Date of Award
Master's Essay - Restricted
Master of Arts (MA)
Matthew L. Fowler
My first aim in a study of Newton was to grasp his epistemology which is developed in A Grammar of Assent. As Newton's epistemology is tightly connected with the problem of faith and reason, it seemed indispensable to analyze, first of all, his theory of the structure of human knowledge so that we can know how Newton explained the apparently antagonistic relationship between faith and reason. However, Newton's discourse is not an explanatory but a descriptive one, A Grammar of Assent is not an exception from Newton's usual method of descriptive writing even though it is somewhat explanatory, It was very difficult for me to analyze his treatise without any other method, Therefore I chose to pursue my study in comparison with an analysis of Bernard Lonergan.
Bernard Lonergan has followed Newton's path in his study of human knowledge, Insight. Lonergan wrote,
I...read several times the more theoretical passages in Newman's A Grammar of Assent. Newton's remark that a thousand difficulties do not make a doubt has served me in good stead. It encouraged me to look difficulties squarely in the eye, while not letting them interfere with my vocation or my faith, His illative sense later became my reflective act of understanding.
The central points in Newman's epistemology, which inspired Lonergan, are the nature of assent and religious belief. Newman, chronologically, is prior to Lonergan, but Lonergan's analysis is more systematic and developed, Newman's description is persuasive enough to show the implicit fact which precedes any theory concerning human understanding, but lacks such a critical explanatory thematization as Lonergan, Accordingly, I could not but show, first, Lonergan's explication in rather detailed way, Secondly.I traced fragmentarily scattered passages of Newman's theory and interpreted it in comparison with Lonergan's,
Aihara, Ryoko, "Newman and Lonergan: Their Epistemologies Compared" (1982). Master's Essays (1922 - ). 203.