Bernard Lonergan, 1904-1984, was a Canadian Jesuit philosopher, theologian and economist, known mostly for two of his works: Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1972). He was a very influential thinker of the 20th Century, especially in the field of Catholic theology. His influence continues to be felt in the 21st century: Many universities in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere, have Lonergan Centers, or Lonergan Discussion Groups. There also are a number of web sites calling themselves "Lonergan home page". For that matter, there even is a Lonergan mailing list.

He was born in Buckingham, Quebec in 1904. He died November 26, 1984, in Pickering, Ontario. In 1918 he enrolled in Loyola College, Montréal. Four years later he joined the Society of Jesus (better known as the Jesuits). Another four years later, he was a student in philosophy, languages and mathematics at Heythrop College and University of London, England. In 1933 he enrolled in the Gregorian University in Rome, was ordained to the priesthood in 1936, and became a Doctor of Theology in 1940.

<>Throughout his life he taught at Collège de L'Immaculée Conception (Montréal), Regis College (Toronto), Gregorian University (Rome). In 1971-72 he was Stillman Professor at Harvard University, and between 1975-83 Visiting Distinguished Professor at Boston College, Boston.

In 1971, Lonergan was invested as Companion of the Order of Canada. In 1975 he became Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.

According to the book jacket of Collection (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1988), Newsweek wrote: "Jesuit philosopher Bernard Lonergan has set out to do for the twentieth century what even Aquinas could not do for the thirteenth...It may take another generation for his thought to be fully felt within the church that nourished him, but Lonergan's reach is already far wider."

Here is a quote from his Insight: A Study in Human in Understanding:

Deep within us all, emergent when the noise of other appetites is stilled, there is a drive to know, to understand, to see why, to discover the reason, to find the cause, to explain. Just what is wanted has many names. In what precisely it consists is a matter of dispute. But the fact of inquiry is beyond all doubt. It can absorb a man. It can keep him for hours, day after day, year after year, in the narrow prison of his study or his laboratory. It can send him on dangerous voyages of exploration. It can withdraw him from other interests, other pursuits, other pleasures, other achievements. It can fill his waking thoughts, hide from him the world of ordinary affairs, invade the very fabric of his dreams. It can demand endless sacrifices that are made without regret though there is only the hope, never a certain promise, of success.

My favorite of his quotes is about conversion. I only heard it second hand many years ago, but essentially he allegedly said that a conversion makes one lonely, regardless of whether it is a religious, philosophical, or any other conversion. The reason for the loneliness is that whenever you convert, suddenly you are unable to relate to a number of people who were close to you because until recently you used to share a common viewpoint with them, while, at the time of your conversion, you have not yet built relationships with the people who share your new viewpoint.