Hot Best Seller

Beauty for Truth's Sake: The Re-Enchantment of Education

Availability: Ready to download

Based in the riches of Christian worship and tradition, this book helps readers put back together again faith and reason, truth and beauty, and the fragmented academic disciplines.


Compare

Based in the riches of Christian worship and tradition, this book helps readers put back together again faith and reason, truth and beauty, and the fragmented academic disciplines.

30 review for Beauty for Truth's Sake: The Re-Enchantment of Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    ladydusk

    Own. Wish I could do 3.5 stars. I’m both smarter and dumber after reading this book. This book is unabashedly Roman Catholic; quoting RC theologians and philosophers regularly and consistently, including the two most recent Popes frequently. His section on learning being by necessity in a liturgical framework emphasizes and highlights the RC Mass, which as an unabashed Reformed Protestant I found off-putting. To me, parts of the book seemed wavering on the edge of a numerology that was reading more Own. Wish I could do 3.5 stars. I’m both smarter and dumber after reading this book. This book is unabashedly Roman Catholic; quoting RC theologians and philosophers regularly and consistently, including the two most recent Popes frequently. His section on learning being by necessity in a liturgical framework emphasizes and highlights the RC Mass, which as an unabashed Reformed Protestant I found off-putting. To me, parts of the book seemed wavering on the edge of a numerology that was reading more into numbers than are there … but not quite. At times, I found the writing confusing, but that was probably more my lack of knowledge than his writing. There, the warnings are out of the way. First, it must be said, footnotes are vastly superior over endnotes. So glad he included footnotes (only wish they had been funny like Susan Wise Bauer's). His large bibliography is also a treasure trove of recommendations. Second, parts of this book are fascinating. Parts are encouraging. Parts were very thought provoking. Sometimes, I lost the thread of what he was trying to say. The concluding chapter, however, did as it was supposed to do and summed up nicely. He comes to a point where he's trying to get around a dualistic society pitting faith against reason: Faith is not opposed to reason, but it does function as a constant goad, a challenge, a provocation to reason. Faith claims to stand beyond reason, to speak from the place that reason seeks. But it does not claim to understand what it knows, and it should not usurp the role of reason in that sense, any more than it should contradict it. The resolution lies not in faith, nor yet in reason, but in love. We are perennially tempted to reduce Christianity to something less than itself: either to power (will, faith, law) or to philosophy (knowledge, reason, wisdom). Nominalists tend to do the former. Realists tend to do the latter. But the solution to this supreme problem in binary logic is through a third and higher thing: love, in which both will and knowledge are reconciled and held in balance -- or rather, in which both are transcended. God is love, in which both will and knowledge are comprised. I appreciated the examples of objective beauty found in the the quadrivium's disciplines, and had rather expected that most of the book would be that. It wasn't, which is probably good because I didn't comprehend parts of what he was explaining as it was (the deficiency is mine). And it wasn't entirely about teaching those skills from a Christian perspective nor giving me direction on how to teach truth and beauty in the quadrivium, which I had also expected. Rather, it issued a challenge to me, the reader, to seek the beauty in the nature of things and to help my pupils to do that too. One of my favorite quotes from the book (found in the footnotes!) was: "For [Simone] Weil preayer consists of attention to God and the concentration required to solve (or even attempt) mathematical puzzles is never wasted, since it develops the soul's capacity for the higher attentiveness --not to mention (in the case of those of us who find mathematics difficult) humility!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt Bianco

    This book was amazing--at least for me as someone who works in the education world. I've written elsewhere that we live in a world that has become a modern-day version of alchemists. We refuse to learn or work at anything without doing a cost-benefit analysis and knowing up front what the utilitarian and practical benefits of such learning or work will be. Whatever we are going to touch, we want it to turn to gold (as the alchemists did), although what we mean is a goo-paying job, nice house, fa This book was amazing--at least for me as someone who works in the education world. I've written elsewhere that we live in a world that has become a modern-day version of alchemists. We refuse to learn or work at anything without doing a cost-benefit analysis and knowing up front what the utilitarian and practical benefits of such learning or work will be. Whatever we are going to touch, we want it to turn to gold (as the alchemists did), although what we mean is a goo-paying job, nice house, fancy car, etc. We need to see the world as a place replete with goodness and beauty, because--believe it or not--that's what it is. Caldecott does an amazing job of pointing us back to goodness and beauty, of helping us to see the beauty in music, poetry, and especially in mathematics and science. One of my favorite lines from the book (lines he is quoting from Hans Urs von Balthasar's The Glory of the Lord: We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance> Elsewhere, he says that "without beauty, we have no reason or motivation to pray." Think on that. One of the ways he shows the beauty in math is to show through a kind of numerology study, what numbers mean symbolically and religiously. That study leads him into the golden ratio and other ideas. This leads him to contemplate theological concepts such as the Trinity, the Unity and Diversity of God, and the Incarnation, as well as why pi isn't a whole number, or the mathematical calculations within the Golden Rectangle do not lead to whole numbers. Uniting and integrating theology and mathematics because one catches a glimpse of the beauty of mathematics: a foreign idea in modern education and thinking. Yet, in classical education, that was the purpose of the seven liberal arts, to lead one to the study and contemplation of Theology, which of course is the study of God in order to know Him and to make Him known.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Mosley

