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Author Topic: The ninth functional specialty  (Read 18444 times)

Adrial Fitzgerald

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    • Unrestricted Yearning: A Compendium of Philosophy Based on the Work of Bernard Lonergan
Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2012, 03:57:44 PM »
Terry,

I have no expectation of the sort you mention.  I'm also not dismissing anything connected to Lonergan and his work.  I suspect I won't be able to adequately clarify my intent here.

robert henman

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2012, 04:24:33 AM »
I wish to respond to Fr.Doran’s suggestion regarding a ninth specialty. It seems clear to me that all you require is pointed to in the heuristic description of the second half of page 250 of Method.  There the investigator is asked not only to express his or her full horizon, but is required to press on towards categories of the future. Furthermore, the last six lines of the page name what I think is a clear and discomforting communal task. What each investigator has done is thrown into a common assembly for the group. The outcome is likely to be both an identification of the shortcomings of various investigators, and some consensus on the full heuristic view of the future, “at the level of the times” and “elitist” (Method 350-351). It may be objected that my references to those later pages is to systematic theology, but I think Lonergan was trying to invent a new system of theology. Further I would note – a point made by McShane in his contribution - that Lonergan’s later (286ff) expression of his categorical position would be located in this communal enterprise of page 250. Our challenge, as Quinn points out, is to work out our own personal contribution for that communal effort.

Bob Henman

Phil McShane

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2012, 07:05:10 AM »
Certainly we could debate  on about the nature of functional specialisation but it seems that the nature would be best revealed by simple experiments with some of Lonergan’s suggestions. 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. 
 

Richard Moodey

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2012, 10:28:33 PM »
Terry,

I got my doctorate in sociology, rather than philosophy, because when I was studying philosophy at West Baden College, Fr. Joseph Wulftange, S.J. advised me not to go into philosophy if I wanted to develop the philosophical project Lonergan initiated in "Insight."  This is one of the reasons that, in my posts, I try to answer in terms of my work in sociology.  I also try to use the first person singular as much as I can.  I realize that this makes my rhetoric more "confessional" than many see as being appropriate in intellectual and scholarly discourse.  I believe that the alternative is, for me, an exercise in inauthenticity.  I have to state what I believe, and why.

My degree is in sociology, rather than in anthropology, because at the time I was working on my master's degree, West Baden was affiliated with Loyola of Chicago, and Loyola did not offer a degree in anthropology.  After I left the Jesuits, I applied for graduate work at the University of Chicago, and realized that a PhD in sociology would require just two years more of course work, and a PhD in anthropology would require four years of courses.

Here is a hypothesis about human language that I affirm as more probably true than false.  The evolutionary breakthrough that made it possible for our hominid ancestors to develop language was the capacity to identify with conspecifics.  Michael Tomasello has proposed this hypothesis, and has done some very interesting experimental work with chimps and gorillas, showing that they never develop the ability that human toddlers develop, generally between the twelfth and the twenty-fourth month.   He points out the similarity between what he proposes and what George Herbert Mead called "taking the role of the other."

In "Method," Lonergan cites the work of Gibson Winter's "Elements for a Social Ethic" (86, 113, 248, 249, 357).  Winter relies heavily upon Mead's work.   I take this as evidence that Lonergan was open to seeing his work developed in the direction of greater attention to intersubjectivity.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Terry Quinn

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2012, 08:44:47 AM »
Hi Richard,

Thanks for your comments! And your story. You may be on to other things by now. I’ve been involved in other work the last few weeks, and so haven’t visited this site for awhile. I only saw your comments last night. Part of what I’ve been doing is preparing for my last couple of months of my "calendar-year" (2012) sabbatical, and also thoughts and plans ahead.

Re. intersubjectivity: For my part, I think that you are pointing to fundamental things.

Your last paragraph: “In "Method," Lonergan cites the work of Gibson Winter's "Elements for a Social Ethic" (86, 113, 248, 249, 357). Winter relies heavily upon Mead's work. I take this as evidence that Lonergan was open to seeing his work developed in the direction of greater attention to intersubjectivity.”
 
