The Idea of a University

The Idea of a University

The issues that John Henry Newman raisedthe place of religion and moral values in the university setting, the competing claims of liberal and professional education, the character of the academic community, the cultural role of literature, the relation of religion and science--have provoked discussion from Newman's time to our own.

Read Online The Idea of a University

All the while I was listening to, reading along with, and contemplating Newmans The Idea of a University Ive been fighting this overwhelming sense of inadequacy. While an excellent discipline and one to which I do not see myself equal, I shall nevertheless attempt to present a portrait of this great man and his phenomenal work, fully recognizing myself in his description of youthful males, though I am neither young nor male:all boys are more or less inaccurate, because they are boys; boyishness of mind means inaccuracy. What follows is an interview between myself and the illustrious author of The Idea of a University, Cardinal John Henry Newman, all quotes taken from the text. BOOKLADY: Good Sir, will you please tell us, what is your Idea of a University? CN: I have formed a probable conception of the sort of benefit which the Holy See has intended to confer on Catholics who speak the English tongue by recommending to the Irish Hierarchy the establishment of a University; and this I now proceed to consider. In the case of most men it makes itself felt in the good sense, sobriety of thought, reasonableness, candour, self-command, and steadiness of view, which characterize it. Furthermore, if a University be, from the nature of the case, a place of instruction, where universal knowledge is professed, and if in a certain University, so called, the subject of Religion is excluded, one of two conclusions is inevitable,either, little or nothing is known about the Supreme Being, or that his seat of learning calls itself what it is not. Would it surprise you to know that many Catholic Universities today do not even teach the Catholic religion, much less practice it? If only we could get more universities which call themselves Catholic to read your book. The literature of England is no longer a mere letter, printed in books, and shut up in libraries, but it is a living voice, which has gone forth in its expressions and its sentiments into the world of men, which daily thrills upon our ears and syllables our thoughts, which speaks to us through our correspondents, and dictates when we put pen to paper. It cannot be otherwise; human nature is in all ages and all countries the same; and its literature, therefore, will ever and everywhere be one and the same also. National Literature is, in a parallel way, the untutored movements of the reason, imagination, passions, and affections of the natural man, the leapings and the friskings, the plungings and the snortings, the sportings and the buffoonings, the clumsy play and the aimless toil, of the noble, lawless savage of God's intellectual creation. You were very clear in your book about the importance of a classical education based on the seven Liberal Arts, arranged in two groups, the first (trivium) embracing grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, in other words, the sciences of language, of oratory, and of logic, or language studies; the second group (quadrivium) comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. CN: The great moral I would impress upon you is this, that in learning to write Latin, as in all learning, you must not trust to books, but only make use of them; not hang like a dead weight upon your teacher, but catch some of his life; handle what is given you, not as a formula, but as a pattern to copy and as a capital to improve; throw your heart and mind into what you are about, and thus unite the separate advantages of being tutored and of being self-taught,self-taught, yet without oddities, and tutorized, yet without conventionalities. In The 'One Thing' Is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything, Fr. Michael Gaitley mentions the importance of Newman's thought to Catholic theology, but it seems to me this book has an even broader appeal, having something important to say about university education in general. Newman defended the study of God this way: Religious doctrine is knowledge, in as full a sense as Newton's doctrine is knowledge.

Newman's summary in the last of his nine lectures on University Teaching summarizes the argument he pursues in these lectures: I have accordingly laid down first, that all branches of knowledge are, at least implicitly, the subject matter of its teaching; that these branches are not isolated and independent one of another, but form together a whole or system, that they run into each other, and complete each other, and that, in proportion to our view of them, as a whole, is the exactness and trustworthiness of the knowledge which they separately convey; that the process of imparting knowledge to the intellect in this philosophical way is its true culture; that such culture is a good in itself, that the knowledge which is both its instrument and result is called Liberal Knowledge; that such culture, together with the knowledge which effects it, may fitly be sought for its own sake; that it is, however, in addition, of great secular utility, as constituting the best and highest formation of the intellect for social and political life; and lastly, that considered in a religious aspect, it concurs with Christianity a certain way, and then diverges from it; and consequently proves in the event, sometimes its serviceable ally, sometimes, from its very resemblance to it, an insidious and dangerous foe. The second part includes lectures on Christianity and letters, English Catholic literature, Elementary studies (the groundwork he sees as necessary for the perfection of the intellect), a lecture on Infidelity, University Preaching, several lectures on Christianity and the sciences, and a lecture on the Discipline of the Mind. The second thing was his telling comments on how easy it is to know much about many things but in a disordered way rather than to discipline the mind through grammar, composition, the classic languages and foundational beliefs.

