Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Book of the Moment #2
John Henry Cardinal Newman's An Essay in Aid of A Grammar of Assent. It has been over twenty years since I read this book and I still remember it as profoundly influencing my commitment to the Catholic Church. I wrote an essay in a epistemology tutorial coordinating some of Newman's ideas with St. Bonaventure's Itinerarium.

What Newman does in a nutshell is describe how we can be certain of things for which we do not have a air-tight scientific proof. What I remember is an emphasis on being convinced by a convergence of evidence, even when short of a syllogistic proof. I believe this is his famous illative sense. I can see how this would be very useful in apologetics. The prose is extremely dense, and a bit overblown in the way of much 19th century philosophical writings. I think Newman considered it his masterpiece. I'd like to read it again soon. Anyone want to read it with me?

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