Longeran Essay, Research Paper
Father Lonergan, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I truly appreciate it. I just have a few questions.Q1a: You name your philosophy “Critical Realism”. What is “Critical Realism”? BL: Critical Realism is my philosophy on what is real. This philosophy entails taking an experience and going beyond just the experience. It entails understanding the experience through intelligent inquiry, asking questions until one has an understanding of the experience. Once one has an understanding, one makes a reasonable judgment based upon the experience and the understanding they pertained through the inquiry.Q1b: I have noticed that different philosophers understand “reality” or the “real” in different ways. For example, Plato says that Ideas or Forms are what is “real”. What do you, as a Critical Realist, mean by “the real” or “reality”?BL: As a Critical Realist I define “real” as the totality of all correct judgments. It is taking what one has learned from their experiences and making correct judgments.Q2: You describe two activities in the knowledge process; namely, “understanding” and “judgment”. Would you clarify how these two cognition activities function by applying them to this problem: What accounts for the recent growth in population and area of the city of Omaha?BL: In order to answer that question one must ask questions that need to be answered in order to understand the topic. Some examples of questions might be:Have any large corporations recently started creating more jobs?Has a contract been arranged that would allow for more housing to be built around Omaha?Is there a lower property tax or such that would be an incentive for people to move here?Is there a low unemployment rate?Is Omaha more open to expansion, thus making it easier for companies to expand?Does Omaha have the land to expand?Is there a wide array of jobs, a large job market?Is housing cheaper here than other places?Now in order to make sure one has a correct understanding of the situation; one should look for evidence to prove their understanding is correct. There are thousands of sources but one should make sure that the sources would give them correct information so that they will make a correct judgment. Some places one might look for this information might be a magazine article on Omaha, a website on housing in the Omaha area or on job employment in the Omaha area. A land contractor who would know about the land around Omaha and it’s expansion capabilities. A book or magazine comparing tax ratings, job markets, and the cost of housing of cities across the U.S. Once one has answered their questions and has a correct understanding of the question, then they may make a judgment. My judgment is that Omaha has a low unemployment rate which encourages people to move here because they have a far greater chance of finding a job here than other places. Q3: You claim that your theory of cognition can not be denied or refuted. I do not accept your theory of cognition. I claim that knowing is based on intuition of innate truths and what can be deduced from these self-evident truths. So I challenge your claim that your theory can not be denied or refuted. How would you prove your claim?BL: I accept your challenge. By simply denying that theory of cognition is wrong you are making a judgment based upon your understanding of experiences. You have examined the different explanations and based your judgment of what is the correct explanation by having an understanding of all the explanations. Through the process of picking the explanation that knowing is based on intuition of innate truths and what can be deduced from these self-evident truths you have proven the theory of cognition.Q4a: I’d appreciate a clarification regarding some terms… what is the difference between a theory that is descriptive and one that is explanatory? BL: A theory that is descriptive is one that explains things as they relate to us, or on a more personal level, to me. It is not about understanding things; it is about experiencing. A theory that is explanation is one that explains things in terms of how they relate to each other. This theory is not about how we experience something through our senses but about how we understand something; an example would be science.Q4b: And what is the difference between common sense apprehension and theoretical knowledge?BL: Common sense apprehension is a kind of insight that deals with interests and concerns in one’s daily life; it is not concerned with scientific knowledge. Theoretical knowledge is seeking universally valid knowledge or laws that will apply to all cases of similar situations, such as the law of gravity. This theory deals with the nature of things, how things work. Q5: My next questions refer to your theory of moral choice, of becoming a person who chooses well with a certain consistency. In your article, “Ethics” you state: ” To live freely, therefore, is not to live in an arbitrary way, but to live in the critically judged, critically evaluated way that you ought to live. The paradox of freedom is that to live freely is to live in an obligatory way ” According to your theory of Transcendental Method, how do you reconcile freedom with obligation How am I free when I am obligated? BL: In order for the person to be fully free they must have the ability to transcend, go beyond where they are now. A person who has obligations, who is held accountable for their actions, is a person who is going to be attentive enough to experience something, take the experience and question it. From the questioning they will come to an understanding. With that understanding the person will form a judgment. Since the person is responsible for that judgment and knows that others will be critical they will be sure that they have come to the correct judgment. By being intelligent about their judgment they will transcend where they were before the experience and be free to grow. If a person were not obligated in any way they would approach an experience in na ve way, perhaps letting it they slip by them altogether. They will learn nothing from it and stay as they are. Without growth there is no learning and through ignorance there is no freedom. Q6: Again in reference to the moral level of consciousness, you state that the question on this level is “What is the worthwhile choice, the good choice?” My question is “How does one discover the answer to this question in a particular situation?” Would you use a concrete example to answer this question for me?BL: The particular situation I will use for my example will be: You are driving down the street when you come upon an uncontrolled intersection. You have two choices: 1. You can continue as you are or 2. You can slow down and check the traffic flow as you come upon the intersection. In order to decide what the worthwhile decision is you must reflect upon your values. Your first and foremost value is the vital value, this is seeing to it that you are healthy and in good strength. When you apply that value to the situation you think that either decision will not impact your health. You continue on to the next value, which is the social value. This value is the good of order that protects and promotes the vital values of the community. When you apply this value to the situation you realize that in order to contribute to the good of the community you obligate yourself to follow the rules and laws that the community has established. If you do not slow down when you approach the uncontrolled intersection you are not following the good of order of the community. The good and moral decision would be to slow down and check the traffic because that would be looking out for the good of the community. To make a good and worthwhile decision one must look at ones values and if you are following the values you are making a good decision.
