Readings & Discussion Questions
Basic Pattern of 12th century and
The Seven Liberal Arts
Trivium ("The Three
Roads")--"The power of language"
- Grammar--basic structure and mechanics of
language; often subdivided into:
- Logic (Dialectic)--argumentation, analysis
of ideas and thought, public debate
- Rhetoric--persuasive speaking, literary
writing, formal speech; often subdivided into:
c) invention--development of ideas
e) memory-summary and mnemonic devices
Quadrivium ("The Four
Roads")--"The secrets of nature"
- Arithmetic--"number in itself"
- Geometry--"number in space"
- Music--"number in time"--particularly
the study of harmonics
- Astronomy--"number in space and
time"--including the music of the spheres
- Medicine (University of Salerno)
- Jurisprudence--Canon & Civil Law (University
Other forms of practical education:
The Seven Mechanical Arts:
weaving, blacksmithing, war, navigation, agriculture,
hunting, medicine--later dancing, wrestling, and driving.
The Seven Knightly Arts: riding, tilting,
fencing, wrestling, running, leaping, and spear-throwing
"On Study and Teaching" from Hugh of
St. Victor (MR 573-590)
- How does Hugh line out the differences between
ability and motivation in education?
- How important to Hugh is a particular order of
learning? Do you agree with him?
- What are some of the observations he makes
concerning reading, especially narration and exposition (letter,
sense, conception)? Do they seem sensible to you?
- How does Hugh conceive of meditation?
- What kind of character is necessary for true
learning? What could students today learn from him on this issue?
- Compare Hugh's view of learning from the ancients
with Walter Map's (MR 602-604)
- Why are quietness, diligence, and frugality
necessary to education? Do you agree?
- What does Hugh think the value of foreign study
is? Again, agree or disagree?
"Books delight us, when
prosperity smiles upon us; they comfort us inseparably when stormy fortune
frowns on us. They lend validity to human compacts, and no serious
judgments are propounded without their help. Arts and sciences, all the
advantages of which no mind can enumerate, consist in books. How highly
must we estimate the wondrous power of books, since through them we survey
the utmost bounds of the world and time, and contemplate the things that
are as well as those that are not, as it were in the mirror of eternity.
In books we climb mountains and scan the deepest gulfs of the abyss; in
books we behold the finny tribes that may not exist outside their native
waters, distinguish the properties of streams and springs and of various
lands; from books we dig out gems and metals and the materials of every
kind of mineral, and learn the virtues of herbs and trees and plants, and
survey at will the whole progeny of Neptune, Ceres, and Pluto.
"But if we please to
visit the heavenly inhabitants, Taurus, Caucasus, and Olympus are at hand,
from which we pass beyond the realms of Juno and mark out the territories
of the seven planets by lines and circles. And finally we traverse the
loftiest firmament of all, adorned with signs, degrees, and figures in the
utmost variety. There we inspect the antarctic pole, which eye hath not
seen, nor ear heard; we admire the luminous Milky Way and the Zodiac,
marvellously and delightfully pictured with celestial animals. Thence by
books we pass on to separate substances, that the intellect may greet
kindred intelligences, and with the mind's eye may discern the First Cause
of all things and the Unmoved Mover of infinite virtue, and may immerse
itself in love without end. See how with the aid of books we attain the
reward of our beatitude, while we are yet sojourners below.
--Richard de Bury(1281-1345), The
Love of Books
"The Problems of a Christian Humanist"
from John of Salisbury (MR 598-602)
- Why are many teachers of philosophy useless in
- Why are both overspecialization and
overgeneralization faults in education?
- Why does he recommend the study of (classic)
- What other advice does he give concerning the
study, content, and attitude towards reading? What can we learn from
"A Plea for the Study of Languages"
from Roger Bacon (MR 604-608)
- Why is it difficult to translate from one
language to another?
- What other reasons does Bacon give for
understanding Greek and Hebrew in particular?
- Why is it necessary to have scholars who can
speak other modern languages, too?