A Contribution To The Gadamer – Lonergan Discussion

Method 8 (1):14-23 (1990)
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One important element in Lonergan’s philosophical work is the attempt to demonstrate the essential continuity between Aristotle’s thought and the explanatory viewpoint of modern science. Among other things, this attempt is meant to serve a two-fold purpose: first of all, to defend both Aristotle’s intellectualist metaphysics and the explanatory aspirations of modern science over against the caricatured representations of each which grew out of the Renaissance debate between the Aristotelians and the proponents of modern science; and secondly, to demonstrate the intrinsic limitations of modern scientific humanism in much the same way that Aquinas tried to demonstrate the essential incompleteness of Aristotle’s non-Christian world view. Now Gadamer would not deny that there is an essential continuity in thought from Aristotle to modern science; in fact, he explicitly affirms such a continuity. And like Lonergan, Gadamer insists that modern science must play a legitimate, though restricted, role within contemporary culture. Given these and other important similarities between Gadamer and Lonergan, it may be difficult to see just where the grounds for possible disagreement lie. As a result, Gadamer’s reservations concerning Lonergan’s philosophical project may appear to be somewhat puzzling. In what follows, I shall try to shed light on some of the reasons for Gadamer’s reservations.
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