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Philosophy Alive

Philosophical Method

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Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984), a Thomist, whose interests were in epistemology, methodology, metaphysics, and philosophical theology, developed a "generalized empirical method".  He wrote Insight (London: Longman, 1957) and Method in Theology in the 1970s.  "The success of the natural sciences confirms that the mind reaches knowledge from data... Lonergan generalized the notion of data to included the data of consciousness as well as the data of sense... ascend through hypothesis to verification... what is meaningful and was is valuble..."  Tad Dunne, "Bernard Lonergan" in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Etienne Gilson (1884-1978), a Thomist, strongly contested Lonergan's methodological priority of epistemology over metaphysics, citing the fact that Descartes and Kant began with a study of consciousness and never escaped from it.  The Transcendental Thomists, like Lonergan, argue that Kant had a kind of failure of nerve, since knowledge is itself intellegible and possible only on the prior assumption of real objects for knowledge, which are actually known by the knowing subject.  Considering this, Lonergan begins philosophy with the attempt to know what knowing is.  His analysis reveals that knowing is empirical (sensing, perceiving, imagining), intellectual (understanding, concepts), and rational (affirmation), and yet these acts are not three stages of knowing but a dynamic unity.   Knowing is a conscious activity, and consciousness is an awareness immanent in cognitional acts.  All knowing requires a process of insight, whence the title of Lonergan's book.  Examples of insight are the in Archimedes' cry "Eureka" and in the slaveboy in Plato's Meno.
Confer:  The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly  78 (Winter 2004) has three articles on Lonergan out of its eight presentations.
Confer:  Terry J. Tekippe, What Is Lonergan Up To In Insight  (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1996) and also Hugh Bredin, "Lonergan" in Stuart Brown et al., One Hundred Twentieth-Century Philosophers (London: Routledge, 1998):  112-114.

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Links for Lonergan and Thomism                                                        Lonergan Web Site                                          Lonergan Discusiion                         Lonergan Inst. Boston                          Aquinas Philosophy      Aquinas Philosophy                                    Thomas Aquinas                Deepened Aristotle                                    Thomism

Method and Material

Dissertation start? 1) Pick a title: topic limited "with special reference to" author, time, place, document. 2) Get five to ten seminal books (with bibliography and index) on the topic. 3) Write out twenty questions before reading. 4) Do not read a book without first writing out a bibliography file card (author surname and name, title, edition, city, publisher, date). 5) Write out a quote file card (author surname and date of publication, with comma and page number)and quote in the original language. 6) Plan bilbiography of books, articles, and web literature.

Research on Index Cards

When doing research, never pick up a book without making out a Bibliographical Index Card, with the name of the author, name of the book, with the city, publisher, and date of publication.  Secondly, make out more than needed Quotation Index Cards, identifying the author's surname, date of publication and page, e.g. Smith 1967, 99, and write the quotation in the original language for a future footnote. 

Reasoned Bibliography Index Cards
Make out a card for each of the twenty or thirty major documents or historically important books on your subjext.  Each of these comparative cards will indicate advances or regressions in the development of your thesis.  Each card could have one line for a brief note:  name of book or primary document, author, question, principles, thesis, proof, definitions, divisions/distinctions, parts of book useful for my work, opponents/supporters, and author's school of thought/current/outdated.