|• Lonergan's Insight|
3/31/2007: Empirical Residue
The seminar participants discussed Empirical Residue.
Click here for a PDF of this diagram.
The Empirical Residue
Notion: Its characteristics
possesses positive empirical data (data that can be named,
Contrast: a vacuum does not have such positive data nor is it intelligible.
Because it can be experienced and described, it can be pointed out,
conceived, named, considered, discussed, affirmed, denied.
is denied an immanent
intelligibility of its own.
Immanent intelligibility is that which is obtained through a direct
insight into the nature of a circle. (HENCE to have a true DIRECT INSIGHT
into something would be the same as to know its INTELLIGIBILITY)
Denial of intelligibility is not a denial of experience or
is connected with some compensating higher intelligibility of
Inverse insight and empirical residue not exact correlatives.
“Inverse insight is not characterized by a connection with ideas,
principles, methods, or techniques of exceptional significance.”—note
how this seems to be in direct contrast with the second sentence of the
first paragraph in this section. The
difference is that while inverse insight as such is not characterized with this
connection, the empirical residue is so characterized.
Inverse insight is connected, just not characterized.
The first paragraph under the previous section on INVERSE INSIGHT
will give you the direct characteristics of inverse insight. The other
thing to note is that Lonergan uses the word “seem” in the second
sentence of this paragraph and I think that has significance.
At times, what inverse insight “discovers” is the empirical
residue which then has this direct character or relation to a
corresponding intelligibility in relation to which it is left “behind”
as a residue (e.g.,
accelerations leaves behind constant velocity, etc.).
So, in a sense, the inverse insight is not itself, as such,
directly connected with this higher corresponding insight, but rather
opens the doors for that insight by differentiating experiences (or data)
so that only that which is intelligible is given the attention of inquiry
that seeks a direct insight.
empirical residue is a broader category than inverse insight.
Some of the experiences of the empirical residue are such
that they lead one to think that an intelligibility should be had,
and this requires inverse insight to overcome the mistake.
However, many times, no such intelligibility is expected, and
thus, it requires a somewhat odd philosophical inquiry to uncover
the empirical residue.
EMPIRICAL RESIDUE: Particular Place and time
Position A is not position B.
Not Distance. Proof:
Equilateral Triangle A, B, C.
Why are AB, BC, CA different?
Not because of distance – that is the same for each.
Not due to direction.
One could do the same for equal length but parallel lines.
Same length, same “direction”.
Hence neither direction nor length “explains” the difference.
Simple “matter of fact”
Push the argument: Use
A reference frame is an ordering of positions on a plane (let us
say with a standard X-axis and a Y-axis).
This is the result of a direct insight.
In this reference frame, one can locate A, B, C.
Coordinates would identify each position (A has its own X, Y
coordinate, B has its own X, Y coordinate, and C has its own X, Y
coordinate). One could say
that since these coordinates are different, therefore the positions are
different (let us say that A is 1,1; B is 1,2; and C is 1.5, 1 + square
root of ¾). However, note
that, though these coordinates are different than the positions as such, the positions as such are not explained by
these coordinates. Rather the coordinates presuppose and are
super-imposed on the positions. Proof:
the reference frame could be moved and rotated in such a way that
the coordinate for position B becomes position A, or A becomes B.
Now notice how one cannot use
a different coordinate (say 1,1) to say that A is not B because the
same coordinate can be used for either one, and thus the coordinate as a
coordinate does not explain the difference.
Does not modify intelligibility:
Because mere differences of place and time involve no
intelligibility of such, they do not modify the intelligibility of events
and occurrences at particular places and times.
So, for example, let us say that a hydrogen atom is located in a
reference frame at coordinate 4 cm, 5 cm, and then it is moved to 6 cm, 8
cm (I am not pretending one could actually control an atom in this way,
but let us say this for the sake of the argument). Now,
since no intelligible difference exists between 4, 5 and 6, 8, the atom at
both locations will possess the exact same intelligibility because neither
location as such changes it.
If a change of intelligibility does take place, then one can
presume that something other than mere difference of place and time has
caused the change.
If place and time as such did add some kind of intelligibility,
then every place and every time would have its own physics, chemistry,
biology, etc. And this would of course destroy all the sciences.
This unintelligibility of space and time allows for scientific
Scientists throughout the world and throughout the universe could
study objects and mere difference of place and time will not hinder them
from pooling their results and developing a common fund of knowledge.
EMPIRICAL RESIDUE: Individuality
Notion of Individuality
Not place and time: Individuality is different from place and time,
because the same individual can be at different places at different times
(though determining this for small particles can become impossible –
Heisenberg uncertainty law)
What it means is that one individual as individual does not need to
be explained differently from another individual that possess the same
intelligible order of data. Only
significant differences in data will result in different direct insights,
and the individuality as such does not need to be explained.
One hydrogen atom is not another, and this difference needs no
explanation. If an
explanation is needed, then the difference between the two atoms is more
than merely the fact that one is one individual and the other, another
individual. That more is an
intelligible difference, something that can be explained. So, perhaps one
hydrogen atom has a slightly higher mass than another, or the electron
arrangement is different, then not only are they both individuals but they
are individuals with a difference in intelligibility as well.
