the 3 dimensional grid within we we excavate.  The artifact is described in terms of that grid, assigned a number that specifies it’s locus, photographed, and drawn.  We have then constructed a datum!"

CK:  It might be good to check out the sections in Insight about the canons of empirical method, especially where the canon of selection is concerned, and how it relates to the other canons. The question is:  How do you decide that THIS is an artifact while some-other is insignificant, or merely dust?

CK: From my take on it, I don't think the problem is that humans "construct" meaning, but that the researcher views such selection and construction as already apart from the real world. (Reality is out-there/real (and diminished), while human construction of its meaning is in-here/not real.)  The research activity, the process of selection, and the construction metaphor, seen in terms of human cognitional activity, is (a) the intention of the eros of the mind and (b) the development of the WHAT question for the meaning/intelligibility of what we happen to intend. When we judge it is so, in your case after developing a grid and drawing all the evidence together, then we have judged the real (or not?) (we know, or not?), or we have judged to be closer to the real in this context than before (or not).  to relate to your above note, personal knowing and the objective meaning are correlate. We could say that the person has, in this case, transcended him/herself in relation to their concrete knowledge of the real.


CK:  I think the following is a fine rendition of the problem and how interpretation actually works in any field/subject, which is why it's a functional specialtty?

Moody/Oct 15/"Lonergan's second functional specialization is 'interpretation.'"

"While sociologists recognize that data construction – or data 'collection; – is a functional specialization, we often treat 'interpretive sociologies' as distinct schools of thought or paradigms within sociology.   Some sociologists say that interpretive sociology is more 'humanistic' than 'positivist sociology.'  I do not deny that there are differences between self-styled sociological humanists and positivists, but I deny that it is only the humanists who engage in interpretation.  Positivists eagerly talk and write about what their data mean.  That’s interpretation."

LATER/SAME NOTE: "Those sociologists who treat interpretive sociology as a field or subject specialization within sociology have obscured the degree to which all sociologists engage in interpretation.  Those who deny this are performatively inconsistent in their denials.   That is, they have to interpret what I mean by my assertion before they can deny it.  And when their data construction efforts involve asking people questions, they actually do spend a great deal of time in getting the formulation of their questions right, so that their respondents do not attribute a meaning to them that the inquirers did not intend."

SAME NOTE: "By recognizing interpretation as a functional specialization rather than as the exclusive method of a particular school of thought in sociology, self-styled humanists and positivists can engage in a collaborative sociological enterprise, within which they regard data construction and interpretation as necessary moments in the research process."   
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 21, 2012, 03:43:48 PM
Hi Catherine,

I can’t speak for Art, of course, but I appreciate your response.  It helps me to clarify my position in my own mind, as well as helping me to express a bit more clearly just what I have in mind.

I do not intend to equate “(a) the impersonal with what is objective-true-real, and thus (b) the personal with what is (merely) subjective and, thus, not and cannot be objective-true-real?”  I agree with what I understand Lonergan to have said: The objective is the verified (the “made true”).  What is verified is the proposition that is the intelligently grasped meaning of a sentence.  He distinguishes between “utterance,” “sentence,” and “proposition” (IN 271). 

You ask: “Can meaning be objective-true-real?”  To answer, I have to distinguish between what I mean by the ontological notion of form, which I take to be the intelligibility really inherent in the objects of our inquiries, and what I mean by the epistemological notion of meaning, which I take to be the product of a person’s insight or insights.  The natural forms of things are independent of what people think or say about them, and what people think and say about them can be more or less consistent with what the forms are “in themselves.”   The naïve realists assume that there is an almost automatic identity between the form of a perceived object and the form in the mind of the knower.   Kant, as far as I understand him, denied that we can really know anything about a “noumenon.”  Lonergan, as far as I understand him, regarded Kantian idealism as a step in the direction of his critical realism.  By engaging in the process of critical reflection, verification, falsification, and judgment, we can truly know some things about the natures of things -- the "noumena." 

I also interpret Lonergan as denying that the forms of things are “already out there now, real” in the sense of being there for the knower to “look at.”  We come to know those forms through intelligent understanding and reasonable judgments. 

I extend this, perhaps improperly, to coming to know what other people mean by the things they say and do.  Their meanings are not “already out there now, real” in the sense that they are there for me to “look at.” 

This is a rather long explanation of why I regard the statement -- “The various meanings of our lives find expression in the materiality of the world" – to be stated in the language of the basic counter-position.  There is, I believe, a true insight behind that statement, an insight that I prefer to express as follows: “Persons express meanings by their words, deeds, and the symbols and material products they create.”  I believe that persons are the actors, not the meanings.

You write: “Neither Lonergan nor Art (I trust Art will correct me if I am wrong in this) assume that meaning is IMpersonal merely because it is embodied or carried or expressed in materiality.”  I do not attribute that assumption to you or Art, and I do not assume it either. “We DO assume,” you add, “that meaning can be and often is objective-true-real, though it need not be.  That is, what is meaningful/intelligible waits for reflective understanding and judgment for us to have knowledge of its truth-objectivity-reality.”  There is a subtle difference between the way you express what you assume and the way I expressed what I assume in my third, fourth, and fifth paragraphs above.

The way you express your assumption leads me to imagine an impersonal “actor” called “what is meaningful/intelligible.”  I imagine this actor to be impersonal, because you call it “what,” rather than “I,” “you,” “he,” or “she.”  What does this impersonal actor do?  It “waits” for us to engage in reflective understanding so that we can have knowledge of its (already out there now, real) “truth-objectivity-reality.” 

I do not believe that you meant to say what your expression of your assumption led me to imagine.  What I do believe is that you expressed it in the language of the counter-position. 

I failed seriously in my attempts to express my thinking, because I led you to believe that I was saying, “what is objective-true-real MUST BE the impersonal.”  That definitely is not what I meant to say, and I don’t believe that it is something that I unconsciously assume.  (Of course, if I do believe it unconsciously, I don’t know that I believe it, and my explicit denials are nothing more than the operation of a defense mechanism.)

I hope you will not take it as nothing more than a defense mechanism if I say that, as far as I know, I have never written “merely subjective.”  That is inconsistent with my understanding of the pattern of judgments that constitute the “principal notion of objectivity.”  I judge some of the objects that are “not me” to be subjects that are very much “like me” in their capacity to know and to be free moral agents.  Objects that are also subjects are much more than objects that are “merely objective.”
 
In your addendum, you locate our conversation in foundations.  I tend to locate it in dialectic, in which the task is to develop positions and to reverse counter-positions.   For example, you write: “whatever anyone takes up as an intention and, later, as a formal study, is already affected by their philosophical eyes, as it were, and whether we know or have understood any of its depth, or not.”  For me, to suggest that we have “philosophical eyes” is to assume that philosophical knowing is taking a look, and that different philosophical “eyes” see things in different ways.  I don’t believe that I have philosophical “eyes,” and I don’t believe that you have them either.  Because of your acquaintance with the language of counter-positions, I don’t believe that you really think that we have “eyes” by which we “see” philosophical things.  (I criticize Lonergan’s metaphor of “horizons” for the same reason – it is powerfully associated with the metaphor of knowing as looking.)

I know you have written more, and I really appreciate your responses.  I must postpone my responses to them.

Best regards,
Dick M.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 22, 2012, 11:26:06 AM
Hello Dick:  I too appreciate the conversation.  And you are right that the metaphors of "eyes" and "horizons" can give the naive realist reason to understand the meant/meaning incorrectly. For myself, that's why I placed "philosophical eyes" in quotation.  Of course you know that what I meant was that we all have foundations, some of which are philosophical; and that what is foundational bleeds through (to use another metaphor) into our expressions so that asking the right questions of those expressions can expose elements of those foundations.

Also, certainly, you are right that the conversation is dialectical in its movement; however, it's foundational in its subject matter. For me, the distinction only points to the genius of Lonergan's work. We are performing dialectic (FS-4) on foundational issues (FS-5).


And without going too deeply into the personal and impersonal again as issue, it might help to suggest the meaning of a term that Lonergan brought forward: authentic subjectivity.  (Rather than quote or reference it here, it's indexed if you are interested in pursuing it.) 

But also, you say:


"What does this impersonal actor do?  It 'waits' for us to engage in reflective understanding so that we can have knowledge of its (already out there now, real) 'truth-objectivity-reality.'"

Not what I meant. First, it's not an impersonal actor. Second, let me try again:

Probably too briefly, the point is that knowing does not leap up from merely sensing. Rather, knowing is a process of meaning development that begins with sensing.  Also, meaning is multi-dimensional.

And certainly, a cognitional theory and an epistemology have their metaphysical implications.  Perhaps it's the metaphysical implications that are bothersome to many.  On the other hand, a metaphysics that is drawn on a wrongly developed and unverified cognitional theory and put to life, as it were, we know now, is a floating philosophical drone making violent and even deadly mischief over our developing civilizations.

But the point is not to deny the spatial or temporal,  the material,  the sensible or the sensed or the sensing as a common activity.  It's to understand that when we ask about and have insights about  WHAT it is, we are involved with the meaning/intelligibility of what we sense (and more). We wonder about, have insights about, and can come to know WHAT IT IS that we are sensing and, further, that such whating is expansive in its meaning, as Artfulhousing suggests in your quote from his note.

We even wonder about and have insights about WHAT sensing is.  Also, a scientist begins by sensing and then asks his/her questions of WHAT is being sensed. Physics is the science that treats but one dimension of that meaning--and the physicist discovers laws that we do not see, but that we can understand. We do begin with sensing, and then our wonder kicks in (about WHAT it is that I am sensing), and then our questions for it's meaning/intelligibility; then, moving to a critical vein, whether what we understand is factual/true/real. 

Further, (and here is where the confusion usually is rooted) when we look at something, like you are looking at these words on this page, the activity has a spatial dimension--the words are on the page and you are sitting in your chair. However, you know that, and you know WHAT you are seeing ever-so-quickly not because you are only seeing, but because you have already asked a billion questions in your long development of that same process about all of the meaning involved in what you are presently seeing and, in this case, reading: a high development of meaning and its communication. And we spontaneously  bring that meaning/knowledge to our present wondering, in this case, about what I am meaning by writing these words on this page. Or in the least of its meaning, in my specific ordering of the dark marks on the lighter space.

We don't see that ordering, but we can and often do understand it.

I'm sure you are weary of this, as I am. But I do think that the inter-field communication is important, and again I applaud you in your attention to it.

It is with that in mind that I offer this last engagement with your note, you say:


"I hope you will not take it as nothing more than a defense mechanism if I say that, as far as I know, I have never written 'merely subjective.'”

Not at all, and I know that you know that did not mean to say that you had used that term (merely subjective). We were talking about philosophical assumptions--which are assumptions because they are not stated but rather "bleed through" our expressions. And of course, such analysis is merely speculative and "waits" for the clarity of further evidence, and may never be known in any critical way, for many reasons.  Anyway, the question is not for me, but for you. It's not a set of questions that we have not asked of ourselves--at least those of us who have spent much effort in understanding Lonegan's meaning.   

Also, I have found that we can only hold onto our sense of sanity if we hold to the current internal order and its logic-- that we have "received," and that has seemingly served us well for so many years.  It takes a huge amount of courage to question aspects of that order. I will say this, however: that what has served us best is not what we have received from well-meaning but errant philosophical theories and enterprizes, but rather the actual conitional operations that human beings have and develop. A cognitional theory should reflect the actuality--and Lonergan's turn in history does that.

Thanks,

Catherine


Title: Re: Addendum/Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 22, 2012, 02:50:10 PM
Hi Catherine,

I agree that if an officer of a corporation were to become free of all biases he "would be in a conscious position to question and to look for a place for mediating the moral ground of such a stated responsibility--especially if it is clear that the long-term view shows the current situation as being (a) without vision and (b) wholly self-destructive."  But he would still have to act in accord with his legally defined fiduciary responsibility to put profits above the common good.  If he refused to do so, he would be fired, and perhaps sued or prosecuted.  It is possible for a bias-free corporate officer to sin.

I would greatly appreciate knowing any specific way in which my discussion of data construction is inconsistent with Lonergan's "Canons of Empirical Method."  I don't want to misinterpret Lonergan, but I am not unwilling to disagree with him.

Your question about how we decide that something uncovered on a dig is worth locating in a grid, photographing, and being drawn is important.  We do have criteria of judgment that help us determine whether or not an object is the result of human handiwork, but in some instances, it isn't clear.  In these cases, we often have a discussion or argument, and we assign greater weight to those with greater experience in archaeology. 

You write: "From my take on it, I don't think the problem is that humans "construct" meaning, but that the researcher views such selection and construction as already apart from the real world."  I don't think this is a problem, either.  When a person asks a question and has an insight into the answer, that insight is an act of constructing meaning.  It requires a question for reflection and a reflective insight to answer the question "Is it true?"  This is because we have the capacity to construct meanings that are inconsistent with the intelligibility of that about which we asked the question.

Best regards,
Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 22, 2012, 07:36:25 PM
[
Hi Catherine,

I agree that our dialectical conversation is foundational in its subject matter.  One of the points about which we might disagree is my belief that the language we use in theoretical discourse is very important.  You agree "that the metaphors of 'eyes' and "horizons' can give the naive realist reason to understand the meant/meaning incorrectly," and I agree that by placing "philosophical eyes" in quotation marks you are distancing yourself from the metaphor "Knowing Is Looking."  My position is that the language we use has a powerful influence on our tacit beliefs, and because of the corrupting effects of assuming that knowing is taking a look, it is especially important to avoid metaphors that are systematically related to that assumption.  I understand Lonergan's prescription of reversing counter-positions to bear heavily upon the language I use to express my insights.  It appears to me that we disagree about this.

One of my disagreements with Lonergan is his claim that the first four functional specialties are in "indirect discourse," and that it is only in foundations that the inquirer takes a more personal stance (MT 267).  Perhaps Lonergan is correct in speaking about theologians, but in my sociological work I believe that I have to take a personal stance when engaged in data construction, interpretation, history, and dialectic.  This is one of my foundational beliefs and, as you have put it, it "bleeds into" what I say about these other specializations.

I have read and reread what Lonergan has to say about authentic subjectivity, but I know that is no guarantee that I have interpreted him correctly.  I agree with MT 265: "in the world mediated by meaning and motivated by value, objectivity is simply the consequence of authentic subjectivity, of genuine attention, genuine intelligence, genuine reasonableness, genuine responsibility."

Best regards (and Happy Thanksgiving),
Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 23, 2012, 08:48:45 AM
Hello Dick  (and I hope you had a good thanksgiving also):

Yes--a recognition of the difference between theoretical and common language is key to field/subject discourse. Nothing is more clear than Lonergan's treatment of this distinction in the early chapters of  Insight. The distinction itself moves us into philosophical theory since it's about distinguishing and generally defining knowledge fields as such--in this case, theory and commonsense.     


However, three things:  First, this is an open forum for communication, and we cannot do it all at once and assume an adequate appreciation of technical discourse from everyone; though I am glad you make the point, which I think is extremely important, as I make clear in my own work for educators: Finding the Mind: Pedagogy for Verifying Cognitional Theory (2011).

Second, Insight was written from a moving viewpoint and (I think is clear) Lonergan uses terms he thought would best communicate his main intentions to his readers, be those who they may. So that as a reader, if you know the difference already, and whether reading Insight or this forum, then you are better off for having understood clearly that distinction and for being able to "walk around" in both fields of discourse and know where you are in each case.


 Third, many terms are shared between several theoretical fields and then between commonsense and those several fields. Even the terms "common sense" and "theory" have their common and technical meanings which are completely different but okay to use for each field. For instance, in commonsense, we can say "My theory is that x happened."  Whereas theory in Lonergan's technical definition refers to (briefly) the development of the relations of things to other things and where the term "things" also has its own technical development.

As an aside, it's part of the errant philosophical issues in the social sciences, education, and the humanities that we are not clear on this distinction and that we do not share definitions of terms that relate similarly to all of our fields of discourse, e.g., theory--it shows a disregard for philosophy as a critical field of discourse--and for good reason, I am sure, considering our history of errancy. Still, knowledge as such is a philosophical, not a sociological, issue.

Also, you say:


"One of my disagreements with Lonergan is his claim that the first four functional specialties are in 'indirect discourse,' and that it is only in foundations that the inquirer takes a more personal stance (MT 267)."

I don't think that Lonergan would disagree with you about your taking a personal stance in the first four specialties, at least in some sense: we are taking a personal stance that our openness to understanding and knowing are important to us (as you seem to mean in your note?).

First, the following is only a psychological reading of the FS. So that, my take on his meaning of direct and indirect discourse in that passage is this: That while "communications" is always going forward, as do all of the functional specialties, the emphasis in the first four specialties is about about our gaining understanding and knowledge--so that our personal stance, whenever we take it, actually can be intelligent, reasonable, and responsible (and loving).  It's indirect partly because we can know many things that do not directly affect our being and that we do not spontaneously or reflectively identify with. 

On the other hand, when our emphasis is in the last four specialties, we can be none other than directly involved in our being--in what we identify-with, develop, and express as our saying and doing. It's not only an expression of what we have come to know. But also in our thinking, speaking, and acting, the emphasis is that we are directly involved in the making-of our being, through our selections, deliberations, decisions, and choices.  Indirect and direct, then, refer to which aspects of the specialties are in emphasis in terms of our knowing and being.

I take it that this is why Lonergan moves into a discussion of conversion at that point in the chapter on "Foundations." Our thinking (our interior speaking and listening to ourselves) and our external expressions in speaking and acting are remotely affected by the state of our foundations, and where intellectual conversion is of particular philosophical import.  So I think your statement does not disagree but only calls for further differentiation? And the FS are nothing if not highly differentiated.

There are other readings. And I certainly invite a dialectic here with others who are reading this discussion. The actual objectification of the functional specialties as such is a highly technical foray into both (a) pure and introspective consciousness and (b) how consciousness, its structure, activities, and state inform writ-large structures, e.g., fields and subjects in the academy.

Best,
Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 23, 2012, 09:04:06 AM
[Just as I was ready to post this, I was warned that a new reply had been posted.  I think that what I have written is consistent with much of what Catherine says in her post, especially about the importance of philosophical reflection for dealing with knowledge, as knowledge.  I agree wholeheartedly about the need to "walk around" from one way of speaking and writing to another.] 

Foundations

I have delayed posting my reflections on the fs Foundations in sociology because, as of now, I don’t think there has been a functional specialization in sociology similar to the theological specialization Lonergan describes in Chapter 11 of MT.  Moreover, I don’t think there ought to be such a functional specialization in sociology. I am, however, quite willing to admit that I might be mistaken.

Foundational reality: Lonergan says: “Foundational reality, as distinct from its expression, is conversion: religious, moral, and intellectual.  Normally, it is intellectual conversion as the fruit of both religious and moral conversion; it is moral conversion as the fruit of religious conversion; and it is religious conversion as the fruit of God’s gift of his grace” (MT 268-9).

All the members of a network of Catholic theologians can affirm this expression of foundational reality and make it the starting point for collaborating in a functional specialization in theology they call “foundations.”  But I don’t believe that a network of Catholic sociologists could do this.  Even if all the members of the network were all to affirm these propositions, they could not make them the starting point for developing a functional specialization in sociology.  If they were to make them the starting point for collaborative work, that work would be theological rather than sociological.  According to Lonergan, God’s act of giving grace is what produces the fruits of religious, moral, and intellectual conversion.  Collaborative inquiry into the nature and fruits of divine grace is a functional specialization for theologians, not for sociologists.

A theologian might regard this as the fatal flaw in sociology.  I think that a sociologist who were to regard this as a fatal flaw iwould have to abandon sociology for theology if she were to be fully authentic.  He doesn’t state it in terms of authenticity, but in Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (1991), John Milbank argues that there is a fatal flaw in sociology that can be corrected only by theology.  He even calls for an end to the dialogue between theology and sociology (p. 4).  Millbank failed to convince me, for I have remained a sociologist, and have continued to value my conversations with theologians.  He apparently failed to convince the theologians who have not refused to talk with me because I am a sociologist.

At one point, I tried to connect Avin Gouldner’s call for reflexive sociology (The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology, 1970) with Lonergan’s “foundations.”  I could not make the connection work.  I think Gouldner was calling for a kind of reflection I consider to be philosophical, rather than sociological.  I agree that sociologists need to engage in this kind of reflection, but believe that it is a mistake to say that it is a kind of sociology.  The other difference from “foundations” is that I am convinced that this kind of reflection is something each person much do for himself.  It is not a collaborative specialty, whether I call it “reflexive sociology” or “philosophy.”

Disciplines and criteria of judgment
At this point, I have to clarify my criteria for distinguishing between sociology, philosophy, and theology.  These have been inspired by my reading of Lonergan, but I do not present them as an interpretation of any specific texts written by Lonergan.  I distinguish them on the basis of the criteria of judgment each emphasizes.  The dominant criterion by which a theologian judges the truth or falsity of a proposition is its consistency with the tradition she considers to be authoritative.   The dominant criterion for a philosopher is the consistency of a proposition with his personal appropriation of the structure immanent and recurrently operative in his own knowing and doing.  The dominant criterion by which a sociologist judges a proposition to be true or false is its consistency with publicly available data (empirical, in the sense of generalized empirical method).

I believe that, in my work as a sociologist, I judge the truth or falsity of propositions by criteria I have labeled “theological” and “philosophical,” but I emphasize consistency with publicly available data.  Moreover, I do not believe that this makes me different from the way physicists, chemists, or biologists judge propositions.  Every scientist works within a research tradition she regards as being authoritative, and believes most of the propositions in that tradition on the basis of the testimony of others.  Very few of the propositions a scientist in any discipline believes are what Lonergan calls “immanently generated knowledge” (IN 706).

