Following the International Lonergan Congress held at Santa Clara University in 1984, which was organized by Timothy P. Fallon and P. Boo Riley, Tim Fallon suggested the creation of an institute devoted to collaborative inquiry into interiority and transcendence, informed and guided by Lonergan’s work. The aims of the West Coast Methods Institute reflected Tim Fallon's commitment to the Lonergan program of a philosophy founded in attention to the subject-as-subject and open to the religious dimension of human living. The primary activity of the Institute since its inception has been the organization and sponsorship of an annual conference. Unlike traditional academic conferences, these meetings have been relatively small and their format relatively informal, allowing for and promoting friendly dialogue and discussion among the participants. After Tim Fallon's death, the remaining founding members chose to maintain the institution he created and to preserve as much as possible its guiding spirit of community, of friendly discussion, and of collaborative learning.
Tim Fallon was more teacher than scholar. The medium of his influence was especially the face-to-face encounter and concrete dialogue in and outside the classroom. He earned a doctorate at the Medieval Institute at the University of Toronto with a dissertation on a minor figure, Herveus Natales (referred to by Tim as “Herbie Birthday”), but his reading of Lonergan was markedly late modern rather than medieval, existential rather than scholastic and metaphysical. To be introduced to Lonergan by Tim Fallon was to be lured into the ongoing process of self-appropriation and self-development. It was to be introduced to oneself as abiding in the tension of limitation and self-transcendence. It was to experience first-hand what Lonergan meant when he insisted that the method of metaphysics is primarily pedagogical. After Tim’s death, the remaining founding members of the Institute agreed that our annual meetings should continue in his memory and that we should strive to maintain the orientation Tim Fallon has given them. The annual Fallon Memorial Lonergan Symposia are dedicated to concrete dialogue, to emphasizing the existential dimension of our shared reflections against the excessive abstractness of conceptualism in its medieval and modern guises, to promoting the ancient understanding of philosophy as primarily a way of life and only secondarily a body of doctrine, and to maintaining in our discussions the properly human mean between excessive intellectual gravitas and just plain silliness.
[Photo credit: James McCue]