This brings up a simple point: some things can
be distinguished because they are different kinds of things as well, e.g.,
a dog and a car. Things can
be of a different species or a different nature.
However, they are also different individuals as well as different
kinds of individuals.
Sometimes cognitively knowing whether one thing is a distinct
from another requires that the each object be in recognizably different
places at the same time. (this
does not, though, make individuality the same as place and time).
For example, let us say there are two exactly identical David
Alexanders, and that one of them is in a room while the other is hiding in
the closet. Then, the
observer leaves the room and the two switch. Coming back into the room, the observer would not recognize
that there are two individuals (assuming they are exactly identical in all
physical, emotion, cognitive, etc ways).
a recognition would only be possible if the observer observed the
one in the closet and the one in the room as “occupying” two different
regions of space at the same time (and here
we are presupposing the absence of “twinning” as one finds with the
light of a star passing around an extremely strong gravitational object—e.g.,
a black hole).
and the meaning of NUMERICAL difference
Theoretically: If one has fully explained a set of data, then
another distinct set of data that is completely identical would possess
the same exact complete explanation.
Basis: Numerical difference in the data does NOT exist when the
same act of understanding arises for a second time if one returns
to the same set of data as used in the first place, however it does arise
when one turns to a second set of data that is different from the first,
yet is like the first in all relevant manners (save those facets of the
data that belong to the empirical reside).
In this second instance of the same insight one finds numerical
difference in the data from the first but not intelligible difference. In
respect to intelligibility, both are the same. The difference is simply a
"matter of fact", of individuality. Lonergan
uses for example two sets of data that manifest the same identical shade
of red (one would expect the same wavelengths, etc., hence the same
intelligibility, yet they are not the same, why?, because of
Factually: If a set of data has been fully explained, only a
complete exhaustive tour of the universe would establish that there is not
another set of data similar in all respects.
NOT an assertion that there are actually different sets of data
completely identical in all respects.
NOT a denial of unique instances: of instances for which a unique
complete explanation is required that is not, or may never be used in its
A complete explanation of something or some process is made up of
general or universal intelligibilities combined together to explain all
the relevant data, and this explanation may only be used once in this
universe. However, this “unique explanation” (or intelligibility) is
still not the meaning of “individuality.”
One could create, for example, a unique instance of an extremely
complex, rare, and unstable protein, a protein that is never to be
repeated again in this universe, and though rare, it possesses its
intelligible combination of amino acids, its arrangements of sub-atomic
particles, its quarks, etc. Throughout,
this unique intelligibility is an intelligibility.
What makes it unique is that it happens only once. Yet this unique
intelligibility is not the same as its being an individual which exists as
an individual instance of this unique intelligible protein.
And, theoretically, this intelligibility could exist in exactly the
same amino acid configuration, the same sub-atomic configuration, the same
quark configuration, with all of the same states of the quarks, the
sub-atomic particles, etc., and it would be a distinct individual from the
first instance of this same protein.
Lonergan uses the example of evolution: even if a comprehensive theory of evolution were to explain
differently every instance of life on this planet, it would not explain
the individualness of each instance of life on this planet.
Individuality as such does not change the intelligibility of something.
Allows for scientific generalization.
examples of the empirical residue
Aggregates of events (basis of statistical methods) and
surds of unintelligent opinions, choices, conduct (basis of
dialectical methods) –IN OTHER WORDS, SIN and ULTIMATE evil, as we
had discussed 2 weeks ago.
will be treated later.
and the Empirical Residue
meanings of abstraction that Lonergan does NOT mean.
Not a sensible Gestalt: which is a sensible representation of the
object, and because it is not a perfect representation, it is
Not the use of common names (e.g., “Red” for the
“abstract” idea of “redness”)
Not attending to one question at a time and prescinding from or
ignoring others. E.g., ask
about a person’s hair color and not
about their shoe size.
does Lonergan mean by abstraction?
To grasp the relevant and to disregard the irrelevant through the
mediation of direct insight. Hence, he bases the notion of
“abstraction” on insight. E.g., in understanding a circle, much about the cart-wheel is
What is relevant and irrelevant (I have modified Lonergan a bit on
this both to make it a bit clearer and to add some nuances not in the
Relative to a particular insight or cluster of insights:
Relevant aspects of data needed for the insights or cluster of
insights and set of related concepts necessary for the expression of the
insight or insights.
aspects of data not relevant to this insight or cluster of
insights, but may be relevant for other facets of the science,
or may not be relevant to the science but may belong to another
science. E.g., data not relevant to physics (in a moving object) may be
relevant to chemistry.
or may not be relevant to any field of study whatsoever (then it
belongs to the empirical residue).
Full Development of a science
Relevant: Aspects of all the data necessary for the all the
insights in a particular range or subject area and the set of related
concepts that express all of the insights in the science.
aspects of data that belong to another science.
or aspect of data that may not be relevant to any other science
whatsoever (then it belongs to the empirical residue).
Full development of all sciences
Relevant: aspects of
all data that are necessary for the insights in all ranges of sciences and
the related concepts that express all insights in all ranges of sciences.