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Title: The moral formation of the intellectual appetite in Hugh of St. Victor, Philip Melanchthon, and John Henry Newman
Author: Williams, Brian
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Humans desire a variety of things: food, safety, pleasure, friendship, play, beauty, and so forth. Included among these is knowledge. This thesis is partially about trying to understand this desire to know, often referred to as the "intellectual appetite," and the ends toward which it should be directed. Like other appetites, the intellectual appetite can be morally ordered or disordered. When morally ordered, it is referred to as the virtue of studiositas, and when morally disordered, the vice of curiositas. If human persons possess an intellectual appetite, if what they know affects how they live, and if they undergo some kind of formal education, then it is reasonable for individual learners to critically consider who or what is forming their intellectual appetites and what they expect formal academic institutions to help them accomplish. Though the purpose of education is a perennial concern, the debate has intensified and widened in recent decades. Many of the popular visions of education that shape student expectations, animate academic institutions, inform local communities, and determine public policy restrict the scope of the intellectual appetite's tutelage. These visions often regard people as either detached intellects, political citizens, marketplace labourers, technological innovators, or moral and spiritual agents, and orient the process of education accordingly. The tradition of theological reflection on education, known as the "didascalic tradition," provides resources for thinking that people are each of these and more. This work examines how three influential Christian educators from different centuries and settings defend education's intellectual, practical, and moral ends. Hugh of St. Victor, a leading teacher at the twelfth century Abbey of St. Victor, authored an influential work that integrated the liberal and servile arts with the Christian narrative of creation and restoration. Philip Melanchthon, known as the Praeceptor Germaniae, was a Protestant Humanist professor of Greek at the sixteenth century University of Wittenberg and curriculum designer for over eighty schools and universities across Europe. John Henry Newman was a fellow at nineteenth century Oriel College, Oxford, founding rector of the Catholic University of Dublin and the Oratory School in Birmingham, and author of three volumes and numerous essays on university education. This thesis offers an integrated account of each educator's ideas and practices, synthesizes their major and minor works, compares and contrasts them with each other, and places them in dialogue with contemporary educational philosophers Martha Nussbaum and Stanley Fish. Both Nussbaum and Fish offer profound insights into education. However, Nussbaum's decision to harness the intellectual appetite for the political liberalism of John Rawls, and Stanley Fish's decision to harness it for the modern research university means that both fail to offer comprehensive accounts of education. In contrast, Hugh, Melanchthon, and Newman demonstrate that education can form the intellectual appetite to serve multi-dimensional intellectual, practical, and moral goods that foster human flourishing and the common good.
Supervisor: Biggar, Nigel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available