2.2. Humanism: An educational program 2.2. Humanismen - ett utbildningsprogram

The Seven Liberal Arts

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The expression artes liberales, chiefly used during the Middle Ages, does not mean arts as we understand the word at this present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time. They are called liberal (Lat. liber, free), because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with the artes illiberales, which are pursued for economic purposes; their aim is to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term, i.e. the combination of philosophy and theology known as scholasticism. They are seven in number and may be arranged in two groups, the first embracing grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, in other words, the sciences of language, of oratory, and of logic, better known as the artes sermocinales, or language studies; the second group comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, i.e. the mathematico-physical disciplines, known as the artes reales, or physicae. The first group is considered to be the elementary group, whence these branches are also called artes triviales, or trivium, i.e. a well-beaten ground like the junction of three roads, or a cross-roads open to all. Contrasted with them we find the mathematical disciplines as artes quadriviales, or quadrivium, or a road with four branches. The seven liberal arts are thus the members of a system of studies which embraces language branches as the lower, the mathematical branches as the intermediate, and science properly so called as the uppermost and terminal grade. Though this system did not receive the distinct development connoted by its name until the Middle Ages, still it extends in the history of pedagogy both backwards and forwards; for while, on the one hand, we meet with it among the classical nations, the Greeks and Romans, and even discover analogous forms as forerunners in the educational system of the ancient Orientals, its influence, on the other hand, has lasted far beyond the Middle Ages, up to the present time.

Source: Catholic Encyclopedia

From Geoffrey Tory, Champ Fleury, first edition 1529. The Flageolet is a riddle in Virgil's Second Ecologue to explain harmony in letter forms and sciences. The length of the pipe, and its seven round holes refer to the letters "I" and "O".
Source: Numbers Menu

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© 2002 Mikael Hörnqvist
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