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

Zy Marquiez
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.”[1] 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.”[2][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:
[1] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book, Mortimer 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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13 Great Reasons To Study Logic

Zy Marquiez
February 1, 2017

In age where the public dumbing down is reaching new lows [Read Here For More], a much more proactive approach to an individuals education is vitally needed.  This will certainly aid them in gravitating away from the crumbling education paradigm that keeps failing us, because, as John Taylor Gatto stated in A Different Kind Of Teacher [Review Here]:

Schools were designed by Horace Mann, E.L. Thorndike, and others to be instruments of scientific management of a mass populationSchools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlledTo a very great extent, schools succeed in doing this.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

In other words, school system is about social engineering the masses, and not producing educated individuals.

Furthermore, as Professor Patrick Deneen shared in his landmark piece, How A Generation Lost Its Common Culture:

“Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings”[2][Emphasis Added]

It isn’t by accident that the school system has reached the state of decline it has.

Knowing that, what’s an individual to do?  Go back to the roots.

For this, there is no better place to go but to the realm of logic.

Why is Logic so vital?

To answer this poignant question, let’s take a look at the work of Philosopher Peter Kreeft Ph.D has to to say.  Kreeft, in his phenemonal book called Socratic Logic [Review Here] outlines the many reasons why logic is important to an individuals growth.

Kreeft minces no words in stating that in the past, most students were privy to was called “the old logic”.  Due to this, those individuals were much better prepared to “think, read, write, organize, and argue much better than they can today”.[3]

Getting back to classical education, which employed The Trivium – composed of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric – is what will ultimately help individuals break away from the downward avalanche public schooling is manifesting.  And Logic undoubtedly is an integral component of The Trivium.

Please ruminate at length regarding what follows.  It shows how and why logic seeps into all areas of life.

Below follow salient reasons why to study Logic:

13 Good Reason Why You Should Study Logic

1. Logic brings order.

Logic builds the mental habit of thinking in an orderly way.

No course is more practical than logic, for no matter what you are thinking about, you are thinking, and logic orders and clarifies your thinking.  No matter what your thought’s content, it will be clearer when it has a more logical form.  The principles of thinking logically can be applied to all thinking and to every field.

2.  Logic brings power.  Logic brings the power of proof and persuasion.

The power of logic comes from the fact that it is the science and art of argument.  Any power can be either rightly used or abused.  This power of logic is rightly used to win the truth and defeat error; it is wrongly used to win the argument and defeat your opponent.

3.  Logic helps reading. Logic will help you in education and learning, for “logic will help you to read any book more clearly and effectively.  And you are always going to be reading books; books are the single most effective technological invention in the history of education.

On the basis of over 40 years of full time college teaching of almost 20,000 students at 20 different schools, I am convinced that one of the reasons for the steep decline in students’ reading ability is the decline in the teaching of traditional logic.

4.  Logic helps writing.  Logic will also help you to write more clearly and effectively, for clear writing and clear thinking are a “package deal”: the presence or absence of either one brings the presence or absence of the other.  Muddled writing fosters muddled thinking, and muddled thinking fosters muddled writing.  Clear writing fosters clear thinking, and clear thinking fosters clear writing.  Common sense expects this, and scientific studies confirm it.  Writing skills have declined dramatically in the 40 years or so since symbolic logic has replaced Aristotelian logic, and I am convinced this is no coincidence.

It is simply impossible to communicate clearly and effectively without thinking clearly and effectively.  And that means logic.”

5.  Logic brings happiness.  In a small but significant way, logic can even help you attain happiness.  We all seek happiness all the time because no matter what else we seek, we seek it because we think it will be a means to happiness, or a part of happiness, either for ourselves or for those we love.  And no one seeks happiness for any other end; no one says he wants to be happy in order to be rich, or wise, or healthy.  But we seek riches, or wisdom, or health, in order to be happier.

How can logic help us attain happiness?  Here is a very logical answer to that question:

(1)  When we attain what we desire, we are happy
(2)  And whatever we desire, whether Heaven or a hamburger, it is more likely that we will attain if it we think more clearly.
(3)  And logic helps us to think more clearly.
(4)  Therefore logic helps us to be happy.

Even fantasy is not illogical.  In fact, according to the greatest master of this art, J.R.R. Tolkien, “Fantasy is a rational, not an irrational, activity…creative fantasy is founded upon a hard recognition that things are so in the world as it appears under the sun; on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it.  So upon logic was founded the nonsense that displays itself in the tales and rhymes of Lewis Carroll.  If men really could not distinguish between frogs and men, fairy stories about frog-kings would not have arisen.”

6.  Logic helps with religious faith.  Even religion, though it goes beyond logic, cannot go against it; if it did, it would literally be unbelievable.  Some wit defined “faith” as “believing what you know isn’t true.”  But we simply cannot believe an idea to be true that we know that has been proven to be false by a valid logical proof.

It is true that faith goes beyond what can be proved by logical reasoning alone.  That is why believing in any religion is a free personal choice, and some make that choice while others do not, while logical reasoning is equally compelling for all.  However, logic can add faith in at least three ways.

