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Chapter Five | Transcendental Thomism—II

You ain't heard nothin’ yet, folks.—Al Jolson.

We must now turn from Rahner to his fellow-Jesuit Coreth. For Emerich Coreth, as for Rahner, the programme of metaphysics is provided by the transcendental method, which he defines in the words of Kant: ‘I call every knowledge transcendental which occupies itself not so much with objects, but rather with our way of knowing objects, in so far as this is to be possible a priori.’1 And, as Lonergan remarks, in a fine review of Coreth's original German work which is printed as an appendix to Donceel's translation and which bears the significant title ‘Metaphysics as Horizon’, for Coreth the basis of the transcendental method, applied to any judgment, lies not in the content of the judgment but in its possibility, and it functions by a reductio ad absurdum:

The main task of the metaphysician is not to reveal or prove what is new and unknown; it is to give scientific expression to what already is implicitly acknowledged without being explicitly recognised.

The proper tool in this mediation of the immediate is the rejection of the counterposition. Explicit judgments can contradict the latent metaphysics that they presuppose; but one has only to bring this contradiction to light, for the explicit judgment to be evident nonsense, and for its opposite to be established.2

The trouble with Kant, Coreth tells us, is that he did not start far enough back. ‘He did not go back far enough when looking for the conditions of possibility of human knowledge. He stopped at the finite subject, he did not reach an absolute horizon of validity, and thus he eliminated all possibility of metaphysical knowledge. Only if we can, against Kant and proceeding beyond him, show that our a priori knowledge is metaphysical knowledge of being, which opens for us the absolute horizon of being as such, shall we be able to validate metaphysics critically and methodically.’3 Lonergan comments on the clean break which Coreth makes with the Wolffian tradition. ‘By being is meant, not what can be, but what is. By general metaphysics is understood, not a study of some prior realm of possibilities, but an understanding of actual existents.’4 Rahner would, of course, agree, but with him, as we have seen, the starting-point in the concrete realm was the human act of perception, in which the mind turns to the phantasms. For Coreth the starting-point is the conscious, concrete activity of the human subject asking a question. ‘To doubt questioning is to involve oneself in a counter-position, and so questioning is beyond the doubter's capacity to doubt coherently.’5 All kinds of questions can be asked, but to all of them the realm of being is presupposed as the condition without which there could be no questioning. And it is here that Coreth parts company with Kant in the operative moment itself, the moment in which questioning occurs. To quote Lonergan again:

That operative moment lies in a contradiction not between content and content but between content and performance; but a Kantian context is a context of contents that does not envisage performance. Thus there is no explicit contradiction in the content of the statement ‘We are under an illusion when we claim to know what really is’. On the other hand, there is an explicit contradiction in the reflective statement ‘I am stating what really and truly is so, when I state that we are under an illusion whenever we claim to know what really and truly is so.’6

It is here, as Lonergan remarks, that Coreth's divergence from Kant differs from Étienne Gilson's; for Gilson, while he holds that Kantian idealism, like any other idealism, is false, does not hold that it is contradictory. He holds that it is in fact perfectly consistent; its defect is that it cannot break through from the purely conceptual realm of ideas into the realm of concrete reality.7 For Coreth, on the other hand, Kantian idealism involves a definite contradiction. ‘This contradiction lies, not in the content uttered by the mind, but in the mind that utters the content, and not in a formal entity that merely thinks thoughts, but in a concrete intelligence that by its performance means and by its uttered contents denies that we know what really and truly is so.’8

By putting the question about questioning, Coreth claims to have shown ‘that every question supposes, as a condition of its possibility, a previous knowledge about being; hence it supposes the horizon of being, outside which a question about that which is, is impossible.’ (The metaphor of the ‘horizon’ is common to both Coreth and Rahner.) ‘The material object of the intellect is every being.… The formal object of the intellect is being as being.… The horizon of the question derives from a pre-knowledge that is never thematic [i.e. explicitly formulated] itself, but which conditions and determines every thematic question.…’

This pre-knowledge of being [Coreth continues] is based upon our exercised or lived knowledge, through which we become aware of the unity of being and knowing. This exercised or lived knowledge never becomes thematic; likewise our pre-knowledge of being is never thematically given. Never do we know merely about being as being, without knowing at the same time about some being or at least without inquiring about some being. Being is never given as an object. But the pre-knowledge of being conditions and determines every inquiry about beings, it projects the horizon of being as the horizon of all possible inquiry.

