February 24, 2017
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.” Am venturing to say that 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 topics which do not get the light of day in modern times, although surely did centuries ago.
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 book doesn’t just speak of The Trivium, but shows all of its main components to boot, and furthermore how to employ them.
By covering the vital topics of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric, The Trivium goes above and beyond most books that are ‘mandatory’ in the public school system.
Given that the once mandatory subjects of rhetoric and logic are all but gone from mainstream education and only shadows of those remains while what is taught of grammar is very superficial, a book like this blows away anything that regular schooling could offer.
Why such a bold statement? Because the Trivium is the foundation upon which classical education was built. However, after a shift away from these tenets, the Trivium has been removed from the system of public schooling to the detriment of the students.
In any case, The Trivium 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.
If you’re a homeschooler, an unschooler, an autodidact, a self-teacher, or simply 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 capability that they always could have, but never found a way to achieve through the terribly lacking public schooling system.
Those seeking additional educational tools may appreciate:
Socratic Logic [V3.1] by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
A Workbook For Arguments [2nd Edition] – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking by David R. Morrow & Anthony Wesson
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Each of these books will build a more robust mental repertoire, and are highly recommended for everyone.
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.
This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.”
I read this book a few years ago, and it inspired me to look at our homeschool in a different way. I am planning on ordering a logic course for young children from Angelicum Academy. I didn’t think formal logic needed to be taught very early, but I have recently been convinced otherwise.
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Its awesome that you came to that conclusion. Its hard to know what we miss unless we’re exposed to it, which is why I attempt to talk about logic regularly. Many people know the concept, but don’t’ realize how deep and powerful it truly is. Public schooling doesn’t expose individuals to logic, so its important to learn it on our own time.
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