Entering Lonergan's Novum Organon
Laying the Foundations: Establishing a Common Language
Having heightened one's awareness of one's own realm of interiority, the next major task is to work out a common technical language for engaging in any cosmopolis work. This initial attempt to control meaning represents a shift from a Tower of Babel to a Tower of Able, as Philip McShane put it, or in other words the clarification of a common meaning for critical concepts and operations applicable to any cosmopolis project suitable for professional practice.
2.1 The Schematic
The schematic is a visual reference tools similar to any schematic that describes the basic elements of processes of a nuclear plant, a building, or even an ecosystem. As such it lays out the key components of any recurring scheme of operations involving human proportionate being as the initial starting point for the development of a technical in-house language for professional practice.
2.11 World Process: Emergent Probability. The foundational level for human understanding acknowledges the reality of a world process combining the universals of recurring schemes of operation with the probabilities of emergence and sustainability of said schemes in time-and-space-specific situations.
2.12 Knowing Reality: Transcendental Method & Functional Specialization. To understand such world processes it is necessary to have some method for determining what is or is not the case. For this we turn to Lonergan’s transcendental method for the individual and his functional specialities for the group.
2.13 The Playing Field: The Invariant Structure of the Human Good. The next layer has to do with evaluating the situation that is known through the first two strata, i.e., it involves decisions of terminal value that affect the good of order that supplies a continual stream of human goods.
2.14 The Invariant Life-Cycle. This stratum lays out the general process where we start our lives as animals and may end it under the influence of the Spirit. This is a very useful device in determining the level of development of any prospective team member.
2.2 Becoming Human: An Emergent Probability Theory of Human Development
How precisely do individual life-cycles play out over the span of a human life? This theory postulates that humans are a unity of complex non-linear recurring schemes of operations recorded in both physical and spiritual mediums that start in the purely physical world but reach their fulfilment as part of the Kingdom of God. Furthermore, the shift from a worldly control moderator to a spiritual one follows the innate drive toward transcendence incorporated in the transcendental injunctions when combine with the unrestricted desire to know.
2.3 Human History: Energy/Material--Institutional--Transcendental
Our understanding of history is quite different when one starts with the world view of emergent probability. Now one speaks of recurring schemes of operations with their associated probabilities of emergence and survival in time-and-space-specific socio-political circumstances. Progresses are possible but not by any means assured as cul-de-sacs and devolution are equally possible. Following the world view of emergent probability, we postulate a three-level set of emergent properties such that the higher sublate the lower and the lower the higher. This enhances our knowledge of institutional change, for it not only brings in the conditioning/sublating effects between a culture’s institutional structure and its ability to utilize available resources to enhance the good of order, but incorporates equally real sublating/conditioning effects between the transcendental realm of God and the human level of institutional organization.
2.4 Politics as 3rd Level Reflective Intelligence
This theory proposes that all political action is grounded in the 3rd reflective level where the key choices are over what is or is not to be of terminal value. When not mediated by long-established political conventions that regulate not only the question for power but the problem of succession political “debate” can degrade to “fighting with a naked blade.”
But often what everybody knows is wrong.
— Richard Fernandez
The Long Haul
The Search for Light and Life Amid a Sea of Illusions and Delusions
(In Loving Memory of the Divine Mystery)
Open for Business: Going Public
Any business has a product to sell. Ours is a method not only to control meaning but to free human beings from a variety of conscious and unconscious biases, especially those blind spots in human collective intelligence that have come about through a multitude of attempts by power seekers and holders to justify and rationalize their own drive to rule without undo resistance. It is to counter the fragmentation brought about in history by highly intelligent people of common sense putting their own specialized common sense realm of knowing and doing above any long-term philosophical and/or theological interests and concerns.
5.1 Acquiring Resources.
Such a cosmopolis institute acquires resources through services rendered. There are three primary sources of revenue. The first is the public at large and includes such things as selling books and articles, providing a source for the public to draw upon such as an in-depth analysis of fundamental institutional changes, and running dedicated cosmopolis “workshops” for interested groups. The second source are educational institutions that could Not only draw upon the institute’s ability to pull together different disciplines in a higher perspective but use such specialized knowledge to clear of inter- and transdisciplinary issues current plaguing university life. The third source involves religious groups who might wish to expand their reach through supporting the kinds of encounters that lead to intellectual, moral, and religious conversion.
