85. The Thoughtful Heart. The Metaphysics of John Henry Newman with a fully annotated reader's text of Newman's Discursive Enquiries on Metaphysical Subjects. By William F. Myers. ISBN 978-1-62600-600-3. Paperback. 331 pages. Bibliography. Index. List price: $29.00
Unlike many of his contemporaries John Henry Newman was comfortable with evolution. This was just one aspect of his lifelong interest in science—Newton was something of a hero. Newman had also, of course, thought deeply about religion. So when, in the late 1850s and early 1860s, he began speculating about the nature of reality—and specifically about the relation between the physical and human worlds—he saw the need to combine a scientific understanding of the physical universe with a Christian understanding of the human person. The Notes he left about this difficult topic were made available in 1970, but they are hard to make sense of. This book presents a readable version of the Notebook and locates them in the cultural and intellectual context of the age. The Newman that emerges is an astonishingly modern thinker, whose ideas bear scrutiny in the light of major philosophical and scientific advances of the twentieth century, from Einstein and Wittgenstein to Turing and Dennett. The Thoughtful Heart opens new insights into Newman’s genius and argues that ‘materialism’ and the concept of a truly unified and radically free human being are not as incompatible as people have thought. Time, Newman wrote, “is necessary for the full comprehension and perfection of great ideas.” Perhaps this is the time for his own great ideas on metaphysics to be fully comprehended at last.
William Myers was born in Dublin in 1939 and brought up in England. He studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University, and began his career as a university teacher of English Literature at the University of Nottingham in 1964. In 1968-9, he was on the faculty at Loyola University, New Orleans. He moved to Leicester University in 1973, where he remained for the rest of his teaching career. He retired in 1999. He is a Deacon in the Diocese of Nottingham. He has published books on Dryden, George Eliot, George Farquhar, and Evelyn Waugh. His last book is a collection of essays on the literature, science, and philosophy of the nineteenth century. He is currently working on a study of Mark's gospel.