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Cardinal Dulles, a frequent contributor to First Things, presented this address to the Cardinal Newman Society on November 11, 2001, in Washington, D.C., upon receiving the John Henry Newman Award for distinguished service to Catholic higher education. Dulles shared much with Newman, who will be canonized this October by Pope Francis: Both men were prominent converts to the Catholic faith who became influential theologians, and both had the rare distinction of being named cardinal without ever being ordained a bishop. Dulles was created cardinal on Newman’s 200th birthday, February 21, 2001.
John Henry Newman, writing in England in the mid-nineteenth century, proposed a vision of Catholic higher education that takes account of major difficulties that were prevalent in his day and are no less prevalent in ours. Although his proposals are for the most part framed in positive terms, I shall summarize them in contrast to four tendencies that Newman found unacceptable. I shall call these tendencies utilitarianism, fragmentation, secularism, and rationalism.
Utilitarianism - Newman - Movement - Name - Jeremy
By utilitarianism, Newman meant the philosophical movement associated with the name of Jeremy Bentham. The editors of the Edinburgh Review, together with influential figures such as Lord Henry Brougham and Sydney Smith, proposed to dethrone the classics from the position of supremacy they held at Oxford and Cambridge and to replace them with “useful” knowledge leading to a trade or profession. Newman contended, on the contrary, that the primary end of education was not the acquisition of useful information or skills needed for a particular occupation in life, but cultivation of the mind. The special fruit of university education, as he saw it, was to produce what he called the “philosophical habit of mind.” The study of the classics, he believed, had proved its capacity to “strengthen, refine, and enrich the intellectual powers” and to enter into the rich heritage...
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