5.2 Transforming What is Known
What is current known exceeds the task of any one person to understand. Lonergan’s functional specialties provide a possible solution to the fragmentation of human knowing, where his Insight: A Study of Human Understanding can be used as a true shift to a higher perspective. In this case, it is not a matter of being convinced of Lonergan’s argument but of accepting his work as the beginning of a new start. This type of work involves reading both Insight and Method is containing important insights into reality that can then be employed by participants to make sense of whatever question has seized them. For example, his world view of emergent probability is a major step forward in our understanding of world processes that has yet to be incorporated in how we think about things.
5.3 The "Fake News" Project
This three-phase project introduces people who are interested in current affairs to an intentional analysis of contemporary news cycles by applying Lonergan’s and Friedman’s methodologies to the task of sifting the wheat from the chaff. Phase one introduces participants to the tools they will later master; phase two runs the groups through a case study to familiarize participants in how these tools are to be employed; and phase three turns the investigation over to the participants, leaving the team leader free to move into the role of a critic. Core to such a study is the application of the world view of emergent probability to the study of institutional changes conditioned by and sublating energy/material cycles while in turn sublating and conditioning the role of the transcendental in human affairs.
5.4 Living in the Pivot Point
In Lonergan’s scheme of functional specializations, there exists a “pivot point” between dialectics and foundations where one no longer is caught in the web of multiple orientations often in conflict with each other to take a person stand as to which are counter-positions and which are positions. It is an exercise in formation, especially when it comes to discerning between what is or is not true. But it starts not with a desired position but with the type of questioning and mutual encounters among a number of people who have to make a choice. The options are laid out in dialectics; the choice is made in foundations.
5.5 JesusLand: A "Novel" Solution
One important output of any cosmopolis project is the production and publication of cultural works that appeal to the public yet at the same time take the public just a little bit further in their appreciation of reality. One such production is the novella JesusLand: The Existential Crisis of 3013-15 in which the reader is asked whether it is possible and even desirable to shift one’s concept of self from one’s socio-political roles to the type of person whose self-identified function is to reach up to the transcendental injunctions. It explores the roots of the contemporary existential crises as an abyss that opens up with God is removed from the equation and proposes that while it might not be possible to restore faith communities to their former glory it might be possible to have people pay attention to their role in creating sound worlds mediated by meaning.
5.6 Standing Witness
Common sense people are loath to take up a project that has never before been tested in the field. So perhaps the most important contribution such an institute might make is to demonstrate that such a dedicated cosmopolis group can and does work in such a way that work gets done and things actually improve.
Outfitting the Building: Adding Core Programs
So, the need for ongoing intellectual, moral, and religious conversion has been established through a consideration of foundational stances, a communal technical language has been developed and tested suitable for any cosmopolis group, and a mission statement has been compiled as a “universal” set of recurring schemes of operations for any Cosmopolis Institute facing the realities of our times. Now it is time to flesh out the internal details of creating and sustaining such an institute.
4.1 An In-house Research Library
This library would cover four basic areas of research: current affairs, with a special interest in fundamental institutional change; world history and geography, with a special interest in Western civilization; Friedman’s transdisciplinary variables and stages of professional practice, with a focus on the social interaction paradigm; and Lonergan’s transcendental method and functional specialization, with a special interest in ongoing intellectual, moral, and religious conversion within foundations.
4.2 Monitoring Fundamental Institutional Changes
One permanent ongoing research project would be to monitor current institutional changes within a broad historical and geographical context. These specialized inquiries would take two forms: a broad system-wide understanding of what was currently in play using the three level model of transcendental-institutional-energy/material sublating/conditioning emergent probability world process, and a series of specialized investigations that would target local areas of special concern such as military flash-points or the impact of progressive utopian thinking.
4.3 An In-house Training/Mentoring Program
People who wish to join in such a collaborative effort need to be brought up to speed about what is involved in a professional practice geared toward a functional cosmopolis. It is here that the invariant structure of the human life-cycle can be put to use to work out that which the prospective team member has achieved, what still has to be actualized, and his or her potential for such actualization.
4.4 A "Cosmopolis" Reading of Insight & Method
Insight was written to argue for a specific transdisciplinary philosophy capable of dealing with the fragmentation of meaning and the need for some form of control other than a normative culture or a reliance on hard science methodologies. At the Institute we accept Lonergan’s work as foundational, so our reading of both methodological works has more to do with using these works to enhance the work of a cosmopolis team than trying to persuade others to his approach. Furthermore, we do not rely on secondary material, only these two primary works.
