Liberal Arts After the Middle Ages

The liberal arts in their medieval form were used in the university for a long time, but the university itself went into a decline after the beginning of the modern age. There were many theories of education, especially in the Enlightenment, and there was a great amount of progress in knowledge, but most universities stayed with the old curriculum. The liberal arts were taken less seriously, though, as the basis for knowledge, for a couple of reasons:


1. People were less likely to take the Aristotelean form of knowledge seriously. It became clear that modern science was a powerful force, and it was incompatible with the liberal arts.


2. Specialization started to occur in the sciences, and eventually in the humanities as well. "Disciplines", in the modern sense, begin to emerge. Most of the disciplines we take for granted are comparatively young, and they come about as the result of changes in Germany (mainly) in the 19th century. Immanuel Kant was part of this, with his
Conflict of the Faculties, but later thinkers like Humboldt had more of an influence on the present-day structure (see more later).