BENEDICT M. ASHLEY, O.P.: THE ARTS OF LEARNING AND COMMUNICATION
The teacher and student will find the Great Books of the Western World, edited by Robert Maynard Hutchins (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, 1952), an invaluable collection for the further study of the liberal arts. The second and third volume of this set are called The Great Ideas, A Syntopicon, edited by Mortimer J. Adler and William Gorman. This contains very valuable bibliographies of the classical, ancient, and modern works on the liberal arts, and useful articles outlining the main problems and topics of controversy concerning them. Especially recommended are the following articles: ART, ASTRONOMY, BEAUTY, DEFINITION, DIALECTIC, INDUCTION, INFINITY, JUDGMENT, KNOWLEDGE, LANGUAGE, LOGIC, MATHEMATICS, MECHANICS, POETRY, QUALITY, QUANTITY, REASONING, RHETORIC, SIGN AND SYMBOL. In using this work, however, it must be re membered that some of the "great books" in this collection are forbidden by the Index or by Canon Law and cannot be read by students, or by teachers, without a dispensation of the Bishop, because they argue against the natural law or the Christian Faith in a sophistical manner. The very fact that they are the work of very clever and gifted writers make them dangerous for any except those with adequate theological and philosophical training, since these writers lead man from truth by appealing to the weaknesses of human appetite, especially intellectual pride and intellectual despair.
It is also important that a teacher or student of the liberal arts should be acquainted with educational history. For this purpose the following are recommended:
1. Kane, William T., S.J., A History of Education, considered chiefly in its development in the Western World (Chicago, 1954). This book, which contains good bibliographies and which shows a good acquaintance with original sources, will serve as a brief introductory picture to the history of education.
2. Brickman, William W., Guide to Research in Educational History (New York: University Bookstore, 1949). This contains extensive bibliographies of works on the history of education.
The last item lists the many lines of approach to the history of education which may be taken. I would like to recommend only that the teacher make an acquaintance with the following books, as a beginning to recovery of the liberal arts tradition:
1. Marrou, Henri I., History of Education in Antiquity; translated by George Lamb (Sheed and Ward, 1956).
2. Highet, Gilbert, The Classical Tradition, Greek and Roman Influence on Western Literature (Oxford University Press, 1953).
3. Marrique, Pierre, S.J., History of Christian Education; 3 vols. (Fordham University Press, 1924-32).
4. Rashdall, Hastings, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages; revised by F. M. Powicke and A. B. Emden, 3 vols. (Oxford University Press, 1936).
5. Abelson, Paul, The Seven Liberal Arts, (Teachers College, Columbia University, 1906).
6. Gauss, George Edward, St. Ignatius' Ideal of a Jesuit University (Marquette University Press, 1954).
This study of the history of the liberal arts, however, cannot in way substitute for direct acquaintance with the classical works in these fields, The Syntopicon (see above) contains excellent bibliographies on these arts. In the following the basic classical work on the subject, and one or more modern works which will introduce student or teacher to modern conceptions of the art are suggested.
- 1. The classical works are Aristotle's Organon, Rhetoric, and Poetics. They are on the whole very superior to subsequent works on the subject, both in their completeness and their scientific method. They are available complete in translation in the Great Books, Vol. 8, and in the Oxford translation published by the Oxford University Press, and edited by W. D. Ross, A good selection is included in The Basic Works of Aristotle, edited by R. P. McKeon (Random House, 1941). The Poetics and Rhetoric are available in bandy form in the "Modern Library." The Greek texts with English translation are available in part in the "Loeb Classical Library" (the Organon is not yet complete).
- 2. The Poetics and Rhetoric are quite easy even for the beginner. The Organon is difficult for even the most advanced. Hence it is recommended that the beginner start with a simple textbook in logic written from a genuinely Aristotelian point of view. Many of the so-called "traditional logics," even those claiming to be Thomistic or scholastic, actually present a very degenerated "tradition." The following two books are sound:
Oesterle, John A., Logic -- The Art of Defining and Reasoning, (Prentice-Hall, 1935).
