The Imagination in the Religious Epistemology of John Henry Newman: A Basis for His Phenomenology of Belief

Dissertation, Saint Louis University (1996)

Although John Henry Cardinal Newman devoted himself to philosophical problems, he did so neither for their own sake, nor because of their inherent interest as theoretical problematics. Rather, his approach to philosophical subjects was from the vantage of a Christian apologist. In other words, he wrote from the perspective of a believing Christian who struggled to understand the degree to which, and the way in which, faith can be considered reasonable. In fact, it was because he believed that faith was reasonable that Newman was led to formulate a theory of knowledge. Within the context of his theory, Newman attributed a significant responsibility to the imagination for being the initial wellspring of religion in the mind, and for being the arbiter of the truth of a person's knowledge of the Object of faith. This study attempts to identify and describe the role Newman attributes to the imagination in the apprehension and verification of the Object of faith. ;This study will be presented in six chapters: after the introduction to the dissertation, there follows, an overview of the theoretical background which stimulated Newman to undertake the formulation of a theory of religious cognition. Having established this foundation, I shall investigate the role of the imagination as it functions to accomodate the conditions of assent . Toward this end, I shall situate the function of imagination within the context of "real apprehension," present a description of the nature of assent, including its relationship to the processes of reason , and provide an explanation of the activity of the imagination in the mind's assent to the truth of concrete reality, particularly the truth of the existence of God as a concrete reality. In conclusion, I shall offer some suggestions for the study of Newman's thought on imagination
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