The Five Basic Questions for Chapter 1

  1. How de we achieving an insight into insights?
  2. How do personal insights enter the public realm?
  3. What happens when insights cluster together?
  4. What if the question itself is wrong?
  5. What is the necessary basis for generalization or abstraction?

Our opening session started with an outline of the work to be accomplished, followed by a workshop session highlighting the experience of living in the tension between transcended and transcending selves, i.e, the "unrestricted desire to know."


This workshop is not designed for public discussion but for exposing those interested in the roots of Lonergan's methodology to those features of their own life that may give personal significance to Lonergan's work.


It also presents participants with the key insights that are later expanded into such things as his world view of emergent probability, the structure behind the cognitive operations of the human mind, the significance of intentional analysis, et al.

Educational Projects: Insight Chapter 1: Section 1 - Insights

"Why insights" continues with pulling out some of the implications and significance of the three other features of an insight that Lonergan considers important for his task of understanding human understanding. This eventually leads to his transcendental method, world view of emergent probability, and the need for conversion as well as a fully differentiated mind.


This week we delved into:

3: insights are a function of internal conditions, not external circumstances

4: insights pivot between the concrete and the abstract

5: insights become habitual


As an addendum, this week's notes end with a illustration of how insights have their origin in the conscious mind that shifts responsibility to solving the problem into the non-conscious psychic when the mind cannot find a solution and response with surprise. ("aha!") when the psychic finds a solution and passes in on the the mind at the cognitive level of experiencing.

In this last session concerning insights, we explored some of the significant insights that we have had in our lives, noting how they compared or matched Lonergan's five characteristics. The attached notes only give a few of the highlights; the real work was a matter of mutual self-mediation in encountering the foundational stance or basic orientation of the other participant in our joint project.


A special subsection dealt with the mission statement for a cosmopolis institute insight.


Hopefully what people took away was an appreciation not only of the importance of insights in their own lives but the high level operators within which insights occur.

An Emergent Cosmopolis

This week started with Lonergan's example of Archimedes as a means of coming to understand the importance of an insight in human affairs, human understanding. Then we went on to consider the significance or importance or value of the first two of the five features of an insight that Lonergan considered important in the development of his philosophy of human understanding.


  1. Insights come as a release to the tension of inquiry
  2. Insights come suddenly and unexpectedly


The significance of the first is that the need to know and the question behind it are essential for the emergence of an insight: no tension, no insight. Therefore all human knowing is intentional.


The significance of the second is that it is impossible to predict the future solely on the basis of what is currently known. There is always the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that something new will come into the world that no one expected or anticipated.