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The Imagination in the Life and Thought of John Henry Newman

Terrence Merrigan

Résumé

John Henry Newman’s reflections on what he described as ‘the theology of a religious imagination’ contain considerations that are relevant to the disciplines of philosophy and literature as well as theology. Newman was convinced that all beliefs—religious, secular or political—must first be credible to the imagination and that the religious object is only adequately appropriated via an imaginative process that calls to mind the working of the literary imagination. Drawing especially on the Romantic tradition, Newman portrays the imagination as the capacity to relate to an object as a ‘whole’, that is to say, as something with a claim on us. This understanding of the imagination is at work in Newman’s discussion of the ‘idea’ of Christianity and its progress (or lack thereof) through history. The Christian ‘idea’ can only be discerned to the degree that it comes to expression in a variety of historical forms. These, in turn, become the object of inquiry and reflection. For Newman, then, the adequate appropriation of the object of Christian faith requires both an act of the imagination and a willingness to engage in critical, historical reflection.

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1 Introduction: The ‘Experiential’ Basis of Newman’s Theology

1It is well known that John Henry Newman (1801–1890) was not a systematic thinker. He was, however, a ‘seminal’ thinker, in the true sense of that word. His thought is ‘generative’, ‘original’—it opens up new vistas and suggests ways forward. This is certainly the case where his understanding of the imagination is concerned. Of course, Newman’s interest in the imagination was shaped by his theological concerns. Newman, it might be said, was a homo religious, that is to say, a person whose identity was shaped by the religious quest. Indeed, as we shall see, Newman was of the view that the human subject is, in his very essence, theo-centric, oriented towards the transcendent which, in Newman’s case, was possessed of a specific name and ‘face’, so to speak.

2We would, however, do Newman an injustice were we to understand his conviction about the theocentric orientation of the human person as some sort of theological ‘presupposition’, as a premise forced upon him by his Christian faith. Newman grounds his religious understanding of the person very squarely in experience. This appeal to experience is very typical of Newman, and it was most unusual in Newman’s day, certainly for a theologian.

3In 1974, in an article entitled, ‘Revolution in Catholic Theology,’ Bernard Lonergan identified one of the major sources of this revolution as the ‘dethronement of speculative intellect or of pure reason,’ and its replacement by a way of knowing that is based on observation, discovery and experimentation. The process of dethronement, Lonergan observes, ‘has been a general trend in modern philosophy,’ and he goes on to point up certain paradigmatic moments in that process:

  • 1 B. Lonergan, ‘Revolution in Catholic Theology’, in A Second Collection: Papers by Bernard J.F. Lone (...)

Empirical science led to empiricist philosophy. Empiricist philosophy awoke Kant from his dogmatic slumbers. The German absolute idealists, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, attempted to restore speculative reason to her throne, but their success was limited. Kierkegaard took his stand on faith, Schopenhauer wrote on the world as will and representation, Newman toasted conscience, Dilthey wanted a Lebensphilosophie, Blondel wanted a philosophy of action, Ricœur is busy with a philosophy of will, and in the same direction tend the pragmatists, the personalists, the existentialists.1

  • 2 N. Lash, ‘Tides and Twilight: Newman Since Vatican II’, in Newman After a Hundred Years, ed. Ian Ke (...)
  • 3 E. Przywara, Gottgeheimnis der Welt: Drei Vortrage über die geistige Krisis der Gegenwart, Munich: (...)

4Reflecting on this claim, Nicholas Lash comments that the names of Heidegger and Wittgenstein ‘should surely be added’.2 This is undoubtedly the case, but what interests us now is Lonergan’s claim that Newman belongs at home in the list of those thinkers who have advanced the cause of experientially-based insight. The same point had already been made by another scholar, Erich Przywara, in 1923. He endeavored to highlight the complementarity between the inductive, historical approach characteristic of Newman’s theological method and the more logical and deductive method of traditional Catholic thought. In fact, Przywara viewed Newman’s whole theological-philosophical program as the ‘obverse,’ as it were, of Scholastic reflection, i.e., as the subjective ‘counterpart,’ so to speak, of the objective, metaphysical system developed in classical Catholic thought. Przywara went on to make the striking claim that, in the contemporary setting, what was required for a comprehensive Catholic intellectual life was a synthesis of the historical and metaphysical approaches, epitomized respectively by Newman and St. Thomas.3

  • 4 G. Daly, ‘Newman, Divine Revelation, and the Catholic Modernists’, in Newman and the Word, ed. Terr (...)

5All these authors applaud Newman’s attention to experience, and we see no reason not to applaud with them. But, as we indicated above, it was not always thus! Both during his life and in the years following his death, Newman paid a heavy price for his empirical bent. His contemporaries, trained as they were in neo-Scholasticism, could not comprehend his theological method and more or less left him to his own devices. Then, shortly after his death, Newman was claimed by the so-called Modernists who drew explicitly on his work to justify their appeal to religious experience. Newman’s first biographer agonized about whether Newman had been—retrospectively and implicitly—condemned along with the ‘Modernists’. Even though it has since become clear that Newman’s views were not those of the Modernists, Gabriel Daly, an authority on both, could still claim that they were united in ‘their emphasis on experience, especially moral experience, and on the crucial role played by the imagination in the apprehension and interpretation of experience.’4

6This connection between imagination and (moral) experience is the key to Newman’s religious thought. The link between both was forged, it would seem, quite early in Newman’s own life, and comes to expression above all in his reflections on the nature of conscience. Those reflections, however, are only fully comprehensible in the light of a more systematic treatment of Newman’s understanding of the imagination as such. We shall, therefore, look first at Newman’s analysis of the role played by the imagination in processing, as it were, the stuff of experience. Then we shall examine the role played by the imagination in the genesis and development of ethics and religion (since these two, for Newman, are inextricably bound up with one another). This will lead to a reflection on the way in which Newman seeks to test the fruits of the imagination by an appeal to history. Finally, in a concluding reflection, we shall briefly consider Newman’s attempt to hold together the imaginative apprehension of reality (or its counterfeit) and discursive thought.

2 The Imagination and the Mediation of Experience

2.1 Newman on Experience

  • 5 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, ed. Edward Sillem, 2 vols., Louvain: (...)
  • 6 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, ed. Ian Ker, Oxford: Clarendon, 1985, 23, 25, (...)

7Broadly speaking, Newman distinguishes two sorts of conscious experience, (i), the experience of a world external to oneself, and (ii), the experience of one’s own inner world, what Newman describes as a world of mental ‘impressions’. In fact, there is no absolute separation between these two. Generally, it is the experience of the external world which provokes or elicits the mental impressions.5 Nevertheless, for Newman, the experience of one’s inner world is an irreducible source of information and a vital source of knowledge. Along with the data of sense experience, mental impressions constitute the media through which the mind perceives specific objects, distinct from itself. Newman uses the word, ‘images’ to describe the mind’s ‘conception’ of those substances it has perceived via the data of sensible or mental impressions, or recalled through the medium of memory, or even constructed through the faculty of composition. These images consist of the ‘impressions which [the things] have left on the imagination.’ (it is obvious that these images will be decidedly personal.) They ‘represent’ the things to the mind. Indeed, Newman can say that ‘they are things still, as being the reflections of things in a mental mirror.’6

  • 7 D. Pailin, The Way to Faith: An Examination of Newman’s ‘Grammar of Assent’ as a Response to the Se (...)

8Newman writes that we ‘picture’ the substances to ourselves ‘in’ their attendant phenomena, and he relies heavily on the terminology of visual imagery (‘picture,’ ‘likeness,’ ‘the mind’s eye,’ ‘mental mirror,’ ‘an impress’) to point up the character of the mind’s perceptive activity. This has given rise to the oft-repeated charge that Newman equated images with vivid mental ‘pictures’ of objects. There is, however, no real foundation for such a claim. It is clear from the inception of Newman’s discussion of images that these may be ‘non-sensory,’ or more accurately, that there may be images of propositions, which are of a ‘non-sensory kind.’ As David Pailin points out, by images Newman ‘does not mean a clearly defined visual representation but an awareness of the reality of the object.’ What Newman is attempting to express, by his image terminology, is a vivid ‘realization’ of a particular object, a realization so intense that the object becomes, as it were, a ‘fact’ in and for the imagination.7 The term ‘mental image’ could perhaps best be replaced by some more general term such as mental ‘rendition’, or Newman’s own ‘representation’, both connoting not so much the idea of simple duplication or replication, as of ‘translation’, that is to say, into a ‘form’ accessible to the mind. The instrument, so to speak, that effects this translation is the imagination.

2.2 Newman on the Imagination

  • 8 T. Merrigan, Clear Heads and Holy Hearts: The Religious and Theological Ideal of John Henry Newman, (...)

