Monday, February 12, 2007

Aha! moments

Lonergan posits that all learning revolves around moments of insight, and I've had several of those lately. I've been wrestling with understanding what's at issue in what William Abraham (in Canon & Criterion and more recently in Crossing the Threshold) calls the epistemology of theology. Christopher Lutz (Tradition in the Ethics of MacIntyre, 120-21) says "MacIntyre defends a reading of Thomas Aquinas according to which Thomism is a synthesis of the Augustinian and Aristotelian traditions that preceded it." He shows how, "according to MacIntyre, Thomism, with some modification, brings together the Aristotelian and the Augustinian accounts of truth as complementary parts in a more comprehensive and satisfactory whole ." He quotes Macintyre's statement in Three Rival Versions (123) to the effect that "Aristotle's account of the rational world became recognizably the prologue required for an Augustinian theology," and his Aquinas Lecture (First Principles. . .): "The complexity of Aquinas's view is a consequence of his having integrated into a single account theses both from Aristotle and Islamic commentary upon Aristotle, and from Augustine and Anselm. But the integration is what is most important" (my emphasis). That helps me tremendously: assumptions regarding "truth as it is" and "how I pursue truth" are an integrated whole that involves a back-and-forth movement (like the hermeneutical circle, but epistemology is broader than hermeneutics).
I've also read some of Ellen Charry on the "pastoral function of Christian doctrine," and really appreciate her emphasis on practices & virtues, built on her premise that "the classic theologians based their understanding of human excellence on knowing and loving God, the imitation or assimilation to whom brings proper human dignity and flourishing" (18).
Along with this, I've been reading Understanding and Being, Lonergan's 1957 Halifax Lectures, and finally discovered something that helps me get a handle on the extremely dense Insight.
Finally, I've also greatly enjoyed the Online Connectivism Conference facilitated by George Siemens, in which one of the respondents posting in a Moodle forum suggested that what George is proposing is more about epistemology than a learning theory.
Cool! All of this is beginning to come together; now if I can get it down in print . . .