Volume 87, Issue 4, Fall 2013
The Future of the University
Philosophy, Education, and the Catholic Tradition
Higher education is in flux, and one of the challenges it faces is to relate education, research, and training. So far as Catholic institutions are concerned, there is also the fundamental issue of what it means to be Catholic. Leaving aside matters of history and religious observance, this bears in large part on issues of educational philosophy. This essay sets these matters within a historical context, considering Confucius, Augustine, and Aquinas, while focusing on nineteenth-century British discussions of education by Herbert Spencer, Mathew Arnold, J. S. Mill, and J. H. Newman, and then engaging challenges posed in recent times by Richard Rorty and others to the very idea of humanistic knowledge and understanding. This returns the discussion to what might be the distinctive contribution of Catholic colleges and universities, and to the suggestion that they should promote a sense of the Godly, the sacred, and the gracious.