In the 14th century, aristocrats generally didn't go to university. Why would they? Being intellectual was not their job and universities mostly didn't teach the subjects aristocrats needed to know, and inasmuch as they needed various knowledge and skills would have private tutors. Aristocrats did start going to university more into the Renaissance and beyond, though, as aristocracy became more involved than being a landowning warrior elite.Yes.
I'm explaining where the name "liberal arts" actually comes from.
"late 14c., translating Latin artes liberales; the name for the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, rather than immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (liberal in this sense is opposed to servile or mechanical).""the education designed for a gentleman (Latin liber a free man) & ... opposed on the… See origin and meaning of liberal arts.www.etymonline.com
You're right on a couple points. Natural sciences fall under liberal arts, but what you're missing is that in the 14th century, scientists were all in the aristocracy. The middle class didn't exist, the lower class weren't scientists, and learning science was not a pathway between the classes (except maybe if the Church was involved). Natural sciences weren't something a person studied to elevate their position in society, it is something that people already in elevated positions used their time and talent on.
When they started, the main subjects at universities were theology (generally for the clergy), law and medicine. Liberal arts maybe a little later. I think the clergy was possibly the largest single industry graduates would go into irrespective of degree initially. However, lawyers, civil servants and merchants would also be substantial routes. Thus universities were largely for the upper middle classes, and the upper middle classes still generally had to work.
When we talk about a "free man", the conception here is someone capable of indepdence, self-agency, and fit to be part of civic society with the ability to make wise decisions for themselves and society. Obviously, what this means this does exist within the culture of the times. One might perhaps equate with the idea of political enfranchisement (voters), for instance that inasmuch as democratic processes existed in the medieval era, they were almost entirely exercised by the middle classes. One can think, perhaps, about ancient Athens or Rome, and the notion of the "citizen".
This is a well-recognised tension within higher education - whether it's general self-improvement or a route to a job. However, I think most students entering university these days do so with one of those aims in mind, and in turn universities are very clearly marketing themselves and their courses with statistics such as likelihood of getting a (well paid?) job. In theory, neither necessarily precludes the other.The other thing you're right about is that liberal arts represents a philosophy of education that permeates all fields at all levels, and that's kind of the problem. The foundation of the education we are giving to youth is "how to be a well-rounded and intellectual wealthy person", and then telling people that more education will lead to more wealth. Can you not appreciate the frustration of the those who spent decades of their life force-fed the hobbies of the rich from centuries ago, sometimes taking out massive loans to support this lifestyle, under the promise of eventual wealth that likely never actually comes?