Book Review: The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.


Blocked Up
Zy Marquiez
January 5, 2018

In their How To Read A Book – The Classical Guide To Intelligent Reading [review here], Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren postulated that most published books out there will not be complex enough to teach the reader anything of true substance.  However, the authors also argued that there is a second tier of books “from which you can learn – both how to read and how to live.”[1] If I am bold to suggest, this particular book, The Trivium, is one of those books from which an immense amount can be learned because of its inherent nature of all it teaches.

The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D., is an exemplary book that touches upon critical aspects of learning and living which do not get the light of day in modern times.

As this passage by Marguerite McGlinn relates, which speaks incisively:

“Ultimately, Sister Miriam Joseph speaks most eloquently about the value of this book.  She explains that studying the liberal arts [The Trivium] is an intransitive activity; the effect of studying these arts stays within the individual and perfects the faculties of the mind and spirit.  She compares the studying of the liberal arts with the blooming of the rose; it brings to fruition the possibilities of human nature.  She writes, “The utilitarian or servile arts enable one to be a servant – of another person, of the state, of a corporation, or a business – and to earn a living.  The liberal arts, in contrast, teach one how to live; they train the faculties and bring them to perfection; they enable a person to rise above his material environment to live an intellectual, a rational, and therefore a free life in gaining truth.”[2][Bold Emphasis Added]

The Trivium, doesn’t just speak about the core tenets needed for a robust education, but shows all of its main components to boot, and more importantly, how to employ them.

This book also features not only a very methodical approach into the learning/teaching of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric, but the book is also chock-full of myriad examples coming straight from the upper tiers of literary history which are used to cement each component of the Trivium.  Further, not only does this book explain in detail the core concepts of the Trivium, but at certain junctures it even offers some exercises in order to apply what one has learned and gauge an individual’s progress.

The Trivium is really a thorough presentation that encompasses everything from poetics, fallacies, syllogisms, propositions, grammar, composition, enthymemes and much much more.

By covering the foundational topics such as Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric, The Trivium goes light-years above and beyond most books that are ‘mandatory’ in the public school system.

Why such a bold statement?  Because the Trivium is the foundation upon which classical education was built upon in Western Education.  However, these days, the Trivium is essentially non-existent from education, after a tumultuous shift was taken away from these tenets.  Because of that the Trivium has been removed from the system of public schooling to the detriment of the students, families and generations.

If you’re a homeschooler, an unschooler, an autodidact, a self-teacher, or just someone that is seeking to teach someone, or simply wish to learn about these integral components of education, then ruminate deeply about getting this book.  Its lessons would benefit every individual come to terms with the greater learning capabilities that they always could have, but never found a way to achieve through the terribly lacking public schooling system.

Sources & References:
[1] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A BookMortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren. p. 332.
[2] Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D., The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric, pp. x-xi.
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Book Review: Socratic Logic [V3.1] by Peter Kreeft PhD

An Indispensable Piece For The Autodidact; A Vital Component To Education For Individuals Of All Ages

Blocked Up
Zy Marquiez
January 4, 2018

Having not taken a logic course since the university, attempting to find a book on logic that would be ‘worth its weight in gold’ took a bit of time, but this particular book has more than delivered in spades.

Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft PhD is an essential reading for everyone who values the use of logic.  In fact, going one step further, this book should be read by everyone, because we could all benefit from it in numerous ways.  Mostly though, most of us have not been taught logic at all, not in elementary school, nor in high school, and rarely in college.

This is taking place because logic, as well as the trivium have been nigh completely removed from most school curriculums and when they do have these courses, they are merely a facsimile of it, and nowhere near the quality of logic taught in times past.  You can ruminate upon why such a staple of education has been all but removed from mainstream education today.

Moving forward, this particular book showcases a very in-depth approach into all the nuances that are involved in Logic, while also keeping it simple so to speak.   Describing the book as ‘simple’ might be a misnomer, but when compared to The Organon by Aristotle, which is a much more complex/demanding read, this seems like a ‘walk in the park’.

Kreeft makes it a point to give the individual everything they might need to comprehend logic, from the ground up, as the book is sprinkled generously with many real world examples, historical quotes and conundrums that will make the book quite practical in its application once the concepts are mastered and implemented into one’s repertoire.

Socratic Logic serves as an excellent jump-off point into the realm of logic due to the pragmatic approach taken by Kreeft.

As the author himself states, the book is: simple, user friendly, practical, linguistic, readable, traditional, commonsensical, philosophical, constructive, clearly divided, flexible, short, selective, interactive, holistic, and classroom oriented.  After reading the book twice, those descriptions were rather precise.

Conveniently, the book also features a differentiation where one can find the basic sections (B) and the philosophical sections (P) marked in the table of contents.  This helps greatly in focusing on whatever specific area the reader might want to hone their skills in.

