Category Archives: Bernard Lonergan

Zephyrs and Pandemics

Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics acknowledges and affirms a non-systematic manifold of secondary determinations (such as prices and quantities), a Canon of Statistical Residues, and the impossibility of prediction in the general case.  However, FMD affirms the existence of both human intelligence and the abstract, primary, immanent intelligibility of the objective, dynamic economic process.  It is this abstract, primary, immanent intelligibility by which the process must always be understood so as to be properly managed.

Knocking a pendulum slightly out of its existing oscillation does not necessitate a search for a new theory of the pendulum in order to correct the mishap.  The abstract theory of the pendulum in Newtonian mechanics still applies; the abstract intelligibility of the pendular motion is always relevant, in any instance, in any configuration of initial angle and initial velocity.  The theory still applies, though the motion may be on a new basis determined by new initial conditions or boundary values. Continue reading

The General Theorem of Continuity and Equilibrium [Brief Item #82]

[5/20/20] Bernard Lonergan:  The analysis has revealed that the economic system is a pattern of aggregate dynamic relationships arranged in different kinds of velocity and accelerator rhythms. … the general theorem of continuity is that this complex machine has a nature that must be respected.   The general theorem of continuity is the abstract and formal aspect of such limitations in the economic order.  … there has to be an internal coherence … , and to violate this coherence is to rout economic organization.  Just as the movements of the controls of an airplane must be coordinated and all coordinations are not possible at all instants, so also the economic machine has its controls, which can be moved only in concert and only in a limited number of ways at any given time.  … Such is the general theorem of continuity.  In the abstract and in a general way, it affirms that the economic process can proceed only within the limits of equilibrium of the various phases.  To step outside them is to bring about a general breakdown. (CWL 21, 73) [#82] (Click here for previous “Single Paragraphs” or “Brief Items”)

Re Spreadsheet in Topic: Paul Romer’s “Endogenous Technological Change” in Bernard Lonergan’s Framework

Recently there’s been increased interest in Paul Romer’s “Endogenous Technological Change” in Bernard Lonergan’s Framework. In the subsection entitled Introduction, Diagrams, and Framework , the software didn’t pick up every aspect of the main spreadsheet entitled  The Structure of Romer’s “Endogenous Technological Change” as Rendered in Lonergan’s General, Universal, and Always Current Framework.  I’d be happy to send a good copy via an email attachment or the postal service to anyone who requests it. Please use the Contact Us form accessible on this Home Page.


John Costello


Elements of The Analysis

Our aim is to prescind from human psychology that, in the first place, we may define the objective situation with which man has to deal, and, in the second place, define the psychological attitude that has to be adopted if man is to deal successfully with economic problems.  Thus something of a Copernican revolution is attempted: instead of taking man as he is or as he may be thought to be and from that deducing what economic phenomena are going to be, we take the exchange process in its greatest generality and attempt to deduce the human adaptations necessary for survival. [CWL 21,42- 43]

Taking into account past and (expected) future values does not constitute the creative key transition to dynamics.Those familiar with elementary statics and dynamics will appreciate the shift in thinking involved in passing from equilibrium analysis…to an analysis where attention is focused on second-order differential equations, on d2θ/dt2, d2x/dt2, d2y/dt2, on a range of related forces, central, friction, whatever….. What is significant is the Leibnitz-Newtonian shift of context. [McShane 1980, 127]

A distinction has been drawn between description and explanation.  Description deals with things as related to us.  Explanation deals with the same things as related among themselves.  …  description supplies, as it were, the tweezers by which we hold things while explanations are being discovered or verified, applied or revised. … [CWL 3, 291/316]

again, as to the notion of cause, Newton conceived of his forces as efficient causes, and the modern mechanics drops the notion of force; it gets along perfectly well without it.  It thinks in terms of a field theory, the set of relationships between n objects.  The field theory is a set of intelligible relations linking what is implicitly defined by the relations themselves; it is a set of relational formsThe form of any element is known through its relations to all other elements.  What is a mass?  A mass is anything that satisfies the fundamental equations that regard masses.  Consequently, when you add a new fundamental equation about mass, as Einstein did when he equated mass with energy, you get a new idea of mass.  Field theory is a matter of the immanent intelligibility of the object. [CWL 10, 154]


Two Summaries in Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics

.I.   Summary of the Analysis:  Method, Observations, and Discoveries

.II.  Summary of the Argument (verbatim from CWL 15, 5-6)

.III. Supplement to the Summaries

(Continue Reading)

Lonergan on the Foundations of the Theories of Relativity

[2/8/20] Albert Einstein, Bernard Lonergan: In a paper recently presented before the Boston Colloquium of the History and Philosophy of Science, Prof. Max Jammer of Bar-Ilan University surveyed the history of the attempts to provide axiomatic (or conceptual) foundations for the Special Theory of Relativity (hereafter abbreviated as “STR”). Among other things, Prof. Jammer’s paper revealed that, in contrast to quantum mechanics, no generally accepted axiomatic foundations for STR have yet emerged.  Furthermore, Jammer’s paper showed that several attempts at axiomatic foundations were beleaguered with problems not to be found in the use of the theory by Einstein or the successive generations of practicing physicists. ¶ The shortcomings of these efforts to develop axiomatic foundations for STR  –  and indeed of any parallel efforts directed towards the search for axiomatic foundations for the General Theory of Relativity as well  –  are, in my judgement, inherent in the theories themselves.  That is, the proper foundations of the theories of relativity reside, not in conceptual axioms, but in the foundational reality of the subject as subject.  It is not my purpose in this paper to enter into a detailed critique of the various attempts at axiomatization discussed in Prof. Jammer’s paper.  Rather on this occasion celebrating the achievements of Bernard Lonergan, I simply intend to show how his phenomenological appropriation of the structure of consciousness has opened up the possibility of approaching the question of the foundations of the theories of relativity from the viewpoint of the subject as subject.   [ Byrne, Patrick H. “Lonergan on the Foundations of the Theories of Relativity,” Creativity and Method, Matthew Lamb (ed.), Milwaukee: University of Marquette Press, 1981, pp. 477-478 in pages 477-94.]