    Last Read: 2013 (17-20 December) Caldecott's Beauty for Truth's Sake ranks up as one of the top two books I've read this alongside Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis Of Culture. Caldecott seeks to reintroduce, if not the seven Liberal Arts themselves, per se, the idea, ultimately, the cosmology behind them. The Liberal Arts, in their origin, saw meaning and symbol in the world, connecting all things to one another, and ultimately, to their Source: God. Caldecott takes the specific examples related t Last Read: 2013 (17-20 December) Caldecott's Beauty for Truth's Sake ranks up as one of the top two books I've read this alongside Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis Of Culture. Caldecott seeks to reintroduce, if not the seven Liberal Arts themselves, per se, the idea, ultimately, the cosmology behind them. The Liberal Arts, in their origin, saw meaning and symbol in the world, connecting all things to one another, and ultimately, to their Source: God. Caldecott takes the specific examples related to the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music) to show how the form, the cosmology of the Liberal Arts, and thus education as such, once worked. What Caldecott is calling for is return to a Christian cosmology in education. This return must not be forced on those to be educated, that is, students at Catholic University need not be forced to attend Mass, but the Mass must be celebrated. The Church Calendar must be the backbone for the structure of the academic year. The architecture of the buildings themselves must point to beauty through their use of mathematics (decorative and functional). I yearn for Caldecott's picture of education. This educative manifesto must be read by all who work in education, but it must also be read by all who live in community, for we continue to learn in all our communities, familial, social, religious, academic, etc. If we can learn to take on these practices and this understanding of the cosmos into our lives it will spread out into our societies.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Gearhart

    The Quadrivium - Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Music/Harmonics. Symbolism. Poetic knowledge. Order. Hierarchy. The ancient and medieval mindset. There were so many ideas in this book that were new to me, that I didn’t yet have a “hook” to hang them on. Oftentimes, I found myself scratching my head because this viewpoint is SO different from the one we’re all swimming in. I’ll have to reread this, probably several times in order to truly understand. I’m intrigued, though. Surprisingly, several The Quadrivium - Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Music/Harmonics. Symbolism. Poetic knowledge. Order. Hierarchy. The ancient and medieval mindset. There were so many ideas in this book that were new to me, that I didn’t yet have a “hook” to hang them on. Oftentimes, I found myself scratching my head because this viewpoint is SO different from the one we’re all swimming in. I’ll have to reread this, probably several times in order to truly understand. I’m intrigued, though. Surprisingly, several times he mentions Charles Taylor and his book A Secular Age, which I just finished. That was unexpected! I love when the books I read “speak” to each other. I’m not going to dismiss this perspective just because it is unfamiliar to me. I believe there is something important here. I just need more preparation in order to grasp it. Some favorite quotes: “No wonder students come to a college education expecting nothing more than a set of paper qualifications that will enable them to earn a decent salary. The idea that they might be there to grow as human beings, to be inducted into an ancient culture, to become somehow more than they are already, is alien to them. They expect instant answers, but they have no deep questions. The great questions have not yet been woken in them. The process of education requires us to become open, receptive, curious, and humble in the face of what we do not know. The world is a fabric woven of mysteries, and a mystery is a provocation to our humanity that cannot be dissolved by googling a few more bits of information.” “The ‘purpose’ of the quadrivium was to prepare us to contemplate God in an ordered fashion, to take delight in the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness, while the purpose of the trivium was to prepare us for the quadrivium. The ‘purpose’ of the Liberal Arts is therefore to purify the soul, to discipline the attention so that it becomes capable of devotion to God; that is, prayer.” “As we have seen, observance of the laws of harmony has been traditionally believed to attune the soul to a heavenly ideal. The spheres associated with the planets, representing levels of the universe or the elements in its construction, were thought to be moved by angels. Each sang a certain note, together expressing the harmony of the universe; a harmony that may be transmitted through music to the human soul.” “A disenchanted world is one viewed through the eyes of reason when reason is looking downward.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Rapinchuk

