Hunting Down the Core Disciplines

» Posted by on Jun 17, 2011 in Blog, On the Learning | Comments Off on Hunting Down the Core Disciplines

Without digging too deep yet into some perplexing stuff, here are a few thoughts on what might carry the most weight among the areas of learning during the younger years of study:

Naming the animals was man’s work in the beginning, a work God chose not to designate for himself, and it required a fundamental attribute that God placed in man from the start.  This attribute is language.  It is a core element of our being because it is a core element of the Trinity himself as seen best in God the Son, or God the Word.  Language is what the medieval and classical trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric is about.  12th century Christian educator Hugh of St. Victor summed up these three as “linguistic logic,” with argumentative logic (dialectic and rhetoric) as a subset, and then grammar as the basic treatment of words (see the Didascalicon, book 1, chapter 11).  Because of this linguistic nature of our being as God’s image-bearers, the trivium seems to precede, or at least needs to accompany, most other areas of study (unlike what is argued by at least one source– Littlejohn and Evans in Wisdom and Eloquence).  That is, we need the tools of language before we can name the world, which is what much of the other good stuff is about, such as the natural sciences.  We need language to do pretty much any kind of coherent thinking.

There is another area, however, that might be as fundamental as language, and another yet that seems to underlie both.  The first is music.  If indeed it is on par with language, it is again because of explicit origins in the Trinity (all good things come from this source, although some are more downstream, and not so close to the Fountainhead), music being traced back chiefly to the personhood of the Holy Spirit. If we get back around to it, we will refer to James Jordan and other sources to expand here later.

And then the discipline that is very hard to pin down but which must be near the top of the list because of its way of being behind all and in all (and certainly not in competition or distinction with the others), is beauty.  Beauty, or aesthetics, may need to be placed in the same category as music, being understood primarily in relation to the Holy Spirit.  However, the connection of beauty to the Godhead is also said to be in how it reflects the harmony of the Three.  We will refer to Jonathan Edwards and others if we are ever ambitious enough develop this last one . . .