Culture of the intellect

Newman identifies the main advantage of a university education as culture of the intellect or mind. ‘Our desideratum is, not the manners and habits of gentlemen’, which can be supplied by various means besides a university, ‘but the force, the steadiness, the comprehensiveness and the versatility of intellect, the command over our own powers, the instinctive just estimate of things as they pass before us’, which is usually gained only with ‘much effort and the exercise of years’. This is what Newman calls ‘real cultivation of mind’. (Idea of a university)

Newman does not deny that a university education also fosters ‘the characteristic excellences of a gentleman’, as a liberal education at university manifests itself ‘in a courtesy, propriety, and polish of word and action, which is beautiful in itself, and acceptable to others; but it does much more. It brings the mind into form’. (Idea of a university)


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