Newman Studies Journal

Volume 12, Issue 2, Fall 2015

Thomas Pfau
Pages 86-100

Newman's Idea of Tradition
The Fall 2015 Newman Memorial Lecture

This paper, given at NINS on October 15, 2015, explores J. H. Newman’s rethinking of the concept of tradition. Whereas Romantic historicism and sentimentalism conceptions frame the past as an inventory of ’’information” or as a focal point of affective reminiscence, Newman approaches tradition as a continuous and ongoing development that shows past and present becoming progressively more intelligible and mutually illuminating. Agents of knowledge do not “define” or “possess” the past as an accomplished “tradition” but, on the contrary, realize their human and spiritual potential by a humble, active, and open-ended participation in the development of tradition.