    Although it is by no means his main point in the book, Caldecott has provided one of the best explanations I have seen for both the beauty and importance of mathematics from a Christian worldview. The work overall is fascinating and thought-provoking, yet accessible to a wide range of readers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    Fascinating look at the Quadrivium from a Catholic classical perspective. I really appreciate the fact that it actually tries to seriously grapple with the Quadrivium as an essential part of a classical education. Most modern educators have a tendency to brush the Quadrivium under the rug and treat the subjects, in practice, as unimportant parts of a CLA education. (You can certainly make a case for this approach... but it also flies in the face of the historical CLA tradition which prioritized Fascinating look at the Quadrivium from a Catholic classical perspective. I really appreciate the fact that it actually tries to seriously grapple with the Quadrivium as an essential part of a classical education. Most modern educators have a tendency to brush the Quadrivium under the rug and treat the subjects, in practice, as unimportant parts of a CLA education. (You can certainly make a case for this approach... but it also flies in the face of the historical CLA tradition which prioritized the Quadrivium over the Trivium.) As a result of this devaluing of the Quadrivium, I've struggled to understand what it means to teach the Quadrivium classically. This book helped me a lot in contextualizing and fitting the Quadrivium into my educational framework. The biggest thing I didn't care for about the book--which may be more a reflection of myself than the author--is that it's written as more of a reflection than an argument, which means it has a tendency to ramble and jump around. This artistic look at the issue was sometimes more helpful than an argumentative framework (beauty is hard to depict in a strict argument), so I appreciated how the reflective framework assisted the goals of this book. But there were also several places where I wanted more clarity on what the author was arguing for and more practicality in his applications. It's one thing to say that education should present the Quadrivium in a certain light--it's another thing to actually teach it with that light in mind, and that is unfortunately a topic the author never really addressed. Taken as a whole, I'm glad I read this book. It doesn't address what it looks like to tangibly implement the Quadrivium in an actual classroom, so it wasn't everything I was looking for personally. But as a vision statement for what value the Quadrivium brings to the CLA movement, it's great and I did find that quite valuable as I think through this issue. Rating: 3.5-4 Stars (Good).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joy Rancatore

