Newman and the internet

Among more recent technological advances, the internet has led to a multiplication of learning experiences and easy access to a new universe of information, which means that the need for unity of knowledge has dramatically increased so as to avoid fragmentation not just of knowledge, but the whole of human life. Universities which are deeply fragmented themselves cannot help here; but those which hold onto a unified understanding of the world might be able to provide public service by ensuring society is culturally leavened by the university.

Newman wrote about the importance of the personal dimension of education and of gaining an overview or ‘a connected view’ of things precisely at a time when there was an explosion of information through the dissemination of cheap literature and that he did so in order to caution about the use to which it would be put. Though not on the same scale as the internet revolution, the first half of the nineteenth century did witness a profusion of information that was unprecedented, and this lends Newman’s words extra weight and applicability.

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