The Lonergan Reader
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U of T Press

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    theologies, and histories. Now books pour forth annually by the thousands; our libraries need ever more space. But the vast modern effort to understand meaning in all its manifestations has not been matched by a comparable effort in judging meaning. The effort to understand is the common task of unnumbered scientists and scholars. But judging and deciding are left to the individual, and he finds his plight desperate. There is far too much to be learnt before he could begin to judge. Yet judge he must and decide he must if he is to exist.(43)

It is Lonergan's view, then, that we are in the midst of an epochal shift in the control of meaning, a shift which has not yet reached its term. The classical conceptuality, which assigned meanings to the basic notions of knowledge, objectivity, truth, reality, and goodness, cannot accommodate and comprehend the emerging multiplicity of endeavors and the still more numerous and diverse revelations which flow from them and threaten to immerse us. Reliance upon clear-cut definitions of the human soul and human nature, upon supposedly self-evident first principles and certain knowledge of things through their causes, and upon rigorous manipulation of static abstractions by logic no longer suffices. But no new controls are in place. So long as the issue of controls remains unresolved, the private disorientation and desperation of the individual will persist and continue to crystallize in the public field of human affairs. We need a new conceptuality, an articulation of the basic guiding notions, in light of which we can render judgments confidently and critically, make decisions freely and responsibly, promote progress, and resist decline.(44)

The required conceptuality must complete the transition, already in progress, from the metaphysical notion of the soul to the concrete subject; from abstract human nature to historicity; from self-evident, static first principles to dynamic operations; from logical to methodical control of meaning. We believe that the reader of this volume will discover that the task Lonergan set himself was to effect the completion, at the To Page 25


43. Collection, 244.

44. In Caring, on page 8, Lonergan describes his Method in Theology as providing a new conceptuality or begrifflichkeit. On page 119 he discusses F.E. Crowe's comparison of his achievement with those of Aristotle and Bacon and characterizes it as both 'a different organon and a different style of organon.' See F.E. Crowe, The Lonergan Enterprise (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1980); and Method in Theology: An Organon for Our Time (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1980).