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NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 88 book reviews An Integrative Habit of Mind: John Henry Newman on the Path to Wisdom. By Frederick D.Aquino. Dekalb,IL:Northern Illinois University Press,2012. Pages x + 129. Cloth, $29.00. ISBN: 978–0–87580–452–1. As the title indicates,Aquino wants “to show how an integrative habit of mind, embedded in Newman’s thought, shapes the pursuit of wisdom” (12).To do this, he examines the personal and social conditions, intellectual virtues, educational ideals, and intellectual dispositions that can better effect reflective understanding,informed judgment, and “a connected view.” Newman’s philosophy of cognition and wisdom, specifically the stress on identifying meaningful patterns within a broader context of university education and human knowing,is a major source forAquino’s investigation and proposal. However, Aquino does not draw upon Newman’s vast corpus but only three texts: his Oxford University Sermons, The Idea of a University, and the Grammar of Assent. Newman’s writings are not subjects of extensive commentary but serve as reservoirs of serious ideas to consider how best to form those intellectually responsible for learning and teaching, especially in the university context. A constant refrain in the book is for students and teachers to acquire “the right state of mind and the evaluative qualities”that will enable them to reason—from grasping a particular set of claims to a comprehensive view of things—a motif of wisdom, echoing the guardians’ education in Plato’s Republic (90). In addition, Aquino sets ideas and themes from within Newman’s writings on wisdom and the philosophical habit of mind in constructive conversation and comparison with contemporary thinking in“epistemology, philosophy of cognition, and philosophy of education” (3). Consequently, this book is far more philosophical (though there are practical suggestions) than theological. The problematic aspect of Aquino’s argument concerns modernity’s crisis of authority. Specifically, one of the underlying themes of the book is the problem of what type of person will adjudicate disparate truth claims and how. This issue requires thinking through what “an integrative habit of mind” entails insofar as one navigates between radical subjectivism and unhealthy appeals to authority or narrowly tradition-specific discourse.Aquino agrees with Jeff Stout that “the modern flight from authority seeks to find an uncontaminated epistemic space” (33). His proposal does not resolve the “justified true belief” problem but acknowledges it. Aquino calls for thicker focus on epistemic reflection informed by dispositional habits joined to regulative, intellectual practices that become formative guides for productive interdisciplinary conversation and exchange. It is precisely in an “embodied particularism of informed judgment” that one might find an “antidote to the extremes.”Such particularism might promote the common pursuit of wisdom. In some respects, Aquino calls for intellectual formation as a process of purification, humility, and openness to wisdom’s plural paths. The book divides into three main chapters. The first chapter explores the 89 evaluative qualities of individuals as well as social conditions that help develop intellectual virtues and regulative habits. Specifically, Aquino highlights the importance of “intellectual honesty, open-mindedness, epistemic humility,” among others. One unavoidable issue is that of “particularity”: how can one person rooted in a tradition-specific way of living and thinking develop skills to engage the different perspectives of others, the radical pluralism of the modern world, with critical openness? For Aquino, one must develop and promote intellectual virtues such as love of knowledge,humility,and open-mindedness,intellectual honesty,etc.This point is critical since such virtues allow different individuals to co-exist and genuinely converse about fundamental questions, diminishing bias. Really cultivating the value of different insights as better contributing to and shaping one’s own is exactly the direction in which Aquino points. Intellectual formation and attention to virtuous dispositions become paramount. The second chapter—“a matter of proper fit”—describes the unreflective and reflective features of human knowing as judgments about particular situations. Aquino turns to a lengthy analysis of the illative sense’s “uncultivated” judgments (those made “automatically”) and “cultivated” judgments (those explicitly reasoned out). The more technical issue concerns our ability to synthesize bits of information unconsciously that inform our judgments as well as more disciplined awareness of where...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2153-6945
Print ISSN
1547-9080
Pages
pp. 88-90
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-22
Open Access
No
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