John Henry Newman: The Idea of A University, 1854
The general principles of any study you may learn by books at home; but the detail, the colour, the tone, the air, the life which makes it live in us, you must catch all these from those in whom it lives already. You must imitate the student in French or German, who is not content with his grammar, but goes to Paris or Dresden: you must take example from the young artist, who aspires to visit the great Masters in Florence and in Rome. Till we have discovered some intellectual daguerreotype, which takes off the course of thought, and the form, lineaments, and features of truth, as completely and minutely as the optical instrument reproduces the sensible object, we must come to the teachers of wisdom to learn wisdom, we must repair to the fountain, and drink there. Portions of it may go from thence to the ends of the earth by means of books; but the fullness is in one place alone. It is in such assemblages and congregations of intellect that books themselves, the masterpieces of human genius, are written, or at least originated.
John Henry Newman was a man in search of trouble. Highlights of his eventful life include the following:
- Ordaining as an Anglican preist and denouncing the Pope
- A switch, at age 44, to Catholicism
- Defending the Pope during the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England
- Getting successfully sued for libel by a Dominican monk
- Fired as rector of Dublin Catholic University after an essay he wrote was censured by Rome, thought to be a statement against papal infallibility
- Taking on Anglicans once the doctrine of papal infallibility was confirmed, in defense of the Pope
Amazing. He comes full circle in 89 years of full on living.
Throughout his life he remained fairly suspicious of authority and his thoughts on universities reflected that somewhat. He was truly ahead of his time in many ways.
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