Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The flight from understanding blocks the occurrence of the insights that would upset its comfortable equilibrium. Nor is it content with a mere passive resistance. Though covert and devious, it is resourceful and inventive, effective and extraordinarily plausible. It admits a vast variety of forms and, when it finds some untenable, it can resort to others. If it never refuses to supply superficial minds with superficial positions, it is quite competent to work out philosophy so acute and profound that the elect strive in vain to lay bare its real inadequacies....

The flight from understanding blocks the insights that concrete situations demand. There follow unintelligent policies and inept courses of action. The situation deteriorates to demand still further insights and, as they are blocked, policies become more unintelligible and action more inept. What is worse, the deteriorating situation seems to provide the uncritical, biased mind with factual evidence in which the bias is claimed to be verified. So in ever increasing measure intelligence comes to be regarded as irrelevant to practical living. Human activity settles down to a decadent routine, and initiative becomes the privilege of violence.

-- Bernard J.F. Lonergan, S.J.Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957), #32 in The LRC 100: Canada's Most Important Books. (Web image)