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Author Topic: The ninth functional specialty  (Read 20979 times)

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The ninth functional specialty
« on: August 10, 2012, 07:26:05 AM »
The short essay entitled "The Ninth Functional Specialty" received some nods of approval when I summarized it at the BC Lonergan Workshop this summer. It has been published in METHOD and is also available on the website www.lonerganresource.com, under "Scholarly Works/Books/ESSAYS IN SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY - AN E-BOOK. I'm interested in seeing what more people think of it. Check it out and let me know. It is attached.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 04:51:29 PM by Forum Administrator »

TomHalloran

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 07:36:08 PM »
If I have understood correctly Bob Doran's concern about the risk of "conceptualistic objectificaiton" with regard to the "normative subject"  especially when located within the structure of functional specialisation, I wonder whether adding another functional specialty to the eight, for which normative subjectivity is already the ground,  doesn't fall prey to the same risk, i.e. a classicist notion of authentic/normative subjectivity.  The objectification/thematisation of the normative subject in all its concrete manifestations is, as stated in the first chapter of Method, is an ongoing and cumulative process (see especially p250 "...a further objectification of horizon").  Again, if I have understood the concerns, then the fact that the eight functional specialties recur would seem to address more effectively, if also historically, and even eschatologically, the "risk of conceptualistic objectification" which Bob addresses with a ninth functional specialty.

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 02:53:11 AM »
I'm not sure this meets the question posed by the essay, which has to do with what the acknowledgment of a further level means for the structure of the specialties. As the essay indicates, Lonergan himself was open to a ninth specialty precisely because of the further level. Like every other specialty, this one too is an ongoing and cumulative process. The ninth specialty would be the ongoing and cumulative objectification of the concrete universal that is the normative subject.

Forum Administrator

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 07:36:04 AM »
More precisely, the ongoing and cumulative objectification of the normative subject is already in the functional specialties, as part of Foundations. The question is whether that specialty is to be divided into two: Horizons (objectifying the mediating and normative subject) and Categories.

Phil McShane

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 11:47:03 AM »


It seems to me that the needs Bob Doran expresses in his pointers to a ninth specialty are in fact met by the precise methodological demands of the second half of page 250 of Method. Lonergan's categories and his reach for the future
belong in that enterprise as describe from line 20 on. The further and final objectifications described there are brilliant discomforting strategies for the searchers in dialectic.  The positioning reached is what is handed on, baton-wise, to the foundational community.

Phil McShane

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2012, 07:12:19 AM »
It seems good to enlarge on my comment regarding the non-necessity of a ninth functional specialty, and this in a manner that accounts – but only compactly - for the needs Bob Doran points out in his “Essays in Systematic Theology 38: The Ninth Functional Specialty”.
Doran begins by noting two distinct tasks: [1] the objectification of conversion; [2] the ongoing derivation of categories. Now, the objectification of conversion and the up-to-date articulation of categories are the task of the fourth specialty: it is quite clearly delineated in the second half of Method 250. There Lonergan outlines a magnificently cunning new strategy for the self-criticism required by Cosmopolis [Insight, 265-66]. The group thus struggles towards a horizon controlled pragmatically by a horizon-loneliness for the Field [See CWL 18, 199]. The control is brutally normative, meeting Doran’s need: “the normative subject is responsible for the movement from the specialties of the first phase”[Essay, p.1]. So, it is quite odd, in the context of this reading of the task of dialectic, that Doran would claim, “that the articulation of the first set of both general and special categories … should be assigned to a distinct specialty, Horizons.”[Essay, p.2]. That has already been done by the objectifications named at the end of Method 250: and it is there that Lonergan would join the 4th specialty group in articulating the stuff of Method 286-91, and much more: there would be something like “Arriving at Cosmopolis” [www.philipmcshane.ca : Archives]. So, I pick up Doran’s concluding sentence of page 5 of the Essay, “The normative subject articulated in this specialty propels the movement from the first phase of theology to the second.” But this, in my use of his sentence, refers, not to his new specialty, but to the fourth specialty and to the operations so brutally insisted on at the end of Method 250. The baton is then passed on to the fifth specialty people who look ahead and around in the dual task [1] of maintaining and accelerating cyclic success and [2] of existential repentant categorial fantasy. 