    Stratford Caldecott presents his treatise for a trivium/quadrivium education altered to fit our day and time in his book Beauty for Truth's Sake. He sets forth his thesis (which is grounded in a Catholic background) in the opening pages by emphasizing that since God is the one who created the world and God the Son (the Logos) is the author of its beauty and order, it is only by a right relationship and seeking after them that individuals can understand the depths of the beauty in order of the wo Stratford Caldecott presents his treatise for a trivium/quadrivium education altered to fit our day and time in his book Beauty for Truth's Sake. He sets forth his thesis (which is grounded in a Catholic background) in the opening pages by emphasizing that since God is the one who created the world and God the Son (the Logos) is the author of its beauty and order, it is only by a right relationship and seeking after them that individuals can understand the depths of the beauty in order of the world around them and thereby reconcile faith and reason and join in the harmony of the symphony of THE Maestro. He points out the symbols of God and the Trinity in each of the disciplines of the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. Through these chapters he assumes a familiarity in his readers of the ancient scholars and teachings (Plato, Aristotle, the Pythagoreans). Considering the possibility that we can find in mathematics and music different ways in which God reveals himself to his creation is exciting and mind-boggling. Caldecott's solution for better education seems to be a marrying of faith and reason with liturgy (prayer and praises of thanksgiving for life coupled with the sacrifice of one's self) as the center of all. He concludes that we cannot have faith and reason alone and expect to succeed...there must be love as well. While I see his points and agree with much of what he says, I find his solution to be unrealistic in a fallen world. He alludes to this failure in his conclusion but never actually addresses it. He does make an excellent point that those who seek knowledge apart from a relationship with the Creator of knowledge miss out on the beauty of truth.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: An argument for the unity of faith and reason, beauty and truth, the sciences and the humanities, and for the recovery of education as a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, both rooted in and eventuating in liturgical worship. As one who has long worked around universities, the fragmentation of knowledge among the disparate disciplines is an established fact. Those who teach in the humanities, and in the sciences often hold each other in mutual suspicion if not contempt, and speak in languages o Summary: An argument for the unity of faith and reason, beauty and truth, the sciences and the humanities, and for the recovery of education as a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, both rooted in and eventuating in liturgical worship. As one who has long worked around universities, the fragmentation of knowledge among the disparate disciplines is an established fact. Those who teach in the humanities, and in the sciences often hold each other in mutual suspicion if not contempt, and speak in languages often unintelligible to each other. One of the few things that unites a number of these people is a shared suspicion toward religious faith (sometimes, but not always, warranted by stupid or wicked things done in God’s name). In this work, Stratford Caldecott contends for an ancient, and yet contemporary vision of a restored unity of knowledge that brings together arts and humanities, math and the sciences, the beautiful and the true, reason and faith in a “re-enchantment” of education that leads to wisdom, and worship. He writes in his Introduction: “I believe it is possible to remain an active learner throughout life, and yet to maintain a moral compass in good working order. But vital though they are, adaptability and ethics are not enough by themselves. There is a structural flaw in our education that we need to overcome. It is related to a profound malaise in our civilization, which by progressive stages has slipped into a way of thinking and living that is dualistic in character. The divisions between arts and sciences, between faith and reason, between nature and grace, have a common root. In particular, our struggle to reconcile religious faith with modern science is symptomatic of a failure to understand the full scope of human reason and its true grandeur” (p. 12). Caldecott would argue that our modern fragmented education divorces meaning from fact, dooming the humanities to solipsism and the sciences to sterility. He would argue, along with Dorothy Sayers (in The Lost Tools of Learning) for a restoration of the trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, and an adaptation of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, expanded for additional disciplines). He believes that the key to the unity of these disciplines is beauty, which serves as a pointer to truth, as well as goodness. He connects the recovery of the poetic imagination with its focus on symbol to the recognition of the symbolic in the scientific study of the natural world, opening us to the wonder of what is beyond. He explores the beauty and symbolism in math and geometry, the structure and beauty of music, and concludes with how this “re-enchanted” cosmology finds its consummation in liturgy. What I most appreciated in this work is the sense of the recovery of wonder in our inquiry. In the modern academy, it seems that one of the prices paid for advancing in proficiency, whether in “getting good data” in science, or in applying critical theory to historical events or literary works is the loss of wonder–the joy of a good story, admiration for a historical figure, appreciation of the structure of the cosmos. Certainly this is not always so, but to see the wide-eyed wonder of young scholars replaced by cynicism is grievous whenever it happens, and I cannot help but think that the educational flaws Caldecott critiques contribute to this loss. Where Caldecott may be critiqued is in his “Christian Platonism” that views our language, our numbers, our physical world pointing to a world beyond–the world of forms, ideas, perhaps all found in the mind or person of God. I have to confess that I don’t have the philosophical wherewithal to critique or defend this idea, and I haven’t thought of things in quite these terms. I do believe that all human artistry, and the artistry of the physical world is a reflection of the Great Artist in a general sense. But I’m not as sure about the effort to “symbolize” all physical reality as a signifier of transcendent reality. There is something that feels as if it could be forced to me, akin to those who try to find some spiritual lesson in everything and sometimes reach some pretty wacky conclusions. I think I’d rather be open to beauty where I find it, to be attentive to what it points toward, and aware that we sing God’s songs, and think his thoughts after Him. I’m not sure if that makes me a Christian Platonist or not. And perhaps that points to the goodness of this book, that it is making me think and re-examine my own understanding. It makes me think about how I relate goodness, truth, and beauty, how it is that I can claim reason and faith are not at odds and that there is an underlying unity to all knowledge. It poses the question to me in my work of how I can claim to suggest that the integration of faith, learning, and practice are a possibility in the modern university, and not just a slogan. Most of all, it inspires me afresh to think of how wonder might lead to doxology. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    "Beauty for Truth's Sake" is a celebration of God's cosmic order which was the foundation for all education in ancient and medieval times. This book is an opportunity for the reader to join Caldecott in prayerful wonder of the Logos who is the Word, Pattern, and Wisdom of God, who shines His light upon all things. The Logos, so argues Caldecott, was incarnated as a physical, human being and links God's very mind to humans and humans to God's very mind. Through the Author of Life we have the eyes "Beauty for Truth's Sake" is a celebration of God's cosmic order which was the foundation for all education in ancient and medieval times. This book is an opportunity for the reader to join Caldecott in prayerful wonder of the Logos who is the Word, Pattern, and Wisdom of God, who shines His light upon all things. The Logos, so argues Caldecott, was incarnated as a physical, human being and links God's very mind to humans and humans to God's very mind. Through the Author of Life we have the eyes to see the patterns of love that God has left for us in absolutely everything. This is a book to slowly savor. Caldecott begins with an evaluation of modern education, noting that it has severed learning from cosmic order. Without cosmic order, school becomes a factory, producing people who are less human because they've not been led to love; they've been taught subjects which society has deemed "useful." There's been a fragmentation of the modern mind; we've lost our way, so a ressourcement is necessary. Caldecott directs our attention to the cathedral schools. The Trivium and Quadrivium were not "subjects" for the medieval students; they were ways or principles. The medieval student was not expected to master information, but to learn how to reason and then see how Reason is woven into the cosmos. This book is primarily concerned with the Quadrivium, because Caldecott is demonstrating the wonder that we have lost when we sever arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music from God. To do this he goes back to the marvelous Pythagoreans and Platonists whose discoveries were adopted by Christian theologians and transformed our world. It was they who showed how all the academic paths lead to the highest pursuit of all: theology. Caldecott is fond of Pythagoras and his school, and devotes many pages to demonstration of the cosmic order of mathematics. From the spiritual symbolism of numbers to the wonders of the "Golden Section," Caldecott demonstrates that numbers are only "dry" because everything from counting to geometry has been divorced from mysticism. Likewise, he proceeds from arithmetic to geometry, astronomy and music to demonstrate the enchanting wonder that the ancients experienced when they appreciated these principles. Perhaps the major background argument of the book is found on page 122 when Caldecott introduces the medieval philosophical approaches of nominalism and realism. Realism accepted that objects, individuals, concepts had a reality of their own distinct from the things they qualify. Nominalists (following Duns Scotus) argued that the only reality we can discuss is that of individual things; ideas are labels we stick onto bits of reality. Well, the nominalists paved the way for the thought of the Reformation, Descartes, and the Enlightenment. Since the 14th century, the belief in a divine cosmic order has been less and less important to human civilization. We therefore end up where we are now: a "flat earth." The medievals saw our existence as both