To understand the Trivium~Philosophy~Theology course sequence, we must begin with the Trivium. The Trivium is best understood as an integrated whole - first words, then reasoning, then communication. Grammar is studied, formally, in our Latin program (both in Latin and in English). In TPT, you find Logic in the primer year, year 1, and the beginning of year 2. Rhetoric takes up the second half of year 2. Additional elements of logic are studied outside this sequence: in mathematics (e.g. proofs and formulas), in the experimental sciences (inductive reasoning), and throughout the great books. Rhetoric informs the composition program and fine works of oratory are found throughout our Great Books sequence. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric are the tools that precede and make possible all further studies, in natural, quantitative, and divine science.
TPT 1 teachers the art of correct reasoning. The basic conceptual structures are St. Thomas's three acts of the mind and the categorical syllogism. We deal in terms, statements, and syllogisms.
TPT 2 teaches more logic and the art of communicating "well," adding the perfections of beauty and emotional value to the truths of language
"The study of philosophy is not that we may know what men have thought, but what the truth of things is." ~ Thomas Aquinas
The traditional Quadrivium was comprised of various mathematically focused courses. Once they were complete the students were ready for philosophy and then theology. Our approach is to increase the time spent on quantitative science and the two sides of natural science (philosophy and experimental science) as the students move into high school. In TPT, year 3 explores nature, man, and the division of the sciences just mentioned. A framework for understanding wisdom, man, the different methods common in philosophy, science, and theology and how they work together is laid out. Year 4 turns to the first half of divine science, metaphysics, or what can be known about God and all being through reason. Finally, year 5 crowns the sequence with revealed theology, the second half of divine science that God provides. The trajectory of the education is one of ascent, beginning with what is nearest and easiest and climbing upward toward that which is most intelligible and wonderful, but most difficult, God. The sequence is meant to reflect both the way we come to know things, by working from what is sensed to the principles and causes of things, and the hierarchy of being itself.
Additional readings in philosophy and theology make up a significant part of the material in Great Books. In addition, catechesis, the practice of religion, and sacramental preparation should take place in the homes and parishes of the students. Formal intellectual training in these areas, as important as they are, are not intended to and cannot simply take the place of the lived experience of religion in the home.
TPT 3 examines how the tools apply by studying nature and man, including his moral nature, as well as, St. Thomas's divisions of the sciences. First steps in pursuit of wisdom.
TPT 4 looks at the principles of being, as well as the principles of morality written on the soul of man. It focuses upon only what we can reason to with our natural faculties.
TPT 5 crowns the ascent of the whole sequence. What began with sense experience and reason culminates in the revelation by God of the secrets of his own nature.
The Liberal Arts
The classical cannon of the liberal arts includes the language arts of the trivium ~ grammar, logic, and rhetoric ~ and the "arts of the real," the quadrivium ~ arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. The purpose of these two sets of arts is the contemplation of "logos" (reason, word, order), on the one hand, in thought and speech, and on the other, in things, understood quantitatively. Theses arts were studied as a preparation for the culmination of education in philosophy and theology. The unifying principle of this educational approach is Christ himself, the divine orderer. These seven ways (-vium) all lead to the source and summit of life itself, the Trinity. In contrast to the Traditio Nostra great books courses, the material covered is arranged topically, according to the development of the mind as it progresses into wisdom. We begin with a focus on language and thought (the tools of science), move into a consideration of the created world as revealed through quantity (mathematics), the natural sciences, and the human person, and culminate with the study of God, the source of all.
Why focus upon the Trivium?
- Teaches students to reason well
- Prepares students for the study of philosophy and theology
- Points students to Christ, the divine Logos.
- Focuses students upon language and thought
- Helps students understand the created world
- Leads students to a proper understanding of the nature of the human person.