A Mathematical Look at the 7 Liberal Arts as Humanities

Stephen Eberhart
Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (2002)
Pages 285–292


What is "art" as opposed to "tech"? What is "liberal" (as opposed to what)? Where did the notion of "7 Liberal Arts" come from, and how are they related to human nature so as to merit being considered "humanities"? By historical accident, the mediaeval scholastic curriculum was based on a minor work of the last period of Roman imperial decline before on-set of the Dark Ages. Nevertheless, there are mathematical viewpoints which can legitimately relate the arts of the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) to child development on the one hand and those of the Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) to the development of harmonic analysis on the other.