Wednesday, August 24, 2005

SWQR: The Idea of a University

The Idea of a University by John Henry Cardinal Newman (Location: Reference/Arm's Reach)

There are few books of any kind as important as this one. My father gave me this book when he was closing his bookstore, and at a critical moment in my academic life, the Dean of Students advised me to read it. I did, and found that all the problems I was seeing and have since seen in "higher education" were foreseen and solved by Newman some 150 years ago. Why research must never be done at a university, why a university must include ALL fields of human knowledge, why God and theology are involved - why we must devote ourselves to the cultivation of the intellect, how every field must work to the glory of Him who gave that field as a gift, how learning arises from social interaction, and the role of the teacher, and where human knowledge and reason fail as they contend with human passion and pride... It is NOT an easy book. But it is exceedingly important. Newman wrote it as a design document, when the Pope ordered him to start a University. The foundation failed (though not from Newman's failure) - yet it lives; God grant it may yet be!


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