9A comprehensive study of Newman’s writings reveals that he accords two separate, though not distinct, functions to the imaginative ‘faculty’.8 These can be identified, for the sake of convenience, by the terms ‘prehending imagination’ and ‘realizing imagination’. Of course, the distinction of ‘prehending’ and ‘realizing’ imagination does not imply a division of these, as if there were two imaginative ‘faculties’. There is one ‘faculty’ or power which gives rise to what might best be described as the ‘imaginary’. Newman himself spoke of the ‘image’ rather than the ‘imaginary’, but, for our purposes, the latter term would seem to be preferable since it more strongly connotes the hypothetical or perhaps unrealizable dimension of the imagination’s object.

10In the case of ‘prehending’ imagination, what is at stake is the operation by means of which the ‘imaginary’ is, as it were, set before the mind’s eye. We might speak here of the imagination’s ‘construction’ of its object. Viewed in this respect, imagination is a ‘synthetic’ power. In the case of realizing imagination, what is at stake is the mind’s engagement with the ‘imaginary’. We might speak here of the ‘encounter with’ the imaginary. Viewed in this respect, imagination is primarily an ‘evocative’ power.

11Briefly put, then, the imagination, for Newman, is at once both a synthetic and an evocative power (or, for want of a better word, a faculty) that represents ‘things’ to the mind and thereby evokes an affective response on the part of the imagining subject. Let us look at these two elements separately.

2.2.1 The Nature of the Prehending Imagination

12As I have indicated, the prehending imagination is this ‘power’ of the mind which both ‘creates’ the ‘imaginary’ object and ‘proposes’ it for the ‘contemplation’ of the human spirit. It was common among English writers of the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries to ascribe a ‘unitive’ power to the imagination.

  • 9 J. H. Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 1: 210, 215.

13So, for example, Abraham Tucker (whom some regard as having influenced Newman) saw the imagination as operating ‘to fuse’ ‘the primitive data of experience into units,’ indeed, to ‘transform’ that data into ‘entirely new and irreducible wholes which are faithful images of real particulars.’ The imagination, Tucker claimed, ‘puts the mind into immediate contact with things as the whole units they are.’ It facilitates ‘the ‘coalescence’ of our past experiences into a pattern’ which enables one to apprehend an object in its integrity.9

  • 10 S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 2 vols., London: Oxford University Press, 1958, 1: 304; 2: 1 (...)
  • 11 S. T. Coleridge, Shakespearean Criticism, ed. T.M. Raysor, 2nd ed., 2 vols., London: Dent, 1960, 1: (...)
  • 12 J. R. Barth, Coleridge and Christian Doctrine, Cambridge, MS: Harvard University Press, 1969, 22.

14In the Biographia Literaria, Coleridge describes the (secondary) imagination as ‘struggling to idealize and to unify,’ and as that ‘synthetic and magical power’ which ‘fuses’ disparate things into a new unity.10 Imagination, ‘the modifying or coadunating faculty’ reveals itself, Coleridge wrote elsewhere, ‘in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities.’11 It is essentially a reconciling and mediatory power, and achieves its real aim in the apprehension of productive, polar unity.12

  • 13 J. H. Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 137–8.
  • 14 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 27.
  • 15 J. H. Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 137–8.
  • 16 Ibid., 135.

15The raw material, so to speak, upon which the prehending imagination is deployed includes the stuff of memory (past experience) but is not limited to this. The experience of others, disclosed to us through all sorts of media (print, oral tradition, etc.), is also grist for the mill of imagination. Writing in 1868, Newman distinguished those ‘images’ which ‘come directly from the memory of definite facts,’ or alternately, from ‘direct experience,’ and those which appeal ‘ultimately though indirectly to combined experiences,’ that is to say, those ‘suggested by description or gathered from indications.’ As an example of the latter, Newman speaks of ‘a vivid picture’ of the ‘mountainous wilds’ of Abyssinia formed on the basis of descriptions furnished by others (‘the correspondents of English newspapers’) appropriated in the light of one’s ‘acquaintance’ with ‘Scotland, Switzerland, or Norway.’13 Later, in the Grammar of Assent (1870), Newman speaks of the ability to ‘form’ images ‘of things which have never come before us, for example, an exotic tree or fruit, on the basis of the accounts of others, interpreted in the light of one’s previous knowledge’.14 These images are not mere ‘abstractions.’ ‘They are concrete units in the minds both of the party describing and the party informed of them.’15 Hence, in another place we find Newman describing the imagination as a ‘power’ which ‘attends on’ memory and ‘makes present’ that which is ‘absent.’ It is this act of ‘making present’ which is peculiar to the prehending imagination. Indeed Newman describes the imaginative grasp of a thing as ‘an act of experience [our emphasis], present or past and of memory in aid of experience.’16

  • 17 J. H. Walgrave, Newman the Theologian, London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1960, 110.

16it seems fair to say, then, that Newman regarded the prehending imagination as the ‘energizer’ or ‘synthesizer’ of experience, whether immediate or mediated. What the prehending imagination makes of this experience is not merely an abstraction, but an image that is characterized by its concreteness. In this regard, it is important to note that Newman continually equates the ‘imaginative’ with the ‘real’. Hence, J. H. Walgrave could say that, ‘generally,’ Newman called the ‘total act by which we take hold of a real object’ quite simply ‘imagination.’ Walgrave also notes that Newman’s position here is akin to that of the German Romantics, namely, that imagination is ‘our entire faculty of knowing the concrete.’17

17There are two places in particular where the prehending imagination makes its appearance in Newman’s work. In the years preceding his conversion to Catholicism, Newman was preoccupied with the question of the nature and the transmission of divine revelation. This preoccupation was translated into a concern with the person of Jesus Christ understood as the heart of Christian revelation (i.e., the discipline of christology), and with the community of the church which claimed to perpetuate his memory (i.e., the discipline of ecclesiology). His attempts to deal with both themes are replete with the language of imagination. A few examples will suffice to illustrate this point.

  • 18 J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, London: Rivingtons, 1877, 166–71.
  • 19 J. Coulson, Religion and Imagination: ‘in aid of a grammar of assent’, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 198 (...)

18In a sermon preached in 1835, entitled ‘The Humiliation of the Eternal Son,’ Newman declares that ‘the image of the Incarnate Son in our hearts’ can only be regarded as adequate when it facilitates ‘the [holding] together in our minds’ of those ‘manifold attributes and offices [i.e., the ‘distinct notions’ of divinity and humanity] which we ascribe to Him.’18 The test of our ‘image’ of Christ, then, is whether it is able to unite ‘truths. . .which often appear to diverge from each other.’19

  • 20 J. H. Newman, Fifteen Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford, London: Rivingtons, 1890, 3 (...)
  • 21 T. Merrigan, Clear Heads and Holy Hearts: The Religious and Theological Ideal of John Henry Newman, (...)
  • 22 J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notr (...)
  • 23 J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 41–54.

19Newman develops this line of thought in the fifteenth university sermon (1843) where he argues that ‘the ideas which we are granted of Divine Objects under the Gospel, from the nature of the case and because they are ideas, answer to the Originals so far as this, that they are whole, indivisible, substantial, and may be called real, as being images of what is real.’20 This is as true of the church in its entirety as it is of the individual believer. What Newman, in the Essay on Development, calls the ‘idea of Christianity’ exists in the ‘mind of the Church,’ as the correlate to the fact of revelation.21 This ‘idea’ was communicated to the apostles ‘per modum unius’ in and through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection (though their knowledge of it was to a great extent implicit), and thereafter preserved, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, in the mind of the church as a permanent and integral ‘idea’, ‘impression’, or ‘image’ (1843), or as a ‘deep internal sense’ (1847), or as a ‘real apprehension’ (1870).22 The object of faith is prior to the Christian idea and distinct from it, just as the ‘ideas’ of sense perception are distinct from sensible impressions and their corresponding objects. According to Newman, the idea comes to expression in the Church’s life and history as the shared property of the whole body of the faithful. And, so it is, that ‘what was at first an impression on the Imagination’ becomes a creed, and a liturgical tradition, and a body of theological thought, and a system of ethics, and so on. This explains Newman’s continued insistence that the only truly adequate criterion for determining what belongs to the idea and what is foreign to it is the church’s communal life (‘pastorum ac fidelium conspiratio’).23

  • 24 J. H. Newman, Essays Critical and Historical, 2 vols., London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1910, 2: 190, (...)

20Newman acknowledges that ‘religious impressions’ may be made on the mind by ‘supernatural’ operations on the part of the Divine, such as those presumably manifest in the process of ‘inspiration,’ or by ‘illuminating grace’ at baptism. However, in keeping with his general principle that God usually acts ‘through, with, and beneath those physical, social, and moral laws, of which our experience informs us,’ Newman insists that the ‘secondary and intelligible’, means by which one receives the ‘impression of Divine Verities’, are, for instance, ‘the habitual and devout perusal of Scripture., the gradual influence of intercourse with those who are in themselves in possession of sacred ideas,. . .the study of Dogmatic Theology. . ., a continual round of devotion, or again, sometimes, in minds both fitly disposed and apprehensive, the almost instantaneous operation of a keen faith’.24 In other words, the stuff out of which the (Christian or religious) imagination forges its object is the church’s tradition of faith. The task of the believer is to appropriate this tradition, to immerse himself in it, with a view to deepening his grasp of its originating principle, Christ himself. Newman is convinced that where this happens, the transformation of both the individual and the community is almost inevitable. This brings us to our next point, the evocative dimension of the religious imagination.

