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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Reasoning and Faith (Pt. 1): The Transcendental Precepts

The act of reasoning seems like a simple task. People reason things out all the time. You take the environmental stimuli available in conjunction with the knowledge you already have and you make a rational
decision. This decisions making process is called reason. It is, however, more complex than it seems. The cognitive operation of reasoning involves not only a plethora of different sensory inputs (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smell), but also a cavalcade of mental processes. This involves deduction, evaluation, formulation, deliberation and the like. Without processing what it is being experienced in this way, reasoning is impossible. When attempting to understand the reasoning of another, or even yourself, there are considerations that must be made. These considerations involve questions one must ask themselves about the nature of the theories and ideas being put forth. This is because we are striving for truth . In his encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II said;
Through the centuries, philosophers have sought to discover and articulate such a truth.... people seek in different ways to shape a “philosophy” of their own—in personal    convictions and experiences, in traditions of family and culture, or in journeys in search            of life's meaning under the guidance of a master. What inspires all of these is the desire to      reach the certitude of truth and the certitude of its absolute value. (John Paul II).
To find the truth we must ask who, what, why, when, where, and how were these ideas and philosophies formulated? What outside factors colored the reasoning of the person making these claims? In asking these questions one must also inquire about the intentionality and awareness of the person doing the reasoning to these outside factors. Reasoning for the benefit of others necessitates a certain level of accountability. Bernard Lonergan formulated a method to aid with this utilizing the Transcendental Precepts. These precepts espoused the necessity to be attentive, reasonable, intelligent, and responsible. To approach a moral philosophy without the transcendental precepts would result in fallacy. Fortunately, for philosophers and theologians alike, these precepts can be applied to understanding/formulating both theology and philosophy.

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