UNWAVERING COURAGE based upon knowledge of self, and of one’s occupation. No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent follower will be dominated by such a leader very long.
SELF-CONTROL. The man who cannot control himself can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers, which the more intelligent will emulate.
A KEEN SENSE OF JUSTICE. Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers.
DEFINITENESS OF DECISION. The man who wavers in his decisions shows that he is not sure of himself. He cannot lead others successfully.
DEFINITENESS OF PLANS. The successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later he will land on the rocks.
THE HABIT OF DOING MORE THAN PAID FOR. One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leader, to do more than he requires of his followers.
A PLEASING PERSONALITY. No slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect a leader who does not grade high on all of the factors of a Pleasing Personality.
SYMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING. The successful leader must be in sympathy with his followers. Moreover, he must understand them and their problems.
MASTERY OF DETAIL. Successful leadership calls for mastery of details of the leader’s position.
WILLINGNESS TO ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY. The successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers. If he tries to shift this responsibility, he will not remain the leader. If one of his followers makes a mistake and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is he who failed.
COOPERATION. The successful leader must understand, and apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce his followers to do the same. Leadership calls for POWER, and power calls for COOPERATION.
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has had a huge impact on millions of lives. His stories and principles speak to the core of what it means to be human. He reminds us that people need and love to feel validated, valued and that their opinions matter. His ideas can be summed in the following quote:
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Hopefully, this infographic will be a useful tool for you to remember his principles, improve in your professional life, and develop more of an appreciation for others.
Infographic: How to Win Friends and Influence People
This post wouldn’t have been possible without the help from this awesome article:
Economics is a social science. It deals with the relationship between the production and distribution of goods and services. That relationship is studied by economists who attempt to predict how people will make decisions. It’s also defined as the study of scarcity, the study of how people use resources, and the study of decision-making.
Economists typically assume people are rational. That is, they change behavior based on the types of incentives they encounter. Assuming people are rational all the time helps economists form models that predict behavior.
There are two forms of economics. There are microeconomics and macroeconomics. The main difference between the two is scale.
As you probably inferred, small-scale economics is called microeconomics. Its focus is on the behavior of individual households and firms when making decisions regarding the allocation of limited resources. Another way to phrase this is to
say that microeconomics is the study of markets.
Macroeconomics could be thought of as the study of the collection of markets. It deals with the issues of growth, inflation, and unemployment. Macroeconomics is the study of economies on the national, regional or global scale.
If you’d like to dive in more, this video does a great job of highlighting the practicality of economics. You can jump to 1:50:
In the tenth chapter of Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington recalls a story about how he thought it would be a good idea to build a kiln to make bricks at Tuskegee, the college he was president of.
Here’s what he has to say:
From the very beginning, at Tuskegee, I was determined to have the students do not only the agricultural and domestic work, but to have them erect their own buildings. My plan was to have them, while performing this service, taught the latest and best methods of labour, so that the school would not only get the benefit of their efforts, but the students themselves would be taught to see not only utility in labour, but beauty and dignity, would be taught, in fact, how to lift labour up from mere drudgery and toil, and would learn to love work for its own sake.
But here’s the thing: Booker T. fails at building the kiln. He fails miserably, and he doesn’t just fail the first time. He says of the experience that:
I had always supposed that brickmaking was very simple, but I soon found out by bitter experience that it required special skill and knowledge, particularly in the burning of the bricks. After a good deal of effort we moulded about twenty-five thousand bricks, and put them into a kiln to be burned. This kiln turned out to be a failure because it was not properly constructed or properly burned. We began at once, however, on a second kiln. This, for some reason, also proved a failure.
So he tried a second one-and a third. The third one failed as well. Now, as you can imagine, people began getting pretty discouraged. Everyone said, “Booker you can’t do it, just give up!” But he didn’t. With no money and no one sure as heck funding the project, he had to get creative.
He ended up having to sell his watch. He went down to the market and pawned it off for fifteen bucks just so he could build this kiln which he had no experience with whatsoever other than those few tries.
