Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Liberal WHATS?

Yeah, that's what I said. The Liberal WHATs? Everyone talks about the liberal Arts. They mean history or literature, or what some call "fine arts" (painting, sculpture, drama, dance). I wonder what books they read. They must have missed the Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor, written around 1120 where he wrote this:
Book Three.
Chapter Three: Which Arts Are Principally to Be Read

Out of all the sciences above named, however, the ancients, in their studies, especially selected seven to be mastered by those who were to be educated. These seven they considered so to excel all the rest in usefulness that anyone who had been thoroughly schooled in them might afterward come to a knowledge of the others by his own inquiry and effort rather than by listening to a teacher. For these, one might say, constitute the best instruments, the best rudiments, by which the way is prepared for the mind's complete knowledge of philosophic truth. Therefore they are called by the name trivium and quadrivium, because by them, as by certain ways (viae), a quick mind enters into the secret places of wisdom.
No that is not a typo - it really does say "Which Arts" and "all the sciences". In fact the translator was so amazed he adds this footnote:
That Hugh uses the terms "art" and "science" interchangeably is evident from a comparison of the title and opening sentence of this chapter.
[Jerome Taylor, translator and annotator, The Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor: A Medieval Guide to the Arts]
Ah, indeed.

What are these Arts - or Sciences?

The Trivium were the three tools of eloquence: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic.

The Quadrivium were the four tools of knowledge: Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, Astronomy: the measure of Quantity, the measure of Ratio, (or quantity in time) the measure of Extension (or quantity in space), the measure of Motion (or quantity in both time and space).

Very interesting. We need to think about this some more. Maybe that chasm is a lot less impassable than has been thought.


At 26 September, 2009 10:48, Blogger blog nerd said...

The chasm is not so much a chasm as a gash or a wound that needs healing, and it resulted from first--the Enlightenment and the consequent scientism that someone we know was fond of ridiculing. And second Industrialism which found far more capital in the products of strict "science" than those of the "arts"

I've done some writing about how the Internet is actually healing this gash--and I have data that shows a web-wide "click-map" that demonstrates interdisciplinarity between the liberal arts and the sciences is occurring intuitively through "clicking through"--by which I mean, their are bridges made between domains on the internet entirely through user desire.

It's a second Renaissance in which both artificial and inefficient disciplinary divides are done away with and the knowledge of the past is brought into the present--I'm calling it the Technorenaissance for that reason.

We share a mission, it seems, to bring the arts and sciences back together. Cheers to that!


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