horizontal and vertical - that is, we interacted with other people and with the Logos of God Himself. People today have only a horizontal notion of existence; there is no higher order for humanity is not a part of a pattern or rhythm, they are simply a mistake at worst or a separate type of creature at best. Nominalism has exerted such an enormous influence, but most don't even realize it. It has led to our modern mentality, a mentality that sees no beauty in numbers, no mysticism in geometry, no divine message in the stars, and no heaven in music. Everything is separated, fragmented, flat - from our buildings to our philosophy to our education to ourselves. We cannot just return to the Middle Ages, but we can renew our celebration of Christian culture in the West, and this is what Caldecott hazards as practical application at the end: through liturgy (prayer) and education, show young people the richness of this tradition, and allow them to enter into it. There is so much more to this surprising and deeply spiritual book that I can possibly say in a short review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Personal background: heavy mathematics education and plan on homeschooling (CM) This book was incredibly insightful into pre-Enlightenment mindset... it was a deep dive into ideas I've been hearing more and more about lately about the interconnection of the quadrivium, the "Great Dance". Overall, I really enjoyed it, and only had a couple hesitations. - The author is unapologetically Catholic. It's not really a disadvantage, per se, but it is prominent through the entire book, with references to Personal background: heavy mathematics education and plan on homeschooling (CM) This book was incredibly insightful into pre-Enlightenment mindset... it was a deep dive into ideas I've been hearing more and more about lately about the interconnection of the quadrivium, the "Great Dance". Overall, I really enjoyed it, and only had a couple hesitations. - The author is unapologetically Catholic. It's not really a disadvantage, per se, but it is prominent through the entire book, with references to Mass, quotes from Popes, etc. However, as a Reformed Protestant, I could find ways to adapt what he was saying to my own Faith. The discussion wasn't too different. It just took a little more thinking. - This book is *deep*. Again, not a disadvantage, but plan on reading it very slowly to be able to give it the thought it deserves. It seems some people get tied up in some of the applications he gives to the cosmos (harmony, geometry, etc), and I didn't, but could see how they could be challenging to follow if you haven't had much continuing education in mathematics. - Chapter 3: The numerology was... interesting? But seemed like a stretch at times. I feel like the whole chapter was redeemed by this quote: "We do not have to follow the ancient symbolic reading of mathematics slavishly, but only be open to the presence of meaning where the modern mind sees none." Be open? Sure, I can do that. Taken with that mindset, the chapter was an enjoyable explanation of Number. - Chapter 4 was actually the hardest for me to slough through. I am not the biggest fan of Simone Weil. I think her theology falls too much into mysticism. I understood what she was trying to say in the geometry, but it really felt like reaching. But after that, Chapter 5 was probably one of my favorites, with applications in the real world. The bit on Kepler was really neat. - I appreciated that the final chapters tried to wrap up the theory into application. I am still thinking through what that looks like, but it was a good transition out of the book. If you think this topic is interesting but want an intro before you dive into the book, two podcasts I have heard on the topic include CiRCE's Ask Andrew podcast (particularly "What is the 'Great Dance' and why does it matter?" from April 13, 2018) and the Classical Homeschool Podcast, episodes 17-20.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    Classical education has become popular in many home school and private Christian school communities over the last thirty years or so. Like so many ideas when they become popularized, this means that many of the principles of Classical education have been misunderstood by those attempting to classically educate. Classical education is an educational philosophy developed in the 12th and 13th centuries and based on Greek and Roman principles combined with a Christian view of the cosmos. Classical e Classical education has become popular in many home school and private Christian school communities over the last thirty years or so. Like so many ideas when they become popularized, this means that many of the principles of Classical education have been misunderstood by those attempting to classically educate. Classical education is an educational philosophy developed in the 12th and 13th centuries and based on Greek and Roman principles combined with a Christian view of the cosmos. Classical education today, however, is seen less as a philosophy of education and more as a method of education. This distinction is key. Classical education is built around 2 courses of study: the trivium (3 ways) and the quadrivium (4 ways). Together these make up the 7 liberal arts. Most classical educators today, both home school and private school, focus exclusively on the trivium to the exclusion of the quadrivium. The trivium is made up of Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric. These were thought of as the modes of learning or skills or arts or disciplines, if you will, that equip a student to move forward into the deeper studies of philosophy and theology. In 1947, Dorothy Sayers published an essay titled "The Lost Tools of Learning" that suggests that children have various stages of development at which they are especially suited for learning each of these disciplines. Younger children are particularly suited for studying grammar, young teens are particularly suited for learning dialectic reasoning, and older teens/young adults are particularly suited for rhetoric. Because of Sayers essay, which sparked the modern classical movement, many people today in classical education talk of the trivium as if it is synonymous with these stages. This is what I meant earlier by Classical Education becoming method rather than a philosophy. In earlier times, the trivium was not implemented in stages, and in many older classical schools that have been around since the 1800s, it is still not implemented in stages. The idea that the disciplines and skills of the Trivium can be implemented in this way is a good method, in my opinion, presented by Sayers, but only a method and not part of the core philosophy. In addition, because Sayers did not talk about the quadrivium (it was never her purpose to set forth an outline for a full-orbed classical education) many schools today ignore the quadrivium entirely. All right, all that was just an introduction... Now on to the actual book I'm reviewing. Truth for Beauty's Sake by Stratford Caldecott seeks to reintroduce the importance of the quadrivium and the seven liberal arts to education today. The quadrivium is made up of mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy. While these things are often taught in schools today, they have lost the depth and purpose with which they were imbued in classical education. Arithmetic, for example, is seen now as merely quantitative: useful for calculating practical things for purposes of counting, engineering, programming, etc. However, though this is all part of mathematics, Caldecott points out that in a medieval Christian view of mathematics, numbers have sacred and poetic meanings, and the contemplation of mathematics can lead to deep philosophical and theological considerations. He points out that this poetic focus of math creeps into modern physics and other studies, but is not recognized in a widespread way. Geometry, likewise, is charged with poetic and sacred meaning, from contemplations on the Trinity based on pi, to contemplations of beauty based on phi. According to one legend, the discovery of irrational numbers, for example, caused the Pythagoreans to murder one of their own members in ancient times. It would be hard to think of Geometry causing such passion in modern times. Music (or harmonics, which is the old term for the study) stems from Mathematics and Geometry, and ideas about beauty and music are intertwined with those disciplines. The golden ratio (phi) in geometry, for example, corresponds closely to the major 6th interval in music which is considered by many to be the most aesthetically pleasing interval. Finally Caldecott points out how medieval astronomy was often based, not necessarily on observation, but on symbolism and meaning. It would not bother a medieval to learn that the picture he painted of the cosmos didn't correspond to reality. Indeed, in a fallen universe, he would not expect reality to conform to his ideal conception of it. Nonetheless, Caldecott believes that there is no contradiction between the empirical astronomy of today and the possibility of rich human meaning in the cosmos. Along the way, he emphasizes that we should think of these things (mathematics, geometry, astronomy and music) not simply as servile arts (designed for practical purposes) but as liberal arts (designed to make us free humans able to properly contemplate the creation and our Creator). Math is very useful in day to day life, but is important for its spiritual qualities even apart from its usefulness. Geometry is a great help to architecture, but both are means of expressing other truths. Learning to play music is a good skill (although actual playing of music was not included in the medieval quadrivium), but the study of music or harmonics apart from actually playing it helps us to contemplate astronomy (the music of the spheres) and mathematics and geometry in a higher way as we seek harmony in our lives and in the world around us. Finally, astronomy is good for the practical things it tells us about the universe, but, perhaps more importantly, for the things it teaches us about God. This is, admittedly, a difficult book to read. It is scholarly and packed with footnotes. It runs the gamut from science and physics to philosophy and poetry. Caldecott writes of and integrates all of these disparate sources as if he expects that we are as familiar with them all as he is, which makes some high demands of the reader. His theology is pretty wonky in places as well, but I'll try not to judge him for that. The important thing here is to appreciate the picture he is painting for a full-orbed classical education and for the kind of person it produces. This book is a great corrective to shortcomings in modern classical education as well as to our hyper-reductionistic modernity. It is thought provoking and bold; it is erudite and scholarly. And best of all, it approaches classical education as a philosophy (regarding what sort of person it produces and upon what principles it is based) and not merely a method (follow these three simple steps to academic excellence). If you are a teacher, administrator, or otherwise involved in classical education, I highly recommend this book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jlnpeacock Peacock

