Classical Education: The Quadrivium

quadrivium

Continuing our thematic overview of Classical Education we have a brief look at the Quadrivium today.

The QUADRIVIUM consists of the four mathematical arts. To be able to reason both logically and aesthetically, the individual must be able to interact with what the ancients called magnitude (geometry and astronomy) and multitude (arithmetic and music or harmonics). The mind not trained in the quadrivium is not yet ready to be educated.

Arithmetic is the art that learns of the properties of numbers, that is, “how do numbers behave?” What happens to seven if it meets five? What will eight do if we multiply it by four?

Geometry is the art that learns the properties of shapes. It asks, “How do shapes behave?” It is essential to deductive logic and spatial reasoning.

Music is the art of ratios and proportions. It asks, “How do numbers behave in relation to each other?” Algebra is a super-efficient and abstract way of expressing musical properties. However, to fully benefit from music, it should not be reduced to algebra.

Music is the window or even the doorway between the physical and the spiritual. When a student listens to mathematically sound compositions, the order of mathematics sings directly to the soul through the ear, not needing to pass through the understanding, as it does in arithmetic.

Astronomy is the art of shapes in motion. It asks, “How do shapes behave when they are moving?” Practically, it is the doorway to physics and the sciences. (Circe Institute)

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