The Catholic University of America

Dissertation Defense: Ono Paul Ekeh

Final Examination of

Ono Paul Ekeh

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 125-15

Committee in Charge

Chair: William Dinges, Ph.D.

Secretary: Wendy Whiting Blome, Ph.D.

Director: John T. Ford, S.T.D., C.S.C.

Reader: Robert Sokolowski, Ph.D.

Reader: Rev. John P. Galvin, Dr. Theol.

Summary of Coursework

PHIL 781 Descartes' Science

PHIL 814 Aristotle's Metaphysics

PHIL 889 Husserl's Formal & Transcendental Logic

THEO 737 Spiritual Theology of John Henry Newman

THEO 812 Resurrection of Jesus in Contemporary Theology

PHIL 815 Medieval Philosophers Speak of God

PHIL 831 Husserl's Cartesian Meditations

THEO 883 Trinity in Western Tradition

THEO 897 Directed Readings in Theology: Mary in the Early Church

PHIL 737 Aquinas on God

PHIL 797 Metaphysics of John Duns Scotus

THEO 806 Theology and Hermeneutics

THEO 898 Directed Readings in Theology: John Henry Newman


"A Phenomenological Theology of the Trinity:

A Study in John Henry Newman and Edmund Husserl"

Ono Paul Ekeh, Ph.D.

Director: Rev. John T. Ford, S.T.D., C.S.C.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) is widely known for his essays on doctrinal development and education, which highlight important aspects of his thinking. However, his crowning philosophical-theological achievement was An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (1870), which synthesized a lifetime of reflection on issues of faith and the validity of belief in Christian doctrine.

Phenomenology, a philosophical school of thought established by the German philosopher, Edmund Husserl (1859-1939), is a type of philosophy that seeks to understand the world by engaging in precise descriptions of the relationship of human beings to and in their world. The starting point for phenomenological thinking is the actual state of affairs and not pre-existing mental "ideas."

In his Grammar of Assent, Newman sought to defend faith as a legitimate product of rational human activity. However, he stressed that the logic of faith differs from the logic found in mathematics or the sciences. Newman argued that certitude can be attained through a logic that would be unacceptable to science but is nonetheless valid in human affairs. An example of such certitude is Christian belief in the Trinity.

Newman, in his Grammar, displays a phenomenological approach in his theology. His simple and complex assents, and his examination of Christian belief in the Trinity follow a philosophical approach similar to Husserl's transcendental phenomenology outlined in his Formal and Transcendental Logic. One reason for the convergence in both thinkers' philosophy is that both thinkers were heavily influenced by British philosophers such as Locke, Hume, and Mill. Another reason is that Newman belonged to the Victorian transcendental school of thought which explains his emphasis on a transcendental approach to philosophy.

This study provides a way to better describe and utilize the genius of Newman by understanding his philosophical approach as phenomenological in the Husserlian vein.