The Medieval Liberal Arts Curriculum:Dialectic

Dialectic was the study of the use of logic in debates. It was also used as a teaching method. The fundamental rationale for logic (or dialectic) is the theory that argument and debate are part of the learning process--i.e., the ability to raise questions enables a person to further the horizons of her/his knowledge. In the Middle Ages, disputation and debate formed a central part of Medival education and it was common practise for students to participate endlessly in debates, usually fortified by supportive arguments, around various different subjects.

One of the standard practise in the medieval era was that of the public debate between masters or professors. Masters who were highly skilled in oratory and who demonstrated superior logic in the support of their arguments were more likely to attract a larger following of students. The public debates were not unique to the Middle Ages: the rules for logical argument, or the use of dialectic were established in Ancient Greece by Aristotle. In the Christian era,the use of dialectic came to be supported by the church as a strategy for countering doctrines that were considered to be heretical.

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