Eucharist and Critical Metaphysics
This dissertation offers a critical response to the fundamental sacramental theology of Louis-Marie Chauvet drawing on the works of Bernard Lonergan. Chauvet has articulated a significant critique of the western theological tradition's use of metaphysics, especially in interpreting doctrines relating to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, liturgical sacrifice, and sacramental causality. Chauvet's criticisms raise questions about what philosophical tools allow theologians to develop a fruitful analogical understanding of the mysteries communicated in the sacraments. This dissertation responds to Chauvet's challenge to theology to adopt a new foundation in the symbolic by turning to the derived, critical metaphysics of Bernard Lonergan. The dissertation argues that Lonergan's critical metaphysics can help theologians to develop fruitful understandings of doctrines relating to Eucharistic presence, liturgical sacrifice, and sacramental causality. In addition Lonergan's categories of meaning offer resources for interpreting sacramental doctrines on the level of the time, while maintaining the genuine achievements of the past. Chapter one presents a survey of some recent Catholic Eucharistic theologies in order to provide a context for our investigation. Here we identify existentialist-phenomenological, postmodern, and neo-traditionalist approaches to Eucharistic doctrines. Chapters two, three, and four present a dialectical comparison of Chauvet and Lonergan on metaphysics as it pertains to Eucharistic theology specifically. Chapter two examines Chauvet's postmodern critique of metaphysical foundations of scholastic Eucharistic theology. Our particular concern will be with Chauvet's methods, especially whether his appropriation of the Heideggerian critique of scholastic theology offers an accurate account of Thomas Aquinas, and whether it offers a fruitful way forward in Eucharistic theology. Chapter three explores Lonergan's foundations for metaphysics in cognitional theory and epistemology. Lonergan's critical groundwork in cognitional theory attends to the problems of bias and the polymorphism of human consciousness that lead to a heuristic metaphysics rather than a tidy conceptual system. Chapter four explicates Lonergan's heuristic metaphysics and articulates the elements of metaphysics that enable an understanding of the general category of causality in critical realist metaphysics. Chapter five explores Lonergan's foundations for theological reflection paying particular attention to the importance of intellectual conversion before going on to survey Lonergan's categories of meaning. Chapter six engages the task of systematic theology and proposes an understanding of Eucharistic doctrines grounded in Lonergan's critical realist philosophy and transposed into categories of meaning.