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  • The liberal arts are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person to know in order to take an active part in civic life. In Ancient Greece this included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service. The aim of these studies was to produce a virtuous, knowledgeable, and articulate person. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic were the core liberal arts. During medieval times, when learning came under the purview of the Church, these subjects were extended to include the four other classical subjects of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. This extension was called the Quadrivium, and these well defined subjects originated during classical times. Together the Trivium and Quadrivium constituted the seven liberal arts of the medieval university curriculum. In the Renaissance, the Italian humanists, who in many respects continued the grammatical and rhetorical traditions of the Middle Ages, rechristened the old Trivium with a new and more ambitious name: Studia humanitatis, and also increased its scope. They excluded logic and added to the traditional Latin grammar and rhetoric not only history, Greek, and moral philosophy, but made poetry, once a sequel of grammar and rhetoric, the most important member of the whole group. The educational curriculum of humanism spread throughout Europe during the sixteenth century and became the educational foundation for the schooling of European elites, the functionaries of political administration, the clergy of the various legally recognized churches, and the learned professions of law and medicine. The ideal of a liberal arts, or humanistic education grounded in classical languages and literature, persisted until the middle of the twentieth century. Wikipedia

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