Bob Doran

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2012, 09:14:08 AM »
I understand the fourth specialty as still a matter of indirect discourse. The mediating subject is positionally affirmed in direct discourse as a matter of what Lonergan calls Foundations. That specialty, however, also has the distinct function of generating categories both general and special, as these are needed: categories that will be employed in all eight functional specialties. My interest is partially in distinguishing two specialties in direct discourse to distribute these two functions. I am also concerned with the significance for functional specialization of acknowledging a fifth level. This is a concern that Lonergan acknowledged, with his talk of "Spirituality" as a fifth specialty. As my essay indicates, for me the normal connotation of "Spirituality" is too narrow to accommodate this need. For most people, spirituality does not connote intellectual conversion as well as the remainder of the conversions. If I am wrong on Dialectic still being indirect discourse, then Phil's position is probably correct. But I read the book as maintaining all four first-phase specialties as indirect discourse.

Adrial Fitzgerald

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2012, 01:34:31 PM »
As described here, the functional specialties seem to be a differentiated set of field-subject specializations[1] rather than a form of investigative specialization that differs from and integrates with field-subject speciailzation.  I have so far only been able to see a distinction between functional and field-subject specialization by affirming that the functional specialities are an ideal progression to be recurrently undertaken by *each individual* investigator as she or he contributes to the increase of knowledge and the implementation of that knowledge for the betterment of history.[2]

_______

1. E.g., foundations or foundations/horizons takes the field "foundational elements of consciousness" and seeks to speak on such subjects as"the criteria of knowing, of being responsible, of being real; the nature of religiously differentiated consciousness" etc.

2. A fuller articulation of that thesis appears at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bz567IFXmKPNMTdhMTNmMWUtOTdkMC00OWM1LWI5MTItZWI5ZDcxN2U0YTU2/edit?pli=1

Terry Quinn

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2012, 04:36:57 PM »
Adrial,

Maybe you could spell out what you mean by “functional specialties”, or “functional”, or “field”?  Or, can you give examples? I ask because, by “field” you seem to mean something different from “field of study” (Method, 123). But, you might be using these names differently? In present fields of study it is taken for granted, implicitly anyway, right from the senior undergraduate level onward, that there are specializations, zones of expertise with different aims. In the major disciplines, with some empirical work, it is possible to identify the implicit presence of eight foci, eight groupings of work, “stages in the process from data to results” (Method, 126). It is not yet luminous though, and so confusions get inadvertently re-circulated, …, which is part of the problem of ‘ad hoc’ collaboration.

Adrial Fitzgerald

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2012, 08:29:36 AM »
Hi, Terry

By "field" and "subject" I intend the general sense which Lonergan refers to in Method--i.e., "field" as a portion of reality under investigation (e.g., human language) and "subject" as an aspect of that portion about which we seek knowledge (e.g., the range of possible speech sounds we use).

What I meant to say, then, is that, since functional specialties are affirmed as differentiations of investigative activity that are *not* field and subject specializations, then it has so far seemed to me that, if they are anything at all, they must be ideal moments in the work of *each individual* contributing to an inquiry (which inquiry is defined by one or multiple field-subject specializations), rather than a set of tasks which are each performed by a distinct set of investigators.  The link I posted in the previous msg leads to my current best effort to elaborate on that claim.

Phil McShane

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2012, 10:30:06 AM »
Adrial and I have tossed this issue around for some time now, without reaching any agreement. So what I see is the need to have the formal structure of dialectic that Lonergan suggests on Method in Theology 250, lines 18-33. That is clearly a communal enterprise, so at least one specialty escapes Adrial's view "if they are anything at all, they must be ideal moments in the work of each individual". I add my appeal which appears elsewhere in this forum. I would claim that we have very little idea of what global collaboration as Lonergan describes it would look like, but I would also claim that his description is enough for us to consider that it was a serious discovery worth trying. "If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly".
When are we going to take his final great insight seriously? So I attach my elderly appeal once more.

