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Essay on The Reward of a Liberal Education

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Newman defines liberal knowledge, or enlargement, as a cultivation or stimulation of the mind, with both mechanical (practical) and philosophical content, that builds an "intellect to reason well in all matters," develops character, brings about change, and lasts throughout life. (1.6.126-134, 2.1.50-52) Liberal knowledge is important because it brings a respect and balance to various disciplines of study, and aids in the pursuit of specific subject matters. This knowledge allows the learner to see their individual area of study in relationship to a whole. Liberal education does not compete with these disciplines but rather compliments them. (1.1.70-71) Ideally liberal education supports and open mindedness that promotes understanding and a willingness to entertain different ideas and perspectives. This philosophy can help to avoid what Newman describes as an exaggerated view of one subject allowing for critical evaluation of what is perceived. Enlargement opens the mind and allows it to "digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge," and by doing so become incorporated into, and a vital part of the environment. (1.9.687-695) This knowledge then becomes its own goal or reward, making it "desirable and worthy irrespective of the results." (1.6.141-448) "As we escape the pressure of necessary cares...we learn" (1.3.180-182) and it is this learning that "lasts through life." (1.1.80-81) Therefore, Newman's enlargement incorporates more than just rote learning of facts to seek truth and inter-connected meaning in the world. (1.9.656-660) As we process knowledge, discriminating between fact and fiction, it remains with us as a base for future reference.
Education, as Newman proposes, can take two distinct forms: philosophical which pr...


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...eral education I gain competency within my profession while finding a new center with a range of thoughts and perspectives I did not know existed. My liberal education can provide an appreciation and balance to my professional and personal endeavors. To limit the knowledge base is to intentionally stunt a fruit-bearing tree from growing bigger and stronger, and yielding a larger harvest. Newman discourse has allowed me to examine how liberal education does provide for my continued intellectual stimulation, foster consideration of various perspectives, and seek knowledge not merely for professional gain but for its own reward.


Works Cited
Gilbert, L. (Producer, Director). (1983). Educating Rita [Motion picture]. United States: Sony & Columbia Pictures.
Ward, L.L. (Ed). (1948). The uses of knowledge: John Henry Newman. Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson.


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