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Indepth study completed on Lonergan's Genetic and Dialectical View of Culture


By Fr. Jayaprakash
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Guwahati, Jan. 13. Fr. Maria Anthuvan successfully defended a doctoral dissertation entitled ''Lonergan's Genetic and Dialectical View of Culture'' in the Faculty of Philosophy of the Salesian Pontifical University, Rome on 5 December 2014.
The dissertation exposed the genetic and dialectical notion of culture in the thought of Bernard J.F. Lonergan (1904-1984), a Canadian Jesuit, with the conviction that he can offer a meaningful solution to the various issues confronted in an intercultural context like that of North-East India.

A genetic methodology is employed in the study, which leads to the identification of a breakthrough in Lonergan from a classicist notion of culture to an empirical (anthropological) notion. Culture, as a set of meanings and values inherent in human living, is an organic concept, containing in itself both development and decline. Development (and hence decline) in Lonerganian metaphysics is expressed in terms of genetic and dialectical methods.

Genetic method finds its heuristic notion in development. The differences between cultures are genetic, developmental, not absolute. But development is dialectical, there is not just development, but also decline. That is to say, no culture is perfect: any culture will manifest the fruits of attention as well as inattentiveness, understanding as well as flight from understanding, intelligence as well as bias, truth as well as falsity, right as well as wrong, good as well as evil, holiness as well as impiety.

To this end, dialectical method, which primarily studies decline, does not just complement, but subsumes the genetic method; in it we can find a systematic anticipation of cultures and the processes of development or decline in them.

Fr. Ivo Coelho the General Councillor for Formation guided his doctoral thesis. The readers were Fr. Scaria Thuruthiyil, and Fr. Gerard Whelan SJ, from the Gregorian Pontifical University. Fr. Carlo Nanni SDB, the Rector Magnificus of the Salesian Pontifical University, presided over the Commission. The defence lasted for two hours, at the end of which the candidate was awarded with Doctorate.

Fr. Maria expressed his happiness at having defended his thesis and said that the study of this sort will help him in his mission particularly in the North East. He expressed his gratitude to all those who have help him in his thesis and his superiors for putting his trust in his capacity.

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