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Quadrivium: The Four Classical Liberal Arts of Number, Geometry, Music, & Cosmology

(Wooden Books)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  866 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The quadrivium-the classical curriculum-comprises the four liberal arts of number, geometry, music, and cosmology. It was studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality. Geometry is number in space; music is number in time; and comology expresses number in space and time. Number, music, and geometry are metaphysical truths: life acros ...more
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Walker Books (first published October 1st 2010)
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Dave Taylor This is simply a wrong question. This book has nothing to do with religion.

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Douglas Wilson
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
This was a lot of fun. I would have given it five stars if it hadn't been for the New Agey stuff that popped in from time to time. But at the same time, this book provided a wealth of information about the world we live in. ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Shows an extraordinary and intriguing beauty and order in the universe. Why, for instance, do musical harmonic intervals show up in planetary orbits? Or why the number of leaves on many species of growing plants can be predicted by one simple sequence of numbers? The universe doesn't appear to be so random. Recommended for artists who don't get science and scientists who don't get art. ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I was both fascinated and frustrated by this book. I found much of it interesting, but each topic went from simple to complex quickly, and I needed to read it more slowly to absorb more. The book is has written explanations on the left-side page and illustrations on the right. Often, the illustrations would've been easier to make out if they'd been printed on larger paper: sometimes the captions were too small for me to read even with reading glasses on. But if the point was to pique my curiosit ...more
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Curious person? Then I would suggest reading this book. I mean seriously, who the hell wouldn't want to learn about Epigrams, Phyllotaxis, or Li Symmetries. ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
As much as I'd love to, I couldn't quite give this book 5 stars. The first few chapters are beautifully written and illustrated but some of the later stuff is much more dry (though equally as fascinating in some respects). I'd need to give the chapters on music onward another read to truly appreciate it I think.

Still, it's overall an astounding book, highly recommend it to anyone with a general interest in philosophy, science, or music.
Amanda Pearl
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
An incredibly fun, well illustrated and densely packed read. Anyone will enjoy, but this isn't for the faint of heart; there's a lot of information packed into these pages and sometimes you'll want to reread the same section or go back to a previous chapter to refresh your memory.

A wonderful look at the classical arts - geometry, arithmetic, music and cosmology, Quadrivium connects dots and expounds on the math and beauty constantly swimming in our world's ether.
Beverly J.
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Can I give this more than 5 stars?? oh my goodness did I relish in this book. There was a whole hell of a lot I did not understand, but I am more than ready, willing and able to delve into more of this author's work. Bring it on! ...more
Aaron Cummings
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I thought I had received a classical education. Then I found this book...
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education, science
Fascinating book on the Quadrivium. I learned a lot from it. At times the book went beyond my ability to understand it (particularly in the geometry and music sections), but it was accessible for the most part. The biggest thing I gained from this, however, was not specific knowledge about the Quadrivium, but a better grasp on the larger point of the Quadrivium and how the Quadrivium is meant to be viewed (or: rather, how the Quadrivium is to reshape our own views and feelings).

At the end of th
Hunter Ross
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting book, which is really four separate books. Some sections where I am strong like Geometry and Numbers felt like there was not enough information, others where I am clueless especially music I felt lost. Probably just me but felt like in some sections I needed way more detail and in others way more explanation. Still, very interesting!
Brayton Dawson
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book will show you how beautiful and interconnected our world really is
Daniel Hiland
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Among my collection of books sits “Quadrivium,” so far more of a curiosity than a tome I refer to with endearment. Like the two books on topology, this volume is something I approach with trepidation, the hope of totally understanding its content long since dashed. It’s like trying to understand a cloud- hard to visualize or quantify, yet there, all the same, challenging me to understand much more than its function or existence. And even that is tough sledding.

The easiest place to start is with
Niklas Spitz
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Aside from the content, what strikes me about this edition, is the quality of the print, elegant graphics, paper and binding. This volume is in itself an understated classic and feels wonderful to hold and behold.

