Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Doran gives examples of transpositions from Lonergan himself:
What is agent intellect? The unrestricted desire to know.
What is an intelligible species? An idea. [Doran, Essay 25:2n4.]

I remember being delighted when I first discovered the first transposition here. The light of the intellect and agent intellect meant almost nothing to me till that discovery. 

Ormerod on Milbank

Milbank's radical orthodoxy rejects the significance of the general categories. [Doran, Essay 25:10n16.]

The "challenging if not devastating critique by Neil Ormerod": "'It is Easy to See': The Footnotes of John Milbank." Philosophy and Theology 11/2 (1999) 257-64. [Doran, Essay 25:10n16.]

Hefling in conversation with Doran

Just finished reading Charles Hefling's response to Doran's use of the four-point hypothesis as the starting point of his new systematic theology. Electrifying - not only because Hefling is a masterly writer and scholar, but because of the way his text met questions which had arisen for me.

I try to note down these at random:

1. What is the implication of the fact that, of the 4 divine relations, only 3 are real, and one not?
2. Is the gift of God's love really distinct from the state of being in love with God, in Method in Theology? What of the fact that Lonergan uses them randomly and interchangeably? Did Lonergan want to distinguish them?
3. What to make of the fact that, even when he acknowledged the amalgamation in the Workshop of 1974, he did not sound apologetic - that instead, he pointed out to the need to overcome faculty psychology?

One point that I did not come across in Hefling's text is my dis-ease with the way Doran associates the state of being in love with God with the response to God's love. But on almost every other point, Hefling meets my spontaneous - therefore not studied - approbation.

Hefling in conversation with Doran: is this not really dialectic, in some sense at least? 

The state, the consent, and the religions

Why am I spending so much time on Doran's thesis?
Or: in what way is it relevant to my paper on the Natural and the Supernatural in the Religions: Lonergan's Evolution?

Perhaps it can form a separate paper, with an identity of its own.
Certainly it is relevant to the questions I have had since 1988, about the gift of God's love, and the state of being in love with God: the suspicion that, in a very real sense, God loves us into loving him.

Habitual grace as operative - as a technical way of speaking about God plucking out the heart of stone and putting in the heart of flesh - seemed fascinating and full of promise in this direction. As Lonergan says somewhere, the heart of stone does not want to be replaced!

Also, the reversal of the priority of knowing over loving - or the major exception to Nihil amatum nisi cognitum - this also seemed promising. God stealing a march over our knowing. God loving us into loving him, "before we know what's happening" - and before even the moment of our freedom, our free response.

But, we might ask: is this kind of love - in which we are loved into loving someone - is this truly love? Is not freedom a constitutive part of loving?

On the other hand: is it not true that we are, even in our ordinary human experience, sometimes loved into loving? Not always, it is true. Sometimes people love us, and we are absolutely unmoved. But there are some cases when the love of someone overwhelms us, and we find ourselves loved into loving, and that loving is something we find ourselves in, rather than a product of our choosing. Certainly after this we can still choose to accept and confirm or to reject.

Encouraging remark of Doran's:
Before I close this paper, may I suggest that we must turn to human love to find the analogy by which we are able to reach some further understanding, albeit imperfect, of the reality of grace as we have presented it here. The positive dimensions of the analogy would be at least twofold. First, the reception of the love of another person for us changes us in such a way as to enable us to perform operations and experience states which previously were not within our capacity. I have made some initial forays into expressing this in chapter 8 of Theology and the Dialectics of History. Second (and this I still have to work out even in incipient fashion), the love of another person for us is somehow constitutive of us (without, of course, involving the indwelling of that other person in the same manner as the divine indwelling), and not in the manner of a formal cause, but in the manner of inviting us into a relation to the one who loves us, who would thus be one term of the relationship. [Essay 1:34.]
So how is all this relevant to my paper?

Charity and the response to God's love, again

I have searched several of Doran's articles (Essays 42, 39, 32 and 1, in that order) for the reasoning or exegesis behind his identification of 'the dynamic state of being in love with God' with the infused habit of charity. Perhaps the best, and maybe the first, attempt is Essay 1.

I just want to record my impressions here.

That Lonergan amalgamated SG and charity in MT: true.
But: is it gift = SG + charity?
Or: state = SG + charity?
Or are we asking a wrong question? Perhaps MT does not clearly differentiate and distinguish the gift and the state?

That Lonergan distinguished SG and charity as remote and proximate principles of acts of charity in his early Latin theology: true.
That we can identify SG with the gift, and charity with the state: possibly; provided that the gift and the state are indeed distinct in MT.

That charity = response to God's love: I am not so sure.
That charity = principle from which responses to God's love (operations or acts of love) flow: yes, and Doran in Essay 1 does talk like this, though my impression is that he does not always talk like this in his later essays. In his later essays he tends to simply identify charity with our response to God's love.

That charity = mutual love of benevolence between God and us: yes, Lonergan says this clearly, taking it from Aquinas.

My tentative conclusion:
There is a mutuality in charity which cannot be ignored.
Can we say: in charity as operative grace, there is already this mutuality? In that case, the mutuality - or response if you wish - is purely gift. We have no part in it in the sense that we are here mota and non movens.
That we can say: charity as cooperative grace, as principle of acts of love, is a response to God's love: I think so. Here we are certainly et mota et movens.