Vincent E. Smith, Elements of Logic (Bruce, 1957).
- 3. For advanced students in Aristotelian logic the commentaries of St. Albert the Great on the whole of the Organon, of St. Thomas Aquinas on parts of it, and the summary of Sylvester Maurus on the whole are indispensable. However these have not yet been translated into English, with the exception of St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Posterior Analytics of Aristotle (mimeographed edition); translated by Pierre Conway, O.P. (Doyon, Laval, Quebec 1950).
Also useful are the commentaries which reflect a sound Aristotelianism in doctrine, but not in their manner of ordering the subject.
John of St. Thomas, Outlines of Formal Logic; translated by F, C. Wade, S.J. (Marquette University, 1955).
John of St. Thomas, The Material Logic of John St. Thomas; translated by Yves Simon and John Glanville (University of Chicago Press, 1956).
- 4. Logic underwent marked changes in the period of latter scholasticism and then entered into a long period in which the "traditional logic" was taught in a very poor form and without any extensive research. In the middle of the 19tb century interest began to revive in the form of symbolic or mathematical logic. To begin a study of this subject the following are recommended:
The articles on Logic; LOGIC, HISTORY OF; LOGICAL POSITIVISM in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1957. These articles are by some of the leading authorities in the field.
Stebbing, S., A Modern Introduction to Logic (Thomas Y. Crowell, Co).
Copi, Irving M., Symbolic Logic (Macmillan, 1953). This is an elementary text.
Quine, W. Van Orman, Mathematical Logic (Harvard, 1947). An advanced text by an outstanding authority.
Veatch, H., Intentional Logic (Yale, 1952). This is a criticism of modern logic by an author who shows its nominalistic implications.
In beginning the study of modern logic the student should note that it is essentially a calculus, related to Aristotelian logic in much the same way that algebra is related to the classical arithmetic. Hence it cannot stand by itself. Unless it is an instrument of logic in Aristotle's sense, it becomes a merely arbitrary system of marks on paper, a kind of parlor game. Used as an instrument of logic it is undoubtedly useful, although to date it has actually been shown to be of use only in mathematics. It cannot substitute for Aristotelian logic, because it does not solve the basic problems of logic which have to do, not with the manipulation of signs, but with mental relations, founded on the nature of the mind and of things.
- B. Rhetoric and Poetics, and the Fine Arts
- 1. Basic to the study of these arts is the study of language. Mario Pei, The Story of Language (J. P. Lippincott Co., 1949), will serve as an initial introduction to the problems of language. The Syntopicon, articles on Language, and Sign and Symbol will furnish an introduction and bibliographies to more philosophical problems of language. Otto Jesperson, Growth and Structure of the English Language (Doubleday Anchor Book, 1955), will show how these problems are found in our own tongue.
- 2. Crane, Ronald and Olsen, Elder, Critics and Criticism, Ancient and Modern (University of Chicago). This work, and especially the historical articles by Richard P. McKeon, distinguish and trace the various strands of opinion on the subject of these arts.
Crane, Ronald, The Language of Criticism and the Structure of Poetics (University of Toronto, 1953), is the most accurate analysis of the poetics and an excellent confrontation between it and the contemporary revival of interest in critical theory.
The "Chicago school of criticism" represented by these two books is undoubtedly the most authentically Aristotelian. Its chief defect is that, in anxiety to distinguish poetry accurately from rhetoric and other disciplines, it has not taken care to show how it can be integrated with the other intellectual and moral virtues. Consequently, these critics somewhat exaggerate the autonomy of the work of art, fearing to explain "imitation" in a way that subordinates the work of art to its object, and also fearing to show the subordination of poetics and fine art to prudence.
- 3. Wellek, René and Warren, Austin, Theory of Literature (Harvest Harcourt Brace, 1956). This work, which has very good bibliographies, lacks sound theoretical principles, but is an excellent introduction to the problems and opinions of literary criticism.
