Friday, 14 September 2012

Lonergan and Ratzinger on person and relation

I had the impression that Lonergan would be totally caught up in the Thomist definition of person. He does give a great deal of space to it, in his Latin works of the 1960s, and he does say that Richard of St Victor's definition is "merely of historical interest," but I was happy to see several openings. As for example when he lists the various phases in the history of the term person: the term; the metaphysical definition; the gnoseological definition; and then the personalist-existentialist attempts. Then he says: we need to take what is good from the phenomenological and personalist-existentialist attempts, without abandoning the metaphysical definition. So integration.

And then, in Method in Theology, I think he truly enters into something new, that might be called the sought after integration of phenomenology, personalist existentialist thinking and what was still valid in the old.

So that is promising.

And perhaps Ratzinger's contribution might not be so strange after all.

And De Smet.

And there is also McPartlan.

So there is hope for person and relation. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Person and relation

Jose Kuttianimattathil has asked me to contribute to a Festschrift for Dominic Veliath. The topic suggested is Person and Relation - perhaps because of the Brahman and Person book. I have been collecting matter, mostly from the encyclopedias, on Person, before tacking De Smet and Lonergan.

Something very surprising and unexpected has turned up: Ratzinger criticizing both Augustine and Aquinas for sort of excluding the idea of relation from the definition of the human person - or not allowing the idea of relation, which pervades the concept of divine persons in God, its full and proper generality. Person as intrinsically relational, or, as Zizoulas, an Orthodox theologian, says: Being as Communion.

This makes things interesting and even exciting. What might Lonergan and De Smet, both of whom are soundly Thomist and, as far as I know, do not depart from Thomas, what might they have to say to the provocations of Ratzinger?

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anything more substantial in Ratzinger than his “Zum Personverst√§ndnis in der Dogmatik” (1966), published as  “Zum Personbegriff in der Theologie" in  Dogma und Verk√ľndigung (1973, 4th ed. 2005) and in English translation as "On the Understanding of ‘Person’ in Theology" in Dogma and Preaching: Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life (2011).