[For the Essays, see]

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The virtue of charity as involving a response to God's love

The infused virtue of charity is a secondary immanent formal effect of sanctifying grace.
Distinct from it are the acts that habitual grace gives rise to: here are the acts of consent, movements of free will.
The former is operative grace.
As principle of the latter, grace becomes cooperative.
So it would seem that it is not possible to call the infused virtue of charity a "response to God's love", or to identify it with the "state of being in love with God."

On the other hand, it is precisely the same habitual grace that is operative as well as cooperative. It is one and the same grace, but different in its effects. In its formal effects, it is operative. As leading to effects in the field of effective causality, it is cooperative.
So perhaps we can say that the virtue of charity, precisely as principle of acts of choice, is cooperative.

So in this way we might be able to make sense of the fact that the virtue of charity is described in terms of friendship with God, mutual love, in which not only God loves us, but we also love God. 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Grace and sinfulness

Sometimes I wonder how, despite the sacramental bestowal of grace, our human nature remains weak as ever. Does not Thomas say that grace is the bestowal of a habit, and should not that habit take the place of earlier, sinful habits?

Here is an amazing psychological observations from Lonergan and Aquinas. In Grace and Freedom, Lonergan notes that according to Aquinas, the supernatural virtues not merely give the possibility of a type of action, but also make it spontaneous and connatural. However, there remains the objection from experience that the infused virtues do not always seem to make right action prompt, easy and agreeable. Thomas' answer: neither acquired nor infused virtues totally eliminate the evil inclinations of passion. Still, both operate against such inclinations, though in different ways. Acquired virtues make evil tendencies less sensible. The more rarefied infused virtues may not have this effect at all, but they do break the dominion of sin over us. Nor is the persisting sensible difficulty contrary to the nature of a virtue, for as even Aristotle acknowledged, the pleasure proper to virtuous action may be, at time, no more than the absence of regret. Perhaps the more radical answer to the objection may be that readiness, ease and pleasure are the signs, the external consequences, of the virtues, such secondary effects may be covered over by other factors. (Grace and Freedom, CWL 1:49)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Identity of knower and known

In the area of human cognition, confrontationism, or transferred empiricism, was flourishing. Its principal axiom was that an object is prior to an act concerning that object. (Aristotle and Aquinas distinguished between the sensible, the intelligible, sense, intellect, in potency, in act; they asserted the identity of the knower in act and the known in act; but Scotus and his predecessors and followers taught the identity of the known in potency and the known in act.)
From this there can be no 'intelligible in sensible data,' no 'quiddity in corporeal matter'; and if there is understanding [of the intelligible in the sensible], it is an illusion." (Supplementary Notes on Sanctifying Grace CWL 19:567)

The new relationship between philosophy and theology

As early as 1957, we find Lonergan saying:
“We have the meaning of ‘philosophy’ as concerned with truths that can be known by the natural light of reason, but when the Catholic philosopher moves to the consideration of things existentially, he finds that things as they exist in all their concreteness cannot be completely illuminated without a consideration of the supernatural.” … [Mathematical Logic and Existentialism 1957 CWL 18:297.]
Then again in 1959:
“Again, the natural and the supernatural are really distinct, as distinct as matter and form, soul and body, but in the concrete order of divine providence in this world they are united dynamically….” [Topics in Education 1959 CWL 10:70.]

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sanctifying grace and the habit of charity

Doran insists on the distinction between sanctifying grace and the habit of charity, even going to the extent of saying that Lonergan in Method in Theology does not always distinguish them.

In Method, Lonergan says: the gift of God's love "really is sanctifying grace but notionally differs from it." [MT 107.] In filling out what he means by that statement, says Doran, Lonergan conflates the gift of God's love with the dynamic state of being in love with God, and so amalgamates what in his earlier work he had distinguished as sanctifying grace (the gift of God's love) and charity (the dynamic state of being in love with God as a response to that gift). [Doran 15.]

In a question-answer session (the fifth) at the 1974 Lonergan Workshop at Boston College, Doran points out, Lonergan admitted this amalgamation. (Transcripton at at 81500DTE070.)
"I have for nearly twenty years regarded this amalgamation as a slight step backward on Lonergan's part, away from explanatory terms and relations to commonsense description. Obviously, if the hypothesis about active spiration and passive spiration being participated in and imitated by, respectively, sanctifying grace and charity is to be preserved, then just as active spiration and passive spiration are really distinct relations in God, so sanctifying grace and charity must be really distinct bases of really distinct relations in us.... I am suggesting that there are distinct special basic relations in human consciousness that correspond to the realities named in metaphysical terms 'sanctifying grace' and the 'habit of charity,' and I'm suggesting that those are the gift of God's love and loving God in return." [Doran 15.] 

In De ente supernaturali Lonergan does distinguish sanctifying grace and the habit of charity as remote and proximate principles, when he says: the theologian affirms “not only charity in the justified and the beatific vision in the blessed, but also a habit of charity, the light of glory, and the remote principle of both of these, sanctifying grace.” [CWL 19:77.]

In other words: the remote principle: sanctifying grace
Proximate principles: habit of charity; light of glory
Acts: of charity in the justified, and charity and beatific vision in the blessed.

In the following also the distinction between sanctifying grace and the (act of) charity is implied: "Charity is received only in one who has been justified. For charity is the love that is friendship, which can only exist between friends; but it is through the reception of sanctifying grace, from which flow the other infused virtues, that we become friends of God." [CWL 19:163. The paragraph clearly speaks of supernatural acts, not habits.]