The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman
The background of Newman’s essays on this topic (from which our selection is a brief extract) included his work in trying to establish a Catholic University in Ireland (which failed) and his efforts to counter the cultural movement of “utilitarianism” which was behind the “new” University of London, whose purpose was to train young men [sic!] so that they would have skills which served the booming industrial markets of the British empire.
What does Newman say the purpose (24) of a liberal education in a university is to be? Does he reject the goal (25, 28) of “utility”? If he does, how does he defend his understanding of the role of a university? If he does not, how does he come to understand “utility” (29) so that it accommodates his views?
What is Newman's argument on pp. 29-30 about the usefulness of developping the intellect? Does this seem like a good argument? What is Newman's argument on pp. 30-31? Does his parallel seem to work? Do these arguments meet the concerns or the objections of those who insist on the value of utility?
Do you believe this reading contributes to a course trying to introduce students to intellectual inquiry today? Why or why not? Do you believe it bears any relationship to the Bonaventurian themes of the prologue? How? Or why not?