Volume 61, Issue 2, June 2021
Lonergan and Gilson: A Critical Review of Neil Ormerod’s Faith and Reason
The Possibility of a Christian Philosophy
This essay offers a critical examination of Neil Ormerod’s treatment of the debate between Lonergan and Gilson on the question of being. Although this debate concerns a highly technical issue of metaphysics and epistemology, it remains germane and relevant, especially within the field of Christian thought. In Ormerod’s careful and for the most part generous examination of this debate, he argues that being for Gilson is perceived through the senses, whereas for Lonergan being is intended in the questions that arise from the relevant sense data. Where Gilson’s philosophy gives priority to the metaphysics of being, Lonergan gives priority to epistemology and cognitional theory. In arguing for the superiority of Lonergan’s approach to the question of being, Ormerod relies on a fundamental misunderstanding of Gilson’s metaphysics. By appeal to the more recent work of Kenneth Schmitz, this essay proposes a proper understanding of Gilson’s metaphysics as a basis for a more conciliatory relationship between these two giants in modern Christian philosophy who too often are pitted against one another.