THE TRIVIUM

Toward The Pursuit and Explication of Truth

By FRATER BOVIOUS


The Proper Presumption of an Aristotelian World View

The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric

The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric
– or “How to think.”

(CARROLLTON, Cradle of Civilization) – Trivium means where three roads meet and so has the sense of “cross-roads”. The sense of  “cross-roads” is important, for cross-roads are open to all. By extension, so is clear-thinking and the ability to know truth.

The classic liberal arts education of old consisted of seven arts – three of language and four of quantity. The three language arts, logic, grammar, and rhetoric, make up the trivium. Arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy make up the quadrivium.

An Aristotelian metaphysics is presumed in The Trivium and pervades each chapter and lesson. This matters because the so-called modern philosophy eschews Aristotelian metaphysics in favor of what might be called Humean metaphysics, or as I like to call it, “The metaphysics of idiocy.” How important is this Aristotelian world view? I offer the following quote from Edward Feser in his book The Last Superstition:

How significant is Aristotle? Well, I wouldn’t want to exaggerate, so let me put it this way: Abandoning Aristotelianism, as the founders of modern philosophy did, was the single greatest mistake ever made in the entire history of Western thought.” (Emphasis added by author.)

A reading of the table of contents of The Trivium would not hold out much hope for someone looking for an engaging read. And, since this is more of a text-book than a layman’s guide to philosophy, one could expect such. Here are just a few of the riveting chapter titles:

  • 3) General Grammar
  • 7) The Simple Syllogism
  • 10) A Brief Summary of Induction

Gripping stuff.

It gets better. Here’s a little note on ambiguity: “Ambiguity is caused by the very nature of a symbol, from which arise the three impositions of a word and the two intentions of a term.”

Hey, if thinking were easy, everyone would be doing it.

The mind finds expression in language. A disciplined study of the trivium, i.e. logic, grammar, and rhetoric, will encourage the development of a disciplined mind. A disciplined mind is properly the goal of education. It is necessary in a free society if the citizenry are to remain free. An undisciplined mind is more than simply a handicap, it is a sin to fail to strive to meet one’s potential. Like all sin, failure to meet one’s potential also carries real world consequences, for the lack of mastery of these arts allows content to be ascribed to vacuous statements such as “Change you can believe in” or “The audacity of hope.” I do not say this as a slam against our current president. It is intended as a slam against the quality of thought in the public square, and the quality of so-called education currently provided by our public schools. Political candidates should not be thought of as competent  when basing their campaigns on meaningless bumper sticker slogans.

The politician’s worst nightmare – “We have brains and we’re not afraid to use them!”

The need for a disciplined mind however is more urgent when responding to actual public policy – the citizenry should be able to discern when they are being misled and they should  be able to express their dismay clearly. The politician should live with the constant sense that their loyal voters could turn on them at any moment.

For anyone that believes that words and how they are used matter, a pleasant affirmation is to be found in studying this book.

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