Washington succeeded the fourth time. The making of the bricks eventually caused camaraderie in the community. It not only taught the students the importance of hard work but, also, the value of resilience in the face of adversity.
This is one small tale from the immensely inspiring life of Booker T. Washington. It provides the courage never to give up on what you believe. Whenever you’re afraid of something not working or wonder “can I do it?” remember this story, and realize that no matter what struggle you’re facing, there’s nothing greater than the value of hard work and persistence.
Steven B. Smith states in his lecture on political philosophy that “The citizen of the best regime…must be able to sustain war if duty requires, but only for the sake of peace and leisure…the end of the regime is peace and the purpose of peace is leisure”.
Leisure here doesn’t refer to relaxation or inactivity but instead connotes a sense of something that is necessary for education or philosophy.
Philosophy being understood not as the capacity for abstract or speculative thought, but rather a kind of liberal education in which the purpose is the preservation of the megalopsychos.
What is the Megalopsychos?
This term is introduced the in book 4, chapter 3 of Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics.
Mega, megalo, means great, and psychos is related to our word psyche. Psyche in philosophy usually is used to describe something related to the soul, not the mind such as in contemporary psychology. Megalopsychos, therefore, is the Greek term Aristotle uses to describe what is know called the great-souled man.
The main ideas of Megalopsychos
Megalopsychos can be thought as the highest class of individual. He is a noble and a gentleman. He is dignified and cares for honor, and he is the ideal reader of Aristotle’s political science.
Furthermore, it is said that he is detached and presents an indifference to the petty things of life, slow to act unless the situation is one of great importance, a person who is not under any obligations because he is sure to repay them and he speaks with candor.
Most of all it seems that the Megalopsychos is a man who is practical.
The practicality of greatness
Smith states that,”
“…what distinguishes the gentleman as a class from the philosophers is a certain kind of knowledge or practical intelligence. The gentleman may lack the speculative intelligence of a Socrates, but he will possess that quality of practical rationality, of practical judgment necessary for the administration of affairs.”
This practical wisdom is related to a few Greek terms which will be valuable for you to know. Both for your self-development and to show off to your friends that you know some Greek.
The first term is phronesis. It’s related to the words the phronimos and techne.
Jacob Howard in a paper entitled Aristotle’s Great-Souled Man cites a work by Nancy Sherman called The Fabric of Character: Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue which gives insight into phronesis.
“Phronesis, which makes its possessors ‘able to contemplate the good for themselves and for human beings in general’ involves the capacity imaginatively to ‘re-enact the agent’s point of view and to consider what it is like for the agent to do that action in that context’.
Phronimos can be thought of practical wisdom itself while techne can be understood as a kind of action that accompanies phronimos.
Techne is a form of being that translates to a skill that a statesman must possess. It’s concerned with know how or, in other words, having the understanding to act appropriately in all situations.
To clear things up:
Phronesis is the ability to put yourself in other’s shoes. This leads to phronimos, which is practical wisdom. Practical wisdom combined with techne, knowledge practically applied in action, gives someone the cunning to act appropriately in all situations.
Now, to provide further insight into this Smith quotes a work by English philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, called Political Judgement.
Berlin writes that,
The quality that I am attempting to describe is that special understanding of public life, which successful statesmen have, whether they are wicked or virtuous. That which Bismark had or Talleyrand or Franklin Roosevelt or, for that matter, men such as Cavour or Disraeli, Gladstone or Ataturk in common with the great psychological novelists, and something which is conspicuously lacking in men of more purely theoretical genius, such as Newton or Einstein or Bertrand Russell or even Freud…”Practical reason, perhaps is a sense of what will work and what will not. It is a capacity for synthesis rather than analysis, for knowledge in the sense in which trainers know their animals or parents their children or conductors their orchestras, as opposed to that in which chemists know the contents of their test tubes or mathematicians know the rules their symbols obey. Those who lack this quality of practical wisdom, whatever other qualities they may possess, no matter how clever, learned, imaginative, kind, noble, attractive, gifted in other ways they may be, are correctly regarded as politically inept.
