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Glossary of Terms

The key in Lonergan is the process of self-appropriation, that is, becoming familiar with the dynamic structure of one's own consciousness: one's activities of sensing, imagining, questioning, understanding, conceiving, formulating, reflecting, marshaling and weighing the evidence, judging, deliberating, evaluating, deciding, speaking, loving.

  • "Our purpose is to bring to light the pattern within which these operations occur . . ."
    (Method, 7)
  • "The basic step is learning to give basic terms and relations the meaning they possess as names of conscious events and conscious processes." (Questionnaire, 21 - 22)
  • "The crucial issue is an experimental issue, and the experiment will be performed not publicly but privately." (Insight, 13)

Within the context of this invitation to self-appropriation the following topics - among others - are included:


"Human authenticity is never some pure and serene and secure possession. It is ever a withdrawal from unauthenticity, and every successful withdrawal only brings to light the need for still further withdrawals." (Method, 110)


". . . feeling gives intentional consciousness its mass, momentum, drive, power. Without these feelings our knowing and deciding would be paper thin." (Method, 30 - 31)

"Feelings are related to their subject: they are the mass and momentum and power of his conscious living, the actuation of his affective capacities, dispositions, habits, the effective orientation of his being." (Method, 65)


". . . the questions raised by the existentialists are questions that regard interiority: Do you know what that means? Do you know what it means to have a mind of your own? Is that just a phrase? Do you know what it means to respect others? Or to be in love with them? Do you know what it means to suffer? Do you really know? Do you know what it is to pray? Do you know what it is to die? Do you know what it is to live in the presence of God? These are questions about interiority." ("Time and Meaning," 46-47)


"The sexual extravagance of man, unparalleled in the animals, has its ultimate ground in St. Augustine's 'Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in thee.'" (Collection, 49)


"At the summit of the ascent from the initial bundle of needs and clamors and gratifications, there are to be found the deep-set joy and solid peace, the power and the vigor, of being in love with God." (Method, 39)


. . . the subject is effectively rational only if his demand for consistency between knowing and doing is followed by his deciding and doing in a manner consistent with his knowing." (Insight, 636)


"Beyond feelings there is the substance of community. People are joined by common experience, by common or complementary insights, by similar judgments of fact and of value, by parallel orientations in life. They are separated, estranged, rendered hostile, when they have got out of touch, when they misunderstand one another, when they judge in opposed fashions, opt for contrary social goals. So personal relations vary from intimacy to ignorance, from love to exploitation, from respect to contempt, from friendliness to enmity. They bind a community together, or divide it into factions, or tear it apart." (Method, 51)

Community and Society

"The ideal basis of society is community. Without a large measure of community, human society and sovereign states cannot function. Without a constant renewal of community, the measure of community already enjoyed easily is squandered. There are needed, then, individuals and groups and, in the modem world, organizations that labor to persuade people to intellectual, moral, and religious conversion and that work systematically to undo the mischief brought about by alienation and ideology. Among such bodies should be the Christian church . . ." (Method, 361)


". . . being historical is the history that is written about. It may be named . . . an existential history - the living tradition which formed us and thereby brought us to the point where we began forming ourselves." (Method, 182)


"What lies beyond one's horizon is simply outside the range of one's knowledge and interests: one neither knows nor cares. But what lies within one's horizon is in some measure, great or small, an object of interest and of knowledge." (Method, 236)

Alienation and Ideology

"The basic form of alienation is man's disregard of the transcendental precepts, Be attentive, Be intelligent, Be reasonable, Be responsible. Again, the basic form of ideology is a doctrine that justifies such alienation." (Method, 55)



"Sinfulness similarly is distinct from moral evil; it is the privation of total loving; it is a radical dimension of lovelessness. That dimension can be hidden by sustained superficiality, by evading ultimate questions, by absorption in all that the world offers to challenge our resourcefulness, to relax our bodies, to distract our minds. But escape may not be permanent and then the absence of fulfillment reveals itself in unrest, the absence of joy in the pursuit of fun, the absence of peace in disgust - a depressive disgust with oneself or a manic, hostile, even violent disgust with mankind." (Method, 242 - 243)

The Question of God

"The question of God, then, lies within man's horizon. Man's transcendental subjectivity is mutilated or abolished, unless he is stretching forth towards the intelligible, the unconditioned, the good of value. The reach, not of his attainment, but of his intending is unrestricted. There lies within his horizon a region for the divine, a shrine for ultimate holiness. It cannot be ignored. The atheist may pronounce it empty. The agnostic may urge that he finds his investigation has been inconclusive. The contemporary humanist will refuse to allow the question to arise. But their negations presuppose the spark in our clod, our native orientation to the divine." (Method, 103)


"By conversion is understood a transformation of the subject and his world. Normally it is a prolonged process though its explicit acknowledgment may be concentrated in a few momentous judgments and decisions. Still it is not just a development or even a series of developments. Rather it is a resultant change of course and direction. It is as if one's eyes were opened and one's former world faded and fell away. There emerges something new that fructifies in inter?locking, cumulative sequences of developments on all levels and in all departments of human living." (Method, 130)


"Faith is the knowledge born of religious love." (Method, 115)

Being in Love with God

"As the question of God is implicit in all our questioning, so being in love with God is the basic fulfillment of our conscious intentionality. That fulfillment brings a deep?set joy that can remain despite humiliation, failure, privation, pain, betrayal, desertion. That fulfillment brings a radical peace, the peace that the world cannot give. That fulfillment bears fruit in a love of one's neighbor that strives mightily to bring about the kingdom of God on this earth. On the other hand, the absence of that fulfillment opens the way to the trivialization of human life in the pursuit of fun, to the harshness of human life arising from the ruthless exercise of power, to despair about human welfare springing from the conviction that the universe is absurd." (Method, 105)

"Of itself, then, inasmuch as it is conscious without being known, the gift of God's love is an experience of the holy, of Rudolf Otto's mysterium fascinans et tremendum. It is what Paul Tillich named a being grasped by ultimate concern. It corresponds to St. Ignatius Loyola's consolation that has no cause, as expounded by Karl Rahner." (Method, 106)

The Church

"While there still is in use the medieval meaning of the term, society, so that the church may be named a society, still the modern meaning, generated by empirical social studies, leads one to speak of the church as a process of self-constitution occurring within worldwide human society. The substance of that process is the Christian message conjoined with the inner gift of God's love and resulting in Christian witness, Christian fellowship, and Christian service to mankind." (Method, 363)

The Church in the World

"To operate on the level of our day is to apply the best available knowledge and the most efficient techniques to coordinated group action. But to meet this contemporary exigence will also set the church on a course of continual renewal. It will remove from its action the widespread impression of complacent irrelevance and futility. It wig bring theologians into close contact with experts in very many different fields. It will bring scientists and scholars into close contact with policy makers and planners and, through them, with clerical and lay workers engaged in applying solutions to the problems and finding ways to meet the needs both of Christians and of all mankind." (Method, 36)

The Task of Contemporary Theology

"When the natural and the human sciences are on the move, when the social order is developing, when the everyday dimensions of culture are changing, what is needed is not a dam to block the stream but control of the river-bed through which the stream must flow." (A Second Collection, 52)


  • Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan (CWL) Vol. 3, Insight. A Study of Human Understanding. Edited by Frederick Crowe and Robert Doran. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.
  • CWL Vol. 4, Collection, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan. Edited by Frederick Crowe and Robert Doran. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.
  • Method in Theology . London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1972 (reprinted by University of Toronto Press, 1990).
  • A Second Collection . London: Darton, Longman & Todd,1974 (reprinted by University of Toronto Press, 1996).

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