In today’s world, the intersection of science and engineering disciplines has become commonplace, and it is almost impossible to advance without intersection. But there is still a lot of debate about whether the liberal arts should also be crossed, and my answer is: liberal arts should also be crossed, and must be crossed. We can make specific explanations from the perspective of knowledge development.
The source of knowledge
we get back to the source of knowledge to discuss the “knowledge” – not just “liberal arts knowledge”, but of the whole “knowledge.”
First look at the source of Western knowledge. The three philosophers Aristotle, Plato and Socrates at the source of Western knowledge are all university inquirers with extensive knowledge.
Aristotle’s research covers many fields, including logic, philosophy, politics, ethics, morals, biology, natural sciences; it also includes research on the human body, such as movement, soul, memory, sleep, dreams, etc. . He has written many books in his life, covering almost every subject we are talking about today. Plato, Aristotle’s teacher, was also an erudite university scholar in ancient Greece. His most famous book “The Utopia” also involves many disciplines we are talking about today, such as politics, economics, philosophy, education, psychology Studies, law, and theories about the universe and nature, etc. Plato also opened up the ancient Greek education system. He established the first “academy”, which was a training ground for intellectuals. Later, the Western “Academy” originated from this. Although Plato’s teacher Socrates did not leave a writing, he can realize from Plato’s narrative that according to our current subject classification, Socrates is an educator, an ethicist, a philosopher, a jurist, and a rhetorician. ,and many more.
Let’s look at the source of knowledge in China. The master of ancient Chinese knowledge first recommended Confucius. His works are familiar to everyone: According to today’s discipline classification standards, “Poetry” belongs to literature; “Book” is an ancient document, a proclamation issued by ancient kings and saints before Confucius, including canons. System and speech manuscripts, etc. belong to administrative management; “Ritual” records the behavior norms, rules and etiquette at the time; “Yue” is music, singing, and belongs to the art category; “Yi” discusses the laws of nature and human society changes ; “Spring and Autumn” is the origin of Chinese historiography. Confucius has a very complete range of knowledge. According to the classification of disciplines today, Confucius can be called a thinker, ethicist, political scientist, historian, educator, aesthetician, economist, etc. As the masters of classical culture, Confucius and Aristotle share many similarities in their understanding of knowledge-all things that people can think of, what they can see, and what they can touch are all knowledge. Knowledge is a whole, indivisible.
Laozi, another philosopher of ancient Chinese civilization, although his “Tao De Jing” is only 5,000 words, its content involves philosophy, politics, ethics, human science, natural science, military science, health preservation, dialectics, etc. Another ancient Chinese thinker, Mo Zi, from today’s point of view, he is the closest scholar to natural science. If you look at Mozi’s works, you will find that in addition to philosophy, he also covers logic, political science, military science, and physics, optics, mechanics, and engineering related to natural sciences.
Whether in the ancient West or in ancient China, knowledge is regarded as a whole. At the source of knowledge, subject classification does not exist.
situation of traditional education and how? In Europe, the basic learning content of the Athens Academy established by Plato is the “four subjects”, namely arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. According to Plato’s vision, those who enter the college are all plastic materials who have received elementary education and can continue their studies. The main content of elementary education is reading, writing, arithmetic, riding a horse, shooting a gun, archery, music, etc. It is also a general education.
In the Middle Ages, around the 11th and 12th centuries, “universities” appeared in Western Europe. The English word “university” for universities, its root is “universe”, which means all-inclusive. Everyone in the university must study and understand courses such as theology, medicine, law, and mathematics. On the other hand, the meaning of the so-called “college” at the time was also different from the “college” of the “College of Foreign Languages and Literatures” today. The “college” in the Middle Ages in Europe was when a wealthy noble landlord or wealthy businessman donated a piece of land to build a house to support people who were interested in learning. To this day, this type of college still exists in Cambridge and Oxford, England. The British public school that appeared in the late Middle Ages was a school dedicated to cultivating the children of nobles. The courses in this public school also covered rich knowledge of religion, grammar, classics, rhetoric, mathematics, horse riding, archery, sports and so on.
In ancient China, the official study of the Zhou Dynasty was the “six arts”, namely ritual, music, shooting, imperialism, calligraphy and number. The “Six Arts” is almost the same as Plato’s civic education, and the people in the two places separated by thousands of miles have the same understanding of knowledge. Later, Confucius founded private school. The main content of his teaching was Confucianism, and there was no so-called classification of such knowledge. Regarding traditional Chinese education, there is a saying among the folks that “Qin, chess, calligraphy and calligraphy are omnipotent”, and “talent”, “art” and “learning” are not separated. Whether in traditional education in the West or in traditional education in China, knowledge is a whole and cannot be divided into categories.
Model of “literati”
During that long period, for those who wish to learn and master knowledge, the biggest requirement is to understand everything, know everything, and be knowledgeable and talented. What is the status of cultural people trained on this standard?
First look at Europe. In the later period of the Roman Empire, Christianity became an official ideology, and a group of scholars with profound religious knowledge emerged, laying down some basic theories and concepts of Christianity. These people were later honored as godfathers. The most famous of the godfathers is Augustine. His book “The City of God” is a work on human society, political systems, and national forms. In addition to the theology and philosophy, this book also includes politics, aesthetics, drama, literature, history and philosophy. Augustine is an all-round scholar.
In the Middle Ages, people’s thinking was bound by Christianity, and there were very few people with “culture” in the whole society, and most of the kings and nobles were illiterate. Cultural people are concentrated in the monastery. The most famous person is Thomas Aquinas. His “Encyclopedia of Theology” covers a wide range of topics, including theology, philosophy, ethics, economics, politics, and logic.
Most of the Renaissance masters were versatile, the representative of whom was Leonardo. Da Vinci is not just a painter, he can also draw maps, he also knows anatomy, and has drawn human anatomy; in addition, he knows sculpture, architecture, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, geology, astronomy, botany, Paleontology, etc. He has made many inventions and made all kinds of exquisite small instruments and small machines. For example, the “Da Vinci Code” that is widely spread today originated from the “Da Vinci Code” he invented.
When it comes to the Age of Enlightenment, you have to Tikant. Regarding Kant, we will call him the great philosopher, but he is also a scientist and astronomer. He was the first astronomer to propose that the solar system was formed by the gradual convergence of nebulae long ago. He wrote “General History of Nature and “Theory of Celestial Body”, “On the Influence of the Moon on Climate” and other works related to natural science. He also dabbled in history, international relations, logic, geography and other knowledge. He has written “The Idea of General History of the World”, “Permanent Peace Theory”, “Moral Metaphysics”, “Logic”, and “Physical Geography”. If Kant is only regarded as a philosopher, I am afraid he will be wronged.