2.2.2 The Nature of the Realizing Imagination

21If the prehending imagination can be described as the ‘power’ of the mind which ‘creates’ the ‘imaginary’ and ‘proposes’ it for the contemplation of the human spirit, then the realizing imagination can be described as the ‘power’ of the mind which brings the imaginary to life and thereby animates that same spirit, moving it to act. If the prehending imagination ‘unifies’, then the realizing imagination ‘vivifies’. It does so by engaging the emotions, by presenting to the subject an object (or, more accurately, the ‘image’ of an object—the ‘imaginary’) which is, so to speak, so vividly realized and so existentially charged that it is able to command the subject’s complete attention (and even their enduring commitment).

  • 25 J. Coulson, Religion and Imagination: ‘in aid of a grammar of assent’, op. cit., 51–2, 145.
  • 26 Ibid., 51–2.
  • 27 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 238.

22In his study, Religion and Imagination, John Coulson highlights the importance of Newman’s notion of the (realizing) imagination for the life of the believer. According to Coulson, ‘in making an appeal to the imagination in the full sense, Newman was obliged to modify or abandon the precise vocabulary of philosophical usage for that of literary criticism,’ and especially, for such criticism in the Coleridgean mould. Coulson is of the opinion that the believer’s willingness to acknowledge and commit himself to the ‘primary forms of religious faith (expressed in metaphor, symbol, and story), [and treated by Newman] is of the same kind as the imaginative assent we make to the primary forms of literature.’ Newman’s decision to explore religious faith in terms of the imagination was born of his conviction that ‘all beliefs—religious, secular and political—must first be credible to imagination,’ the faculty which enables us to relate to an object as a ‘whole’, that is to say, as something with a claim on us.25 In this vision, imagination is, in the words of Kierkegaard, ‘what providence uses to get men into reality, into existence, to get them far out, or in, or down into existence.’26 Newman realized that only ‘a real hold and habitual intuition’ of the objects of religion can inspire the deeds which characterize the life of faith, deeds such as the ‘sacrifice of wealth, name, or position, faith and hope, self-conquest, communion with the spiritual world,’ and so on.27

  • 28 Ibid., 89.
  • 29 Ibid., 82.

23Newman was, of course, well aware that a vivid imagination does not automatically guarantee action. However, ‘[T]hough the pure intellect does not lead to action, nor the imagination either, yet the imagination has the means, which the pure intellect has not, of stimulating those powers of the mind from which action proceeds.’ Images, he goes on, ‘have the power of the concrete upon the affections and passions and by means of these indirectly become operative.’28 The realizing imagination calls into play the individual’s prior dispositions, ‘hope and fear, likes and dislikes, appetite, passion, affection, the stirrings of selfishness and self-love.’ As Newman expresses it, ‘Strictly speaking, it is not the imagination that causes action; but hope and fear, likes and dislikes, appetite, passion, affection, the stirrings of selfishness and self-love. What imagination does for us is to find a means of stimulating those motive powers; and it does so by supplying a string of objects strong enough to stimulate them.’ The ‘imaginary’ can lead us ‘along a course action corresponding to itself, but only in case there be that in our minds which is congenial to it. However, when there is that preparation of mind, the thought does lead to the act.’29

  • 30 J. H. Walgrave, J. H. Newman: His Personality, His Principles, His Fundamental Doctrines: Course De (...)
  • 31 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 23–5, 103.
  • 32 J. H. Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 42, 47.
  • 33 M. J. Ferreira, ‘Newman and William James on Religious Experience: The Theory and the Concrete’, He (...)

24Walgrave points to a correspondence here between Newman and Sartre’s distinction (in his 1940 work, L’Imaginaire) between the ‘imaginative’ and ‘active’ types of person. The former may be possessed of vivid images (for example, of glory), but simply contemplate them without any thought of commitment to action regarding them. The latter may possess only poor or partial images but, nevertheless, engage himself or herself fully.30 Here, again, it is important to recall that Newman meant by ‘images’ a vivid sense of the ‘reality’ of the imaginary.31 Hence, Newman could write that, ‘What is “strange”, is to the imagination “false”. it tends to doubt whatever is strange. Experience is the measure of truth to imagination.’32 Clearly, experience here need not necessarily mean direct personal experience of the imaginary. As we saw earlier, the imagination’s raw materials can include ‘mediated’ experience, for example, the testimony of others. What is at stake is the claim that the encounter with the imaginary by means of the realizing imagination involves some ‘connection with experience,’ and that it is precisely this connection which ‘accounts for the motivating power’ of the imaginative faculty.33

  • 34 W. J. Houghton, ‘Style and the Dramatic Re-creation of the Past’, in J. H Newman, Apologia pro Vita (...)

25Newman’s gradual disillusionment with the Anglican Church might well be seen as an instance of the operation of the realizing imagination in his own life. Thanks to a whole series of events, including his contacts with Anglicans like Hurrell Froude who were sympathetic to Catholicism, and his discovery of the writings of the Fathers of the Church, Newman began to develop an ‘idea’ or ‘image’ of the ancient or apostolic church, its life and doctrine, its structure and its struggles. Together with the other protagonists of the Oxford Movement, he set out to revivify, or perhaps more accurately to restore, the patristic dimension of the Anglican Church. One might say, in this regard, that the Oxford Movement was an attempt to remake Anglicanism in the image and likeness of Newman’s idea of primitive Christianity. As is well known, he came to the conclusion that the Anglican Church was resistant to such a remaking, that it was indeed inherently Protestant. Newman’s accounts of the process by which he arrived at this conclusion contain a number of significant allusions to the imagination.34 For our purposes, a few brief illustrations will suffice.

  • 35 J. H. Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua, London: Longmans Green, & Co., 1902, 73; our emphasis.
  • 36 J. H. Newman, Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, 2 vols, London: Longmans (...)

26In 1838, Newman became involved in a project to translate the 20-volume Histoire ecclésiastique by the French church historian, Claude Fleury (1640–1725). Newman records that he was ‘fond of Fleury’ because his work ‘presented a sort of photograph of ecclesiastical history without any comment upon it.’35 Indeed, Newman praises Fleury for his ability to ‘bring before the reader so vividly the Church of the Fathers, as a fact and a reality.’ The effect of reading Fleury was to enable one ‘to imbibe into the intellect the Ancient Church as a fact.’36

  • 37 J. H. Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua, op. cit., 115; our emphasis.
  • 38 Id.

27Newman goes on to record that, ‘In the event, that simple representation of the early centuries had a good deal to do with unsettling me in my Anglicanism.’37 In 1839, Newman was startled by the realization that the position of the nineteenth-century Anglican Church vis-à-vis other Christian denominations resembled that of the schismatic or even heretical communities of old. In his words, ‘[T]here was an awful similitude. . . between the dead records of the past and the feverish chronicle of the present. The shadow of the fifth century was on the sixteenth. It was like a spirit rising from the troubled waters of the old world, with the shape and lineaments of the new’. Still later, he was dismayed by the thought that the Augustinian dictum ‘Securus judicat orbis terrarum’ told against Anglicanism’s claim to represent a via media. He describes this realization as a ‘vivid impression upon [his] imagination,’ and compares it to seeing ‘the shadow of a hand upon the wall’ or a ‘ghost.’38

28From the point of view of our discussion of the realizing imagination, it seems fair to say that what drove Newman onwards during the period of his ‘deathbed’ as regards the Anglican Church was his commitment to an image of the ancient church, an image which called into play the most profound emotions and sentiments.

  • 39 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 465–6.

29The theme of the imaginary is no less important in Newman’s approach to the church as a communal body. He insists that the vitality of early Christian faith derived not from its doctrine or its structures but from the ‘Image or idea’ of Christ ‘imprinted in the minds’ of the first believers by means of the apostolic preaching. This ‘Image, apprehended and worshipped in individual minds’ was the ‘bond’ uniting the early community. In Newman’s words, ‘[T]his Image it is which both creates faith and then rewards it.’39

  • 40 J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 37.
  • 41 J. H. Newman, The Via Media of the Anglican Church, 2 vols., Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, I (...)
  • 42 J. H. Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899, 22 (...)