Very readable in bite sized chunks, where I have found other books on sacred geometry and number to be a little arcane or inscrutable. This works its way progressively from 1st principles to the dynamic poetry of the music of the spheres. (I'm currently playing my way through Sacred Ge
Yousra Nawara
Sep 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
Started reading this book... Didn't understand shit! Ya'll be tripping this book is like reading absolute gibberish ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars. Fascinating book. Astronomy section was the weakest which was a shame. The music section was the best. A book to pick up and read a section or two rather than reading straight through.
Pallav Mishra
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was ok
Nearing 20% of this book (early pages of Book II) and I am , frankly speaking, underwhelmed. This book relates basic numbers and geometries to its use in spirituality, mysticism, music, philosophy- the liberal arts. But 90% of this text is rooted in Abrahamic or western thinking. It is not comprehensive enough to include the use of these in , say, temple art of India and eastern cultures. Or even the seemingly organic Eastern music- which is far more complex than western music. I think such an a ...more
Feb 01, 2021 rated it liked it
A little dry, left-brained and technical for me. There is a great breadth of information here but sometimes it is summed up a little too tersely for my taste. I'll admit that there are portions that I read without consciously absorbing so either it is working on a subconscious level (it took me at least 2 years till now and I still haven't quite finished it), or I'm simply not able to understand parts of it due to its technicality or the need for constant revision.

I love the presentation, it ha
Alex Simu
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Superficial books for superficial times. How to be "deep" without taking the depth. The book touches on multiple ideas and notions mixing mystical elements with science and philosophy but does not treat any of them seriously. More or less like you would be surfing on the internet for cool stuff related to music and astrology. It works great for people who want to sound cool when they talk about their passion for music and pseudo-mysticism. For anybody interested of the real information this book ...more
Paige McLoughlin
Has some good information in a rather heterodox package that one still has to approach with a grain of salt. It is a fun book highlighting some of the insights of ancient mathematics, astronomy, philosophy. It covers the topics in the form of Quadrivium the four liberal arts of Arithmetic (the study of number), Geometry (the study of patterns in space), Music (the study of patterns in time), and Astronomy the study (the orbits of planets tracing out patterns in space and time). These are supple ...more
Clint Joseph
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Really, I'd probably give this more of a 3.5 stars.

Wooden Books has some great, simple books like this that give you the main idea of things without bogging you down too terribly much. Kind of like all those books you see for sale on the tables at Books A Million.

I don't have a strong background in much of anything discussed here, so it doesn't get too terribly complex for somebody who isn't in the know, like myself. I think, to be fair, I read this companies books too quickly (no chapter is o
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I really like it as a reference book. However, many of the concepts are addressed too briefly (one page per) and are often described in a way that makes them sound more complicated than they are (i.e. when they first address 'squaring the circle' on the page 'Elevenses'.)

I did buy it because, as I said in the beginning, it acts as quick reference book. Just understand that you will have to do some additional research/digging on your own. It acts more as an outline or guide.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, philosophy, art
This book follows the classic liberal arts subjects of number, shape, cosmos, and music, and it shows how they all inform each other. It's beautiful, with text on the verso and image on the recto, however, because each spread is a new subject, the text was sometimes too abbreviated. It gives a good overview, but doesn't go in depth enough on anything. It was a great introduction, and I'm interested in learning more. ...more
Austin Hoffman
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Fascinating. A wealth of information and wonder at the mysteries of the universe. This does not read like a standard book, but makes more sense as a kind of reference or encyclopedia. There were many things way over my head, but I found it all interesting. The graphics and diagrams on every other page were delightful and well-done. This would be a good introduction to see what the quadrivium can be, but you would need another source to teach these arts.
Pedro Anacleto
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
In a whole different way, this book teaches us a little bit of the beginning from understanding what numbers really are and what do they stand for. Correlating the Mathematics with the inner beauty of Music Theory and Geometry patterns.
I use this one as a reference book to get explanations from difficult subjects and breaking them down to demonstrate beginners the exquisite meaning of what we call Mathematics.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I liked the packaging; that was the first thing that caught my eyes. I also liked the images in it. But, there is not much information offered. If a chapter picks your interest, you will have to research t somewhere else, on your own, since this book doesn't offer references. For this I rated it a 2.5 stars. ...more
Victoria Belue
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful, extraordinary book. It parses out the basic tenets of what the mystery schools of medieval times taught - geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy - which explained the world then and still does today.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
So much fun, so useful for homeschooling. Me love.
Daniel Taylor
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Almost all the answers can be found in this book. They just need someone to synthesise the ideas and see the overall picture, the unifying force that permeates all four of these disciplines.
Jeremy Jay
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent intro into how numbers aren’t merely of man’s creation, but that which references a divine influence within all things.
A   J
Jan 14, 2020 added it
also educational
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“Geometry is 'number in space', music is 'number in time'.” 6 likes
“We see that music, like the world, is formed from unchanging mathematical principles deployed in time, creating complexity, variety and beauty.” 4 likes
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