Michael H. McCarthy
Michael H. McCarthy has carefully studied the writings of Bernard Lonergan (Canadian philosopher-theologian, 1904-1984) for over fifty years. In his 1989 book, The Crisis of Philosophy, McCarthy argued for the superiority of Lonergan’s distinctive philosophical project to those of his analytic and phenomenological rivals. Now in Authenticity as Self-Transcendence: The Enduring Insights of Bernard Lonergan, he develops and expands his earlier argument with four new essays, designed to show Lonergan’s exceptional relevance to the cultural situation of late modernity.
The essays explore and appraise Lonergan’s cultural mission: to raise Catholic philosophy and theology to meet the intellectual challenges and standards of his time. Chapter 1, “The Tangled Knot of Old and New,” shows how Lonergan’s redemptive project strategically developed from the critical appropriation of our cultural heritage. In chapter 2, McCarthy locates Lonergan’s philosophical anthropology within the historical problematic created by Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. Through his profound analysis of human subjectivity, Lonergan identified a striking paradox at the heart of modern culture and sought to unravel it by a forceful defense of the human capacity for self-transcendence. In chapter 3, McCarthy clarifies the nature and origins of modern secularity and the unprecedented challenges it creates for religious faith. In the concluding chapter on the challenges of Catholic renewal, the central themes of Lonergan’s life work are brought together. After describing the Catholic struggle with modernity and John XXIII’s bracing call for aggiornamento, McCarthy examines Lonergan’s distinctive contributions to the philosophical and theological renewal of his church.
“Michael McCarthy’s book is a masterpiece of cultural synthesis and interpretation. I know of no other recent books on the same or similar topic to which Authenticity as Self-Transcendence can be compared. It is definitely unique. It will interest students and teachers of modern philosophy, theology, and history. It will be a fine classroom text, especially in courses on history and culture, politics, and religion, as well as specifically Catholic thought.” — Richard Liddy, University Professor of Catholic Thought and Culture at Seton Hall University
“To address the cultural crises of our time—epistemic, moral, and spiritual—Michael McCarthy lucidly details their sources in Western history, and he expounds Bernard Lonergan’s remedial prescriptions. McCarthy’s timely diagnosis will help readers to understand better the past and the present of influential views, and to envision the future of the human race with both hope and realism.” — Louis Roy, Dominican University College in Ottawa
“The true genius of Michael H. McCarthy’s work is to show how Bernard Lonergan’s own dissatisfaction with modernist epistemology led him to an interior appreciation of knowing that he would dub ‘method,’ by contrast with simple logic, and certainly with Descartes. Lonergan’s special and peculiar use of ‘method’ is the key, as McCarthy demonstrates, showing deep affinities with Aquinas, particularly through Lonergan’s study of verbum. A study of a complex thinker who can easily be complicated by his commentators, McCarthy’s analysis shows his own maturity as a philosopher as well as his indebtedness to Lonergan in a way that cuts to the heart of Lonergan’s philosophy and theology by demonstrating how the former can be at the service of the latter.” — David Burrell, C.S.C., Theodore Hesburgh C.S.C. Professor emeritus in Philosophy and Theology, University of Notre Dame
“McCarthy has spent decades carefully studying Lonergan’s extensive corpus. His studies have been deeply enriched by his simultaneous and equally deep engagement with the works of some of the most important twentieth century political thinkers—notably, Arendt and Taylor. This book’s erudition and seriousness is a major contribution to Lonergan scholarship.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
“No other work provides such a comprehensive and historically rooted account of Lonergan’s achievement . . . McCarthy’s treatment of Lonergan’s contribution to renewal in the Catholic Church should serve as a final corrective to the especially pernicious anti-modernist Catholic misunderstandings of Lonergan’s account of human authenticity which are still appealed to by Catholic philosophers and theologians to justify inattention to and dismissal of the extraordinary achievements of one of the foremost Jesuit thinkers of the twentieth century.” — Journal of Jesuit Studies
“McCarthy is a capable expositor with an impressive grasp of the range of Lonergan’s philosophical work. Non-devotees will probably find his exposition clearer than Lonergan’s own.” — Theology
Bronze winner in Theology, 2016 Illumination Book Awards2016 Catholic Press Association Book Award, Second Place Theology