30Newman’s theory of doctrinal development is predicated on the notion that the Church is in possession of such an animating ‘idea’ or image of God. A ‘great’ idea, such as the ‘idea’ of Christianity, does not unfold itself in the mind alone. ‘In proportion to its native vigour and subtlety’, it will ‘introduce itself into the framework and details of social life’, thereby realizing itself in a whole range of social forms, such as ethical codes, systems of government or thought, ritual practices, and so on.40 These, in turn, determine the way in which the ‘idea’ is manifested in history, influencing its development for better or worse as the case may be. Christianity, Newman wrote, had first appeared ‘as a worship, springing up and spreading in the lower ranks of society. . .Then it seized upon the intellectual and cultivated class, and created a theology and schools of learning. Lastly it seated itself, as an ecclesiastical polity, among princes, and chose Rome for its centre.’41 And all of this is the fruit of ‘what was at first an impression on the Imagination.’ In Newman’s words, ‘Catholicism appeals to the imagination, as a great fact, wherever she comes; she strikes it.’ Those who would do battle with the Church ‘must find some idea equally vivid. . ., something fascinating, something capable of possessing, engrossing, and overwhelming; their cause is lost, unless they can do this.’42

31Of course, Newman was aware that the acknowledgment of Catholicism does not take place in a vacuum, and a great part of his Catholic life was dedicated to reflection on the preconditions for, as well as the obstacles to, the acceptance of the Catholic religion. Here, too, the imagination figures powerfully. Indeed, for Newman, the entire religious history of humankind might be said to have its roots in an act of the imagination that shapes both our own self-understanding and our image of the Divine.

3 The Imagination and the Genesis of Ethics and Religion

3.1 The Imaginative Dimension of the Experience of Conscience

32At the outset of this paper, we stated that Newman’s interest in the imagination was shaped by his theological concerns. It would, however, have been equally accurate to declare that his theological concerns were shaped by his awareness of the role played by the imagination in human existence. Indeed, Newman roots the gestation and the growth (or lack thereof) of the religious ‘instinct’ (so to speak) in the imaginative powers of the human subject.

  • 43 J. H. Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 33, 43, 45, 63, 83.

33In his Philosophical Notebook (a collection of reflections and jottings which was only published in 1970), Newman comments that, ‘. . . Being is not known directly, but indirectly through its states. . . .Certain faculties then, or rather their operations, are a part of the initial idea of existence.’ A little later, he writes as follows: ‘Though it is not easy to give a list of those primary conditions of the mind which are involved in the fact of existence, yet it is obvious to name some of them. I include among them, not only memory, sensation, reasoning, but also conscience.’ So Newman can write that it is as legitimate to say ‘Sentio ergo sum’, or ‘Conscientiam habeo, ergo sum’, as it is to say ‘Cogito ergo sum’. In all these formulations, however, the linking ‘ergo’ is the product of a ‘post-factum’ analysis of what is originally ‘one complex act of intuition,’ in which ‘apprehension’ and ‘judgment’ are simultaneous.43

  • 44 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 74, 105; J. H Newman, The Philosoph (...)

34Among these ‘mental operations’, conscience, for Newman, occupies a unique place since, there, the subject apprehends not only itself, but itself as subject in relation to God. According to Newman, conscience is characterized by two indivisible, but not indistinguishable, dimensions which he described as a ‘moral sense’ and a ‘sense of duty’. As a ‘moral sense’, conscience is manifest in the awareness that ‘there is a right and a wrong,’ which is not, of course, the same as knowing, in a particular instance, what is right or wrong. As a ‘sense of duty’, conscience is manifest as a ‘keen sense of obligation and responsibility,’ namely, to do good and avoid evil.44 Newman speaks of these two dimensions, respectively, as ‘a rule of right conduct,’ and ‘a sanction of right conduct.’ It is peculiar to conscience that it ‘has an intimate bearing on our affections and emotions.’ Indeed, in Newman’s view, conscience ‘is always emotional.’ Hence, he sometimes speaks quite simply of ‘the feeling of conscience’ to describe its operation. Newman describes this feeling as ‘a certain keen sensibility, pleasant or painful—self-approval and hope, or compunction and fear’ which follows upon the performance of certain actions. For Newman, the feelings generated by conscience—or, more accurately, by our behavior—are possessed of profound theological significance. As he expresses it:

  • 45 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 74, 76; our emphasis.

. . . These feelings in us are such as require for their exciting cause an intelligent being. . . If the cause of these emotions does not belong to this visible world, the Object to which [our] perception is directed must be Supernatural and Divine; and thus the phenomena of Conscience, as a dictate, avail to impress the imagination with the picture of a Supreme Governor, a Judge, holy, just, powerful, all-seeing, retributive.45

  • 46 Ibid., 109.

35It is precisely in view of its role in generating an ‘image’ of God in the minds of men and women that Newman describes conscience as the ‘creative principle of religion.’ However, it is clear that religion or religious consciousness, in this context, is a profoundly ethical affair. It is born out of the inevitable requirement—the necessity—to act. One might say, then, that the soul’s encounter with God in conscience is as much a question of volition as of sentiment—i.e., the emotions attendant on the performance of particular deeds—though it is, of course, the presence of these emotions which implies ‘a living object, towards which [conscience] is directed.’46

36The quality of the soul’s response to the voice of conscience determines, in no small measure, the evolution of the nascent relationship between itself and the Divinity. Through its submission to, or alternately, its willful refusal of, the divine command (which, admittedly is not always ‘clear and distinct’) the soul itself sketches, as it were, its own likeness of the Divinity. As Newman expresses it:

  • 47 Ibid., 79–80.

. . . Whether [the image of the Divine within us] grows brighter and stronger, or, on the other hand, is dimmed, distorted, or obliterated, depends on each of us individually, and on his circumstances. . . Men transgress their sense of duty, and gradually lose their sentiments of shame and fear, the natural supplements of transgression, which. . . are the witnesses of the Unseen Judge.47

  • 48 J. H. Walgrave, ‘La preuve de l’existence de Dieu par la conscience morale et l’expérience des vale (...)
  • 49 J. H. Walgrave, Newman vandaag, Marienburg’s Hertogenbosch: Geert Groote Genootschap, 1957, 25.
  • 50 T. Merrigan, ‘Newman and Religious Experience’, in L. Boeve & L.P. Hemming (eds.), Divinising Exper (...)

37Hence, J. H. Walgrave could write that, while the apprehension of God by conscience is ‘spontaneous,’ it remains a free act which ‘supposes’ a serious moral commitment, a willingness to obey the moral imperative, and a fundamental choice for generosity.48 The relationship between the soul and God which attention to conscience makes possible is not therefore merely a matter of present religious experience—it is, above all, (to use another of Walgrave’s formulations) an ‘absolute religious goal.’49 And for Newman, this goal is only realizable in and through a sustained moral commitment made incarnate in the mundane routine of every day.50

  • 51 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 258–60.

38At least initially, and this remains the case if one’s education and religious practice do not contribute to a ‘filling out’ of one’s emergent image of God, the individual experiences Him primarily as ‘Lawgiver’ and ‘Judge.’ However, while conscience reveals God primarily as a lawgiver, it also reveals Him as One who wills our happiness and has ordered creation accordingly. From the outset then, the individual looks to the divine lawgiver as to a benevolent ruler, who has one’s best interests at heart. This tensile experience issues in two major characteristics of ‘natural religion’, namely, prayer and hope, with the former serving as the vehicle par excellence for the expression of the latter.51 The hope of which Newman speaks is perhaps best described as an irrepressible existential longing or perhaps even anticipation that the One who calls us to perfection will come to our aid. So Newman can write that,

  • 52 Ibid., 272.

One of the most important effects of Natural Religion on the mind, in preparation for Revealed, is the anticipation which it creates, that a Revelation will be given. . .This presentiment is founded on our sense, on the one hand, of the infinite goodness of God, and, on the other, of our own extreme misery and need—two doctrines which are the primary constituents of Natural Religion.52

  • 53 Ibid., 260–1.

39So it is that the expectation of a revelation, that is to say, of some initiative on the part of the divine, emerges, for Newman, as an ‘integral part of Natural Religion.’53

  • 54 Ibid., 81.
  • 55 Ibid., 313; T. Merrigan, ‘“One Momentous Principle Which Enters Into My Reasoning”: The Unitive Fun (...)

40Newman was convinced that only the Jewish-Christian tradition could satisfy the religious hunger engendered by the experience of conscience. Indeed, he insisted that the ‘image’ of God provided by natural religion is but ‘twilight’ in comparison to ‘the fullness and exactness’ of ‘our mental image of the Divine Personality and Attributes’ furnished by ‘the light of Christianity.’54 On a number of occasions throughout his life, Newman reflected on the inability of ‘natural religion’ to relieve the ‘disquiet’, as it were, generated in the hearts of its adherents. These included conscience’s lack of a sanction, beyond itself, for its elevated claims about the Moral Governor and Judge. These are therefore prey to societal pressures and to the individual’s own inclination to abandon the moral ideal as impracticable. In an early University sermon, (and it would seem, again in the Grammar of Assent), Newman maintains that it is, above all, the obscurity of the object of one’s religious instincts and aspirations, that is, the dearth of information about God’s ‘personality’, which saps one’s moral resolve and raises the specter of the futility of the moral and religious enterprise. Elsewhere, it is the sense of one’s culpability and one’s inadequacy to the moral task which exposes natural religion’s inherent insufficiency. In all three cases, Newman proposes that the only adequate complement to the essentially incomplete natural religion of man is ‘revealed’ religion, which is to say, ‘the doctrine taught in the Mosaic and Christian dispensation, and contained in the Holy Scriptures,’ which does not supplant, but builds on, nature’s authentic teaching.55

  • 56 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 47; T. Merrigan, ‘Revelation’, in I. (...)

