Where do the Modern-Day Liberal Arts Originate?

842 WordsJan 27, 20183 Pages
The question is often asked: where do the modern day “liberal arts” come from? The liberal arts system originates in the philosophy of ancient Greece, and was born in from certain questions queried by the unique philosophy evolved in Grecian culture. Questions of the human soul were raised: What is the good life? Is ethical truth relative to the culture from which it comes? Do people have free will? What is it for one event to cause another? Why are liberty and democracy important? What constitutes life? What is knowledge? This search for absolute and objective truth within the world led to the search for our place within the world. This unprecedented philosophical undertaking is today associated with the likes of Epicurus, Socrates, Euclid, and Aristotle. Over time, these seeded questions blossomed into a structured form of inquiry. At the height of Greek philosophy in the fourth century B.C.E., scholars, teachers, and thinkers desired to establish a structured curriculum of subjects. This system of learning, teaching, and thinking was to prepare students for studies which were believed that every thinking person should have. From these aims came what was called the enkyklios paideia, or the “general education.” It is from this Greek effort that we are today given “encyclopedia” (Encyclopedia). Marcus Terentius Varro, a first century B.C.E. Roman scholar and writer, organized the steadily budding liberal arts into nine disciplines and introduced it to Rome (Biography).

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