Best regard,
Dick M.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 23, 2012, 11:59:33 AM
Hello Dick:  A couple of brief comments about your most recent note:

First, you say:


"I have delayed posting my reflections on the fs Foundations in sociology because, as of now, I don’t think there has been a functional specialization in sociology similar to the theological specialization Lonergan describes in Chapter 11 of MT.  Moreover, I don’t think there ought to be such a functional specialization in sociology. I am, however, quite willing to admit that I might be mistaken."

First, you might want to review chapter 5 in Method on the "Functional Specialties" as such, and specifically on the relationship between field, subject, and functional specialties.  (My take on it is that) the reading will suggest that sociology is a field of study (like theology or any other field) that has differentiated (and is in the process of differentiating) into internal fields and subjects with correlates to Lonergan's examples of how theology breaks down.  Further, those internal (to theology, or sociology, et al) fields and subjects are remotely formed-by and related-to how the eight functional specialties are differentiated in the theory. The differentiations may not yet be fully realized as in a mature science.

In my view, trying to relate fields and discourses before we have fully differentiated them is US most probably on an albeit well-meaning fool's errand. On the other hand, philosophical study of the Lonergan kind (the breakdown of fields, subjects, and the FS) can show us the basic pattern, and suggest how those relationships will manifest, before we actually arrive there.

 
Thus, insofar as a writ-large field of study, say sociologists in sociology, does research (fs-1) . .et al  . . and communicates that research (fs-8), that field is already working in the full structure of the functional specialties (as emphasized or not) as remote and operative, and where those specialties may not yet be manifest as fully differentiated.  So that it's not a matter of whether sociology "should," but rather whether they do--and they do and, further, where they are in the frame as a differentiating process.

Again, as related to the underpinning of writ-small conscious structure, insofar as I wonder and ask questions, and insofar as I have insights and internally speak with and listen to myself in my internal dialogue, and externally with and to others (inner and inter-communicate), we can see where the FS find their ground: in self-appropriation/ affirmation of the basic structure/general empirical method.


Second, philosophy is also a differentiated field that (we can understand) has a general/similar web of internal differntiations of fields and subjects. On the other hand, what we are doing here is also philosophy--but now in its supra-introspective writ-large moment. What I mean by supra- is that it's abstract and theoretical (in the good sense); and by introspective I mean that it's philosophy reflecting critically on it's own method, fields, subjects, and functional specialties, of which philosophy is also one of those fields that has internal subjects and fields and that is underpinned by the movements of the functional specialties.[/i]

Third, and if I may extrapolate here: where Lonergan refers to foundational reality as conversion, I think he is speaking ideally here, and not analytically. But ideally, there is no place for the reality of philosophical counter-positions as, at least in part, a foundational lense. That is, my own view is that it's the question of conversion as the normative developmental dynamic end, and not the reality of conversion that holds place in foundations. In this way and as analysis, for instance, the myriad philosophical counter-positions share the field of foundations with the idealized version defined as the various conversions as affective of one's full comportment. of being as we work through doctrine, systematics, and communications in their writ-small (individual) and writ-large (group/field, etc.) meaning.

. . . not as brief as I had hoped,

Catherine


Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 25, 2012, 07:51:39 PM
Hi Catherine,

In response to your three points:
First, On 3 types of specialization
"Department and subject specialization is the most familiar type, for everyone has followed course on subject in a department.  Now what is divided is no longer the field of data to be investigated but the results of investigations to be communicated" (MT 126).  It is on this basis that I have said that subject specialization in the human sciences is expressed in the familiar distinctions between departments of anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, political science, and sociology.  The members of these different departments have different professional associations and scholarly journals.   Within sociology, field specialization is represented by dividing up vast array of social data in by institutional domains --  family, religion, education, and medicine, for example.   The field specialities are represented by some of the sections within the American Sociological Association, and courses in departments that are taught be specialists in the sociology of the family, the sociology of religion, etc.   Functional specialization is an emphasis upon one of the different activities sociologists engage in.  Functional specialization cuts across subject and field specialization. 

Do you think I have misinterpreted Lonergan's description of these categories, or used them improperly to think and write about sociology? (Apart from my argument that sociologists do not collaborate on the fs "foundations."  In a post on "The Ninth FS," I speculated that sociologists within different research traditions might collaborate on articulating their foundations.)

Second, Philosophy as a differentiated field
By analogy to my quotation from p. 126 of MT, I tend to think of philosophy as a subject specialty, but I also don't think it is worth arguing about whether it is a field or subjection specialization.  When you say,  "by introspective I mean that it's philosophy reflecting critically on it's own method, fields, subjects, and functional specialties," do you mean that it is philosophers reflecting critically on their own methods, etc."? 

Third, Ideal foundational reality
It seems reasonable to say that Lonergan was writing about an ideal foundational reality.  Would you agree with this: In the ideal case, an authentically converted person, when engaged in theoretical discourse, would not use the language of the counter-position?  Also, do you think that, for Lonergan, "the normative developmental dynamic end," was authentic conversion to Roman Catholicism?  I ask this because I do not get the sense that he would consider a conversion to Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism to be fully authentic.

Best regards,
Dick
 

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on November 29, 2012, 11:12:43 AM
FS “foundations” in sociology, revised statement.

I now believe, just six days later, that I was mistaken in what I wrote on November 23rd.  I said then that I didn’t think that there has been or ought to be a functional specialization in sociology similar to the theological specialization Lonergan describes in Chapter 11 of MT.  I now think that there have indeed been collaborative foundational activities among sociologists that are analogous to the collaborative foundational activities among theologians.

One kind of setting for these foundational activities is the discussion among the graduate students and professor (or small group of professors) whom the students regard as an authority.  These discussions can be formal, as in seminars or collaboration in research projects, or informal, but focused, conversations.  Another kind of setting is the conference in which groups of like-minded sociologists create paper sessions or workshops in which they develop, defend, and elaborate foundational propositions. 

The results of the face-to-face discussions of foundations are expressed in the literature reviews in which a writer (or collaborating group of writers) introduces a report of the results of empirical and theoretical inquiries.  These literature reviews indicate the results of dialectical and foundational work.  The results of dialectic are expressed in some formulation that is equivalent to “They say …, but I say ….”  The results of foundations are expressed in some form that amounts to “I (or ‘we’) build upon the work of x and y.”   For the readers who are familiar with the literature in the “subject/field specialization” of the discipline – whether sociology or theology -- to which the report is a contribution, these statements locate the writer or writers within the network of the scholars and scientists who are actively working within that subject/field.

A noteworthy attempt to work on the foundations, not just of sociology but of the social sciences generally was the series of discussions led by Talcott Parsons and Edward Shils at Harvard in the fall semester of the 1949-1950 academic year.  Parsons hoped that these discussions would result in an explicit statement of the foundations, first, for the Harvard Department of Social Relations, and later, for the social sciences.  The main participants in those discussions each submitted essays to the volume Toward a General Theory of Action, edited by Parsons and Shils.  Most contemporary social scientists, including sociologists, do not accept this book as a valid statement of their foundational position. 

Jeffrey Alexander, a student of Parsons, wrote about the foundations of sociology in a way that can be considered a development of the Parsons-Shils tradition in his four volume Theoretical Logic in Sociology (1981-1983).  James Coleman, in Foundations of Social Theory (1990), develops his version of foundations from the perspective of rational-choice theory (closely akin to the foundational assumptions of many economists).  I consider Donald Levine’s own “vision,” in Visions of the Sociological Tradition, to be vaguely Aristotelian, although he calls his position “dialogical,” and advocates ecumenical dialogue among sociologists from different schools of thought.  In Social Action Systems: Foundation and Synthesis in Sociological Theory (2001), Thomas Fararo regards some of the basic tenets of Whitehead’s philosophy as foundational for much of the work of his fellow sociologists, as well as for his own vision of sociology.  I greatly admire all of these books, even as I find them to exemplify George Ritzer’s argument in Sociology: A Multiple Paradigm Science (1975) and Randall Collins’ in Four Sociological Traditions (1994).

In my post of November 23rd, I focused too much on the foundational diversity in sociology, and too little on the foundational diversity in theology.  I was mistakenly contrasting the diversity of the foundational commitments of sociologists with the unity of the foundational commitments of the relatively small category of theologians who are followers of Lonergan.  (Even though the absolute number of Lonergan disciples is impressively large, in comparison to the number of people actively engaged in theological work throughout the world, the number is relatively small.)

I believe now that the proper comparison is between the diverse foundational commitments of sociologists and the diverse foundational commitments of theologians of all religious faiths, non-Christian as well as Christian, non-Catholic Christians as well as Catholic Christians, and even Thomists who disagree with Lonergan as well as those who are disciples of Lonergan.  Theology, to a greater extent perhaps than sociology, is a multiple paradigm science.

As an illustration of the diversity that exists even among Thomists, in After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism, Edward Feser puts Lonergan, along with Maréchal and Rahner, into the category he calls “Transcendental Thomism.”  He names his other categories: “Neo-Scholastic Thomism,” “Existential Thomism,” “River Forest Thomism,” “Lublin Thomism,” and “Analytical Thomism.”  Even among the men and women who claim to be followers of Aquinas, there are multiple paradigms.  In each category writers say that they build upon the foundational work of the leading exemplars in their school of thought, and treat the words of the exemplars of the other schools of Thomism in the dialectical manner, “They say …, but I say ….” 

What I am now suggesting is the following analogy between disciplines: Just as the collaborative foundational activities of sociologists take place among those who belong to the same school of thought, so also do the collaborative foundational activities of theologians take place among those who belong to the same school of thought.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 29, 2012, 01:49:41 PM
Hello Dick:  I inadvertently missed your earlier note/reply--so I am glad you wrote again to clarify. 

First, regarding your (later note) narrative below: 


"These literature reviews indicate the results of dialectical and foundational work.  The results of dialectic are expressed in some formulation that is equivalent to 'They say …, but I say ….'  The results of foundations are expressed in some form that amounts to 'I (or ‘we’) build upon the work of x and y.'” 

First, yes; but besides dialectic, there is conflict in analysis (FS/research/interpretation/ history): noticing different data in one’s field/subject, asking different questions of the data, bringing different meaning to it, having subsequently different insights, and then conceiving differently, or using different concepts to express one’s meaning in a moving context. Besides dialectic, and under any of the subjects/fields, such arguments continue to go forward. And we can be talking past one another without being involved in dialectic. Further, the philosophical counter-positions that most affect these arguments are those associated with meaning (rather than truth), e.g., naive realism.

Whereas, dialectic deals with conflict between operating principles (they are linked but opposed) and where that conflict forces or invites the participants to a transposition of meaning, to resolve (yes/no), or optimally into a different horizon of meaning--aka self-transcendence. We then bring that new horizon to our own foundational development, and/or the development of our field/subject, or culture (broadly speaking) to work into our doctrines, systematics, and communications.  Thus, differences in research, interpretation, or history, have foundational FS underpinnings, but do not necessarily affect our foundational meaning nor are then necessarily rooted in dialectic.

These arguments come into play while actually operating in the (foundational/ philosophical) GE/METHOD that Lonergan refers to as "pure."  He speaks of the purity of the method as already operating intelligence, but before we introspect on that method (“Religious Experience” in A Third Collection: Papers by Bernard J. F. Lonergan [1982] (ed: F. E. Crowe, S. J.) Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 125.) The philosophical position as pure method, then, works alongside, as it were, (a) our lack of philosophical development and/or (b) whatever counter-position we are involved in, in our particular philosophical comportment. There is no set pattern; but often In such cases, the philosophical counter-position,commonly relativism or dogmatic determinism/Absolutism for dialectic, often will come forward when dialectical conflicts arise, when the speaker's flow of argument is threatened, and when the only "coherent" (to them) resort is to "fall back" on the counter-position by attacking the philosophical foundations of the "opponent."

That is to say, in terms of the FS, "building on the work of . . . " or "they say, but I say . . . " is multi-dimentional. Your statement is not wrong--it's just that the "results" of conflicts are not related only to dialectic.
 

I think also that we can speak of different kinds of foundations, even social or historical et al foundations or in other terms: learned assumptions or "cultural lenses" (several new terms for this.)  In our case, however, we are talking about philosophical and/or spiritual foundations that hold the distinction between (a) what is given as fundamental (the pure method and our development in terms of its ideal) and what is learned, which is what I refer to as foundations. 

Thus:  Fundamental = what we are given
Foundational = what we have learned, including from what is fundamental to us

This of course, brings us to the question of a differentiation of foundations, or a "ninth specialty" that is the subject of another thread here.  I've given this some thought, but not enough, and certainly not in terms of a ninth specialty.  At this point, my take on it is that what is fundamentally given to us as "pure" (In Lonergan's sense of it) underpins but is distinct from foundations, which (in my view) is a product of the development or lack of development of reflective and self-reflective thought--of learning. Conversion is a movement of developmental patterns that changes our being--we don't start with it? But we DO start with the pure method, albeit as undifferentiated (e.g., in children).

Also, we need to have a place for the development that can lead up to the various conversions, and for the philosophical counter-positions that deflect it. From my understanding, counter-positions are derived from either lack of or poor philosophical development (again, as learned) and are centered in one's foundational development that will come forward in the arguments in all of the fields and subjects, and including in common sense discourse.  In that sense, (and to respond to one of your later questions), it seems that Lonergan is talking about foundations and conversion as ideal.  As ideal, however, the conversions are developmental, and thus potentially NOT so ideal. All arguments, however, are affected by the presence of polymorphic counter-positions. Certainly not ideal, but are they not also foundational?

As a conceptual form, however, instead of being a ninth specialty, the "place" is something different that rests at the apex between dialectic and foundations.

Way too long again.  I'll respond to your other questions later?

Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization/correction
Post by: Catherine B. King on November 30, 2012, 10:23:01 AM
Hello Dick:

In the above note, I said:


"As ideal, however, the conversions are developmental, and thus potentially NOT so ideal. All arguments, however, are affected by the presence of polymorphic counter-positions. Certainly not ideal, but are they not also foundational?"

Correction in caps: As ideal, however, the conversions are developmental, and thus FOUNDATIONS ARE potentially NOT so ideal. All arguments, however, are POTENTIALLY affected by the presence of polymorphic counter-positions. Certainly not ideal, but are they not also foundational?

Catherine

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 01, 2012, 07:15:29 AM
Hi Catherine,

Your comments have led me to reflect upon two different meanings Lonergan attributes to “dialectic.”  In Insight, he means a structured process that naturally occurs in individual persons and in human communities.  He describes the structure of this process in four dimensions:
(1) there is an aggregate of events of a determinate character,
(2) the events may be traced to either or both of two principles,
(3) the principles are opposed yet bound together, and
(4) they are modified by the changes that succesively result from them    (IN 217).
I use a somewhat modified version of this as one of three heuristic structures for thinking about social and cultural change.  For me, the prototype for a dialectical process is an episode of social interaction, and, of course, more that two persons can participate in an interaction.

In Method, however, he uses “dialectic” to refer to a set of methodological prescriptions, rather than to a way of describing a naturally occuring change.  He describes a two-level structure.  The upper level consists of two prescritive statements – Lonergan calls them “operators”: “develop positions; reverse counter-positions.”  The lower leve consists of “materials to be operated upon” (MT 249).   (I don't like Lonergan's use of “operators,” here, because these are methodological rules to guide the operations of persons, working either individually or collaboratively.  The rules do not perform the operations as if they were the agents of the process.)

I wrote: "These literature reviews indicate the results of dialectical and foundational work.  The results of dialectic are expressed in some formulation that is equivalent to 'They say …, but I say ….'  The results of foundations are expressed in some form that amounts to 'I (or ‘we’) build upon the work of x and y.'”  When I wrote that, I failed to attend to the differences between these two notions of “dialectic.”  You are right to point out that “They say …, but I say ...” need not be the result of the fs dialectic, because my disagreements with what they say might not be the result of my developing positions and reversing counter-positions.  There are, as you point out, other grounds for disagreement.  When I called this the result of a dialectic, I was thinking of the kind of dialectical process Lonergan described in his section on the dialectic of community.

It is in terms of the structure of the dialectic of community that I claim that all interactions – cooperative, competitive, and conflictual – have the structural characteristics of a dialectic.  This is true also of the non-face-to-face interactions that take place in written exchanges.  For the duration of the exchange, which ends when one or more of the participants withdraw his, her, or their commitment to it, the participants are bound together by maintaining the intention to continue to participate.  But they are also opposed, because they bring different personal backgrounds to their definitions of the situation and to their interpretations of the things said and done by the participants.  When you say, for example, that “we can be talking past one another without being involved in dialectic,” you are, I believe, using “dialectic” in the sense of method as Lonergan describes it in his chapter on the functional specialization, rather than in the sense he uses  in “The Dialectic of Community.”

You invoke the dialectic of community notion when you say: “Whereas, dialectic deals with conflict between operating principles (they are linked but opposed).”  You connect to the notion of the fs when you add: “ and where that conflict forces or invites the participants to a transposition of meaning, to resolve (yes/no), or optimally into a different horizon of meaning--aka self-transcendence.”  I think it was this sentence that led me to reflect on the differences between the two notions of dialectic.

Although I have read some of the papers in A Third Collection, I don't recall Lonergan's remarks about the purity of GEM.  I don't own it so, so will have check out the copy in Gannon's library.  ISTM that he was talking about the differences between the way every person's knowing is actually structured (experience, insight, judgment) – the “pure” method – and the mistaken ways people describe their knowing.  These descriptions are often in terms that express incorrect beliefs about the nature of knowing.   

I am yet to be convinced that the “pure-impure” contrast will be useful to me in my thinking about dialectic as method, even though I think I understand what you  (and Lonergan) mean by using this language.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the “fundamental” is the actual structure of knowing and doing, something we all are given, but that “foundations” differ, because that are assertions about the structure of knowing and doing that are true or false in a variety of ways – polymorphic.  It is in this context that I think that performative consistency as a criterion of judgment becomes important.  I judge a proposition about knowing or doing to be true to the degree that it is consistent with the “fundament” – actually given – structure of human knowing and doing.  My verbal performance is a true statement only if it is consistent with what I am actually doing by performing in this way.

I take de Lubac's advice to be an expression of the ideal of performative consistency.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 01, 2012, 10:04:47 AM
Fs 6:  Doctrines   

In Lonergan (p. 19), Frederick Crowe reports that in a letter of 1935, Lonergan wrote that his Canadian superior had asked him, before he first went to Rome, "Are you orthodox?"  Lonergan said that he replied, "I told him I was but also that I thought a lot."

Lonergan’s orthodoxy comes into Chapter 12, “Doctrines,” part 1, “Varieties.”  He distinguishes “between the doctrine of the original message and, on the other hand, doctrines about this doctrine” (MT 295).  He refers to I Cor. 15, 3ff. as a statement of the doctrine of the original message.  I quote the beginning of that passage:

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."

There is more, but this is enough for my purpose, which is to work out the analogies (and disanalogies) between the functional specializations in theology and the (possible) functional specializations in sociology.  In “doctrines,” the differences between theology and sociology are more important than the similarities.

In sociology, there is no “doctrine of the original message” that is the basis for “doctrines about this doctrine.”  Sociologists practice what Peter Berger calls “methodological agnosticism.”   From the frame of reference of methodological agnosticism, I formulate a sociological doctrine about the doctrine of the original message as expressed in the passage from I Corinthians:  Many of those who call themselves “Christian” overtly assert and covertly affirm that I Cor. 14, 3ff. is a a true account of actual historical events.   I judge this proposition to be no more or no less true than the following: Many of those who call themselves “Muslim” overtly assert and covertly affirm that Mohammed was a prophet whose teachings completed the teachings of the earlier prophet, Jesus.

I qualify these assertions by saying “many of those who call themselves “Christian” or “Muslim.”  This is in accord with the standard sociological practice of assigning a specific religious identity to those who claim that identity.  We recognize that there are arguments among self-styled Christians about who is and who is not a “true” Christian, and similar arguments among self-styled Muslims.  As a methodological agnostic, I put all self-styled Christians into the category labeled “Christian,” and all self-styled Muslims into the category labeled “Muslim.”  If my field specialty is the sociology of religion, I might use more precise categories, distinguishing between “Roman Catholics,” “Eastern Orthodox,” and “Protestant” or between “Shiites” and “Sunnis.”  Or, I might say that within the larger categories it is possible to distinguish between “cults,” “sects,” and “denominations,” depending upon the degree to which a religious movement or organization has been integrated into the “mainstream” society and culture. 

To put it in Lonergan’s language, a denomination is a religious organization that is reasonably well-integrated with other organizations of the society, thus becoming a constituent element in the “good of order” of that society.  They are religious organizations that have good relations with the majority of the organizations in other institutional domains – economic, political, educational, artistic, scientific, entertainment, etc.   These religious organizations constitute the “civil religion” of the society.  In 1955, Will Herberg wrote Catholic, Protestant, and Jew as a description of American civil religion.  Today, it might be possible to add “Muslim,” “Hindu,” and “Buddhist” to the list of American denominations.  Or, in terms of a common distinction between types of religious leaders, the leaders of cults and sects are more likely to exercise the “prophetic” functions of religion (speaking truth to power), and the leaders of denominations are more likely to exercise the “priestly” functions of religion (harmonizing religion with economics, politics, education, science, etc.).

It is important to add, however, that there are members of denominations who do attempt to “speak truth to power,” but members (and leaders) of denominations tend to look upon their prophets as being troublemakers or deviants.  There are also particular issues, such as abortion, about which leaders of denominations seem to be able to speak out in a counter-cultural way.  They maintain denominational status by being equally outspoken about other issues in ways that do not deviate from what the leaders of other powerful organizations advocate.