4.5 Foundational Exercises
At the core of such work lies a communal commitment to ongoing intellectual, moral, and religious conversion through reflective intelligence at the third level of the human good that is concerned with freedom, personal relationships, and terminal value. It is only in the pursuit of such conversion that an adequate foundational stance may be achieved and hence a sound initial starting point for understanding doctrines, systematics, and communications.
4.6 The Need for an Evaluative History
It is not only that history has become a forgotten subject, allowed to slip into oblivion so as not to challenge current beliefs, but that history sorts through what can be determined to be true about the past and craft it all into a narrative drama that plays out over time. But there is another history that needs to be written, one not prey to a general relativism and denial of the very idea of truth, one in which terminal values play themselves out. And that history, within the functional speciality of dialectic, is evaluative.
Preparing the Soil: Objectifying One's Foundation
Any foundational work undertaken within a Cosmopolis Project has as its primary objective exposing any and all individual and/or cultural blind spots. This requires continual attention to one’s own foundational stance, upgrading and enhancing when necessary. So the first step in any cosmopolis work is to objectify one’s own foundations, not as the first set of principles in an axiomatic system but only the initial starting point open to subsequent development. The reason for doing this is quite simple: foundational work involves being able to discern between positions and counter-positions and unless one is very clear about doing confusion may insure to the point that any subsequent work is bound to contain defects that may well negate any positive achievements. (Note: this is my MA thesis. RCB)
This section sets the intellectual context within which this particular study has meaning, delves into the contemporary historical conditions that make such an endeavor not only necessary but essential, and highlights the importance of an encounter with another if one is to attempt to objectify one’s own foundational stance.
1.2 Starting Point
The first part deals with elemental meaning and its demands upon the subject. From this we move into the notion of a moral horizon that includes an invitation to join in the communal life of the Triune God before considering the notion of Friedman’s professional practice as a means of giving significance and responsibility to such an invite.
1.3 What Was Going Forward
This section establishes Thomas Müntzer’s historical context as a time when reform was in the air, control over meaning was shifting from scholarly manuscripts to a print culture, the “good of order” of the Roman Church was being challenged, and a shift in power from Popes to Kings was reflected in the architecture of the times. In short, his mind was shaped by a culture far different from our own.
1.4 Thomas Müntzer (1489?-1525)
Having worked out the general context within which Müntzer was born, lived, and died, we move on to a consideration of Müntzer himself. He was in many ways a proto-reformer, a precursor to Luther who might have emerged as one of the fundamental reformers of his age. A well-read and highly motivated clergyman, he sought among other things to bring the mass out of incomprehensible Latin and into the common language—and did so with great success. But his life was brought to an early end when he was executed for his involvement with the Peasant’s War.
1.5 Post-Encounter Reflections
In the two prior sections an attempt was made to understanding not only the figure of Müntzer but the times in which he lived. This in effect was the actual encounter with this proto-reformer; now it was time to reflect on why the narrative I constructed took the form that it did. Also, how did his life challenge mine, for clearly it did? But that challenge came not from him, but from my attempt to understanding him. What did this reveal about my own foundational stance?
1.6 So What?
This call to reform could play itself out in this notion of a specialized professional practice. Included as a series of appendixes, this deeper introduction to Friedman’s notion of professional practice as opposed to operating as a specialized technician. The key difference is that there are professional standards that supersede the desires and intentions of the client. Such practice always takes place in unique time-and-space-specific social-political circumstances, uses the social science paradigm of social interaction, and follows a general methodology designed to enhance the possibility of rational action during times of fundamental institutional change.
Building the Structure: Making Cosmopolis a Reality
The next logical task in this sequence is to work out a mission statement that would place any proposed Cosmopolis Institute within the institutional context of our times. Such a statement would not only define the concrete interests and intentions of the institute as well as the relationships between such an institute and other organizations, but serve as a public document proclaiming our rather specialized services to both the public as well as other educational bodies.
3.1 What is the Problem?
The world is full of problems; the question is, what are the truly fundamental ones that require our attention? A failure to answer this correctly may mean wasting all one’s time and effort on fixing a situation that will soon not be important because of far deeper and more deadly institutional changes taking place. The fundamental root problem of our time is a failure to control meaning across society, leaving individuals adrift in a sea of illusions and delusions. A good part of this can be blamed on common sense bias, the root of long term decline as the ongoing fragmentation of meaning makes coherent and reasonable action impossible.
3.2 A Possible Solution
While there are no inbuilt responses that could correct such a long-term degradation of history due to common sense bias, Lonergan does theorize a potential solution named “cosmopolis.”
