Tuesday, 24 August 2010

ACPI 2009 papers

Managed to send the text of the ACPI 2009 papers to Johnson Puthenpurackal and George Panthanmackel at Bangalore. The last of the bio notes came in this morning. I really should have asked for them earlier, but did not think it was necessary.

Johnson says to put in also the ACPI Statement. I could not find it.

Hard work editing the papers, but it is done, and it is a satisfying feeling.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Development of doctrine, hermeneutics, postmodernism

For the best history of the problem of doctrinal development, we have Aidan Nichols, From Newman to Congar. Nichols brings us up to the Council, and, in his conclusion, adds a note on the post-conciliar situation. The work of Newman, Blondel, Congar, Schillebeeckx and Rahner comes to fruition in the Council, but begins rapidly dissolving after the Council thanks to certain developments which Nichols sums up in the words pluralism, hermeneutics and reception.

Nichols conclusion is something like a teaser: he opens up a new problematic, but does not really get into it. Further, writing in 1990, he has no mention at all of postmodernism.

Dan Stiver, in his introduction to Theology after Ricoeur, takes up postmodernism as well as pluralism. His attitude to postmodernism is sympathetic; it is revealing, however, that he includes Gadamer and Ricoeur among the proponents of postmodernism.

Stanley Hauerwas begins with a scathing attack on postmodernism, but does know how to draw out the best in it (it has to be taken seriously, he says), while still insisting on the cognitive component of doctrines.

On hermeneutics, we need to see Claude Geffre.

The post-conciliar Schillebeeckx also begins with hermeneutics, abandons the cognitive meaning of doctrines, and proposes a political and a narrative theology. Caputo, despite drawing from the postmodern Derrida, does not seem to have much more to offer than a narrative theology that sidesteps the question of cognitive meaning to concentrate solely on the constitutive and performative meaning. Felix Wilfred too seems to be largely an Indian reading of Schillebeeckx: the same attention to hermeneutics and the privileging of the hermeneutical position of the oppressed, political and narrative theology, and the sidestepping of cognitive meaning.

Hauerwas calls postmodernism the bastard child of modernity. From what he says, it might not perhaps be too much off the mark to call both modernity and postmodernity bastard children of Christianity, a Christianity that has 'lost its story'. Strikingly attractive bastards, as often happens.

We should probably not find great difficulty in accepting the emphases brought by Schillebeeckx, Caputo,  Wilfred and the like. The key question is: do we need to jettison cognitive meaning in order to incorporate constitutive and performative meaning? And: can we really jettison cognitive meaning, and yet remain faithful to the Gospel? So the key question is truth: how are we to understand this?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Shute's new book, Lonergan's Discovery of the Science of Economics

The University of Toronto Press has sent me Michael Shute's Lonergan's Discovery of the Science of Economics (2010) for review. It could not have come at a better time, when we are preparing for McShane's Workshop on Economics here at Divyadaan. 

Shute divides up his potential audience into economists, all other academics, and Lonergan scholars. He writes primarily for Lonergan scholars with the hope of interesting them in Lonergan’s economics. [17-19] He succeeds admirably in his task. I want to say without mincing words: this is the best introduction to Lonergan’s economics that I have ever found - though that 'I' has to be qualified by presumed inclusion in Shute's third group. 

But that again must be modified somewhat, because I happen to come to Shute’s book after a more than cursory reading of DJPE 21/2, and perhaps that reading has its own contribution to the fact that I find Shute’s book so readily intelligible. In fact, Shute himself remarks acutely: attempted introductions to Lonergan’s economics are simply far too complex. Their problem is that they follow too closely Lonergan’s own dense presentations and ordering of topics. What is needed is to explain one business at a time. [16.] But that is precisely what DJPE 21/2 does; and, I must add, Shute’s essay in that volume stands out as a model of approachability. 

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Work and leisure

A very interesting remark: the goal of economic development is leisure, not full employment.

"For Lonergan an increased rate of leisure, not full employment, was a more desired outcome for economic development." Lonergan got this view from Christopher Dawson. For Dawson, in the ideal case, technological innovation accelerated the rate of production of material goods; this led to increase in division of labour; and this eventually allowed for more leisure, initially for some social classes, but eventually for all. More leisure leads to cultural advances.

An unfinished goal of Lonergan's essay For a New Political Economy was to understand how economic rhythms provided a base for the advance of culture.

(See M. Shute, Lonergan's Discovery of the Science of Economics, 2010, 49.)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Pluralism, hermeneutics, reception, postmodernism

This is an attempt to meet Venny's request. Very offhand, please note. 

Pluralism: the theory that there are not only different but incommensurable universes of discourse, such that communication between universes is impossible. Thus I say X and you say X, but we mean quite different things. I say this is a theory, because we could question whether pluralism is so radical as to prevent any possibility of communication. Wittgenstein himself said: if a lion could talk, we would not be able to understand it. I read this as saying: between human beings, however different we are, we can communicate, because there is something shared, a form of life, a common humanity, at least operatively if not in thought content. 