The task of determining who is an “authentic” Christian -- or an “authentic” Muslim, or an “authentic Jew, or an “authentic” Hindu, etc. – is theological rather than sociological.  Theological work cannot be done from the framework of methodological agnosticism, but must be done by a person who is explicit about his or her commitment to “the doctrine of the original message.” 

Within the sociological community, however, an “authentic” sociologist is an inquirer who adheres to the ideal of methodological agnosticism.  Because this rules out the possibility of there being a sociological “doctrine of the original message,” there are no sociological doctrines that are doctrines about an original message.

No one responded to my question about whether Lonergan would say that a conversion to Islam, Judaism, or Hinduism could be an authentic religious conversion.  I understand why Catholic followers of Lonergan might be reluctant to respond to that question.  My reading of Lonergan leads me to believe that he would not regard non-Christian religious conversions to be fully authentic, but I am willing to be corrected.

There is, however, an aspect of sociology that makes it analogous to a religious sect or cult.  I turn again to Peter Berger, in his classic Invitation to Sociology.  The men and women who find themselves “called” to sociology have an insatiable desire to look behind the façades individuals and organizations construct in their efforts to maintain good  "public relations."  Sociologists are not literal “peeping Toms,” skulking about looking behind the actual drawn curtains of homes, but we do suffer from a metaphorical “peeping Thomism,” looking behind the metaphorical curtains organizations draw over their internal operations in order to make themselves loved – or at least not despised -- by the general public.  In this respect, sociology, and the other social sciences, play a part in the good of order analogous to investigative journalism.  Gary Marx commented on this in his book, Muckraking Sociology.  Berger says that this means that sociology is always going to be somewhat unrespectable, disliked by the leaders of powerful organizations with skeletons in their closets.

Lonergan (330-331) criticizes “Christian positivism” – the belief that the theologian is simply a propagandist for Church teaching that have been clearly and definitively stated once and for all time.  He says that theologians have to assemble and interpret the relevant data, understand it in its historical and cultural context, uncover the reasons for conflicting interpretations, and relate their interpretations to their own foundational commitments.  Similarly, sociologists have to construct, assemble, and interpret data, understand them in their historical and cultural contexts, uncover the reasons for conflicting interpretations, and relate their own interpretations to their personal foundational commitments.  But I believe that there is a tension between Lonergan’s rejection of Christian positivism and his commitment to the doctrine of the original message.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 01, 2012, 10:07:11 AM
Hello Dick:  I really do appreciate your open discussion here.  I address a couple of issues below:

First, of course you are right that dialectic is operational in our own conversation. However, as a part of that focus, we should distinguish between (a) specifics of any conversational content and (b) one about dialectic itself, and other issues of the FS and, as underlying it, the basic structure itself.  On that, let me say this: It can be confusing, but also it can sparkle with luminous meaning, when we realize a certain kind of unity--that Lonergan has provided us with a fine theoretical superstructure that mirrors so well conscious structure (as infrastructure), its movements as intelligent and reflective (in this context, L's meaning of pure) as distinguished from self-reflective/introspective, but not necessarily as "IMpure." My view is that the counter-positions make the content of introspection impure, but that pure in Lonergan's technical meaning in this context only means conscious structure as operative, potentially introspective, but where that introspection is not yet developed or manifest.) 

Here, the movement of pure conscious operations, including reflection (see the quote from Third Collection below), becomes manifest in concrete institutions that take up questioning and reflecting on "subjects and fields" in an unquestioning way, as if by magic (it just occurs because, as intelligent beings, we spontaneously differentiate and reflect, but is yet to be examined in any critical sort of way).

Whereas along comes Lonergan reflecting on the process in a theoretical vein: the ordering of that "taking up" is expressed in the FS as theoretical superstructure--by the introspective philosopher (and as theological, by the theologian/philosopher) not only introspecting on himself and his own interior structure, its philosophical import, developing the ground, and putting that to theoretical form, but on how that pure interior structure is already becoming manifest as reflective in differentiated subjects and fields in various institutions.

This brings us to the second point, when you say:
 


"(I don't like Lonergan's use of “operators,” here, because these are methodological rules to guide the operations of persons, working either individually or collaboratively.  The rules do not perform the operations as if they were the agents of the process.)"

Yes--operators can be "methodological rules to guide the operations of persons . . . " However, let us distinguish between (a) common meaning, in this case, of operators, (b) Lonergan's technical usage of the term, and (c) his concrete reference for that term that we can all find and verify in ourselves. Your development is correct as common meaning. For Lonergan, the technical usage is for (too briefly) the operations of the basic structure, or the basic questions we ask (see later in the chapter on dialectic in MT). And as reference, the underlying structure of questions like, concretely, What does she mean? (generalized to:  What is it? as one of the kinds of questions we ask.)

In this sense, the rules can be "agents of the process." However, we are conscious, and so we can follow the rules or not (which is what I think you are saying?). However, the rules also can be grounded in the process itself and so, when followed, they become identified with their ground (and so become luminous).
 

The further point about the common meaning is that the methodological rules (doctrines?) are actually spontaneaneously drawn from the operators as "pure," or as given to conscious order before we ask about that order.  Here is that quote from A Third Collection--see the bold for the specific reference:

"There is another meaning given . . . to the word, experience . . . that concerns us here. It occurs in certain analyses of the various components that together make up human knowing. It is employed to denote an infrastructure within knowing, and its significance resides in a contrast between this infrastructure and a suprastructure.

". . . any scientist will distinguish sharply between his hypothesis and the data to which he appeals. To the data the hypothesis adds a suprastructure of context, problem, discovery, formulation. But the data, as appealed to, are not yet the infrastructure. For, as appealed to, the data are named. That naming supposes a scientific suprastructure both of technical language and of the scientific knowledge needed to employ the technical language accurately. In turn, the technical language and the scientific knowledge presuppose an earlier ordinary language and commonsense style of knowing that were employed in learning the science in the first place. Only when one goes behind ordinary language and commonsense knowing does one come to the infrastructure in its pure form. It is pure experience, the experience underpinning and distinct from every suprastructure. As outer experience it is sensation as distinct from perception. As inner experience it is consciousness as distinct from not only self-knowledge but also from any introspective process that goes from the data of consciousness and moves towards the acquisition of self-knowledge."   

(my emphasis above/see reference below)

The same distinction between common and theoretically-defined meaning applies to the term dialectic. As an aside, Philosophy and the social sciences don't share the singular meaning of technical terms (like E=MC2) that the physical and natural sciences do precisely because of the lesser effect of background philosophical differences in those sciences. Ours is of the reality of human meaning and, thus, more complex and prone to genetic and dialectical affects that, for the most part, those sciences do not share--UNTIL those scientists drift into philosophical or spiritual issues--one of the reasons why Lonergan's work is so important to us--it gives us the albeit-complex tools to sort such things out.

Best, Catherine



             Bernard Lonergan. “Religious Experience” in A Third Collection: Papers by Bernard J. F. Lonergan (1982) (ed: F. E. Crowe, S. J.) Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 125. (1985/116) (my emphases)

 
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 01, 2012, 10:31:36 AM
Dick:  Your last post appeared while I was writing my response to your earlier post. 

Quickly, however, I think that most here are reluctant to say what Lonergan thought, in this case, about religious conversion in other religions, on general grounds, not to mention on giving their own views when under the political pressure of less philosophical, but more dogmatic and politically powerful, readers. (I speak of no one in particular, but of a general potential in all of is.)


For my own part, I would say that most of us think, and Lonergan thought, that intellectual and moral conversion could be operative in anyone of any religion; and that such conversions, though not necessary for religious conversion to occur, commonly import heavily on our sense of ourselves as religious, and on the articulation of what we mean by religious conversion.

However, someone will have to find an L text to reference what L thought about the presence of religious conversion in other-than-Christian persons. My guess is that it's there somewhere.

 I do think that Lonergan took an empirical but also theoretical turn, the full and accurate meaning of which is not yet appropriated by many (in my view), and that has its considerable inference and import in what he meant by religious conversion. As such, it is about and comes from the mystery of the devine, God, or however we speak of that mystery. 

BTW, I am not Catholic.

Catherine
Title: Sociologists, Dialectic and Foundations
Post by: Artfulhousing on December 02, 2012, 07:11:06 PM
A few post back Dick and Catherine discussed Dialectic and Foundations and to this discussion I wanted to add something. I have divided it into two parts. One part (below) discusses Dialectic and Foundations in relation to sociology. The second part (within the theme ‘Functional Collaboration’ is at http://www.lonerganforum.com/index.php?topic=54.msg287#msg287 (http://www.lonerganforum.com/index.php?topic=54.msg287#msg287)  and discusses Dialectic and Foundations more generally under the heading of ‘Making progress’.

The central question for both Dialectic and Foundations is “how do I/we make progress?” I say ‘I/we’ because they involve both an individual and social dimension. While the source or origin of progress lies within each person, it is learned, cultivated and sustained within a community.

Each day sociologists undertaking research as individuals and as a group make decisions. They are decisions through which they pursue progress in their discipline.

For some sociologists, progress is brought about through the discovery of new data or new facts. So we have the empiricist and positivist tradition within which many, if not most, British and American sociologists operate.

For some sociologists, progress is brought about through human creativity, through the constructions of the mind. So we have the constructivist tradition of the Marxist sociologists, Berger and Luckman etc.

For some sociologists, progress is brought about by affirming a tradition, the taken-for-granted movement of the time within which we live, by affirming a set of values. So we have the fideist tradition of Weber and some religious traditions etc. which propose the disjunction between rationality and values.

As sociologists we can understand ourselves as bringing about progress in sociological understanding through discoveries of new data or new facts, through discoveries of human constructions or through affirming a tradition. We decide to adopt and implement one or other method of discovery that accords with our view of progress. This decision forms a set of pre-suppositions that inform our research, a basic framework or horizon. It is this set of pre-suppositions (of previous decisions) that are the source of major conflicts that are so hard to identify – they have become the fabric of our being. It is these pre-suppositions of research (within sociology) that the FS Dialectic considers – not conflicts over data, nor conflicts over heuristics, nor conflicts over the affirmations of research traditions. The FS Dialectics is about the decisions of sociologists (that are expressed in activities/practices and products). It is about how they are operating. It evaluates and critiques the decisions of researchers/sociologists, those decisions that have become the pre-suppositions or horizon for research. FS Dialectics retraces these past decisions.

So as we retrace our past (our personal and collective past as sociologists) we might discover that sociology makes progress through the discovery of new data or new facts but it also make progress through the creativity of human constructions and through the affirmation of a tradition. Each makes some contribution to progress. Each is not absolute. It is not simply a matter of accepting or rejecting one or other. The question becomes one of developing a larger framework within which each tradition can be understood, within which each tradition is related to others. So, it is not simply about judging each against some set of criteria – even that criteria is itself part of an ongoing development of understanding. It is about coming up with best basis for making progress. It is about working as best we can towards retrieving, recovering and integrating the best of each tradition.

Our discovery of a better way of promoting progress then poses a question. Will I implement this or not? If I say yes to my discovery and seek to implement something new, I have established a new foundation for myself as a sociologist. I have become someone new.

And so I might discover that progress within sociology is not simply about understanding the past but also of creating something new in sociology that not only proceeds through the discovery of new data, the discovery of new human constructions, the discovery of new movements, the discovery of the limitations of current approaches but also proceeds through the implementation of new foundations, new directions, new strategies and new practices. And here we have the eight functional specialties. Or, more basically, we have a theory of progress. It is the complete process through which we have to go if we are to make progress in any area of human endeavour.

Further, we might discover that progress within sociology is part of larger framework of internal dynamics, that the dynamic of sociality offer new opportunities for effectiveness in bring about progress – “let’s divide up the work”. While sociology has its grounds in a personal dynamic of learning, discovery and implementation, the dynamic of sociality can order this personal dynamic of learning, discovery and implementation. This desire issues in a call for co-operation and collaboration in bringing about progress more effectively. This is, as Dick insists, a political process where political is understood in its broadest sense – a way of reaching agreement. So, it begins to make more sense to organise collaboration around functional specialties, around the process of bringing about progress rather than around field and subject specialties.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 05, 2012, 05:50:47 PM
Hi Catherine,

(This is in response to your post on December 01, 11:07 am.)  Thanks for clarifying L’s meaning of “pure,” to be understood as implying a contrast with “self-reflective/introspective” rather than with “impure.”  My interpretation has been overly influenced by Mary Douglas’ book Purity and Danger.  Anthropologists who read Lonergan on this point arelikely to make the same mistake as I did.  It is worth noting that Douglas’s views on the “purity/impurity complex” were influenced by her Roman Catholic background, as well as by her anthropological training at Oxford.  What we have here is a well-established pair of contrasting words/concepts that serve to define one another.   I doubt that Lonergan’s contrast “pure conscious operations”/”self-reflective-introspective operations” will be very successful among anthropologists. 

I take your other point to be that there is a technical sense in which “the rules can be ‘agents of the process.’”  If I understand you correctly, I disagree.  I suspect that you interpret Lonergan correctly on this point, and if so, I disagree with him.  One of my deepest convictions is that persons are the agents in cognitive processes.  I do not agree that rules or structures perform cognitive operations, and I take issue with statements that suggest that entities other than persons can know in a fully human fashion.  I put it that way, because non-human animals do know, but not in a fully human fashion. 

To the extent that Lonergan does say that there is a technical sense in which rules are agents of knowing, I argue that he is using the language of a counterposition.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 05, 2012, 07:26:24 PM
Hi Art,

(This is in response to your post of December 2, 8:11 pm.)  The way you pose the central question in dialectic and foundations -- “how do I/we make progress?” – is consistent with your interpretation of the functional specialties as a theory of progress.  Your emphasis upon both the individual and the community is something dear to the hearts of most sociologists.

Your discussion of the different traditions in sociology reminds me of Levine’s Visions of the Sociological Tradition – a book I greatly respect.  I agree with you that when a sociologist decides to work within one or another of these sociological traditions, she accepts a set of presuppositions, including a notion of how to bring about progress.  Once accepted, these do become “the fabric of our being.”   

You say: “The FS Dialectics is about the decisions of sociologists (that are expressed in activities/practices and products).”  When I engage in dialectic, I tend to focus on the way other sociologists express themselves in their writing, much more than on the way the express themselves in their activities and practices.  I think of their written propositions as expressing their insights and judgments, as well as their decisions.   

I like very much your notion of “developing a larger framework within which each tradition can be understood, within which each tradition is related to others,” as well as the notion that the very criteria of judgment change with the ongoing development of understanding.  Our progress does involve another kind of “dialectic,” the honoring of tradition even in the process of discovering new things, things that will modify the tradition itself.

Collaboration, whether it is based upon a subject, field, or functional specialization, always depends upon the individual decisions of two or more people to collaborate, and then upon their working towards a collective agreement about the ways in which they will work together.

Best regards,

Dick.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 06, 2012, 09:21:38 AM

Hello Dick:  Hmmm….a couple of things.  First, you say:

“I doubt that Lonergan’s contrast (of) ‘pure conscious operations’/’self-reflective-introspective operations’ will be very successful among anthropologists.” 

I’m glad you understood the difference in this usage—I have added below a bit more about the distinction and am refreshed by your understanding of it.  In that section, however, I have also responded to your later paragraph—it’s sort of all of one piece—and quoted from your note because of our multiple threads in this section. 

But we talked earlier about the need to distinguish, and be able to “walk around in,” different meaning fields, mainly in this case, commonsense and theoretical narratives. Your comment above implies an example of how we all need to be aware of differences in theoretical meaning, especially of shared terms between fields, precisely because we are from different fields. It’s an occupational hazard we need to be aware of, especially if we are to have inter-field communications.

However, if, as you say, the distinction in this case is not successful among anthropologists (or any other field) it suggests to me two things:  (a) a merely commonsense appropriation of a field's discourse which otherwise has a good theoretical base, and (b) a (what I call) field provincialism—both fly in the face of the process of collaboration that Lonergan is trying to get at in developing the FS. A commonsense appropriation of language is nothing less than deadly to theoretical discourse and collaboration (my way or the highway, and no place for factual verification of our data); and I think you will agree that we need to get our heads around the conscious transpositions it's going to take to even begin to enter that inter-field communication/collaboration with any hope of "success."  The world of knowledge, not to mention theoretical knowledge, is too comprehensive for any one field to possess it all.


Second, and responding to your other paragraph (quoted below) I offer some further reflections on Lonergan’s meaning of pure and impure, in this particular context of meaning, as quoted in my note above. (This is my understanding of Lonergan’s work--I am certainly open to further development and/or critique of my take on it.) 

In my view, and in the philosophical climate of the last century (and for us in this one), Lonergan experienced much trouble getting others to understand his focus and to self-reflect towards critical self-discovery. Briefly, it’s not a counter-position, and not about agreeing or disagreeing, but about correct analysis during introspection. If we haven’t done the lab work, we can only speculate with our present affective philosophical inheritance in place. Here is a quote about that issue from Method in Theology (my parentheses):


“Now in a sense everyone knows and observes transcendental method (the basic 'pure' structure). Everyone does so, precisely in the measure that he is attentive (wonders/asks questions), intelligent, reasonable, responsible (normative, but not inviolable). But in another sense it is quite difficult to be at home in transcendental method, for that is not to be achieved by reading books or listening to lectures or analyzing language. It is a matter of heightening one’s consciousness by objectifying it, and that is something that each one, ultimately, has to do in himself and for himself.” (1972/14) (my parentheses)

In the other L quote about experience (in  my above note), Lonergan distinguishes the pure thinking process from thinking about that process. That is, that human beings wonder and ask questions of the type “what is it” is so basic as to not be something to agree or disagree on, but first to ask about and discover in oneself. (The claim that “I don’t ask questions of that sort” was actually stated to me in a doctoral interview.)

As a verifiable analysis of human cognition will show, our questions continue with any-x as content. From that intentional base (which has a structure), we can distinguish that base from our self-reflection and wonder about those operations. It is not that such reflections are not a part of, or emerge from what L means by pure inner experience. Rather, such activities only constitute (what he refers to as) a heightening of the pure experience of wondering and raising question that is already so-commonly human. Such heightening we can distinguish from our common experience of thinking as such, and before we start to introspect with a critical philosophy in hand. Even though most probably we all have experienced some form of self-reflection spontaneously and without naming it or saying to my self, for example: I am self-reflecting about my own thinking processes, or my minded activities.

 I think that, in these differentiating reflections where he uses the common terms of pure and impure, Lonergan is stratling theory and commonsense by (a) using a term that doesn't seem like "jargon" to the commonsense reader, but then (b) exploring clearly his different technical meaning which BTW has a concrete reference.

We should add: for better or for worse. Others have complained about the "descriptive" language in MIT (Phil McShane, for one). However, my take on it is that L is aware of the gulf between himself and others, especially where an appropriation of theoretical language as such is concerned, and is trying to help the reader self-reflect, and to avoid the confusion that commonly occurs when we use our thinking processes to think about those same thinking processes. Often, when doing so, we first, avoid self-reflection for many reasons; and, second, we remain in a conceptualist frame of mind, thereby creating the exigency for what sounds like an endless tautology, among other potential philosophical conundrums.

That is, we need not think about our interior operations in order for them to go forward in their pure sense (by this technical definition). Here, we are not prescribing conscious process but merely analyzing what we already do when we think—the process actually conditions any agreeing or disagreeing we might do. That is, agreement/ disagreement stands on a history and complex series of questions, their insights, their reflective insights, and their conceptualizations. The theory (general empirical method) develops that "stand." Further, with his distinction between outer sense experience, and pure inner experience, Lonergan is attempting to throw into question the philosophical view that looking or otherwise sensing equates to knowing.

Also, you say:
 

“One of my deepest convictions is that persons are the agents in cognitive processes.”

I don’t see what the disagreement is here--Lonergan is clearly and completely in agreement with you here. That point is not averse, however, to our asking about, discovering, and verifying the basic dynamic structure of our own minds—as a set of intentional questions that anticipate insights. In Method, Lonergan clarifies that such a base is in fact trans-cultural. Here is your note section that I have responded to above:  

“I take your other point to be that there is a technical sense in which 'the rules can be ‘agents of the process.'  If I understand you correctly, I disagree.  I suspect that you interpret Lonergan correctly on this point, and if so, I disagree with him.  One of my deepest convictions is that persons are the agents in cognitive processes.  I do not agree that rules or structures perform cognitive operations, and I take issue with statements that suggest that entities other than persons can know in a fully human fashion.  I put it that way, because non-human animals do know, but not in a fully human fashion.  . . . To the extent that Lonergan does say that there is a technical sense in which rules are agents of knowing, I argue that he is using the language of a counterposition.”

Rules don't perform cognitive operations, but we develop rules through the structured dynamic operations of human cognition. As ordered, those operations also have a remote and generalizable, and discoverable, set of principles at work in them. But you are right if you mean this: those principles as generalized do not get us yet into history. The ontology of history assures us that we have to do that ourselves, with a new set of concrete insights for each new situation--a point repeated often in the first five chapters of Insight--and beyond.

Best, Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 06, 2012, 07:38:30 PM
Hi Catherine,


On the cognitive point, I don't think we disagree about Lonergan's notion of transcendental method or the importance and difficulty of self-appropriation.  I think we disagree about his use of language.  You haven't convinced me that Lonergan's choice of "pure" was a good choice.  I think it is misleading.  I don't believe that my criticism results either from my attempting to make a common sense appropriation of theoretical language, or from my field provincialism. 

