Ben Meyer on Bernard Lonergan’s Transcendental Method

Nothing characterizes transcendenal method so much as its irreducibility to ‘method’ as Gadamer uses the term, namely, to signify technical efforts devised to secure a closed circuit of control. Transcendental method refers primarily to the spontaneous self-assembling structure of human intentionality; secondarily, to the detailed objectification of this structure. In the primary sense, then, this ‘method,’ so far from being in tension with ‘truth,’ is a condition of the possibility of truth. At the same time, it is well called ‘method,’ for it is not only itself methodical in the sense of producing progressive and cumulative results, it is also the core of all successful particular methods. Even those who might bridle at the term ‘transcendental method’ practice it whenever their work proceeds intelligently and effectively. To that extent, it is clear that transcendental method introduces nothing new, i.e., no new, hitherto inoperative kind of act. It is, rather, a heightening of consciousness, a new attentiveness to and understanding of acts that have always been in operation. But the effects of this heightening of consciousness are not to be overlooked. They include new sureness and precision in dealing, for example, with hermeneutical issues. The challenge, then, is to appropriate in fully conscious fashion the sequence of wonder, inquiry, insight, judgement, decision already at work in ourselves.

Ben F. Meyer, ‘Conversion and the Hermeneutics of Consent’, Ex Auditu 1 (1985): pp.44-45

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5 thoughts on “Ben Meyer on Bernard Lonergan’s Transcendental Method

  1. The difficulty comes when the claim is made that experiencing-understanding-judging is the one and only framework for studying human cognition.

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  2. It’s hard to give a single answer. Cognition is studied in various fields from cognitive psychology to sociology of knowledge, in addition to the various streams of philosophy. So there are many legitimate perspectives.

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