Lonergan and Historiography: The Epistemological Philosophy of History

Lonergan and Historiography: The Epistemological Philosophy of History

Lonergan and Historiography: The Epistemological Philosophy of History

Lonergan and Historiography: The Epistemological Philosophy of History

Synopsis

Although Bernard Lonergan is known primarily for his cognitional theory and theological methodology, he long sought to formulate a modern philosophy of history free of progressive and Marxist biases. Yet he never addressed this in any single work, and his reflections on the subject are scattered in various writings. In this pioneering work, Thomas McPartland shows how Lonergan's overall philosophical position offers a fresh and comprehensive basis for considering historiography. Taking Lonergan's philosophy of historical existence into the realm of an epistemological philosophy of history, he demonstrates how the philosopher's approach builds on the actual performance of historians and, as a result, integrates the insights of historical specialists into a framework of functional complementarity. McPartland draws on all of Lonergan's philosophical writing--as well as on the vast literature of historiography--to detail Lonergan's notions of historical method, historical objectivity, and historical knowledge. Along the way, he explains what Lonergan means by hermeneutics; by historical description, explanation, ideal-types, and narrative; by evaluative and dialectical analyses; and how these elements are all functionally related to each other. He also delineates the defining features of psychohistory, cultural history, intellectual history, history of ideas, and history of philosophy, indicating how these disciplines play complementary roles in the critical encounter with the past. Ultimately, McPartland argues that Lonergan has established the principles of a historical discipline--the history of consciousness--that weaves together a philosophy of consciousness with rigorous historical research to grasp long-term trends resulting from "differentiations of consciousness." His work offers a distinct perspective on historical method that takes historical objectivity seriously while providing new insight into the thought of this important philosopher.

Excerpt

This book is part of a larger project dealing with Lonergan’s philosophy of history. a much larger work in progress and an earlier published work, Lonergan and the Philosophy of Historical Existence, both deal with what is termed in this book Lonergan’s “ontological philosophy of history,” where the “historically engaged subject” is related to such themes as historicity, hermeneutics, and horizon. But Lonergan’s “engaged subject” is a cognitive subject, and Lonergan’s distinct, if not revolutionary, cognitional theory can establish the basis for a nuanced and compelling examination of a series of strategic issues pertaining to the practice of historical scholarship—both general issues of historical method, knowledge, and objectivity and specific issues in the disciplines of historical scholarship, particularly in the fields of the history of thought. These issues are the focus of this book.

The research for the book has a long history, starting as part of doctoral work under the guidance of Dr. Rodney Kilcup. the project was encouraged from the beginning by the late Timothy Fallon. the opportunity to present versions of the text at conference presentations helped considerably in refining the material over the years. I wish to extend thanks to Fred Lawrence for allowing me to give papers for the Lonergan Workshop at Boston and Mainz, Germany, and to Mark Morelli for providing me with a forum for philosophical exchange at the Fallon Lonergan Symposium sponsored by the West Coast Methods Institute. I also wish to express gratitude to Kerry Cronin for help in retrieving a transcription of portions of chapter four from the Lonergan workshop archives and to Kentucky State University for travel funds. I greatly appreciate the support and professionalism of the entire staff of the University of Missouri Press, particularly Claire Willcox, Sara Davis, and Beth Chandler, as well as the encouragement of the former director, Beverly Jarrett. It has been a pleasure to work with them all in what has been truly a collaborative . . .

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