The Lonergan Reader
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U of T Press

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revealed to be at root a confusion about what counts as knowledge, what constitutes objectivity, what is meant by reality, and what is truly good. The meanings given to these notions by a culture, whether explicitly known or merely operative in cultural performance, are a culture's most basic constituents. Previously authoritative accounts of knowledge, objectivity, reality, and the truly good have fallen prey to scientific revolutions and the suspicions of a historically conscious age. Lonergan's strategy was to seek in the very performance of cognitive and moral operations the criteria of objectivity, truth, reality, and value that are always at work, quietly and subtly, prior to their deliberate formulation and even in our philosophizing about them. If these criteria are brought to light and adequately articulated, we will have equipped ourselves with a fundamental account of the notions informing and guiding the creation of the specific categories of meaning and value which inform and guide human ways of life. Such an account, Lonergan claims, is immune to radical revision, since any effort to revise it must employ either implicitly or explicitly the criteria described in the account. Self-appropriation, then, is the effort to give an account of the invariant dynamic structure of conscious intentionality with its immanent criteria of objectivity, truth, reality, and value. But, still more importantly, it is taking reflective possession of oneself as constituted fundamentally by operative, preconceptual, prelinguistic criteria of knowledge, objectivity, truth, reality, and value.(38)

Self-appropriation is radically different from the Cartesian strategy of cutting oneself off from external objects in order to find oneself in the internal remainder. Self-appropriation is not disengagement from the world of objects but development of an understanding of oneself in the widest possible range of cognitive and moral engagements. The criteria immanent in interior operations cannot be discovered unless the interior operations occur. Accordingly, Lonergan deliberately provides opportunities in Insight for his readers to catch themselves in the act of performing cognitional operations - to experience themselves questioning, imagining, having insights, reflecting on the correctness To Page 20


38. David Tracy suggests an analogy between the role of self-appropriation in Lonergan's thought and the place of 'spiritual exercises' in ancient philosophy, and he suggests that 'the habitual belief of modern Western philosophers and even theologians that theory should be separate from practices' may account for their apparent hesitancy to place Lonergan firmly in either of those disciplines. See Tracy's 'Bernard Lonergan and the Return of Ancient Practice,' 325-6.