- 4. Brook, Cleanth and Warren, Robert Penn, Fundamentals of Good Writing (formerly Modern Rhetoric) (Harcourt Brace, 1950). This textbook, which contains excellent readings, serves to show the state of modern rhetoric. It will be noted that it also lacks the solid theoretical foundation of Aristotle's work.
- 5. The teacher should also become acquainted with modern propaganda and advertising techniques. The popular book of Vance Packard, Hidden Persuaders (McKay, 1957), will serve as an introduction.
- 6. The general problems of esthetics are well listed in Jarret, James I., The Quest for Beauty, (Prentice-Hall, 1957).
- 7. The field of theoretical writing on music is very extensive. Such a text as David D. Boyden, An Introduction to Music (Alfred A. Knopf, 1956), will serve to show the scope of the present study of music, and the bibliographies will lead into the field.
There is no really classical work on musical theory, because such works as Boethius, De Musica, treated only of the mathematical theory of music and left its imitative character untouched. Herbert T. Schwartz in a doctrinal dissertation, An Aristotelian Analysis of the Elements, Principles and Causes of the Art of Music (Columbia University; published in Cleveland, Ohio, 1936), showed how the principles of Aristotle's Poetics can be applied to music as regards its mathematical structure. He has not published a detailed analysis of its manner of imitating the emotions.
The little work of Percy Goetschius, The Structure of Music, (Theodore Presser Co., 1934), can be recommended for its clear presentation of the basic principles of music, and the brilliant series of six lectures by Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of Music (Vintage Books, 1956), for its explanation of the present state of the art. Stravinsky emphatically denies that music is "imitative," bu this must be must be taken in the sense that music does not imitate particular objects, but the emotions.
- 8. Writing on the plastic arts is also very extensive, and most of the "explanations" or defenses of "modern art" contain very much the same arguments. For the problem of Christian art the work of Anton Henze and Theodor Filthaut, Contemporary Church Art, translated by Cecily Hastings and edited by Maurice Lavanoux, (Sheed and Ward, 1956), is excellent.
- C. Mathematics
- 1. Struik. Dirk., A Concise History of Mathematics (Dover, 1948).
- 2. Newman, James R., ed., The World of Mathematics, 4 vols. (Simon and Schuster, 1955), is an excellent collection of material which will give the beginner a very good notion both of the scope and the problems of modern mathematical thought although containing serious philosophical errors.
- 3. Waismann, Friedrich, Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, The Formation of Concepts in Modern Mathematics; Foreword by Karl Menger; translated by Theodore J. Benac (Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1951). This is a very clear presentation and analysis of modern mathematical procedure.
- 4. Black, Max, The Nature of Mathematics (Humanities Press, 1950), presents the controversies on the foundations of mathematics. Also recommended is the article MATHEMATICS, FOUNDATIONS OF, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 15, p. 82, by S. C. Kleene.
- 5. Aristotle did not leave a treatise on mathematics, but his thought is very well reconstructed by Hippocrates George Apostle, Aristotle's Philosophy of Mathematics, (University of Chicago Press, 1952).
It might be noted that the "general mathematics" of which Apostle speaks is probably the metaphysics of quantity, rather than a distinct mathematical science, like geometry and arithmetic.
- 6. The student and teacher should become familiar with the classical works of Euclid, Apollonius, Archimedes, Nicomachus, and Ptolemy contained in Great Books, Vols. 11 and 16.
- D. In addition I would recommend to the teacher who is looking for easy materials in natural science:
- 1. Robinson, Edward M., and George Polk, Science: How? Why? Wherefore (The Priory Press, Dubuque, Iowa, 1957).
- 2. Kane, William H., and collaborators, Science in Synthesis (The Priory Press, Dubuque, Iowa, 1957).
- 3. Scientific American Books (Simon and Schuster, New York). These are paperbound reprints of the excellent articles from the Scientific American Magazine.
| CONTENTS |