First, logic can often clarify what is believed, and define it.

Second, logic can deduce the necessary consequences of the belief and apply it to difficult situations.

Third, even if logical arguments cannot prove all that faith believes, they can give firmer reasons for faith than feeling, desire, mood, fashion, family or social pressure, conformity, or inertia.

7.  Logic helps attain wisdom.  “Philosophy” means “the love of wisdom.”  Although logic alone cannot make you wise, it can help.  For logic is one of philosophy’s main instruments.  Logic is to philosophy what telescopes are to astronomy or microscopes to biology or math to physics.

8.  Democracy.  There are even crucial social and political reasons for studying logic.  As a best-selling modern logic text says, “the success of democracy depends, in the end, on the reliability of the judgments we citizens make, and hence upon our capacity and determination to weigh arguments and evidence rationally.”  As Thomas Jefferson said, “In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be lead by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reason becomes of the first importance.”[Copi & Cohen, Logic, 10th edition, Prentice-Hall, 1998.).

9.  Defining logic’s limits.  Does logic have limits?  Yes, but we need logic to recognize and definite logic’s limits.  Logic has severe limits.  We need much more than logic even in our thinking.  For instance, we need intuition, too.  But logic helps us recognize this distinction.

10.  Logic helps in testing authority.  We need authorities because no individual can discover everything autonomously  We do in fact rely on the human community, and therefore on the authority of others – parents, teachers, textbooks, “experts,” friends, history, and tradition – for a surprising large portion of what we know – perhaps up to 99%, if it can be quantified.  And that is another reason we need logic: we need to have good reasons for believing our authorities, for in the end it is you the individual who must decide which authorities to trust.

11.  Logic helps recognizing contradictions.  Logic teaches us which ideas contradict each other.  If we are confused about that, we will either be too exclusive (that is, we will think beliefs logically exclude each other when they do not) or too inclusive (that is, we will believe two things that cannot both be true).

12.  Logic brings certainty.  Logic has “outer limits”; there are many things it can’t give you.  But logic has no “inner limits”: like math, it never breaks down.  Just as 2 plus 2 are unfailingly 4, so if A is B and B is C, then A is unfailingly C, Logic is timeless and unchangeable.  It is certain.

And logic never becomes obsolete. The principles of logic are timelessly true.

13.  Logic helps one attain truth.  Logic helps us to find truth, and truth is its own end: it is worth knowing for its own sake.

Logic helps us to find truth, though it is not sufficient of itself to find truth.  It helps us especially (1) by demanding that we define our terms so that we understand what we mean, and (2) by demanding that we give good reasons, arguments, proofs.[4]

In the age of information, ignorance is no excuse.

And Logic, more than anything else, helps eviscerate that ignorance in a way that nothing else can.

That’s exactly why its been removed from the public school system, and exactly why all individuals need to employ it into their repertoire.

Sources & References:

[1] John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 16.
[2] Professor Patrick Deneen, How A Generation Lost Its Culture
[3] Peter Kreeft Ph.D., Socratic Logic, p. 1.
[4] Ibid., pp. 1-7.

Logic & Illogic In Education

Jon Rappoport
June 7, 2016

In two of my collections, The Matrix Revealed and Power Outside The Matrix, I include training in the art of logic and critical analysis.

The basic fact is: students in schools are rarely taught how to follow a line of reasoning from beginning to end. Nor do they practice analyzing half-formed, specious reasoning.

Who teaches young students, these days, how to distinguish between a polemic and a formal argument?

Teachers spend little or no time discussing hidden premises or assumptions, which color subsequent arguments.

Increasingly, people are “learning” from watching videos. Some videos are well done; many others intentionally omit vital data and make inferences based on “shocking images.”

A focused study of logic can illuminate a range of subjects and disciplines. It can suddenly bring perspective to fields of inquiry that were formerly mysterious and impenetrable.

Logic is the parent of knowledge. It contains the principles and methods common to all investigation.

Being able to spot and understand logical flaws and fallacies embedded in an article, essay, book immediately lifts the intelligence level.

Logic isn’t a prison; one isn’t forced to obey its rules. But the ability to deploy it, versus not understanding what it is, is like the difference between randomly hammering at a keyboard and typing coherent paragraphs. It’s the difference between, “I agree with what he’s writing,” and “I know exactly how he’s making his argument.”

In the West, the tradition of logic was codified by Aristotle. Before him, Plato, in the Socratic Dialogues, employed it to confound Socrates’ opponents.

Reading the Dialogues today, one can see, transparently, where Plato’s Socrates made questionable assumptions, which he then successfully foisted on those opponents. It’s quite instructive to go back and chart Socrates’ clever steps. You see logic and illogic at work.

High schools today don’t teach logic for two reasons. The teachers don’t understand the subject, and logic as a separate discipline has been deleted because students, armed with it, would become authentically independent. The goal of education rejects independent minds, despite assurances to the contrary.

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Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.