Q7: How so you understand the relationship between the fifth level of consciousness, religious commitment, and the fourth level, moral choice?BL: The relationship between these two levels is interwoven in one clear aspect, love. When a person reaches the fourth level they are making a decision based on what is good and worthwhile. Love helps form habits for good choices; people will make better moral choices if they have love in their lives. When a person knows love they are respectful of others and do not wish to bring others harm; they will act out respect for the well being of others. Love relates to the fifth level in that knowing love one knows God. When one makes a religious commitment one is loving God and choosing to lead a life that reflects that love. Q8: How does one strive to live an “authentic” human life? Can you answer my question in terms of the level of consciousness that are so central to your philosophy? BL: To live an “authentic” life one must follow the drive for truth, in order to obtain the truth one must follow the levels of consciousness. One must be attentive, this entails being aware of what is going on around you and understanding it. To understand one’s experiences one must question them, inquire about them. When one has come to an understanding of their experiences they must make a judgment about them. When making a judgment one can not be too hasty or stall, one should accept the truth. After one has made a judgment, one must be responsible and make a decision. This sounds a lot easier than it is. In order to do this authentically one must not let bias get in the way. There are different forms of bias, ranging from psychic bias, where one lets their emotions decide, to group bias, where one will not accept insights that will put their group at a disadvantage. One must struggle to not let any bias get in the way of making a correct and moral decision. If one can lead their life by making responsible choices, without bias, then one is living an authentic life. Q9a: We know that theorists often disagree as to whether there is an overall design in the universe. I understand that you discern a design based on two kinds of intelligibility in the universe of things. Would you please explain briefly what these two kinds of intelligibility are? BL: The two intelligibilities are classical and statistical. Classical intelligibility is based on regularly occurring events. Events that always happen at a certain time and a certain place again and again like the earth’s orbit around the sun or the law of gravity. A statistical intelligibility is based on random events. There is no set time or place for these events; they are grouped together by where they occur and at what time. Probability and chance have much to do with it. Take for instance weather. Look at a snowstorm. Snowstorms do not happen at the same place, at the same time again and again routinely. When, where and how long they last varies with each occasion. Q9b: What is the corresponding design of our universe?BL: Just as there are two intelligibilities there are two fundamentals to the universe. The first is the scheme of recurrence. These schemes organize themselves and shape the world. The atom creates molecules which become cells, combined create organisms. Advanced organisms are humans who create homes and an economy where a government is created to control it. The scheme of recurrence brings and maintains order in the universe. The second fundamental aspect is the emergent probability. There are two kinds of probability, the probability of emergence and the probability of survival. Probability is as much a part of the universe as the scheme of recurrence, just as probability and chance have as much to do with the universe of things. There is the probability of death or of growing. Neither one is certain like the scheme of recurrence but each is necessary in the universe. Q10: It seems that probability contains an element of chance. But what happens by chance is unpredictable, so it is unintelligible. How then can probability be said to be intelligible? BL: Probability is said to be intelligible because to determine probability one must first come to the conclusion that it is probable and be able to prove that it is not a classical law. One must know enough about it to dispute a regular occurrence, and to state averages and ideal frequencies. One can not do this if there is no intelligence involved. Q11: If your explanation of the design of the universe includes probability and chance as part of the emergence and survival of things, don’t these notions contradict a belief in God as provident creator of the universe? BL: Why actually they do. With probability and chance as part of the emergence and survival of things it would seem logical that after something comes to a certain complexity, the thing would continue on to the next level. It would not need God. The thing would just continue to grow and become more elaborate.Q12: With reference to each of the following philosophers’ theory, is there a point that you would approve, a point that might be in harmony with your method or insights? Is there some point in each which you would challenge? Q12a: PlatoBL: Plato was very brilliant and there are some points that I would agree with. I agree with him that people can not be ignorant, that they need to question their surrounds and choose what is good. I do not, however; agree with his theory of forms. I do not believe in his universal ideas Q12b: Thomas AquinasBL: Thomas Aquinas had some good notions, such as when he said that knowledge begins with experience of the sensible world. That is what my theory of cognition is based upon. I agree whole completely with that. I’m not sure I agree with his theory on act and potency. I don’t agree that perfection is predictable of all of reality. Not everything that is real is perfect, that is part of the reality.Q12c: DescartesBL: He had some very interesting notions. I will agree with him that a person is to avoid prejudice in judgments. To have a prejudice and make a judgment is to make a bad judgment because it is not based on understanding and truth. I’m not sure if I feel comfortable agreeing with his belief in intuition. If there were intuition there would be no need to experience things and to come to terms with our own judgments, we would just accept things as they are and seek to go no further. I believe that all of these men have aspects of their theories that pertain to mine but I also believe that they have very different aspects than what is in my theory.