Knowledge and the university

The university is ‘a place of teaching universal knowledge, which implies that its principal object is in the first place intellectual, not moral, and in the second that it entails the diffusion of knowledge rather than its advancement. This means that, in its essence, a university is neither a seminary or centre of religious training, as this would hardly make it a ‘seat of literature and science’; nor is it a research institute, because otherwise it need not have students. (Idea of a university)

‘It is a great point then to enlarge the range of studies, which a University professes, even for the sake of the students; and, though they cannot pursue every subject which is open to them, they will be the gainers by living among those and under those, who represent the whole circle.’ (The scope and nature of university education)

The great benefit of a university is that it brings together in one place learned men from different disciplines who, through dialogue and for the sake of peace, were forced to adjust the claims and relations of their respective subjects, and in this way ‘learn to respect, to consult, to aid each other. Thus is created a pure and clear atmosphere of thought, which the student also breathes, though in his own case he only pursues a few sciences out of the multitude.’ (The scope and nature of university education)

In this way the student is able to grasp the ‘great outlines of knowledge, the principles on which it rests, the scale of its parts, its lights and its shades, its great points and its little’, even though they do not form part of his immediate studies. (Idea of a university)

‘All that exists, as contemplated by the human mind, forms one large system or complex fact, and this of course resolves itself into an indefinite number of particular facts, which, as being portions of a whole, have countless relations of every kind, one towards another.’ (Idea of a university)

A university is the ‘high protecting power of all knowledge and science, of fact and principle, of inquiry and discovery, of experiment and speculation; it maps out the territory of the intellect, and sees that the boundaries of each province are religiously respected, and that there is neither encroachment nor surrender on any side’. (Idea of a university)


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The role of research

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