Greetings All,
My communication regards “making conversion a topic” (Method in Theology, 253) where the conversion in question is functional collaboration. Were my communication formally methodical it would be in the flow of Method in Theology, 250, lines 18-33, but nothing like that flow has been attempted in the past forty years.
I have been advocating functional collaboration as a global disciplinary and  omnidisciplinary need since the Lonergan Florida Conference of 1970, where I noted the functional distress of musicology [the paper is chapter 2 of The Shaping of the Foundations, (1976), a book now available free on www.philipmcshane.ca .]  My ongoing plea has had little effect. Since, in my ninth decade, I am on the way out and on, I feel compelled to make this final effort to stir people towards at least talking about the X, the unknown – and it is an unknown - that is to be global functional collaboration.
I am sending this out to blocks of ten e-mails that I happen to have, so it is not an adequate outreach. Feel free to pass on the note, and of course feel free to communicate with me directly with suggestions.
The effort is related to my final series Posthumous, five essays of which have now appeared on my website, with the link immediately on page 1 of the website. Reading those essays is not essential to opening the dialogue, which is just a matter of  articulating concern about the problem that can be identified in Insight with implementation as essential to the efficient unity of metaphysics (see Topics in Education 260, line 16), and in Method (see there 355, line 17) with the failure of theology to mature.

Terry Quinn

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2012, 11:49:21 AM »
Hi Adrial and all,

I was about to post, but add now that in the third paragraph, what I have in mind is a move toward the self-disclosure pointed to in Method 250. 

Here though is what I wrote as is: 

A few things from your (Adrial) note: “the general sense which Lonergan refers”; “e.g. human language”; and “if they are anything at all”.

As a community in history, we are like a first year physics class. We are struggling with the riches of Newtonian physics, but don’t yet even have Maxwell’s equations. And there is also a rumor going round that there is a "standard model" for the various aggregates of particle tracks. But, as if particle tracks aren’t challenging enough, our problem includes the far-far-far more puzzling word-tracks of Lonergan.

It is great that we are talking about functional collaboration, but so far, we are nowhere near having an explanatory standard model and heuristics in place for us. So, we can’t speculate about Lonergan’s very remote meaning, with “if they are anything at all”. Whatever Lonergan meant, we don’t have anything like comparable data of consciousness across numerous disciplines and categories, nor his nuanced control in self-attention.

But, instead of ‘Lonergan’, what about ‘you’, your examples, ‘your’ position? ‘Your’ language?

Don’t you think it might be too soon in history for us to able to make general claims about ‘human language’. Can we just skip or ignore the extensive empirical (including re. data of consciousness) work already done, and already on the move, or avoid the need for empirical work? An empirical result is that there are recognized and verifiably distinct divisions of labor and focus in disciplines, in real languages - in various sciences, in the arts, in philosophy,in theology. And, the work is already "out", that some ‘preliminary description’ (not yet ‘scientific description’) of these is possible through self-attention.  But, as a community, we are only digging around at the beginning of a human history-hunt toward the possibility of a new (still remote) “control of meaning”.

Are there verifiable normative divisions of labor/dynamics? Is the rumor true? Is there a standard model emergent within history, within what we are already doing? Again, hugely important empirical work needed, toward the future possibility of an explanatory model for talking about talking, for language about language.

But, maybe glimpses here, of trying to skip empirical work versus the empirical reach for explanation, will help us turn some way toward being more empirical. 

Adrial Fitzgerald

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2012, 01:19:34 PM »
Terry,

By identifying "human language" as a field and "the range of possible speech sounds we use" as a subject, I was making no general claim about either nor dismissing the need for careful empirical research.  I was only clarifying the intended sense of "field" and "subject".

Presupposing those senses, two things stand out in my view.

(1) What you refer to below as normative/verified divisions of labour/dynamics are themselves not other than varieties of field-subject specialization.

