Beauty for Truth's Sake
On the Re-enchantment of Education
Where to Purchase
Education has become splintered and fragmented in our postmodern culture. The arts are divorced from the sciences; faith is antithetical to reason. Prominent Catholic thinker Stratford Caldecott calls for a rebirth or, rather, ressourcement of learning in Beauty for Truth’s Sake. His aim: to restore meaning and unity to education. The author contends that relearning how to learn is a core skill in the fast-paced, mercurial twenty-first century. Caldecott draws inspiration from Pope Benedict XVI’s The Spirit of the Liturgy, which emphasizes that the Logos is behind all of the order in the cosmos. He calls for a return to the classic liberal arts and advocates approaching the sciences and mathematics through a poetic imagination. Ultimately, the search for coherence and the pursuit of a Theory of Everything leads back to the Trinity.
Beauty for Truth’s Sake is appropriate for college professors and university administrators, serving as an excellent resource for faculty workshops and colloquiums. It will also find a home in courses on worldviews and the integration of faith and learning. Parents, homeschoolers, and anyone dedicated to continuing education and lifelong learning will benefit from understanding that all truth is God’s truth.
Contents Introduction: “To Sing with the Universe” 1. The Tradition of the Four Ways The Great Tradition Adapting the Medieval Model Beauty for Truth’s Sake Beauty on the Cross 2. Educating the Poetic Imagination “A Beauty which Defies Time”Rediscovering Poetic Knowledge The Symbolic Cosmos A Key to Ancient Mysteries 3. The Lost Wisdom of the World Sacred Number Beyond Pythagoras Irrational Beauty Phi and the Natural Numbers Symmetry 4. The Golden Circle A Journey into God Theology of the Trinity In Search of the Logos Geometry as Prophecy The Golden Circle 5. “Quiring to the Young-Eyed Cherubims” Good Vibrations Humane Architecture At Home in the Cosmos Secrets of the Sky The End of the Road 6. The Liturgical Consummation of Cosmology The Construction of Modernity A Sense of the Sacred Liturgy as Remembering to Give An Education in Beauty The Holy City Conclusion: Beyond Faith and Reason Bibliography Index
"An erudite, compassionate, powerful argument for recovering the deepest dimensions of the liberal arts, for rethinking education as the path to wisdom. Caldecott ranges across a breathtaking array of disciplines--including geometry, history, liturgy, music, astronomy, and mythology--as he demonstrates that faith and reason, art and science, are not enemies but comrades in the search for truth. An important and uplifting book."
Philip Zaleski, editor of the Best Spiritual Writing series and coauthor of Prayer: A History
"This is a book that addresses the soul, mind, spirit, and will. It is an extended meditation on the sources of becoming more human that inevitably relate humanity to God. It is about education, spiritual maturing, and a lifetime vocation of learning. It is a wise book, an inspiring book, a beautiful book."
Ralph McInerny, University of Notre Dame
"This book struck me with the force of a revelation. Stratford Caldecott's thesis--that modern mathematics can recreate a sense of the beauty of cosmic order which would re-orient the educational program and, furthermore, prepare a way for liturgical worship--is to me a very remarkable example of 'thinking outside the box.' Full of memorable and highly specific formulations, Beauty for Truth's Sake also testifies to the marvelously holistic quality of the author's vision."
Aidan Nichols, OP, author of Redeeming Beauty
"This book offers three kinds of light: lucidity, illumination, and scintillation--the lucidity of participating in the divine simplicity, which substitutes profundity for mere complexity; illumination through the divine light of the Logos that shines as one in both creation and revelation; the scintillation of realizing that this truth can only be approached in love. Caldecott shows that all of our natural and social reality reflectively sparkles with a new anticipation, revealing to us how it might be transformed to better show forth the divine likeness."
Catherine Pickstock, university reader in philosophy and theology, University of Cambridge; fellow of Emmanuel College
"This work is likely to become something of a bible for liberal arts students. It covers everything from music theory to number symbolism and Trinitarian theology. Caldecott shows a particularly deep appreciation of the Benedictine roots of European high culture and quotes Prince Charles as well as St. Bonaventure. The prose is beautiful and every sentence carefully crafted. Caldecott concludes that the Trinity is the home of the Logos and the shape of love. These are the high secrets of our Western tradition, and together they offer the key to its renewal. Postmodern thinkers will also find that this is an accessible, succinct guide to Christian cosmology."
Tracey Rowland, dean, John Paul II Institute, Melbourne, Australia
"Stratford Caldecott provides a remarkable manifesto that restores mystery to its proper place in education. With mystery comes wonder, awe, reverence, beauty, and a sense of discovery that leads us to a deeper wisdom. Without these, science and mathematics are sterile, dull, and doomed, and the humanities are impossible. Caldecott has pronounced a blessing for our children and our children's children."
Scott Hahn, Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation, St. Vincent Seminary; professor of scripture and theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
"[Caldecott] clearly demonstrates how the art, architecture, music, science, and mathematics that constituent the cultural life of Western civilization were inextricably linked to the constituent elements of a logocentric cosmos manifested palpably and explicitly in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Caldecott thus provides his readers with frames of reference that awaken them to a world full of wonder and awe, and so resets them securely back on a shared journey toward the eschatological consummation of all things."
Stephen Richard Turley,
"Intended for college students and professors, Beauty for Truth's Sake is a thoughtful apologetic for returning to the classic liberal arts tradition and the integration of faith and reason. It is eloquently written: simple, yet profound."
