Friday, 4 September 2009

Lonergan and Knasas again

From Joaquim D'Souza again, on Lonergan and Knasas, on 4 September 2009:
In the little piece you sent me about my profile, I’m somewhat embarrassed to be called a specialist in Medieval Philosophy or an enthusiast of Maritain. I’m, I believe, just a simple student of Thomas Aquinas, trying to understand him with the help of Gilson as regards his historical interpretation, and with the help of Maritain as regards the creative development and application of Aquinas’ thought for our times. Both Gilson and Maritain were great Thomists, who tried to make the fundamental intuitions and principles of Thomas intelligible and relevant to our times. I don’t see Thomism as having only a historical value, but as being very relevant today. Gilson and Maritain converge on many points, and they influenced each other’s work. Where they differ (i.e. on the intuition of being or on critical realism), I am inclined to follow Maritain.

Both opposed the Transcendental Method of Marechal and held fast to immediate realism as being unequivocally the teaching of Thomas Aquinas. I too subscribe to immediate realism, for I fail to understand how anyone starting from the data of consciousness as immediately evident can through the dynamism of the intellect with its unrestricted quest for the Absolute ever arrive at the real existing apart from the conscious subject. If the data of consciousness is what I start with, the terminal point of the intellectual striving will still be a data of consciousness. In other words, the question of the real existing apart from the conscious subject would not even arise, as all I have from start to finish is data of consciousness. Unless, of course, I hold as evident from the start that the data of consciousness is the real obtained from sense knowledge. The data of consciousness therefore is not indifferent or neutral with regard to real existence, subsequently to be validated as real in the process of striving towards the Absolute, but from the start has the valency of real immediately evident in it perceived in sense knowledge. Otherwise, as Gilson says, one who begins with Descartes inevitably ends up with Hegel – a confirmed idealist.

Unfortunately, in my formative years I was not introduced to Lonergan. On my own, I read his Cognitional Structure and his The Subject, and some initial chapters of Insight, but no more than that. So I would be interested to know how he would respond to Knasas’ critique of the Transcendental Method in general, and of Lonergan’s position in particular.

Well, that’s about where I stand in my philosophical affiliations.

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