41There is, then, no essential discontinuity between natural and revealed religion. ‘In Christians themselves,’ Newman writes, natural religion ‘cannot really be separated from their Christianity.’ Indeed, Newman describes the ‘true Christian’ simply as one who ‘enthrones the Son of God in his conscience’ and ‘who has faith in him, [so] as to live in the thought that He is present with him. . .in his innermost heart, or in his conscience.’ In both cases, the subject ‘reaches forward to something beyond itself,’ and precisely in this movement discovers its true self. In other words, in the case of Newman, religious introspectiveness is the gateway to the acknowledgement of the transcendent God, an ‘external being who reads [the subject’s] mind, to whom he is responsible, who praises and blames, who promises and threatens.’56

3.2 The Ethical Dimension of the Experience of Conscience

  • 57 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 60–3, 103–4.
  • 58 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 61.

42The apprehension of God in the phenomena of conscience is not the product of a rational analysis of our experience (though such an analysis could, according to Newman, issue in a proof of God’s existence). It is instead an immediate, existential awareness—Newman calls it an instinct or intuition57—that we stand before One who is to us as a father, One in whose presence we feel a ‘tenderness almost tearful on going wrong, and a grateful cheerfulness when we go right.’58

  • 59 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 107–112.

43There is no suggestion here of a private revelation or of some sort of mystical encounter with God. The experience of conscience is, in Newman’s view, a universal phenomenon, a ‘mental act’ constitutive of our self-conscious life in the same way, and with the same claim to authenticity as memory, sensation and reasoning. God is present as the source of the phenomenon, and the person, most obviously the child, who has been secured from influences hostile to religion or moral behavior spontaneously apprehends Him in the sanction (and its attendant emotions) which accompanies his or her decisions. Hence, conscience is described as the ‘voice’ of God, or the ‘echo’ of God’s voice in us.59

  • 60 Ibid., 105; J. H Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, op. cit., 260–1.

44Newman acknowledged that his claim on behalf of conscience, namely, that ‘it has a legitimate place among our mental acts,’ or alternately expressed, ‘that we have by nature a conscience,’ constituted an unproved ‘assumption’, a ‘first principle,’ the rejection of which made further discussion meaningless.60 He makes no apology for this. As early as 1851 in his Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England he declared that to think at all one must be possessed of at least some ‘opinions which are held without proof,’ and these are rightly called ‘first principles.’

  • 61 J. H Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, op. cit., 256.

If you trace back your reasons for holding an opinion, you must stop somewhere; the process cannot go on forever; you must come at last to something you cannot prove, else life would be spent in inquiring and reasoning, our minds would be ever tossing to and fro, and there would be nothing to guide us. No man alive, but has some First Principles or other.61

  • 62 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 349.

45Of course, for Newman the ‘inevitability’ of ‘first principles’ does not divest the individual of responsibility in regard to them. It is basic to Newman’s philosophical outlook that humanity is ‘emphatically self-made,’ and charged with the task of ‘completing his inchoate and rudimental nature, and of developing his own perfection out of the living elements with which his mind began to be.’62 Where conscience is concerned, the implications of this principle are staggering. Not only is it one’s ‘sacred duty’ to acknowledge conscience’s legitimate place among those ‘living elements’ with which the mind begins (in accordance with ‘the law of our being’), the failure to do this prejudices, if it does not entirely pervert, the elaboration of a whole body of derivative principles. For Newman then, the task of thinking soundly is, from the outset, a moral, as well as a practical imperative, one to be fulfilled most ‘conscientiously’ in fidelity to our being:

  • 63 J. H Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, op. cit., 256.

Certainly [first principles] are not necessarily true; and, again, certainly there are ways of unlearning them when they are false: moreover, as regards moral and religious First Principles which are false, of course a Catholic considers that no one holds them except by his own fault.63

46Newman explains that the experience of conscience provides one only with a ‘picture’ or ‘image’, that is, an idea, of God. The ‘fact’ of God’s existence remains therefore an object of faith or belief. What is more, Newman was well aware that the condition of possibility of such an image is determined, in no small measure, by individual temperament, and by the circumstances and environment in which the individual grows toward moral responsibility.

  • 64 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 115.

How far this initial religious knowledge comes from without, and how far from within, how much is natural, how much implies a special divine aid which is above nature, we have no means of determining. . .Whether its elements, latent in the mind, would ever be elicited without extrinsic help is very doubtful.64

  • 65 Ibid., 116.

47Newman insists that the ‘image’ of God must be expanded, deepened and completed ‘by means of education, social intercourse, experience, and literature.’65 The fact of God’s existence, on the other hand, while it remains an object of faith, recommends itself to the individual with an almost irresistible force. Indeed, the evidence supporting it, as a constitutive feature of one’s mental life, is more reliable than the evidence for an external world furnished by one’s sense impressions:

  • 66 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 39, 41–2.

What is internal to the mind is an object of consciousness, which external things are not. Thus the line is broad and deep between the reliance on reason or conscience and upon the trustworthiness of the impressions of the senses or the reality (existence) of matter. Hence the being of God, arising out of what is internal, is an external fact different in evidence (proof) from every other external fact.66

Or again:

  • 67 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 390.

Conscience is nearer to me than any other means of knowledge; and being carried about by every individual in his own breast, and requiring nothing besides itself, it is thus adapted for the communication to each separately of that knowledge which is most momentous to him individually. . .67

  • 68 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 43; J. H. Walgrave, ‘Con (...)

48So Newman can write that the existence of God ‘is more intimately connected with the nature of the human mind itself than anything else, and while it is to be received on faith, hardly is so (in fact),’ and Walgrave can marvel at Newman’s ‘astonishing’ view that, in the order of certitudes, the belief in an external world occupies the third place after the certitude of one’s own existence, and of the existence of God.68

4 The Imagination and the Test of History

4.1 The Appeal to History

  • 69 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 80, 82, 88.

49Newman was well aware that the fruits of the imagination, however vivid, need have no counterpart in reality. There is no guarantee whatsoever that they correspond to ‘things as they are’. Indeed, the fruits of the imagination are decidedly personal in character, peculiar to individual temperaments and capacities. This is, of course, their strength, but it also constitutes a problem since, as Newman himself acknowledges, the ‘demagogue’ or the ‘fanatic’ can be as convinced as the ‘hero’ or the ‘saint’ that the imaginary really exists and commands his total commitment.69

  • 70 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 7, 8.

50It seems to me that Newman’s solution to this problem was the study of history, including, of course, the study of the scripture. This was perfectly in keeping with the empirical or experiential character of Newman’s thought which we discussed at the outset. For Newman, the imaginary, to be credible, cannot remain merely a creation of the mind. It must instead come to at least partial expression in a visible, social form. This is the proof of its ‘reality’, so to speak, but it is also the occasion for its critical assessment. This explains not only Newman’s assertion the Anglican via media was but a ‘paper religion’ (that is to say, that it had no real existence); it is also the basis of his combative claim, in the Essay on Development, that, ‘To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.’ The Protestants’ ‘despair’ of history, Newman asserts, ‘is shown in the [Protestant] determination . . . of dispensing with historical Christianity altogether, and of forming a Christianity from the Bible alone.’70 In other words, Newman felt that the Protestant ‘idea’ (or ‘image’) of the Church had no grounding in history, no past—no reality. It was, so to speak, ‘purely’ imaginary and, as such, could not claim to be continuous with the ‘real’ Church of Christ.

  • 71 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 102.
  • 72 Ibid., 110.

51In the Grammar of Assent, Newman posed the celebrated question, ‘Can I believe as if I saw?’71 There, the object of belief is nothing less than the ‘being of God.’ Newman’s answer to his own question is, as we have seen, a resounding ‘Yes’, and his justification of that answer is his analysis of the way in which God is manifest in the phenomena of conscience through the mediation of the imagination. The experience of conscience serves to ‘impress the imagination with the picture [or ‘image’] of a Supreme Governor, a Judge, holy, just, powerful, all-seeing, [and] retributive.’72

  • 73 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 3; our emphasis.
  • 74 Ibid., 29.

52It seems to me that what Newman sought with regard to the very being of God, namely, some «object» as real as the objects of sense perception (‘sight’), he also sought with respect to the ‘Image or idea’ of Christ ‘imprinted in the minds’ of the first believers, namely, some experiential manifestation of its reality, of its rootedness in history. And this is, indeed, the whole point of the Essay on Development. As Newman declares in the very first sentence of the book, ‘Christianity has been long enough in the world to justify us in dealing with it as a fact in the world’s history.’73 Later, he describes the Essay as an attempt to ‘consult history for the true idea of Christianity.’74 This does not mean that historical research, understood as the accumulation of data, determines either the ‘true idea of Christianity’ or the extent to which that idea has been realized in history. What Newman has in mind is what he himself probably would have described as a ‘view’ of history.

  • 75 N. Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, Penguin Modern Classics, Toronto: Penguin Canada (...)
  • 76 N. Lash, ‘Literature and Theory: Did Newman have a “Theory” of Development?’, in J.D. Bastable (ed. (...)

