Functional Specialization Seminars | October 2011

Taking a Position by Phil McShane

by phil.mcshane 18. October 2011 10:37

Hello all,

I have been asked about the manner in which one might go about self-positioning. In particular the question comes up about going back over the previous seminars.

Now certainly one can go back over those seminars to help take a position. One can even reach further. As one person suggested and indeed is undertaking, one can venture into the tasks of the first half of Method 250.

BUT what I wish for is a minimalism, and indeed I wish to help towards that by cooking up a sort of list, so that you might well get your positioning into a page, and do it in a sort of multiple choice way!

This is not – I am repeating here points made in FuSe 17A – a matter of talking about “the usual conversions”, but of being honest with oneself – and with the rest of us, unless you have good reason to stay anonymous  [ho ho: “ my thesis isn’t finished” or “I’m up for promotion this year”!], in which case send me stuff to be presented anonymously … or if you want it out of my ken, then….send it be slow-mail!

Being honest: a very tricky thing here is whether your bent is one of interested observer or whether you are interested in doing something. Think this out. If you take the definition by Lonergan of metaphysics  seriously, then you have to mesh into some pattern of implementation. Functional Collaboration gives nine generic patterns: the usual 8 + a commonsense commitment. This is a very simple but challenging question: many so-called philosophers are - you say in the new world! - monday-morning quarterbacks. In Ireland we talk of “the hurler on the ditch”. So that gives a place to start.

What am I looking for? Something like a Wall St revolt in 2012, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Method and the 70th anniversary of the emergence of For A New Political Economy. AND SO I would be delighted if you passed on my little questionnaire to interested parties [even to settled  Lonerganist individualists!]. We need voting feet!!!  Send in your page or your treatise to

So, please reply …if you must know, my own position is expressed by the even numbers below, but don’t let that influence you.

There are, of course, many other refinements of positioning regarding present and future “cumulative and progressive results” (Method, 4, 5) …. Add whatever else you wish!

Here you are then: a dozen options.

[1] I believe that metaphysical interest is one of interested observer: it is not intrinsically practical.

[2] I accept existentially Lonergan’s suggestion re implementation as essential to philosophy.

[3] I see little reason why philosophic efforts should be twisted into any collaborative structure. I prefer working on my own, in my own interested fashion.

[4] I have begun to see reasons why we need functional collaboration as described by Lonergan.

[5] I think that good description, even haute vulgarization, is sufficient in philosophic discourse.

[6] I take Lonergan seriously when he stands against “pseudometaphysical mythmaking” (Insight, 528)

[7] Lonerganism, as it has moved in the past 50 years, shows progress towards changing culture.

[8] Lonerganism is dishonest in using the name while rejecting Lonergan’s program of Cosmopolis.

[9] Lonerganism is working its way successfully towards an individualistic answer to Cosmopolis.

[10] Lonergan’s search for an effective Cosmopolis  brought him to functional collaboration.

[11] Lonergan conferences etc devoted to scattered individualism, is our best option.

[12] Lonerganism’s mode of progress is a disgraceful mess.


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