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Lonergan, Bernard (1904–1985)

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631198963.2005.x


Canadian Jesuit theologian. He taught for many years in Canada before moving to a professorial position at the Gregorian University in Rome in 1953, where he remained until his retirement in 1965. After retirement, he lived in the USA as a member of Regis College until his death. A research institute in his name was founded in Toronto. His works include Insight of 1957 and Method in Theology of 1972. Lonergan's principal concern was intellectual enquiry, and in particular the study of theological method. In his early work, Lonergan concentrated on the ‘transcendental’ method of Thomas Aquinas and those who had built on Aquinas's work. He divided the structure of human knowledge into four stages: experience, understanding, judgement and decision which acted on knowledge thus gained. From this, he developed his four ‘transcendental precepts’: be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable, be responsible. His most famous book, Method in Theology , augments this conception. Method is defined as a ‘framework for collaborative creativity’. The four stages of knowledge and the four transcendental precepts form the basis of this theological framework, with research, interpretation, history and dialectic corresponding to experience, understanding, judgement and decision. He thus attempted to construct a unified basis for theological method—indeed, for all intellectual endeavour—on which ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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