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College or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. In Classical antiquity, the term designated the education proper to a freeman (Latin liber, free) as opposed to a slave. In the medieval Western university, the seven liberal arts were grammar, rhetoric, and logic (the trivium) and geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy (the quadrivium). In modern colleges and universities, the liberal arts include the study of literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on liberal arts, visit Britannica.com.