The human ordering of the arts and sciences

Tom McLeish*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter begins with reference to the thirteenth-century polymath Robert Grosseteste’s reflections on his own curriculum - the seven ‘Liberal Arts’ of the medieval universities. Grosseteste prefaces the body of his published work on natural philosophy and scientific topics with a remarkable treatise on the seven liberal arts. The arts, for Grosseteste, do not primarily support vocation or employment, but constitute vital virtues that underpin them. Science is increasingly divorced from the notion of creativity - ‘there is no room for imagination in science’ asserted a presenter full face to camera in a BBC science documentary. In particular, the medieval centuries, so foundational to modernism, yet without the stark divisions of humanities and sciences to which modernism had become so strongly wed, present themselves as potential sources for more fruitful reconciliation. The most salient differences in accounts of creativity do not, on close inspection, present themselves aligning across the arts and sciences, nor to distinguish between medieval and modern.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRobert Grosseteste and Theories of Education
Subtitle of host publicationThe Ordered Human
EditorsJack Cunningham, Steven Puttick
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000761177
ISBN (Print)9780429295973
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 selection and editorial matter, Jack Cunningham and Steven Puttick; individual chapters, the contributors.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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