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An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent Paperback – October 31, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Lash’s introduction to this recent reissue of Newman’s Grammar makes that work accessible to contemporary students of philosophy and theology alike. If one wishes a fresh perspective on the shape of the ‘critical questions’ facing philosophical theology, as well as an object lesson in the norms implicit in ordinary discourse properly employed, that person would be well advised to take up this century-old volume.” —Theological Studies


“The combination of Newman’s original genius, complemented by Nicholas Lash’s ability to focus his concerns onto ours, makes this edition a useful tool for teachers.” —America


“Here is presented one of the most famous 19th century statements of Christian apologetics, including a most influential analysis of the faith-reason controversy.” —Reprint Bulletin Book Reviews

Book Description

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a theologian and former Anglican clergyman who became a leading thinker in the Oxford Movement, which sought to return Anglicanism to its Catholic roots. This volume, first published in 1870, is Newman's seminal examination of the logical processes underlying religious belief. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press; 1 edition (October 31, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0268010005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0268010003
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
This "essay" is a tour d'force of the force of the power of inferential versus deductive reasoning. This is an unique aposteriori argument for the existence of God, but unfolds an argument in a manner wholly different from the past, such as Aquinas, for example. Newman is a very persuasive author, who uses his evidence judiciously and validly. People of faith will find this exposition worth the perspective.
But, this book can stand on its own as a superlative example of brilliant exposition, using Newman's usually elegant style, and enjoying a journey that seems unlikely from its impetus. The first chapter is particularly difficult, but after that, the reading is engaging and remarkable.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Scott Carson on March 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Cardinal Newman's An Essay In Aid of a Grammar of Assent is a classic of Christian epistemology, and deserves to be more widely read than it is. Unfortunately, the present reprint will not aid in the promotion of that goal. The book is printed on rather large paper, but the text itself has been reproduced photographically in such a way that it is virtually impossible to read it without a magnifying glass. Indeed, it is somewhat strange to open up such a large volume, only to find a tiny text surrounded by two- to three-inch margins of blank space all around. The waste of paper is enormous enough in its own right, but the waste of the buyer's money is unforgivable.

Prior to purchasing this item, I tried to examine it using the "Look Inside" feature available through Amazon.com. Sadly, Amazon rather unhelpfully shows you, not the text of THIS edition, but the text as drawn from a different edition, which appears to be of normal size. So there is no way to know, prior to purchase, exactly what one is getting.

I returned my copy for a full refund. It is possible to get the full text of Newman's classic in electronic form on the internet as a PDF file--FOR FREE.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on March 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
"A Grammar of Assent" by J. H. Newman is without doubt the most elegant, eloquent, and persuasive argument yet for the belief in God by any Christian philosopher. Despite its 19th-century origins, it remains one of the most modern of Christian philosophies yet. Gone are all references to Aristotle and Aquinas and their antediluvian methodologies of a priori logic to "prove" the existence of God and why it is supposedly "rational" to believe in such a God.

In its stead, Newman uses the Humean methodology of a posteriori inferences that lead one to believe that the "uneasiness" one feels (another Humean concept) about certain disturbances of the mind/soul that are attributable to the indwelling, or natural inclination, of the "conscience." From this natural inclination (again Hume) and by rational inference (Hume again), Newman posits step by step, and from different angles, that it is only a natural logical inference to assent to the belief in God. But it is the a posteriori experience of "conscience," not some a priori "proof," that leads the way.

Don't be put off by the rigorous prelude of the first-two chapters; they give considerable detail to the methodology Newman intends to use, which again is empirically oriented, not a priori logically deduced. The reading after that is a breeze, containing absolute wonderment at the level of perspicuity, rhetorical advantage, and logical nuances that infer God's existence from natural inclinations. It was, and remains, a revolutionary approach, and is a worthy work to include in any Christian's library.
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Format: Unknown Binding
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was an English Anglican cleric and a leader of the Oxford Movement; he converted to Catholicism in 1845 and eventually became a Cardinal. He wrote many influential books, such as Apologia Pro Vita Sua (An Image classic), The Idea Of A University: Defined And Illustrated, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, etc. This book was first published in 1870.

He states that "These so-called first principles, I say, are really conclusions or abstractions from particular experiences; and an assent to their existence is not an assent to things or their images, but to notions, real assent being confined to the propositions directly embodying these experiences." (Pg. 69) Later, he adds, "A dogma is a proposition; it stands for a notion or for a thing; and to believe it is to give the assent of the mind to it... It is discerned, rested in, and appropriated as a reality, by the religious imagination; it is held as a truth, by the theological intellect." (Pg. 93) He asserts that "Theology may stand as a substantive science, though it be without the life of religion; but religion cannot maintain its ground at all without theology." (Pg. 109)

He argues that "by believing the word of the Church...
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