Hermeneutics: earlier this was understood as the art of interpretation. After Heidegger and Gadamer, it is understood not merely as an art of interpretation, but as the very way we are. We are hermeneutical beings, beings that live as interpreters. Now within such a hermeneutical philosophy, one can opt for a radical pluralism of the sort described above, or else for a not so radical pluralism that still makes space for the common ground of a common humanity... 

Reception: the idea that meaning is created in the receiving. Thus, for example, there would be no abstract 'meaning' of a work of art; rather, meaning emerges in the reception of that work. And so there would be a multiplicity of meanings. Is this multiplicity radical, so that there is no connection at all between different meanings? There would be different opinions here. A radical postmodern position would probably talk about the 'text' (or work of art) as absorbing the 'world' or 'reality', rather than 'referring' to a world or reality. 

Postmodernism: still an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of positions, chiefly those of Lyotard, Derrida, Foucault, Rorty, Vattimo. An ongoing contemporary realization of the shortcomings of modernity beginning from Descartes. E.g. there is no 'enclosed subjectivity' but always being-in-the-world. Reason is not supreme; it has to become aware of its fragile, fractured state. There is no such thing as pure reason; reason is always 'engaged', situated, committed, situated, historical, conditioned, traditioned... There are no meta-narratives or grand narratives, or if there are, they should be recognized as 'constructs'; there are only little narratives. Centres are centres only because of power equations; the margins must be respected, looked at, focussed upon, recognized, given their due. Superficiality and play rather than profundity. No common ground, therefore, but a play of a thousand forces and aspects and dimensions. No 'foundations' for truth. Not even 'truth' in the classical sense of correspondence to reality, but existential truth, truth in the living out, pragmatic truth.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Tradition and Innovation

The best book I have found so far on doctrinal development is that of Nichols, From Newman to Congar (1990). Unfortunately, Nichols ends where the problem begins: with the unravelling of the synthesis achieved in Vatican II, precisely in the work of the very theologians who contributed to that synthesis: Rahner, Schillebeeckx, and Congar. The three key words here are: pluralism, hermeneutics, and reception.

Writing (way back now!) in 1990 (a full 20 years ago) he misses out on postmodernism.

I would think that, between pluralism, hermeneutics and postmodernism, the very problem of doctrinal development has been swept out of court. With the banning of propositional truth, the problem simply fails to arise.

But: I need to find more stuff on these developments.

Whitehead, Lonergan and relations

In the concluding chapter of his little book, What are they saying about Dogma (New York: Paulist, 1978), William E. Reiser, SJ, suddenly appeals to Whitehead's process philosophy. He informs us that the key concept in Aristotelian philosophy was substance; Whitehead would substitute that with relation. Then, a very revealing sentence:
When one thing changes, everything else is somehow affected, however minimally. (58)
If reality is a texture of pure relations, then we probably have a situation like that of Hegel, where there is no place for the truly contingent. See Lonergan, Insight, ch. 11, section 11:
Now, if one supposes that the whole universe is a pattern of internal relations, clearly it follows that no part and no aspect of the universe can be known in isolation from any other part or aspect; for every item is related internally to every other; and to prescind from such relations is to prescind from things as they are and to substitute in their plae other, imaginary objects that simply are not.... (CWL 3:367) 
This section must be read in conjunction with ch. 16, section 2, where relations are conceived of as having two components, primary and secondary, which distinction serves to separate the systematic and the nonsystematic. (CWL 3:515) Despite the fact that the shift from description to explanation involves a shift from external to internal relations, in a fully explanatory account of the universe external relations also survive. (CWL 3:518)

These are deep waters; but no doubt they have to be traversed if we are to get to the bottom of the matter.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Money and the univocity of being

“Money, in modernity, is the institutionalization of univocity of being that Scotus thought necessary to ensure the unmediated knowledge of God.” [S. Hauerwas, "The Christian Difference" 149.] See the whole brilliant article for an explanation of this. Who would have thought that metaphysics might have such historical consequences?

What a claim! Did this perspective find representation in the ACPI meeting on money? 

Hauerwas and Blond on Scotus

Stanley Hauerwas is one more who, with Philip Blond, identifies Scotus as responsible for modernity and, eventually, postmodernity, with his insistence on the univocity of being, and his exaltation of being over and above God. (See his "The Christian Difference, or Surviving Postmodernism," The Blackwell Companion to Postmodern Theology, ed. Graham Ward [Oxford: Blackwell, 2001] 147-8.) (Earlier I found Caputo doing a similar thing... See his Philosophy and Theology, and my paper at Yercaud.)

Strangely, it is the Franciscan Sidney Mascarenhas who is now insisting on the pluriverse, accusing Thomas of uni-versity.

Jesuit contribution to Indology

Some biographical information might be found in the following:

God's Word Among Men: Papers in Honour of Fr Joseph Putz, SJ, Frs J. Bayart, SJ, J. Volckaert, SJ, and P. de Letter, SJ. Ed. G. Gispert-Sauch. Delhi: Vidyajyoti Institute of Religious Studies, 1973.

