Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Interpretation, scientific and descriptive

McShane's main criticism of my dialectic of Sankara interpretations is that it is not explanatory, not based on the universal viewpoint. He would have the functional specialty interpretation as a securely explanatory affair in the context of a global, geohistorical collaboration.

One of my findings, however, was that the difference between chapter 17 of Insight and chapter 7 of Method in Theology is a difference between explanation and description, or between scientific interpretation and commmonsense interpretation.

Some acknowledgement of this is to be found in McShane when he notes gently that Lonergan in Method is also mostly only gently descriptive.

However, McShane has a point when he points out that in the course of the cycling, commonsense interpretation will no longer remain commonsensical. It will climb towards explanation. And a hint of this cycling and climbing is to be found, of course, at the end of chapter 7 of Method, the mysterious note on possibilities of explanatory interpretation.

McShane also cites often Lonergan's remark in the appendix of The Triune God: Systematics, to the effect that non-explanatory categories are "very damaging, even at the beginning of science".

My impression is that Lonergan wanted to make method open to all comers, and so to demand operation from the universal viewpoint is to make an excessive demand.

But of course there is also his request / expectation that merely descriptive work will be lifted up into explanatory perspective by investigators who are working, presumably, from the universal viewpoint, from adequate self-appropriation.

The point is: am I working from that kind of viewpoint, that kind of appropriation? And, whatever the nuances of Lonergan interpretation, that is not a question to be dodged. So: if I am attempting to retrieve good (or shabby) work, I must attempt to do it from an explanatory perspective...

And that does give me a way forward: my own mastery of self, of mind and of heart, giving me an opening into the other person's mastery or lack of it. And by mastery I am to think not merely of the conversions but also of the differentiations, and especially of theoretic differentiation.

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