The Lonergan Reader
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(his)tory, mix with progressive expressions and manifestations of the thrust towards self-transcendence.

The strategy conceived and adopted by Lonergan to revive the pursuit of self-knowledge is what he names 'self-appropriation.' It is by self-appropriation that the obstruction set up by unbridled practicality is to be outflanked. In the first instance, self-appropriation is a shift of orientation: instead of being poured out on objects, we attend to ourselves as establishing relations to objects. Self-appropriation shifts our attention from the objects that are present to us through our operations to the events given in our presence to ourselves in our dealings with objects. It is not only a shift of attention from objects generally to our own flow of conscious events but also a shift of attention from the subject-as-object to the subject-as-subject. The subject-as-subject is the one who establishes by his or her own activities his or her relations to objects, including other subjects. The subject-as-object is the perceptible human being behaving and acting in the shared, public world. The activities of the subject-as-subject are not perceptible behaviors or 'external acts.' Rather, they are consciously experienced activities or what Lonergan calls 'interior operations.' Self-appropriation, in the first instance, is a shift of attention from objects, including the subject-as-object, to the subject-as-subject and the realm of interiority.(37)

But there are many interior operations, and Edmund Husserl, for example, complained that, upon turning to the subject-as-subject, he felt himself adrift on an infinite sea. But Lonergan's strategy is more deliberately planned. Whereas Husserl felt himself adrift, Lonergan anticipates and seeks out dynamic structures of operations. Once the realist obstruction is outflanked, a sequence of questions can be addressed to the previously obscured field of interior events. What am I doing when I'm knowing? Why is doing that called knowing? What do I know when I do that? What am I doing when I'm valuing? What ought I to do in light of the knowledge I've now acquired of my knowing and my valuing?

Self-appropriation is first and foremost a process of taking possession of oneself as a knower and a doer. Our knowing and deciding are of the greatest strategic importance in the effort to uncover a transcultural foundation. Our present disorientation, when distilled by analysis, is To Page 19


37. On the presence of the subject to itself, see Collection, 208-11 and Understanding and Being, 15-17.