Brief Overview of Trivium Studies: 

Trivium-Studies_1500pxTrivium Studies teaches the “three ways” or Trivium of classical education are the language arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  Though they are best understood as an integrated whole, we might describe grammar as the study of the parts and pieces of language; its building blocks.  Logic is the art of expressing correct reasoning using those blocks.  Rhetoric is the art of communicating “well,” adding the perfections of beauty to the truths of language.  Grammar is studied, formally, in our Latin program; here you find Logic and Rhetoric in years I and II.  These arts are the tools that precede and make possible all further studies, especially philosophy and theology.   In the third and final course, the students examine how the tools they have learned find application in a variety of specific sciences, setting up the transition from the Trivium to the Quadrivium, learning still more about logic and rhetoric, and pausing to look over the whole range of the arts and sciences to note how they fit together and point man to God.

 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Logic Advanced Logic & Rhetoric Methods and Divisions of the Sciences

Detailed Descriptions:


This class emphasizes the structure of logical reasoning, the form that right reasoning takes. It begins with an Aristotelian account of the three acts of the intellect: simple apprehension, judgment, and reasoning. These acts are verbalized as terms, propositions, and syllogisms, respectively. With this background, the students learn the four types of logical proposition, the square of opposition for understanding the ways in which those propositions are related, and the rules for combining propositions into syllogisms without error. The course concludes with the consideration of various complex forms of the syllogism and numerous case studies of famous arguments. The second half of the year emphasizes the practice of “translating” and analyzing “ordinary language arguments” over the introduction of new content.

Advanced Logic & Rhetoric:

Aristotle tells us that logic and rhetoric are closely connected, though different. Logic is ordered to scientific demonstration while rhetoric to persuasion Quintilian broadens the scope of rhetoric to include all instances of speaking well. The student who has been learning advanced grammar and syntax in the Legamus Latinam cycle, and who has taken Trivium Studies I: Logic will find a completion to our introduction to the mediaeval trivium in this class. Drawing upon Aristotle’s Rhetoric and other Greek and Roman works we will explore the three modes of persuasion, the five canons of rhetoric, the steps for apprehending the rhetorical situation, and other elements of the classical approach. Rather than a “public speaking” course, the class continues the exploration of what language and thought are that was begun in TS 1. It examines the other modes of communication that complete the logos emphasized in our logic class (pathos and ethos); it introduces us to themes that will find their full explication in Human Nature & Ethics as it considers the ethical and humane conditions that one must bear in mind when wielding the profound and dangerous thing that is language. In addition, it offers a defense of rhetoric reliant upon beauty and lays out a practical imitative approach to composition, using the five canons.

Methods & Divisions of the Sciences

Having considered the universal tool of all science and art in logic and gained experience in the use of language to express what we know in rhetoric, we are now ready to consider the many things to which we can apply these skills. In this course we consider the basic questions: What is an art? What is a science? And, what are the many types of art and science to which we can apply our time and talent? As we consider these types we take the opportunity to look more closely at the methods that are common to each and how each method reflects and enlarges what we have learned about formal and material/deductive and inductive logic. In this way, the course is a bridge between the Trivium and the Quadrivium: the three toolds of science and the sciences of the quantifiable, measurable, physical world.

In addition to this survey of types of enquiry and fabrication and the methods particular to them, this course provides a first chance to ask the larger question: What is art and science for? What does it mean that man is curious and that he creates beauty? What is it that we seek to understand or capture? In answering these questions the course provides an opportunity to describe a teleological view of human life and endeavor that is rich and theocentric and exciting.


Trivium Studies

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