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Lonergan and Historiography

The Epistemological Philosophy of History

Thomas J. McPartland

Publication Year: 2010

Although Bernard Lonergan is known primarily for his cognitional theory and theological methodology, he long sought to formulate a modern philosophy of history free of progressive and Marxist biases. Yet he never addressed this in any single work, and his reflections on the subject are scattered in various writings.
In this pioneering work, Thomas McPartland shows how Lonergan’s overall philosophical position offers a fresh and comprehensive basis for considering historiography. Taking Lonergan’s philosophy of historical existence into the realm of an epistemological philosophy of history, he demonstrates how the philosopher’s approach builds on the actual performance of historians and, as a result, integrates the insights of historical specialists into a framework of functional complementarity.  
McPartland draws on all of Lonergan’s philosophical writing—as well as on the vast literature of historiography—to detail Lonergan’s notions of historical method, historical objectivity, and historical knowledge. Along the way, he explains what Lonergan means by hermeneutics; by historical description, explanation, ideal-types, and narrative; by evaluative and dialectical analyses; and how these elements are all functionally related to each other. He also delineates the defining features of psychohistory, cultural history, intellectual history, history of ideas, and history of philosophy, indicating how these disciplines play complementary roles in the critical encounter with the past.
Ultimately, McPartland argues that Lonergan has established the principles of a historical discipline—the history of consciousness—that weaves together a philosophy of consciousness with rigorous historical research to grasp long-term trends resulting from “differentiations of consciousness.” His work offers a distinct perspective on historical method that takes historical objectivity seriously while providing new insight into the thought of this important philosopher.

Published by: University of Missouri Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book is part of a larger project dealing with Lonergan’s philosophy of history. A much larger work in progress and an earlier published work, Lonergan and the Philosophy of Historical Existence, both deal with what is termed in this book Lonergan’s “ontological philosophy of history,” where the “historically engaged subject” is related to such themes ...

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pp. 1-5

Foundational thinkers are rare and precious (at least if we take that term in its generic meaning and not in the narrow, Cartesian sense criticized by Post-Modern writers). Thinkers who penetrate to the most profound intellectual assumptions of the age, who grapple with them resolutely, and who, in so doing, likewise address, with bold sensitivity, ...

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Chapter 1 - Basic Horizon and Historiography

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pp. 6-33

If one were to practice horticulture in a certain garden, one would want to know, for purpose of orientation and in order to bring the proper tools, the kind of garden and the kind of harvest it may be anticipated to yield. And so we may wish to come to a preliminary understanding about the garden of Lonergan’s philosophy of history. Should we...

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Chapter 2 - Critique of Historical Reason

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pp. 34-74

Lonergan’s horizon analysis illuminates the complex dimensions of the relative horizons that pervade and exhibit the diversity of historical existence; penetrates to a basic horizon operative in the process of inquiry throughout human history; and argues for a critical historiography that would arise from the very exigencies of basic horizon. And it is ...

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Chapter 3 - History of Thought and Praxis

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pp. 75-110

If ethics is neither a matter of deducing conduct from abstract rules “out there,” nor a matter of calculating a balance of pleasures over pains, nor a matter a simply “feeling good,” nor a matter of a personal expression of one’s unique “lifestyle”—but it is, rather, a matter of conduct faithful to the norms ingredient in the self-correcting and selftranscending...

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Chapter 4 - History of Consciousness

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pp. 111-151

Lonergan’s rich “Dimensions of Meaning” is his most concentrated expression of a broad, philosophically informed perspective about the actual course of historical events. Of all his shorter writings, we may perhaps regard this one as a minor classic, an inexhaustible source of inquiry and meditative reflection.1 Here, Lonergan, in succinct but bold...

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pp. 152-156

In the “preliminary sketch” in chapter 1, we introduced a number of inquirers, among whom was an historian interested in understanding an ancient civilization. In subsequent chapters we have explored, in effect, what would be the historian’s process of inquiry thought the relevant disciplines within which he or she would operate and what would be...


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pp. 157-188


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pp. 189-204


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pp. 205-214

Back Cover

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pp. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780826272225
E-ISBN-10: 0826272223
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826218841
Print-ISBN-10: 0826218849

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 868218216
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Lonergan and Historiography