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Michael Maxwell, Jr.

Existential Foundations for a Methodical Ethics in the Work of Bernard Lonergan


Please feel free to forward comments, questions, and insights to Michael Maxwell, Jr.. My e-mail address is: [mmmax@iquest.net].

Michael Maxwell, Jr.

Advisor: Patrick Byrne


The topic of this dissertation is an exploration of the existential foundations for an ethics that follow from Lonerganís disengagement of the fourth level of existential intentionality. Integral to this exploration is the thesis that Lonerganís disengagement of a fourth level during the second phase of his intellectual development entails a transposition of his method for ethics from the cognitional foundations upon which it was originally established during his first phase to a new set of existential foundations that are isomorphic in structure with these cognitional foundations.

The structures of these two sets of foundations are isomorphic because of the relationship of performative sublation that obtains between cognitional and existential intentionality. This isomorphism of structure can be expressed in terms of two proportions. First, just as the first moment in Lonerganís cognitional foundations for a general science involves the elaboration of a cognitional theory and epistemology adequate to ground the philosophical horizon of critical realism, so too the first moment in the existential foundations for an ethics involves the elaboration of an existential theory and moral epistemology adequate to ground a critical ethical horizon. Second, just as the second moment in Lonerganís foundations for a general science involves the conception, affirmation and implementation of the integral heuristic structure of proportionate being, so too the second moment in the elaboration of foundations for an ethics involves the conception, affirmation and implementation of the integral heuristic structure of proportionate value.

Chapter one examines Lonerganís cognitional theory and epistemology, which together comprise the first moment in his cognitional foundations for a general science. Chapter two explores the existential theory and moral epistemology that together comprise the first moment in the existential foundations for an ethics. Chapter three addresses the second moment in Lonerganís cognitional foundations for a general science, which is his metaphysics. Finally, chapter four articulates the second moment in the existential foundations for Lonerganís ethics, which is the social philosophy that follows from the first moment.


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