The method in theology



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In Bernard Lonergan’s book, the Method in Theology, the importance of various factors that go into penetrating the Human Good is addressed. In chapter two, he talks about how the different facets and experiences of humanity, such as their Skills, Feelings, Values, Beliefs, Cooperation, Progress, and Decline all constitute in entering the Human Good. Skills, which is the first component of the human good, is described as the concept of adaptation which is separated into two parts called assimilation and adjustment. These two types explain how skills are acquired and utilized towards a new object or situation.

Assimilation is the process of recalling what you have learned and experienced from previous situations. Adjustment is the ability to go through trial and error while slowly reforming and gaining previously learned actions. After Skills are constituted into the human good, the development of Feelings comes into play. Feelings are developed by non-intentional states and goals. Non-intentional states are bodily based and they describe such states as fatigue, irritability, bad humor, anxiety, hunger and so forth. States are the causes of ones affect and trends are goals regarding ones reaction.

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Lonergan states that “The feeling itself does not presuppose and arise out of perceiving, imagining, representing the cause or goal. Rather, one first feels tired and, perhaps belatedly, one discovers that what one needs is a rest, first one feels hungry and then one diagnoses the trouble as a lack of food. ” (Method p. 30). As Lonergan clarified, when one is tired he needs rest and when one is hungry it is distinguished as a lack of food, both are examples of how non-intentional states and trends are portrayed. Intentional responses also play a role in the development of feelings.

It is when you answer to what is understood and interpret your opinion towards the object or situation. This is based on two main classes, agreeable or disagreeable and the values of one person Values transcend into our response by selecting an object for the sake of asking what’s good? , the objective value it contains? , the nutritional value? , and so forth. Since true values are comprehended only in certain feelings, feelings do not always respond to values. In section two, Lonergan explains that values are distinguished in accordance to preference starting from vital, social, cultural, personal, and religion.

All these values are Khalid, 3 very much present in Saint Augustine’s life during his search towards God and explains many of the events that occur his journey. Vital values are described by ones elementary health, strength and grace. They dominate ones growth of physical development throughout life. Depression, anguish, self-condemnation and immorality portray the existence of vital values. In book III chapter 1, Augustine talks about how he was interested in becoming physically attractive and envisioned himself being a fashion icon. He reminisces about his days in Carthage and how he felt foul and insecure about his state of being.

He states, “I was starved inside me for inner food (for you yourself, my God), yet this starvation did not make me hungry. I had no desire for the food that is incorruptible, and this was not because I was filled with it; no, the emptier I was, the more my stomach turned against it. And for this reason my soul was in poor health;” (Conf. III. 1). Augustine definitely voiced that he had poor health due to his devoid of God spiritually, and his obsession with his physical appearance over God made him feel bad. In this point of Augustine’s life, it was clear that the existence of vital values was present.

Lonergan expresses that social value is when one is interested in their rank of social stature within a community. He explains that it is blatant in one’s life that their prominence within a society has importance above all others. For example, being class president or football captain portrays attributes of being popular and successful. When one feels superior above others and can gain a title, society interprets it as a concept of social value. In Book III chapter 3, Augustine shows evidence of social value when he voices that he is studying in school to become a lawyer and wants to establish his

name in a profession where deception is at its greatest height. He also hopes that someday he will become a governor of a province which reveals that power and fame is important in his life. Lonergan claims that cultural value helps man give importance and dignity to his life. We flash symbols toward each other to signify that we have meaning to our lives. In Book III chapter 2, Augustine encounters the theatrical culture which helps him realize that he truly is accustomed and Khalid, 4 interested in theater. He eventually dedicates his life to working in dramas and acting in plays.

Personal value illustrates the interpretation of self-transcendence. It is when one must look beyond its own selfishness and sorrows and targets this being towards a better good. In Book IV chapter 8, Augustine expresses his grief about his friend’s death which leaves him having sorrow beside him every day. He describes seeing sadness in everything he comes upon. His friends allowed him to go beyond his grief and self-transcend into looking beyond what he has. Lonergan explains religious value as the heart of the meaning and the value of a man’s world. One must look at the totality of wisdom and what it means in ones living.

In Book III chapter 4, Augustine comes upon Cicero’s book called Hortensius, which changed his feelings and prayers towards God. This book gave him a different outlook on life and altered his ambitions and desires. Everything else in Augustine’s life including his social status and cultural values became vain to him. He believed in wisdom being eternal and is inflamed with passionate zeal to love, seek, and obtain wisdom in itself. It is evident in Augustine’s life that religious value ranked the most important over the other elements and that ultimately he finds happiness here.

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