Newman has some excellent things to say here about the interconnectedness of theology and all knowledge. I suspect he does not - the tension lingers with him all his days, in all his writings.

I'll take two of his thoughts he uses as examples in his argument that has helped me understand liberal arts and knowledge. It is not just the idea of memorizing and being well read or advancement of science, but it is "culture of the mind." Theology needs to be studied in the setting of a true liberal education. The subject of theology brings in a proper mix of learning and understanding to a University by its diversity among other students. I was able to find that knowledge of liberal arts in finding a common good. Newman's description of liberal arts is enjoyable because it is well defined and simple. Liberal arts is understanding knowledge.

Newman was trying to create a university for Ireland, and even though he was a Roman Catholic, he also believed that all of science must be taught alongside theology. In this light, the university was the locale where students were not indoctrinated but instead forced to think about competing ideas. Ultimately each individual was able to come to his or her own decision, argued Newman. But I suspect why Newman has attracted the support of people like Joyce and Said (and me) is that although the contexts of his writing are constrained by the 19th century, his vision of what we should be doing in the university extends forward to today.

Pri hodnotení tejto knihy je potrebné pozrie sa na dve veci: (1.) samotné dielo Idea Univerzity, a na to (2.) ako sa s jeho vydaním popasoval slovenský vydavate. storoia, o znamená, e niekedy je slovník trochu archaický a náronejí na ítanie, preto niektoré pasáe pôsobia trochu nudne, alebo sa javia ako u prekonané, no treba zdôrazni, e ich nie je vea a kniha robí celkovo dobrý dojem. Druhou vecou na ktorú sa chcem pozrie v tomto hodnotení je to ako s Ideou univerzity naloil slovenský vydavate. Dielo sa íta dobre, v podstate som si pri jeho ítaní ani neuvedomoval, e sa jedná o preklad, o je základom dobrej prekladateskej práce. Trochu horie je to u s esejami, ktoré do tohto vydania zahrnul slovenský vydavate. Výsledný dojem je vak taký, e text pôsobí akoby si s ním Luterán bu nevedel da rady, alebo mu (podobne ako Dolný?) nevenoval takmer iadnu námahu.

Quotes: "This implies that its object is, on the one hand, intellectual , not moral; and, on the other, that it is the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather than the advancement. He, too, who spends his day in dispensing his existing knowledge to all comers is unlikely to have either leisure or energy to acquire new." "Let him once gain this habit of method, of starting from fixed points, of making his ground good as he goes, of distinguishing what he knows from what he does not know, and I conceive he will be gradually initiated into the largest and truest philosophical views, and will feel nothing but impatience and disgust at the random theories and imposing sophistries and dashing paradoxes, which carry away half-formed and superficial intellects." "I do not see much difference between avowing that there is no God, and implying that nothing definite can for certain be known about Him;" "Here we have an explanation of the multitude of off-hand sayings, flippant judgments, and shallow generalizations, with which the world abounds. But education is a higher word; it implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character; it is something individual and permanent, and is commonly spoken of in connexion with religion and virtue." "for I consider Knowledge to have its end in itself. Its direct business is not to steel the soul against temptation or to console it in affliction, any more than to set the loom in motion, or to direct the steam carriage; be it ever so much the means or the condition of both material and moral advancement, still, taken by and in itself, it as little mends our hearts as it improves our temporal circumstances." "Memory is one of the first developed of the mental faculties; a boy's business when he goes to school is to learn, that is, to store up things in his memory. Such as he is in his other relations, such also is he in his school exercises; his mind is observant, sharp, ready, retentive; he is almost passive in the acquisition of knowledge. Geography, chronology, history, language, natural history, he heaps up the matter of these studies as treasures for a future day." "Every now and then you will find a person of vigorous or fertile mind, who relies upon his own resources, despises all former authors, and gives the world, with the utmost fearlessness, his views upon religion, or history, or any other popular subject. It is the action of a formative power, reducing to order and meaning the matter of our acquirements; it is a making the objects of our knowledge subjectively our own, or, to use a familiar word, it is a digestion of what we receive, into the substance of our previous state of thought; and without this no enlargement is said to follow."

Originally an evangelical Oxford University academic and priest in the Church of England, Newman then became drawn to the high-church tradition of Anglicanism. He became known as a leader of, and an able polemicist for, the Oxford Movement, an influential and controversial grouping of Anglicans who wished to return to the Church of England many Catholic beliefs and liturgical rituals from before the English Reformation.

  • English

  • Education

  • Rating: 4.13
  • Pages: 428
  • Publish Date: October 31st 1982 by University of Notre Dame Press
  • Isbn10: 0268011508
  • Isbn13: 9780268011505