The Wise Learn by Doing

It’s very good indeed to have Sig’s reflections here both in summary and on film. Grammar and the arts have been a big part of my own academic study and working with Sig and the Ordered Universe project have helped me crystallize for myself the essential relationship between the study of the arts – the whole business of “a liberal education” – and the restoration within God’s purpose of the world to his intended order. Three cheers for a non-utilitarian philosophy and purpose of education.

Ordered Universe

The purpose and point of learning were questions that kept Grosseteste awake at night and dominate his surviving writings. From the treatise on the liberal arts, the first paragraph of which stresses the place of the arts in leading human operations to perfection by correcting the, to the sermons, dicta and later theological writings, the ends to which learning are directed are never far from the surface of Grosseteste’s thought. In this he was hardly unique, although his questions and reflections provoke particular interest. As Sigbjørn Sønnesyn showed in his fascinating seminar to the Durham Medieval Thought Seminar, the ways in which twelfth century western thinkers raised questions on the purpose of learning were connected intimately to their knowledge of and engagement with ancient models and lived practice and experience in community. Aristotle, Augustine and the author known as Pseudo-Dionysius are amongst the most dominant of classical and patristic authors for the…

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