Page 31 - Education Programs
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                                            By Michael L. Wiggins

                                              Grand Lodge of Texas: September 2002

During the Fellowcraft Degree, the candidate is symbolically led up a winding stairway that
consists of three, five, and seven steps. In doing so, he is introduced to the Seven Liberal Arts and
Sciences. It is interesting to note that there is little explanation of this portion of the Fellowcraft
Degree and no attempt to bring meaning to these subjects for the candidate. If every part of the
Masonic ritual has meaning for the candidate, then one must examine this brief portion of the
Fellowcraft Degree to determine its value for the Mason.

The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences were the curriculum known to ancient Greece and Rome and
to Western Europe of medieval times. During their cultural ascent, the Greeks came to see learning
as being composed of seven arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, music, and
astronomy. This curriculum was adopted by the Romans and divided into two parts called the
trivium and the quadrivium. The word trivium simply means three ways and quadrivium, four
ways. Thus the trivium was composed of what the Romans considered the basic of the seven arts:
grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The quadrivium was composed of the other four arts.

Aristotle believed the liberal arts were those subjects that were suitable for learning by a freeman.
He contended that a freeman should not seek practical skills but should strive for moral and
intellectual excellence, the goal being theoretical and philosophical knowledge. He further
believed if a man was capable of pure thought, he was capable of leadership of those who merely
possessed the practical skills.

The educational concepts of these cultures withstood the “dark ages” which enveloped Europe
from roughly the Sixth Century until the Eleventh Century. During this period, Western European
culture was virtually blotted out and what little education that remained was confined to the church.
The reign of Charlemange during the Ninth Century began to see an increase in education, which
was extended to the palaces and cathedrals. While still ecclesiastical in organization, the system
of education fanned the flame of intellectual curiosity. By the Eleventh Century, Europe had begun
to emerge from its darkness into a degree of political and social stability. With this emergence
came a renewal of the spirit of learning, which was nurtured for nearly four hundred years until it
would burst forth during the Renaissance. Education during these centuries consisted of grammar,
logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy: the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences.

With this background, one now turns to the seven liberal arts to gain an insight into their nature.

Grammar: One must remember that instruction was in Latin during this early period; hence the
grammar referred to was Latin grammar. Grammar was not the tedious business of determining
the parts of speech, but instead was the art of writing. Cassiodorus defined grammar as the study
of great poetry and oratory that would enable one to write with correctness and elegance. Grammar
is correct writing and skillful speaking.

Logic: Logic in general is the science and art of right thinking. Unlike physical or social science
or philosophy, it is not concerned with the reality about which we are thinking, but only with the

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