Quadrivium


The following notes are from http://members.aol.com/oldenwilde/members/diu/quadriv.html, accessed Feb. 8, 2005:

"...a "liberal arts" education has always been meant, not to train one to perform specialized labor -- which is merely "vocational training --, but to liberate the mind. The word comes from Latin liber, a "free man", one who is not a slave...

"Originally the liberal arts were seven in number. They were divided into the three-fold Trivium of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, and the four-fold Quadrivium of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. These words mean, respectively, a three-way and a four-way crossroads... The Q was the basis of advanced education...

"The choice of these particular disciplines... Plato... Pythagoras... the study of these art/sciences awakens the mind to the intrinsic order of the cosmos, freeing it from its bondage to mere "shadows on the cave wall"... the seven liberal arts were... rescued and preserved by the monasteries through the so-called Dark Ages, to bloom in the Carolingian renaissance and yet again in the age of the cathedrals as the curriculum of the first universities...

"But they end rather suddenly in the 1600's, with the combined onslaught of the Christian "witch craze"... and the Scienctific Revolution... In the new world order, knowledge and truth could no longer be uncovered through the traditional reasoning of analogy and correspondence, but only through the revelation of the Bible or the proof of the test-tube... the habit of "pattern"-thinking was replaced by "straight-line" thinking, knowledge lost its unity and interconnectedness, and began to fragment into ever smaller specialties...

[The Quadrivium is all about] "holism, interconnectedness... "interdisciplinary" research and teaching, and the ability to reason analogically... [This is not only about analysis, which is taking things apart, but also synthesis, which is putting things together and seeing connections.]

"...the kinds of knowledge that the Q teaches truly do intersect with nearly every other field of study... The Q acts as a kind of "universal translating device," which -- because it represents all-pervasive patterns of order -- helps one to identify and build upon the most significant points of commonality between what one already knows and an unfamiliar new field or skill, and to penetrate the fog of jargon and terminology that so often obscures those points. It teaches you to recognize commonality and similarity, rather than the constant focus on distinctions" [synthesis]...

"Quadrivial discipline can be divided according to its "logic," its "grammar," and its "rhetoric." The logical branch is its scientific, "left-brain" side, the investigation into the laws by which it works; the rhetorical branch is its aesthetic, "right-brain" side, its expression of meaning and emotion, as well as its relationship to the spirit and soul; and the grammatical branch is the terminology and convention it uses, a neutral middle ground which draws on both the logical and the rhetorical branches."


The following is taken from http://www.cosmopolis.com/villa/liberal-arts.html, accessed Feb. 8, 2005:

"...philosophy was often envisioned as a metastudy that united all branches of knowledge..."


Colby Glass, MLIS