Bernard Lonergan


Bernard Lonergan

Fr. Bernard Lonergan, S.J. (17 December 1904 – 26 November 1984) was a Canadian Jesuit Priest. He was a philosopher-theologian in the Thomist tradition and an economist from Buckingham, Quebec. He taught at Loyola College (Montreal) (now Concordia University), Regis College (now part of the University of Toronto), the Pontifical Gregorian University and Boston College. He is the author of "Insight: A Study of Human Understanding" (1957) and "Method in Theology" (1973), which established what he called the Generalized Empirical Method (GEM). The University of Toronto Press is in process of publishing his work in a projected 20-volume collection assembled by staff at the Lonergan Research Institute at Regis College.

Education

Lonergan entered the Society of Jesus in 1922, obtained his BA in Philosophy from Heythrop College in 1929, was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest in 1933, obtained his S.T.D. (Doctor of Sacred Theology) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1940 for a dissertation advised by Charles Boyer, S.J., and later published as "Grace and Freedom: Operative Grace in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas".

Works

After his return from Rome, Lonergan wrote a series of four articles for Theological Studies on the inner word in Thomas Aquinas which became highly influential in the study of St. Thomas' accounts of knowledge and cognition. The articles were later collected and published under the title "Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas".

While teaching theology at the Collegium Christi Regis, now Regis College federated with the University of Toronto, Lonergan wrote "Insight: A Study of Human Understanding", inaugurating the generalized empirical method (GEM). GEM belongs to the movement of "transcendental Thomism" inaugurated by Joseph Maréchal. This method begins with an analysis of human knowing as divided into three levels—experience, understanding, and judgment—and, by stressing the objectivity of judgment more than Kant had done, develops a Thomistic vision of Being as the goal of the dynamic openness of the human spirit.

In 1973, Lonergan published "Method in Theology", which divides the discipline into eight 'functional specialties'. Method is a phenomenon which applies across the board in all disciplines and realms of consciousness. Through his work on method, Lonergan aimed, among other things, to establish a firm basis for agreement and progress in disciplines such as philosophy and theology. Lonergan believed that the lack of an agreed method among scholars in such fields has inhibited substantive agreement from being reached and progress from being made; whereas, in the natural sciences, for example, widespread agreement among scholars on the scientific method has enabled remarkable progress.

In later life while teaching at Boston College, Lonergan returned his attention to the economic interests of his younger days. The University of Toronto Press has published his two works on economcs: "For a New Political Economy" and "Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis".

For more information see the Lonergan Center.

Philosophy: Generalized Empirical Method (GEM)

Lonergan described GEM as critical realism. By realism, he affirmed that we make true judgments of fact and of value, and by critical, he based knowing and valuing in a critique of consciousness. GEM traces to their roots in consciousness the sources of all the meanings and values that make up personality, social orders, and historical developments. A more thorough overview of Lonergan's work is available at the [http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/l/lonergan.htm Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy] .

His ideas include Radical Unintelligibility and GEM.

Honours

In 1970 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

External links

* [http://www.bernardlonergan.com Bernard Lonergan Archive]
* [http://lonergan.concordia.ca The Lonergan Website - Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada]
* [http://www.lonergan-lri.ca/ Lonergan Research Institute, Toronto]
* [http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/lonergan/ Lonergan Institute, Boston College]
* [http://www.ustpaul.ca/Lonergancentre/index_e.asp Lonergan Centre, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada]
* [http://www.hagarqim.ndo.co.uk/books4.htm Quotes]
* [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004754 Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan] at The Canadian Encyclopedia
* [http://www.lonergan.org/seminarnotes/Insight/insight.htm Commentary and Notes on Insight] (includes podcast)


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