predetermined results, makes method appear irrelevant to the clarification of the complexities involved in concrete human living and its guidance.(28) Lastly, conventional critiques of method, as a manipulative procedure associated with a dominative natural science insensitive to human freedom, make it appear most unappealing as a topic for serious reflection.(29)
If Lonergan is justly described as a philosopher, a theologian, and a methodologist, why do philosophers and theologians apparently fail to find the philosophy and theology they expect in his writings, and why do those familiar with method in its current meanings apparently find it difficult to conceive of method in Lonergan's sense? The answer to both questions is to be found in Lonergan's unique meaning for the word 'methodologist' and his unique conception of method.(30) When asked a few years before his death if he liked to be described as a methodologist, Lonergan answered that he did, although he added without hesitation, 'but what most people understand by method is a recipe.'(31) Lonergan strongly rejected this common notion of method: 'Method can be thought of as a set of recipes that can be observed by a block-head yet lead infallibly to astounding discoveries. Such a notion of method I consider sheer illusion.'(32) If his readers were able to get beyond this exclusive and narrow conception of method and the corresponding conception of methodology, they might discover that Lonergan's methodological work is basic in nature. Carrying it out forces a significant shift in the way the disciplines of philosophy and theology are conceived and practiced. Late in life Lonergan expressed the view that it would take at least one hundred years for the fruits of his work to permeate the culture.(33)
Let us now turn from preliminary considerations of the difficulty of placing Lonergan in the contemporary cultural scene to a brief survey of his vision of the situation in which he lived; his understanding of the demands to be met by the thinker who aims to live at the level of the To Page 15
28. Caring, 220.
29. On the intrusion into the natural sciences of the extra-scientific opinions of scientists, and of mechanist determinism in particular, see Method in Theology, 248-9, 317.
30. David Tracy describes Lonergan's notion of method as 'entirely original' in 'Bernard Lonergan and the Return of Ancient Practice,' in Fred Lawrence, ed., Lonergan Workshop (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990), 10:319-31.
31. Caring, 220.
32. Philosophy of God, 48.
33. Caring, 175.