ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

130. Programme of Studies. -- The studies were arranged progressively on the following plan: liberal arts; sciences; philosophy; theology. (1) The liberal arts. Prior to the Middle Ages{1} the classification of the seven liberal arts (artes liberales, supposed to be derived from liber, a book) was commonly known through the compendiums of Boëthius, Cassiodorus, Martianus Capella and Alcuin. They were divided into two groups

(a) The Trivium (artes triviales, sermonicales, rationales) was the more important group, comprising grammar, rhetoric and dialectic or logic. Grammar included the study of the grammarians -- especially Donatus and Priscian -- and of the ancient Latin classics, Virgil, Seneca, Horace, Terence, Juvenal and others. Rhetoric was not cultivated quite so fully as among the Romans. Cicero, Quintilian and Marius Victorinus are mentioned in the Heptateuchon of Theoderic of Chartres (v. below) as the favourite models in Rhetoric.{2} Dialectic filled the largest space in the trivium and grew in importance according as the various parts of the Organon became known (132). This rapid development of logic had an injurious effect on the study of grammar and rhetoric. Classical Latin was partly abandoned for the barbarisms of scholastic Latin; and this latter was submitted to logical analyses by the "modists" in their treatises de modis significandi. Two tendencies asserted themselves: in some of the schools, as at Orleans and Chartres, all three branches continued to be cultivated; in others dialectic was gradually allowed to usurp the place of its two sister sciences.{3}

(b) The Quadrivium (artes quadriviales, reales, physica, mathematica) comprised arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. The encyclopedic data of ancient authors, and, from the time of Adelard of Bath, the theories of Euclid, formed the basis of instruction in mathematics and astronomy; music was studied in connection with religious ceremonial. The quadrivium was not so popular nor so extensively taught as the trivium, because its branches were more technical, abstruse and difficult. The study of medicine was annexed at an early period to the four branches of the quadrivium.

(2) Natural and historical sciences. -- The scientific culture of the early Middle Ages was, as a rule, confined to a knowledge of the quadrivium. Original natural research was, however, prosecuted, mainly by the alchemists. Then we find among the earlier encyclopedists of this period (126) collections of facts, borrowed mainly from Pliny. Gerbert dealt with questions in the natural sciences (141); and questions of this kind were largely investigated in the monastery of Monte Cassino and in the school of Chartres. As for history, it was not cultivated as a branch of study for its own sake, and those who occupied themselves with it merely re-edited the writings of St. Jerome or Eusebius (103, n. 2).

(3) Philosophy. -- The philosophical problems proper, which were gradually raised for solution from the eighth century onward (126, 2), and which formed a remarkable and quite distinct domain of speculation at the end of the twelfth, should not be considered as a mere off-growth or annexe of dialectic, so as to include philosophy in the trivium (with Ferrère, Mariétan and the majority of historians). Rather should we regard philosophy as a stage above the liberal arts, as a new discipline, which came to have a place allotted to it on the scholastic programme between the liberal arts below and theology above{4} (Willmann). This hierarchy was of course slow in asserting itself explicitly, but it was unmistakably recognized in the twelfth century by Hugh of St. Victor (Erud. Didasc., I, iii.) and universally adopted in the thirteenth.

(4) Theology was taught simultaneously with philosophy in the leading schools.

{1} Ammonius Saccas gives the branches of the Quadrivium as subdivisions of Mathematics (ZELLER, op. cit., ii.2, p. 177, n. s). Mariétan claims to have discovered the origin of the full classification of the liberal arts in St. Augustine (Probl. de la classific. des sciences, etc., pp. 54 sqq.).

{2} CLERVAL, Les écoles de Chartres au moyen âge du Ve au XVIe s., pp. 221 sqq.

{3} A trouvère of the thirteenth century, Henry of Andely, in an allegorical poem on the conflict of the seven arts, represents the grammarians as Orleanists and the dialecticians as Paris teachers: to the latter be awards the victory (WILLMANN, Didaktik, i., 272).

{4} Cf. 126, 3.

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