The 7 liberal arts, also known as the 7 areas of knowledge, are a series of studies and include astrological or zodiacal influences. The arts are a hidden foundation of civilization and have been from ancient Egyptian philosophers to the Greek and Roman civilizations throughout today. The areas include understanding concepts that remain mostly unknown ranging from the use of symbols to communicate to the study and measurement of planets and stars. They have been removed from study as knowledge about their existence is becoming more and more scarce.
Today, liberal arts colleges claim to be an example of a basic modern re-interpretation. Colleges making such claims include Oxford & Cambridge type of institutions rather than most universities. These universities claim to offer an elite education to students from wealthy families.
The arts are based on classicism and have been considered hidden to the average person who are classified as slaves, today known as the middle and lower classes. Those who were slaves or not completely free would never receive full education, therefore the curriculum was named the “Free” arts and sciences. With that being said, the higher aspects of the arts are esoteric, hidden even from upper class institutions.
With liber meaning free in Latin, the root in Liberty, the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences are composed of two families that are structured with a base of three, followed by the remaining four studies. The “3+4” structure is how the arts complement each other.
The basics of the first family of arts are composed as follows:
Grammar: Understanding. Including defining the rules used to construct phrases, sentences, words, and connects these elements to communicate ideas in a given language. An understanding of this first art is necessary for all others to be learned.
Dialectic/Logic: Reasoning. The reasoning which seeks to confront and contrast ideas, identify which is correct and which is not, remove ambiguity, and measure, compare, analyze, prove, and demonstrate facts with clarity. The word derives from the Greek logiké, feminine of logikos, “possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative”, and from logos, “word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle”. Grammar is the mechanics of a language; rhetoric is the use of language to instruct and persuade; logic is the “mechanics” of thinking clearly, of comparison and analysis.
Rhetoric: Explanation. It is the art of using language as a means to persuade. Once a student learns how to read and write properly, s/he is now prepared to manipulate words and sentences to express complex ideas. Mastering Rhetoric is an intermediate step before delving into the more complex domain of Logic.
Sister Miriam Joseph, PhD (1898-1982), a member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross and specialized in medieval education, described them as:
Logic is the art of thinking; grammar, the art of inventing symbols and combining them to express thought; and rhetoric, the art of communicating thought from one mind to another, the adaptation of language to circumstance.
The basics of the second family of arts are composed as follows:
Arithmetic – (from the Greek word for “number”) is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics, used for tasks ranging from simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations.
Geometry – (Ancient Greek geo, “earth”, and metria, “measure”) is a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, and relative position of figures and with properties of space.
Harmony / Music – (from the Greek mousike, “(art) of the Muses”) is an art form whose medium is sound organized in time. Music theory also relies considerably on mathematics, number theory and the laws of arithmetic.
Astronomy – (from the Greek words astron, “star”, and nomos, “law”) is the scientific study of celestial objects. Historically, astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as meteorology (study the weather), the motion of celestial objects, celestial navigation (in oceanic trade and exploration), the making of calendars and documenting historical facts, and even divining the future (astrology). In ancient thinking, it was considered to be the discipline of the motion of all objects through space and time. Astronomy/astrology was also critical to the study of philosophy and theology, as everything divine or spiritual came down from the heavens – without it what was left was considered as “earthly” and profane.
The Flow of the Three & Four Ways
The first three arts form what is known as the “three ancient arts of discourse”, or Trivium (Latin for “Three Ways” or “Three Roads”). From ancient Greece to the late 19th Century, the Trivium was a fundamental path of education. The Trivium was used to train public speakers and writers on how to direct audiences to action with their arguments. Philosophers, lawyers, public servants, leaders, military officers and teachers relied on the mastery of the Trivium to perform their duties and influence people.
The knowledge of discourse and persuasion coming originally from the schools of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates in ancient Greece. As Napoleon Bonaparte said, “By our words we rule the world”.
The Trivium was the beginning of the Liberal Arts, and at many medieval universities this would have been the principal undergraduate course. The Quadrivium would complete the student’s formal education.
The Trivium does not address any specific subject, instead it teaches the student to read and write, debate, compare, analyze and make conclusions about subjects. The teaching of the Quadrivium assumes that the Trivium has been fully mastered – now the student is properly prepared to explore other sciences.
Later in medieval times the study of logic, grammar and rhetoric was considered a prerequisite for the Quadrivium (Latin for “Four Ways” or “Four Roads”), which was made up of arithmetic, geometry, harmonics, and astronomy. At many medieval universities, this would have been the course leading to the degree of Master of Arts (after the BA).
To ignore this order would be the same as teaching advanced calculus before the student is familiar with basic arithmetic or knows how to read. This is the only way the student would receive formal education in ancient and medieval times, and this system has reflections echoed in our modern education system today. Once the seven arts and sciences were mastered, he would have completed his education path and would be a full or free man, able to better understand God‟s creation and its mysteries.
Considering the rise in complexity from basic grammar to measuring the motion of planets, it is natural to conclude that the learning process must follow “3 simple arts that enable you to master 4 complex sciences”, or still “3 arts to express, communicate and compare, which shall serve you as tools, plus 4 sciences that shall open the universe to be measured and understood”.
An Ahamo Original including direct quotations from The Northern Freemason.