Friday, December 17, 2004

Lonergan makes my sidebar

Here, thanks to Dr. Vallicella's site, is a link to Bernard Lonergan, one of the densest, most unreadable thinkers I ever had the misfortune to study while doing grad work at Catholic University in DC. The Lonergan link is now on my sidebar, because misery loves company and reading Lonergan is the short route to misery.

I really need to throw some Lonergan quotes up on this blog to show you what I mean by "dense" and "unreadable." I have Lonergan's classic Method in Theology here with me in Seoul, though God only knows why. One of my profs at CUA, Father Komonchak, was a student of Lonergan's*. I think Fr. Komonchak is cool as hell-- very clear, very crisp. Lonergan, on the other hand, is as opaque as twice-shat cream corn.

Part of my problem with Lonergan is the typical frustration of the young student who finds himself face-to-face with a hard read: I want my philosophy presented in an easily digestible manner. Philosophers themselves will doubtless argue that I'm just being lazy, and they might have a point, because I am lazy. But I don't think I'm unjustified in asking philosophers, who supposedly aim for clarity of thought, to write readably. Readability and clarity are linked. I'd even go so far as to say they're fused.

Is this really such a hard task? If you philosophers grouse that we students need to work harder at understanding you, then I suggest you look in the mirror and do the same for us: work harder to make your ideas more accessible, dammit. I think it's possible to meet halfway.

No need to dumb things down; I'm not asking for My Pet Goat. All I'm asking for is something elegant, for arguments and ideas that flow like the graceful rhythms of nature... instead of belching smoke and going nowhere, like a busted old car in need of constant attention.

I'll settle for Is My Pet Goat Real?

*"He was a pupil of mine before he turned to evil..."


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