Appeared in Winter 1992, Vol. XVIII, No. 4

The appearance of Newman’s idea of a university and the subsequent establishment of the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854 called into question the entire historical drift of the modern world. At a time of increasing specialization, utilitarianism, rationalism and secularism Newman took his stand on the side of integration, philosophy, intuition and faith. Without engaging in reactionary polemics he provided a reasoned demonstration of the necessity for a spiritual foundation within the educational process, which has subsequently become the classic modern statement on the subject. The aphoristic quality of many of Newman’s pronouncements derives not merely from a masterful writing style, but much more from the ultimacy of intellectual penetration in many of the positions he had reached. Contrary to the image of comfortable Victorian urbanity that still attaches to him, Newman always had the spiritual courage to follow his convictions to their logical conclusion. It is for this reason that many of the (frequently overlooked) statements of the Idea strike us even today as startling in their unconventionality.

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