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The Arts I: The Rhetorical Subjects

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Chapter Summary

A study in the liberal arts traditionally preceded a specialisation in either theology, law or medicine. This chapter offers a brief history of the liberal arts, with an emphasis on the relationship between the rhetorical and the philosophical subjects. The medieval liberal arts curriculum distantly reflects this Aristotelian division of philosophy. Attempts had been made since the eleventh century to integrate the seven arts with philosophy, for instance by including moral philosophy in the arts. In philosophy, the Aristotelian division of logic, physics, metaphysics and moral philosophy remained roughly intact. The Italian conception of the studia humanitatis did influence the groupings of arts subjects. The study of Oriental languages took a huge leap in the seventeenth century. The decline of history and eloquence between Vossius and Francius was not symptomatic of the Athenaeum as a whole: compared to the period of Barlaeus, philosophy flourished under Senguerdius, Klenckius and De Bie.

Keywords: Aristotelian division of philosophy; Athenaeum; Barlaeus; medieval liberal arts curriculum; Oriental language; rhetorical subject; studia humanitatis; theology; Vossius



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