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Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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? 

Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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,

Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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.


Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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,

Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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.


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).
Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last post by jraymaker on February 04, 2013, 04:41:19 AM »

    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,

Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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.

Method In Theology / Re: Feedback Matrices
« Last post by Richard Moodey on February 02, 2013, 10:45:03 AM »
Poteat on Matrix

In Recovering the Ground,William Poteat uses "matrix" in a way that I connect to the way John has developed the notion of "feedback matrix" as an element in empowering Lonergan's legacy.  Poteat writes:

"When I say, as earlier, that no ontological dualism between the temporal world in which I live and move and have my being, on one hand, and an eternal realm -- obviously outside time -- on the other, what do I mean? ...

"It is to remind myself of what I deeply believe.  My lively, sentient, motile, oriented mindbody, ensconced in the temporality of the ordinary world of its doings and sayings is absolutely radical, whence the whole texture and weave of the world is given defintion; therefore it is the omnipresent, inalienable, logically necessary matrix within which all my acts of meaning discernment are conceived and brought to term, no matter how abstracted from this matrix are the vectors by which these acts are borne."

Acts of "meaning discernment" are "conceived and brought to term" within the matrix -- his mindbody.  These acts are  "borne."

My point is that both John and Poteat use "matrix" as a conceptual metaphor.  It is not just a poetic decoration of something they conceive non-metaphorically.

Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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]

Method In Theology / Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Last 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,

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