53What is striking in Newman’s account of his disillusionment with Anglicanism and in his analysis of doctrinal development in the Essay, is his appeal to what might be described as a ‘typological’ understanding of history. Northrop Frye has said of typology that it is both ‘a mode of thought’ and ‘a figure of speech.’ He explains this by pointing out that ‘a mode of thought does not exist until it has developed its own particular way of arranging words.’ Typology, therefore, is ‘a form of rhetoric.’75 It comes to expression in a particular style of reasoning (geared to persuasion) and a particular style of narration (characterized by a selective presentation of instances—or topoi—designed to illustrate the case being made). In this regard, it is interesting to note that a number of authors have described the Essay on Development as ‘more literary than “scientific” in its method and tone.’ Nicholas Lash says that Newman’s ‘method of argument in the Essay is, for most of the time, fugal in character.’ As Lash explains, Newman ‘seeks, within the texture of the argument, to hold together as wide a range as possible of distinct “aspects”.’ Lash attributes this fugal approach to Newman’s ‘preoccupation with the “concrete”, [and] his preference for “starting with wholes”.’ This approach, Lash goes on, ‘is precisely characteristic of literary (or “real”) as distinct from “theoretical” (or “notional”) patterns of argument.’76

  • 77 W. Jost, Rhetorical Thought in John Henry Newman, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, (...)
  • 78 N. Lash, ‘Faith and History: Some Reflections on Newman’s «Essay on the Development of Christian Do (...)

54In a similar vein, Walter Jost, in his Rhetorical Thought in John Henry Newman, claims that Newman, in the Essay, understands history not as ‘abstract theory or “science”,’ but as the application of ‘prudence and judgment to know the concrete.’ For that very reason, the character and ‘prejudices’ (in the Gadamerian sense of that term) of the historian can never be discounted. Newman is determined to give history its due, but he never loses sight of ‘the tension between the demands of belief and those of scientific history.’77 As Lash explains, Newman realized that if the believing historian ‘attempts a “neutral” stance, prescinding from issues of belief or unbelief, he will in fact tend to adopt the interpretive viewpoint of unbelief, or at least will be too easily understood to do so.’ Newman is determined to submit to the tension between belief and history. He refuses, therefore, to create ‘some third world, in which the interpretation of doctrinal history may claim immunity from the historian’s questions and assessments.’78

  • 79 N. Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, op. cit., 106, 108.
  • 80 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 40.

55But typology involves more than style. As Frye points out, ‘Typology is a figure of speech that moves in time: the type exists in the past and the antitype [i.e., the ‘realized form’ of the type] in the present, or the type exists in the present and the antitype in the future. What typology really is as a mode of thought, what it both assumes and leads to, is a theory of history, or more accurately of historical process: an assumption that there is some meaning and point to history, and that sooner or later some event or events will occur which will indicate what that meaning or point is, and so become an antitype of what has happened previously.’79 This is not the same as a linear view of history. The typologist sees history as a process in which the realization of the type is regularly thwarted though never completely frustrated. The history of an idea is the drama of an idea advancing and retreating. In Newman’s words, ‘it is elicited and expanded by trial, and battles into perfection and supremacy.’80

  • 81 D. Lessing, ‘Preface’, in The Golden Notebook, Harper Perennial Modern Classics Edition, London: Ha (...)
  • 82 N. Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, op. cit., 72.
  • 83 J. H Newman, The Via Media of the Anglican Church, op. cit., 1: xli.

56In the case of Christianity, the ‘image’ or ‘idea’ is, in Newman’s view, a dynamic and living principle since it is rooted in the incarnate and risen Christ. It can never be, as Doris Lessing said of the idea of Marxism, ‘so thoroughly absorbed [by society that it] is finished as a force.’81 In this regard, one may say of it what Frye says of ‘myth’, namely, that it ‘relates not to the actual but to the possible,’ or at least that it enables us ‘to see the dimension of the possible in the actual.’ As such, it constitutes ‘a program of action,’ a program which ‘may often set itself in opposition to history.’82 That being said, there is one fundamental difference between Frye’s myth and Newman’s ‘image’ or ‘idea’. While the former has no historical moorings (though it may have vague historical roots), the latter realizes itself in history, in space and time, and manifests itself, among other things, ‘as a worship,. . .a theology and schools of learning,. . .and as an ecclesiastical polity.’83

  • 84 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 30.
  • 85 In his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (op. cit., p. 30), Newman calls the ‘theory o (...)

57Newman, the typologist, struggled to identify the ‘ecclesiastical polity’ (i.e., the church) with the greatest claim to constitute the ‘antitype’ of the apostolic church. His decision in this regard was predicated on the imaginative reconstruction of that church but, as the Essay on Development testifies, it was more than a flight of fancy. It also involved a thorough reflection on church history and the proposal of a ‘hypothesis’84 that is (and has been since its inception) subject to historical testing.85 Of course, the outcome of the process of testing depends to no small degree on the judgmental capacity of the researcher. Newman was profoundly aware of this fact and devoted considerable attention to an analysis of the judgmental process.

4.2 The Appeal to Reason

  • 86 C.S. Dessain, ‘Cardinal Newman on the Theory and Practice of Knowledge: The Purpose of the Grammar (...)
  • 87 J. H Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 24, 26; (...)

58Especially during his Catholic life, Newman reflected at length on the kind of ‘intellectual’ formation that is required to enable one to adjudicate wisely between rival claimants to truth. His efforts in this regard found their fullest expression in his development of the notion of the illative sense, what Newman once described as ‘our natural judgment sharpened by experience.’86 The ‘experimental’ roots of the illative sense mean that it is always ‘attached to definite subject-matters, so that a given individual may possess it in one department of thought, for instance, history, and not in another, for instance, philosophy.’ An individual’s proficiency in a given area will, of course, depend on his or her particular gifts and his or her familiarity with the terrain. The nature of the terrain is, in turn, determinative of the form that the reasoning process takes. ‘Sometimes it is sagacity, sometimes common sense, strong sense, shrewdness, acuteness, penetration; [these] are all terms denoting it in different subject matters.’87

  • 88 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 353–5.

59Clearly, there is room for progress, for the honing of one’s ratiocinative skills. The illative sense can therefore be described as an ‘acquired habit,’ a talent born of application, though it may also be a ‘natural, uncultivated faculty. . .approaching to a gift.’ Those possessed of it need not, of course, exercise it in any systematic or distinctly methodical fashion. Indeed, in general, it manifests itself after the manner of an intuitive apprehension of the truth.88

  • 89 J. Hick, Faith and Knowledge: A Modern Introduction to the Problem of Religious Knowledge, Ithaca: (...)
  • 90 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 301, 325, 327, 332, 337, 372.
  • 91 Ibid., 361.
  • 92 Ibid., 342, 344–5.

60As John Hick correctly observes, the reasoning of the illative sense ‘does not consist in acquiring Cartesian ‘clear and distinct ideas’. . ., but rather in appreciating the drift of a miscellaneous mass of evidence.’ It involves the ‘capacity to see a large field of evidence as a whole and to divine its significance.’89 It involves, in short, an ‘imaginative’ or ‘synthetic’ dimension. Newman speaks of the illative sense ‘grasping’ ‘the full tale of premisses and the conclusion per modum unius,’ of the ‘coalescence of the evidence into a proof,’ of seeing conclusions ‘at a glance,’ of converting ‘a chaos into an orderly and luminous whole.’90 All of these terms and phrases are reminiscent of the discussion of the prehending imagination in the preceding sections of this paper, and certainly encourage one to ascribe to the illative sense an imaginative dimension. They do not, however, justify any equation of the imagination—which, as we have pointed out, can as easily fabricate mental fictions as it can create representative images of real things—with the illative sense. The latter is quite simply ‘the reasoning faculty, as exercised by gifted, or by educated or otherwise well-prepared minds’—’a grand word for a common thing,’ Newman once said of it.91 In short, the illative sense is ‘right judgment,’ the active recognition of the truth, ‘such as is the duty of each individual himself to exercise at the bidding of reason, and, when reason forbids, to withhold [it].’92

61Newman’s own intellectual history—and his writings—might be read as a testimony to his endeavor to do justice to both the imaginative and ratiocinative dimensions of this process of judgment.

5 ‘The Theology of a Religious Imagination’

  • 93 Ibid., 117.

62In his major study of epistemology, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (1870), Newman spoke of the great benefits to be gained from what he described as ‘the theology of a religious imagination.’93 As we indicated at the outset, the very mention of the imagination as a tool for theology was very nearly unthinkable in Newman’s day. And even in our day, the juxtaposition of theology and imagination may strike many (at least many theologians) as unusual. Though the theme of the imagination has now made great inroads into theology, it is still unusual to find authors who link discursive thought and imaginative apprehension of the religious ‘reality’ as closely as Newman did. In my opinion, it is precisely his determination to hold these two together that constitutes Newman’s greatness and his enduring legacy. It also accounts for Newman’s (potential) appeal to those engaged in the study of literature.