Donald L. Tucker,
Religious Studies Review
"[This book] offers a timely reflection on the relationship between post-secondary education and the pursuit of the ideals of wisdom, beauty, and truth. . . . Caldecott's insights into the relationship between beauty and truth should be of interest to educators who desire to cultivate wisdom and habits of mind in addition to content knowledge through the teaching-learning process. . . . Caldecott's insights into secularity and post-secularity will be interesting to theologians and religious scholars as we explore ways to articulate the role of religion in the public sphere."
Teaching Theology and Religion
"What Caldecott does very well is to bring together authors and arguments, ancient, medieval, and contemporary, and unify and organize their claims in such a way as to give them all greater force and significance. . . . The book's persuasive force comes from the cogency of the synthesis of so many powerful thinkers. It recalls important trends in our intellectual, cultural, and theological tradition, makes the case for its value and validity, alerts us to those who today are seeking to preserve or revive it, and gives practical suggestions for how we can ground ourselves in it. Caldecott hopes that the book will be utilized by those in education . . . and offers wonderful suggestions for further reading."
Thomas R. Larson,
Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
"Stratford Caldecott's finely written book, Beauty for Truth's Sake, advocates a return to (Christian) Pythagoreanism as the founding spirit of liberal arts education. . . . This is a clearly written book. Although it traverses a wide range of topics, many technical, it is very accessible. Caldecott is a master at taking complex ideas and synthesizing them into understandable presentations. And he makes a clear case for the importance of reenchanting the liberal arts with a Christian Pythagorean spirit. . . . Overall, Caldecott's book is worth reading for those interested in the discussion of the historical, spiritual meaning of the liberal arts, especially within the context of Christianity."
Clarence W. Joldersma,
Christian Scholar's Review
"[A] remarkable little book. . . . That [Caldecott] can make math intelligible and, even more remarkably, interesting . . . is a testament to the clarity and perspicacity of his writing. . . . This book is an example of the thesis it contains. Caldecott wants to say that everything folds into truth through beauty, and so he ranges over Pythagoras, Thomas Aquinas, cosmologists, Indian philosophers and Islamic thinkers, modern astronomy and ancient numerology. The bibliography yields a year's worth of reading to any interested party. . . . Henri de Lubac offers a metaphor for how faith and reason relate when he writes 'If it can be said that, in climbing up the ladder that leads from reason to faith, we face insurmountable distances between certain rungs, the same is not true when coming down the ladder from faith to reason.'. . . There is no philosophical, scientific, or mathematical deduction of God in this book; rather Caldecott has soared to the top of the ladder by liturgy, and these chapters are each a rung on the ladder to be marveled at as we descend through a lifelong education."
David W. Fagerberg,
"Beauty for Truth's Sake contains detailed chapters on mathematics and numbers, showing the beauty of certain mathematical laws. This discussion gives substance to the argument that science and theology, faith and reason, and beauty and the truth are intimately connected. Caldecott is not calling for a 'Catholic' science to replace the science we have, but for a re-visioning of science, opening science to a spiritual dimension. . . . While Beauty for Truth's Sake contains many big ideas, such as the numbers wisdom of the Trinity, or the mystical and theological aspects of mathematics, the book is not overwhelming for the average reader because Caldecott writes in a straightforward way. This book helps to cover an area of theology and philosophy that is in great need of expanded ideas, and that is an alternative view to the atheist movement."
"Caldecott's slender, well-written volume is not heavy going; in fact, it provides a primer on how to recover ancient forms of liberal education. For example, he illuminates the ideas of Pythagoras, such as the importance of numbers as a guide to understanding the order of the cosmos. There are other sections in this vein . . . that are marvels of concision and fascinating detail. Here is a book that demonstrates, in clear, compelling language, how art and faith link up to science and the whole enterprise of education."
"Thinkers and lovers of truth and beauty will find here answers to satisfy their quest for ultimate knowledge of the cosmos and of life."
Patricia J. Sweeney, SSJ,
Catholic Library World
"This is a deeply provocative and thoughtful book. . . . Caldecott is right that we need to recover a coherent account of the liberal arts grounded in the transcendent. We should all be grateful for this Roman Catholic scholar's contribution to our public discourse."
Ian S. Markham,
"A vitally important book which manages to captivate the reader as it accurately assesses our modern world, divorced as it is from God, from history, from the wholeness of truth. . . . This prescient book explores a new way of looking at the eternal verities, urging a change in how we educate from fragmentation to wholeness. . . . This slim volume is very concentrated . . . and it rewards multiple readings. Caldecott draws on a wealth of material from antiquity to modernity and offers a possible new synthesis, a 'ressourcement,' a 'return to sources,' that could give us a renaissance as profound as those that the twelfth or sixteenth centuries experienced. . . . . Even if one is familiar with some of the articles he cites in such remarkably clear prose, there is that illuminating point of view from a scholar who has thought deeply on the matters raised. These insights strike the reader, adding richness to the profound observations of ancient and modern authors. . . . [The book's] various sections can be read and savored independently, as various courses in a plentiful banquet. His thesis thus understood is heartening and wholly nourishing. . . . Caldecott's timely book encourages reflection and proves an invaluable guide."
Ellen A. Carney,
"[A] truly helpful book. This work does what few others in recent years have attempted to do, and that is address a possible theoretical and practical connection between the trivium and quadrivium. . . . Caldecott's prose style is a treat of its own. This work issues a clarion call for returning to the best of the liberal arts tradition. . . . This work would be a marvelous precursor to C. S. Lewis's The Discarded Image. You can tell that Lewis and Caldecott breathe the same fresh Medieval air. For any Classical Christian school that is seeking a blueprint for bringing back what modernity wrongfully divided, this book is a fantastic starting place."
Robert M. Woods,
Musings of a Christian Humanist blog