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Author Topic: Cosmopolis and functional specialization  (Read 54463 times)

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #30 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.

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

Artfulhousing

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #31 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)

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #32 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

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

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #33 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
.

Catherine B. King

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Re: Addendum/Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #34 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."   

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #35 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.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #36 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



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Re: Addendum/Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #37 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
“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: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #38 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
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #39 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

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #40 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.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #41 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



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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #42 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
 

“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: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #43 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.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
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Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #44 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