3.3 Our Mission Statement
It is our mission to actualize Lonergan’s notion by working out the basic modes of operating and key linkages to the world at large through a Cosmopolis Institute that among other things bridges the world of theory to that of common sense, links the varied disciplines within a unified whole, and takes into account the importance of God not only n the problem of liberation but in the problem of knowing reality itself.
3.4 A "How To" Manual
This short handbook for prospective team members lays out the essential roles and tasks necessary for participants to both know and practice when it comes to being a part of any cosmopolis team.
3.41 The Project. We are not concerned with either egotism or group bias, since both have self-corrective mechanisms. What we do work on are the roots of long-term decline due to the tendency of common since people to justify their actions without taking into account long-term consequences or philosophical and theological realms of meaning.
3.42 Required Knowledge. Current affairs, fundamental institutional change especially at the global level, general and specific geographies and histories, the control of meaning via transcendental method and functional specialization, and a transdisciplinary framework for understanding key variables.
3.43 Team Players. In a general sense, team players are responsible for content while team leaders attend to the process. Players may shift their roles according to their own talents and interests, but do so within an awareness of the overall functioning of the team under the direction of the leader. Always the focus is on the mission at hand.
3.44 Leading. Leaders are responsible for the running of such an intentional cosmopolis group in the sense that they are responsible for the choice of methods best suited to achieving the desired results. They are also responsible for maintaining an atmosphere of “creative wonder.”
3.45 Coaching. Coaches work at assessing and enhance the performance of the team. This may be done on a particular basis, i.e., acting as an observer and post-event critic, or as general critique with remedial work that takes advantage of what has been gained while working on areas that could be improved.
3.46 Mentoring. Mentors act on a one-to-one basis, where they work with a specific team member to actualize his or her ability to function within the team. Mentoring takes place outside of all primary work.
3.5 Becoming a "Cosmopolis" Professional
This is an individual challenge of becoming a specialized worker dedicated to the problem of long-term decline due to common sense bias. To achieve such a status requires mastering the following stages before promoting rational change in unique time-and-space-specific socio-political situations during times of fundamental institutional change when all seems to be in flux.
3.51 Fundamental Institutional Change. There are many different scales used in understanding human reality, from local to regional, regional to global. But fundamental institutional changes have their roots in the widest possible scale that set the context for regional and local enterprises. Such changes at this level provide the broad historical and geographical conditions that define an era; all lower scale operations exits within this broad context.
3.52 Taking a Stand. The difference between a technician and a professional is that the former takes no personal responsibility for the exercise of his or her expertise while the latter does. The standards for a “cosmopolis” professional are set by the objectives of such an institution, specifically by the need to counter the inbuilt bias of people of common sense to consider themselves as the ultimate authority on what needs to be done. At the core of such a stand are the three primary aspects of any foundational stance: intellectual, moral, and religious.
3.53 Orientation. Such a professional’s orientation is first of all grounded in Lonergan’s transdisciplinary method and its implications for metaphysis, ethics, and the possibility of transcendental knowledge and secondly in the method and tools of professional practice as drawn by Friedman. These are a specialized highly technical areas brought together around the common task of countering long-term bias due to the rationalizations and justifications of power seekers and holders contaminating meaning.
3.54 Evaluation. Fundamentally different foundational stances lead to different orientations that in turn affect what is or is not a problem. The professional not only has tools to work out the different orientations and subsequent evaluations, separating positions from counter-positions, but relies on his or her own capacity of discerning one from the other. Ultimately, the professional has to make his or her own evaluation derived from available tools.
Diagnosis. Recognizing that there is a problem is one thing; but identifying the source, the root cause(s) of these symptoms is another. Lonergan’s approach places the source of all insights or oversights reside within the individual, the subject. His transcendental method applies to individual understanding, while his functional specialties provide the grounds for communal understanding.
3.55 Prognosis. There are two broad strategies for initiating change: an appeal to a gain in value, or to potential loss. Laying out a prognosis is to infer what is likely to happen if no action is taken, an extrapolation that depends on the previous stages of the inquiry. Technically speaking, this is part of any diagnosis.
3.56 Scope and Constraints. Any unique time-and-space-specific socio-political situations contain a mix of rational and irrational factors. So any professionally based recommendation grounded in prior steps has to be implemented among people with quite different interests and intentions. So part of any professional practice lies in identifying what constraints are bound to be brought into play but also what scope for action opens up during times of fundamental institutional change. All that, any working out ways to expand the latter while down-scaling the former.