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The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  696 ratings  ·  72 reviews
The Trivium guides the reader through a clarifying and rigorous account of logic, grammar, and rhetoric. A thorough presentation of general grammar, propositions, syllogisms, enthymemes, fallacies, poetics, figurative language, and metrical discourse--accompanied by lucid graphics and enlivened by examples from Shakespeare, Milton, Plato, and others-makes The Trivium a per ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Paul Dry Books (first published 1937)
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This dense, authoritative textbook takes all of Aristotle's teachings on logic, grammar, and rhetoric, and some of his teachings of poetics, adds some of the insights gained in the subsequent centuries, and presents it in a well-organized flow.

Sister Miriam Joseph (1898-1982) was an American nun who, inspired by a lecture by philosopher Mortimer J. Adler on the liberal arts, developed a course on the language arts at Saint Mary's College which she called "The Trivium." There being no existing te
Roy Lotz
This book is either good or not good. This book is not good. Therefore, it is good.

For a long time I’ve been curious about older models of education. Although our knowledge of the world has no doubt advanced, I can’t help wondering if our education has done likewise. Read a newspaper or a letter from one hundred or so years ago, and it seems obvious that people were generally more literate and articulate back then. Of course, such impressions are not trustworthy; and there are a great man
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you can master this book it is worth more than any college education money can buy. The only reason this doesn't get five stars is because it's a bit on the difficult side. There are other books on the trivium that may be a bit easier to start with but this book has everything plus wonderful examples from the Bible to Shakespeare. After mastering this book you will easily distinguish truth from error. The trivium was how educated people from the classical age up through the 19th century. With ...more
Jul 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Serious Learners
Recommended to Paula by: PIG English & American Lit
I should preface this by saying that this is a textbook, used in the author's Freshman English classes. Yet, hers was never typical of such classes. She did not just teach the students a little grammar, she taught them how to think. I can imagine her classes must have been one of those grueling, interminable ordeals that students so love to bemoan while in the midst of it, but that they boast about after the fact. She studied under Mortimer J. Adler, so it comes as no surprise that she is well v ...more
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My mind benefited more from this book than from all my years in public schools ... but does this really surprise anyone?
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book teaches two lessons: first, the humanities can, and should, have rigor associated with them; and second, it teaches how to obtain and apply that rigor. While the book requires some effort to read, for those interested in logic, grammar, rhetoric, and the liberal arts, the effort is richly rewarded.

The book opens with a discussion on the liberal arts and then moves to a discussion of the science of grammar. This grammar is not about subject-verb agreement and punctuation, it is about h
The first steps toward understanding what you know.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, education
Excellent book for anybody who wants to learn how to think. Clear and relevant. Covers most of the stuff we didn't learn in school lol - dumb modern education ...more
Ioseph Bonifacius (Ioannes)
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: liberal-arts
A classic. Young catholics should certainly read this in order to think better and express themselves well. I read it in another book that today people who receive university degrees do not know how to express themselves, in the middle ages those who would study were very precise with their words and were very logical and rational in expressing something, that is what this book tries to accomplish.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph

I would describe the Trivium as the art of learning because it teaches you to understand the nature and function of language so that you can organize your observations and thoughts in a matter that enables you to accurately express them to yourself and to others. The Trivium are the first three of the seven liberal arts and sciences and the Quadrivium are the remaining four. The three subjects which make up the Trivium are p
Ann Michael
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
OK, this book may not be an 'easy read' and may not be everyone's cup of tea. Not a beach book.

Having noted the above, I want to add that anyone who is interested in logic, grammar, and how the two connect will find this book illuminating. Sister Miriam was a wonderful teacher, and this book is still sometimes used in college undergraduate classes to explain how Aristotelian logic works and how logic relates to rhetoric, grammar, argument.

She's remarkably clear. Her language is straightforward;
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book more than any other reset my course and gave me the foundation I have long sought in order to learn everything else. It is less about her subjects, grammar, logic and rhetoric than a course in critical thinking. I am a lifelong fan of logic and reason and I had a pretty good grasp of that. But Sister Miriam's teaching enlightened me. I can now use it with more precision and express and persuade others more easily due to that precision. God Bless Sister Miriam. ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Worth reading for all the infromation about writing and word usage.
Dmitry Mikhaylov
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book may be interesting to those who have never taken courses on logic and rethoric. Both subjects represent a large body of knowledge and are given in the book in a proper order and detail.

The book starts from the very basic questions such as: what is "matter" and what is "form"; how the human mind learns about the world; how the knowledge gets conceptualized, put into words, and used to create new knowledge.

The topics which follow those basics are related to the practicle apects of commun
Davey Ermold
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was not at all what I was expecting it to be! I bought it in order to better understand the history and philosophy of teaching the trivium, especially as it related to primary and secondary education; however, the subtitle of the book was a greater indication of its true subject matter: "Understanding the Nature and Function of Language."

Indeed, "The Trivium" functions as a primer of sorts on grammar, logic, and rhetoric. While it can definitely serve as an introduction to these concep
Zy Marquiez
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-reviews
Zy Marquiez
February 11, 2020

In How To Read A Book – The Classical Guide To Intelligent Reading, Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren postulated that most published books out there will not be complex enough to teach the reader anything of true substance.[1]

That is unfortunate, because given the decline in education, substance is exactly what our culture needs, especially given how culture as a whole is also declining as well, as Professor Patrick Deneen penned in a paper
May 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
Joseph's putative goal is to organize and explain norms within the three arts of the trivium: logic, grammar, and rhetoric. But because she oversimplifies, she's more likely to mislead than educate.

