The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action

By John Dewey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE ART OF ACCEPTANCE AND THE ART OF CONTROL

THERE WAS A time when "art" and "science" were virtually equivalent terms. There is a reminiscence of this period in university organization in the phrase "faculty of arts and sciences." A distinction was drawn between the "mechanical" and the "liberal" arts. In part, this distinction was between industrial arts and social arts, those concerned with things and those concerned directly with persons. Grammar and rhetoric, for example, in dealing with speech, the interpretation of literature and the arts of persuasion, were higher than blacksmithing and carpentry. The mechanical arts dealt with things which were merely means; the liberal arts dealt with affairs that were ends, things having a final and intrinsic worth. The obviousness of the distinction was reënforced by social causes. Mechanics were concerned with mechanical arts; they were lower in the social scale. The school in which their arts were learned was the school of practice: apprenticeship to those who had already mastered the craft and mystery. Apprentices literally "learned by doing," and "doing" was routine repetition and imitation of the acts of others, until personal skill was acquired. The liberal arts were studied by those who were to be in some position of authority, occupied with some exercise of social rule. Such persons had the material means that afforded leisure, and were to engage in callings that had especial honor and prestige. Moreover, they learned not by mechanical repetition and bodily practice in manipulation of ma

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