Monday, 25 May 2009


In his little book, Insight, Lonergan has this wonderful remark about the relative probabilities of an unconnected aggregate of events, and a connected set of events that he calls 'scheme of recurrence.' The probability of the former, he points out, is the product of the individual probabilities, while the probability of the latter is the sum of the individual probabilities.

Since probabilities can be written in terms of fractions, it is easy to see that the product of a set of fractions is far smaller than the sum of the same set of fractions.

Which means that the probability of an event occurring jumps when it forms part of a scheme of recurrence.

Some months ago I had a wait-listed ticket from Thivim to Dadar which eventually became RAC. That meant I could board the train, but it also meant that I had only a seat: I had to share a berth with someone else. Now if you have ever shared a berth on an Indian train, you will know what that means. But my point here is different: the point is that, despite the fact that I had a rather good wait-list number (I think it was in single digits), all I got was an RAC seat, and not a proper berth. I discovered the reason for that in the train: there was a huge college tour group on the train that day. The TC pointed out that such groups do not easily change their reservations. If there was no such group, he said, I would have stood a better chance of getting a berth for myself.

Now here is an interesting situation: a group, vs a set of unconnected people. The probability of my getting a berth would have been higher in the latter case.

How would that compare with Lonergan's remarks? I am still trying to work that one out... Any help?

Monday, 4 May 2009

Jung's refusal to bow

Catherine Whittle - who is a nurse with some 30 years of practice behind her - did not know, but was not surprised to learn, that Jung, in a dream, had refused to bow to God.

She said it was the scene from Milton: better to rule in hell than serve in heaven. She said it made much sense, and that she had always felt a disease reading Jung, and having so many priests tell her to read Jung.

Must find Robert Doran's article where he makes the above reference to Jung and his refusal to submit.

What psychology can contribute to theology

Inspired by a dialogue with Catherine Whittle at tea this afternoon:

Possibly an article for the Indian theological public on the contribution of psychology to theology. How Lonergan has learnt from psychology, and integrated these findings into his method.

Distinguishing, of course, different types of differences; dismissing those rooted in data, in perspectives, to concentrate on those that are truly radical and dialectical. These are rooted, not in data, not in perspectives, not in development, but in fundamental options – philosophical, moral, religious. These options are the presuppositions of all argument, proof. All proof, all logic, presupposes a system; and the system itself is rooted in fundamental options, which cannot be proved.

What then? Only: objectification of these options; bringing them to light; raising / objectifying horizons. Objectification of subjectivity. The crucial experiment.

But also: ensuring an irenic atmosphere. [McShane, SURF 2, 11: “Yes, there are two levels of dialectic, but it seems to me that if the second is done properly, there is no need to add dialogue…. The second level of dialectic is very discomforting dialogue of colleagues who share the Standard Model. The latter point is very important to absorb: the cycling is not done with adversaries, but with colleagues within the Standard Model. See] Also the venerable theme of friendship as a condition for philosophy - and for theology.

And: creating community. How to give and receive feedback. How to handle the customary (emotional) blocks to communication. How much of current interaction in philosophy, and especially in Christian theology, is an interplay of ego, emotions, and so on...