Being is never given as object, but only as the formal object in the subject. The formal object as object is not being, but beings, although we can inquire and know about them as such only in the light of our pre-knowledge of being.9

Coreth goes into very much more detail than Rahner in his discussion of the existence of God. But in much the same way he argues that ‘in our every act of thinking there is co-posited and presupposed the primordial realisation of the necessity of absolute being’.

This is not yet thematically a knowledge of the absolute being of God, since the absolute and necessary character of being is not yet contrasted with the finite and conditioned beings. At first we have only a general and undetermined knowledge, a basic unavoidable assertion: being as such cannot be, being as such is absolute. Within this assertion the knowledge about the absolute being of God is already co-posited, but it becomes thematic only when we have shown that no finite being is being itself, that every finite being is distinct from absolute being, since it possesses being only in a conditioned and restricted manner. However, since, insofar as it is, the finite being necessarily is, it presupposes, beyond itself, the absolutely necessary being, being itself.10

It is clear from this statement, as well as from many others, that Coreth's approach to theism is firmly cosmological; it is not based on any purely logical or conceptual argument, or on any alleged immediate awareness of God. In fact, for all the many obvious differences, his basic attitude has something in common with that of Austin Farrer in Finite and Infinite, with his stress upon the cosmological relation in which God and things are known together, God as their creator and they as his creatures.

It is clear [writes Coreth] in what sense we admit an immediate knowledge of God. It is not in the sense of a thematic explicit knowledge, nor in the sense of an immediate intuition of God. Our explicit knowledge of God needs the mediation of the world, which we know and which we transcend in our knowledge. This knowing and transcending is possible only on account of an unthematic anticipation, through which we unconsciously reach out towards the Absolute.… It follows from all of this that the knowledge of God does not really represent a passage of our mind to something hitherto wholly unknown, but only an explicitation and development of our knowledge of the necessity of being. Thus it seems to be more correct not to speak of an immediate knowledge of God but only of an immediate knowledge of the necessary and absolute nature of being. To show that this necessary being is not the finite world of our experience, but only God, who infinitely surpasses this world, requires further steps in our argumentation.11

In developing these further steps Coreth is much more explicit than Rahner. His definition of God, though not given in so many words, is clearly that of a transcendent ground of the world, though he has approached this ground not by a consideration of the objects of our experience—the ‘external world’—but of our own perceiving subjectivity. ‘The necessary being’, he writes, ‘is distinguished from the finite beings because the latter are many, conditioned, and finite, thus presupposing being itself as one, unconditioned and infinite. In the following proofs we further explain the relation between the many and the one, the conditioned and the unconditioned, the finite and the infinite.… Thus we have basically—although not exclusively—three demonstrations of God, corresponding to three ontological principles of identity, causality and finality.’12

‘In the first proof’, Coreth writes, referring to his earlier discussion of the ‘horizon of being’, ‘we have shown that the principle of identity, which underlies our every act of thinking as a condition of its possibility, presupposes the primordial affirmation of the necessity of being. The second proof’, he continues, ‘shows that, according to the principle of causality, every finite and contingent being demands the Absolute Being as its first cause.’ He develops this argument along traditional lines, beginning with the assertion that ‘a being is contingent whenever it stands in the flux of becoming, when it begins and ceases to exist, thus showing that it is not necessary’, and he adds two further criteria of contingency, namely temporality and finiteness.13 While asserting that the criterion of becoming can be applied to many, though not all, of the objects of our experience, he sees it as applying most obviously to ourselves. ‘We experience in the most direct manner the contingency of our own Ego. We ourself have not always existed. We have emerged from non-being, we have been thrown into existence, we know that we were not, that we are not necessarily in existence, that we have not entered into existence by ourself.’ The distinction here made is not unlike that made by Farrer in a very different context of argumentation between usiological arguments, based upon finite beings in general, and anthropological, based upon the particular being which each of us knows most immediately, namely himself.14 It should be added that this awareness of our own contingency to which Coreth here appeals is quite different from the unthematic, precognitive self-awareness of oneself as subject which he has previously discussed; what he is now concerned with is the self-awareness derived from introspection. It should also be added that Coreth shows no concern with the type of objection that has been urged against causal arguments for theism by philosophers of the linguistic school, namely that it is not self-evident that contingency in the sense of not-always-existing is identical with contingency in the sense of metaphysical non-necessity, that causality is a concept that applies only within the empirical realm and cannot be extrapolated beyond it, and so on. The fact that Coreth can argue in sublime indifference to such objections as these is a striking sign of the total lack of communication that persists between the empirically and linguistically minded philosophers of the Anglo-Saxon world and the existentialist and phenomenological philosophers of the Teutonic. They simply do not speak the same language. I am far from admitting that the objections of the linguistic empiricists are unanswerable, but they are very widespread and influential in English-speaking countries and they will need to be taken note of by writers of the transcendentalist school if these latter are to obtain a hearing.

