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St. John Henry Newman—The Idea of a University | Knowledge Viewed in Relation to Learning

By James T. Majewski ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 08, 2023 | In Catholic Culture Audiobooks (Podcast)

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“I say, a University, taken in its bare idea, and before we view it as an instrument of the Church, has this object and this mission; it contemplates neither moral impression nor mechanical production; it professes to exercise the mind neither in art nor in duty; its function is intellectual culture... It educates the intellect to reason well in all matters, to reach out towards truth, and to grasp it.”

In 1854, Newman was invited to Dublin by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland to serve as rector for the newly established Catholic University of Ireland, now University College, Dublin. Though he retired after only four years, during this time he composed and delivered the lectures that would become The Idea of a University.

In this sixth discourse, Newman argues that the end of a liberal education is not to impart mere knowledge, but to cultivate the intellect. He laments the lack of a word in English to express this idea of intellectual excellence as distinct from the accumulation of learning, and he goes on to illustrate what should be understood as true illumination or enlargement of mind and its implications for university studies.

Links

Cluny Media edition: https://clunymedia.com/collections/john-henry-newman/products/the-idea-of-a-university

The Idea of a University full text: https://www.newmanreader.org/works/idea/

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James T. Majewski is Director of Customer Relations for CatholicCulture.org, the “voice” of Catholic Culture Audiobooks, and co-host of Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. Based in New York City, he holds both a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. See full bio.

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