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Author Topic: Cosmopolis and functional specialization  (Read 48344 times)

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #60 on: December 15, 2012, 08:59:22 AM »
Hi Mounce,

Way back on October 9, you asked, "What is the relation between individual and society in this regard?"  This is, of course, a question sociologists think about a lot.  When I first read your question, I thought that I ought to respond, but the prospect of trying to respond adequately overwhelmed me, and then all sorts of other things got in the way.  I am almost finished reading student papers, and have been spending some time this morning trying to catch up on responding to online discussions.

I believe that the most primordial relation is between each person and his/her mother.  The individual person emerges as a result of a gradual process of differentiation.  Birth, of course, is a dramatic -- and perhaps traumatic -- event in this process, but the process is definitely not completed by the cutting of the umbilical cord (Lonergan uses this as a metaphor -- cutting the umbilical cord to the maternal imagination).  There is a much more gradual cutting of the "apron strings."  Part of this gradual cutting is in the child's learning to use the personal pronouns competently.  Being able to use "I," "you," "he-she," "we," "they," etc. is the outward manifestation of the child's emerging knowledge of self, other, and society.

In thinking theoretically about person and society, sociologists resort to metaphors.  Hobbes popularized the mechanical metaphor, in which individuals become parts in a machine, but the closely related organic metaphor has been more popular recently, in which individuals are like cells in the tissues of which organs are made, organs that are then understood in terms of the "functions" they perform for the good of the whole "body."

I am among those sociologists who prefer the network metaphor to the mechanical and organic metaphors.  Individuals are the nodes (or knots) and relationships with other persons are ties that connect the nodes.  I like this because it seems to me to imply fewer misrepresentations of reality than do the mechanical and organic metaphors.  I also like it because of the analogy to the use of the network metaphor by cognitive scientists and neuroscientists to think about the brain and nervous system -- neurons are the nodes, synaptic connections are the ties.

Best regards,

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

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #61 on: December 15, 2012, 09:58:05 AM »
Hi Catherine,

I probably will not have time this morning to respond to all of the helpful points you have made, but I can respond to the first.  You say: "
First, from a quick glance at what you say, Burawoy is, indeed, differentiating the fields of communications (as FS-8). In that differentiation, and though you don't mention theoretical communications as such (though Burawoy may), your sections 1 and 4 (professional and critical communications) would include the need for a clear distinction between (a) theoretical and technical discourse and (b) common sense discourse. As I mentioned earlier, I have noted that some fields are corrupt in this regard, though most have in their history a good theoretical base—(FS an aspect of doctrines)."

I think a further distinction needs to be made within "a."  There are very different kinds of theoretical discourse (1) descriptions and explanations of what has been and is, (2) crticisms of what has been and is by explict or tacit comparison of what has been and is with an ideal -- the way things ought to be, (3) prescriptions for what others (and perhaps even I) ought to do. 

One of the things that attracted my to Insight and Polanyi's Personal Knowledge is that both men developed a philosophy of science based on descriptions and explanations of what scientists actually do.  So much philosophy of science consisted of non-scientists trying to tell scientists what they ought to do in order to be "truly scientific."  And most of this was corrupted by a false ideal of objectivity, imagined as taking a look at what was "already out there, now, real."

This does not mean, however, that either Lonergan or Polanyi refrained from normative prescriptions.  I describe their ideal as "performative consistency."  Statements about which scientists, or other seekers of knowledge, ought to do must be consistent with descriptions and explanations of what I am doing when I am knowing.  I use "I" here very deliberately, because -- here I know I am going to get into trouble -- I have immediate knowledge (direct knowledge) only of what I am doing when I am knowing.  I do not have immediate knowledge of what Lonergan was doing when he was knowing, or of what you are doing when you are knowing.  But, as Lonergan argues in Chapter eleven of Insight, I not only affirm that I am a knower, but I also affirm that you are a knower, and that the general structure of your cognitive activities are the same as the general structure of my cognitive activities -- experience, understanding, and judgment.

I believe that Lonergan followed this same strategy in developing his functional specialties in theology.  He attempted to systematize what he did as a theologian, to generalize this by attributing the same distinct activities to other theologians, and to argue for a division of labor in theology based upon the differences between these activities.  In trying to generalize this beyond theology to sociology, I have to reflect upon what I do as a sociologists, generalize this by attributing the same distinct activities to other sociologists, and think about a possible division of labor based upon the differences between these activities.

I have used Lonergan's eight functional specialities in theology heuristically, as a set of questions that I can ask about method in sociology, and as clues to possible answers.  I read Lonergan as saying to theologians, "Look, we already perform these specialized activities, so lets get more systematic and collaborative about a reasonable division of labor."  He has persuaded some theologians that they ought to do this, and they, in turn, are trying to persuade more theologians to collaborate by institutionalizing a more reasonable division of labor in theology.

Analogously, I have to say to my fellow sociologists, "Look, we already perform these specialized activities, so lets get more systematic and collaborative about a reasonable division of labor."  In order to say this honestly, I have to be able to point to examples of sociologists actually doing these kinds of things.  Buroway can point to lots of examples of sociologists doing the four kinds of things he specifies.  I don't think I can point to sociologists performing the kinds of things that are closely analogous to the theological activities Lonergan points to in foundations, doctrines, and systematics. 

Methodologists different from scientists and theologians in that they have to walk a tightrope between description and explanation, on the one hand, and prescription, on the other.  Methodologies have to be prescriptive if they are going to guide scientists and theologians in their inquiries.  But those prescriptions will be misleading if they are not based upon what scientists and theologians actually do in their successful inquiries.  They do ask questions and get insights that might be good answers.  They do ask questions for reflection, in order to determine whether these tentative answers are more likely to be true or more likely to be false.  It is legitimate, therefore, to tell scientists and theologian that they ought to ask questions for intelligence and questions for reflection, and to try very hard to get the right answers.  It is a further stretch to tell theologians that they ought to collaborate by systematically distinguishing eight functional specialties.  It is telling them to do something that they are not yet doing by arguing that the "roots" of the kind of collaboration Lonergan advocates are already there in what they are already doing.  It is a further stretch still to say to sociologists, you ought to create a division of labor in your discipline that is analogous to the division of labor Lonergan had advocated for theology.

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

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #62 on: December 15, 2012, 12:01:29 PM »
Hello Dick:

I think you and I are covering some good ground here; however, I also think my own work is suffering for it—as I sense that yours is also?

But let me respond as briefly as possible—I hope without overlooking what is important.

First, you say in response to my distinction of the arena of theoretical/professional discourse:


“I think a further distinction needs to be made . . . . There are very different kinds of theoretical discourse (1) descriptions and explanations of what has been and is, (2) criticisms of what has been and is by explicit or tacit comparison of what has been and is with an ideal -- the way things ought to be, (3) prescriptions for what others (and perhaps even I) ought to do.”

A couple of things:  (a) from cognitional theory: what is and what ought to be are derivatives of cognitional structure. That is, what is derives from questions for understanding and truth (what is it? and is it so?); and what ought-to-be derives from our questions for what is worthwhile/ and ultimately worthwhile. So as whole human beings in history, we can emphasize and isolate our different kinds of questions (and we do in the sciences so well); but in fact we cannot get away from the intimate relationship between these two sets of questions and the dialectic that surrounds how we work them out in our concrete universe.  Science is one thing, but it rests in the broader field of human meaning and its history.

(b) In your later narrative above, you seem to understand that a cognitional theory is not itself a prescription—it’s a theory of what is in/as human cognition—a part of which is that human beings ask the question of the intelligible-good-is as well as the worthwhile question which manifests, again, as should or “ought.” And then, as historical and, in turn, what we think and say [i]ought to be[/i], or what we offer to others as ought, can become the “is” of human history that, in reflection, historians ask about.

However, and though methods do differ in different fields, as you say, as philosophical, we can find and verify a deeper method (of mind) that conditions all of the other methods—general empirical method (Lonergan says this in Method—probably the first chapter). In this one sort of analysis (philosophical), however, we find that the suggested ought is not merely a subjective/relativistic notion or an egotistical or political power play—it is what flows from an aspect of the human mind, as developed in an adequate and verified theory of not only cognitional activities, but the derived theory of knowledge. Such oughts then, not only flow from human conscious order (as suggested in [1] above) but they are not without reasons—they are based on cognitional fact.

Further, such oughts move into not only our adequate or inadequate notions of metaphysics, but also into the creative or destructive history of concrete events. Scientific method itself is derived from scientists finally getting the more basic method of mind right--though as extroverts, they are probably not aware of it.  GENERAL empirical method is just that same method turned on consciousness in a critical way, where what is commonly taken as data in the “hard” sciences is expanded to include the data of the mind (Insight: 2000/95-96 or chapter 2/1.1).

Second you say:


“I don't think I can point to sociologists performing the kinds of things that are closely analogous to the theological activities Lonergan points to in foundations, doctrines, and systematics.”

Well, they and we do, and they will, as the science unfolds and matures.  For instance, on the back-page, as it were: Lonergan gives the GENERALIZED ideal in foundations as conversion.  He’s talking about a very general but also concrete praxis here. The equally-broad but lesser alternatives to across-the-board conversed praxis are (1) commonsense praxis, and (2) nihilistic praxis. (You choose.)

Foundations, in that sense, could very-well be referred to as “praxis.” But as un-thought-out in the concrete world we live in, most if not all of us are a mixture of all three, and at variable times in our lives (See Piscitelli’s work on this—you can ask him for that paper, but I don’t think it’s published. Or you can find some of it in his recent philosophical work: Philosophy: A Passion for Wisdom. Frederick MD: PublishAmerica LLLP, 2010.)

But some philosophical detective work will afford broader insights as to how such a scheme (1) gives general outline to all activities in concrete all fields/subjects as they are emerging (developmental/genetic “is” and, thus a critically-established ought;” but also (2) anticipates where the fields are already going in the messy fashion that we do, and considering the counter-work of the many biases and counter-positions, not to  mention evil.
.
Third, you say:


“Methodologists different from scientists and theologians in that they have to walk a tightrope between description and explanation, on the one hand, and prescription, on the other.  Methodologies have to be prescriptive if they are going to guide scientists and theologians in their inquiries.”

Yes—but the problem is, there is nothing wrong with this, as long as proper differentiations are maintained. Also, in that deeper methodological vein, following the method of mind is not a trap nor is it merely an ought. It’s the conditions for developing methodologies and science in the first place.

Fourthly, you say:


“It is a further stretch to tell theologians that they ought to collaborate by systematically distinguishing eight functional specialties.  It is telling them to do something that they are not yet doing by arguing that the ‘roots’ of the kind of collaboration Lonergan advocates are already there in what they are already doing.  It is a further stretch still to say to sociologists, you ought to create a division of labor in your discipline that is analogous to the division of labor Lonergan had advocated for theology.”

Certainly, at first, and from a multiple-counter-positional "position," it's a stretch. And It's indeed an ideal and, therefore, a stretch at present, to think that a powerful center will emerge and come forward from any of the fields to even address such (might I say important?) philosophical issues head-on--at present.  It'll take some open, intelligent, and enduring leadership, to be sure. I do see things moving in that direction--as they would, if Lonergan's work has merit, and it does.

However, as suggested above, we can see the outlines emerging already. Having the conceptual frame gives us a map, as it were, a philosophical touchstone that we can keep close--like a mission statement of sorts or as Phil suggests as a standard model, to understand and follow (a) if we want to avoid straying and stay on track; and (b) if inter-field communication and an inter-relation/unification of the sciences and fields is anticipated and desired (if we want to know if and how they are all related).  If we don’t blow ourselves up or let our planet die first.

Best, Catherine

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #63 on: December 16, 2012, 09:34:06 AM »
Hi Art:
This is in response to your December 14 discussion of “pure” in Lonergan’s writings.  You say: “My understanding of ‘pure’ is very different from yours. Lonergan, as far as I know, doesn’t use the term ‘impure’. If I was to make a contrast it would be ‘pure’ and ‘complete’.”  I agree that Lonergan does not (as far as either one of us knows) use the term “impure.”  I also agree that it is important to distinguish between: (1) striving to interpret what Lonergan meant in a given passage in his writing, or, as in this case, the range of meanings he attributed to a word in a variety of passages, and (2) reacting to what I understand Lonergan to have meant.  My writing is often a reaction to what I understand Lonergan to have meant, and I will try to be more clear about when I am interpreting and when I am reacting.

Art: “In my understanding when Lonergan is talking about the pure desire to understand or the pure cycle of an economy etc., he is not speaking ideally. Rather he is talking about the processes that actually constitute knowing or the processes actually constitute the economy. In other words, he is speaking about a theory of knowing or a theory of the economy where theory grasps the set of significant, essential and relevant elements and their relationships that constitute knowing or the economy. Without the occurrence of these elements in certain relationship neither knowing nor an economy would occur.”


Dick: I believe that L uses “pure” analogously, rather than univocally, in these two contexts.  When he writes of the “pure desire to know,” he is writing about a concrete universal, a constitutive aspect of every human person, something that he claims to have identified within his own conscious inner life (interiority), something that he believes each one of us will be able to identify within his/her own conscious inner life in the process of self-appropriation-affirmation.  I also believe that he makes a tacit comparison between the intellectual pattern of experience, in which the pure desire to know dominates other desires, and the other patterns of experience – especially the biological, aesthetic, and common sense patterns, in which other desires take precedence over the desire to know.  The desire to know does not completely disappear when I am in these other patterns of experience, but it is “impure” because I make it subservient to the satisfactions of desires other than the “pure” desire to know.

He is talking about something very different when writing about the “pure” cycle of an economy.  It is definitely not something concretely present in the conscious life of every human.  I do not know it as the result of self-appropriation-affirmation.  The “purity” of the economic cycle is the result of a series of abstractions.  Each and every interaction between two persons is a concrete event.  The notion of an economic transaction is more abstract, in that it abstracts from all of the dimensions of a concrete interaction except for those that involve an exchange in which the values of the things exchanged can be measured in monetary terms.  A further abstraction occurs when economists write about exchanges between collectivities, such as “firms” and “households.”  They abstract from the persons who act as the agents and representatives of the firms and households, and treat the collectivities as if they were the real actors.  But collectivities always act through the persons who serve as their agents and representatives (Eric Voegelin is excellent on this point, in The New Science of Politics).  A further abstraction occurs when economists abstract from the exchanges between concrete collectivities in order to focus on the metaphorical “flows” of money in different “directions” and through different “channels.”  It is on this highly abstract level that Lonergan writes about the “pure” cycle of an economy.  Its “purity” is analogous to the “purity” of the desire to know, but the differences, to my way of thinking, outweigh the similarities.  I do not, by the way, deny that these successive abstractions are "enriching," in L's sense.

Art: “‘Complete’?  The elements that constitute knowing or an economy admit a range of possibilities. …”

Dick: I agree completely.

Art: “Lonergan speaks of a series of approximations as “modern science uses universals as tools in its unrelenting efforts to approximate to concrete process” (Lonergan [1968]1974:104).In “Insight Revisited” (Second Collection:271-272), Lonergan gives the following example as an explanation of the movement of the planets. Newton’s planetary theory had a first approximation in the first law of motion: bodies move in a straight line with constant velocity unless some force intervenes. … The first law of motion is the pure law.”

Dick:  I agree with your summary of the model, for which I have substituted “….”  The meaning of “pure,” as used to describe the first law of motion, is more similar to what L means by "pure" as applied to the economic cycle than it is to what he means by "pure" as used to describe the desire to know.   

What I have said about these three meanings of “pure” are the results of my attempts to interpret what Lonergan meant by what he wrote.  By way of reacting to what he wrote, I believe that what he meant by “pure” when he was writing about the desire to know does involve a tacit comparison with the “impurity” of the desire to know when it is subordinated to other desires in patterns of experience other than the intellectual.  I say this, even though L doesn’t use the word “impure.”  On the other hand, when he writes of the pure economic cycle, or the first law of motion as pure, the contrast with “impure” is not, as far as I can tell, even tacitly present.

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

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #64 on: December 16, 2012, 11:38:24 AM »
Hi Catherine,

I don’t think my own work is suffering from my spending time on this forum, or on the Skipperweb list.  Rather, I think that both my teaching and my writing – and even my non-sociological life with family and friends -- it is being enriched.  I have found my discussions on the Polanyi list serve to be similarly enriching.  I have been doing that for about a decade, now, but have just begun to become more active in discussing things with followers of Lonergan.  In many ways, it is bringing back up to conscious awareness a number of things that had slipped down beneath the surface of my knowing and doing.

CK: A couple of things:  (a) from cognitional theory: what is and what ought to be are derivatives of cognitional structure. That is, what is derives from questions for understanding and truth (what is it? and is it so?); and what ought-to-be derives from our questions for what is worthwhile/ and ultimately worthwhile.

Dick: Yes, and beyond that, there are two desires that are constitutive of human nature (what is) that are also norms from which answers to questions of what ought to be must be derived.  The pure desire to know generates the obligation to pursue the truth, and the desire for consistency between knowing and doing generates the obligation to follow my conscience.  Intellectual conversion results in a willingness to spend a significant part of my time in an intellectual pattern of experience, in which the pure desire to know structures the flow of experiencing.  Moral conversion results in a willingness to follow my conscience in all of my actions.

CK: (b) In your later narrative above, you seem to understand that a cognitional theory is not itself a prescription—it’s a theory of what is in/as human cognition.


Dick: I believe that it is possible to write a description and theoretical explanation of human knowing that avoids being prescriptive, but, as I said above, bringing into my conscious awareness just what it that is happening when I am knowing constitutes the factual roots of the “calling” that is inherent in self-appropriation-affirmation.  Lonergan does derive more than one “ought” from more than one “is,” and I follow him in this.  He does tell us what we ought to do, as he must, if he is going to write about general empirical, or transcendental, method

CK: Such oughts then, not only flow from human conscious order (as suggested in [1] above) but they are not without reasons—they are based on cognitional fact.


Dick: Yes!

I had written: “I don't think I can point to sociologists performing the kinds of things that are closely analogous to the theological activities Lonergan points to in foundations, doctrines, and systematics.”

CK: Well, they and we do, and they will, as the science [sociology] unfolds and matures. 

Dick: Your arguments, which I am not going to quote in their entirety, have persuaded me to rethink this.  I turn to two sources for this rethinking: (1) my conversations with other sociologists, along with my reading of their books and articles, and (2) my continuing efforts at self-appropriation-affirmation, especially in my sociological praxis.

CK: Foundations, in that sense, could very-well be referred to as “praxis.” But as un-thought-out in the concrete world we live in, ….”

Dick: This takes me back again to Alvin Gouldner’s call for a “reflexive sociology,” in which sociologists would articulate their “domain assumptions.”  He inspired a number of sociologists in the 1970s and 1980s (including me), but, as Charles Lemert points out in “Why Mills and not Gouldner?” (Issue 1.2 in the online journal Fast Capitalism
http://www.fastcapitalism.com/), sociologists and others still cite C.Wright Mills a lot, but seldom cite Gouldner.   Lemert (and I) think this is a loss to sociology, but I have to admit that I talk more about Mills to my sociology students than I do about Gouldner.  Lemert's essay is causing me to rethink this, also.

Of interest to me are the following sentences from the “Editorial Introduction” to Fast Capitalism: “We are convinced that the best way to study an accelerated media culture and its various political economies and existential meanings is dialectically, with nuance, avoiding sheer condemnation and ebullient celebration. We seek to shape these new technologies and social structures in democratic ways.”

CK:  You quote what I wrote: “It is a further stretch to tell theologians that they ought to collaborate by systematically distinguishing eight functional specialties.  It is telling them to do something that they are not yet doing by arguing that the ‘roots’ of the kind of collaboration Lonergan advocates are already there in what they are already doing.  It is a further stretch still to say to sociologists, you ought to create a division of labor in your discipline that is analogous to the division of labor Lonergan had advocated for theology.”  Your response is: “Certainly, at first, and from a multiple-counter-positional ‘position,’ it's a stretch.

Dick: Are you saying that my using the “stretch” metaphor in those sentences is an indication that (a) my thinking was from a “multiple-counter-positional ‘position,’” or (b) the way I expressed my thinking was in the language of a counter-position?  I restate what I believe, without using the “stretch” metaphor: It has been and will be difficult to persuade large numbers of theologians to specialize and collaborate by following Lonergan’s prescriptions for the eight functional specialities, and it has been and will be even more difficult to persuade large numbers of sociologists to specialize and collaborate following these prescriptions.

CK: However, as suggested above, we can see the outlines emerging already. Having the conceptual frame gives us a map, as it were, a philosophical touchstone that we can keep close--like a mission statement of sorts or as Phil suggests as a standard model, to understand and follow (a) if we want to avoid straying and stay on track; and (b) if inter-field communication and an inter-relation/unification of the sciences and fields is anticipated and desired (if we want to know if and how they are all related).  If we don’t blow ourselves up or let our planet die first.

Dick: Lonergan has given his followers a map, a mission statement, and a model.  As I said before, I consider myself to be a follower of L, but I think his map needs to be modified if I am going to use it to guide me in my sociological work, and if I am going to try to persuade my colleagues in sociology to let themselves be guided by it in their quests for truth.  I do not think we need a great leader, a hero to whom all agree to follow, but a much more democratic process, in which small networks of collaborators in various disciplines and professions establish stronger inter-network ties.  (Perhaps we will blow ourselves up, or let the planet die, but hope is a virtue.  For me, deciding to have children was an act of hope, as is my decision to keep plugging away at seeking the truth.) 
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

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #65 on: December 18, 2012, 06:37:34 AM »
Hello Dick:

About work: I'm trying to write--and good writing time is finite. Also, you say about applying FS in sociology:


"I turn to two sources for this rethinking (of FS applications): (1) my conversations with other sociologists, along with my reading of their books and articles, and (2) my continuing efforts at self-appropriation-affirmation, especially in my sociological praxis." 

First, to that I wouild say to be careful to keep sociological and philosophical, et al, well distinguished.  Second, an FS analysis in any field or subject or institution, et al, takes some teasing out, but it’s there, and easier to find as the field differentiates. And we have to get beyond a conceptualist appropriation of any field's narrative forms (more on conceptualism later).

Also, you say:


"Are you saying that my using the 'stretch' metaphor in those sentences is an indication that (a) my thinking was from a 'multiple-counter-positional ‘position,'” or (b) the way I expressed my thinking was in the language of a counter-position?"

Neither.  I was commenting on the real-politic you suggest is the state-of-affairs in sociology. My guess is you are speaking for all of the other fields, including other camps in philosophy. Then you say:

"I restate what I believe, without using the 'stretch' metaphor: It has been and will be difficult to persuade large numbers of theologians to specialize and collaborate by following Lonergan’s prescriptions for the eight functional specialities, and it has been and will be even more difficult to persuade large numbers of sociologists to specialize and collaborate following these prescriptions."

Easier, probably, for theologian since Lonergan was a Jesuit--right openness, wrong reasons.

But first, a comment about methodology in exploring such meaning for others: it’s certainly not about someone merely believing something as the only available and end-all methodology. We have to explain to those who are open to it in a way that they can understand it for themselves and start to recognize it in their own field.

But does it seem to you that, when everything-analytical of consciousness (cognitional theory or epistemology) or of the underpinnings of the academy and culture (FS) is seen automatically as prescriptive rather than analytical, it speaks of (1) a wall of conceptualist assumptions that begin with (2) a recalcitrant refusal to self-reflect, or even to think we can know anything about what we and other human beings are doing before we objectify it; and (3) an ego that doesn’t want someone else to know what they are actually involved in doing, before they do?  (I’m not attacking you—I’m talking about my interpretation of how you describe the basic attitude of many in your field.)

A related story: One experience that inspired me to write my book making clear a way to self-identify the basic structure in anyone’s expressions was when I showed a friend with a PhD in philosophy how to identify her own basic structure in her own interiority. She actually identified it and then said “It’s a trap!” End of experiment, not to mention its enormous implications for her philosophical study, and the start of a great strain on the friendship.

Also, you say:
   

"Of interest to me are the following sentences from the 'Editorial Introduction”'to Fast Capitalism: 'We are convinced that the best way to study an accelerated media culture and its various political economies and existential meanings is dialectically, with nuance, avoiding sheer condemnation and ebullient celebration. We seek to shape these new technologies and social structures in democratic ways.'

As an analytical aside, I think the above quote is an example of systematics moving “down” from doctrines.  Also, first, concepts are important because they formalize data; second, failing to adhere to the precise meaning of theoretical concepts is fraught with potential problems (we can lose hard-won distinctions); and third, paying attention to similarities and differences in such concepts is usually highly creative. Nevertheless, whatever Lonergan says is never an end-all conceptualist scheme, nor should it be, nor should we think in those terms with any theoretical concepts (speaking of prescription).

  Then you quote from my note and follow with a comment:

"However, . . . we can see the outlines emerging already. Having the conceptual frame gives us a map, as it were, a philosophical touchstone that we can keep close--like a mission statement of sorts or as Phil suggests as a standard model, to understand and follow (a) if we want to avoid straying and stay on track; and (b) if inter-field communication and an inter-relation/unification of the sciences and fields is anticipated and desired (if we want to know if and how they are all related).  If we don’t blow ourselves up or let our planet die first." 

Dick: Lonergan has given his followers a map, a mission statement, and a model. 


Yes—but it’s grounded in self-appropriation/affirmation—big empirical difference.

Finally, you say:


"As I said before, I consider myself to be a follower of L, but I think his map needs to be modified if I am going to use it to guide me in my sociological work, and if I am going to try to persuade my colleagues in sociology to let themselves be guided by it in their quests for truth."

The conceptual apparatus can and should be modifed to meet with language and interpretive meaning that is appropriate to each field. However, the basic differentiations should not, in my view--precisely because they are extrapolated from the basic structure and activities of verified conscious structure.  You follow with:

"I do not think we need a great leader, a hero to whom all agree to follow, but a much more democratic process, in which small networks of collaborators in various disciplines and professions establish stronger inter-network ties."

Your import of hero-worship is yours, not mine. Also, some have disagreed with my own interpretation of the FS, i.e., as historically emergent, as grounded in the basic structure, and as intrinsically related to the structure of language--all of which have not been approached here. So you might want to take the above in the context of the potentials of that critique.

Back to work,
Catherine

Artfulhousing

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Burawoy’s division of labour in sociology
« Reply #66 on: December 19, 2012, 10:09:19 PM »
Dick has suggested that “there are real advantages to starting with Burawoy’s four functional specializations, rather than with Lonergan’s eight… Burawoy’s divisions are widely known, both nationally and internationally, and he has prestige in the discipline” and “the differences between Lonergan’s descriptions of these functional specialties in theology and anything that sociologists do are very great” (http://www.lonerganforum.com/index.php?topic=40.msg302#msg302).

Michael Burawoy in his 2004 Presidential Address to American Sociological Association “For Sociology” (The British Journal of Sociology 56 (2)) speaks about a division of labour within sociology, a division based upon a functional differentiation. He argues that two questions - ‘knowledge for whom?’ and ‘knowledge for what?’ – define the fundamental character of sociology. His answer to each question distinguishes two categories: knowledge for whom? – academic audience and non-academic audience; knowledge for what? – instrumental knowledge and reflexive knowledge. Thus, his division of labour into four types: professional, critical, policy and public.

ISTM that Burawoy is offering a division of labour based upon certain descriptive categories. From the perspective of sociologists it is a good way in which to describe their world: they can turn inward and talk with their colleagues or, they can turn outward and talk with wider world; in this turning, they can either reflect upon their research or, they can manipulate their world. (BTW, Burawoy, in a footnote, also notes the uncanny resemblance to Talcott Parson’s work). In some sense, then, he can talk about the functional relationships between the different types of sociology.

Maybe here we get to the heart of the difficulty we face: what does ‘functional’ within ‘functional specialties’ mean?

This takes me back to the first chapter of Insight and my long struggle to appreciate/appropriate what happens in the moment of ‘insight’. It is a moment in which everything comes together: that which I am trying to understand (as a unity-identity-whole), its (mutually exclusive) elements and their (systematic, i.e. functional) relationships. It is a moment when each is defined in relation to the other, when the pieces of the puzzle are created in such a way that they come together - it is not a matter of arranging prior pieces, even if creatively. It is a moment in which I grasp the complete set of elements and their relationships or their function within the whole. It is a moment in which we work through the ambivalence of the data, select what is relevant, significant and essential and set aside the irrelevant, insignificant and non-essential.

ISTM that Burawoy is arranging prior pieces of the puzzle that is sociology – the pieces being what sociologists are doing. These pieces are the evidence but the evidence is ambivalent, for what sociologists do (and I do) is the product of attentiveness and inattentiveness, intelligence and unintelligence, reasonableness and unreasonableness, responsibility and irresponsibility. Burawoy attributes some meaning to what sociologists are doing and so it can be argued that Burawoy has some sort of insight into sociology. In my view, however, it is a devalued insight, an insight into time-place associations between elements rather than their systematic relations. It is not an insight that distinguishes/grasps/creates a unity-identity-whole, that grasps/creates the complete set of elements that constitute this unity-identity-whole and that grasps/creates the functions that each element plays in the constitution of this unity-identity-whole.

Burawoy uses similar words to Lonergan but his meaning is entirely different.

If we are to understand the functional specialties we need to reach an insight in which the functional specialties are a complete set of mutually exclusive elements; the functional specialties are functionally related to one another as stages/achievements/ends within the process from the present into the future; the functional specialties together constitute the unity-identity-whole that is progress.

We cannot make progress in any field of human endeavour, whether in an academic discipline such as sociology or, in the development of our economy, our social institutions, our culture, our religion and our personal identities unless we work through each of the functional specialties . They are already operative but in a very messy, confused, undifferentiated and ad hoc way. An insight into functional specialties will distinguish between what is relevant, significant and essential in current methods in sociology etc. and what is irrelevant, insignificant and non-essential.


Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #67 on: December 21, 2012, 10:59:25 AM »
Hi Art,

In my conversations with sociologists, except for those who are also followers of Lonergan, I still believe that is is better to start with Burawoy's four functional specializations rather than with Lonergan's eight.  I agree with you that Burawoy's four categories are descriptive, but I believe that this is one of their strengths.  He is describing what sociologists actually do, in terms that make a great deal of sense to other sociologists.  This seems to me to be a very useful way of convincing my fellow sociologists that it is intelligent and reasonable to think , talk, and write about FS in sociology.   The problem with beginning with Lonergan's eight FS is that it is difficult for sociologists to accept that these eight categories do describe what sociologists actually do. 

I think Burawoy takes a step in the direction of explanation by putting his four specialties into the kind of four-box two-by-two diagram that Talcott Parsons made famous.  It is not a complete explanative for the existence of the four categories, but a move in that direction in that it moves away from specifying the relationships of things to an observer and toward specifying relationships among things in themselves.

Burawoy's Four Functional Specializations
                                                          Sociological Audience                                      Non-Sociological Audience
Instrumental Knowledge             Professional Sociology                                        Policy Sociology
Reflexive Knowledge                  Critical Sociology                                                  Public Sociology

Sociologists (or others) might want to modify the way Burawoy characterizes the two dimensions -- the audience dimension and the types of knowledge dimension.  We might also argue that the activities of sociologists vary along more than two dimensions.  These kinds of discussions open the door to bringing in aspects of Lonergan's FS.  For example, I question the adequacy of Burawoy's dividing "knowledge" into "instrumental" and "reflexive."  My problems with this are rooted deeply in my reading of both Lonergan and Polanyi, but explaining my position on would take me far beyond what I am getting at in this post.   

I'm trying to clarify what I believe to be the best strategy for my participating in three distinct networks: (1) sociologists, (2) followers of Lonergan, and (3) followers of Polanyi.  When I am interacting with a member of any one of these networks, I try to use the language that will best communicate what I am thinking, and when I am interacting with a member of a different network, I have to modify my language.  In my post about Burawoy, I am seeking feedback from followers of Lonergan about the strategy I have been using to communicate with sociologists.  In Finding the Mind, Catherine writes about the strategies she has used in her attempts to communicate with students who are also teachers, or preparing to become teachers.  From the perspective of Lonergan's eight FS, she engaged in the FS "communications" in a way that is analogous to the way I am engaged in the FS "communications."

ISTM that you used a similar strategy in your essay, "Comparative Housing Research and Policy."  Instead of using Burawoy's four categories as a point of departure, you used Michael Oxley's four categories: explorers, empiricists, theorists, and scientists.  You go beyond a simple description of those four categories to offer some modifications of them.
 
You criticize Burawoy's model of FS in sociology on the basis of your understanding of Insight, and this is identical to the direction I take in my criticisms of his model.   My point is that his model is a useful point of departure for getting some of Lonergan's ideas onto the table in discussions among sociologists.

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

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #68 on: December 22, 2012, 11:14:58 AM »
Hello Dick:

Of course naming of any general order of inquiry can be cross-posted, as it were, between fields, and where the meaning and its expression commonly changes from field to field.

However, my suggestion is that, to be critical in any interdisciplinary pursuits, and if you use the term FS in your communications with sociologists, you clarify at least that (1) there ARE great differences in same-term meaning between fields (always a good reminder in any field); and (2) perhaps enumerate some of those differences in meaning as a part of your analysis.
 
The latter, of course, is more difficult—such that we are only at the beginning, and are having trouble with it ourselves.  But let me take a stab at it and hope that others will help with the analysis?

First, I think we have mentioned before on this forum that Burawoy's differentiation of audiences is related to Lonergan's development of the FS.  It would be, of course--precisely because the differentiation of FS in Lonergan’s work claims to be the general, differentiated, philosophical underpinning of all concrete inquiry-to-expression movements in all fields and subjects.

But here goes: Burawoy’s differentiation of audiences is rooted in an inquiry from within the field of sociology and is about the receiver-subjects in subject-to-subject communications. As such, and as you portray it in your notes, his work’s is centered not in the FS of Communications, but rather in analysis (Research) and Interpretation (as Lonergan’s FS). That is, his inquiry is ABOUT an aspect of the specialized field of sociology which, since I last looked, deals specifically with social aspects of human beings, e.g., the question of communications with different audiences. 

On the other hand, when Burawoy chooses how/when/why/to whom he will present, and then actually presents his findings, he is involved in actually communicating. 

Second, when you bring his work into relation with another’s, as we are doing here, and depending on your intent, you will be involved in the functional correlates of dialectic and systematics.  That is, dialectics draws "up" from the history of thought/your analysis/interpretation of it; and systematics draws and flows “down” from the doctrines (theoretical expressions) of Burawoy and Lonergan’s work. All inquiry and its expression is informed by your (and my) foundational comportment.

Third, both Burawoy’s and Lonergan’s analyses, if well-done, are going to be complementary of either field: philosophy and/or sociology. That is, the FS (in Lonergan's technical/theoretical meaning) can inform the field of sociology as generalized functional specializations, and Burawoy’s differentiation of audiences can certainly inform OUR field--since WE have issue as-we-speak with communications. That being said, the FS are philosophical and include reflective considerations of foundations. As such, and between me and you and the lamp-post, philosophy is de facto much more comprehensive. 

Fourth, I think you are familiar enough with Lonergan's work and with some of "us" (regardless of our inner-field/subject conflicts) to understand the radical differences between Lonergan's development of the functional specialties and developments of "models" in other fields, namely in our present conversation, sociology and sociologists.  Art suggests those differences in his note, especially in his later paragraphs.

To be clear, however, and as succinctly as I can:  The FS and general empirical method are grounded and developed heuristically, and where such grounding is given full theoretical treatment; and where theory as such it also given full theoretical treatment; whereas, and though I haven’t read Burawoy, I will guess here (hoping that I am wrong) that Burawoy offers no grounding except in a commonsense though general appropriation of differences in audiences; and even worse, some in the field claim no possibility for grounding to be approached or secured, on principle. (We are all presumably involved in some version of reification.)


Fifth, and too-briefly, we can ask of Lonergan's development of the functional specialties what fields/subjects emerge directly from a specific F/specialty. That is, as philosophy as a field is closely associated with foundations and dialectic so, for instance, rhetoric is closely associated with communications--as a special field with differentiated subjects that, again, upon inspection, will show the re-emergence of the functional specialties as inquiry-to-expression differentiations.

And sixth, the modular layout of Lonergan's FS is comprehensive of, but also abstracts from and, therefore, hides the social aspect of the flow of history. That is, "research" can be understood as what can be "heard" from others in history. Similarly,  "communications" can be understood as what is "expressed" to others in the communal/social flow of emerging history.  With Art's note in mind, I can ask how essential that is to theoretical developments, which is another question.

I do think your openness to such discussion is inspiring,

Catherine

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #69 on: January 20, 2013, 01:08:01 PM »
Hi Catherine,

You wrote: "Of course naming of any general order of inquiry can be cross-posted, as it were, between fields, and where the meaning and its expression commonly changes from field to field.

"However, my suggestion is that, to be critical in any interdisciplinary pursuits, and if you use the term FS in your communications with sociologists, you clarify at least that (1) there ARE great differences in same-term meaning between fields (always a good reminder in any field); and (2) perhaps enumerate some of those differences in meaning as a part of your analysis."

DM: I am more radical, in that I argue that the more significant “differences in same-term meaning” are between individuals, rather than between fields.  To make this as concrete as I can, what you mean by “functional specialization” differs from what I mean by the same term.  We also differ in our interpretations of what Lonergan meant by the term.  I contend that the differences between fields are differences from one field to another in the generally accepted definitions of similar terms.  These are the nominal definitions of terms in the respective fields.  I agree with Lonergan, that real or explanatory definitions are not of terms, but of the realities to which the terms point. 

What I mean by “meaning” is partly expressed by my affirming that it is always a person who means something by a word, proposition, or non-verbal symbol, and by my denying that a word, a proposition, or a non-verbal symbol can mean something by itself.  I regard statements about meaning that assert or imply that meanings are “thoughts without thinkers” to be expressed in the language of the counter-position, a variant of the notion that meaning is a reality that is “already out there, real.”

What I mean by “meaning” gets me into trouble with those who are wedded to the common sense “folk theory” of meaning that found its classical expression in Plato’s theory of subsistent ideas.   

This is closely connected to my agreeing with James Reedy, George Lakoff, and Mark Johnson in criticizing the theory of communication implied by the "conduit metaphor" of communication.  The receiver of a message does not "take out of the words" a meaning that is identical to that which the sender of the message "put into" the words.  The receiver and the sender share the sensible aspects of the words, the marks on paper or screen or the sounds, but they do not share meanings.  

As a critical realist, however, I believe that we have the ability to understand the nature of aspects of reality.  The succession Lonergan points to -- one of the four elements, manifestation of phlogiston, rapid oxidation -- are successively better formulations of human's understanding of the nature of fire.  As we develop a better explanatory theory about some aspect of reality, those who understand the theory embrace meanings that are more similar to the form that gives pattern or structure to that aspect of reality.

Of course, I recognize that in asserting my beliefs in this regard, I could be mistaken.  As yet, however, no one has been able to convince me that the conduit metaphor of communication is an accurate expression of the actual structure of communication.

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

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #70 on: January 21, 2013, 12:39:34 PM »
Hello Dick:  You say: “What you mean by ‘functional specialization’ differs from what I mean by the same term.  We also differ in our interpretations of what Lonergan meant by the term.”

ck:  We start there—our common (commonsense) and then our theoretical definitions probably differ. But the point for those engaged in cross-disciplinary communications is to begin by understanding that those differences are probably present in the beginning, e.g., what Lonergan means by them in his technical sense.  I hope that it’s the beginning of discourse, and not the end. To me, it just shows the difficulty of the task before us, but not the hopelessness.

ck:  Also, the presence of differences in common meaning is but one reason why we move from common to technical meaning in either/both fields, and why we need to overtly clarify what we mean by the terms we use. This clarification becomes even more important in the human fields where we do not enjoy the relative universality of meaning that those in the natural/physical sciences enjoy (for many reasons).

ck:  But the point is to do what we can to actually HAVE a good beginning for interdisciplinary discourse, for us, in the human fields. But MIS-communication is assured, in common or field discourse, if we try to build that discourse on the mixture of common meaning and/or on unexamined technical terms.  Without an understanding of theory as such (and its need for technical clarity when appropriate), the discourse is pretty-much blocked, if not dead-in-the-water.  We should also mention general bias here—where forging interdisciplinary discourse is stopped-in-its-tracks, not by its stated missions, but by the vagaries of general bias among members of any field.

ck:  But let me speculate here on the deeper philosophical meaning that, it seems to me, bleeds through in your note: with what you say about meaning and interpretation. That is: it seems to me that, to you, such discourse occurs in an historical vacuum, and that, on principle, it’s bound to failure? That is, you seem to assume that the effort is bound to end in misunderstanding for everyone, again on principle, and even that the effort teeters on the capricious—because of the potential for misunderstanding, and because of the operative presence of interpretive principles. That—instead of assuming that, through interpreting meaning, we can interpret correctly; and we CAN arrive at a better understanding, and that, as a matter of assumption, we CAN foster an ongoing inter-disciplinary dialogue again, on principle—though none of it is a done-deal merely by its being potential.
 
ck:  Dick: please assure me that, philosophically, I have read your note wrongly, and that you don’t assume such—because if you do, I must ask:  why are you involved in a discourse at all, if it is, indeed, so arbitrary and even capricious? 

ck: But regardless of my reading, it’s just those philosophical underpinnings that are on trial here, and that Lonergan was trying to bring to light for us all, and especially where the potential for interdisciplinary discourse is concerned.


Further, you say:  “I contend that the differences between fields are differences from one field to another in the generally accepted definitions of similar terms.  These are the nominal definitions of terms in the respective fields.  I agree with Lonergan, that real or explanatory definitions are not of terms, but of the realities to which the terms point.”

ck:  Well, first, the reality is human and, therefore, complex and dynamic. Also, we have in-field theory, and then we want to discourse between-fields—which calls on a further theoretical discipline from us (an understanding of something like the functional specialties). We still need to generalize and clarify the meaning of terms--WHAT we mean and WHAT aspect of reality we refer to.

ck: One way to get there is to recognize that different fields legitimately ask different kinds of questions of that reality. To ask about the philosophical foundations of fields, or of those in it, is not to ask, for instance, psychological or social questions. All fields differ, but also intersect in that way. For instance, philosophy is a singular “field” like any of the social sciences. However, philosophical reality also underpins and operates in all persons and in all fields—this is Lonergan’s field and forte’. But again philosophical questions differ clearly from questions about psychology or the social order. And a person’s and, generally, a field’s philosophical assumptions are there, but often hidden (as I tried to isolate above from your note)—and they affect not only the focus of our inquiry but the assumptions about the reality and import of our findings.

We get into trouble when we assume philosophical coherence in our discourse when there is none. Also, a distinction is not necessarily an unrelated division—so that, understanding the distinction, and healing the false division, between “thoughts and thinkers” is a task for all of us.


You say:  “I believe that we have the ability to understand the nature of aspects of reality.” 

ck:  It’s through language, its meaning, and interpretation, however, that we do that—not capriciously, but in an authentic effort to understand what someone actually means/meant.  Such a reality speaks to the vastness of meaning that we can ask about, as well as to the state of the human spirit that intends it.  But in reading the rest of your note, I’m not sure whom you are arguing with. You won't lose anything, but will gain much, by understanding that you understand and come to know through the meaningfulness of language.

ck: I do think that statements of beliefs alone, however well-versed, do not posit, as example, a view towards critical realism, and cannot ground a grasp of truth or even an intention of caprice, however buried that intention is.  The discourse is, indeed, defunct if that's all we have.  But then, that speaks again to the philosophical assumptions of discussion, e.g., this one.

I just witnessed a wonderful inauguration . . .

Best, Catherine


Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #71 on: January 21, 2013, 05:08:55 PM »
Hi Catherine,

You have the ability to make me reflect again and again upon the structure of my own activities, non-cognitive as well as cognitive.  For this, I am grateful, because I do not claim to have completed the “longer journey” to which Lonergan challenged me when I first read his introduction to Insight.

Although I often write about sociology, I do not see myself as a representative of the discipline, engaging in cross-disciplinary communications.  I see myself as a person, communicating with another person.   This is the case whether or not I am interacting with a fellow sociologist, or a fellow follower of Lonergan.

My insights are into my experiences, and my experiences have been unique, as have the experiences of every other person.  By saying that they are “unique,” I don’t deny that there are common structures, but that the contents of my visual, auditory, tactile, etc. experiences have been different from the contents of everyone else’s experiences.  The background of the experiences I have had as the result of being born to my parents, at a particular time and place, and of having had particular friends, particular teachers, etc., is the matrix of all of my thinking and acting.  It is from that background, that matrix, that I attend to words and propositions, and attribute meaning to them.  When you attend to words and propositions, you attribute meaning to them from a background that is different from mine.

No, I don’t believe that differences in background make communication either arbitrary or impossible.  I believe that despite these differences in background, communication can be highly successful.  But I do not believe that even the most successful communication results in “shared meanings.”  When we both affirm the same explanatory proposition, we do share the verbal formulation that is the proposition, and probably share the verbal formulations that constitute the explanatory definitions of the key terms.  But we attribute meaning to those propositions from our unique, and different, backgrounds.

I embrace a correspondence theory of truth.  Good theoretical explanations are formulations of insights that have grasped important aspects of the forms that are the ontological elements in Lonergan’s “potency,” “form,” and “act.”  But I do not believe that we arrive at absolute truth by our theories, which means that I do not believe that our theoretical formulations correspond perfectly to the forms that are constitutive elements of reality.  Our theories always remain corrigible.  I don’t think that this makes the quest for better theories arbitrary, hopeless, or capricious.

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

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #72 on: January 22, 2013, 08:46:12 AM »
Greetings Dick:

You say:
 

“Although I often write about sociology, I do not see myself as a representative of the discipline, engaging in cross-disciplinary communications.  I see myself as a person, communicating with another person.   This is the case whether or not I am interacting with a fellow sociologist, or a fellow follower of Lonergan.”

Ck:  Of course you are—we both are individual “fellow” persons communicating with one another. AND we are engaging in cross-disciplinary communications—from checking our past notes here, and our discussing Method’s content (the FS)—which is about exactly that.  Or have I missed something?

Ck:  And you say:


“But I do not believe that even the most successful communication results in 'shared meanings.'  When we both affirm the same explanatory proposition, we do share the verbal formulation that is the proposition, and probably share the verbal formulations that constitute the explanatory definitions of the key terms.  But we attribute meaning to those propositions from our unique, and different, backgrounds.”

Ck:  Yes and no.  Yes—I cannot be you, nor live your history, nor you mine. (good thing!)  We All have that unique aspect. But no, that uniqueness is not all that we are--not our whole reality. (You are sharing the general notion of uniqueness with me now in this discussion, and I understand it--we have shared it.)

Ck:  We can and do share meanings (through language, understanding, and correct interpretations)—we can all share the meaning of E=MC2 and understand it exactly and precisely; and in our case of philosophical-theoretical meaning, general empirical method. From whence empathy, if not from shared meanings? (Perhaps I haven't understood your meaning?)

Ck: But If you’ve read my book (which I know you are in possession of), you’ll see my reference to what I call shadow questions. These are the generalized questions that we all share as general or as kinds of questions. For instance, we all share what it means to wonder and experience it as it emerges into our “what is it?” kinds of questions, and we can understand that others experience specific and unique questions, like “what does she mean?” but also we all experience the same shadow question at the same time we experience the uniqueness of that question, in its general way: what is it.

CK: Such sharing is not problematic if we understand the difference between the domain of relating things to ourselves (the technical definition of commonsense), the generalities that come from purported and real commonsense wisdom (e.g., don’t spit in the wind); and full generalization that seeks the universal as relating things to one another (the technical definition of theoretical/scientific meaning/science). All are distinct and legitimate fields of meaning—the latter two are that through which we share the meaning of the first and through which we can correctly interpret and understand others. Enter: simile, metaphor, analogy, parables, etc. But of course we can set these up as mutually exclusive choices, and make commonsense and our own uniqueness a priority as the only real we can have, if we want. But then "sharing no meaning" is not how we actually go about living and knowing in that living.

Ck:  MightI say that we don’t leave reality behind because we are involved with meaning in the world? On the contrary: we understand and then come to know the real through our intentional processing of its meaning—we grasp the real in our reflective understanding and then our judgments about it. The understanding process takes us far beyond merely seeing and far beyond the mere vagueness of our imaginings.

Ck: Finally, you say:


“I embrace a correspondence theory of truth.  Good theoretical explanations are formulations of insights that have grasped important aspects of the forms that are the ontological elements in Lonergan’s ‘potency,’ ‘form,’ and ‘act.’  But I do not believe that we arrive at absolute truth by our theories, which means that I do not believe that our theoretical formulations correspond perfectly to the forms that are constitutive elements of reality.  Our theories always remain corrigible.  I don’t think that this makes the quest for better theories arbitrary, hopeless, or capricious.”

Ck:  glad to hear it, at least in part (I think you are conflicting with your own statements here?).  My point, if you are interested, is that naïve realism (and other counter-positions), if we are to follow it to its logical conclusion, sets us up philosophically to be just that: arbitrary, hopeless, and capricious, and the implications on the good and morality is that they land far away from anything we mean by real. But those who hold such views tend not to follow the implications of those views—too scary. So we end up philosophically bifurcated and afraid of the implications of our views, and also of the implications that would flow from unearthing the problem—though such courageous self-reflection is where our unity of spirit can be found.

Ck: Also, in this case of the metaphysical elements above (developed in Insight) these are theoretical developments, but are also concretely identifiable—those sections in Insight explores them as such.  As concrete, however, they underpin the relationship between the unique aspects of our lives that you speak of above, and heuristic theoretical developments.

Ck: Also, you comment above that: “But I do not believe that we arrive at absolute truth by our theories, . .  .”  Philosophical theories are a bit different here. But it’s a big issue—the notion of absolute truth. The correct treatment (meaning: empirically established-able and heuristic) is developed in Insight in the chapters on knowing, particularly in his treatment of the virtually unconditioned.   

I hope I haven’t been too annoying, 

Catherine

mounce

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #73 on: January 23, 2013, 03:43:48 PM »
I think everyone can benefit from Lonergan's presentation of inverse insight, dynamic knowing, and virtually unconditioned by how they underlie his notion of unrestricted being.  For me, they roughly correspond to three favorite tautologies, *reducto ad absurdum*, *modus tollens*, and *consequentia mirabilis*, for description, and not  to test consequences that might logically follow on such assumptions.

Poundstone made a nice observation about a possible difference in understanding between someone who looks at a map of England and someone who has sailed around it.  I'm also inclined to the incontrovertible features that Adrial expounds, and I trust thermodynamics and conservation as law (i.e., features that cannot be either proven or derived-they just are).  Again, for me, BL's notion of unrestricted being comes closest to capturing it all.

"And, it is a structured notion" (editors construction because the tape ran out)  Halifax lectures

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #74 on: January 24, 2013, 09:41:03 AM »
Hi Doug:

Here is a relevant quote from Lonergan:

"Basically the issue is a transition from the abstract logic of classicism to the concreteness of method. On the former view what is basic is proof. On the latter view what is basic is conversion. Proof appeals to an abstraction named right reason. Conversion transforms the concrete individual to make him capable of grasping not merely conclusions but principles as well" (Method in Theology/1972/338).

From how I understand it, the tautology problem is based on the thinker not having made that historical and self-reflective turn.

The problem then concerns the reader's personal foundations as distinct from the objectification of them or of anything else; so that, from an already-entrenched classicism as the reader's foudandational lense, as it were, the reader of Lonergan's work itself  starts with that view and, thus, the only way to end is--you guessed it--a tautology wrapped up with conceptualism.  Without a hint of that turn, Lonergan is just another word-flapping philosopher dealing with what cannot possibly be real.

I guess we could refer to the problem as a philosophical surd--one that has been systematized in most communications in the western-influenced world and, thus, has reach gargantuan proportions. Critical-philosohical self-reflection is way-far off the horizon, but still throwing some light from below and behind the horizon?  The surd, if we can call it that, however, differs in commonsense and in academic communications. That is,  commonsense has some legitimacy in being involved in here-and-now extroversion; whereas, the academy has reflectively appropriated, in a half-cooked sort of way, several poorly wrought philosophical (counter) positions.

I like the poundstone reference.


Catherine