Sunday, 23 November 2008

The eye of faith

In Regis 1962 (Lecture 7, section 3.4: The Light of Faith) Lonergan says that, by lumen fidei, he does not mean something like Rouselot's les yeux de la foi, because Rousselot does not have (Lonergan's) sharp distinction between What is it? and Is it so? Faith, Lonergan goes on, does not involve understanding anything. We believe, not because we understand, but because of the authority of God.

But in Method in Theology, faith is no longer assent to truths, and Lonergan does go on to speak of faith as the eye of love.

Is there something to be deepened here? What kind of shift is that? Anything substantial?

Religions and the supernatural

In my paper on Francis Xavier and the missions (Boston 2006), I pulled in an older reflection / comparison between Christianity and Islam. There was much discussion on that. I said that Islam was a religion that could easily fit into what we used to call natural or philosophical theology, because there was nothing in it that 'exceeded the natural capacity of the human mind.' In that sense, Islam was not a 'supernatural' religion.

Scholars like Pat Bryne and also Fred Lawrence, I think, were not so sure about that. They said that all religions were supernatural.

I have still to get to the bottom of that. However, I think it is a question of defining 'supernatural' very clearly.

In Regis 1962, Lonergan seems to be distinguishing supernatural acts from supernatural objects. He says, for example, that de facto, because there is need of gratia sanans, and because of the way grace is granted in this order, there will normally be supernatural acts before one reaches the reflective act of understanding (which is supernatural when it is a question of divine faith). Still, he goes on, the objects prior to that reflective act of understanding need not be supernatural. (Lecture 6, Section 3.3: Human and Divine Faith).

So maybe in one sense (as far as acts are concerned) the religions are all supernatural, while in another sense (as far as objects are concerned) they are not all supernatural.

But I need to master here the distinction between acts and objects: how can an act be supernatural, when the object is not? And what does supernatural mean in the case of the act here?

In fact, I might have misunderstood Lonergan above. He says, for example: "it is at the point of specification of the act by a supernatural object that per se, that is, in every case, one is having a supernatural act." And again: "There would be nothing supernatural quoad se, quoad substantiam, in any of the acts and, consequently, not in the praeambula."

Heidegger and truth

I am reading Lonergan's Regis course on the Method of Theology (1962), and the section on immanentism in that course. He points out there that Husserl is certainly an immanentist, but perhaps also Heidegger. Heidegger, he says, may be heading towards realism, but he is still heading...

So it just struck me that what I have been saying about Heidegger in my Hermeneutics course may be quite wrong. I have been saying there that Heidegger has shown us the way beyond the subject-object split, that he has shown how we are always already beings-in-the-world. That, it seems to me now, is true as far as it goes, but the problem is that it does not go far enough. Heidegger rejects the presumption of enclosed subjectivity, and that is fine. But does he reach truth as something more than aletheia? Does he truly get beyond phenomenology, experience? Lonergan seems to be saying: as long as he does not acknowledge the significance of true judgment, he does not reach truth.