Lonergan’s work offers help throughout. He is explicit about intersubjectivity in various works, including Insight. In Insight, there is the rich discussion of Ch. 7, cosmopolis, (even pre-cosmopolis) normal “division of labor and differentiation of functions” (CWL 263) with “adaptations of human intersubjectivity to that division and differentiation” (CWL 263).

I’ve played music in amateur orchestras, and the dynamics of intersubjectivity there can be amazingly group-lifting. Different again from the group lift when in a hockey, a five person group manages a complex play that started from the blue line and ended in a goal. And so on….. Everything really. So, part of my take is that within the full context of the book Insight, and much of his  other work, among other things, Lonergan points us to empirical (“generalized”, all data) work needed, the need and possibility of making progress toward explanatory heuristics re. types of intersubjectivity. There are challenges for the community re. “individual subjectivity” too, for example, the need and possibility of working toward explaining even the simplest instances of description. We don't have results on this yet, but some folks in Lonegan Studies are starting to look at these questions. You mention the experiments done with chimps and the like. I’m not up on those details, but have seen a few fragments of work there. Quite an amazing and beautiful thing, the delight and light in the eyes of a child who has a child’s insight, and delightedly tries to communicate. Quite a different thing from “mere" primates. What is that "edge" we have? And yet, for both babes and chimps, our sounds and gestures begin in our nerve endings. See Verbum too, CWL2, p. 14, second paragraph. Ch. 15 of Insight has some important pointings on the future work possible on these problems.

Phil has some very helpful work on language, in his book A Brief History of Tongue. That might fit too with your thoughts on the beginnings of language.

In his great (too advanced for the community just yet)  Ch. 17 of Insight, Lonergan points us toward a remote control of meaning possible, in explanation and description. The elementary sciences are beginning to make progress, pulling at the (neuro-)threads of intersubjectivity, although struggling under “reductionisms” (which in a way makes results there so far all the more impressive!).

Optimistically, mid-aged person that I am, not a student, but also not yet with a wisdom of seniority, I am thinking of the move toward explanation and control of meaning re. “intersubjecvitivity” as something that we can help prepare our youngest generation of students for, by and within, cultivating talk and beginnings of functional collaboration -- all of which also will involve new dynamic types of intersubjectivty!

Terry.

Richard Moodey

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2012, 04:45:14 PM »
Hi Terry,

I agree that Lonergan has a great deal to say about intersubjectivity in Insight..  I suspect that most of the things I have to say about intersubjectivity, he has already written in one place or another.  Where I differ with Lonergan (I think), is the degree to which interaction and intersubjectivity are at the center of my thinking about human thought and action.  This is a work in progress for me.

The notion of "the control of meaning" is one that I don't understand.  The meaning of the phrase is almost totally opaque to me.  It might be because of my belief that "meanings" are not subsistent entities, like Platonic ideas.  I believe that only individual persons can mean things by the words and symbols we use.   I know what I mean by what I say or write, but I don't know what it means to say that I "control" what I mean.  You attribute meaning to my words, but I don't know what I can do to "control" the meaning you attribute to my words.

Best regards,

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

Richard Moodey

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2012, 10:32:15 AM »
In "Cosmopolis and Functional Specialization," I have just posted some of my reflections on the fs "foundations."  I did not say anything about the proposed ninth functional specialty because I don't think that there has been or should be a collaborative functional specialization called "foundations" in sociology.  Therefore, the question of whether or not it should be divided into "horizons" and "categories" does not arise.

Because I'm not a theologian, I'm not going to commit myself to saying that theologians ought or ought not to follow Bod Doran's suggestion.  I have reread the posts on this thread, and regard the disagreements to be political as well as philosophical and theological.  I like Benjamin Barber's statement of the basic political question:  what shall we do when we must do something but are faced with uncertainties and disagreements?  Bob's suggest is that the network of Lonergan inspired theologians agree to split "foundations."   There clearly are uncertainties and disagreements, so the political question is whether or not theologians will employ some method of collective decision-making to follow Bob's suggestion.  This probably will not happen, however, because I don't believe that the network of Lonergan inspired theologians is organized in a way that enables it to make collective decisions and then to take collective actions.