To return to Fr Coreth. His third argument, based upon finality, begins by asserting that ‘we can know and enquire about God only because our intellect, although immersed in the world of experience, transcends this world towards the absolute and infinite being.… Such a striving’, he goes on, ‘which constitutes the very essence of our mind, cannot head towards nothingness. Its end must at least be possible.… But if the absolute being is possible, it is also necessarily real. In the present case, and only in it, may we conclude from the possibility to the reality, provided only that the possibility in question is not a mere logical possibility, but the real possibility of being.’ Coreth would thus not accept against his argument the objections commonly levelled against that of St Anselm. ‘We do not conclude’, he insists, ‘from a conceivable, non-contradictory concept of God to his reality. This would be an invalid conclusion. But we start from the real activity of the spirit, which is possible only if it aims at a really possible end, the absolute being.’15 To substantiate this defence would require a much fuller examination of the earlier part of Coreth's book than is possible here. He does, however, link up his theistic argument with his original starting-point in the following passage:

The above proof might be formulated in a simpler and briefer way as follows: The question presupposes the possibility of an answer. But our question is an unlimited one, since we may inquire about everything and continue to inquire beyond any possible limits. By its very nature, the question aims at the infinity of all that which is knowable. Therefore, the act of inquiring presupposes the possibility of an infinite answer, which puts an end to all questions. But neither a finite being nor the totality of all finite beings can supply an infinite answer and put an end to an unlimited inquiry. Therefore, the question presupposes something infinite, which, insofar as it is knowable, may supply an infinite answer. But, as we have shown, the possibility of the infinite necessarily implies its reality. Hence the act of inquiring presupposes the reality of the absolute, infinite being.16

It is not difficult to think of the flaws which a philosopher trained in the linguistic empiricist school will claim to detect in this passage. How many senses have been given to the words ‘infinite’ and ‘unlimited’ in the course of the argument? What, precisely, is ‘the question’ about which so much has been said? In what sense does it ‘presuppose’ something infinite as providing a possible answer? Must not the answer to a question be a proposition? If so, is the ‘infinite’ a proposition? And will it satisfy Fr Coreth's needs if it is? Has it been shown that the possibility of the ‘infinite’ necessarily implies its reality, and what, in this context, does ‘necessarily implies’ mean? Such awkward questions will inevitably be asked and they are not easy to answer. And yet I am sure that Coreth—and Rahner as well—are making a very important point, however vulnerable may be the language in which they express it and however tortuous and circuitous the path by which they approach it. It is the point made by the old cosmological argument, that if only we look at finite creatures in the right way we shall see them as created and upheld by that transcendent cause to which we give the name ‘God’. Coreth himself says that ‘other proofs of God may be devised… from the finalistic order and harmony of the world, from the finite subject-object relation, hence also from the ontic truth and goodness of beings, further from the absolute nature of moral obligation, from the transcendence of human society and history, from the religious experience both of the individual and of humanity as a whole, and so on.’17 Nevertheless, having added that such a proof may use either the principle of causality or the principle of finality or merely argue simply from the conditioned to its condition, he writes as follows:

All demonstrations of God's existence are ultimately based upon the transcendence of the spirit. It is only because and insofar as the finite spirit operates in the horizon of being as such, because it possesses an essential relation to the absolute and infinite being, that in every one of its spiritual activities it always already transcends the conditioned towards the unconditioned, the finite towards the infinite. Thus whenever we wish critically to reduce a proof of God's existence to the ultimate conditions of its possibility, we must, by means of transcendental reflection, render thematic the essential transcendence of the human spirit. Or the other way around: Whenever through reflection we make explicit the metaphysically transcendent nature of the human spirit, we have a proof of God's existence—or rather we have the proof of God's existence, which is the ground and foundation of all the other demonstrations.18