  • 94 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 36–8.

63Newman provides an original and compelling reflection on the way in which the ‘imaginary’ comes to be and exercises its power over those who engage with it. But he also provides an equally original and compelling reflection on the limits of the imaginary. For Newman, the imaginary is a ‘pure’ fiction as long as it does not come to expression in some visible, social form. It is not enough for an imaginative paradigm ‘to illumine’ one’s own life and one’s own world. It must come to expression in, and challenge the flow of, human history. It must do more than ‘arrest and possess the mind.’ It is not enough that it ‘be received passively in this or that form into many minds.’ It must become ‘an active principle within them, leading to an ever-new contemplation of itself, to application of it in various directions, and a propagation of it on every side.’ In Newman’s words, the imaginary, if it is to have any claim to power or significance, if it is to have any claim on reality, must ‘in proportion to its native vigor and subtlety, introduce itself into the framework and details of social life, changing public opinion, and strengthening or undermining the foundations of established order.’ In the course of time, Newman insists, the imaginary with any claim to authenticity ‘will have grown into an ethical code, or into a system of government, or into a theology, or into a ritual. . .and this body of thought, thus laboriously gained, will after all be little more than the proper representative of one idea, being in substance what that idea meant from the first, its complete image as seen in a combination of diversified aspects, with the suggestions and corrections of many minds, and the illustration of many experiences.’94

64In short, the imaginary with any claim to move us or to inspire (or convert) us must—quite literally—become history and continue to ‘make’ history. This is the only proof of its vitality and of its relevance. Of course, once it becomes history, the imaginary is subject to the judgment of history. It was Newman’s acknowledgement of this fact that prompted him to undertake the daring theological experiment that he conducted in the Essay on Development. And given the dynamic character of any truly living idea, it is an experiment that all those who endorse such an ‘idea’ (whether it be Catholicism or socialism or ‘human rights’, etc.) mutatis mutandis must repeat. Concretely, this means that the defenders of ‘great ideas’ and all those who appeal to the power of the ‘imaginary’ cannot neglect the study of history, and that any and all truth claims must, so to speak, be ‘enfleshed’ or ‘incarnated’ in history if they are to be at all credible.

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Bibliographie

Barth, J. R. Coleridge and Christian Doctrine. Cambridge: MS: Harvard University Press, 1969.

Coleridge, S. T. Biographia Literaria, 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press, 1958.

Coleridge, S. T. Shakespearean Criticism, ed. T. M. Raysor, 2nd ed., 2 vols. London: Dent, 1960.

Coulson, John. Religion and Imagination: ‘in aid of a grammar of assent’. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.

Daly, G. ‘Newman, Divine Revelation, and the Catholic Modernists,’ in Newman and the Word, ed. Terrence Merrigan, Ian Ker, Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, 27. Leuven: Peeters; Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000, 49–68.

Dessain, C. S. ‘Cardinal Newman on the Theory and Practice of Knowledge: The Purpose of the Grammar of Assent,’ Downside Review, 75, 1957, 1–23.

Ferreira, M. J. ‘Newman and William James on Religious Experience: The Theory and the Concrete,’ Heythrop Journal, 29, 1988, 44–57.

Frye, N. The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, Penguin Modern Classics. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2007.

Hick, J. Faith and Knowledge: A Modern Introduction to the Problem of Religious Knowledge. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1957.

Houghton, W. J. ‘Style and the Dramatic Re-creation of the Past,’ in J. H Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua, Ed. D. J. Delaura. New York: W.W. Norton, 1968.

Jost, W. Rhetorical Thought in John Henry Newman. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1989.

Lash, N. ‘Faith and History: Some Reflections on Newman’s ‘Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,’ Irish Theological Quarterly, 38, 1971, 224–241.

Lash, N. ‘Literature and Theory: Did Newman have a “Theory” of Development?,’ in Ed. J. D. Bastable, Newman and Gladstone: Centennial Essays, Dublin: Veritas, 1978, 161–175.

Lash, N. ‘Tides and Twilight: Newman Since Vatican II,’ in Newman after a Hundred Years, Ed. Ian Ker, A. G. Hill. Oxford: Clarendon, 1990, 447–464.

Lessing, D. ‘Preface’ in The Golden Notebook, Harper Perennial Modern Classics Edition. London: Harper, 2007.

Lonergan, B. ‘Revolution in Catholic Theology,’ in A Second Collection: Papers by Bernard J.F. Lonergan, Ed. W. F. J. Ryan, B. J. Tyrrell. London: Longman, Darton & Todd, 1974, 231–238.

Merrigan, T. ‘One Momentous Principle Which Enters Into My Reasoning’: The Unitive Function of Newman’s Doctrine of Providence,’ Downside Review, 108, 1990, 254–281.

Merrigan, T. Clear Heads and Holy Hearts: The Religious and Theological Ideal of John Henry Newman. Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, 7, Leuven: Peeters; Grand Rapids, MN: W.B. Eerdmans, 1991.

Merrigan, T. ‘Newman and Religious Experience,’ in L. Boeve & L. P. Hemming (eds.), Divinising Experience: Essays in the History of Religious Experience from Origen to Ricœur. Leuven: Peeters, 2004, 132–145.

Merrigan, T. ‘Revelation,’ in I. Ker & T. Merrigan (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to John Henry Newman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 47–72.

Newman, J. H. Parochial and Plain Sermons, 8 vols. London: Rivingtons, 1877.

Newman, J. H. Fifteen Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford. London: Rivingtons, 1890.

Newman, J. H. The Present Position of Catholics in England. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899.

Newman, J. H. Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1901.

Newman, J. H. Apologia pro Vita Sua. London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1902.

Newman, J. H. Essays Critical and Historical, 2 vols. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1910.

Newman, J. H. The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, ed. Edward Sillem, 2 vols. Louvain: Nauwelaerts, 1970.

Newman, J. H. The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty. Oxford: Clarendon, 1976.

Newman, J. H The Via Media of the Anglican Church, 2 vols. Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, Inc., 1978.

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Walgrave, J. H. (1981), J. H. Newman: His Personality, His Principles, His Fundamental Doctrines: Course Delivered by Professor J. H. Walgrave, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.L.) 1975–1976–1977. Leuven, Belgium: K.U.L., 1981.

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Notes

1 B. Lonergan, ‘Revolution in Catholic Theology’, in A Second Collection: Papers by Bernard J.F. Lonergan, ed. W.F.J. Ryan, B.J. Tyrrell, London: Longman, Darton & Todd, 1974, 234.

2 N. Lash, ‘Tides and Twilight: Newman Since Vatican II’, in Newman After a Hundred Years, ed. Ian Ker, A.G. Hill, Oxford: Clarendon, 1990, 458, n. 40.

3 E. Przywara, Gottgeheimnis der Welt: Drei Vortrage über die geistige Krisis der Gegenwart, Munich: Theatiner Verlag, 1923, 173.

4 G. Daly, ‘Newman, Divine Revelation, and the Catholic Modernists’, in Newman and the Word, ed. Terrence Merrigan, Ian Ker, Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, 27, Leuven: Peeters; Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000, 66.

5 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, ed. Edward Sillem, 2 vols., Louvain: Nauwelaerts, 1970, 2: 23.

6 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, ed. Ian Ker, Oxford: Clarendon, 1985, 23, 25, 75.

7 D. Pailin, The Way to Faith: An Examination of Newman’s ‘Grammar of Assent’ as a Response to the Search for Certainty, London: Epworth, 1969, 122.

8 T. Merrigan, Clear Heads and Holy Hearts: The Religious and Theological Ideal of John Henry Newman, Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, 7, Leuven: Peeters; Grand Rapids, MN: W.B. Eerdmans, 1991, 48–81. Where Newman is concerned, both John Hick and John Coulson have warned against depicting mental operations as proceeding from distinct ‘faculties’, and it must be acknowledged that the attempt to do this involves one in all sorts of definitional tangles. In this regard one does well to recall Dorothy Emmet’s observations about precisely the same problem in Coleridge: ‘Coleridge does, it is true, sometimes speak of ‘faculties of the mind’ as though these were a set of separate instruments, but he also struggles against this way of talking—the different faculties are different ways in which the whole person behaves in knowing and perceiving. (Remember, “faculty” means “power”).’ (Dorothy Emmet, ‘Coleridge on Powers in Mind and Nature,’ in Coleridge’s Variety: Bicentenary Studies, ed. J. Beer, London: The Macmillan Press, 1974, 171. See John Hick, Faith and Knowledge, 2d ed., Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1966, 76; John Coulson, ‘The Meaning and Function of Imagination According to J. H Newman, and its Relation to his Conception of Conscience and the Church,’ in W. Becker et al. (eds.), Newman Studien, Heroldsberg bei Nürnberg: Glock und Lutz, 11, 1980, 53–61 See also Coulson’s ‘Belief and Imagination,’ Downside Review, 90, 1972, 1–14. The same ought to be borne in mind in Newman’s case, and, as the notes preparatory to the Grammar indicate, Newman did use the terms ‘faculty’ and ‘power’ interchangeably as early as 1868. Writing in 1885, he might even be said to have anticipated both Hick and Coulson: ‘A faculty . . . is the exercise of a power of the mind itself, and that pro re nata; and, when the mind ceases to use it, we may almost say that it is nowhere. Of course, for convenience, we speak of the mind as possessing faculties instead of saying that it acts in a certain way and on a definite subject-matter; but we must not turn a figure of speech into a fact.’ See J. H. Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, Oxford: Clarendon, 1976, 155, 135. Note the title of these reflections (p. 154): ‘On the Mind’s Faculties existing, not “re”, but “ratione”, and therefore only abstract names for its operations.’ To speak, then, of the imagination and other ‘faculties’, is not necessarily to advocate what Hick describes as a ‘discarded faculty psychology.’ In the final analysis, however, as Mary Warnock points out in her study, Imagination, ‘it is very hard to find a substitute for the vocabulary of faculty psychology.’ She is perhaps correct when she maintains that ‘in fact. . . such vocabulary is steadily becoming more innocuous as we more and more clearly recognize it as metaphorical.’ (See Mary Warnock, Imagination, London: Faber & Faber, 1976, 196).

