Studies of Free Individuals

“We call those studies liberal, then, which are worthy of a free [liber] man: they are those through which virtue and wisdom are either practiced or sought, and by which the body or mind is disposed towards all the best things.  From this source people customarily seek honor and glory, which for the wise man are the principal rewards of virtue.  Just as profit and pleasure are laid down as ends for illiberal intellects, so virtue and glory are goals for the noble.” Piero Paolo Vergerio, “Character and Studies Befitting a Free-Born Youth,” in The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be An Educated Human Being, ed. Richard M. Gamble. Wilmington 2007, p. 313. [Italics in original]

Vergerio, the great teacher of the early Renaissance, describes the nature of true liberal studies and their purpose.  Liberal derived from the Latin word, liber, meaning free.  Notice how Vergerio connects virtue and wisdom and identifies them as the goals of true learning.   Following classical tradition, Vergerio points out that true virtue and glory are the noble goals to which the liberal person strives through the liberal arts.

 

 

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