Paper: The Spiritual Practice of Authentic Interiority

Abstract of a paper by Michael O’Sullivan for the Cave of the Heart Conference, St. Mary’s University College, London, 28-30 June 2012.

This paper is available to SSCS members by sending a request to the CSStudies moderator.

From the abstract: “Interiority, for Bernard Lonergan, the internationally renowned Jesuit theologian, philosopher, and methodologist of human consciousness, is the foundational self-presence that enables us to know and choose. Mary Frohlich, a leading spirituality scholar, who draws on his work, has developed the concept of critical interiority as a distinctive methodological principle for the academic study of spirituality. In my paper, however, I will argue that spirituality as lived experience and as an academic discipline is grounded in an interiority that I call authentic interiority. The term critical, like the term mindfulness, can suggest an overly intellectualist approach to spirituality. Authenticity, on the other hand, suggests more clearly, I hold, that living and studying spirituality requires the practice of a holistic integrity. Spirituality as the disciplined practice of such integrity in living life, and studying it, is a practice involving four basic operations of consciousness, namely, experiencing, understanding, judging, and deciding (including the decision to believe or trust). Being authentic with respect to each of these operations involves a different practice depending on which operation the person, group, society, or religious tradition is employing at the time. Authentic experiencing involves attending to all the relevant data; authentic understanding involves raising all the relevant questions about the data; authentic judging involves being critical about the different interpretations arrived at by understanding; and authentic deciding involves acting consistently with correct judgment for the sake of promoting the good and the lovable. I will demonstrate this ascetical practice of authentic and transformative interiority during my paper.”

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5 Responses to Paper: The Spiritual Practice of Authentic Interiority

  1. Teresa Attupuram says:

    Thanks for the paper,

  2. Mary Hess says:

    Is the full paper available in some way electronically?

    • jonasvb says:

      Mary: We don’t currently archive papers but feel free to contact Michael whose e-mail address is linked in the blog post. – Jonas (blog moderator)

    • Michael O'Sullivan says:

      Mary, I am emailing you the paper on the understanding that a creative commons license will apply. Best wishes, and thank you for your interest in the paper. Michael

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