March 22, 2006

The Trivium

Chapter One (pdf) of a book titled The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, by Sister Miriam Joseph. Originally published in the 1930s, an updated edition appeared in 2002, reformatted with extensive notes, references, and biographical information.

"Sister Miriam Joseph, the author, wrote the book from a strong academic perspective. Holding degrees from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, University of Notre Dame, and Columbia University, Sister spent her life supporting her belief that women could be fine journalists and that more quality writers with a Christian and Catholic faith would help to address the ills of society. When she began teaching as an English professor at Saint Mary’s in 1931, she was assigned the courses on rhetoric, grammar, and composition. In 1935 after hearing Mortimer Adler speak, Sister Miriam Joseph was asked to "revive the united Trivium again in the freshman class." After studying closely with Mortimer Adler for several months, Sister returned to Saint Mary’s to begin putting together the text, The Trivium in College Composition and Reading, to be used in her class, a required course for all freshmen." (via

Great Books Lists

March 03, 2006

Ancient Wisdom from Dead White Males

"We believe that the reduction of the citizen to an object of propaganda, private and public, is one of the greatest dangers to democracy. A prevalent notion is that the great mass of the people cannot understand and cannot form an independent judgment upon any matter; they cannot be educated, in the sense of developing their intellectual powers, but they can be bamboozled. The reiteration of slogans, the distortion of the news, the great storm of propaganda that beats upon the citizen twenty-four hours a day all his life long mean either that democracy must fall prey to the loudest and most persistent propagandists or that the people must save themselves by strengthening their minds so that they can appraise the issues for themselves."

From the preface of "The Great Conversation", book one of "Great Books of the Western World," edited by Robert M. Hutchins and Mortimer J. Adler - December 1, 1951. (via Curmudgeon)