    The book provides the reintroduction of ideas concerning a proper education in that we should no longer segregate theology, music, mathematics and science into separate disciplines. (This is not to say that each element would not have a special class focusing on just that subject. It is to say that one would not be taught that there is no underlying foundation for them all.) The subjects are connected in a variety of ways and best understood if seen as a whole in the context of God's creation an The book provides the reintroduction of ideas concerning a proper education in that we should no longer segregate theology, music, mathematics and science into separate disciplines. (This is not to say that each element would not have a special class focusing on just that subject. It is to say that one would not be taught that there is no underlying foundation for them all.) The subjects are connected in a variety of ways and best understood if seen as a whole in the context of God's creation and His working within it. There were sections of the book in which the discussion of various components of math took place that I am not smart enough to understand; however, I could follow along with 'clue context' and appreciated what was being explained. There are some theological differences between the author and myself, but it was not enough to cause me to disregard the majority of what was being written.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    This was a challenging read for me, though exciting and rewarding. It deepened my understanding of life as being symbolic and rich with embodied meanings. After reading it, I gained a new perspective and the feeling that more pieces of life's jigsaw puzzle were falling into place. However, it was a dense and complicated read and I will need to re-read the book to understand more of the truths that the author is communicating. As a homeschooling parent, this book is useful in so far as it will inf This was a challenging read for me, though exciting and rewarding. It deepened my understanding of life as being symbolic and rich with embodied meanings. After reading it, I gained a new perspective and the feeling that more pieces of life's jigsaw puzzle were falling into place. However, it was a dense and complicated read and I will need to re-read the book to understand more of the truths that the author is communicating. As a homeschooling parent, this book is useful in so far as it will influence my attitude towards my own education and spiritual awareness, and, by default, that of my children, rather than being a practical guide to home education.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A fabulous book about the beauty of the quadrivium and the importance of understanding the world with a sacramental understanding -realizing that there is so much more to see than simply that which meets the eye. The union of faith and reason through love can guide us in whatever study we choose to undertake and the pursuit of any branch of knowledge done for the sake of love will always lead us back to God.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Colette

