What Is Metaphysics According to Lonergan?


Vincent White

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of existence. According to the Canadian philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan, metaphysics is concerned with understanding the fundamental principles that underlie all reality. In this article, we will explore Lonergan’s approach to metaphysics.

The Method of Metaphysics

Lonergan believed that metaphysics must be grounded in a rigorous method. He proposed a four-step method for doing metaphysics:

  • Empirical Analysis: This step involves gathering data through observation and experience.
  • Insight: In this step, the philosopher uses their intellect to gain insight into the underlying principles that govern reality.
  • Judgment: The philosopher must then make judgments about these principles, determining which are most fundamental and universal.
  • Synthesis: Finally, the philosopher must synthesize these principles into a coherent picture of reality.

The Structure of Reality

Lonergan believed that reality has a layered structure. At the most basic level, there are things that exist simply because they have being. These things do not require any further explanation for their existence – they exist because they exist.

Above this level are things that have properties or attributes. These properties can be understood as aspects of being.

Finally, there are things that have relations to other things. These relations can be understood as how beings interact with one another.

The Transcendentals

In addition to this layered structure of reality, Lonergan also believed in what he called “transcendentals.” Transcendentals are aspects of being that are present in all things. There are three transcendentals: truth, beauty, and goodness.

According to Lonergan, these transcendentals are not just abstract concepts – they are actually present in the things themselves. For example, a beautiful flower is not just something that we find aesthetically pleasing – it actually has beauty as an aspect of its being.

The Role of God

Finally, Lonergan believed that the ultimate explanation for reality must be found in God. For Lonergan, God is not just an abstract concept or a distant deity – God is the ground of all being. All reality ultimately derives from God’s creative act.

In conclusion, Bernard Lonergan’s approach to metaphysics emphasizes the importance of a rigorous method and a structured understanding of reality. His belief in transcendentals and the role of God as the ultimate explanation for reality make his approach unique and engaging.