Volume 24, Issue 1, 2012
John R. Friday
Critical Realism as Philosophical Foundation for Interreligious Dialogue
Examining the Proposal of Bernard Lonergan
This article provides a detailed examination of Bernard Lonergan’s nuanced understanding of experience and proposes his philosophical stance of critical realism as a foundation for interreligious dialogue. The article begins by acknowledging the existent tension between philosophers and theologians and suggests the problematic of interreligious dialogue as one field of possible collaboration. Critical realism is discussed in comparison to other, and indeed contrasting, positions, and is ultimately defended as the stance that provides correct answers to the so-called ‘three basic questions’ of cognitional theory, epistemology, and metaphysics. The notions of patterns of experience and bias are particularly emphasized in order to highlight the complexity of experience. By way of conclusion, suggestions are made as to how philosophers and theologians might enhance their collaboration by furthering their understanding of religious
experience and employing it as a category in interreligious dialogue.