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Knowing God, Knowing Emptiness

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Knowing God, Knowing Emptiness examines the viability of the epistemology proposed by Bernard Lonergan in his seminal work Insight, particularly with regard to its possible application in the field of interreligious dialogue. This book scrutinises Lonergan’s claim to comprehensiveness in the light of an awareness of the epistemological questions raised by the various dialogues taking place between different religions. Lonergan claims in Insight that because his epistemology is based on, and corresponds directly to, the structure of human cognition, it is therefore intrinsic to all instances of thought. Accordingly, it is ideally placed to mutually relate any combination of differing positions. This book tests his claim by applying Lonergan’s epistemological categories to Karl Rahner’s Foundations of Christian Faith, and Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. Having critically reconstructed Lonergan’s position, this book does the same for both of these texts and parses them on the basis of Lonergan’s epistemological system. It examines whether the thought contained in these two works could be fruitfully related on the basis of Lonergan’s epistemology, and what the implications are for the field of interreligious dialogue. These implications are considered in terms of the theology of religions and of the more recently developed comparative theology, typified by the approach taken by thinkers such as Francis X. Clooney. The book concludes by considering the developments that result from this dialectic.

Published: Apr 22, 2022

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Preface John Robinson
Acknowledgements John Robinson
Introduction John Robinson
Chapter 1
Bernard Lonergan’s Insight – A Methodological Examination John Robinson
Chapter 2
Karl Rahner’s Foundations of Christian Faith: A Lonerganian Analysis John Robinson
Chapter 3
Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā: A Lonerganian Analysis John Robinson
Chapter 4
Dialectic Application of Lonergan’s Epistemology John Robinson
Conclusion John Robinson
End Matter
Bibliography John Robinson
Index John Robinson


A markedly original piece of work. The hard-worked clarity of his arguments makes the reader’s task a pleasure. The book is an authoritative, highly informative and generous contribution to philosophical theology and interreligious dialogue. Its readers are likely to be philosophical theologians, readers with an interest in Lonergan, Newman, Rahner and Nāgārjuna, separately or conjointly. It will appeal to comparative theologians who seek deep learning from putting religious others into dialogue with one another. And it will appeal to theorists of peace-making as Robinson argues also for the relevance of his work to those who build peace between the religions.
John O’Grady, Vice-President, European Network of Buddhist Christian Studies