Smith includes the names of Pericles, Lincoln, and Churchill in this list of men that possess this practical reason.
Conclusions and notes of importance
The Megalopsychos is a complex topic and it has by all means nowhere near been exhausted here. However, for the sake of time, I’d like to conclude on a few key points brought forth by Howard in his article.
Firstly, the great-souled man is typically concerned as valuing the saving characteristic a lot.
…to save one’s city…is to do something that seems from the perspective of the community to be absolutely good. For if there can be no deed more important than the saving deed, it would seem that there could be no virtue higher than the saving virtue. It is therefore easy for the great-souled man to think of his virtue not only as godlike but also as absolutely good or perfect, and thus as deserving something more than praise-namely, honor, or the recognition that is accorded to the highest and best things.”
He also believes Socrates is esteemed by Aristotle as the only truly great man concluding that
“The Socratic great-souled man is truly greater, both with respect to his self-knowledge and with respect to his aspirations. The aspirations of the non-Socratic great-souled man are limited by the horizons of nomos, [opinions of others] which serve also to cloud his vision of his own limitations… If we may judge by the impression that Socrates seems to have made on the Athenians, it is a peculiarity of the relationship between philosophy and politics that the truest megalopsuchos must appear to his fellow citizens to be simultaneously vain and self-depreciating. It is Aristotle’s appreciation of this point, moreover, that accounts for the complexity and subtlety of his discussion of the great-souled man in the Nicomachean Ethics.”
In sum, Plato wrote in his book Theaetetus that “to be free from wonder is to lack the defining mark of the philosophical soul” and Aristotle agrees. In his Metaphysics when he states that “it is through wondering that human beings both now begin and first began to philosophize”.
Thus it is hoped that the idea of the great-souled man will inspire within you the wonder of an ideal that is a greater version of yourself.
In 1970, Nobel prize winning economist, Milton Friedman, published an article in the New York times
where he outlined why he believed business should stop caring about being socially responsible and start focusing on maximizing shareholder value. Friedman states that:
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”
Friedman argued that corporations valued social responsibility too much. He held that their overemphasis on providing jobs, fighting pollution and reducing discrimination in society caused inefficiency and they instead should consider the shareholder more.
In the article, Friedman promulgates the belief that executives should be seen as people independent of the business. He writes:
“ As a person, [the executive] may have many other responsibilities that he recognizes or assumes voluntarily—to his family, his conscience, his feelings of charity, his church, his clubs, his city, his country. He may feel impelled by these responsibilities to devote part of his income to causes he regards as worthy, to refuse to work for particular corporations, even to leave his job, for example, to join his country’s armed forces. If we wish, we may refer to some of these responsibilities as “social responsibilities.” But in these respects he is acting as a principal, not an agent; he is spending his own money or time or energy, not the money of his employers or the time or energy he has contracted to devote to their purposes. If these are “social responsibilities,” they are the social responsibilities of individuals, not of business.”
Note: In case you didn’t know, in economics, the principal-agent concept always refers to a situation in which a principal hires an agent to behave on their behalf. To illustrate this, Investopedia cites an example of an investor buying shares through a fund manager. The former represents the principal while the latter is the agent. As the agent, the fund manager is tasked with managing the investment so as to maximize returns for the investor the best they can considering the investment’s level of risk.
Friedman’s thoughts on maximizing shareholder value and Jensen’s furthering has resulted in the evolution of the way today’s businesses are typically run. The philosophy has created interesting results that some people haven’t been happy with. Jensen himself is quoted saying, “Has it happened the way I wanted it to happen? Eh, probably not, there’s always going to be some people who take it too far. And then cause damage.”
Why maximizing shareholder value took hold
According to Rick Wartzman, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book The End of Loyalty, the business model of the 1970s was struggling to stay afloat due stagflation.
Stagflation was previously thought impossible. It’s a situation where there is high unemployment, slow economic growth and high inflation.
But besides this, it seems that the reason is because the philosophy of maximizing shareholder value is really good for business in terms of earning money.