    I will definitely be revisiting this book. There is so much upon which to ponder. I want to delve into the bibliography and read further on so many topics. I am not a member of the Catholic Church, but I did not find all the references off-putting, as some others have. However, I think some of the symbolism of the numbers was a little far-fetched for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marc Sims

    A good little manifesto on the importance of classical education. A few odd chapters on “sacred geometry” and a “Christian Pythagorean” tradition that were a little far-fetched. But all in all, a book worth the read. Aside from the general call to a serious study of education in the classical model, the sections on architecture and music were particularly enlightening.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Quality discussion of the traditional liberal arts (trivium and quadrivium), the necessity of studying them together, and how approaching subjects in this manner (rather than the modern educational methods) might "re-enchant" so many who find the subjects dull or difficult and contribute to a rebuilding of society. Highly recommended

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Patchin

    What a wonderful book. Rich, complex, and challenging. Excellent for classical educators looking for inspiration in cultivating the quadrivium in their schools. One of my friends needs to read it and then come talk to me about it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Clark

    A book I reread every 5 or 6 years. I understood maybe 40% the first time and a good 60% this time so maybe in 5 more years I'll hit 80? It was my first introduction to the quadrivium and still remains the best.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maxwill

    Quadrivium? Number? Beauty, Truth, and Love in education??? It’s deep and mind boggling. It helps sort the fragmentation of modern academia and points back towards ancient and medieval views on education, but without a blinding romanticism. Pretty cool.🤯

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Stunning a breathtaking at points! If you are someone who has ever made a statement about sacrificing beauty for truth then you NEED to read this book! Kill beauty and she will take goodness and truth with her!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    A very challenging read, and I'll confess his conclusion was hard for me to follow. However I am left feeling it would be worthwhile to read it again in a year or so.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Meh. But also with some absolute gems in there (and not just a few). It’s exactly how I felt about his other book—that I had to slog through it, and yet I found so many things worth slogging for.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Austin Hoffman

    Really good except for the Roman Church gibberish -- always room for works in salvation and Protestants are nominalists.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This is a book about education and about education in the liberal arts. Education has been reduced to training and stripped enchantment. There are some really great chapters that show how the enchantment applies to the sciences, astronomy and how the Trinity is rflected in different aspects of that order. Really very good indeed. "> The Way we educate is the way we pass on or transform our culture. It carries within it a message about values, priorities, and the way we structure the world. The This is a book about education and about education in the liberal arts. Education has been reduced to training and stripped enchantment. There are some really great chapters that show how the enchantment applies to the sciences, astronomy and how the Trinity is rflected in different aspects of that order. Really very good indeed. "> The Way we educate is the way we pass on or transform our culture. It carries within it a message about values, priorities, and the way we structure the world. The fragmentation of education into disciplines teaches us that the world is made of bits we can use and consume as we choose. This fragmentation is denial of ultimate meaning. Contemporary education therefore tends to the elimination of meaning - except in the sense of a meaning that we impose by force upon the world. > The keys to meaning are (and always have been) form, gestalt, beauty, interiority, relationship, radiance, and purpose. An education for meaning would therefore begin with an education in the perception of form. The "re-enchantment" of eduaction would open our eyes to the meaning and beauty of the cosmos. > Education begins in the family and ends in the Trinity. Praise (of beauty), service (of goodness), and contemplation (of truth) are essential to the full expression of our humanity. The cosmos is liturgical by its very nature". (p.17)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susannah

