John Henry Newman/Frederick Douglass Essay

Education, the Key to Freedom
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), two different men from two completely different back-rounds, yet one can glean from their writings that they both believed in the same principle; education is the key to freedom.   They both also believed that people should obtain as much knowledge as possible, however that is where the similarity of the two men ends, as they have very different views of what one should do with knowledge once it is acquired.   Newman, formally educated and committed deeply to both Catholicism and education, fought for what he felt was the perfect education system.   Whereas Douglass, a self-educated slave, fought for education on a more primitive level; for him freedom was the only way to survive and education being the key to freedom meant he fought for education for mere survival. One could argue that it is their varying definitions of freedom that brings about the differences in their philosophies and those definitions are deeply rooted in their back-rounds.
John Henry Newman believed education, in and of itself, was freedom, “Knowledge, if it be really such, is its own reward” (54).   To him, just having knowledge, even if it was never utilized for any specific purpose made a person free.   This belief was evident when he said, “Knowledge, is valuable for what its very presence in us does for us after the manner of habit, even though it be turned to no further account, nor subserve any direct end” (55).   He also had very strong opinions on the differences between and which is more valuable, useful knowledge or liberal knowledge.   Useful knowledge, he felt, was the basic knowledge that one must have to be employed, complete normal everyday tasks, and for just surviving in society.   He described it as, “Bodily labour, mechanical employment, and the like, in which the mind has little or no part” (56).   In contrast he said, “Liberal education and liberal pursuits are exercises of the...