For instance, Jack Welch became the CEO of General Electric in the 1980s. Under his leadership, the firm downsized more than 100,000 workers in five years, cut entire divisions and plants and demanded that his managers either “fix it, sell it or close it.”
G.E. was transformed from a $14 billion to one that earned more than a $400 billion. Welch himself made nearly a billion dollars. A similar example occurred at IBM.
In the 1990s, IBM’s CEO, Louis V. Gerstner Jr, cut about 60,000 workers and outlined eight principles the company would begin implementing for success. The company’s primary “measures of success” were shareholder value and customer satisfaction.
Someone who spent about $16,000 buying 1,000 shares of IBM in 1980 would now be sitting on more than $400,000 worth of stock, a 25-fold return.
The philosophy of maximizing shareholder value is still around today. Indeed, it’s many businesses’ Modus operandi. There are definite implications for the belief. Cornell law professor, Lyn Stout, thinks it’s led directly to scandals including Enron, the BP oil spill and the 2007-08 financial crisis. Surely, others might say the economic outcomes outweigh potential risks. We at Thought Force do not intend to proselytize one way or the other. We are simply sharing the idea for you to consider. If you’d like, share your take on the subject in the comments section below.
Nobel Prize winning philosopher, Bertrand Russell, is considered by many as one of the greatest logicians of the 20th century. In the closing chapter of his work The Problems of Philosophy he explains why you should value philosophy- chiefly because it will liberate you from your own prejudice.
The practical man
Russell begins with an examination of what is normally esteemed as the “practical” man. The “practical” man is defined as someone who “recognizes only material needs, who realizes that men must have food for the body but is oblivious of the necessity of providing food for the mind.”
That’s where philosophy comes in. According to Russell, philosophy is the food for the mind, even if it doesn’t always lead to tangible results. He writes:
“If you ask a mathematician, a mineralogist, a historian, or any other man of learning, what definite body of truths has been ascertained by his science, his answer will last as long as you are willing to listen. But if you put the same question to a philosopher, he will, if he is candid, have to confess that his study has not achieved positive results such as have been achieved by other sciences.”
Indeed, a reason for this may be, Russell purports, that once something is known in philosophy, it becomes a field in itself. For instance, Newton’s work was called “the mathematical principles of natural philosophy” and the study of the mind is now deemed physics.
Philosophy relieves prejudice
He continues, stating that the man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense- “from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co−operation or consent of his deliberate reason.” Adding that, “to such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected.”
However, once a man begins to understand and appreciate the value of philosophy “even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given.” Russell writes:
“Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.”
Then, speaking of the importance of philosophical contemplation he writes:
“The mind which has become accustomed to the freedom and impartiality of philosophic contemplation will preserve something of the same freedom and impartiality in the world of action and emotion…contemplation enlarges not only the objects of our thoughts but also the objects of our actions and our affections: it makes us citizens of the universe, not only of one walled city at war with all the rest. In this citizenship of the universe consists man’s true freedom, and his liberation from the thraldom of narrow hopes and fears.”
Russell’s perspective is as relevant today as it was over a hundred years ago when this work was published. All too often philosophy is thought of as some daunting subject, inaccessible to the average man, and fit only for people with too much time on their hands or scholars.
His perspective provides the important insight that though philosophical endeavors may not always result in the advancement of some tangible object or material need, they contribute to our own personal advancement through the liberation of our ignorance and give to us a greater dominion over ourselves. In fine, the study of philosophy is a conquest to overcome our rigid beliefs that hinder us from progress. It is an enlargement of ourselves that opens a world of wonder. In his poignant summation, Russell states:
“Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.”
section where Tolstoy discusses what it means to be a heretic.
An understanding or, at least, a varying perspective of heresy is of value to the intellectual because it speaks not only to the church but also to life in general. In other words, it provides a conceptual foundation for analyzing the current conception of the world and its relation to dissenters of today’s popular opinions. If anything, it might give you the power to recognize the importance of voicing your beliefs in a world which at times can encourage “going along to get along.”
Tolstoy on the church
In order to understand what Tolstoy means by the heretic, it’s important to first understand what he means when discussing the church. The main of his argument is that there is no one “church” and that all confessions to singular truth arise out of dissension.
