Where Is Knowing Going? The Horizons of the Knowing Subject

Where Is Knowing Going? The Horizons of the Knowing Subject

Where Is Knowing Going? The Horizons of the Knowing Subject

Where Is Knowing Going? The Horizons of the Knowing Subject


Catholic institutions of higher learning are at a crossroads: How can they remain true to their roots while recognizing that many of their administrations, faculties, and student bodies have little connection with the tradition? How can these institutions remain competitive while maintaining a relationship to the Church?

During the past several years Catholic theologian John C. Haughey, SJ, has conducted groundbreaking research on these questions. He has done this in tandem with a team of Catholic scholars from around the United States. Haughey has also conducted numerous workshops with faculty at a dozen Catholic colleges and universities to learn firsthand about their research and teaching aspirations. Those relationships and conversations provide the foundation for this book's many insights.

In Where Is Knowing Going? Haughey explores what constitutes the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities. Going beyond a doctrinal understanding of Catholic identity to one that engages and is engaged by the intellectual tradition of Catholicism, Haughey does not find that the issue of Catholic identity is adequately dealt with by marketing the distinctive identities of institutions in terms of their founding religious orders or saints. He provides a sure-handed process whereby the pursuits of individual faculty can be better aligned with the formal mission of the institution.


This study is addressed to those who are educated enough to wonder whether they are really educated. It will be of interest to such people if they are curious about knowledge, particularly about its generation in the knowing subject, and not just about objects of knowledge or about being educated in some body of knowledge. Since this can seem very ambitious, let me explain where the particular ideas in this book came from, and why they ended up in a book with this peculiar subject matter, the knowing subject.

I started writing this book thinking about my experience in Catholic colleges and universities. I held chairs in three of them and taught in three others. in each of them there was a tension with Roman Catholicism, sometimes creative, but usually not. So, in a sense, my own experience is naturally narrow. My purview, however, is not, as I hope the reader will judge from the contents of this volume. I will start with the narrow and branch out from there. the narrow contents begin with the question of the Catholic identity of these institutions. Because, in my experience, very few of the personnel of Catholic universities were comfortable with the university’s relation to Catholicism, there has been a general, largely unnamed strategy in these institutions “not to push the Catholic thing.” the feeling was “why bother?” since so many, in fact the majority, of the university employees were not Catholic, and those who were Catholic were often not at peace with the Catholicism they had been exposed to by the press, their pastors, or the Church’s spokespersons. To put it inelegantly, the unarticulated strategy now seems to have become “let sleeping dogs lie.” Exceptions to that strategy have been infrequent, but even the best intentioned of these have caused tension or disharmony.

As a result, a general air of uncertainty tends to hang over these institutions, obscuring their identity. I say this with great respect for the administrators of such institutions, because it has not been clear what should be done. in sorting out an answer, I find that Catholicism has an interesting relation to the question posed in the title of this book. Catholicism is not the answer, but it does contain a reservoir that can help to answer questions the knowing subject has, about where knowing comes from in the subject and either where it is going or could go.

The more I have delved into this question, the more clearly I have seen that if Catholic institutions of higher education can sort out their identities in light of their . . .

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