IDEA OF A UNIVERSITY

John Henry Newman was a religious and literary figure of note: his major writings including his autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865–66), the Grammar of Assent (1870), and the poem The Dream of Gerontius (1865), which was set to music in 1900 by Edward Elgar. He wrote the popular hymns “Lead, Kindly Light” and “Praise to the Holiest in the Height” (taken from Gerontius).

Newman believed in a middle way between free thinking and moral authority – one that would respect the rights of knowledge as well as the rights of revelation. He published a volume of lectures entitled The Idea of a University, which explained his philosophy of education. He writes:

“If then a practical end must be assigned to a university course, I say it is that of training good members of society. Its art is the art of social life, and its end is fitness for the world… a University training is the great ordinary means to a great but ordinary end; it aims at raising the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the national taste, … at facilitating the exercise of political power, and refining the intercourse of private life. It is the education which gives a man a clear conscious view of his own opinions and judgements, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them… He has the repose of a mind which lives in itself, while it lives in the world, and which has the resources for its happiness at home when it cannot go abroad. He has a gift which serves him in public, and supports him in retirement… The art which tends to make a man all this, is in the object which it pursues as useful as the art of wealth or the art of health, though it is less susceptible of method, and less tangible, less certain, less complete in its results.”

Cover art by Shane Batool