“…men who belong to one or the other of the existing churches generally use the word “church” in the singular, as though there has been but one church. But this is quite untrue. The church, as an institution which asserts of itself that it is in possession of the unquestionable truth, appeared only when it was not alone, but there were at least two of them.”
“Only when the believers divided into opposite parties, which denied one another, did there appear the necessity for each side to assert its authenticity, ascribing infallibility to itself. The concept of the one church arose only from this, that, when two sides disagreed and quarrelled, each of them, calling the other a heresy, recognized only its own as the infallible church.”
For instance, he postulates figuratively that “if we know that there was a church, which in the year 51 decided to receive the uncircumcised, this church made its appearance only because there was another church, that of the Judaizing, which had decided not to receive the uncircumcised.”
He then exemplifies his argument historically by citing the various catechisms of the actual churches themselves.
The catechisms run as followed:
The Catholic catechism: “Who are those who are outside of the church? Infidels, heretics, schismatics.
The Orthodox catechism: “By the one church of Christ is meant nothing but the Orthodox, which remains in complete agreement with the œcumenical church. But as to the Roman Church and the other confessions they cannot be referred to the one, true church, since they have themselves separated from it.”
Lutheran catechism: “The true Church will be known by the Word of God being studied clear and unmixed with man’s additions and by the sacraments being maintained faithfully to Christ’s teaching.”
Tolstoy adds, according to the Lutheran catechism, if anyone has added anything to the teachings of Christ and the apostles like the Catholics and the Greek Churches then they are outside the church, and that the only ones in the church are the Protestants.
With regard to the Holy Ghost, he believes that since the Catholics can say that it left the Arian and Greek Churches upon their division then so can the Protestants of every denomination “with the same right assert that during the separation of their church from the Catholic the Holy Ghost left the Catholic Church and passed over to the one which they recognize. And so they do.”
“Every twig on the tree goes uninterruptedly back to the root; but the fact that every twig comes from the same root does in no way prove that there is but one twig. The same is true of the churches. Every church offers precisely the same proofs of its succession and even of the miracles in favor of its own authenticity; thus there is but one strict and precise definition of what the church is (not as something fantastic, which we should like it to be, but as something which in reality exists), and this is: the church is an assembly of men, who assert that they, and they only, are in the full possession of the truth.”
And so there we have it. Tolstoy’s definitive argument of what a church is stated in the last line of that quotation. So what of heresy?
On the heretic
Tolstoy begins by writing that even if you read all the theological works which treat about heresies, you won’t find anything resembling a definition.
To account for this, he uses the work of historian Edmond de Pressensé whose book, Histoire du Dogme, he sums as followed:
“…every opinion which is not in agreement with a code of dogmas professed by us at a given time is a heresy; but at a given time and in a given place people profess something, and this profession of something in some place cannot be a criterion of the truth.”
Using this summation, Tolstoy gives a very similar definition of heresy that states:
The only definition of heresy is the name given by an assembly of men to every judgment which rejects part of the teaching, as professed by the assembly. A more particular meaning, which more frequently than any other is ascribed to heresy, is that of an opinion which rejects the church doctrine, as established and supported by the worldly power.
As we have seen, Tolstoy comes to define the church as “an assembly of men asserting that they are in possession of the indisputable truth [while] heresy is the opinion of people who do not recognize the indisputableness of the church truth.”
He believes and concludes that it is “a manifestation of motion in the church, an attempt at destroying the ossified assertion of the church, an attempt at a living comprehension of the teaching. Every step of moving forward, of comprehending and fulfilling the teaching has been accomplished by the heretics: such heretics were Tertullian, and Origen, and Augustine, and Luther, and Huss, and Savonarola, and Chelcický and others. Nor could it be otherwise.”
Finally, he ends on the strong note that:
“No matter at what stage of comprehension and perfection a disciple of Christ may be, he always feels the insufficiency of his comprehension and of his fulfilment, and always strives after a greater comprehension and fulfilment. And so the assertion about myself or about an assembly, that I, or we, possess the complete comprehension of Christ’s teaching, and completely fulfil it, is a renunciation of the spirit of Christ’s teaching.”
