Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Lonergan's Quest: A Study of Desire in the Authoring of Insight

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Lonergan's Quest: A Study of Desire in the Authoring of Insight

Article excerpt

Lonergan's Quest: A Study of Desire in the Authoring of Insight By WillianiA. Mathews. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2005. Pp. x, 564. $100.00.)

Mathews, a Jesuit philosopher at the Milltowri Institute, Dublin, offers an inteEectual biography of his Canadian feEow-Jesuit Bernard Lonergan (19041984) through the publication in 1957 of the latter's Insight: A Study of Human Understanding. In Mathews' account the Kantian mind-reality problematic first grasped Lonergan's attention in the course of his philosophic training at Heythrop in 1926. Upon his return to Toronto to teach high school, however, the experience of the Depression diverted him to questions of economic theory that eventuated, fourteen years later, in a manuscript of which, Mathews remarks, "few, to date, have made sense" (p. 53) and to which Lonergan would return much later, in his declining years. Meanwhile Lonergan's arrival in Rome in 1933 to complete the seminary course in theology vividly impressed on him the need for a philosophy of history that could account for the collapse of European culture at the hands of Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini. His superiors decided that Lonergan should stay on in Rome for doctoral studies in theology, not philosophy, in preparation for a teaching post at the Gregorianum, but events supervened to force Lonergan's abrupt return to Canada in 1940 with his thesis on St. Thomas' developing thought on grace undefended. That investigation had, however, awakened for him the question of method in theology. Once back in Canada a light teaching load allowed Lonergan to plunge into a six-year study of Aquinas with the Kantian problematic in mind, the results of which he further developed in preparing courses on "Thought and Reality" and then "Intelligence and Reality" for the Thomas More Institute in Toronto.

The reception of the latter moved Lonergan to begin writing Insight, and Mathews devotes the second half of his study to the composition and publication of this work, a process that, on his account, comprised four movements. …

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