Entering Lonergan's Novum Organon
Part II: Starting Point
Part I dealt with my historical knowledge within which this study has meaning and purpose. This part deals with my own foundational starting point when it comes to the attempt to be reasonable and responsible in a world that often seems insane (appearances may be deceiving).
Section one deals with elemental or foundational meaning. We start with a commentary on Sean McEvenue's three questions as the set of core questions everyone can use to begin to understand the essence of their own foundational stance.
Section two explores the need for a moral horizon grounded in the transcendental mystery, not as a academic exercise but as the grounds for a personal commitment. This starts with the historical Christ event and the revelation of a Triune God and ends with the possible invitation to join in this Triune community as part of the community of saints. Again, this shifts intention to one's own realm of interiority where a deepening awareness of one's foundational stance can be objectified.
Section three moves on to consider the way reasonable and responsible plans and policies might be worked out as we are not monads but members of a community. For this Otto Friedman's pre-intervention approach for professional practice is used to highlight the different stages one must work through if we are to improve rather than degrade the situation we are in.
The important thing to keep in mind is that we are not talking about the content per se, but about the general anthropological and specific theological concepts that are brought to bear in an attempt to make sense of things. It is these concepts and their associated operations that when combined with the areas of interest and importance to the subject form the subject's foundational stance. The point is that our selection of such concepts and operations within an horizon of personal interests set the context for all further development. This means that it is very important to understanding our stance not only in itself but for the way in which it conditions all further development, keeping in mind that we are not talking about an axiomatic system but an initial state of being subject to further development.
The only thing holding up the world at this point is the thoughtless routine and naive virtue of the working stiff. All the things the world weary revile: customary honesty, religion, family sustain our life. As for our "world leaders", they are twisted and mad.
The Project: I. Preparing the Ground
Part IV: Thomas Müntzer
Now is the time to put all the prior material to work in taking up my own task to not understand Müntzer per se but to encounter the reality of his life and times. This encounter is structured by my own interests, horizon, concepts, and operations that make up my initial foundational stance. But to encounter the lived reality of another is to encounter oneself, and so in what follows it is not so much a question of knowing Müntzer but in being aware of how I came to know and define his life. In a sense, it is not an "objectify" study of his life but the recounting of my own life as it would have played out in a different time and place. To encounter another is to attain some degree of similarity, of correspondence, of self-identification with someone who is no long an "other" but is oneself. This is the difference between engaging in history or foundations.
The first section deals with an overview of Müntzer's life as well as an introduction to the idea of intentionality analysis (the latter is Lonergan's analytical tool in Insight). This is followed by a brief discussion on Müntzer's personal space as a mind shaped by another age--what were the factors that molded him? An that point we delve into what is current known about him, building a case history from his writings and noting the passions and powerful convictions that drove him.
The next section deals with the personal methods used by him to control meaning, i.e., to create the world mediated by meaning that came to define him. This includes such factors as his temperament, the imagery that served as key anchors, a deep reliance on mysticism and scripture, finally noting that from our perspective he certainly did not have a differentiated mind (common sense and transcendent realms of meaning, with a touch of theory, but certainly no intellectual conversion to critical realism that could not be achieved until Lonergan's time.
Müntzer's concerns lay in the good of order, which like other pro-reformers of his age he sought to change through a variety of means. His vision lay with a "league of their own" that sought to move away from the medieval emphasis on ritual and sacramental forms of piety where moral conduct could be brought into line with Church teaching with little or no separation between religious or secular practices. Needless to say, he ran into a conflict with Luther's rising star, a conflict fought between the reformation Müntzer preferred and the revolution Luther sought. His effort to create a new people out of a reformed church ran afoul of the authorities whet Müntzer was drawn into the Peasants' War, a war that brought an end to his life.
In retrospect, it is strange that Müntzer's own concerns, though set in a different time and place, are remarkable similar to my own rather feeble efforts to create such a "league of their own"--this time known as a Cosmopolis Institute that itself grew out a personal need for a reformed church that drew upon the methodological insights of Bernard Lonergan.Müntzer's name was selected at random subject to only two criteria: the person had to have been involved in some way with the two thousand year history of the Church, and there had to be sufficient records of his life and work to make such an inquiry possible. There was no way in which my own personal interests could have pre-selected such a pro-reformed, unless of course each personage in this record of Church history was a pro-reformer!
Part III: What Was Going Forward
The basic conceptual framework was laid out in the first two parts. Now it is time to apply that horizon of interests, concepts, and operations to the task of understanding what historical changes were taking place during Müntzer's time. This is important for the simple reason that the fundamental institutional changes of our own time may be different but offer the same dialectical challenges when it comes to passionate convictions, existing controls over meaning, the primary ways in which the good of order is conceived, and the importance of architectural changes as markers of key institutional shifts in power, authority, and influence.