The number of fathers of sociology is a topic of debate, but, generally speaking, there are five prominent figures: Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, and Max Weber. This article gives a brief overview of these thinkers’ theories.
1. August Comte (1798-1857)
Comte’s major ideas:
Sociology refers to the “scientific study of society.”
All societies go through three stages of development: religious, metaphysical, and scientific.
Society needs scientific knowledge based on facts and evidence to solve its problems—not speculation and superstition, which characterize the religious and metaphysical stages of social development.
Sociology consists of two branches: dynamics and statics. The former refers to the study of the processes by which societies change. The latter, the study of the processes by which societies endure.
2. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
Spencer’s major ideas:
Society is like a living organism, and all its parts are interdependent.
Changes affect everyone, everywhere so we are all contributing to the society’s success.
If one part is dysfunctional, the other part must make up for its dysfunction.
Society will correct its own defects through “survival of the fittest.”
Social problems will work themselves out when the government butts out.
The “fittest” refers to the rich, powerful, and successful. They achieved their status because nature “selected” them to do so and likewise for the “unfit”.
Government obstructs the progress of the laws of nature.
3. Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Marx’s major ideas:
Denied Spencer’s beliefs.
Postulated a theory of social or class conflict driven by competition.
Capitalist elites are called the bourgeoisie. They own the means of production.
The working classes are called the proletariats. Elites exploit workers.
Laborers will overthrow the bourgeoisie. Hence, Marxist groups form under the title of Worker’s Party.
The class revolution will lead to a classless society.
Economics, not natural selection, determines differences in status.
Society’s economic system decides peoples’ norms, values, mores, and religious beliefs, as well as the nature of the society’s political, governmental, and educational systems.
4. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
Durkheim’s major ideas:
First person to systematically apply scientific methods to the study of sociology.
Social facts are important. They are defined as patterns of behavior characteristic of a particular group.
Wrote an influential book on suicide, and based his conclusion on the analysis of statistical data.
Sociologists should be concerned with objective fact, not subjective experience.
5. Max Weber (1864-1920)
Weber’s major ideas:
Disagreed with Durkheim. Sociologists should consider peoples’ perspectives.
Behavior cannot exist without interpretation. People act according to interpretation.
Sociologists must investigate people’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of their behaviors.
They should adopt his method of Verstehen, meaning empathetic understanding.
It allows sociologists to put themselves into “the other person’s shoes” and thus obtain an “interpretive understanding” of the meanings of individuals’ behaviors.
The seven liberal arts and sciences are separated by two divisions: the trivium and quadrivium. The trivium consists of grammar, rhetoric, and logic. The quadrivium, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. In antiquity, it was believed that you had to know these fields in order to participate actively in civic life (Castle).
The following information is largely taken from Daniel Sickel’s General Ahimon Rezon. It is a book written about the fraternity of Freemasonry, but its language is for everyone. The reason it is presented here is because a better, more eloquent description of the seven liberal arts is unknown. It’s been transformed as far as the removal of references to God and Freemasonry and the fixing of grammatical errors. To alter the descriptions provided further, as you’ll see, would lead to a failure in effectively illustrating the significance of the liberal arts. The work is in the public domain, and a link to the document in its entirety is provided below.
Grammar is the science which teaches us to express our ideas in appropriate words, which we may afterward beautify and adorn by means of rhetoric; while logic instructs us how to think and reason with propriety, and to make language subordinate to thought. arithmetic, which is the science of computing by numbers, is absolutely essential, not only to a thorough knowledge of all mathematical science but also to a proper pursuit of our daily avocations. Geometry, or the application of arithmetic to sensible quantities, is of all sciences the most important since by it we are enabled to measure and survey the globe that we inhabit. Its principles extend to other spheres; and, occupied in the contemplation and measurement of the sun, moon, and heavenly bodies, constitute the science of astronomy; and, lastly, when our minds are filled, and our thoughts enlarged, by the contemplation of all the wonders which these sciences open to our view, music comes forward, to soften our hearts and cultivate our affections by its soothing influences.
