A critical appraisal of Bernard Lonergan's notion of Judgment as a response to the critical problem
Otieno, Theresa A
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This project sets out to explore the core of the critical problem. The critical problem is the epistemological question concerning the objectivity and subjectivity of human knowing. The question raised is whether man is capable of cognitive self transcendence, i.e., to go beyond himself as a subject and to know the object as it is in itself. The critical problem is mainly concerned with the extent, limits, value or validity of knowledge. The study highlights the philosophical debates since ancient Greece to modern times and the manner in which different perspectives have shaped the debate. It particularly examines Lonergan's treatment of the problem. From the study, it emerges that philosophers have emphasized either the subject or the object leading to objectivism or subjectivism, extremes that deny the human mind the ability to constructively know the truth. The research seeks to propose a comprehensive solution in the exploration of the nature of judgment as a response to the critical problem since it is in judgment that knowledge comes to finality. For one to claim that knowledge is exclusively subjective or objective or both objective and subjective requires that one arrives at a I judgment. The study therefore, attempts to explore the way in which an understanding of judgment will possibly lead to a plausible solution from the theoretical perspective of critical realism. In critical realism, the objective existence of reality is affirmed by the need to rationally ground the existence of the object. This facilitates the elucidation of the subject object relationship from a rational framework. The study employs a descriptive, analytical, critical and evaluative method in explaining the process of human consciousness and how depending on the approach one adopts, he/she arrives at either subjectivity or objectivity of knowledge. In the process, the study establishes that philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Franz Brentano who have extensively explored the nature of judgment fell short of coming to a positive solution given their time and social-cultural environment. They failed to highlight the nature of judgment as epistemologically relevant to the question of cognitive self-transcendence. This led to the investigation of the subject as dealt by Bernard Lonergan who is a zo" century philosopher, and who in his book Insight, gives a fresh understanding of knowledge as comprising of a threefold process of experience, understanding and judgment. The research centers on his perception of judgment to establish the extent to which it addresses the question of cognitive self transcendence as a possibility that is realized through the act of judgment. The study progressively comes to the conclusion that indeed the critical problem has not been solved since philosophers were not able to understand judgment as a mental synthesis of both subjective and objective poles of human knowing. The study recommends that Lonergan's theory of knowledge with regard to the nature of the "virtually unconditioned" which for him is the core that defines judgment and hence solves the critical problem to the nature of the "virtually unconditioned". It also recommends that the aspect of judgment be further explored to establish ways in which man can best avoid conflicts that arise from the subjectivity of his/her claim to know and understand reality based on the understanding of the subject as capable of personal discovery, self -affirmation and appropriation as a knowing being.