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

Bob Doran

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2012, 02:03:59 PM »
The idea of a ninth functional specialty is not mine but Lonergan's, as is mentioned toward the end of my short article in MJLS. That material is now available on www.bernardlonergan.com, at 98700DTE080. He named it "spirituality." I prefer "horizons." Perhaps someone might address Lonergan on the issue.

Richard Moodey

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2012, 10:05:40 AM »
Hi Bob,

I agree with your argument about "spirituality" being a somewhat risky label for a ninth functional specialty, because it tends to make us think only of  "the articulation of religiously differentiated consciousness," to the exclusion of  "the objectification of intellectual, moral, and affective integrity." 

One of the great strengths of Insight is that Lonergan sought to describe and explain (a) what a person does when he knows, and (b) what a person is knowing when he does those things.  He explains the fact  and the necessity of collaboration in knowing in explaining the relation between believing and knowing.  He goes beyond description and explanation to prescription, telling his readers what they ought to do.  This is made clear in his introduction, when he says that his goal is to assist readers in achieving personal self-appropriation.  He is going to help, but the prescription is there: You ought to do this.  But he doesn't tell his readers to attempt to do something that he has not done himself.  He avoids presenting his personal self-appropriation as a model for readers to follow until the epilogue, where he writes about the change in himself that resulted from his years of "reaching up" to the mind of Aquinas.

Of course, I'm not saying anything that you don't know much better than I.  You have made Lonergan's life and work objects of study to a much greater extent than I.  The most that I can say is that I have used my understanding of his life and work as an inspiration and model for my work in sociology.  But I am very much interested in the relation between description, explanation, and prescription in the writings of others, as well as in my own writing and teaching.

When I think about the functional specialties in terms of description, explanation, and prescription, and then think about functional specialties in sociology, I find that the analogy between functional specialties in theology and in sociology becomes very weak when I get to "Foundations."    I find pretty close parallels between sociological and theological work in the first four fs, but not in the fifth. 

In the case of sociology, I believe that the objectification of the different kinds of conversions is something that individual sociologists do, and ought to do, but I don't believe that it is something that sociologists have collaborated on.  Perhaps we ought to, but that prescription differs from the prescriptive elements in the first four fs.  In the first four, the prescriptions are basically guides to doing better some of the things we already do, collaboratively as well as individually.  The prescriptions for sociology that derive from the theological specialization "Foundations" do not seem to be guides to doing better something that we already collaborate on, even though some of us attempt to objectify our conversions as individuals.

I'm not taking a position on whether or not the theological specialty called "foundations" is currently divided, in practice, into "horizons" and "categories," and ought to be divided more explicitly in order to foster better collaborative work among theologians.  This might be a reasonable prescription for theology.  I question whether or not it's a reasonable prescription for sociology.

Best regards,
Dick

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

Bob Doran

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2012, 05:00:09 PM »
Thanks, Richard. I definitely was thinking of theology, as was Lonergan when he made the suggestion I allude to, but the conversions or their lack establish the horizons in other disciplines as well, as I gather from a number of your posts you certainly are aware, so the point is not limited to theology. The articulation of horizon is a distinct set of operations from deriving the categories, and that's the principal reason for my suggestion.

Richard Moodey

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2012, 05:58:48 PM »
Bob,
I agree that establishing horizons is distinct from deriving categories.  Upon further reflection, it seems to me that although I don't think that sociologists collaborate on establishing horizons, I do believe that there is collaboration in deriving categories.  The collaboration in this, however, seems to be within distinct subsets of sociologists, whether these are called "research traditions," "schools of thought," "theory groups," or "adherents of paradigms."  These proliferate in a manner similar to the proliferation of perspectives in philosophy.   Thomas Fararro writes about "proliferation episodes" and "unification episodes" in the history of  sociology.  Perhaps the different subgroups of sociologists can be said to collaborate in establishing horizons, but within these groups, the religious perspectives of individuals often are quite diverse.
Best regards,
Dick
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac