Review of Metaphysics 25 (3):571-572 (1972)

Bernard Lonergan is a Jesuit philosopher-theologian whose work is having an increasing influence, particularly on those concerned with identifying the nature of theological reflection and its relation to other areas of human inquiry. The purpose of this volume is to introduce a broader philosophical and theological audience to the world of Lonergan's thought. This world is principally characterized by Lonergan's notion of horizon-analysis. Perhaps the best way to explain what this means is to link it to Lonergan's view that man is a being who can ask questions. Questions that he can raise and answer constitute the known. Questions that he can raise but cannot answer as yet constitute the known unknown, the docta ignorantia. There are still other questions, meaningful in themselves. that man, because of his historical situation, cannot even raise simply because they are not meaningful for him, and these constitute the unknown unknown, the indocta ignorantia. An horizon marks the boundary between the known unknown and the unknown unknown, that is, it provides the maximum field of knowledge available within the range of questions possible within a given methodological structure. A new horizon, that is, a new field of knowledge, emerges when a new kind of consciousness with an implicit new kind of method which makes it possible for a man to ask questions that previously were meaningless for him. Lonergan's work has been a careful attempt, based on horizon-analysis, to investigate the possibilities for metaphysical and theological understanding. Tracy, in setting forth as comprehensively as possible the full range of Lonergan's work, shows how his early studies of Thomas Aquinas focused on the centrality in the Thomistic noetic of the dynamic character of the act of knowing, an act that is not one of confrontation with an object but one of identity-in-being, of a deepening interiority making it possible for new questions to become meaningful. In his major epistemological study, Insight, Lonergan sought to show how the scientific method and the critical movement in philosophy were of crucial significance in providing new horizons for the question-asking being, man, whose dynamic interiority grounds a metaphysics and whose dynamism prolonged into doing grounds an ethics. The later Lonergan, the Lonergan of the post-Insight period, is the Lonergan who is seeking to discover how a new historical consciousness, a consciousness distinct from that of "classical" man, provides a new horizon for asking questions of philosophical and theological import. Thus Lonergan's major concern today is with method, that is, with a normative pattern of recurrent operations resulting in cumulative and progressive results. Through horizon-analysis Lonergan is currently seeking "to move fully and coherently from... a notion of theology as 'reason illuminated by faith' to 'method illuminated by faith'." Because Lonergan has significant things to say about human knowledge and because his highly original approach has affinities to developments in phenomenology and linguistic analysis, this patient and painstaking introduction to his thought should be of value to many contemporary philosophers.--W. E. M.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph197225338
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