The Trivium: A Tool for Learning Anything

Information today has become siloed. It’s a common belief that little, if any, expertise from one field of knowledge transfers over to other fields. But there is a forgotten tool that anyone can use to confidently approach new subjects and problems: the Trivium.

The ancients considered the liberal arts to be composed of seven parts. First was a foundation called the trivium, composed of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Following that was the quadrivium, which was arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (numbers, numbers in space, numbers in time, numbers in time and space). The trivium (literally, “three ways”), is a framework for learning.

Grammar is about gaining knowledge: collecting information, without judgment or analysis. It answers the questions “Who, what, where, and when?” This is possibly the most important step, since (depending on what you study) essential information may not be readily available.

Logic is about gaining understanding. It answers “why?” This is the foundation for relating to the world. It has three components: filtration, correlation, and analysis. It places the information gathered into context, and eliminates inconsistency and resolves conflicting perspectives.

Rhetoric is about acting wisely: the application of knowledge and understanding, put into correct action. It answers “how?”

Methodically applying this method provides a clear next step when encountering any unfamiliar topic. This is a powerful tool for methodically determining the best way to achieve your goals.