Her definitions use philosophical terms of art in a way that confuses without adding meaning. For example, she writes, "A word, like every other physical reality, is constituted of matter and form. Its matter is the sensible sign; its form is the meaning imposed upon it by convention." Here, she cram
Samuel Maina
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, education

This is a book that should be read very slow by any student of poetry and anyone who wants to be well versed with the language that is English. Especially more if you have plans to be a writer.

It is almost impossible to write about logic, rhetoric and grammar and not quote from the classical age. Those guys were worth their salt. True to say that life can only be understood backwards but lived forward.

I have had to read this slow (about a month) and I will definitely come back to it for purp
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I rated this 4 stars for the intensity and depth of learning that can occur with this book. It reads more like a textbook. I'm glad I persevered and finished to the end. Difficult but worth it. ...more
3 stars for my enjoyment reading this book.
4.5 stars for the information.

This would be an excellent book to use as a refresher or a reference. It goes a little too fast, and is too dense to be a first look at the trivium. I did learn a lot from it, but I feel like I missed a lot, too. I was fascinated by the grammar section, and felt the rhetoric section (the last few chapters) was a great compilation of things to remember, but extensive section on logic nearly did me in. I have had no signifi
Leda Samita
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Even though this book may appear rather dense and difficult to follow, the arduous journey is worth it because it provides a wealth of information concerning the adept use of syntax, grammar, semantics and logic-all in one "handbook". Arguably, the only downside to this book is that it could have been a bit more simplified and thus more accessible to all readers and not only to those who already know the logistics of rhetoric, debates and other forms of public speaking. For example, this book co ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, logic, grammar
A fantastic book. To the beginner it will seem very mysterious and even arcane, and put together strangely, but by a logic the book teaches, and so will seem sensible by the middle or before. The secret is that it's really a splicing together of Scholastic logic, basics of universal grammar from a book called Hermes and others, and rhetoric from Aristotle & some other places. So in a way it's half-baked, I mean it doesn't cover everything that you need to cover to understand all of what is in th ...more
Cameron Roberts
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent introduction to fundamentals of education. Honestly I struggled with some parts, and allowed myself to skim. Definitely not something you read for light enjoyment, but is a fine and comprehensive introduction. The writing is very clear, but can only be fully appreciated with some studying; after all, this is a textbook. As a textbook though, it is highly readable. Some exercises are provided in a couple sections, but perhaps not enough for thorough practice. The final section on rhetor ...more
Lucas Magrini Rigo
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's a nice introduction to the Aristoteles arts. It gets quite technical on the grammar section, but the rethoric and logic sections are really enjoyable to read.
I went in unwarned of the school-tone of the book, so I didn't enjoy it that much, but I really took some good stuff out of it. For instance, people usually use Entimems to hide fallacies. Entimem is a Syllogism with an implicit premise, so you need to reveal it and double-check if it is correct.
Amber Scaife
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well, that wasn't really what I was expecting. The title led me to believe it would be a cool discussion of the nature of language, but it's really just a grammar. And it reads like a grammar (i.e. not all that exciting). *shrug*

Post Note: Why do grammars have to be so dull?! Language is exciting and fun, so what can't the books explaining how they work reflect that? Yoicks.
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent overview of grammar, formal logic, and rhetoric. It introduces pretty much every concept within each respective field of study. As someone with very little formal logical training, I found this especially useful. But if you're looking for a book on how to effectively apply the art of the trivium, I'd recommend reading individual books dedicated to each discipline. ...more
Alison Lawrence
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this tasty treat of a book, though it is dense at times. I appreciated her view of the three movements of classical education. It was a great read, though I would recommend reading alongside other great classical education. This is a book about the grammatical nuts and bolts of classical education, so keep that in mind when slogging through it.
James Wondrasek
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Feels like it was written to support an out-dated philosophy. But it is an old book written by a nun, so perhaps that should not be a surprise. Not much time was given to rhetoric, and the logic was pretty shallow if you have had any exposure to logic before.
Brian Fitzroy
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read so many rhetoric books before this that is was all review. This just goes to show what it's like being an autodidact—you read books out of order all the time. ...more
Donna Anoskey
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
A classic, which I my opinion should be required reading for college students.
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Sister Miriam Joseph Rauh, C.S.C., PhD (1898–1982) was a member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She received her doctorate from Columbia University and was Professor of English at Saint Mary's College from 1931 to 1960. She is the author of several books including The Trivium which is a text she developed as part of the core curriculum of Saint Mary's College. It discusses the medieval liberal a ...more

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“Sister Miriam Joseph rescued that integrated approach to unlocking the power of the mind and presented it for many years to her students at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. She learned about the trivium from Mortimer J. Adler, who inspired her and other professors at Saint Mary’s to study the trivium themselves and then to teach it to their students. In Sister Miriam Joseph’s preface to the 1947 edition of The Trivium, she wrote, “This work owes its inception…to Professor Mortimer J. Adler of the University of Chicago, whose inspiration and instruction gave it initial impulse.” She” 0 likes
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