In Freemasonry, the Fellow Craft Degree introduces the Seven Liberal Arts but does not delve into the idea in great detail.
So here is a more in depth discussion of the Seven Liberal Arts and their importance in Western philosophy and education.
The Seven Liberal Arts are at the core of Western philosophy and education. They formed the basis of Western higher education from at least the late Roman period. In their present form, they can be traced with certainly to Boethius (circa 480-524/525) and undoubtedly go back much farther.
The earliest known use of the phrase “liberal arts” was by Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) who used it in his first handbook for orators, De Inventione.
But the first real classification of the Seven Liberal Arts appears in Martianus Capella (circa 400-439) and his Marriage of Mercury and Philosophy, which lists the seven liberal arts as: Grammar, Dialectic (i.e. Logic), Rhetoric, Geometry, Arithmetic, Astronomy and Harmony (i.e. Music).
By the time of Boethius (circa 480-524/525) the Seven Liberal Arts had been sub divided into the Quadrivium, consisting of the four scientific arts: Geometry, Arithmetic, Astronomy and Music.
By the 9th century the three remaining Liberal Arts, Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric, has been combined into the Trivium.
In Medieval Western higher education, the Trivium was taught first, the idea being that the student had to learn to communicate and to reason before studying the more scientific subjects in the Quadrivium.
The Quadrivium is said to have originated with Pythagorus (circa 500 BCE) and the idea of a core of mathematical knowledge, transmitted through educational curriculum, as being essential for understanding the universe was definitely mentioned in Plato’s Republic (circa 380 BC).
But is wasn’t until the time of Boethius (circa 480-524/525) that the Seven Liberal Arts were sub divided into the Quadrivium, consisting of the four scientific arts: Geometry, Arithmetic, Astronomy and Music.
Freemasonry makes Geometry the preeminent science of the Quadrivium. The Fellow Craft lecture emphasizes Geometry as the science through which nature and the universe can be understood and through which the intentions of the Creator can be inferred.
Geometry, says the Fellow Craft lecture, can be used to study and understand Astronomy and other sciences. It leads to the creation of order, through which societies and civilizations can arise.
Here is a Freemason from Mississippi discussing the Seven Liberal Arts on his YouTube channel:
Here is his discussion of Geometry, which is preeminent among the Seven Liberal Arts and which also features in the Fellow Craft Degree:
Here is his examination of the Winding Stairs lecture’ in which the Seven Liberal Arts are emphasized:
Resources For Further Study
Trivium / Quadrivium
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2 thoughts on “THE SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS”
very interesting. it makes us think of the bigger picture. I enjoyed the educational piece
Glad you liked it.