Volume 76, Issue 3, Summer 2002
Patrick H. Byrne
Lonergan’s Retrieval of Aristotelian Form
Lonergan’s written reflections on the notion of form span almost thirty years. Beginning with his 1930s manuscripts on the philosophy of history, Lonergan returned again and again to the problem of clarifying that metaphysical concept. His thought on the issue of form reached its mature stage in 1957 with the publication of Insight. This article first presents an account of the mature, Insight stage of Lonergan’s notion of form. It then shows how Lonergan arrived at that position from his interpretation of Aristotle as set forth in Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas. It concludes with some remarks in response to a criticism of Lonergan, commonly leveled by certain Thomist thinkers, according to which Lonergan’s effort to ground philosophy in self-appropriation rather than metaphysics condemns him to a subjectivist or idealist position. Such a critique, I argue, fails to take into account what Lonergan actually held. Indeed, the preference for a metaphysical point de départ is itself vulnerable to a reverse criticism on Lonergan’s part.