I have emphasised in an earlier lecture the importance of being clear and consistent in one's explicit or assumed definition of the word ‘God’. Obviously the God whose existence Coreth claims to have proved is an infinite and transcendent ground of our human existence, and, at this stage of the argument, nothing more. He goes on, however, to argue that because Absolute being is the ground of finite beings we can therefore have a knowledge of him of a strictly analogous kind. ‘When the transcendent movement of our spirit heads for the Absolute, we may drop and transcend the limitations, through a negation of the negation, thus intending the pure positivity of an unlimited perfection. Each such unlimited perfection is realised in the absolute being of God, they are all infinitely unified in him. Hence we must attribute to God all pure perfections of being.’19 On this basis Coreth then argues that God is the infinite fullness of all the infinite possibilities of being, that he is absolutely simple, absolutely transcendent of the material, spatiotemporal and all finite orders, he is absolute Spirit, pure activity and life, infinite knowledge, infinite willing, infinitely free and absolute person. ‘Hence philosophy can really reach a personal God.’20 Thus, whether transcendental Thomism is genuinely Thomist or not, it here reaches the same God as St Thomas.

One final point should be added before we leave Fr Coreth. He does not, like Rahner, invoke the notion of a ‘supernatural existential’ in order to make room for a more than merely natural knowledge of God on the part of man. He does, however, maintain that, by his very nature, man can put the question whether God has something to say to him or not.

Even when known by us, God remains unknown. Even when we know him, we do not understand him. And thus the question stays with us. But from a question about God it turns into a question to God. We inquire whether he might not come down to meet us, whether he himself might not by himself answer our questions and reveal himself to us in a way which goes beyond all our human knowledge.…

If God speaks to us and reveals himself to us, he will do so in a way which we may understand. Hence if God is freely to reveal himself, he will have to do it in the world, in history. And we, being aware of such a possibility, should stand open and be ready for it, for a possible word of God to man in the world and in history.21

It is here that Fr Coreth leaves us, on the outermost limit of natural theology and the hithermost limit of the Christian revelation. And it is here that, in gratitude and admiration but with some residual puzzlements and reservations, the Gifford Lecturer must leave Fr Coreth.

I have already referred in some detail to Bernard Lonergan's review of Emerich Coreth; I must now turn to his systematic statement of his own metaphysical and epistemological position.22 This is to be found in his formidable volume Insight, which consists of nearly eight hundred pages of medium-sized type. No more than Rahner or Coreth is Lonergan easy to read, but the difficulty in his case is of a very different kind. He is, in contrast to the other two writers, hardly ever obscure, but his work is at the same time extremely voluminous and extremely compressed. Taking short cuts in Lonergan is very much like taking short cuts in South London; one is very much tempted to do it, but if one yields to the temptation one almost invariably gets lost and has to retrace one's steps. He is certainly in the line of Marshal's correction and reconstruction of Kant, but he is to all appearance totally uninfluenced by Heidegger, and in the index to Insight there is not a single reference to the German existentialist. His method is transcendental, in that he bases metaphysics upon epistemology and not vice versa, he discusses knowledge first and only then goes on to discuss being; and he adopts the method of proving positions by showing the counter-positions to be self-contradictory. His work is divided into two parts of roughly equal size; the first, entitled ‘Insight as Activity’, answers the question ‘What is happening when we are knowing?’, the second, entitled ‘Insight as Knowledge’, answers the question ‘What is known when that is happening?’. That is to say, the first part is concerned with the activity of knowing and the second with its object. The title of his book indicates its fundamental thesis; it is that knowing always consists in penetrating beneath the immediately apprehended surface of an object into its intelligible being. Insight is in-sight, seeing into the observed object; and in his earlier work Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas he generally uses the word ‘understanding’, which, like the Latin words intelligentia and intellectus, carries the same suggestion: ‘standing under’, legere intus. Lonergan rejects explicitly what he describes as ‘the mistaken supposition that knowing consists in taking a look’.23 In the course of his argument, he traces the operation of the enquiring human mind from one level to another, from commonsense awareness of the world, through the various types of mathematical, scientific, aesthetic and moral experience, up to the level of metaphysics; and at each level of abstraction there is always left an ‘empirical residue’ which raises further questions and leads the mind on to further heights of enquiry. Like Gilson, Lonergan refuses to remain in the order of conceptual thought and insists on the place of the judgment; furthermore he sees the judgment as not merely affirming the unity of concepts but as asserting existence in concrete reality. Time after time he makes use of the double notion of ‘intelligent grasp and reasonable affirmation’, thus bringing concept and judgment together.