"Father Joseph Putz, SJ." A Tribute by J. Bayart, SJ. ix-xiv.
"Father Julian Bayart, SJ." A Tribute by J. D'Souza, SJ. xv-xviii.
"Father Jules Volckaert, SJ." A Tribute by M. Dullard, SJ. xix-xxii.
"Father Prudent de Letter, SJ." A Tribute by Archbishop L.T. Picachy, SJ. xxiii-xxvi.

In the same volume see also:
R. Panikkar, "Vac in the Sruti." 3-24.
R. De Smet. "Highlights in the Life of Faith (Sraddha) in India." 39-58.
K. Rahner. "Christ in Non-Christian Religions." 95-104.
S. Grant. "Reflections on the Mystery of Christ suggested by a Study of Sankara's Concept of Relation." 105-16.
J. Dupuis. "The Cosmic Influence of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel Mesage." 117-38.
G. Gispert-Sauch. "Grace and the Christian Call." 167-180.
J. Mattam. "Abbe Jules Monchanin and India, 'The Land of the Trinity'." 195-230.
E. Hambye. "Robert de Nobili and Hinduism." 325-34.

Felix Wilfred Festschrift

Patrick Gnanapragasam and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, ed. Negotiating Borders: Theological Explorations in the Global Era: Essays in Honor of Prof. Felix Wilfred. Delhi: ISPCK, 2008. 

Francis X. Clooney. "Reengaging the Classical Traditions in the LIght of Popular and Subaltern Hinduism - Extending Felix Wilfred's Reconsideration of Hindu-Christian Relations." 415-427.

Georg Evers. "Developments in Indian Catholic Theological Reflections." 589-607.

Rosino Gibellini. "Passion for the Reign - The Paths of Theology of the 20th Century." 608-621. 

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Theological trivia

Rahner, Lonergan, Congar: all born in 1904. Rahner and Lonergan both died in 1984. Balthasar was born in 1905, and died in 1988. Congar died in 1995.

Balthasar and Heidegger

Balthasar seems to be influenced by Heidegger. Rahner clearly is. Both are influenced by de Lubac. But their tendencies are opposed. How? What? Why? 

It would seem that Balthasar both welcomes and unwelcome Heidegger. See: “O’Regan delivered a magnificent analysis of the complex relationship between Balthasar and Heidegger, citing both a ‘welcoming’ and an ‘unwelcoming’ of the latter in Balthasar’s theology. It was the unwelcoming which O’Regan was especially interested in, citing evocatively Balthasar’s conception of a ‘gigantic misremembering’ on Heidegger’s part which distorted the relationship between Heidegger and Christian thought.” Jones Irwin, “A Contemporary Platonic-Christianity? – On Radical Orthodoxy.” http://www.mic.ul.ie/stephen/vol12/Review.htm as of 2 August 2010.

See Rossi, Osvaldo. “Herrlichkeit e Sein: Heidegger nel pensiero di Hans Urs von Balthasar.” Communio: Rivista Internazionale di Teologia e Cultura 147 (1996) 94-105. [STS R F-35. 1996 (1).]

Nichols' From Newman to Congar

Aidan Nichols' book, From Newman to Congar (1990), is a real find. I came to it through the Conclusion that I found on the net: eminently readable, and provocative, speaking about the stasis on doctrinal development reached both in the thoughts of Rahner, Schillebeeckx and Congar and in the Council, and then about the coming apart of this stasis or synthesis in all three major theologians in the post-conciliar period, summarized in the three notions of pluralism (Rahner), hermeneutics (Schillebeeckx), and reception (Congar).

The lovely thing was to find Nichols' book in our library. I am reading this just now. Nichols is very readable, and Englishly lucid. So I don't struggle. But: his Conclusion really sets the case, and opens up the can of worms. But it is disappointing, because it says nothing more. Does he say this in the next promised book, which also, providentially, I happened to find in our library - The Shape of Catholic Theology? To be seen. At any rate, I think the problem is being set.

Where would Lonergan fit in, in all this? Nichols has a brief something to say on Lonergan, who he couples with Tracy; but I think his treatment is far from complete or satisfactory.

How does Lonergan hold up against pluralism, hermeneutics and reception? That is the interesting question.

Anyway, one thing is becoming clear, also from Nichols himself: the key issue regards propositional truth (From Newman 16). Nichols says there is no Catholic Christianity without this. Surprising, because Guy Mansini ("The Abiding Theological Significance of Henri de Lubac's Surnaturel," The Thomist 73/4 [2009] 593-620) seems to be saying that de Lubac and Balthasar are involved in a Platonizing of theology... and Nichols is a Balthasar scholar.

But: checking out Mansini in a blog entry below, I found this: the distinction between Lonergan and the Communio theologians (de Lubac and Balthasar included) is that the latter want to abandon the scientific character of theology.

The Catholic Heideggerian School

E. Przywara includes in the 'Catholic Heideggerian School': Rahner, J.B. Lotz, G. Siewerth, M. Muller, and B. Welte. (See A. Nicholas, From Newman to Congar, 1990, 214-5)