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Western Civ 101-03 Class 14 Feb. 20, 2015 The Seven Liberal Arts.

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Presentation on theme: "Western Civ 101-03 Class 14 Feb. 20, 2015 The Seven Liberal Arts."— Presentation transcript:

1 Western Civ Class 14 Feb. 20, 2015 The Seven Liberal Arts

2 The Greek Knowledge Hierarchies Arete – excellence of any kind (toward Paideia– the HIGHEST possible cultural form of a given value) – moral virtue Philosophy – Knowledge of the highest form. Impractical as all get out. But the alpha value.

3 Episteme: the THEORY for X (pure knowledge for doing … whatever) Techne: the PRACTICAL skill to apply that theory (applied wisdom… as craft) If one wants to be any good at something (like being a citizen, for example, one has to be able to combine episteme with techne) The Greek Knowledge Hierarchies

4 Philosophy – That has, essentially, no practical value BUT – Upholds all the standards Episteme as represented by the seven liberal arts (the liberal culture) – BUT, most of the seven/nine liberal arts had aspects that strongly appealed to Techne. – They all sought to reach Arete – They all avoided philosophy Until Cicero and the later Romans and the Christians re- injected the importance of joining philosophy with rhetoric. The Greco-Roman Knowledge Hierarchies

5 Trivium – grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics Quadrivium – music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy – Sometimes medicine and architecture The Greco-Roman Knowledge Hierarchies

6 What this becomes, for us (Western Civilization) This was a practical education, broad and deep, for everyone. Becomes the basis for “the schools,” (in our sense, high school) and undergirds what becomes, later, “the disciplines” in higher education/universities. As we’ll see next time, Rhetoric IS THE WAY that this education was taught – As well as serving as one of the topic areas.

7 SOOOOOO… – The Christians have to come to grips with it. What this becomes, for us (Western Civilization)

8 Roughly, here’s the Christian Problem vis-à-vis “knowledge”: There’s no “book”... For a very long time – Nothing at all is done to bring the diverse materials together until around 170AD – There’s no clear “winner” until late 200-early 300 – There’s no “official version” until, roughly 380 or so. – There’s still argument at formal councils until 420. – There’s SOME argument right through to (and of course, including) the Reformation

9 And yet, the Christians were against virtually every literature previous to the book – What came before was pagan – What came before was heathen – What came before wasn’t Christian – What came before had contents that often featured other “gods” It was pretty easy for the early Christians to argue AGAINST all ancient literature, Greek and Roman alike. Roughly, here’s the Christian Problem vis-à-vis “knowledge”

10 But it was really difficult to argue FOR “the book.” – It’s tough to start a vast religion without a solid text to work from – They tried to say it was “great literature,” but it wasn’t – How to sell it (at least until they could fix it) ? Worse, without a respected rulebook, there were a hundred and one disagreements over doctrine (heresies galore). Enter (St.) Augustine of Hippo Roughly, here’s the Christian Problem vis-à-vis “knowledge”

11 (St.) Augustine of Hippo Had been a trained/educated rhetorical scholar and teacher – Also served as a soldier, and was quite the dandy…probably both a lady’s man and a man’s man Had engaged EVERYONE (who would argue with him) in theological debates. And always won. Had taught rhetoric at the local university His mother was a religious fanatic who gets him converted AND appointed a Bishop (on his conversion). He “fixes” a lot of the problem… in one book: On Christian Doctrine And in doing so, gives us a lot of what is Western about this whole mess.

12 On Christian Doctrine 1.Lays out the first linguistic theory of signs: establishing how saying/writing one thing can STAND FOR something else. – this enables the Christians to argue that the book is, indeed, great literature, cause it stands for the word of god. – So even though it might SEEM to be less than the greatest literature, since the message is THE most profound thing EVER… it MUST be great literature (still kind of under-disguise, but soon to be displayed in all its glory). (St.) Augustine of Hippo

13 2.Then he goes all Plato and Aristotle on them, showing that they need to use Rhetoric in order to win souls to the church. – This preserves both rhetorical practices AND the 7 liberal arts, FOR THE MIDDLE AGES Almost always in a badly deformed version… but given the chaos that is to come, something is way better than nothing. – Essentially, “western civilization” is saved from (yet by) the Christians AND from the invaders and the times (though barely)


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