Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Doran, Fr. Robert D.

Second Advisor

Dadosky, John D.

Third Advisor

Johnson, Mark F.


Medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas developed a multifaceted account of wisdom by integrating Aristotelian and Platonic lines of thought with the truths of Christianity. Bernard J.F. Lonergan, SJ (1904-1984), one of the leading Catholic systematic theologians of the twentieth century, transplanted the metaphysical insights of Aquinas into a contemporary philosophy and theology of conscious intentionality constructed around human experiencing, understanding, judging, deciding, and loving.This dissertation reiterates the deceptively simple question first posed by Frederick Crowe: Did Lonergan achieve a deliberate, thoroughgoing transposition of the Thomist metaphysical category of wisdom into a more cognitive-existential context? Through a chronological and detailed interpretation of primary texts, I conclude that wisdom, for Lonergan, is the development of fuller authenticity in the subject. This subjective development is sown in self-appropriation and reaches full bloom only in the radical shift in horizon that is conversion, especially in the transformation from isolation to transcendent being-in-love that constitutes religious conversion. Intrinsically connected to transcendental method, which already implies within its unfolding the operative (and potentially fourfold) conversion of the subject, the most sapiential components of Lonergan’s anthropology are self-appropriation and, ultimately, the self-surrender of completely unqualified love. Self-appropriation and self-surrender serve the same foundational, consummate, normative, and unifying roles ascribed to wisdom by Aquinas while also retaining the sapiential tasks of ordering and judging so important to the Angelic Doctor.In terms of methodology, I characterize my overall approach as interpretation, the second step in the process from data to results that is transcendental method. In Chapter One, I aim to discern exactly what Aquinas means by wisdom; in Chapters Two through Five, I ascertain what Lonergan means by wisdom in his early work and what his silence around wisdom means in his later work. And in the Conclusion, I submit a preliminary position on how the later Lonergan’s notion of wisdom as self-appropriation and self-surrender helps us imitate and love divine wisdom. This idea is worked out within the functional specialty of systematics and builds on Lonergan’s and Doran’s own systematic theology of the Trinity, which seeks further understanding of our share in the inner-Trinitarian relations, a central mystery of the Christian faith.

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Religion Commons