    This is a book by a Catholic thinker for Catholics, I believe, though I gleaned a good bit from Caldecott's general descriptions of classical thought, and as a classical educator I am certainly sympathetic to the call to develop "poetic consciousness" even in more empirical pursuits. It's an aspect of thinking that has stayed with me since childhood, though I have not exercised it as I should, nor passed it to my own children to the degree I might. One of my favorite hymns, "This is My Father's This is a book by a Catholic thinker for Catholics, I believe, though I gleaned a good bit from Caldecott's general descriptions of classical thought, and as a classical educator I am certainly sympathetic to the call to develop "poetic consciousness" even in more empirical pursuits. It's an aspect of thinking that has stayed with me since childhood, though I have not exercised it as I should, nor passed it to my own children to the degree I might. One of my favorite hymns, "This is My Father's World," for me sums up this perspective of the world, an absolute wonder bewreathed in the Father's love, even the mute "rocks and trees" returning grateful praise. I admit I was a bit reserved about quotations from less-than-orthodox mystics like Simone Weil, though I'm totally unfamiliar with her body of work (I've heard of her, but this was the first I'd encountered any snippets of her writing). I am a bit more familiar with Hans Urs von Balthasar, through the writings of a favorite author/blogger (One Cosmos). I would like to read this book again, imagining how a Protestant with a similar longing to recapture the poetic might have written it, before giving it a full review. :) (I know Ravi Zacharias has written a book about rediscovering wonder, though I do not know how it might overlap in subject matter with this one.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    As a parent and employee at a classical Christian school, I was enthralled by Stratford Caldecott's perspective on education. The modern world has divorced reason and faith and we are reaping the bitter harvest. As quoted in the book: "The separation of the two affects everything: science, economics, art, politics, and education. It lay behind 9/11 and spawned the War on Terror. Debates about contraception and gay marriage are conditioned by it. If fairth and reason are indeed incompatible, if t As a parent and employee at a classical Christian school, I was enthralled by Stratford Caldecott's perspective on education. The modern world has divorced reason and faith and we are reaping the bitter harvest. As quoted in the book: "The separation of the two affects everything: science, economics, art, politics, and education. It lay behind 9/11 and spawned the War on Terror. Debates about contraception and gay marriage are conditioned by it. If fairth and reason are indeed incompatible, if they are mutually exculsive, then we are forced to choose between them. Once we have chosen, the energies of human nature will be channeled by our choice and we will shape the world accordingly." I am encouraged that my boys have been educated in a school that recognizes the trivium and the quadrivium as relevant. In a school that values the four areas of education: religious, physical, moral and academic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark Gring

    A little over a third of the way through this so far but have found some wonderful ideas (especially related to his understanding of counting's relationship to arithmetic, geometry,music, and astronomy) about the quadrivium and the concept of "memoria." However, I have found equally disturbing ideas. I can forgive his enthusiastic Roman Catholicism because I am an enthusiastic part of a Reformed church. However, his mysticism, his emphasis on "natural law," and his awkward toying with numerology A little over a third of the way through this so far but have found some wonderful ideas (especially related to his understanding of counting's relationship to arithmetic, geometry,music, and astronomy) about the quadrivium and the concept of "memoria." However, I have found equally disturbing ideas. I can forgive his enthusiastic Roman Catholicism because I am an enthusiastic part of a Reformed church. However, his mysticism, his emphasis on "natural law," and his awkward toying with numerology (an apparent agreement with "sacred numbers") is bothersome. Ultimately, though, he gives a good appreciation for mathematics. However, I believe the works of Vern Sheridan Poythress would be much better given his solidly reformed convictions and broader understanding of math and logic and theology.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angie Libert

    The author did such a good job at shedding light on what the quadrivium within the classical education philosophy is really about. I now understand why Plato cautioned against studying philosophy until you are at least 30. Plato wanted his students to have a firm grasp of the symbolism within these branches of study: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. Once this ground work is established it is easier for them to understand the ways of God. I now understand why so many people get confused The author did such a good job at shedding light on what the quadrivium within the classical education philosophy is really about. I now understand why Plato cautioned against studying philosophy until you are at least 30. Plato wanted his students to have a firm grasp of the symbolism within these branches of study: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. Once this ground work is established it is easier for them to understand the ways of God. I now understand why so many people get confused when studying philosophy or refuse to study this topic: they do not have the ground work established. Oh, how I want such a strong foundation! I would also like to note that the author is Catholic. For some that might be distracting. But if you can see past this possible conflict, you will find so much wealth in this book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sally Ewan

    I am not very smart, because I missed the point of the book. I need someone wiser to sit with me and explain how the bits about the golden circle fit with "the reenchantment of education". Then again, I just wasn't swept away by what seems like fancy phrases without clear meaning. The book ends with this: "The intellect seeks truth, and it seeks beauty for truth's sake, but the substance of truth is love." What exactly is he saying there, "the substance of truth is love"? How is love the substan I am not very smart, because I missed the point of the book. I need someone wiser to sit with me and explain how the bits about the golden circle fit with "the reenchantment of education". Then again, I just wasn't swept away by what seems like fancy phrases without clear meaning. The book ends with this: "The intellect seeks truth, and it seeks beauty for truth's sake, but the substance of truth is love." What exactly is he saying there, "the substance of truth is love"? How is love the substance of truth? Is 'substance' supposed to mean the content and reality of love? Whose love is he referring to? God's love, Love in general, the love of all people, the cosmos? Most of this went way over my head. I am open to explanation here, people--help me out!!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.