The greater part of his book is devoted to the knowledge by man of what he calls ‘proportionate being’, meaning by this term being which is proportionate or correlative to the finite human intellect. He asserts that in a certain sense his whole discussion has been directed by the notion of ‘transcendence’, in the simple meaning of ‘going beyond’: science ‘goes beyond’ common sense, metaphysics and ethics ‘go beyond’ science. He summarises this movement in the following words:

Clearly, despite the imposing name, transcendence is the elementary matter of raising further questions. Thus, the present work has been written from a moving viewpoint. It began from insight as an interesting event in human consciousness. It went on to insight as a central event in the genesis of mathematical knowledge. It went beyond mathematics to study the role of insight in classical statistical investigations. It went beyond the reproducible insights of scientists to the more complex functioning of intelligence in common sense, in its relations to its psycho-neural basis, and in its historical expansion in the development of technology, economics, and politics. It went beyond all such direct and inverse insights to the reflective grasp that grounds judgment. It went beyond all insights as activities to consider them as elements in knowledge. It went beyond actual knowledge to its permanent dynamic structure to construct an explicit metaphysics and add the general form of an ethics. It has found man involved and engaged in developing, in going beyond what he happens to be, and it has been confronted both with man's incapacity for sustained development and with his need to go beyond the hitherto considered procedures of his endeavour to go beyond.24

However, beyond this elementary notion of transcendence there is another, which Lonergan sees as of profound significance. ‘Finally’, he writes, ‘one can ask whether human knowledge is confined to the universe of proportionate being or goes beyond it to the realm of transcendent being; and this transcendent realm may be conceived either relatively or absolutely, either as beyond man or as the ultimate in the whole process of going beyond.’ ‘The immanent source of transcendence in man’, he asserts, ‘is his detached, disinterested, unrestricted desire to know’, but ‘man's unrestricted desire to know is mated to a limited capacity to attain knowledge.’ ‘The possibility of transcendent knowledge, then, is the possibility of grasping intelligently and affirming reasonably a transcendent being.’ ‘But before we can affirm reasonably, we must grasp intelligently; and before we can grasp transcendent being intelligently, we have to extrapolate from proportionate being.’25 Thus Lonergan goes on to enquire into the legitimacy of this extrapolation.

The object of our unrestricted desire to know, he argues, can be nothing else than being itself. Therefore, the idea of being is nothing else than the content of an unrestricted act of understanding. The primary component of such an act will be the unrestricted act's understanding of itself; its secondary component consists in the understanding of everything else because it understands itself. Can there be, and if there can be is there, such an unrestricted act? In a long argument, based on an analysis of the notion of causality and its relevance to the matter of our own aspiration to the transcendent, Lonergan gives an affirmative answer. The application of the notion of causality beyond the empirical realm and its adoption for metaphysical purposes will, of course, scandalise all true-blooded linguistic analysts; Lonergan's use of it is, however, very impressive. I cannot attempt to justify it here, but it may be well to give Lonergan's own summary of his argument:

First, the universe of proportionate being is shot through with contingence. Second, mere contingence is apart from being, and so there must be an ultimate ground for the universe, and that ground cannot be contingent. Thirdly, the necessary ultimate ground cannot be necessitated in grounding a contingent universe, and it cannot be arbitrary in grounding an intelligible and good universe. It cannot be necessitated, for what follows necessarily from the necessary is equally necessary. It cannot be arbitrary, for what follows arbitrarily from the necessary results as a mere matter of fact without any possible explanation. But what is neither necessary nor arbitrary yet intelligible and a value, is what proceeds freely from the reasonable choice of a rational consciousness.26

At this point a less conscientious writer might think his task was finished. Not so, however, Lonergan. ‘By asking what being is’, he writes, ‘already we have been led to the conclusion that the idea of being would be the content of an unrestricted act of understanding that primarily understood itself and consequently grasped every other intelligibility.’27 Two questions arise about God, he tells us, namely what is God and whether God is. He then proceeds, in an argument of no less than twenty-six stages, to show that this idea of being is identical with the idea of God, as theists understand him. He still holds, however, that further argument is needed to show that God exists, if we are not to fall into the fallacy of St Anselm and Descartes:

For when we grasp what God is, our grasp is not an unrestricted act of understanding but a restricted act of understanding that extrapolates from itself to an unrestricted act and by asking ever further questions arrives at a list of attributes of the unrestricted act. Accordingly, what is grasped is not the unrestricted act but the extrapolation that proceeds from the properties of a restricted act to the properties of the unrestricted act. Hence, when the extrapolation is completed, there remains the further question whether the unrestricted act is just an object of thought or a reality.28

It is revealing to see the reasons why Lonergan rejects both the Anselmian and the Cartesian form of argument:

The Anselmian argument… is to be met by distinguishing the premise, Deus est quo majus cogitari nequit. One grants that by appropriate definitions and syntactical rules it can be made into an analytic proposition. But one asks for the evidence that the terms as defined occur in concrete judgments of fact.

