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Author Topic: Insight and Method  (Read 60111 times)

Phil McShane

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Insight and Method
« on: July 03, 2012, 07:31:45 AM »
I only found out about this site in recent days and puzzle over its silence. So it seems no harm to break that silence with some musings about Insight and Method, two of its zones. These initial comments of mine seem appropriate for both sites.
The trouble with Insight is its difficulty; the trouble with Method is its simplicity. Let me start with the odder statement, about Method’s simplicity. Method is really what remains of the giant project of the early 1950s, the bigger part of a two-volume work. The creative leap to solving the problem of Cosmopolis did not come till 1965, but in recent times I have mused over the solid possibility that the creative surging of the fifty-year old genius would have broken through to it in those next years because of the fuller context of writing what I can call – Lonergan’s own name for it – “Faith and Insight”. But Jesuit blindness shipped him off to the Greg, where the work became impossible. When he came to envisage writing the second big book in 1966 he talked to me of his basic problem, summed up in his room-paced statement, “I cannot put all of Insight into chapter one!” What he eventually produced was the tired short lightweight book.
Insight, on the other hand, was the isolated symphonic climb of a genius into a culturally-discontinuous heuristic.  Symbolic of that discontinuity is his extraordinary scientific achievement in the heuristics of interpretation in Insight 17, section 3. The creative ventures of Method chapter 7 are just not in that ball park, and Lonergan was quite clear on this: Insight 17.3 “is elitist” (Method, 351), “calling forth vigorous resistance” (Insight, 603).  Might we, forty years after he published his slim description of his solution to the problem of Cosmopolis, begin to ask about, interpret, humbly act about, round about, the X that is glocal functional collaboration?
Phil McShane   

Richard Moodey

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Re: Insight and Method
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2012, 06:49:43 AM »
I discovered this site today, and am not familiar enough with it to be puzzled by its silence.  I have been something of a disciple of Lonergan ever since I read Insight as a Jesuit seminarian at West Baden College in Indiana.  I did not remain in the Jesuits, pursued a degree in sociology, and have been a professor of sociology ever since.  I have been a disciple of Michael Polanyi for almost as many years, and have been much more active in communicating with the followers of Polanyi than with the followers of Lonergan.  One of the reasons is that the Polanyi society has an active list serve.  I was never able to find an on-line forum devoted to the discussion of Lonergan's ideas, and rejoice at having been notified about this site.
One of the ways I believe Method is an advance over Insight is Lonergan's rejection of the faculty psychology he seemed to endorse in Insight.  I learned about this only in 2000, as a result of Vincent Colapietro's comments on a paper I presented at a meeting of the Polanyi Society comparing Lonergan and Polanyi on judgment.  I argued that a major difference between them was that Polanyi did not attribute judging to the intellect and deciding to the will.  Colapietro referred me to Lonergan's The Subject, in which Lonergan rejected faculty psychology.  Subsequently, I discovered that he also rejected faculty psychology in Method.
This has been important to me, because in my work in sociology, judgment is very important.  It is difficult to judge the relative probability of the truth or falsity of propositions about social reality.  It also seems to be that many folks, including social scientists who should know better, are much more confident about the truth of what they assert about social reality than is warranted by the evidence. 
I admit to having been inspired by Lonergan's vision of Cosmopolis, many years ago, and more recently by his vision of functional specialization and the possibility of subsequent integration of new knowledge developed in the specialties.  I have thought about it more in terms of sociology than of theology.  I strongly believe that one of the great needs of social theory is to integrate the findings of cognitive science.  I agree with Lakoff and Johnson that what they call "second generation cognitive science" offers more opportunities for authentic development than first generation cognitive science, which takes too seriously the analogy between humans and computers.
In conclusion, I  hope that this site does not remain silent.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

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Re: Insight and Method
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2012, 08:49:12 AM »
Thank you, Richard, for your posting. The site did not officially launch until this week, when announcements about it went out on a wide scale. Welcome!


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Insight and Method
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 07:49:06 PM »
Hi Concord bridge,
Thanks for your reply,Just a bit of banter,to see us all through the winter,
Hope you all had a merry christmas ,  and a very good economic NEW YEAR.   Ha--Ha--Ha.