John of Salisbury’s Metalogicon



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John of Salisbury wrote the Metalogicon as a defense of the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric). He wrote in response to the ‘Cornificians’, detractors in his own century who criticized the liberal arts as a waste of time and instead proposed their own ‘shortcut’ curriculum. Based on how John of Salisbury presents them in his work, the Cornificians seem to have been concerned with seeming wise rather than with developing true wisdom through habitual study and practice of the liberal arts and philosophy. In response, John argues that the liberal arts are necessary as a foundation for the whole of education since the arts build upon the God-given capacities of nature to enable us to make progress in various disciplines with efficient, repeatable, and teachable excellence. The arts of the trivium, which he calls the ‘arts of eloquence’, are the first of the liberal arts, and John defends their role as necessary for the entirety of education and the pursuit of human knowledge and virtue. The arts of eloquence are the foundation of a liberal education which frees the soul to pursue knowledge of all the disciplines and to ultimately know God and yield the gracious fruit of virtuous living.


Master's thesis


John of Salisbury, Metalogicon, arts of eloquence, trivium, grammar, logic, rhetoric, liberal arts