The Cartesian argument seems to be from the concept to the existence of a perfect being. That would be valid if conceiving were looking and looking were knowing. But that view involves the counter-positions; and when one shifts to the positions, one finds that the conceptions become knowing only through reflective grasp of the conditioned.29

Again, Lonergan says:

What has to be added to mere conception is not an experience of God but a grasp of the unconditioned. Affirming is an intrinsically rational act; it proceeds with rational necessity from grasp of the unconditioned; and the unconditioned to be grasped is, not the formally unconditioned that God is and that unrestricted understanding grasps, but the virtually unconditioned that consists in inferring God's existence from premises that are true.30

In Lonergan's terminology, the ‘virtually unconditioned’ is something that is in itself conditioned by conditions which are in fact fulfilled. Thus, as he goes on to say, the existence of God is known as the conclusion to an argument, and he adds that all such arguments are of the following general form:

If the real is completely intelligible, God exists. But the real is completely intelligible. Therefore, God exists.

Lonergan is emphatic that the acceptance of the proof involves more than an acquaintance with the laws of logic. ‘Proof is not some automatic process that results in a judgment, as taking an aspirin relieves a headache, or as turning on a switch sets the digital computer on its unerring way.’

All that can be set down in these pages is a set of signs. The signs can represent a relevant virtually unconditioned. But grasping it and making the consequent judgment is an immanent act of rational consciousness that each has to perform for himself and no one else can perform for him.31

And again, after two pages of persuasion, he repeats:

Such, then, is the argument. As a set of signs printed in a book, it can do no more than indicate the materials for a reflective grasp of the virtually unconditioned. To elicit such an act is the work that the reader has to perform for himself.32

And he adds further considerations to fortify the reader who has been brought up on the dogma that the existence of God cannot be proved.

In the last resort, then, it would seem that Lonergan is interpreting the function of his arguments in the same manner as that in which, in my book Existence and Analogy, I have interpreted St Thomas's Five Ways, namely as persuasive discourse intended to help us to grasp the fundamental dependence of finite beings on infinite being as their ground.33 There is, however, an apparent difference, in that for Lonergan what is grasped as the ‘virtually unconditioned’ does not, if we are to take his words literally, appear to be finite being in its dependence on infinite being, or infinite being as the ground of finite being, but the act of inferring God's existence from true premises. Here I am frankly puzzled, but I suspect that the difference is due to the fact that Lonergan, while repudiating the Kantian view of God as merely a regulative principle of our thinking, appears to discover God as a constitutive principle of our perception of finite being rather than as a constitutive principle of finite being itself. In any case he alleges that his conception of God as the unrestricted act of understanding coincides both with Aristotle's conception of God as the unmoved mover who is noesis noeseos and also with St Thomas's conception of God as ipsum intelligere, ipsum esse and summum bonum, but with the significant rider that Lonergan's own ultimate is not being but intelligence.34 He sees the Five Ways as ‘so many particular cases of the general statement that the proportionate universe is incompletely intelligible and that complete intelligibility is demanded’.35 There can nevertheless be no doubt for anyone who has read his book Verbum that Lonergan believes himself to be a faithful interpreter of the Angelic Doctor, while holding that Thomism is a living and developing thing and not a lifeless museum-piece.

This has been a long discussion, and even so it has done little justice to either the depth or the range of Lonergan's thought. I have said nothing about his final chapter, in which he gets to grips with the problem of evil and expounds the heuristic structure of his solution, working up to the famous paragraph which opens with the words ‘In the thirty-first place…’. Nevertheless I hope I have succeeded in giving some impression of the approach to theism pursued by a thinker who, in these days of specialisation, seems to have taken almost all knowledge for his province and who has attempted, without any submission to the wiles of Heideggerian existentialism, to develop the principles of Thomism in a way that recognises the force of the Kantian critique and at the same time survives its blows. If, as one of Lonergan's admirers has alleged, ‘the trouble with Insight is that it requires not summarising but expansion’ and that ‘it is much less a book to be read than a programme to be followed’,36 the inadequacy of the present account may be, if not excusable, at least explicable. I should, however, add that Fr F. E. Crowe, who can claim, if anyone can, to be an authoritative exponent of Lonerganism, has produced a masterly résumé of Insight in less than a page of the New Catholic Encyclopaedia.37