Also of note, the book – as mentioned by Kreef – may be used in at least 10 different ways:

[1] the basics only
[2] the basic sections plus the philosophical sections
[3] the basic sections plus the more advanced sections in logic
[4] the basic sections plus the practical application sections
[5] the basic sections plus any two of these three additions
[6] all of the book
[7] all or some of it supplemented by a text in symbolic logic
[8] all or some of it supplemented by a text in inductive logic
[9] all or some of it supplemented by a text in rhetoric or informal logic
[10] all or some of it supplement by readings in and applications to the great philosophers

What one gathers from the book will depend greatly on how much time one chooses to spend on it.  Socratic Logic may be studied independently for an autodidact, or used for schooling.  The book can be studied in single class lessons, once a week class lessons, semester formats, etc.

Another useful element in the book is that it features a healthy amount of exercises throughout the book in order to further buttress one’s understanding of the material.  This definitely helps bring home the concepts shown in the book.

Taking all into account, the principles discussed in Socratic Logic should have been the book taught in school.  In fact, it should be taught to everyone because our society lacks logic in myriad ways.  Then again, that is what happens with the removal of classical education and logic from the common-to-the-rotten-core type of school system we’re all “lucky” to have.

In the information age, not being educated and not knowing foundational pieces of essential knowledge such as logic that venture into every crevice of our lives, is folly.

And if conventional schooling continues on the downhill grade it’s at, knowledge in areas such as this will be worth more than its weight in gold, and that’s not an understatement.  With the student loan debt now over a trillion dollars and with real education dissipating right before our eyes within the conventional establishment, taking your education into your hands is not only responsible, but vital.

To further one’s education is a choice, and luckily Socratic Logic makes it an easy to choice to make.

About Me:

Zy Marquiez is an autodidact. An inquiring and incisive mind. An open-minded skeptic. An avid learner. An individual who loves to ruminate about the everything within our reality. [Un]common sense advocate. Barnes & Noble Refugee. Reformed Carmel Macchiato addict & Part-Time Researcher.

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And if you’re interested in 8 Bit Pixel Art & Perler Bead Artwork, make sure to check out my shop – RenditionsOfTheMind!

The New Year, The Future & Untapped Potential

Blocked Up
Zy Marquiez
January 1, 2018

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Every year, as the New Year approaches, one can sense excitement building in the atmosphere.  In many instances, this type of emotion can be so palpable that it resonates considerably in others.

As we have come to learn, this excitement takes place in large part due to individuals getting ready to create significant changes in their lives; meaningful changes that will be for the better.

The curious part of this conundrum, and what seems quite intriguing about these circumstances is that often times many people choose to wait to make changes after the new year begins, even though they know they would reap rewards via those changes if they were implemented immediately.

If positive, meaningful, and resonant change is to take place, why don’t individuals make changes immediately?  After all, if the benefits are to to be quite substantial, why not venture into the realm of change sooner?

Most people including myself are all guilty of this idea to some extent, and it seems quite paradoxical that individuals would see new ‘resolutions’ as positive, but wait to implement these changes  when the ‘official clock’ strikes midnight.  Should an individual not dance to their own tune?  Why not set your own clock?

Regardless of the reasons, when the New Year begins, hope is in the air, individuals have an extra spring in their step, and the vibe is totally different.  This is quite invigorating to see the least.  It seems the kind of idea in which most if not all benefit when applied with zeal.

As an example some of you may be familiar with, if you go to the gym regularly, specifically on the very first day of the year, you come to realize that this day (year in and year out) is hands down the busiest day of the year for gyms.   In this respect, as someone who shares similar goals to those going, and as an observer of this circumstance for many years, it’s great to witness individuals do the best for themselves and starting out strong.  What I find paradoxical is that these so-called resolutions often dissipate into the hollow habits of the past much of the time.  We’ve all been there in some way shape or form.

Still though, every new year, more and more people end up creating significant change for themselves, and this is quite refreshing.  Be it in search for better health, stronger meaningful relationships, personal growth, or something else, individuals that keep pushing themselves to breakaway from the conventional box we’ve been offered from youth often keep rolling along relentlessly regardless of time, circumstances or obstacles as they tap into their limitless potential.  These individuals make obstacles their daily bread.

Moreover, individuals that get to see those positive changes accrue in those breaking away from the conventional mindset gain confidence and belief in significant ways as they see their friends and/or acquaintances succeed in new endeavours.  This creates a rising tide from which all may benefit.

And at minimum, the future will always hold the option to be the jump-off point for any individual that wishes to create meaningful change if they ever decide to light off into the horizon.

The future offers us individuals energy, possibilities and wonder.

The future is the untraveled road, ready to be paved by the individual – you.

The future is everything we wished for, and more, but only if we make it happen.

The future is the shining star that’s yet to light up your new voyage.

The future is a compass pointing in a new direction; a new course to make berth too.

The future is ultimately a blank canvas, and that’s why we all love it.

And yet, the future is every single day, every new hour and every new minute.  The future doesn’t stop and wait for the New Year just because that’s what we’ve been programmed to do.

The future, like a blank canvas, is always ready to be filled in.

Realizing this, why not make every single day our own personal ‘New Year?  Why not make every day a gateway to change?

The beauty of this conundrum is that it’s only a choice.

Thankfully, the future – our personal blank canvas – is always there.

And always will be, ready for that moment when the choice is made.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once shared:

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”