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.” 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.”[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:
 Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book, Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren. p. 332.
 Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D., The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric, pp. x-xi.
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