Anamnesis , a kind of peer-reviewed offshoot of Front Porch Republic, has an interesting essay on Newman and Aristotle. The former, Dwight Lindley argues, followed the latter’s categories of thought in developing his well-known theses about education, character, and knowledge, especially with regards to defending the (at least) partial intelligibility of tradition:

Any group or commonly held idea, then, given enough time and coherent development, behaves rather like a person, taking on an  êthos  of its own, within which its principles are embodied through its energizing activity. This is the way groups and ideas work because, for Newman, this is the way all human things work—according to the Aristotelian model of character.

Such a view of human personhood had important ramifications for Newman’s view of human knowledge. Most importantly, it meant that character was intelligible, and in a very particular way. That is, the fact that one’s ways of being-at-work, one’s habitual activities, correspond to his or her unmoving principles, makes that person’s future actions predictable, or probable, and this is what it means to have a stable character. For Newman, then, following Aristotle, ethical knowledge is  de facto  probable knowledge, while scientific knowledge, of the sort achieved through dialectical inquiry, attains a greater degree of exactitude; it is, properly speaking, demonstrable. According to Aristotle, therefore, many epistemological problems occur when one assumes the kind of demonstrability in ethical matters that one can only really attain in science. “One ought,” he says, “to be content, when speaking about [ethical matters], to point out the truth roughly and in outline, and when speaking about things that are so for the most part, and reasoning from things of that sort, to reach conclusions that are also of that sort”

You can find the full text  here .

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