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Transcendental Method and Postmodernism

A Tract Book Essay


Anthony J. Fejfar, B.A., J.D., Esq., Coif

© Copyright 2007 by Anthony J. Fejfar

Some academics have argued that the Transcendent does not exist. They argue

that all is context, all is immanent, all is culture, nothing can be transcended. In fact, if

one were to argue that Transcendental Method exists, as Bernard Lonergan has in his

book, Method in Theology, postmodern deconstructionists, I am sure, would argue that

one can deconstruct Transcendental Method and find that it is not transcendent at all. I,

on the other hand, argue that Transcendental Method survives the postmodern critique,

and in fact turns out to be a more adequate postmodern philosophy than that of the French


So, let us begin with Transcendental Method and then attempt to deconstruct it as

Derrida might try. Transcendental Method argues that there are several levels of

consciousness, which when used together, provide a transcendental method of find

fallible truth. Transcendental Method begins with Experience, moves to Understanding,

and then culminates in Reflection and Judgment.

Now, if one were attempting to deconstruct Transcendental Method, it would

seem that one would start by trying to deconstruct Experience. Experience is defined as

that aspect of human knowing which provides the mind with the data of sense experience.

Experience is what is seen, heard, tasted, touched, felt, smelled. Now, it is obvious that

Experience, as such, has a certain objective quality to it. Experience is the basis for
empiricist philosophy and logical positivism. In deconstructing Experience, about all

we can say in the negative is that Experience is not all there is to knowing. There is also

Understanding, Judgment and Reflection. In deconstructing Experience, we can simply

say that Experience by itself is inadequate because Experience can be fooled by sensory

illusions such as the appearance of a straight stick looking crooked when placed in a glass

tank of water. Not much more can be said. Experience is not racist, it is not sexist, it is

not homophobic, it is not anti-environment. Experience, in the context of Understanding

and Reflection and Judgment, survives the postmodern critique.

Now, let us move to the level of Understanding. At the level of Understanding,

one asks all the pertinent questions, Who? What? Why? When? Where? Etc. One also

categorizes the data of Experience, and compares and contrasts ideas and data. Finally, at

the level of Understanding, one generates theories and hypothesis.

In attempting to deconstruct Understanding, one probably would argue along the

lines of hermeneutics, that meaning categories act to create reality, not just describe it.

Thus, the hermeneutic circle is formed. However, as Gadamer points out, there are some

ideas or concepts which have a transcend function which help us to improve our

understanding over what we had before. Thus, the idea of logical constistency, for

example, that likes should be treated alike, as a general rule, is a transcendental idea.

Logic helps us to see that certain ideas are rational and others are not.

The postmodernist might argue, following Thomas Kuhn’s work, Structures of

Scientific Revolutions, that scientific inquiry uses “Paradigms” in order to understand

reality, and, that many Paradigms seem to be incommensurate with each other. Using

Transcendental Method, I would simply argue that I would search for a New Paradigm
which reconciles the Old Paradigms. And, if this new Paradigm turned out to be

inadequate, I would search for another Paradigm which was more adequate. In this

sense, Transcendental Method is cumulative and self correcting.

In terms of postmodern deconstruction, it seems difficult to argue that

Understanding is sexist, racist, homophobic or anti-environment. Understanding, as an

idea and an operation does not seem to be culturally biased, but instead seems to

transcend culture. Understanding, then, especially taken in the context of the higher

function of Judgment and Reflection, survives the postmodern critique.

Finally, there is the level of Judgment and Reflection. Judgment and Reflection

is the cognitive function or operation which takes Understanding and then evalutates it on

a higher level, find the most adequate Understanding available. Judgment and

Reflection are Alinear Intuitive functions which act to transcend mere Understanding. As

Bergson puts it, Intuition provides an Intellectual Sympathy which enables us to know

reality more adequately. I have argued that Intuition, at least in part, is a Quantum

Ability, where the mind interfaces with the Quantum Field, non-locally, outside of space-

time. Intuition is what transforms mere analytic rationality into intellectual reason. The

tradesman analyist is not an intellectual, he or she lacks the integration of Intuition with

analytic understanding.

In terms of the postmosdern critique, I suppose that one might argue that Intution is

irrational and false consciousness. This, however, flies in the face of human experience

and scientific fact. There are hundred of studies which have scientifically proven the

existence of Intution. Finally, we have contemporary Quantum Physics to explain to us

how Intuition seems to work. Additionally, in terms of the postmodern critique, it

difficult to see how Intuition is racist, sexist, homophobic, or anti-enironment. As

Frances Vaughn points out in her work, Awakening Intuition, it would appear that anyone

can develop Intution through a sustained use of Meditation.

So, then, it appears that Transcendental Method survives the postmodern critique.

While, at the same time, Derrida’s deconstruction does not survive Critical Thomist or

Critical Realist postmodern critique. All Derrida can do is deconstruct. Derrida has no

basis for reconstructing reality. Derrida’s postmodernism is flawed.