John Henry Newman, the author of the essay entitled The Educated Man begins his essay in a way that was very contradictory to his times. He opens his essay boldly declaring that A University is not a birthplace to poets or immortal authors, of founders of schools, leaders of colonies, or conquerors of nations. In essence, what he is saying is that the university is not the birthplace of an educated man. This thought helps highlight his purpose for the remainder of the essay, to provide a pure definition, untainted by society, of what a true educated man is, as opposed to what he was considered in the Victorian Period.
I strongly agree with his essay, and its function of requiring the paper-machier-and-chicken-wire educated man of the Victorian Age to become molded of real substance. The essay continues to say [A university] does not promote a generation of Aristotles or Newtons, of Raphaels or Shakespeares Nor is it content on the other hand with forming the critic or experimentalist, the economist or engineer. This statement helps defend Newmans case. The names mentioned were all men who in some way changed the world.
Those of them who did receive a University diploma do not owe their success or education to the University they received it from. The task of the university was minimal, the true thing that made them become pinnacles of education was their own love for knowledge, and the traits they possessed as described throughout the rest of the essay. Today, men such as Martin Luther, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin can be added to the list. Albert Einstein, although considered on of the most educated men ever, never even finished middle school.
These accounts all make a case for Newman in arguing that the general definition of and educated man- a man who has received diploma and graduation from a college, as incorrect. One trait of Newmans educated man is that he is at home with any society and has common ground with every class. This idea is also contradictory to the thought of the time- that an educated man relates only to other educated men. I side with Newman on this issue also. A true educated man knows he may learn more about the anatomy of a fish from a poor fisherman than a Harvard grad.
He knows he may gain knowledge from all walks of life, and does not limit his knowledge imput to the ideas of just one class. Newman concludes his essay by saying, He has a gift which without which good fortune is but vulgar, and with which failure and disappointment have a charm. The fictional character Jay Gatsby, of Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby was proof of this. He was a man who had acquired good fortune without education, and it was indeed vulgar, as opposed to the charming life of Van Gough, whose artwork, although not rewarded with money during his lifetime, will forever be appreciated.
This view of Newmans was also contradictory of a time whos men would acquire go to a university simply because they have wealth, and who would never see a day of lack because the good fortune of inheritance. The good fortune then becomes unappreciated and vulgar. In dispelling Societys definition, Newman took it upon himself to create a substitute; an unaffected spiritual definition pulled from the same well that the definition of man in the constitution was pulled.
This essay is still valuable because the idea of an educated man is still a social title rather than a task to complete. He is still stereotyped by what theyve done, rather than what he is. Perhaps the beginning of educated men will remain where it has always begun, in the small cleft of a rock- such as Stratford-upon-Avon or Urbino, Italy, where one learns to ask questions, in pursuit of their answers stumble upon new worlds and ideas alike.