Modern Languages | Modern Literature | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature
August 1, 2003.
Deals with the issue of freedom of conscience in two of its principal advocates in the modem English and Spanish-speaking worlds, John Henry Newman and Miguel de Unamuno. Seemingly strange bedfellows, in their respective linguistic communities Newman is considered an intellectual defender of institutional Christianity, while Unamuno is oft characterized as its greatest heretic. This dissertation is a comparative study of both writers from a historical-critical perspective. Our aim is to suggest that the heroic defenses of conscience by both Newman and Unamuno towards the end of their lives are a logical corollary to a succession of actions and writings from their youth onwards in the affirmation of the principles of free examination and personal choice against censorship, control and coercion. In our research on Newman's and Unamuno's thought on truth and life, religion and ideology, conscience and authority, we therefore pursue that living and developing intelligence by which they wrote, argued and acted. Hence, we chronologically apply their own literary and philosophical thought over a life-time of writings to their own actions in freedom of conscience in academic, religious and political settings. Academics and activists in defense of conscience, they bear witness to its deeper meaning as related in their books, poems and letters. Both were poets, polemicists, and philosophers. Above all, both were people, willing to pay the price of expulsion, exile and loneliness, in their search for truth in life and life in truth. Therefore, our approach is both literary and philosophical. In Newman and Unamuno, we respectfully shadow the development of their own autobiographical writings. Our focus is to analyze key periods of their lives in chronological order, combining principal writings and crucial decisions. Seeking out their views on conscience from childhood memories throughout philosophical classics, the agony of personal polemics, analyses of historical Christianity, poems in exile and heroic defense of conscience against authority, we find a consistency unto death. Conclusively, we wish to deduce a theory of freedom of conscience in Newman and Unamuno vis-à-vis, churches, states and universities, as applicable to all human beings independent, but inclusive, of their religious, political and academic convictions.
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Dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Texas Tech University.