Note that the original interests guide this inquiry into another age; other interests would have lead to a different set of facts and implications. This is why it is so important to objectify one's foundational stance, for in doing so one deepens one's understanding of the implications of that stance. It is clear that "salvation", for me, is to be found in the realm of politics operating at the institutional level of the good of order. You may well have very different interests, in which case this work might have little meaning for you. For example, you may be interested in contemporary changes in the mass to make it more accessible to the populace, in which case Müntzer's ground-breaking work in doing exactly that may drive the focus of your investigation.
In a way, this is a practice session for applying a simple set of tools to understanding what is going forward in our own times. Many of these tools have been refined in later volumes, but for now it is important to note that we have the advantage of hindsight to gather together different insights into what we now know as the Reformation but have not the insights of future historians to highlight what is truly taking place in our own time.
Of particular interest is the use of architecture, for fundamental institutional changes are mirrored in the great architectural projects of the time.
Part VI: So What?
These notes were originally attached as appendixes to the thesis as a means of providing greater details on elements important to the discussion but not sufficiently so as to take up space in the main document. As a result, there's a definite lack of footnotes.
This concludes Volume 1 of this five volume work. In the remaining four we take up the task of establishing a common language suitable for such professional work dedicated to countering common sense bias, providing a mission statement for anyone interested in taking up such a task to be able to explain what we intend, sketching out the core programs necessary to make such an organization work, and finally going public as a specialized Cosmopolis Institute or Post-Modern Academy.
Part V: Post-Encounter Reflections
At the core of any exercise in Foundations is the need to determine the person's degree of intellectual, moral, and religious conversion (as understood and explained by Lonergan). This exercise in objectifying my own subjectivity does not directly deal with conversion, which implies that evaluating my own capacity to discern between positions and counter-positions based on this inquire is rather limited. But this was never the objective.
The purpose of this study was to make clear my own foundational stance when it came to horizon, concepts, and operations that grounded my orientation in the world. Once objectified, it than became possible to understand the implications of this "world view." These implications are sketched out in this concluding part of Volume 1.
Probably the most revealing implication is that like Müntzer I have a reforming but not revolutionary drive to bring the Church into the contemporary world. This is grounded not in any sort of professional standing (Müntzer was after all a priest) but an interior challenge, a internal tension that made it hard to identify with the pious ethos of our time. How can I reconcile this focus on politics with Church practices, when reason combined with faith becomes the most important component?
The second most revealing implication is that, unlike Müntzer, I am singularly ill-equipped to undertake any form of practical reformation. I live in a world of theory in which practical affairs involving interactions with others is difficult. This implies that any attempt to engage in reformation has to work itself out through the realm of theory, i.e., theology. But as Lonergan points out, a normative Church culture finds itself lacking when it comes to the control over meaning that is currently required. So while traditional theology has much to offer, it cannot offer it in a form compatible with a process-orientated society. And that is the problem.
And so I leave you with an important question: what are the implications of your own foundational stance?
Note: It's interesting that all four subsequent Volumes of this series continue this work of drawing out the implications of my own a foundational stance. It explains so many things.
Note: Would the choice of someone other than Müntzer result in a different objectified subjectivity? Personally, I doubt that it would have made any fundamental difference, although the encounter with someone quite else would result in a different flavor given to the whole. The only way to be sure, however, is to carry out this exercise in encountering another with another subject. But even so, the results from a second inquiry would carry over the insights acquired from the first. In effect, subsequent encounters help clarify one's own foundational stance while encouraging intellectual, moral, and religious conversion. What is important is that once one has carried out such an activity over a period of a year or two an awareness of one's own foundations becomes habitual. It turns out to be a gateway into a different order of being. (In retrospect, I wonder if God wanted me to know something about myself that otherwise would not have been so clear as this encounter with Müntzer.)
This includes such things as the publication data, quotation, dedication, abstract, and table of contents for Volume 1 of The Long Haul series.
Part I: Context
These three chapters set the context for all that follows in Volume 1. The first establishes the intellectual grounds within which the idea of objectifying subjective has meaning and purpose. The second delves into the historical conditions that in a sense demand that such objectification is an existential necessity. The third carries on the need for such objectification through the use of encounters to boaster one's foundational stance.
Such a context is not meant to be an authoritative statement of what is going forward at this time in history, though that is certainly an important consideration taken up in the latter volumes of this series. Instead, it represents my own personal world-creation construction around a number of seemingly critical issues of a public nature. There has been a change in my personal set over the twelve years since it was objectified in this manner. For example, I would not include catastrophic global warming or mass extinctions as real threats; recent evidence suggest that they no more than ideological talking points designed to shift power to those who promote such ongoing crises. And there are at least two issues that I would now consider close to the top of the list: the rise of a globalist "progressive" elite whose use of newspeak and racial identifications exercised through economic dominance and political might have brought whole countries close to civil war; and the breakdown of the Bretton Woods conventions at the global institutional level that has left a power vacuum various players are attempting to not only fill but define any future global institutional framework.
Note: The TOC is located at the end of the front matter pdf.