9 J. H. Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 1: 210, 215.

10 S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 2 vols., London: Oxford University Press, 1958, 1: 304; 2: 16.

11 S. T. Coleridge, Shakespearean Criticism, ed. T.M. Raysor, 2nd ed., 2 vols., London: Dent, 1960, 1: 188 n. 1; S.T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, op. cit., 2: 16.

12 J. R. Barth, Coleridge and Christian Doctrine, Cambridge, MS: Harvard University Press, 1969, 22.

13 J. H. Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 137–8.

14 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 27.

15 J. H. Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 137–8.

16 Ibid., 135.

17 J. H. Walgrave, Newman the Theologian, London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1960, 110.

18 J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, London: Rivingtons, 1877, 166–71.

19 J. Coulson, Religion and Imagination: ‘in aid of a grammar of assent’, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1981, 65–6.

20 J. H. Newman, Fifteen Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford, London: Rivingtons, 1890, 330–1.

21 T. Merrigan, Clear Heads and Holy Hearts: The Religious and Theological Ideal of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 229–32.

22 J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989, 16, 38–9; J. H Newman, Roman Catholic Writings on Doctrinal Development, translation and commentary by James Gaffney, London: Sheed and Ward, 1997, 19; J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 22–30.

23 J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 41–54.

24 J. H. Newman, Essays Critical and Historical, 2 vols., London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1910, 2: 190, 192; J. H. Newman, Fifteen Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford, op. cit., 333.

25 J. Coulson, Religion and Imagination: ‘in aid of a grammar of assent’, op. cit., 51–2, 145.

26 Ibid., 51–2.

27 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 238.

28 Ibid., 89.

29 Ibid., 82.

30 J. H. Walgrave, J. H. Newman: His Personality, His Principles, His Fundamental Doctrines: Course Delivered by Professor J. H Walgrave, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.L.) 1975–1977, Leuven, Belgium: K.U.L., 1981, 102.

31 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 23–5, 103.

32 J. H. Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 42, 47.

33 M. J. Ferreira, ‘Newman and William James on Religious Experience: The Theory and the Concrete’, Heythrop Journal, 29, 1988, 51–2.

34 W. J. Houghton, ‘Style and the Dramatic Re-creation of the Past’, in J. H Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua, ed. D. J. DeLaura, New York: W.W. Norton, 1968, 433–4.

35 J. H. Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua, London: Longmans Green, & Co., 1902, 73; our emphasis.

36 J. H. Newman, Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, 2 vols, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1901, 1: 393.

37 J. H. Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua, op. cit., 115; our emphasis.

38 Id.

39 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 465–6.

40 J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 37.

41 J. H. Newman, The Via Media of the Anglican Church, 2 vols., Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, Inc., 1978, 1: xli.

42 J. H. Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899, 224.

43 J. H. Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 33, 43, 45, 63, 83.

44 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 74, 105; J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 49.

45 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 74, 76; our emphasis.

46 Ibid., 109.

47 Ibid., 79–80.

48 J. H. Walgrave, ‘La preuve de l’existence de Dieu par la conscience morale et l’expérience des valeurs’, in L’existence de Dieu, Cahiers de l’actualité religieuse, 16, Paris: Casterman, 1961, 117.

49 J. H. Walgrave, Newman vandaag, Marienburg’s Hertogenbosch: Geert Groote Genootschap, 1957, 25.

50 T. Merrigan, ‘Newman and Religious Experience’, in L. Boeve & L.P. Hemming (eds.), Divinising Experience: Essays in the History of Religious Experience from Origen to Ricœur, Leuven: Peeters, 2004.

51 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 258–60.

52 Ibid., 272.

53 Ibid., 260–1.

54 Ibid., 81.

55 Ibid., 313; T. Merrigan, ‘“One Momentous Principle Which Enters Into My Reasoning”: The Unitive Function of Newman’s Doctrine of Providence’, Downside Review, 108, 1990, 254–81

56 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 47; T. Merrigan, ‘Revelation’, in I. Ker & T. Merrigan (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to John Henry Newman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 47–72.

57 J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 60–3, 103–4.

58 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 61.

59 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 107–112.

60 Ibid., 105; J. H Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, op. cit., 260–1.

61 J. H Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, op. cit., 256.

62 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 349.

63 J. H Newman, The Present Position of Catholics in England, op. cit., 256.

64 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 115.

65 Ibid., 116.

66 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 39, 41–2.

67 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 390.

68 J. H Newman, The Philosophical Notebook of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 2: 43; J. H. Walgrave, ‘Conscience de Dieu et conscience de soi: Notes sur le “Cahier philosophique” de Newman’, Revue Thomiste, 79, 1971, 379.

69 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 80, 82, 88.

70 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 7, 8.

71 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 102.

72 Ibid., 110.

73 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 3; our emphasis.

74 Ibid., 29.

75 N. Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, Penguin Modern Classics, Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2007, 107.

76 N. Lash, ‘Literature and Theory: Did Newman have a “Theory” of Development?’, in J.D. Bastable (ed.), Newman and Gladstone: Centennial Essays, Dublin: Veritas, 1978, 163–4.

77 W. Jost, Rhetorical Thought in John Henry Newman, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1989, 134.

78 N. Lash, ‘Faith and History: Some Reflections on Newman’s «Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine»’, Irish Theological Quarterly, 38, 1971, 228.

79 N. Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, op. cit., 106, 108.

80 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 40.

81 D. Lessing, ‘Preface’, in The Golden Notebook, Harper Perennial Modern Classics Edition, London: Harper, 2007, 11. Doris Lessing provides an interesting parallel to Newman’s reflections on the historical ‘progress’ of great ideas. Speaking of Marxism, Lessing writes as follows: ‘But “Marxism” and its various offshoots has [sic] fermented ideas everywhere, and so fast and energetically that, once “way out”, it has already been absorbed, has become part of ordinary thinking. Ideas that were confined to the far left thirty or forty years ago [Lessing is writing in 1971] had pervaded the left generally twenty years ago, and have provided the commonplaces of conventional social thought from right to left for the last ten years. Something so thoroughly absorbed is finished as a force—but it was dominant.’.

82 N. Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, op. cit., 72.

83 J. H Newman, The Via Media of the Anglican Church, op. cit., 1: xli.

84 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 30.

85 In his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (op. cit., p. 30), Newman calls the ‘theory of development’ an ‘hypothesis to account for a difficulty.’ The ‘difficulty’ is the Catholic additions to the apostolic teaching. Newman’s solution is his analysis of the way in which a great idea is shaped by—and shapes—the flow of history.

86 C.S. Dessain, ‘Cardinal Newman on the Theory and Practice of Knowledge: The Purpose of the Grammar of Assent’, Downside Review, 75, 1957, 11.

87 J. H Newman, The Theological Papers of John Henry Newman on Faith and Certainty, op. cit., 24, 26; J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 341, 356–7.

88 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 353–5.

89 J. Hick, Faith and Knowledge: A Modern Introduction to the Problem of Religious Knowledge, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1957, 81.

90 J. H Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, op. cit., 301, 325, 327, 332, 337, 372.

91 Ibid., 361.

92 Ibid., 342, 344–5.

93 Ibid., 117.

94 J. H Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, op. cit., 36–8.

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Terrence Merrigan, « The Imagination in the Life and Thought of John Henry Newman », Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 70 automne | 2009, mis en ligne le 17 décembre 2018, consulté le 14 décembre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cve/4829 ; DOI : 10.4000/cve.4829

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Terrence Merrigan

Catholic University of Leuven
Terrence MERRIGAN
is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Catholic University of Leuven. He is the author of Clear Heads and Holy Hearts: The Religious and Theological Ideal of John Henry Newman (1991) and co-editor of Newman and the Word (2000), Newman and Faith (2004), Newman and Truth (2008), Godhead Here in Hiding: Incarnation and the History of Human Suffering (2009) and the Cambridge Companion to John Henry Newman (2009).

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