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THE LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES - May 11, 1960
PRESENTED TO: SUPERIOR LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 672 BY SHUNIAH LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 287
RED ROCK, ONTARIO
The Travelling Square will continue its travels to superior Lodge at Red Rock, on May 11, 1960, when the brethren of Shuniah Lodge accompanied by the Worshipful Master will make the presentation, and the paper will be read by R.W. Bro. J.W. Douglas.
Sincere Fraternal greetings and good wishes accompany the presentation of the square.
THE LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES
The distinct emphasis placed upon the newly initiated candidate devoting his “leisure hours more especially to the study of such of the liberal arts and sciences as may lie within the compass of his attainment” and to the consideration of the liberal arts, that valuable branch of education that tends so effectually to polish and adorn the mind, suggests the importance of them in Masonic ritual and in the development of the individual Mason.
Hence it is fitting that some thought should be given to the meaning and significance, and the interpretation and modern application of “the liberal arts and sciences.
It is evident that the study of them was looked upon as an essential part of the training of the apprentice during his period of seven years spent in preparation for his admission to the rank of a Fellowcraft Mason in a guild of operative Masons, and that it was transferred to the ritual of speculative Masonry by the leaders of the craft at the time of ritualistic development.
It is interesting to note that the phrase was given attention by Plato in the early days of Greek education, and in the later period of Roman education as well as during the days when the conquered Romans were ruled by the Gothic Kings. But it was during the middle ages that the content of the seven liberal arts and sciences became more clearly defined.
Again and again in the history of education they are mentioned as Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Music, Arithmetic, Geometry and Astronomy. Collectively they were supposed to include all of human knowledge or learning as available during the middle ages. Individually they referred to specific phases of mental or intellectual activity or training.
Grammar included a complete knowledge in its widest sense both as “literature, as composition written or spoken and as correctness of expression either in ordinary conversation or in oratorical speech. Through training in grammar the individual gained the ability to ex press his ideas in suitable words and phrases.
Rhetoric was an art of peculiar advantage to the politician and to the pleaded in the courts. Training in rhetoric enabled the individual to express himself eloquently, pleasingly, persuasively and instructively. The training was not an easy one, but required effort and determination and persistence.
Logic was well defined in the teaching methods of Socrates and later in those of the scholastics of the Middle Ages. The pursuit of this art resulted in clear and correct thinking and in sound reasoning: it developed a power to search for truth through logical thinking and to guard against faulty or unsound conclusions.
Music included in the wider sense poetry, drama, oratory, and history as well as the science of blending and producing sweet and harmonious sounds. In fact it was to the soul what gymnastics were to the body. But later it came to have a more restricted connotation and was regarded as necessary for the enjoyment of leisure hours both from the standpoint of participation and from that of appreciation.
Arithmetic had to do with the science of numbers and through it the individual became able to compute correctly and to estimate exactly.
Geometry, of all the liberal arts and sciences was the most important for the Mason whether he was an operative or speculative brother. As one may well recall, it was considered synonymous with Masonry and as of a Divine or moral nature. It provided the structure on which astronomy and mathematics were built. It was of great assistance to the astronomer and to the student of geography. Moreover in the search for truth as such, it developed the power to reason and to arrive at correct deductions.
Astronomy was connected with the study of the stars and other celestial bodies by scientific methods. Consequently it encouraged the individual to think of the Divine and to hold in reverence the Creator.
The introduction of the liberal arts and sciences into the ritual of operative and speculative Masonry was perfectly natural as the desire was to encourage each Mason to educate himself along the lines of disciplinary education of early days. But the question may well be raised as to whether a more modern application of the idea and the ideal should not be made. In other words, if the individual brother today should educate himself to the highest possible degree in view of capacities and attainments, it seems wise that he and we should give consideration to the aim of education as we think of the same in the present day and for the present generation.
It is possible for one to quote very many different aims of education. But perhaps one comprehensive statement may be sufficient for our purpose here. It is recognized that it is quite impossible for any one person to master the sum total of human knowledge accumulated through the past centuries. Hence the aim of education has shifted from merely the attainment of knowledge to a much wider and more comprehensive one.
The modern view is that the aim of education may be stated as the development of the individual in relation to society and in relation to God. The social aspects of the educational contribution to society as a whole have been increasing in importance in the more recent decades. That such is the case is quite in keeping with the ideals of brotherly love and relief and the acquirement of knowledge is still necessary if there is to be a search for truth.
The development of the individual in relation to society involves the recognition of the fact that he must pull his own weight in the society of is day and must not become a drag on society in any way. The development of the individual in relation to God is emphasized throughout our ritual from the beginning, when he states that he believes in the Supreme Being, who has done so much for man and through each degree by allusions to the Volume of the Sacred Law, and in a great variety of other ways.
While it might be possible and also profitable to quote several different traits of an educated man and to discuss at length several different and important phases of his development, for the purpose of this article it may be sufficient to state that there should be a physical, intellectual, social and religious development.
The physical development advisable is being increasingly stressed in the courses in health and physical education now being provided in the curricula of the educational institutions. It is being emphasized in the program of physical fitness that is being propagated at present. The individual must have such a regard for his own personal health and his physical development that he will see to it that he becomes subject to no preventable disease and that he is at all times fit to perform his daily tasks with efficiency.
The intellectual development continues to occupy a prominent place in any educational program. As the Mason has always been urged to give special attention to the study of geometry as a means of increasing his mental powers, he will find it advisable to make use of the various subjects of study to increase his ability to think clearly and to arrive at correct conclusions. The emphases now being placed upon adult education suggests that, as never before, there is a realization that the responsibility devolves upon the individual for his own intellectual growth. While there is an advantage accruing to those who have the chance of securing this through formal educational processes in schools and universities, yet there is abundant evidence of the possibilities of educating one’s self. Such is the duty of every true Mason.
The importance of the social development of the individual has never been greater than at present. The necessity of persons learning to live harmoniously with their fellow beings in the home, in the business in the profession, in the state and in the world, makes imperative an emphasis upon the social aspects of education Mason recognizes this in the social hour, and in his devotion to relief and brotherly love.
The whole ritual of Freemasonry is permeated with the spiritual or religious development of the individual. The Altar, the Volume of the Sacred Law, or the recognition of the Divine Being, the enunciation of religious principles, the emphases placed upon moral living and the interest in the welfare of the brethren, are all indicative of the importance of the spiritual or religious growth of each member of the craft.
Hence it is incumbent upon every Mason to heed the injunction that he gives attention to the study of the liberal arts and sciences as these should be interpreted in his own day and in his own generation.
Presented by R.W. Bro. J.W. Douglas