The last sentence of your quotation from  MT is: “It is a matter of heightening one’s consciousness by objectifying it, and that is something that each one, ultimately, has to do in himself and for himself.” (1972/14) (your parentheses).  I judge this to be another example of a good point expressed badly.   Lonergan reifies consciousness, not just by nominalizing the adjective "conscious," but also by treating as a "thing" that a person can somehow cause to be "higher."  I don't object to the metaphor "up is good," in general, but in combination with the reification of consciousness, it generates imagery that interferes with Lonergan's point.  Then his saying that a person "objectifies" his "heightened consciousness" contributes even more to the reified imagery.  I agree that it is important to make inner, tacit, conscious actions the object of my focal attention, and to try to describe in words what I am doing when I am knowing and deciding.  I do not agree that calling this "objectifying heightened consciousness" is a good use of language.

I really do consider myself to be a disciple of Lonergan, and I have spent many years trying to persuade students and colleagues in sociology to attempt the self-appropriation that leads to intellectual and moral conversion.  I am critical of some of the ways he expressed ideas with which I agree.  I continue to be awed by him, but I will continue to criticize his language.

Best regards,

Dick
 
 
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 07, 2012, 12:23:14 PM
 
Hello Dick: 

Three things: (1) You say: "I don't believe that my criticism results either from my attempting to make a common sense appropriation of theoretical language, or from my field provincialism." 


Nor did I think that you were. In your note, you referred to others in your field--as did I--and not to you.  I am sorry if I did not make my reference clear?  My point was to suggest the place we are in with regard to the potential for FS collaboration; and perhaps to suggest what needs to be done with regard to setting the stage for that collaboration to actually occur. If what you say in your note is true (and I do not doubt that it is), then we have a long way to go.

(2) About Lonergan's use of "pure," or other common crossover terms--I think it's relative to the reader--and I think it abundantly clear that intended readers of Method in Theology were and are quite philosophically diverse; and further, that L was quite aware of that--like no other. 

His point, however (and I think I'm preaching to the choir here in telling you this), is to direct the reader to critical-philosophical introspection. But what language he uses will be good for some and bad for others--since whatever terms he uses, some will understand his meaning and some will not--and some will  move from confusion to insight, as is supposed to occur.  And on this score, he or we will hear complaint from one direction or the other, regardless. 

In whatever case, we need to accept different language from different fields--when language usage is the only problem--and go to the meaning? Also, it's on us to understand for ourselves--and so exploration of meaning in places like this is good for us all. From your last paragraph, and from reading your other threads, however, I doubt it's deadly for your understanding of Lonergan's intent. 

(3) On reification: I wouldn't throw Lonergan in the briar patch on that one.

Let's incur dialectic here:  His call to understand and verify in onenself general empirical method (self-appropriation/affirmation) is not falsly making some comcept real (reification) or (as I have heard said) thing-ifying "it" (in the common meaning of "thing").  Rather, it's turning to the concrete self (you, me, anyone) to discover something real about one's own interior structure and its operations--and regardless of what conceptualization we use.

I have heard the reification complaint before. And of course, it's more complex than the brief above would imply. First, we have to understand that the interior life can be real, on principle.  (But then that's another can of philosophical worms.) However, to remain critical, we do need to objectify our own conscious operations with an adequate theory in hand and actually go through the experiment with one's own well-honed critical skills in hand, for instance, do I spontaneously wonder and raise questions of the type "What is it?" Do I have insights, and reflective insights in the way that the theory sets out? et al.  It's not an Absolute in the "classical" sense. It' is (1) verifiable regularly in the concrete and (2) sets out a heuristic.

But then once we make the discovery in our CONCRETE selves, we can discard the theory and its conceptualization and become comfortable with understanding--and knowing (in the critical sense)--the reality of our own basic structure as it continues to spontaneously emerge in our thought and expressions in the concrete. Further, though conceptualizing is a part of the process, Lonergan (in that quote--which I think is quite well-said) is pointing to the conscious process that affords us the ability to objectify and conceptualize anything in the first place, including our own mind's processes. The internal structure and dynamism are the conditions for understanding, objectifying, and expressing anything. 

The point here is that, to remain critical, having a good theory is essential, but not the most important thing. The theory provides the suprastructure for us to objectify and enter the field of interiority while remaining in a critical mode--and so that we can actually "appropriate" and affirm (as real) that set of interior operations for ourselves. It's not the theory or the concept that is trans-cultural or real, it's the reality of what the theory points to--in all of its concreteness.

In terms of the relationship of the basic structure with the concrete:  What is so variable in the concrete is individual issues and expressions as history unfolds.  What is trans-cultural is the general meaning of those same issues and expressions.  So that, for example, the concrete question in response to a concretely heard, but unknown, sound:  "What is that sound?" (any example will do) is the generalization of that same question as a type:  "What is it?" that seeks meaning/intelligibility. (That's only one type of question--there are basically four). 

Whenever we raise a question that seeks meaning and intelligibility in and of the concrete, we are also employing an aspect of the basic structure in that concrete world of human living. 

You may want to re-explore the deeper meaning of the reification issue, particularly in and for sociology. (In my experience), it's rife with several underlying philosophical problems that Lonergan points to in several places in Insight.  But I am again speaking to what needs at least to be approached if FS is to be put on the table for interfield communications.  My best to you,
Catherine


"Surely this everywhere present is real enough and eager, yet unable, to tell me what I am waiting for now." (Dorothea Tanning)


Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 12, 2012, 10:25:24 PM
Fs 7 Systematics.

I have been writing about the functional specialties in sociology because I have assumed that there are analogies between generalized empirical method in theology and generalized empirical method in sociology.  In the first four functional specialties, the similarities between sociology and theology seem to me to outweigh the differences.  Beginning with the fifth fs, foundations, the differences seem to me to outweigh the similarities. I began my post on foundations by saying, “I don’t think there has been a functional specialization in sociology similar to the theological specialization Lonergan describes in Chapter 11 of MT.”  I added, “I don’t think there ought to be such a functional specialization in sociology.”

My reason for this is what Lonergan says is “foundational reality” for a community of collaborating theologians cannot be foundational reality for a community of collaborating sociologists.   Lonergan says:
“Foundational reality, as distinct from its expression, is conversion: religious, moral, and intellectual.  Normally, it is intellectual conversion as the fruit of both religious and moral conversion; it is moral conversion as the fruit of religious conversion; and it is religious conversion as the fruit of God’s gift of his grace” (MT 268-9).
Because sociologists embrace “methodological agnosticism,” we cannot base our collaborative efforts on “religious conversion as the fruit of God’s gift of his grace.”  This does not mean that a sociologist cannot have experienced religious conversion, but that religious conversion cannot be part of the foundational reality for a community of sociologists.

The differences between sociology and theology continue, and perhaps become even more pronounced, in the sixth fs, doctrines.  Lonergan distinguishes between the doctrine of the original message and doctrines about the doctrine of the original message.  The original message is a religious revelation.  There is no such original message in sociology, and, accordingly, no doctrines about the original message.  I contrasted Lonergan’s theological treatment of the original message with the way a sociologist treats that same message, regarding it not as a revealed truth, but as something that a certain proportion of the world’s population believes, or professes to believe.

These differences persist in systematics.  Theological systematics presupposes that the truth of doctrines is established, and moves on from there to promote the understanding of doctrines and the religious mysteries to which they refer (MT 336).

The closest analogue to theological systematics is general theory in sociology.  Thomas Fararo has written about this in Social Action Systems: Foundation and Sythesis in Sociological Theory (2001).   He is not the only one to have written about general theory in sociology.  Members of the theory section of the American Sociological Association collaborate in the development of systematic theory, even though if an outsider were to attend meetings of the theory section, she might be more aware of the disagreements than of the underlying agreements.  Those who work at developing general theory in sociology, like the theologians who specialize in systematics, seek to promote a fuller and more integrated understanding of an ever increasing number of verified propositions about the social world.

Dick Moodey






Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 13, 2012, 07:44:32 AM
Fs 8 Communications. 

Lonergan (MT 128) says that communications in theology is about its “external relations.”  The same can be said of sociology. 

Michael Burawoy, past president of the American Sociological Association, and current president of the International Sociological Association has written extensively about communications in sociology.  He divides sociology into four functional specialties (although he does not call them “functional specialties”).
(1) professional sociology: In this specialty, sociologists speak to and write for other sociologists.  Given the facts of field specialization in sociology, sociologists of the family speak to and write for other sociologists of the family, and medical sociologists speak to and write for other medical sociologists.  This kind of sociology is necessary for research and theory to go forward.
(2) policy sociology: Here, sociologists speak to and write for clients who are not sociologists.  Clients -- governments, businesses, ngo's, non-profits, unions -- hire sociologists to help them solve practical problems.
(3) public sociology: This has been Burawoy’s focus.  He believes that sociologist have failed to communicate adequately with different potential publics.  In sociology, a “public” is a set of people who are interested in, and pay attention to, some aspect of the social world.  If I go into a Barnes and Noble bookstore, there will be an incredible display of different magazines on display.  Each of these appeals to a distinct public – motercycle enthusiasts, people who knit, etc.
(4) critical sociology: Burawoy emphasizes the work of sociologists who reflect upon and criticize the assumptions and values of sociologists working in the other three specialties, but critical sociologists are often social critics as well.  A social critic focuses upon the assumptions, values, and practices of non-sociologists.  I engage in critical sociology, for example, when I teach about what I consider to be the evil consequences of the legal structure of for profit corporations. 

When I presented Burawoy’s functional specialties on lonergan_l-bounces@skipperweb.org (http://lonergan_l-bounces@skipperweb.org),
Marybeth Gardam suggested that much of the discussion on skipperweb seems be analogous to professional sociology.  That is, it consists of people who have put a lot of time into studying Lonergan talking to others who have also put a lot of time into this kind of study.  It is “professional” Lonerganians writing to other “professional” Lonerganians.  This led me to think about applying all four of Burawoy’s categories to Lonergan studies.

(1) professional Lonerganism: Lonergan specialists speaking to and writing for other Lonergan specialists.  This is essential for developing the implications of Lonergan’s work, and for reversing the counter positional language he sometimes used in expressing his ideas. 
(2) policy Lonerganism: The main “clients” for theologians are religious organizations of various kinds, and the men and women who hold offices in these organizations.  This seems to me to be part of what Lonergan includes in his eighth FS, “communications.”
(3) public Lonerganism: Lonergan specialists speaking to and writing for a variety of publics.  Each academic discipline might be considered to be a public, in this sense.  These publics would include not only university teachers/researchers, but also teachers at all levels, and parents, who are a child’s first teachers.  Other publics might include the full range of occupational specialties, a huge number, given the complexity of our division of labor.  What would a Lonergan specialist have to say to a chicken sexer or a driver of a Zamboni?  This also seems to be included in Lonergan’s notion of the eighth FS.
(4) critical Lonerganism: Lonergan specialists not only criticize other Lonergan specialists, but also criticize the social order.  They call attention to the bad consequences of the counter positions, of the four kinds of bias, and of sin.  They describe and analyze the growth of the social surd.  They wouldanalyze the dialectic of developing (and regressing) subjects (persons), and the dialectic of communities.  They would contrast social and cultural progress with both the presence of the shorter and longer cycles of decline.  Critical Lonergan specialists might be said to be working in the FS of dialectic, as well as in the FS of communications.

As I think about the advantages of functional specialization in sociology, and of sociologists collaborating in functional specializations, it seems to me that there are real advantages to starting with Burawoy’s four functional specializations, rather than with Lonergan’s eight (or nine, if Bob Doran’s division of Foundations prevails).  Burawoy’s divisions are widely known, both nationally and internationally, and he has prestige in the discipline, as is indicated by his election to a national and an international presidency.  Not only is Lonergan not widely read by sociologists, but also, as I have argued in my comments on foundations, doctrines, and systematics, the differences between Lonergan’s descriptions of these functional specialties in theology and anything that sociologists do are very great.

Dick Moodey


Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 13, 2012, 02:15:44 PM
Hello Dick:

I like the distinctions (quasi-FS) that you set out from Burawoy and appreciate the inter-field reference to a well-respected theoretician in sociology.

Much can be said in response, but let me focus on three things about your two notes above on the last systematics and communications, and then a brief comment about belief:

First, from a quick glance at what you say, Burawoy is, indeed, differentiating the fields of communications (as FS-8). In that differentiation, and though you don't mention theoretical communications as such (though Burawoy may), your sections 1 and 4 (professional and critical communications) would include the need for a clear distinction between (a) theoretical and technical discourse and (b) common sense discourse. As I mentioned earlier, I have noted that some fields are corrupt in this regard, though most have in their history a good theoretical base—(FS an aspect of doctrines).

Also, and even between-fields, as Lonergan is trying to promote, the need for theoretical consciousness by all is intensely important.  In that cross-fertilization, a reduction to commonsense meaning is anathema to potential understanding. The other two distinctions (2 and 4) would include attempts to mediate that theoretical consciousness and theory development into common sense and other discourses.-much like a medical doctor explaining someone’s illness to a lay person, and without corrupting the meaning or losing one's hold on theoretical consciousness.

Second, you say:


“. . . beginning with the fifth fs, foundations, the differences seem to me to outweigh the similarities. I began my post on foundations by saying, ‘I don’t think there has been a functional specialization in sociology similar to the theological specialization Lonergan describes in Chapter 11 of MT.’  I added, ‘I don’t think there ought to be such a functional specialization in sociology.’”

Let me point to some mixtures of meaning in the above quote?  That is, it appears that you are mixing functional specialties, and foundations as such, which is developed in the first part of chapter 11, with categories specific to theology as a field/subject arena of meaning, which is developed in the later part of that chapter? And if I am right in this, that MAY shed some brighter light on the functional specialties as distinct-from but operative-in theology, and as underpinning movements in sociology and, indeed, all fields and subjects.

Functional specialization has to do with a differentiation of focus in functions that are at work in any field or subject. Also, the FS are very general. When you refer to the text concerning theological categories, you moved from FS generalization to the specifics of a field/subject arena. (The is quite common in my experience with teaching about it.)

The text MIT is in dire need to further differentiation, but it IS titled: Method in THEOLOGY.

Third, foundations as conversion is problematic, to be sure, especially as it concerns religious conversion when we speak of foundations OUTSIDE of a theological context. If I may share my experience teaching in secular institutions, these are foreign ideas indeed; and, on the other side, when I have right-wing Christian evangelicals sitting in my classroom, they tend to be entirely dogmatic and presume that I am really talking their language, so to speak. Then they get huffy about it to the secular scientists in the room--so much for civil discourse in the classroom. (Not all, but many.)


But for our purposes of relating foundations, doctrines, and systematics to another field, however, e.g., sociology, again, the FS are completely generalized (and it’s common in my experience that most do not understand what that generality means and tend to drift into specifics); they are completely philosophical--as they differentiate fields of meaning that are and can be remotely grounded in personally-verified cognitional theory and epistemology. As so general, however, they need to be transposed into each field and subject—as you are so diligently and tirelessly doing—I so-admire it.

FYI, much internal discourse (in Lonergan studies) has been about how the series of conversions works itself out—for instance, whether (as you have quoted L saying) intellectual conversion MUST BE the fruit of moral and religious conversion. On that score, Lonergan says “normally,” which means for him (somewhere in Method) that what is normal or normative is not inviolable.

But first, there are other conversions that have been differentiated and developed which I will post a link to later on;  and second, there is a notion of foundations that merely addresses their presence as both developmental and as potentiall involved in counter-positions. Foundations understood in this way merely refer to philosophical comportment that CONCRETELY can be either undeveloped, or a mixture of counter-positions, or both, with flairs of serious moments of conversion added in (conversion is always a withdrawal, never an achievement for all time, though I would vary on that with regard to intellectual conversion).

My take on Lonergan in that passage, however, is that he’s talking (a) to the overt idealization of religious and other conversions (b) that are needed specifically for theology and for theologians who need to be quite aware of it, considering their field.


For sociology (et al), and if you accept the above mixture of meaning as problematic to your above conclusions about FS applicability to sociology, I suggest that, on the part of the data of sociological studies, religious conversion is legitimate data—it has been claimed in history for centuries. And that study can and will have variable affect on the student (one way or the other). Further, an aspect of cognitional theory is that human beings ask the religious question—and have for all of history—so say most if not all historians and anthropologists. And so, again, many questions about the religious concerns are legitimate data for sociological study. 

On the side--the subject/sociologist, the same questions apply. However, at this point in my own studies, I would say that, at the very least, intellectual conversion is a must for any professional/technical or theoretical field (and thus for its educational activities as overt focus); and that moral conversion (ethics, political power and order, etc.) is also a must, though treated in a different way. Let us remember that moral conversion spontaneously moves into our ethical-political discourse, and ethical-political discourse results in doctrines, e.g., constitutions, law, tenets, written policy and social orders, mission statements, and on and on. If we don’t overtly focus on it, it’s certainly highly desirable, and its presence or absence will affect the rest of the meaning-development in all fields and subjects. 

But the point germane to your intent, I think, is that we can talk a great deal about foundations and the conversions in any field/subject without accepting the premise that all fields must be driven overtly by religious conversion—theology is the exception here, I think. It’s where religious conversion comes front and center to research, interpretation, et al in their various fields and subjects.

I was going to say something about your use of the term belief, but I have written too much already.

My hope is that I have been helpful here in what I think is an extremely important reach.

Catherine   
   
Title: Pure/impure discussion
Post by: Artfulhousing on December 14, 2012, 07:12:23 PM
Hi Dick and Catherine
I refer to your discussion of ‘pure’ within Lonergan’s writings. My understanding of ‘pure’ is very different from yours. Lonergan, as far as I know, doesn’t use the term ‘impure’. If I was to make a contrast it would be ‘pure’ and ‘complete’.

In my understanding when Lonergan is talking about the pure desire to understand or the pure cycle of an economy etc., he is not speaking ideally. Rather he is talking about the processes that actually constitute knowing or the processes actually constitute the economy. In other words, he is speaking about a theory of knowing or a theory of the economy where theory grasps the set of significant, essential and relevant elements and their relationships that constitute knowing or the economy. Without the occurrence of these elements in certain relationship neither knowing nor an economy would occur.

‘Complete’?  The elements that constitute knowing or an economy admit a range of possibilities. So, we come to know a vast range of things and, different countries and different times have different economies. How do we explain the particularity of knowing and the particularity of an economy in different countries and in different times? We do so in terms of context where the context is the role or function of knowing or the economy in the achievement of other things. It is these higher things (higher because knowing and the economy have a role or function in their realisation) that order the particularity of knowing and each economy in such a way that these higher things are achieved.

Lonergan speaks of a series of approximations as “modern science uses universals as tools in its unrelenting efforts to approximate to concrete process” (Lonergan [1968]1974:104).In “Insight Revisited” (Second Collection:271-272), Lonergan gives the following example as an explanation of the movement of the planets. Newton’s planetary theory had a first approximation in the first law of motion: bodies move in a straight line with constant velocity unless some force intervenes. There was a second approximation when the addition of the law of gravity between the sun and the planet yielded an elliptical orbit for the planet. A third approximation was reached when the influence of the gravity of the planets on one another is taken into account to reveal the perturbed ellipses in which the planets actually move. The point to this model is, of course, that in the intellectual construction of reality it is not any of the earlier stages of the construction but only the final product that actually exists. Planets do not move in straight lines nor in properly elliptical orbits; but these conceptions are needed to arrive at the perturbed ellipses in which they actually do move.

The first law of motion is the pure law. A complete explanation of planetary orbits is found through understanding the further contexts of the second and third approximations.

Complete? A complete theory of knowing not only includes the pure theory of knowing but also the role that knowing plays in creating something worthwhile (in which the biases have their basis) and in being-in-love and how each of these order the particularity of knowing. A complete theory of economy not only includes the pure theory of an economy but also the role the economy plays in society, in culture, in personal identity and in religion and how each of these order the particularity of economy.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 15, 2012, 08:59:22 AM
Hi Mounce,

Way back on October 9, you asked, "What is the relation between individual and society in this regard?"  This is, of course, a question sociologists think about a lot.  When I first read your question, I thought that I ought to respond, but the prospect of trying to respond adequately overwhelmed me, and then all sorts of other things got in the way.  I am almost finished reading student papers, and have been spending some time this morning trying to catch up on responding to online discussions.

I believe that the most primordial relation is between each person and his/her mother.  The individual person emerges as a result of a gradual process of differentiation.  Birth, of course, is a dramatic -- and perhaps traumatic -- event in this process, but the process is definitely not completed by the cutting of the umbilical cord (Lonergan uses this as a metaphor -- cutting the umbilical cord to the maternal imagination).  There is a much more gradual cutting of the "apron strings."  Part of this gradual cutting is in the child's learning to use the personal pronouns competently.  Being able to use "I," "you," "he-she," "we," "they," etc. is the outward manifestation of the child's emerging knowledge of self, other, and society.

In thinking theoretically about person and society, sociologists resort to metaphors.  Hobbes popularized the mechanical metaphor, in which individuals become parts in a machine, but the closely related organic metaphor has been more popular recently, in which individuals are like cells in the tissues of which organs are made, organs that are then understood in terms of the "functions" they perform for the good of the whole "body."

I am among those sociologists who prefer the network metaphor to the mechanical and organic metaphors.  Individuals are the nodes (or knots) and relationships with other persons are ties that connect the nodes.  I like this because it seems to me to imply fewer misrepresentations of reality than do the mechanical and organic metaphors.  I also like it because of the analogy to the use of the network metaphor by cognitive scientists and neuroscientists to think about the brain and nervous system -- neurons are the nodes, synaptic connections are the ties.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 15, 2012, 09:58:05 AM
Hi Catherine,

I probably will not have time this morning to respond to all of the helpful points you have made, but I can respond to the first.  You say: "
First, from a quick glance at what you say, Burawoy is, indeed, differentiating the fields of communications (as FS-8). In that differentiation, and though you don't mention theoretical communications as such (though Burawoy may), your sections 1 and 4 (professional and critical communications) would include the need for a clear distinction between (a) theoretical and technical discourse and (b) common sense discourse. As I mentioned earlier, I have noted that some fields are corrupt in this regard, though most have in their history a good theoretical base—(FS an aspect of doctrines)."

I think a further distinction needs to be made within "a."  There are very different kinds of theoretical discourse (1) descriptions and explanations of what has been and is, (2) crticisms of what has been and is by explict or tacit comparison of what has been and is with an ideal -- the way things ought to be, (3) prescriptions for what others (and perhaps even I) ought to do. 

One of the things that attracted my to Insight and Polanyi's Personal Knowledge is that both men developed a philosophy of science based on descriptions and explanations of what scientists actually do.  So much philosophy of science consisted of non-scientists trying to tell scientists what they ought to do in order to be "truly scientific."  And most of this was corrupted by a false ideal of objectivity, imagined as taking a look at what was "already out there, now, real."

This does not mean, however, that either Lonergan or Polanyi refrained from normative prescriptions.  I describe their ideal as "performative consistency."  Statements about which scientists, or other seekers of knowledge, ought to do must be consistent with descriptions and explanations of what I am doing when I am knowing.  I use "I" here very deliberately, because -- here I know I am going to get into trouble -- I have immediate knowledge (direct knowledge) only of what I am doing when I am knowing.  I do not have immediate knowledge of what Lonergan was doing when he was knowing, or of what you are doing when you are knowing.  But, as Lonergan argues in Chapter eleven of Insight, I not only affirm that I am a knower, but I also affirm that you are a knower, and that the general structure of your cognitive activities are the same as the general structure of my cognitive activities -- experience, understanding, and judgment.

I believe that Lonergan followed this same strategy in developing his functional specialties in theology.  He attempted to systematize what he did as a theologian, to generalize this by attributing the same distinct activities to other theologians, and to argue for a division of labor in theology based upon the differences between these activities.  In trying to generalize this beyond theology to sociology, I have to reflect upon what I do as a sociologists, generalize this by attributing the same distinct activities to other sociologists, and think about a possible division of labor based upon the differences between these activities.

I have used Lonergan's eight functional specialities in theology heuristically, as a set of questions that I can ask about method in sociology, and as clues to possible answers.  I read Lonergan as saying to theologians, "Look, we already perform these specialized activities, so lets get more systematic and collaborative about a reasonable division of labor."  He has persuaded some theologians that they ought to do this, and they, in turn, are trying to persuade more theologians to collaborate by institutionalizing a more reasonable division of labor in theology.

Analogously, I have to say to my fellow sociologists, "Look, we already perform these specialized activities, so lets get more systematic and collaborative about a reasonable division of labor."  In order to say this honestly, I have to be able to point to examples of sociologists actually doing these kinds of things.  Buroway can point to lots of examples of sociologists doing the four kinds of things he specifies.  I don't think I can point to sociologists performing the kinds of things that are closely analogous to the theological activities Lonergan points to in foundations, doctrines, and systematics. 

Methodologists different from scientists and theologians in that they have to walk a tightrope between description and explanation, on the one hand, and prescription, on the other.  Methodologies have to be prescriptive if they are going to guide scientists and theologians in their inquiries.  But those prescriptions will be misleading if they are not based upon what scientists and theologians actually do in their successful inquiries.  They do ask questions and get insights that might be good answers.  They do ask questions for reflection, in order to determine whether these tentative answers are more likely to be true or more likely to be false.  It is legitimate, therefore, to tell scientists and theologian that they ought to ask questions for intelligence and questions for reflection, and to try very hard to get the right answers.  It is a further stretch to tell theologians that they ought to collaborate by systematically distinguishing eight functional specialties.  It is telling them to do something that they are not yet doing by arguing that the "roots" of the kind of collaboration Lonergan advocates are already there in what they are already doing.  It is a further stretch still to say to sociologists, you ought to create a division of labor in your discipline that is analogous to the division of labor Lonergan had advocated for theology.

Best regards,
Dick 
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 15, 2012, 12:01:29 PM
Hello Dick:

I think you and I are covering some good ground here; however, I also think my own work is suffering for it—as I sense that yours is also?

But let me respond as briefly as possible—I hope without overlooking what is important.

First, you say in response to my distinction of the arena of theoretical/professional discourse:


“I think a further distinction needs to be made . . . . There are very different kinds of theoretical discourse (1) descriptions and explanations of what has been and is, (2) criticisms of what has been and is by explicit or tacit comparison of what has been and is with an ideal -- the way things ought to be, (3) prescriptions for what others (and perhaps even I) ought to do.”

A couple of things:  (a) from cognitional theory: what is and what ought to be are derivatives of cognitional structure. That is, what is derives from questions for understanding and truth (what is it? and is it so?); and what ought-to-be derives from our questions for what is worthwhile/ and ultimately worthwhile. So as whole human beings in history, we can emphasize and isolate our different kinds of questions (and we do in the sciences so well); but in fact we cannot get away from the intimate relationship between these two sets of questions and the dialectic that surrounds how we work them out in our concrete universe.  Science is one thing, but it rests in the broader field of human meaning and its history.

(b) In your later narrative above, you seem to understand that a cognitional theory is not itself a prescription—it’s a theory of what is in/as human cognition—a part of which is that human beings ask the question of the intelligible-good-is as well as the worthwhile question which manifests, again, as should or “ought.” And then, as historical and, in turn, what we think and say [i]ought to be[/i], or what we offer to others as ought, can become the “is” of human history that, in reflection, historians ask about.

However, and though methods do differ in different fields, as you say, as philosophical, we can find and verify a deeper method (of mind) that conditions all of the other methods—general empirical method (Lonergan says this in Method—probably the first chapter). In this one sort of analysis (philosophical), however, we find that the suggested ought is not merely a subjective/relativistic notion or an egotistical or political power play—it is what flows from an aspect of the human mind, as developed in an adequate and verified theory of not only cognitional activities, but the derived theory of knowledge. Such oughts then, not only flow from human conscious order (as suggested in [1] above) but they are not without reasons—they are based on cognitional fact.

Further, such oughts move into not only our adequate or inadequate notions of metaphysics, but also into the creative or destructive history of concrete events. Scientific method itself is derived from scientists finally getting the more basic method of mind right--though as extroverts, they are probably not aware of it.  GENERAL empirical method is just that same method turned on consciousness in a critical way, where what is commonly taken as data in the “hard” sciences is expanded to include the data of the mind (Insight: 2000/95-96 or chapter 2/1.1).

Second you say:


“I don't think I can point to sociologists performing the kinds of things that are closely analogous to the theological activities Lonergan points to in foundations, doctrines, and systematics.”

Well, they and we do, and they will, as the science unfolds and matures.  For instance, on the back-page, as it were: Lonergan gives the GENERALIZED ideal in foundations as conversion.  He’s talking about a very general but also concrete praxis here. The equally-broad but lesser alternatives to across-the-board conversed praxis are (1) commonsense praxis, and (2) nihilistic praxis. (You choose.)

Foundations, in that sense, could very-well be referred to as “praxis.” But as un-thought-out in the concrete world we live in, most if not all of us are a mixture of all three, and at variable times in our lives (See Piscitelli’s work on this—you can ask him for that paper, but I don’t think it’s published. Or you can find some of it in his recent philosophical work: Philosophy: A Passion for Wisdom. Frederick MD: PublishAmerica LLLP, 2010.)

But some philosophical detective work will afford broader insights as to how such a scheme (1) gives general outline to all activities in concrete all fields/subjects as they are emerging (developmental/genetic “is” and, thus a critically-established ought;” but also (2) anticipates where the fields are already going in the messy fashion that we do, and considering the counter-work of the many biases and counter-positions, not to  mention evil.
.
Third, you say:


“Methodologists different from scientists and theologians in that they have to walk a tightrope between description and explanation, on the one hand, and prescription, on the other.  Methodologies have to be prescriptive if they are going to guide scientists and theologians in their inquiries.”

Yes—but the problem is, there is nothing wrong with this, as long as proper differentiations are maintained. Also, in that deeper methodological vein, following the method of mind is not a trap nor is it merely an ought. It’s the conditions for developing methodologies and science in the first place.

Fourthly, you say:


“It is a further stretch to tell theologians that they ought to collaborate by systematically distinguishing eight functional specialties.  It is telling them to do something that they are not yet doing by arguing that the ‘roots’ of the kind of collaboration Lonergan advocates are already there in what they are already doing.  It is a further stretch still to say to sociologists, you ought to create a division of labor in your discipline that is analogous to the division of labor Lonergan had advocated for theology.”

Certainly, at first, and from a multiple-counter-positional "position," it's a stretch. And It's indeed an ideal and, therefore, a stretch at present, to think that a powerful center will emerge and come forward from any of the fields to even address such (might I say important?) philosophical issues head-on--at present.  It'll take some open, intelligent, and enduring leadership, to be sure. I do see things moving in that direction--as they would, if Lonergan's work has merit, and it does.

However, as suggested above, we can see the outlines emerging already. Having the conceptual frame gives us a map, as it were, a philosophical touchstone that we can keep close--like a mission statement of sorts or as Phil suggests as a standard model, to understand and follow (a) if we want to avoid straying and stay on track; and (b) if inter-field communication and an inter-relation/unification of the sciences and fields is anticipated and desired (if we want to know if and how they are all related).  If we don’t blow ourselves up or let our planet die first.

Best, Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 16, 2012, 09:34:06 AM
Hi Art:
This is in response to your December 14 discussion of “pure” in Lonergan’s writings.  You say: “My understanding of ‘pure’ is very different from yours. Lonergan, as far as I know, doesn’t use the term ‘impure’. If I was to make a contrast it would be ‘pure’ and ‘complete’.”  I agree that Lonergan does not (as far as either one of us knows) use the term “impure.”  I also agree that it is important to distinguish between: (1) striving to interpret what Lonergan meant in a given passage in his writing, or, as in this case, the range of meanings he attributed to a word in a variety of passages, and (2) reacting to what I understand Lonergan to have meant.  My writing is often a reaction to what I understand Lonergan to have meant, and I will try to be more clear about when I am interpreting and when I am reacting.

Art: “In my understanding when Lonergan is talking about the pure desire to understand or the pure cycle of an economy etc., he is not speaking ideally. Rather he is talking about the processes that actually constitute knowing or the processes actually constitute the economy. In other words, he is speaking about a theory of knowing or a theory of the economy where theory grasps the set of significant, essential and relevant elements and their relationships that constitute knowing or the economy. Without the occurrence of these elements in certain relationship neither knowing nor an economy would occur.”


Dick: I believe that L uses “pure” analogously, rather than univocally, in these two contexts.  When he writes of the “pure desire to know,” he is writing about a concrete universal, a constitutive aspect of every human person, something that he claims to have identified within his own conscious inner life (interiority), something that he believes each one of us will be able to identify within his/her own conscious inner life in the process of self-appropriation-affirmation.  I also believe that he makes a tacit comparison between the intellectual pattern of experience, in which the pure desire to know dominates other desires, and the other patterns of experience – especially the biological, aesthetic, and common sense patterns, in which other desires take precedence over the desire to know.  The desire to know does not completely disappear when I am in these other patterns of experience, but it is “impure” because I make it subservient to the satisfactions of desires other than the “pure” desire to know.

He is talking about something very different when writing about the “pure” cycle of an economy.  It is definitely not something concretely present in the conscious life of every human.  I do not know it as the result of self-appropriation-affirmation.  The “purity” of the economic cycle is the result of a series of abstractions.  Each and every interaction between two persons is a concrete event.  The notion of an economic transaction is more abstract, in that it abstracts from all of the dimensions of a concrete interaction except for those that involve an exchange in which the values of the things exchanged can be measured in monetary terms.  A further abstraction occurs when economists write about exchanges between collectivities, such as “firms” and “households.”  They abstract from the persons who act as the agents and representatives of the firms and households, and treat the collectivities as if they were the real actors.  But collectivities always act through the persons who serve as their agents and representatives (Eric Voegelin is excellent on this point, in The New Science of Politics).  A further abstraction occurs when economists abstract from the exchanges between concrete collectivities in order to focus on the metaphorical “flows” of money in different “directions” and through different “channels.”  It is on this highly abstract level that Lonergan writes about the “pure” cycle of an economy.  Its “purity” is analogous to the “purity” of the desire to know, but the differences, to my way of thinking, outweigh the similarities.  I do not, by the way, deny that these successive abstractions are "enriching," in L's sense.

Art: “‘Complete’?  The elements that constitute knowing or an economy admit a range of possibilities. …”

Dick: I agree completely.

Art: “Lonergan speaks of a series of approximations as “modern science uses universals as tools in its unrelenting efforts to approximate to concrete process” (Lonergan [1968]1974:104).In “Insight Revisited” (Second Collection:271-272), Lonergan gives the following example as an explanation of the movement of the planets. Newton’s planetary theory had a first approximation in the first law of motion: bodies move in a straight line with constant velocity unless some force intervenes. … The first law of motion is the pure law.”

Dick:  I agree with your summary of the model, for which I have substituted “….”  The meaning of “pure,” as used to describe the first law of motion, is more similar to what L means by "pure" as applied to the economic cycle than it is to what he means by "pure" as used to describe the desire to know.   

What I have said about these three meanings of “pure” are the results of my attempts to interpret what Lonergan meant by what he wrote.  By way of reacting to what he wrote, I believe that what he meant by “pure” when he was writing about the desire to know does involve a tacit comparison with the “impurity” of the desire to know when it is subordinated to other desires in patterns of experience other than the intellectual.  I say this, even though L doesn’t use the word “impure.”  On the other hand, when he writes of the pure economic cycle, or the first law of motion as pure, the contrast with “impure” is not, as far as I can tell, even tacitly present.

Best regards,
Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 16, 2012, 11:38:24 AM
Hi Catherine,

I don’t think my own work is suffering from my spending time on this forum, or on the Skipperweb list.  Rather, I think that both my teaching and my writing – and even my non-sociological life with family and friends -- it is being enriched.  I have found my discussions on the Polanyi list serve to be similarly enriching.  I have been doing that for about a decade, now, but have just begun to become more active in discussing things with followers of Lonergan.  In many ways, it is bringing back up to conscious awareness a number of things that had slipped down beneath the surface of my knowing and doing.

CK: A couple of things:  (a) from cognitional theory: what is and what ought to be are derivatives of cognitional structure. That is, what is derives from questions for understanding and truth (what is it? and is it so?); and what ought-to-be derives from our questions for what is worthwhile/ and ultimately worthwhile.

Dick: Yes, and beyond that, there are two desires that are constitutive of human nature (what is) that are also norms from which answers to questions of what ought to be must be derived.  The pure desire to know generates the obligation to pursue the truth, and the desire for consistency between knowing and doing generates the obligation to follow my conscience.  Intellectual conversion results in a willingness to spend a significant part of my time in an intellectual pattern of experience, in which the pure desire to know structures the flow of experiencing.  Moral conversion results in a willingness to follow my conscience in all of my actions.

CK: (b) In your later narrative above, you seem to understand that a cognitional theory is not itself a prescription—it’s a theory of what is in/as human cognition.


Dick: I believe that it is possible to write a description and theoretical explanation of human knowing that avoids being prescriptive, but, as I said above, bringing into my conscious awareness just what it that is happening when I am knowing constitutes the factual roots of the “calling” that is inherent in self-appropriation-affirmation.  Lonergan does derive more than one “ought” from more than one “is,” and I follow him in this.  He does tell us what we ought to do, as he must, if he is going to write about general empirical, or transcendental, method

CK: Such oughts then, not only flow from human conscious order (as suggested in [1] above) but they are not without reasons—they are based on cognitional fact.


Dick: Yes!

I had written: “I don't think I can point to sociologists performing the kinds of things that are closely analogous to the theological activities Lonergan points to in foundations, doctrines, and systematics.”

CK: Well, they and we do, and they will, as the science [sociology] unfolds and matures. 

Dick: Your arguments, which I am not going to quote in their entirety, have persuaded me to rethink this.  I turn to two sources for this rethinking: (1) my conversations with other sociologists, along with my reading of their books and articles, and (2) my continuing efforts at self-appropriation-affirmation, especially in my sociological praxis.

CK: Foundations, in that sense, could very-well be referred to as “praxis.” But as un-thought-out in the concrete world we live in, ….”

Dick: This takes me back again to Alvin Gouldner’s call for a “reflexive sociology,” in which sociologists would articulate their “domain assumptions.”  He inspired a number of sociologists in the 1970s and 1980s (including me), but, as Charles Lemert points out in “Why Mills and not Gouldner?” (Issue 1.2 in the online journal Fast Capitalism
http://www.fastcapitalism.com/ (http://www.fastcapitalism.com/)), sociologists and others still cite C.Wright Mills a lot, but seldom cite Gouldner.   Lemert (and I) think this is a loss to sociology, but I have to admit that I talk more about Mills to my sociology students than I do about Gouldner.  Lemert's essay is causing me to rethink this, also.

Of interest to me are the following sentences from the “Editorial Introduction” to Fast Capitalism: “We are convinced that the best way to study an accelerated media culture and its various political economies and existential meanings is dialectically, with nuance, avoiding sheer condemnation and ebullient celebration. We seek to shape these new technologies and social structures in democratic ways.”

CK:  You quote what I wrote: “It is a further stretch to tell theologians that they ought to collaborate by systematically distinguishing eight functional specialties.  It is telling them to do something that they are not yet doing by arguing that the ‘roots’ of the kind of collaboration Lonergan advocates are already there in what they are already doing.  It is a further stretch still to say to sociologists, you ought to create a division of labor in your discipline that is analogous to the division of labor Lonergan had advocated for theology.”  Your response is: “Certainly, at first, and from a multiple-counter-positional ‘position,’ it's a stretch.

Dick: Are you saying that my using the “stretch” metaphor in those sentences is an indication that (a) my thinking was from a “multiple-counter-positional ‘position,’” or (b) the way I expressed my thinking was in the language of a counter-position?  I restate what I believe, without using the “stretch” metaphor: It has been and will be difficult to persuade large numbers of theologians to specialize and collaborate by following Lonergan’s prescriptions for the eight functional specialities, and it has been and will be even more difficult to persuade large numbers of sociologists to specialize and collaborate following these prescriptions.

CK: However, as suggested above, we can see the outlines emerging already. Having the conceptual frame gives us a map, as it were, a philosophical touchstone that we can keep close--like a mission statement of sorts or as Phil suggests as a standard model, to understand and follow (a) if we want to avoid straying and stay on track; and (b) if inter-field communication and an inter-relation/unification of the sciences and fields is anticipated and desired (if we want to know if and how they are all related).  If we don’t blow ourselves up or let our planet die first.

Dick: Lonergan has given his followers a map, a mission statement, and a model.  As I said before, I consider myself to be a follower of L, but I think his map needs to be modified if I am going to use it to guide me in my sociological work, and if I am going to try to persuade my colleagues in sociology to let themselves be guided by it in their quests for truth.  I do not think we need a great leader, a hero to whom all agree to follow, but a much more democratic process, in which small networks of collaborators in various disciplines and professions establish stronger inter-network ties.  (Perhaps we will blow ourselves up, or let the planet die, but hope is a virtue.  For me, deciding to have children was an act of hope, as is my decision to keep plugging away at seeking the truth.) 
Best regards,
Dick

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 18, 2012, 06:37:34 AM
Hello Dick:

About work: I'm trying to write--and good writing time is finite. Also, you say about applying FS in sociology:


"I turn to two sources for this rethinking (of FS applications): (1) my conversations with other sociologists, along with my reading of their books and articles, and (2) my continuing efforts at self-appropriation-affirmation, especially in my sociological praxis." 

First, to that I wouild say to be careful to keep sociological and philosophical, et al, well distinguished.  Second, an FS analysis in any field or subject or institution, et al, takes some teasing out, but it’s there, and easier to find as the field differentiates. And we have to get beyond a conceptualist appropriation of any field's narrative forms (more on conceptualism later).

Also, you say:


"Are you saying that my using the 'stretch' metaphor in those sentences is an indication that (a) my thinking was from a 'multiple-counter-positional ‘position,'” or (b) the way I expressed my thinking was in the language of a counter-position?"

Neither.  I was commenting on the real-politic you suggest is the state-of-affairs in sociology. My guess is you are speaking for all of the other fields, including other camps in philosophy. Then you say:

"I restate what I believe, without using the 'stretch' metaphor: It has been and will be difficult to persuade large numbers of theologians to specialize and collaborate by following Lonergan’s prescriptions for the eight functional specialities, and it has been and will be even more difficult to persuade large numbers of sociologists to specialize and collaborate following these prescriptions."

Easier, probably, for theologian since Lonergan was a Jesuit--right openness, wrong reasons.

But first, a comment about methodology in exploring such meaning for others: it’s certainly not about someone merely believing something as the only available and end-all methodology. We have to explain to those who are open to it in a way that they can understand it for themselves and start to recognize it in their own field.

But does it seem to you that, when everything-analytical of consciousness (cognitional theory or epistemology) or of the underpinnings of the academy and culture (FS) is seen automatically as prescriptive rather than analytical, it speaks of (1) a wall of conceptualist assumptions that begin with (2) a recalcitrant refusal to self-reflect, or even to think we can know anything about what we and other human beings are doing before we objectify it; and (3) an ego that doesn’t want someone else to know what they are actually involved in doing, before they do?  (I’m not attacking you—I’m talking about my interpretation of how you describe the basic attitude of many in your field.)

A related story: One experience that inspired me to write my book making clear a way to self-identify the basic structure in anyone’s expressions was when I showed a friend with a PhD in philosophy how to identify her own basic structure in her own interiority. She actually identified it and then said “It’s a trap!” End of experiment, not to mention its enormous implications for her philosophical study, and the start of a great strain on the friendship.

Also, you say:
   

"Of interest to me are the following sentences from the 'Editorial Introduction”'to Fast Capitalism: 'We are convinced that the best way to study an accelerated media culture and its various political economies and existential meanings is dialectically, with nuance, avoiding sheer condemnation and ebullient celebration. We seek to shape these new technologies and social structures in democratic ways.'

As an analytical aside, I think the above quote is an example of systematics moving “down” from doctrines.  Also, first, concepts are important because they formalize data; second, failing to adhere to the precise meaning of theoretical concepts is fraught with potential problems (we can lose hard-won distinctions); and third, paying attention to similarities and differences in such concepts is usually highly creative. Nevertheless, whatever Lonergan says is never an end-all conceptualist scheme, nor should it be, nor should we think in those terms with any theoretical concepts (speaking of prescription).

  Then you quote from my note and follow with a comment:

"However, . . . we can see the outlines emerging already. Having the conceptual frame gives us a map, as it were, a philosophical touchstone that we can keep close--like a mission statement of sorts or as Phil suggests as a standard model, to understand and follow (a) if we want to avoid straying and stay on track; and (b) if inter-field communication and an inter-relation/unification of the sciences and fields is anticipated and desired (if we want to know if and how they are all related).  If we don’t blow ourselves up or let our planet die first." 

Dick: Lonergan has given his followers a map, a mission statement, and a model. 


Yes—but it’s grounded in self-appropriation/affirmation—big empirical difference.

Finally, you say:


"As I said before, I consider myself to be a follower of L, but I think his map needs to be modified if I am going to use it to guide me in my sociological work, and if I am going to try to persuade my colleagues in sociology to let themselves be guided by it in their quests for truth."

The conceptual apparatus can and should be modifed to meet with language and interpretive meaning that is appropriate to each field. However, the basic differentiations should not, in my view--precisely because they are extrapolated from the basic structure and activities of verified conscious structure.  You follow with:

"I do not think we need a great leader, a hero to whom all agree to follow, but a much more democratic process, in which small networks of collaborators in various disciplines and professions establish stronger inter-network ties."

Your import of hero-worship is yours, not mine. Also, some have disagreed with my own interpretation of the FS, i.e., as historically emergent, as grounded in the basic structure, and as intrinsically related to the structure of language--all of which have not been approached here. So you might want to take the above in the context of the potentials of that critique.

Back to work,
Catherine
Title: Burawoy’s division of labour in sociology
Post by: Artfulhousing on December 19, 2012, 10:09:19 PM
Dick has suggested that “there are real advantages to starting with Burawoy’s four functional specializations, rather than with Lonergan’s eight… Burawoy’s divisions are widely known, both nationally and internationally, and he has prestige in the discipline” and “the differences between Lonergan’s descriptions of these functional specialties in theology and anything that sociologists do are very great” (http://www.lonerganforum.com/index.php?topic=40.msg302#msg302 (http://www.lonerganforum.com/index.php?topic=40.msg302#msg302)).

Michael Burawoy in his 2004 Presidential Address to American Sociological Association “For Sociology” (The British Journal of Sociology 56 (2)) speaks about a division of labour within sociology, a division based upon a functional differentiation. He argues that two questions - ‘knowledge for whom?’ and ‘knowledge for what?’ – define the fundamental character of sociology. His answer to each question distinguishes two categories: knowledge for whom? – academic audience and non-academic audience; knowledge for what? – instrumental knowledge and reflexive knowledge. Thus, his division of labour into four types: professional, critical, policy and public.

ISTM that Burawoy is offering a division of labour based upon certain descriptive categories. From the perspective of sociologists it is a good way in which to describe their world: they can turn inward and talk with their colleagues or, they can turn outward and talk with wider world; in this turning, they can either reflect upon their research or, they can manipulate their world. (BTW, Burawoy, in a footnote, also notes the uncanny resemblance to Talcott Parson’s work). In some sense, then, he can talk about the functional relationships between the different types of sociology.

Maybe here we get to the heart of the difficulty we face: what does ‘functional’ within ‘functional specialties’ mean?

This takes me back to the first chapter of Insight and my long struggle to appreciate/appropriate what happens in the moment of ‘insight’. It is a moment in which everything comes together: that which I am trying to understand (as a unity-identity-whole), its (mutually exclusive) elements and their (systematic, i.e. functional) relationships. It is a moment when each is defined in relation to the other, when the pieces of the puzzle are created in such a way that they come together - it is not a matter of arranging prior pieces, even if creatively. It is a moment in which I grasp the complete set of elements and their relationships or their function within the whole. It is a moment in which we work through the ambivalence of the data, select what is relevant, significant and essential and set aside the irrelevant, insignificant and non-essential.

ISTM that Burawoy is arranging prior pieces of the puzzle that is sociology – the pieces being what sociologists are doing. These pieces are the evidence but the evidence is ambivalent, for what sociologists do (and I do) is the product of attentiveness and inattentiveness, intelligence and unintelligence, reasonableness and unreasonableness, responsibility and irresponsibility. Burawoy attributes some meaning to what sociologists are doing and so it can be argued that Burawoy has some sort of insight into sociology. In my view, however, it is a devalued insight, an insight into time-place associations between elements rather than their systematic relations. It is not an insight that distinguishes/grasps/creates a unity-identity-whole, that grasps/creates the complete set of elements that constitute this unity-identity-whole and that grasps/creates the functions that each element plays in the constitution of this unity-identity-whole.

Burawoy uses similar words to Lonergan but his meaning is entirely different.

If we are to understand the functional specialties we need to reach an insight in which the functional specialties are a complete set of mutually exclusive elements; the functional specialties are functionally related to one another as stages/achievements/ends within the process from the present into the future; the functional specialties together constitute the unity-identity-whole that is progress.

We cannot make progress in any field of human endeavour, whether in an academic discipline such as sociology or, in the development of our economy, our social institutions, our culture, our religion and our personal identities unless we work through each of the functional specialties . They are already operative but in a very messy, confused, undifferentiated and ad hoc way. An insight into functional specialties will distinguish between what is relevant, significant and essential in current methods in sociology etc. and what is irrelevant, insignificant and non-essential.

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on December 21, 2012, 10:59:25 AM
Hi Art,

In my conversations with sociologists, except for those who are also followers of Lonergan, I still believe that is is better to start with Burawoy's four functional specializations rather than with Lonergan's eight.  I agree with you that Burawoy's four categories are descriptive, but I believe that this is one of their strengths.  He is describing what sociologists actually do, in terms that make a great deal of sense to other sociologists.  This seems to me to be a very useful way of convincing my fellow sociologists that it is intelligent and reasonable to think , talk, and write about FS in sociology.   The problem with beginning with Lonergan's eight FS is that it is difficult for sociologists to accept that these eight categories do describe what sociologists actually do. 

I think Burawoy takes a step in the direction of explanation by putting his four specialties into the kind of four-box two-by-two diagram that Talcott Parsons made famous.  It is not a complete explanative for the existence of the four categories, but a move in that direction in that it moves away from specifying the relationships of things to an observer and toward specifying relationships among things in themselves.

Burawoy's Four Functional Specializations
                                                          Sociological Audience                                      Non-Sociological Audience
Instrumental Knowledge             Professional Sociology                                        Policy Sociology
Reflexive Knowledge                  Critical Sociology                                                  Public Sociology

Sociologists (or others) might want to modify the way Burawoy characterizes the two dimensions -- the audience dimension and the types of knowledge dimension.  We might also argue that the activities of sociologists vary along more than two dimensions.  These kinds of discussions open the door to bringing in aspects of Lonergan's FS.  For example, I question the adequacy of Burawoy's dividing "knowledge" into "instrumental" and "reflexive."  My problems with this are rooted deeply in my reading of both Lonergan and Polanyi, but explaining my position on would take me far beyond what I am getting at in this post.   

I'm trying to clarify what I believe to be the best strategy for my participating in three distinct networks: (1) sociologists, (2) followers of Lonergan, and (3) followers of Polanyi.  When I am interacting with a member of any one of these networks, I try to use the language that will best communicate what I am thinking, and when I am interacting with a member of a different network, I have to modify my language.  In my post about Burawoy, I am seeking feedback from followers of Lonergan about the strategy I have been using to communicate with sociologists.  In Finding the Mind, Catherine writes about the strategies she has used in her attempts to communicate with students who are also teachers, or preparing to become teachers.  From the perspective of Lonergan's eight FS, she engaged in the FS "communications" in a way that is analogous to the way I am engaged in the FS "communications."

ISTM that you used a similar strategy in your essay, "Comparative Housing Research and Policy."  Instead of using Burawoy's four categories as a point of departure, you used Michael Oxley's four categories: explorers, empiricists, theorists, and scientists.  You go beyond a simple description of those four categories to offer some modifications of them.
 
You criticize Burawoy's model of FS in sociology on the basis of your understanding of Insight, and this is identical to the direction I take in my criticisms of his model.   My point is that his model is a useful point of departure for getting some of Lonergan's ideas onto the table in discussions among sociologists.

Best regards,
Dick   
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on December 22, 2012, 11:14:58 AM
Hello Dick:

Of course naming of any general order of inquiry can be cross-posted, as it were, between fields, and where the meaning and its expression commonly changes from field to field.

However, my suggestion is that, to be critical in any interdisciplinary pursuits, and if you use the term FS in your communications with sociologists, you clarify at least that (1) there ARE great differences in same-term meaning between fields (always a good reminder in any field); and (2) perhaps enumerate some of those differences in meaning as a part of your analysis.
 
The latter, of course, is more difficult—such that we are only at the beginning, and are having trouble with it ourselves.  But let me take a stab at it and hope that others will help with the analysis?

First, I think we have mentioned before on this forum that Burawoy's differentiation of audiences is related to Lonergan's development of the FS.  It would be, of course--precisely because the differentiation of FS in Lonergan’s work claims to be the general, differentiated, philosophical underpinning of all concrete inquiry-to-expression movements in all fields and subjects.

But here goes: Burawoy’s differentiation of audiences is rooted in an inquiry from within the field of sociology and is about the receiver-subjects in subject-to-subject communications. As such, and as you portray it in your notes, his work’s is centered not in the FS of Communications, but rather in analysis (Research) and Interpretation (as Lonergan’s FS). That is, his inquiry is ABOUT an aspect of the specialized field of sociology which, since I last looked, deals specifically with social aspects of human beings, e.g., the question of communications with different audiences. 

On the other hand, when Burawoy chooses how/when/why/to whom he will present, and then actually presents his findings, he is involved in actually communicating. 

Second, when you bring his work into relation with another’s, as we are doing here, and depending on your intent, you will be involved in the functional correlates of dialectic and systematics.  That is, dialectics draws "up" from the history of thought/your analysis/interpretation of it; and systematics draws and flows “down” from the doctrines (theoretical expressions) of Burawoy and Lonergan’s work. All inquiry and its expression is informed by your (and my) foundational comportment.

Third, both Burawoy’s and Lonergan’s analyses, if well-done, are going to be complementary of either field: philosophy and/or sociology. That is, the FS (in Lonergan's technical/theoretical meaning) can inform the field of sociology as generalized functional specializations, and Burawoy’s differentiation of audiences can certainly inform OUR field--since WE have issue as-we-speak with communications. That being said, the FS are philosophical and include reflective considerations of foundations. As such, and between me and you and the lamp-post, philosophy is de facto much more comprehensive. 

Fourth, I think you are familiar enough with Lonergan's work and with some of "us" (regardless of our inner-field/subject conflicts) to understand the radical differences between Lonergan's development of the functional specialties and developments of "models" in other fields, namely in our present conversation, sociology and sociologists.  Art suggests those differences in his note, especially in his later paragraphs.

To be clear, however, and as succinctly as I can:  The FS and general empirical method are grounded and developed heuristically, and where such grounding is given full theoretical treatment; and where theory as such it also given full theoretical treatment; whereas, and though I haven’t read Burawoy, I will guess here (hoping that I am wrong) that Burawoy offers no grounding except in a commonsense though general appropriation of differences in audiences; and even worse, some in the field claim no possibility for grounding to be approached or secured, on principle. (We are all presumably involved in some version of reification.)


Fifth, and too-briefly, we can ask of Lonergan's development of the functional specialties what fields/subjects emerge directly from a specific F/specialty. That is, as philosophy as a field is closely associated with foundations and dialectic so, for instance, rhetoric is closely associated with communications--as a special field with differentiated subjects that, again, upon inspection, will show the re-emergence of the functional specialties as inquiry-to-expression differentiations.

And sixth, the modular layout of Lonergan's FS is comprehensive of, but also abstracts from and, therefore, hides the social aspect of the flow of history. That is, "research" can be understood as what can be "heard" from others in history. Similarly,  "communications" can be understood as what is "expressed" to others in the communal/social flow of emerging history.  With Art's note in mind, I can ask how essential that is to theoretical developments, which is another question.

I do think your openness to such discussion is inspiring,

Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on January 20, 2013, 01:08:01 PM
Hi Catherine,

You wrote: "Of course naming of any general order of inquiry can be cross-posted, as it were, between fields, and where the meaning and its expression commonly changes from field to field.

"However, my suggestion is that, to be critical in any interdisciplinary pursuits, and if you use the term FS in your communications with sociologists, you clarify at least that (1) there ARE great differences in same-term meaning between fields (always a good reminder in any field); and (2) perhaps enumerate some of those differences in meaning as a part of your analysis."

DM: I am more radical, in that I argue that the more significant “differences in same-term meaning” are between individuals, rather than between fields.  To make this as concrete as I can, what you mean by “functional specialization” differs from what I mean by the same term.  We also differ in our interpretations of what Lonergan meant by the term.  I contend that the differences between fields are differences from one field to another in the generally accepted definitions of similar terms.  These are the nominal definitions of terms in the respective fields.  I agree with Lonergan, that real or explanatory definitions are not of terms, but of the realities to which the terms point. 

What I mean by “meaning” is partly expressed by my affirming that it is always a person who means something by a word, proposition, or non-verbal symbol, and by my denying that a word, a proposition, or a non-verbal symbol can mean something by itself.  I regard statements about meaning that assert or imply that meanings are “thoughts without thinkers” to be expressed in the language of the counter-position, a variant of the notion that meaning is a reality that is “already out there, real.”

What I mean by “meaning” gets me into trouble with those who are wedded to the common sense “folk theory” of meaning that found its classical expression in Plato’s theory of subsistent ideas.   

This is closely connected to my agreeing with James Reedy, George Lakoff, and Mark Johnson in criticizing the theory of communication implied by the "conduit metaphor" of communication.  The receiver of a message does not "take out of the words" a meaning that is identical to that which the sender of the message "put into" the words.  The receiver and the sender share the sensible aspects of the words, the marks on paper or screen or the sounds, but they do not share meanings.  

As a critical realist, however, I believe that we have the ability to understand the nature of aspects of reality.  The succession Lonergan points to -- one of the four elements, manifestation of phlogiston, rapid oxidation -- are successively better formulations of human's understanding of the nature of fire.  As we develop a better explanatory theory about some aspect of reality, those who understand the theory embrace meanings that are more similar to the form that gives pattern or structure to that aspect of reality.

Of course, I recognize that in asserting my beliefs in this regard, I could be mistaken.  As yet, however, no one has been able to convince me that the conduit metaphor of communication is an accurate expression of the actual structure of communication.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on January 21, 2013, 12:39:34 PM
Hello Dick:  You say: “What you mean by ‘functional specialization’ differs from what I mean by the same term.  We also differ in our interpretations of what Lonergan meant by the term.”

ck:  We start there—our common (commonsense) and then our theoretical definitions probably differ. But the point for those engaged in cross-disciplinary communications is to begin by understanding that those differences are probably present in the beginning, e.g., what Lonergan means by them in his technical sense.  I hope that it’s the beginning of discourse, and not the end. To me, it just shows the difficulty of the task before us, but not the hopelessness.

ck:  Also, the presence of differences in common meaning is but one reason why we move from common to technical meaning in either/both fields, and why we need to overtly clarify what we mean by the terms we use. This clarification becomes even more important in the human fields where we do not enjoy the relative universality of meaning that those in the natural/physical sciences enjoy (for many reasons).

ck:  But the point is to do what we can to actually HAVE a good beginning for interdisciplinary discourse, for us, in the human fields. But MIS-communication is assured, in common or field discourse, if we try to build that discourse on the mixture of common meaning and/or on unexamined technical terms.  Without an understanding of theory as such (and its need for technical clarity when appropriate), the discourse is pretty-much blocked, if not dead-in-the-water.  We should also mention general bias here—where forging interdisciplinary discourse is stopped-in-its-tracks, not by its stated missions, but by the vagaries of general bias among members of any field.

ck:  But let me speculate here on the deeper philosophical meaning that, it seems to me, bleeds through in your note: with what you say about meaning and interpretation. That is: it seems to me that, to you, such discourse occurs in an historical vacuum, and that, on principle, it’s bound to failure? That is, you seem to assume that the effort is bound to end in misunderstanding for everyone, again on principle, and even that the effort teeters on the capricious—because of the potential for misunderstanding, and because of the operative presence of interpretive principles. That—instead of assuming that, through interpreting meaning, we can interpret correctly; and we CAN arrive at a better understanding, and that, as a matter of assumption, we CAN foster an ongoing inter-disciplinary dialogue again, on principle—though none of it is a done-deal merely by its being potential.
 
ck:  Dick: please assure me that, philosophically, I have read your note wrongly, and that you don’t assume such—because if you do, I must ask:  why are you involved in a discourse at all, if it is, indeed, so arbitrary and even capricious? 

ck: But regardless of my reading, it’s just those philosophical underpinnings that are on trial here, and that Lonergan was trying to bring to light for us all, and especially where the potential for interdisciplinary discourse is concerned.


Further, you say:  “I contend that the differences between fields are differences from one field to another in the generally accepted definitions of similar terms.  These are the nominal definitions of terms in the respective fields.  I agree with Lonergan, that real or explanatory definitions are not of terms, but of the realities to which the terms point.”

ck:  Well, first, the reality is human and, therefore, complex and dynamic. Also, we have in-field theory, and then we want to discourse between-fields—which calls on a further theoretical discipline from us (an understanding of something like the functional specialties). We still need to generalize and clarify the meaning of terms--WHAT we mean and WHAT aspect of reality we refer to.

ck: One way to get there is to recognize that different fields legitimately ask different kinds of questions of that reality. To ask about the philosophical foundations of fields, or of those in it, is not to ask, for instance, psychological or social questions. All fields differ, but also intersect in that way. For instance, philosophy is a singular “field” like any of the social sciences. However, philosophical reality also underpins and operates in all persons and in all fields—this is Lonergan’s field and forte’. But again philosophical questions differ clearly from questions about psychology or the social order. And a person’s and, generally, a field’s philosophical assumptions are there, but often hidden (as I tried to isolate above from your note)—and they affect not only the focus of our inquiry but the assumptions about the reality and import of our findings.

We get into trouble when we assume philosophical coherence in our discourse when there is none. Also, a distinction is not necessarily an unrelated division—so that, understanding the distinction, and healing the false division, between “thoughts and thinkers” is a task for all of us.


You say:  “I believe that we have the ability to understand the nature of aspects of reality.” 

ck:  It’s through language, its meaning, and interpretation, however, that we do that—not capriciously, but in an authentic effort to understand what someone actually means/meant.  Such a reality speaks to the vastness of meaning that we can ask about, as well as to the state of the human spirit that intends it.  But in reading the rest of your note, I’m not sure whom you are arguing with. You won't lose anything, but will gain much, by understanding that you understand and come to know through the meaningfulness of language.

ck: I do think that statements of beliefs alone, however well-versed, do not posit, as example, a view towards critical realism, and cannot ground a grasp of truth or even an intention of caprice, however buried that intention is.  The discourse is, indeed, defunct if that's all we have.  But then, that speaks again to the philosophical assumptions of discussion, e.g., this one.

I just witnessed a wonderful inauguration . . .

Best, Catherine

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on January 21, 2013, 05:08:55 PM
Hi Catherine,

You have the ability to make me reflect again and again upon the structure of my own activities, non-cognitive as well as cognitive.  For this, I am grateful, because I do not claim to have completed the “longer journey” to which Lonergan challenged me when I first read his introduction to Insight.

Although I often write about sociology, I do not see myself as a representative of the discipline, engaging in cross-disciplinary communications.  I see myself as a person, communicating with another person.   This is the case whether or not I am interacting with a fellow sociologist, or a fellow follower of Lonergan.

My insights are into my experiences, and my experiences have been unique, as have the experiences of every other person.  By saying that they are “unique,” I don’t deny that there are common structures, but that the contents of my visual, auditory, tactile, etc. experiences have been different from the contents of everyone else’s experiences.  The background of the experiences I have had as the result of being born to my parents, at a particular time and place, and of having had particular friends, particular teachers, etc., is the matrix of all of my thinking and acting.  It is from that background, that matrix, that I attend to words and propositions, and attribute meaning to them.  When you attend to words and propositions, you attribute meaning to them from a background that is different from mine.

No, I don’t believe that differences in background make communication either arbitrary or impossible.  I believe that despite these differences in background, communication can be highly successful.  But I do not believe that even the most successful communication results in “shared meanings.”  When we both affirm the same explanatory proposition, we do share the verbal formulation that is the proposition, and probably share the verbal formulations that constitute the explanatory definitions of the key terms.  But we attribute meaning to those propositions from our unique, and different, backgrounds.

I embrace a correspondence theory of truth.  Good theoretical explanations are formulations of insights that have grasped important aspects of the forms that are the ontological elements in Lonergan’s “potency,” “form,” and “act.”  But I do not believe that we arrive at absolute truth by our theories, which means that I do not believe that our theoretical formulations correspond perfectly to the forms that are constitutive elements of reality.  Our theories always remain corrigible.  I don’t think that this makes the quest for better theories arbitrary, hopeless, or capricious.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on January 22, 2013, 08:46:12 AM
Greetings Dick:

You say:
 

“Although I often write about sociology, I do not see myself as a representative of the discipline, engaging in cross-disciplinary communications.  I see myself as a person, communicating with another person.   This is the case whether or not I am interacting with a fellow sociologist, or a fellow follower of Lonergan.”

Ck:  Of course you are—we both are individual “fellow” persons communicating with one another. AND we are engaging in cross-disciplinary communications—from checking our past notes here, and our discussing Method’s content (the FS)—which is about exactly that.  Or have I missed something?

Ck:  And you say:


“But I do not believe that even the most successful communication results in 'shared meanings.'  When we both affirm the same explanatory proposition, we do share the verbal formulation that is the proposition, and probably share the verbal formulations that constitute the explanatory definitions of the key terms.  But we attribute meaning to those propositions from our unique, and different, backgrounds.”

Ck:  Yes and no.  Yes—I cannot be you, nor live your history, nor you mine. (good thing!)  We All have that unique aspect. But no, that uniqueness is not all that we are--not our whole reality. (You are sharing the general notion of uniqueness with me now in this discussion, and I understand it--we have shared it.)

Ck:  We can and do share meanings (through language, understanding, and correct interpretations)—we can all share the meaning of E=MC2 and understand it exactly and precisely; and in our case of philosophical-theoretical meaning, general empirical method. From whence empathy, if not from shared meanings? (Perhaps I haven't understood your meaning?)

Ck: But If you’ve read my book (which I know you are in possession of), you’ll see my reference to what I call shadow questions. These are the generalized questions that we all share as general or as kinds of questions. For instance, we all share what it means to wonder and experience it as it emerges into our “what is it?” kinds of questions, and we can understand that others experience specific and unique questions, like “what does she mean?” but also we all experience the same shadow question at the same time we experience the uniqueness of that question, in its general way: what is it.

CK: Such sharing is not problematic if we understand the difference between the domain of relating things to ourselves (the technical definition of commonsense), the generalities that come from purported and real commonsense wisdom (e.g., don’t spit in the wind); and full generalization that seeks the universal as relating things to one another (the technical definition of theoretical/scientific meaning/science). All are distinct and legitimate fields of meaning—the latter two are that through which we share the meaning of the first and through which we can correctly interpret and understand others. Enter: simile, metaphor, analogy, parables, etc. But of course we can set these up as mutually exclusive choices, and make commonsense and our own uniqueness a priority as the only real we can have, if we want. But then "sharing no meaning" is not how we actually go about living and knowing in that living.

Ck:  MightI say that we don’t leave reality behind because we are involved with meaning in the world? On the contrary: we understand and then come to know the real through our intentional processing of its meaning—we grasp the real in our reflective understanding and then our judgments about it. The understanding process takes us far beyond merely seeing and far beyond the mere vagueness of our imaginings.

Ck: Finally, you say:


“I embrace a correspondence theory of truth.  Good theoretical explanations are formulations of insights that have grasped important aspects of the forms that are the ontological elements in Lonergan’s ‘potency,’ ‘form,’ and ‘act.’  But I do not believe that we arrive at absolute truth by our theories, which means that I do not believe that our theoretical formulations correspond perfectly to the forms that are constitutive elements of reality.  Our theories always remain corrigible.  I don’t think that this makes the quest for better theories arbitrary, hopeless, or capricious.”

Ck:  glad to hear it, at least in part (I think you are conflicting with your own statements here?).  My point, if you are interested, is that naïve realism (and other counter-positions), if we are to follow it to its logical conclusion, sets us up philosophically to be just that: arbitrary, hopeless, and capricious, and the implications on the good and morality is that they land far away from anything we mean by real. But those who hold such views tend not to follow the implications of those views—too scary. So we end up philosophically bifurcated and afraid of the implications of our views, and also of the implications that would flow from unearthing the problem—though such courageous self-reflection is where our unity of spirit can be found.

Ck: Also, in this case of the metaphysical elements above (developed in Insight) these are theoretical developments, but are also concretely identifiable—those sections in Insight explores them as such.  As concrete, however, they underpin the relationship between the unique aspects of our lives that you speak of above, and heuristic theoretical developments.

Ck: Also, you comment above that: “But I do not believe that we arrive at absolute truth by our theories, . .  .”  Philosophical theories are a bit different here. But it’s a big issue—the notion of absolute truth. The correct treatment (meaning: empirically established-able and heuristic) is developed in Insight in the chapters on knowing, particularly in his treatment of the virtually unconditioned.   

I hope I haven’t been too annoying, 

Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: mounce on January 23, 2013, 03:43:48 PM
I think everyone can benefit from Lonergan's presentation of inverse insight, dynamic knowing, and virtually unconditioned by how they underlie his notion of unrestricted being.  For me, they roughly correspond to three favorite tautologies, *reducto ad absurdum*, *modus tollens*, and *consequentia mirabilis*, for description, and not  to test consequences that might logically follow on such assumptions.

Poundstone made a nice observation about a possible difference in understanding between someone who looks at a map of England and someone who has sailed around it.  I'm also inclined to the incontrovertible features that Adrial expounds, and I trust thermodynamics and conservation as law (i.e., features that cannot be either proven or derived-they just are).  Again, for me, BL's notion of unrestricted being comes closest to capturing it all.

"And, it is a structured notion" (editors construction because the tape ran out)  Halifax lectures
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on January 24, 2013, 09:41:03 AM
Hi Doug:

Here is a relevant quote from Lonergan:

"Basically the issue is a transition from the abstract logic of classicism to the concreteness of method. On the former view what is basic is proof. On the latter view what is basic is conversion. Proof appeals to an abstraction named right reason. Conversion transforms the concrete individual to make him capable of grasping not merely conclusions but principles as well" (Method in Theology/1972/338).

From how I understand it, the tautology problem is based on the thinker not having made that historical and self-reflective turn.

The problem then concerns the reader's personal foundations as distinct from the objectification of them or of anything else; so that, from an already-entrenched classicism as the reader's foudandational lense, as it were, the reader of Lonergan's work itself  starts with that view and, thus, the only way to end is--you guessed it--a tautology wrapped up with conceptualism.  Without a hint of that turn, Lonergan is just another word-flapping philosopher dealing with what cannot possibly be real.

I guess we could refer to the problem as a philosophical surd--one that has been systematized in most communications in the western-influenced world and, thus, has reach gargantuan proportions. Critical-philosohical self-reflection is way-far off the horizon, but still throwing some light from below and behind the horizon?  The surd, if we can call it that, however, differs in commonsense and in academic communications. That is,  commonsense has some legitimacy in being involved in here-and-now extroversion; whereas, the academy has reflectively appropriated, in a half-cooked sort of way, several poorly wrought philosophical (counter) positions.

I like the poundstone reference.


Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on January 27, 2013, 01:55:58 PM
Hi Catherine,

I believe that the meanings we attribute to words, propositions, and other cultural symbols are analogous, rather than identical.  Analogues are similar in some respects and different in other respects.  The better our communication, the greater the similarities between our meanings, and the fewer and less important the differences.  Because our communication is never perfect, we can never know whether or not the differences between what's in your mind and what's in mine have completely disappeared.  If I were to agree to the proposition that we share meanings, I would be agreeing also to a belief in perfect communication.  For me to assert that we share meanings would be for me to claim to know something that I cannot know, because of the imperfection of all communication.  When you assert that we share meanings, I am never sure whether or not you mean it in the strong sense of "absolutely identical meanings in your mind and mine," or the weaker sense of "very similar meanings in your mind and mine."  If you mean it in the weaker sense, then we agree.  If you mean it in the stronger sense, then we disagree.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on January 28, 2013, 09:35:05 AM
Hello Dick:

Well, let me say first that underneath such communications as this is the question of “What do you mean by knowing?” And then by "the real." and then we have the question about whether such knowing has any objective status, which brings us to the question: “What do you mean by objectivity?”
 
All of those questions, and their different answers, and the philosophical comportment they leave us with, inform the notions of such statements as yours below: 

(You say) “When you assert that we share meanings, I am never sure whether or not you mean it in the strong sense of ‘absolutely identical meanings in your mind and mine,’ or the weaker sense of ‘very similar meanings in your mind and mine.’"

But here is a question for you:  If I refer here to President Obama, do you think I mean by my reference “some very similar meanings in your mind” held together by the concept or analogue: President Obama? Or do I mean some clear and "strong" identity of the man who is our president?


The above brings out the prior questions about knowing, the real, and the objective status of your and my knowledge--that is of course informed by meaning.  Certainly, I don't mean merely a vague imaginary picture of the president, but also an intelligible person who holds an intelligible office in an intelligible country--objectively and about which we can both know "strongly."  Nor by "President Obama" do I mean "Martin Luther King."  And just as certainly, by "strong" I mean you already know the difference; and I do not mean that either of us knows or wants to know everything there is to know about Obama, the US, or the presidency.  If you mean by "strong," to know everything about everything, I would still not think that our shared or limited or even different meanings and knowledge about Obama are "weak." 

So if you notice, first, we are no longer talking about the functional specialties and, second, that we have drifted from a discussion about meaning (understanding) to truth (knowledge) and the real (metaphysics)--all of which are prone to be associated with certain counter-positions that are explored quite well, I think, in Insight.

I know I am sounding awfully much like a pedagogue, but I'll take that chance:  May I point you to those chapters in Insight?--on things, reflective understanding, and objectivity? And I would add that these are not arbitrary assertions albeit from a very smart philosopher/theologian, but rather afford us a "strong" depiction of the philosophical nature of human beings that accords with what we actually do when we are involved in the process that begins with wondering-about . . . . 

The irony is that, for instance, most of us harbor different understanding of terms like objectivity, meaning, knowledge and the real.  But if we didn't assume that we can know what someone else means by such terms and, further, that there is some touchstone to their reality, and a method through which we get there, then we should quit the field and go on our merry way, if we were to be honest about it.   I don't want weak, I want strong and, I think in fact, we have it.

The further point is that using all of the attributes of language does not mean that we have less meaning, knowledge, objectivity or reality. Rather, having language means we can ask the kinds of questions that we do in the first place. Language is not only that through which we express ourselves; rather it's also foundational to our being. So that it's through language that the strength of meaning comes.

Best,
Catherine
Title: Inner dynamics of insight and functional specialization
Post by: jraymaker on January 30, 2013, 03:56:23 AM
Catherine, Dick

  I would like to comment and give brief references to the issue of Lonergan and Lakoff you address.  I will first instance a quote from a paper to be found at

http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/03/wildgen/

The "dynamic turn" in cognitive linguistics
Wolfgang Wildgen, Faculty 10: Languages and Literary Studies, Universität Breme

  In his abstract Wilgen asks:  Why did linguistic structuralism fail as an explanatory endeavour? Why is the understanding of the dynamics of language a primordial goal of linguistic theory? In order to give an explanation of the notion "dynamics" basic notions of dynamic systems theory are introduced informally. Following these questions the paper considers major proposals by Talmy, Lakoff and Langacker and asks how they account for the dynamic aspects of causing/enabling (Talmy's force dynamics), for iterated metaphorical mapping (Lakoff) and for syntactic composition ("construal" in Langacker's terminology). The ad-hoc pictorial models proposed by these authors are compared to mathematically controlled models in dynamic semantics (based on catastrophe, bifurcation and chaos theory). Shortcomings and advantages of the informal and pictorial versus the mathematical description are discussed. The dynamics of phrasal and sentential composition is currently one of the central topics of neurodynamic models based on ERP and fMRI brain scanning. This perspective must be further developed in order to specify the possibilities of future dynamic semantics of natural languages.

1. Why did linguistic structuralism fail as an explanatory endeavour?
Cognitive linguistics has inherited basic orientations and delimitations from structuralism as it was programmatically stated by de Saussure and Hjelmslev. This dependence is obscured by the fact that both the Chomsky and the Langacker/Lackoff line seem to descend from later "revolutions". The Chomsky revolution against the classificatory and taxonomic trends in postwar American linguistics (Harris, Pike) programmatically introduced creativity, generativity and transformation into the static world of the patterns of usage uncovered by descriptive techniques (discovery procedures and classification based on distributions). In reality, the rather informal nature of discovery procedures and classificatory methods has been replaced by a much more rigid algebraic formalism. For Chomsky (1957) language was considered as a non-finite, but denumerable set, which could be defined via an algorithm, whereas his teacher Harris rather had tried to give a mathematical shape to the methods of linguistic research. The major arguments for the necessity of Chomsky's rigour derived from Bar-Hillel's (1950) proof that a distributional (purely algebraic) definition of classical notions like word classes was not feasible.  One could say that by a strange parallel fate the formalization of Saussure's structuralisms by Hjelmslev was repeated by Chomsky/Bar-Hillel vis à vis American structuralism (in the tradition of Bloomfield, Bloch, Trager, Pike). Lakoff's and Fillmore's second "revolution" turned against the formal language analogy, but it also returned to post-Saussurean developments like those in the German "inhaltsbezogene Grammatik" of Leo Weisgerber and to a Whorfian view on language and cognition (Weisgerber had preferred to label it "Humboldtian"). All these turns and revolutions did not really abolish the Saussurean verdict against historical dynamics and against the consideration of language to be dependent from variations in social contexts and individual ontogenesis. The rejection of evolutionary considerations had already been banished by pre-Saussurean verdicts in Europe after 1850. END quote

   It seems to me that relating Lakoff to Lonergan is in need of the historical contexts and aims that led to their respective works. As Catherine argues, Lonergan took great pains to address the philosophical issues and contexts. Lakoff's work seems to address itself to common sense usage of language with a smattering of references to how he began to differ with his teacher Chomsky. Lakoff enlisted such collaborators as John R.  "Haj" Ross and Jim McCawley in his programme.

  Language and linguistic theories have their own dynamics as the above quote argues.  Lakoff is concerned with these dynamics. Lonergan is concerned with the inner dynamics of the human mind as operative in the human mind, in insight and functional specialiyation. These dynamics also underly the study and applications of  conceptual metaphors

John
Title: Data of sense and of consciousness in modern thinkers
Post by: jraymaker on January 31, 2013, 02:11:18 AM
Dick,

 Some questions I have as to Lakoff is to what extent does he refer to such great students of language as Saussure, Helmjev, Wittgenstein, Jakobson etc. or into the modern problematical areas of poststructuralism, deconstructionism, postmodernism.
 
  GEM turns on the data of consciousness as integrated with the data of sense and it suggests how "the development of language fuses with the development of knowledge" (Insight 1958, p. 555).
 
  Even a rather good philosopher of language such as Donald Davidson rejects the idea of mental events in. his truth-conditional semantics. He also rejected the conception of linguistic understanding as having to do with conventions or rules. Where does Lakoff stand on that?
 
  I have downloaded Lakoff and Johnson's book but did not see them going deeply into such issues. They seem to address themselves less to an schema of explanatory knowledge (as theory) and more to commonsense life processes. Others on the Lonerganforum have asked such questions.
 
  Already in Verbum, e. g. p. 185, Lonergan went deep into the habits of human intellect as "NOUS, grasping the point, EPISTEME, grasping its implications; reflective SOPHIA and PHRONESIS, understanding what is and what is to be done, and finally TEKNE, grasping how to do it."
 
  While some praise Lakoff's latest book, "Women, Fire and Dangerous Things", they also caution that his
approach has certain inherent weaknesses such as the assumptions he makes. See this site 
 
http://cogweb.ucla.edu/CogSci/Lakoff.html
 from which I here quote:
 
 "Lakoff's approach of developing a general model of cognition on the basis of semantics has certain inherent weaknesses, in spite of its spectacular results. It cannot be taken for granted that semantic categories accurately represent cognitive domains--language may have access only to the output of other cognitive modules, and their domain-specificity may be partly elided by linguistic categories. For this reason, evidence for cognitive domains must be sought and demonstrated independently of language. However, semantics can be utilized as a way of generating hypotheses about domain-specificity, which can then be independently verified.
    The presence of cognitive domains also raises the question of how these came about. Lakoff assumes they flow out of our physical constitution and the nature of the world; a more precise way of speaking about this is evolutionary psychology. A consideration of the environment in which humans evolved would permit us to map the source domain onto a proper domain, and thus generate a more detailed list of properties and entailments. Such historical considerations would also allow us to provide principled answers to which domains do not have their own preconceptual structure: namely, domains that either did not exist in the ancestral environment (agriculture, most forms of technology, civilization) or domains that were not available or significant to survival (microbiology, quantum physics, chemistry).
     Moreover, Lakoff's notion of metaphor as a mapping from one cognitive domain to another as "one of the great imaginative triumphs of the human mind" has been echoed by the British paleo- anthropologist Steven Mithen (1996), who has suggested that the transition from Neanderthal man to Cro Magnon is marked precisely by the ability to "switch cognitive frames": the paleolithic blossoming in art may be correlated with the ability to think metaphorically.
     Lakoff's proposal on metaphor is a particularly pregnant one for literary studies-- not because ordinary speech is mainly literal (it clearly is not), but because literature is a deliberate forefronting of linguistic devices, a cultivation of special effects. Clarifying what is the source and proper domains of a metaphor promises to throw light on the way meaning is constructed in reading".
 
   This latter phrase brings us into the issues of Constructivism in science, ethics, mathematics and also into Gödel's theory of the constructible universe and the foundations of logic which BL does not ignore,
 
John
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on January 31, 2013, 09:18:34 AM
Hi John,

I will be interested in the answers you find to the questions you are asking about Lakoff's references to other great students of language.  I have explained what I mean by "data," and how it differs from what I mean by "experience."  I don't regard my experiences to be data until I have represented them symbolically -- put my experiences into words or other kinds of symbols.  This is how I interpret Lonergan's "objectification," but I am open to being corrected on that interpretation. 

I use "generalized empirical method," but by that phrase I simply mean that I regard what you and I (and others) say about our covert experiences constitutes valid data.  It is a rejection of the behaviorists attempts to eliminate from scientific discourse all "mentalistic language."  I don't use the acronym "GEM" because I believe that you (and others) mean much more by it than I mean by "generalized empirical method."  More specifically, using "GEM" as you do seems to entail total agreement with the way Lonergan has described the eight functional specialties.  I have some disagreements, and have not been persuaded that I am wrong.

If Davidson denies that there are mental events, then I judge him to be mistaken.  Moreover, I consider his denial to be an overt linguistic act that expresses his covert judgment, and that covert judgment is an example of what I mean by a mental event.  His denial that there are mental events also leads me to deny that he is a good philosopher of language, despite the opinions of other philosophers. 

I don't rely much on Lakoff for my understanding of rules.  I think Stephen Turner in Explaining the Normative clarifies the issues better than anything else I have read.  I rely on Lakoff and Johnson for my understanding of metaphors and radial categories, and upon Turner for understanding the normative dimension of rules.  I don't either pretend or aspire to giving a complete exegesis of the thinking and writing of either Lakoff or Turner.  I use them to help me develop my own thinking.  There is a sense in which I use Lonergan and Polanyi in the same way, but I read them in a way that has been much more formative of my whole way of thinking.  My reading of Lakoff and Turner has been more recent, and my reading of them much more selective.

I think that Lakoff and Johnson do think and write theoretically, even though they often take common sense as the object of their theoretical thinking.  Lonergan also wrote about common sense as object, and this constitutes a very large part of sociological theory.

Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things appeared in 1987, and Lakoff has published quite a bit since then.  I don't think, however that he has given up the following four commitments, which he sets forth on p. xv: "(a) a commitment to the existence of the real world, (b) a recognition that reality places constraints on concepts, (c) a conception of truth that goes beyond mere internal coherence, and (d) a commitment to the existence of stable knowledge of the world."  I have been committed to these four things since I began reading Lonergan and Polanyi in 1957 and 1958.

The authority you quote says: "Lakoff's approach of developing a general model of cognition on the basis of semantics has certain inherent weaknesses, in spite of its spectacular results. It cannot be taken for granted that semantic categories accurately represent cognitive domains--language may have access only to the output of other cognitive modules, and their domain-specificity may be partly elided by linguistic categories. For this reason, evidence for cognitive domains must be sought and demonstrated independently of language. However, semantics can be utilized as a way of generating hypotheses about domain-specificity, which can then be independently verified."

Lakoff does not develop his model of cognition on the basis of semantics alone.  In Philosophy in the Flesh(p. 96) he and Johnson say:
"The research paradigm of the Neural Theory of Language Group at Berkeley (the NTL paradigm) is a multilevel paradigm, in which each level contributes something necessary to explanation in cognitive science. That is, such a model implicitly claims that in an explanatorily adequate cognitive science there are truths at each level that cannot be stated adequately at some other level. The NTL paradigm is an instance of a common paradigm that most cognitive scientists share, at least in principle."
They elaborate the three levels of the paradigm further on p. 110.  The top level is "cognitive," middle is "neurocomputational," and bottom is "neurobiological."  They say:

"In this paradigm, the top level is a description of cognitive structures and mechanisms in functional terms. It includes such notions as phonemes, verbs, and concepts. The bottom level is a description of the neural system of the brain in biological terms. It includes notions of ion channels, axons, dendrites, synapses, and so on. The role of the neurocomputational level is to link the two—to model the neural structure of the brain or some aspect of it, while using that model to account for aspects of thought, language, and other cognitive functions."

That, ISTM, goes far beyond a merely "semantic" approach to developing a model of cognition.  Your authority's assumption about Lakoff's approach makes me skeptical of his criticisms of Lakoff's assumptions.  I think he or she uses a misinterpretation of Lakoff as a point of departure to promote his/her own theories.  I have nothing at all against people presenting their theories.  I do have something against using misinterpretations of others as "straw men." 

Best regards

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: mounce on February 01, 2013, 10:44:04 AM
Hi Dick, in your first steps with Lakoff and making reasonable assumptions, have you reflected much on the two important modifiers in commitment "a)"?  Why do you need to modify your commitment to, "the world", with, "existence", and, "real"?  In other areas of study (Thomas, for example) the meaning of existence and reality are supported by an entire corpus of work, and I wouldn't think they are therefore words you can assume everyone uses in the same way.  Who doesn't have an existence, for example, or what is unreal?  I'm fond of saying (as another example) that money is unreal, but we believe it is real because it is logical.  I importantly mean quite a bit by that, but I expect most people to be as confused as I was the first time I heard it.

PS - hey cool, html commands are recognized.  Let's <em>say</em> something <strong>stupid</strong for practice.  Oops, looks-like the designers went with deprecated style, oh well.
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on February 01, 2013, 11:30:04 AM
Hello Dick:

I only want to address the meaning of general empirical method here that you mention in your note (I have copied the relevant sections below).

Of course you can assign any meaning to any terms that you want. However, for this technical-theoretical meaning, Lonergan' means two things:

(1) to give a generalized theory of cognition as a basis for an epistemology, ethics, and a metaphysics, and later for the ground of the functional specialties; and

(2) to ask that the reader CHECK THEIR OWN EVIDENCE that the theory is or is not correct--it's not exhaustive, but correct.

So that the theory will remain identified with your own meaning and beliefs, or  "just another theory," as you seem to imply, only if you don't want to ask yourself the questions, like, DO I ASK SUCH QUESTIONS as, for instance, of the general type:  WHAT IS IT?  Further, you can do that in whatever language you like--and it's still a "what is it" type question, or not.

You have my book--I give detailed instructions about one way to go about that. But if you don't want to understand the difference between a self-styled meaning of GEM (common, or your own) and a technical-theoretical meaning, and further, that the technical meaning has a real-referent that is in your own experience of yourself, then there is no point in going further discussing philosophical issues, or whether or not the functional specialties are grounded in what we find when we CHECK THE EVIDENCE and appropriate/affirm the activities that so commonly occur in our interior domain. They do and it is. As Oscar Hammerstein says, without that, the rest is all piffle.

You are really stuck in a kind of halfway house of language: "what we SAY" about general empirical method as our "covert experiences constitutes valid data."   You can SAY that you are wondering and then asking questions; and then you can recognize that, in fact, you are raising them. It seems we've used the fact that we have language to constitute and then systematize an extreme subjectivism/relativism.  It must be difficult to live in that kind of bifurcated philosophical "gap." The material point is, of course, that we don't.

Regardless, my best to you and your students,

Catherine

 
THE BELOW IS COPIED FROM YOUR NOTE:

 I use "generalized empirical method," but by that phrase I simply mean that I regard what you and I (and others) say about our covert experiences constitutes valid data.  It is a rejection of the behaviorists attempts to eliminate from scientific discourse all "mentalistic language."  I don't use the acronym "GEM" because I believe that you (and others) mean much more by it than I mean by "generalized empirical method."  More specifically, using "GEM" as you do seems to entail total agreement with the way Lonergan has described the eight functional specialties.  I have some disagreements, and have not been persuaded that I am wrong.

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on February 01, 2013, 06:15:21 PM

Hi Catherine,

You ask: "If I refer here to President Obama, do you think I mean by my reference “some very similar meanings in your mind” held together by the concept or analogue: President Obama? Or do I mean some clear and "strong" identity of the man who is our president?"

We share many media Images of President Obama -- these images are elements in our shared environment.  I have never met him face-to-face, but I believe the testimony of those who have.  I believe that there is a real person there, and that is very strong belief.  Perhaps you have immanently generated knowledge of Obama, in the sense that you have met him face-to-face.  Then you don't have to depend on the testimony of others, as I do.  Otherwise, you also believe in his real existence, based upon the testimony of others.

I believe that what I am saying here is consistent with what Lonergan said on p 706 of Insight (1957 ed.).  He wrote  that the context of every judgment for every person is the “habitual background” of that person’s mind.  Within this background, both beliefs and “immanently generated knowledge” are in an “unrelenting symbiosis.”  Both serve “to clarify and define, to explain and defend, to qualify and limit, the prospective judgment that one is about to make.”  He said, “there are extraordinarily few items of immanently generated knowledge that are totally independent of beliefs. One does not simply know that England is an island.  Neither does one merely believe it.” 

In terms of your question, I do not simply know that there is a person named Barak Obama who is president of the U.S.  Neither do I merely believe it.  My background clarifies, defines, explains, defends, qualifies, and limits my judgment that this real person is my president.  I believe that your background does the same for your judgment about Obama.  Our backgrounds differ, and so does the full extent of the meanings each of us attributes to President Obama,  even though we both use the name "Obama" to refer to the same person who is repeatedly presented to us by the media, and whom we both judge to be the real man who lives in the White House.

You ask: "May I point you to those chapters in Insight?--on things, reflective understanding, and objectivity? And I would add that these are not arbitrary assertions albeit from a very smart philosopher/theologian, but rather afford us a "strong" depiction of the philosophical nature of human beings that accords with what we actually do when we are involved in the process that begins with wondering-about . . . . " 

Of course you may.  I have been studying these chapters since 1957, and went through them with a man who had studied with Lonergan and who is mentioned in the "Preface" to Insight. I concede that there is more there for me to learn, and suggest that there might be more there for you to learn as well.  But I don't think we disagree as much as you seem to think we disagree about what Lonergan meant by the things he wrote in those chapter.  I believe that we could go through them sentence by sentence, and find that we "strongly" agree about what he meant. 

You have taken my contrast between "strong" and "weak" far beyond what I intended.  I was referring only to what you meant by saying that we "share meanings."  My denial that we share meanings in the strong sense of meaning identical things seems to hit upon a sore point for you, as is my assertion that what you mean by a word or proposition can never be more than analogous to what Lonergan meant by that same word or proposition.  Analogues, as you know, are simultaneous similar and different. 

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on February 01, 2013, 06:30:47 PM
Hi Doug,

You ask: "Why do you need to modify your commitment to, "the world", with, "existence", and, "real"?' I don't.  I was quoting Lakoff.  Nor do I assume that everyone means the same thing by these words.  Catherine has been scolding me for asserting that different people attribute analogous meanings to words [see the cool HTML formatting?]. 

What do you mean by saying that "money is unreal"?   Do you mean something similar to [analogous to] what I mean by saying that "unicorns are unreal"?
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on February 01, 2013, 07:39:00 PM
Hi Catherine, 

After saying that you "only want to address the meaning of general empirical method,' you say:  "Of course you can assign any meaning to any terms that you want."  I disagree.  It might be the case that we disagree about what Lonergan meant by "generalized empirical method," but neither of us can interpret what he meant by those words in any way we want.  To be responsible, we must pay attention to what he wrote, and try to interpret those words. 

You say, in a "technical-theoretical meaning," he means two things:

"(1) to give a generalized theory of cognition as a basis for an epistemology, ethics, and a metaphysics, and later for the ground of the functional specialties; and

(2) to ask that the reader CHECK THEIR OWN EVIDENCE that the theory is or is not correct--it's not exhaustive, but correct."

My interpretation of what he wrote is very different.  In the first place, I think Lonergan distinguished very clearly between a method and a theory.  You say that GEM is a theory of cognition.  Here is what he wrote:

“As we have formulated it, the canon of selection demands sensible consequences.  But it may be urged that the empirical method, at least in its essential features, should be applicable to the data of consciousness no less than the data of sense.  Now, on this matter a great deal might be said, but the present is not the time for it.  We have followed the common view that empirical science it concerned with sensibly verifiable laws and expectations.  If it is true that essentially the same method could be applied to the data of consciousness, then respect for ordinary usage would require that a method, which only in its essentials is the same, be named a generalized empirical method” (IN 72 – 1957 ed.) (In the interest of space, I have omitted a long quotation about generalized empirical method that is on pp. 243-4 of my edition of nsight.)

I maintain that what he meant by "generalized empirical method" is very different from what he meant by a "theory of cognition" or a "theory of knowing."  A method is a way of proceeding; a theory consists of propositions about some aspect of reality.

I understand you to equate GEM with a generalized cognitive theory.  If I misinterpret you, please correct me.  You think you are interpreting Lonergan correctly, which means that you think I am interpreting him incorrectly.  Likewise, I think you are misinterpreting him in a fairly significant way, and believe that my interpretation is closer to what he intended to say. 

When you say, "But if you don't want to understand the difference between a self-styled meaning of GEM (common, or your own) and a technical-theoretical meaning," I understand you to be accusing me of not wanting to understand what Lonergan meant by "generalized empirical method."  I can assure that I do want to understand what he meant, and I don't want to assign a purely "self-styled" meaning to what he wrote.  When I try to understand what he meant, I try to interpret what he wrote. 

You accuse me of being "really stuck in a kind of halfway house of language" and of  having systematized an "extreme subjectivism/relativism" but, in spite of that, you wish me and my students well.  I appreciate your good wishes. 

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: mounce on February 02, 2013, 09:33:29 AM
Hi Dick, fair enough, I thought you were saying you had a commitment to the "real" world, and I typically ask people why they feel the need to qualify the world as real (what assumption do they want carried in that modifier).  I will need to explain my self at greater length later, but we're doing that elsewhere and I look forward to the conversation!

O two souls dwell within my breast
And each this twinship wills to leave;
One bodily in pleasure pressed--
Upon the world all senses cleave;
The other soars above the dust,
Among ancestral souls to weave.
                                   Goethe [Faust, part 1]

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on February 02, 2013, 10:54:09 AM
Hello Dick:

YOU SAY: “I maintain that what he meant by ‘generalized empirical method’ is very different from what he meant by a ‘theory of cognition’ or a ‘theory of knowing.’  A method is a way of proceeding; a theory consists of propositions about some aspect of reality.” 

The question is: “Is there a method of mind and, if so what is it; and further, how do we verify it once we recognize it in operation and understand it, while keeping the critical-empirical methods of the sciences in mind, especially when the data are different from the data of the natural/physical sciences (and commonly thought to be inaccessible on principle)?

Here it is in a nutshell:   

(1) Concretely, the method of the human mind is you and me and our actual thinking processes (cognition/consciousness);

(2) Lonergan suggests that we can generalize science's empirical method to include the data of consciousness, as is stated in that nice quote in your note. Then he identifies and names the method of mind, which cannot be directly seen: general empirical method.

(3) Lonergan generalizes the data to maintain the right and critical relationship between (a)  sciences’ empirical method and (b) the movements of generalized theory formation. Hence, Lonergan develops a THEORY of the METHOD of mind. Thus, we have a THEORY of the METHOD that is the province of data of the actual human mind—named general empirical method.

(4) That THEORY of the mind’s METHOD “consists of propositions about some aspect of reality,” that THEORY is ABOUT 1-above—your and my and everyone’ else’s mind’s METHOD.

Thus, as I regard in my earlier note (added to here for clarity) and which you disagree with, through his explication of general empirical method, Lonergan is giving:

(A) a generalized-theory of cognition that then, through self-appropriation/affirmation, becomes the empirically established basis for an epistemology (theory of knowing/knowledge), ethics, and a metaphysics, and later for the ground of the functional specialties (all of which are developed further in Insight and Method in Theology); and

(B) asking that the reader CHECK THEIR OWN EVIDENCE against the theory (verify the theory) and to find out personally that the theory is or is not correct (self-appropriation/affirmation)--it's not exhaustive, but it's correct.

We also have in Insight:

(5) a THEORY of the METHOD of mind which is developed not only as psychology, but is couched  in a clear and critical PHILOSOPHICAL context. Hence, that theory leads to an epistemology (a theory of knowledge) and a metaphysics (reality/being), and (earlier in Insight) an ethics. 

The problematic (that is becoming epochal, in my view) is rooted in the GENERALIZATION of science’s empirical method to include the data of the mind—which is not directly visible.  This is a stumbling block for naive realism's view and for most who hail from the positivist-science tradition--virtually all of the neuro-scientists who are writing today--with some hints of a breakthrough on the horizon (as I see it).  But this is why I wrote my book—it shows a way (a method) to use a person’s own concrete and particular language expressions to enable the reader to actually "SEE" (understand and follow) and the theoretical SHADOW that is concretely evident in all language expressions. That shadow is constantly THROWN by the actual method of mind operating in all of us. So that there is a verifiable SHADOW LINKAGE, as it were, between (a) anyone’s visible and audible expressions of language and (b) the invisible general structure of consciousness that Lonergan developed in his THEORY of the METHOD of mind: general empirical method.   (We needed a concrete linkage, so I developed one.)

The related problematic situation is that the evidence, that the sciences are so rightly wedded to, is again invisible (at least directly). AND, more importantly, that evidence is in each of us, to be found personally--which is still a no-no in today's world where the subject is methodologically estranged from any notion of objectivity. 

So that: the great insight is that such evidence can be found and verified by each of us in our own interior activities (self-appropriation/affirmation). However, that great insight is surrounded by that same methodological no-no in minds that hail from the postivist era. 

With this THEORY of the METHOD of mind, however, we are both the Petri dish and the experimenter. (Lonergan’s texts are so full of this needed personal reference—it’s silly to quote here—just have a look at most if not all of his writings.)  But that’s why self-appropriation/affirmation is so key to understanding his work--it's quintessentially empirical. But again, if the reader doesn’t want to follow through on finding, recognizing, and verifying the data in their own cognitional activities, then Lonergan’s work will fall under any of the myriad of already-installed counter-positions and misinterpretations flying around with the other theories in the philosophical clouds—with the advent of computer science, the "clouds" is now somewhat of a mixed metaphor, indeed.

Finally, Dick, I’m not “accusing” you of anything; nor do I mean to offend. I’m giving you analysis of what I “see” in your notes that may be of interest to your philosophical self-reflections. If I am wrong in my analysis then I see no evidence of it in your last note. If I offend, however, please know that I am entirely at your service and am sorry-to-the-core that I have done so.

Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: jraymaker on February 04, 2013, 04:41:19 AM
Dick,

    the problem with academia is that there are no longer foundations available for even intradisciplinary let alone interdisciplinary discourse. Lonergan provides a rationale and foundations to address this dilemma.

   The best that many philosophers can do is speak of "foundationalism" . This, to my mind, amounts to all chasing their own tails with no meaningful discourse really occurring.

  One can resort to eclectic approaches, but is that enough? If Lakatoff and Lonergan are both realists--do they complement one another? If they do, how? That, for me, is the crux.

  First, one has to grant that a realist such as Lonergan or Lakoff do get past "foundationalism" and have found a broadly accepted form of epistemic justification.  Otherwise, we keep on talking in circles,

John
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on February 04, 2013, 09:32:42 AM
Hello John:

I think you are right on all counts in your note. In terms of Lonergan's analysis of 20th century (and before) post-enlightenment problematics of the philosophical kind, he talks about the existential gap, which I think is still a precient analysis today in most academic camps--and made systematic by only a half-light shed by the recognition of language as mediator of meaning.  (See note below for existential gap reference.)

Certainly, if reality is "out there,"" then language is "in here" and, thus, has little or no import on that merely "seen" and otherwise-sensed reality.  But if reality is meaningful, and if meaning is what we wonder about, question for insights and then for reflective insights that we then can judge, it is or is not so, then the interpretive frame of language as foundational is what enables us to do so, and to transfer that knowledge from generation to generation. It makes language more, not less, about the real as we all live in it.

As it is, with the existential gap as the assumed philosophical lense, a person cannot even trust their own experience. That is, a person cannot eve recognize (and know as real) when they are actually raising questions and having insights. We can "say" that we do so, but it's not the immediately "out there" kind of reality.

Catherine
 


Lonergan, Bernard J.  F. Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan: Phenomenology and Logic: The Boston College Lectures on Mathematical Logic and Existentialism. Vol. 18, ed. Philip J. McShane, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001 (281-84).
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on February 05, 2013, 06:55:31 AM
Hi Catherine,

In terms of our discussion, I think it is necessary to distinguish between our respective interpretations of what Lonergan meant to say, and what we each assert to be true.  My interpretation of Lonergan is that he consistently distinguished between theory and method.  If I am mistaken about this, then I differ from Lonergan, because I want to maintain that distinction in my own thinking, speaking, and writing.  I use "theory" to refer to an integrated set of descriptive and explanatory propositions, and I use "method" to refer to a set of propositions that are predominantly prescriptive.  I judge a theory to be good to the extent that I judge its propositions to be true; I judge a method to be good to the extent that its prescriptions help me to be effective.   

The most general methodological statements I have learned from Lonergan are the transcendental imperatives: be attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible, and loving.  These are general because they transcend any particular question I seek to answer, any particular situation in which I am called upon to act.  Of course, these prescriptions are based upon Lonergan's theory, in which the distinctions between experiencing, understanding, judging, deciding, and loving are expressed in descriptive and explanatory propositions that you and I agree can be verified in our own personal experiences.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on February 05, 2013, 10:57:43 AM
Hello Dick:
 
Yes:  Lonergan "consistently distinguished between theory and method."  And yes, commonly, method can mean "prescriptive," as you say, or a way to do things.  However, "method" in this theoretical context also refers to how our minds actually work--an analysis of the method of the mind, and not merely a good prescription for doing things.

Thus, in the theoretical context of Lonergan's work, when you say: "Lonergan's theory, in which the distinctions between experiencing, understanding, judging, deciding, and loving are expressed in descriptive and explanatory propositions," he is giving you a THEORY of the METHOD of the mind: general empirical method. 

As an analysis of HOW the human mind already and actually works, we don't need to prescribe the theory in order for it to already be working in us. Thus, we can say, as you did:  ". . . that you and I agree can be verified in our own personal experiences."   Thus, we are not verifying that we can prescribe the method. Rather, we are verifying that, when we pay attention to our own minded operations, this happens to be what we find (and can verify).

Thus, the THEORY is of the METHOD of mind, which is also existential--we can verify it in our own personal experiences. 

If you have Method in Theology, read the first few pages and chapter 1, if you have time.  His meaning of METHOD is not merely prescriptive. That's a commonsense notion of method that you bring to the study--such "bringing" is not "uncommon" to those of us who try to explain what Lonergan meant by METHOD.

Regards,

Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on February 06, 2013, 04:34:19 PM
Hi Catherine,

I think it is reasonable to call the basic structure of human knowing and doing "the method of the mind."  As far as I can tell, we have no real disagreement about that basic structure, or about the necessity for self-appropriation as the way to verify propositions about that structure.  I do not want my desire to use "method" in a way that keeps clear the distinction between "theory" and "method" to obscure the broader area of agreement.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on February 07, 2013, 09:36:24 AM
Hello Dick: 

So you think that we cannot have a theory about how something works (a method, in this case, of the mind), without obscuring the distinction between method and theory?  Or have I misunderstood your meaning? 

Catherine
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on February 08, 2013, 07:07:42 PM

Hi Catherine, 

I think that we can have a theory about how something works, and that a theory about a method need not obscure the distinction I want to maintain between theory and method.  I also think that this is something about which we agree. 

I also believe that one of the benefits of exploring areas of disagreement is clarifying the agreements that constitute the context within which responsible discussions about disagreements are possible.  These agreements are the metaphorical "ground" upon which we stand in carrying out the discussions.

Best regards,

Dick

Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Catherine B. King on February 09, 2013, 11:39:33 AM
Hello Dick:  Okay--back to the language diversion--again. 

That is, you and I can experience wonder and questions as they are raised; and you and I can talk about that experience in a multitude of concepts and metaphors, so that we both know that we are talking generally about the same kind of experience.  We can do so in the same way that E=MC2 refers generally to the same reality that Einstein referred to.  E=MC2 is mathematical language. It's how we go about knowing, and sharing that knowing, just as "raising questions of the type what is it" is a general statement about both our experiences, that we both can share and know.

However, the fact that we go through language to understand and come to know does not negate the fact that we have experiences, or that E=MC2 refers generally to how physics works, the reality of which we can express and communicate to others as shared experiences and/or knowledge through that language.  You and I either have the experience of wondering or we do not, regardless of how we expressed it--in metaphorical or conceptual language.  And if we didn't have language, we couldn't know and share the experiences as we do.

Do you think that having language or using metaphors is a block to our understanding of the real?

Catherine   
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: Richard Moodey on February 12, 2013, 05:55:37 PM
Hi Catherine,

You ask: "Do you think that having language or using metaphors is a block to our understanding of the real?"  No, definitely not.  I think that the acquisition of language by our hominin ancestors was necessary for the development of the progressively broader and deeper knowledge of the real that has been an essential aspect of the story of humanity.

Instead of "understanding the real," I think we might better say "knowing the real."  My knowing of the real is completed by acts of judging, that, as you have often and forcefully pointed out, must follow upon acts of understanding.  Language is important to judging, because I think acts of understanding, especially in the sciences, have to be formulated as hypotheses before they can be subjected to questions for reflection.

Best regards,

Dick
Title: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: JamesLoani on May 27, 2017, 01:38:35 PM
As prior stated Bill.  Faith in God of the O.T. is faith in the same God unless you want to step into any number of various hersies dividing Jesus away from God of the O.T?
Title: Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
Post by: TreyLus on December 08, 2017, 07:23:18 AM
As prior stated Bill.  Faith in God of the O.T. is faith in the same God unless you want to step into any number of various hersies dividing Jesus away from God of the O.T?

I never understood that. Deviding Jesus away from God of the Old Testament, that is. Why do people do this?