(2) If "functional specialization" is a distinct reality in the process of inquiry and not simply an additional term to use when speaking of investigative efforts, then such specialization is not a set of tasks to be assigned to different investigators but is instead an ideal progression to be recurrently enacted by each investigator as she works within one or more field-subject specializations.  However, such individual  recurrent enacting of the specialities is not to be done *in isolation* but by each member of the community of investigative collaborators as they work *in concert*

An example: if I wish to contribute to the literature on "Hamlet" by engaging Harold Bloom's claim that the play is "part of Shakespeare's revenge upon revenge tragedy, and is of no genre", I ideally:

- gather relevant instances of the scholarly discussion on that question up to this point (and other relevant items that do not speak as directly to the focal issue) (research)

- understand those items (essays, books, etc.) in their own terms and in their interrelations as moments in an ongoing discourse (interpretation, history)

- identify within the ongoing discourse disagreements whose roots are the opposing influences of positions on knowing/reality/responsibility and counterpositions on those same matters (dialectic)

- affirm for myself a positional stance on knowing/reality/responsibility (and even religiously enchanced instances of those three) (foundations)

- affirm my own stances on the focal issue, choosing (at least in part) from what I have diagnosed in dialectic and relying on my positional horizon (doctrines)

- give a rigorous explanatory elaboration of those affirmed stances (systematics)

- adapt the expression of my affirmed stances in order to communicate them to a variety of audiences (communications).

If I and others undergo that process as we collaborate to tackle the focal question re: Hamlet, we have a small instance of implemented FS.

Adrial Fitzgerald

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2012, 01:25:11 PM »
More precisely: "...we have a small instance of functional collaboration on account of multiple individuals working together and in that process each implementing the FS."
« Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 01:27:13 PM by Adrial Fitzgerald »

Terry Quinn

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Re: The ninth functional specialty
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2012, 02:52:11 PM »
Adrial

What you write is, in a way, ‘logical’, and with your various ‘ifs’, makes a kind of connected “story”. But it is a "story", for it just doesn’t match what is going on in all major disciplines. I am kind of puzzled that you expect to be able to have a complete view of all that is going on in all of the major disciplines, all sorted out so easily, so ‘ideally’.  A secondary issue, but I pause, too, that you so easily dismiss what a genius (‘sport’ in history actually) Lonergan bothered to write about at some length, at a high point of his career-length climb. Was Lonergan deluded? .... into thinking that functional specialties are worth thinking about? If you disagree with Lonergan, then surely you would need to meet him, in detail. (He won’t mind! I figure he's in ThreeWay fine way.) But, would you so quickly have a finished, and finishing-off of, e.g., Einstein’s work, without taking 15 years to learn the math and physics of relativity? Yet you disagree so easily with Lonergan, who was working from a base that included the math and physics of relativity, and much more -- sciences, arts, philosophy, theology. You (we) need to get at least some way into some of the disciplines to start getting initial clues about what is going on in disciplines – which is a basic premise of “generalized empirical method”.

Why not begin afresh? It might be difficult personally, but I hope you try, try the more relaxing modest empirical work of teasing out for yourself in a few basic examples, self-attentively, and perhaps share in this forum or with some teacher, some elementary reflections on your reading of “question”, …, in some actual question? That would be a beginning, and is our common challenge really. (See the last paragraph of my post.) And, perhaps surprisingly, the easiest examples to begin with, that can help begin to reveal the elements, are from basic mathematics. If you don’t have some basic math now, not a problem. You could either take the time to learn some, (I’d be glad to correspond), or enjoy not needing to have a summary solution at this time, and do the math later. After all, it is a beautiful autumn day - benevolent mystery!

We could go round this some more, could slide off into various side issues, etc. But, what Phil mentioned in his last posting will get us all there sooner. Try beginnings at dialectics, personal disclosure, as described in Method 250, bottom paragraph. Family therapists get family members to open, to talk about their ‘positions’. Method 250 points to a way for us to start helping each other open up, shape up, our mutual positioning, in progress oriented ways. It could be difficult, but with a sense of humor, and kindliness, …, a way to unlock… on a wing of humor and a prayer.   

Best, Terry.