Seven Liberal Arts

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Seven Liberal Arts


the subjects taught in the medieval secondary school and in the arts faculties of universities.

The seven liberal arts were composed of two groups: the trivium, or lower studies—grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic —and the quadrivium, or higher studies—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. These groups were vestiges of the system of knowledge that had developed during the classical period. During the Middle Ages the content of the classical system, diverse and rich for its own time, gradually gave way to a limited number of elementary subjects, which were utilized for religious purposes. Grammar was treated as a subject necessary for an understanding of ecclesiastical books, and rhetoric as an aid for composing church sermons. Astronomy was utilized to determine the dates of the Easter holidays, and dialectic for disputes with heretics. To a great degree, arithmetic was used as an aid for the mystical interpretation of numbers.

In the late Middle Ages and especially during the Renaissance, the seven liberal arts in secondary schools and in the arts faculties of universities began acquiring a secular character. The system of the seven liberal arts was replaced by that of the classical Gymnasiums.

References in periodicals archive ?
45) The claim De Doctrina defends is that the careful reading of the Bible, which requires preparatory study in the seven liberal arts, is part of a moral project of caring for "true health of mind and body.
Where the seven liberal arts functioned as propaedeutic to philosophical contemplation in De Ordine, they now serve as a ladder for reaching the higher mysteries of Scripture in De Doctrina.
The Aristotelian division of philosophy into the natural, moral, and metaphysical sat uneasily with the older arrangement in which the seven liberal arts were simply regarded as aspects of philosophy.
Then Alcuin interprets the seven columns of Wisdom's house as the seven liberal arts.
Since his interpretation of the columns of Wisdom's house would be recognized as an innovation, Alcuin confirmed his assertion that the seven liberal arts lead the mind aloft to spiritual knowledge by introducing seven steps into the Bible's description of Wisdom's house.
For the place of Abelard's ethics in curricula of the seven liberal arts, see Blomme; and Potts.