Is the key by which alone the door can be opened to the understanding of speech. It is grammar which reveals the admirable art of language, and unfolds its various constituent parts—its names, definitions, and respective offices; it unravels, as it were, the thread of which the web of speech is composed. These reflections seldom occur to anyone before their acquaintance with the art; yet it is most certain that, without a knowledge of grammar, it is very difficult to speak with propriety, precision, and purity.
It is by rhetoric that the art of speaking eloquently is acquired. To be an eloquent speaker, in the proper sense of the word, is far from being either a common or an easy attainment: it is the art of being persuasive and commanding; the art, not only of pleasing the fancy but of speaking both to the understanding and to the heart.
Is that science which directs us how to form clear and distinct ideas of things, and thereby prevents us from being misled by their similitude or resemblance. Of all the human sciences, that concerning man is certainly most worthy of the human mind, and the proper manner of conducting its several powers in the attainment of truth and knowledge. This science ought to be cultivated as the foundation or groundwork of our inquiries; particularly in the pursuit of those sublime principles which claim our attention as [people],
Is the art of numbering, or that part of the mathematics which considers the properties of numbers in general. We have but a very imperfect idea of things without quantity, and as imperfect of quantity itself, without the help of arithmetic. The greater advancement we make in the mathematical sciences, the more capable we shall be of considering such things as are the ordinary objects of our conceptions.
Treats of the powers and properties of magnitudes in general, where length, breadth, and thickness are considered—from a point to a line, from a line to a superficies, and from a superficies to a solid.
A point is the beginning of all geometrical matter.
A line is a continuation of the same.
A superficies is length and breadth, without a given thickness.
A solid is length and breadth, with a given thickness, which forms a cube, and comprehends the whole.
THE ADVANTAGES OF GEOMETRY.
By this science, the architect is enabled to construct his plans and execute his designs; the general, to arrange his soldiers; the engineer, to mark out grounds for encampments; the geographer, to give us the dimensions of the world, and all things therein contained; to delineate the extent of seas and specify the divisions of empires, kingdoms, and provinces. By it, also, the astronomer is enabled to make his observations and to fix the duration of times and seasons, years and cycles. In fine, geometry is the foundation of architecture and the root of the mathematics.
The contemplation of this science, in a moral and comprehensive view, fills the mind with rapture. To the true geometrician, the regions of matter with which he is surrounded afford ample scope for his admiration, while they open a sublime field for his inquiry and disquisition.
When he exalts his view to the more noble and elevated parts of Nature and surveys the celestial orbs, how much greater is his astonishment! If, on the principles of geometry and true philosophy, he contemplate the sun, the moon, the stars, and the whole concave of heaven, his pride will be humbled, while he is lost in awful admiration. The immense magnitude of those bodies, the regularity and velocity of their motions, and the inconceivable extent of space through which they move, are equally wonderful and incomprehensible, so as to baffle his most daring conceptions, while he labors in considering the immensity of the theme!
Is that elevated science which affects the passions by sound. There are few who have not felt its charms and acknowledged its expression to be intelligible to the heart. It is a language of delightful sensations, far more eloquent than words; it breathes to the ear the clearest intimations; it touches and gently agitates the agreeable and sublime passions; it wraps us in melancholy, and elevates us in joy; it dissolves and inflames; it melts us in tenderness, and excites us to war. This science is truly congenial to the nature of man; for by its powerful charms the most discordant passions may be harmonized and brought into perfect unison.
Assisted by astronomy, we ascertain the laws which govern the heavenly bodies, and by which their motions are directed; investigate the power by which they circulate in their orbs, discover their size, determine their distance, explain their various phenomena, and correct the fallacy of the senses by the light of truth.
E. B. Castle, Ancient Education and Today (1969) p. 59
Daniel Sickels, General Ahima Rezon (1868), http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/gar/index.htm.
Francesco Pesellino and Workshop, Italy, Florence about 1422 – 1457 Florence [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons