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Thread: Hostility towards science in the arts

  1. #16
    tdc
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    I think the main issue I have with 'science' (using the term in the general way it seems to be often used here) is a lot of it seems to assume that the 'real world' is something external to ourselves that should to be studied, measured and analyzed in order to reach a better understanding. Much like Jung, Einstein and the Mayans I have come to think of the external world as an illusion, and in a constant state of change - and also dependent on the observer.

    Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
    - Carl Jung

    I think this idea terrifies many, thus a lot of people use 'science' as an escape of sorts, a way to keep them distracted from this very simple and powerful truth. By studying the fake outside world, one doesn't have to take that daring adventure of looking within and taking on the great work - the work of the heart. 'Science' when used in this way can allow individuals to stay 'cold' and 'unattached', studying largely useless data while ignoring this greater, realer world within.
    Last edited by tdc; May-13-2012 at 02:51.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    I think the main issue I have with 'science' (using the term in the general way it seems to be often used here) is a lot of it seems to assume that the 'real world' is something external to ourselves that should to be studied, measured and analyzed in order to reach a better understanding. Much like Jung, Einstein and the Mayans I have come to think of the external world as an illusion, and in a constant state of change - and also dependent on the observer.

    Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
    - Carl Jung

    I think this idea terrifies many, thus a lot of people use 'science' as an escape of sorts, a way to keep them distracted from this very simple and powerful truth. By studying the fake outside world, one doesn't have to take that daring adventure of looking within and taking on the great work - the work of the heart. 'Science' when used in this way can allow individuals to stay 'cold' and 'unattached', studying largely useless data while ignoring this greater, realer world within.
    I think that's a fundamental misunderstanding of science. For starters, scientists have acknowledged for decades that the world we see and experiment with is not an objective reality. We know that our senses are dull compared to all the information that bombards the planet on a daily basis, but the reason experiment continues is that it yields results. We know that there must be an objective reality, even if we cannot experience it in its fullness, otherwise our technologies wouldn't consistently work in line with our derived laws of physics.

    I also think you're relying on an image of science that has been popularised by Hollywood. There is nothing cold about it, and people don't retreat into it, finding comfort in numbers. Data is simply a tool used to reach conclusions; scientists do the work they do because they are fundamentally passionate people who see beauty in the world around them. It takes a very special kind of passion and drive to enter a career in research - far more than you see in the average population working in IT or retail or finance or service industries. In fact, conducting science is surely a way of confronting our daunting realities, while others retreat into art and entertainment to hide from it. See? It just depends how it's framed, and given that either side can frame it to suit their prejudices, that's indicative of misapprehensions in both camps.

    Also, you bring up some points worth consideration, brianwalker, but I have not read anywhere near all the points you make, as it is daunting and unappealing to be presented with such mountains of often indecipherable text. If you were to make one or two essential arguments at a time, I might be more inclined to engage with you. With so many (often unfounded) claims being made all at once, I have no intention to engage with any of them, because any response I give seems to yield exponentially longer walls of strange reasoning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    I think the main issue I have with 'science' (using the term in the general way it seems to be often used here) is a lot of it seems to assume that the 'real world' is something external to ourselves that should to be studied, measured and analyzed in order to reach a better understanding. Much like Jung, Einstein and the Mayans I have come to think of the external world as an illusion, and in a constant state of change - and also dependent on the observer.
    Since the statement "the external world is an illusion and is dependent on the observer" is a result of observing the external world, then the statement itself must be an illusion and must be dependent on the observer. Quite a drawback for such a "simple and powerful Truth."

    Also, stop misunderstanding poor Albert and check this out:

    "The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent upon each other. Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is—insofar as it is thinkable at all—primitive and muddled. However, no sooner has the epistemologist, who is seeking a clear system, fought his way through to such a system, than he is inclined to interpret the thought-content of science in the sense of his system and to reject whatever does not fit into his system. The scientist, however, cannot afford to carry his striving for epistemological systematic that far. He accepts gratefully the epistemological conceptual analysis; but the external conditions, which are set for him by the facts of experience, do not permit him to let himself be too much restricted in the construction of his conceptual world by the adherence to an epistemological system. He therefore must appear to the systematic epistemologist as a type of unscrupulous opportunist: he appears as realist insofar as he seeks to describe a world independent of the acts of perception; as idealist insofar as he looks upon the concepts and theories as free inventions of the human spirit (not logically derivable from what is empirically given); as positivist insofar as he considers his concepts and theories justified only to the extent to which they furnish a logical representation of relations among sensory experiences. He may even appear as Platonist or Pythagorean insofar as he considers the viewpoint of logical simplicity as an indispensable and effective tool of his research."


    Albert Einstein's philosophy of science
    Last edited by Dodecaplex; May-13-2012 at 04:35.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    I think the main issue I have with 'science' (using the term in the general way it seems to be often used here) is a lot of it seems to assume that the 'real world' is something external to ourselves that should to be studied, measured and analyzed in order to reach a better understanding. Much like Jung, Einstein and the Mayans I have come to think of the external world as an illusion, and in a constant state of change - and also dependent on the observer.

    Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
    - Carl Jung

    I think this idea terrifies many, thus a lot of people use 'science' as an escape of sorts, a way to keep them distracted from this very simple and powerful truth. By studying the fake outside world, one doesn't have to take that daring adventure of looking within and taking on the great work - the work of the heart. 'Science' when used in this way can allow individuals to stay 'cold' and 'unattached', studying largely useless data while ignoring this greater, realer world within.
    For the record this is not how I see/think about the world.

    Also the notion of an "external world" ripe for examination is not something shared by all scientists.

    See Here.

    What is it that we humans depend on? We depend on our words... Our task is to communicate experience and ideas to others. We must strive continually to extend the scope of our description, but in such a way that our messages do not thereby lose their objective or unambiguous character ... We are suspended in language in such a way that we cannot say what is up and what is down. The word "reality" is also a word, a word which we must learn to use correctly.

    Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.

    There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature...
    Last edited by brianwalker; May-13-2012 at 03:30.

  5. #20
    tdc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dodecaplex View Post
    Since the statement "the external world is an illusion and is dependent on the observer" is a result of observing the external world, then the statement itself must be an illusion and must be dependent on the observer. Quite a drawback for such a "simple and powerful Truth."

    Also, stop misunderstanding poor Albert and check this out:

    "The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent upon each other.The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent upon each other. Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is—insofar as it is thinkable at all—primitive and muddled. However, no sooner has the epistemologist, who is seeking a clear system, fought his way through to such a system, than he is inclined to interpret the thought-content of science in the sense of his system and to reject whatever does not fit into his system. The scientist, however, cannot afford to carry his striving for epistemological systematic that far. He accepts gratefully the epistemological conceptual analysis; but the external conditions, which are set for him by the facts of experience, do not permit him to let himself be too much restricted in the construction of his conceptual world by the adherence to an epistemological system. He therefore must appear to the systematic epistemologist as a type of unscrupulous opportunist: he appears as realist insofar as he seeks to describe a world independent of the acts of perception; as idealist insofar as he looks upon the concepts and theories as free inventions of the human spirit (not logically derivable from what is empirically given); as positivist insofar as he considers his concepts and theories justified only to the extent to which they furnish a logical representation of relations among sensory experiences. He may even appear as Platonist or Pythagorean insofar as he considers the viewpoint of logical simplicity as an indispensable and effective tool of his research."


    Albert Einstein's philosophy of science
    Well, your first statement doesn't contradict what I said. It basically means exactly what I already said, and I didn't phrase it in the way you quoted me. As far as Einstein, I was referring to this quote:

    "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

    -Albert Einstein

    Nothing more. The other two ideas I tacked on there, weren't in specific reference to Einstein but seem pretty self explanatory ideas and I think are pretty well accepted by most scientists now.

    The simple and powerful truth I was referring to, was not in reference to your misquote but in reference to the Jung quote:
    Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart...

    Which I still do think is a pretty simple and powerful truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Well, your first statement doesn't contradict what I said. It basically means exactly what I already said, and I didn't phrase it in the way you quoted me.
    Actually, it completely destroys what you said. After all, you seem to accept the fact that the statement itself is an illusion and dependent on the observer, but you still treat it as though it revealed any type of knowledge that is worthy of mentioning. In other words, you denigrate a world that is an illusion, yet you put a statement that is also an illusion on a philosophical pedestal. Why the bias?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    As far as Einstein, I was referring to this quote:

    "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

    -Albert Einstein
    He never said such a thing. You're misquoting what he apparently says here:

    "Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

    -- Albert Einstein, in a letter to the family of his lifelong friend Michele Besso, after learning of his death, (March 1955) as quoted in Disturbing the Universe (1979) by Freeman Dyson Ch. 17 "A Distant Mirror."
    In any case, in order to see what Einstein's views were, I would rather trust what he wrote in his work on the philosophy of science than what he (apparently) said after the death of a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    The simple and powerful truth I was referring to, was not in reference to your misquote but in reference to the Jung quote:
    Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart...

    Which I still do think is a pretty simple and powerful truth.
    Well, I think it's nonsense. The inside is as much dependent on the outside as the outside is dependent on the inside. Looking only into your heart will barely give you half of the picture and render the rest of your vision blurred.
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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I'm not wading too heavily in this debate, it's above my head (a lot of it). However, I think that artists today - visual, literary, musical, etc. - do integrate and enquire about scientific issues in their art, often it being a big focus in their output.

    Australian artist Patricia Piccinini is one of these, her sculptures are interesting and often thought provoking comments on the possibilities of genetic sciences and all that. HERE is a selection of them.
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    This has been an interesting discussion.

    I have an idea that I hope some of you might agree to. A lot of this discussion has been about how we use scientific method to analyze art. What if we were to "artify" science? What if we were to use ideas such as aesthetics when thinking about scientific phenomenon? For ex. the "magic" of how chemistry works. The Period Table is beautiful in my opinion in its simplicity and complexity, that every element has its place, and that reactions can actually be predictable (there may be debate today about that too, but that's beyond my point).

    Another ex. what DNA looks like. Sure, it is "efficient" to see that the double helix is as it is, because then mitosis and protein synthesis and all that stuff I learned a while back are made possible. But also, it's a complex and symmetrical shape, uncommon in any other kind of thing in the world, organic and inorganic. It is a work of art in my opinion.

    Sure, there is a mixture of Artists in the world today who do and don't like their art to be scientifically analyzed. But are scientists today open to having Artists analyze Science by their own aesthetical standards to help the world appreciate science?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    ...
    Another ex. what DNA looks like. Sure, it is "efficient" to see that the double helix is as it is, because then mitosis and protein synthesis and all that stuff I learned a while back are made possible. But also, it's a complex and symmetrical shape, uncommon in any other kind of thing in the world, organic and inorganic. It is a work of art in my opinion.

    ...
    What you say there reminds me of a sculpture inspired by the structure of DNA over 20 years ago. Here is info about the artist and the artwork (quote in italics & source below) -

    Arthur Fleischmann (1896-1990) was born in Bratislava, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and pioneered the use of Perspex as a sculptural medium. He worked in Sydney from 1939 to 1948, then moved to London. In 1949 he created the bronze doors on the Mitchell Library depicting various explorers of Australia. Fleischmann's last completed work before his death, a Perspex water sculpture titled A Tribute to the Discovery of DNA, was installed in the State Library of New South Wales in August 1990. The Arthur Fleischmann Museum was established in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2003.

    http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemD...?itemID=411415

    Edit - images on this page below of Mr. Fleischmann's sculptures, he is working on the one I remember seeing in the first photo -

    http://www.fleischmann.org.uk/gallwate.html
    Last edited by Sid James; May-13-2012 at 05:01.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    Australian artist Patricia Piccinini is one of these, her sculptures are interesting and often thought provoking comments on the possibilities of genetic sciences and all that. HERE is a selection of them.
    I would hope that those images aren't representative, otherwise Piccinini is one of those putrid varieties of artists who must point towards future science as being extremely dangerous. Humanity has always had tools to endanger itself, science is no exception and has no intrinsically damaging qualities. This kind of fear-mongering is short-sighted and disingenuous. I suppose she hates GM crops and only eats organic food (forgive these baseless assumptions, but this kind of stuff is no better than scientists being evil or nerdy in Hollywood films).

    Hui's idea is much better, and I have a few examples to hand - I'll have to post them tomorrow though as I'm just off to bed.

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    Yup, according to this, she has an "ambivalent attitude towards technology."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    I would hope that those images aren't representative, otherwise Piccinini is one of those putrid varieties of artists who must point towards future science as being extremely dangerous. Humanity has always had tools to endanger itself, science is no exception and has no intrinsically damaging qualities. This kind of fear-mongering is short-sighted and disingenuous. I suppose she hates GM crops and only eats organic food (forgive these baseless assumptions, but this kind of stuff is no better than scientists being evil or nerdy in Hollywood films).
    I'm not an expert on Piccinini but she's only asking questions of the viewer, not answering them, I think. I like the thought provocing aspect of her work in some ways. I don't have any sacred cows, in science or art. I think what her art makes me think is that science can be good, but the way humans use it can sometimes be no good. There are many examples of this around, artists just go off what's going on in this big wide world of ours.

    But what I'm saying is that for artistic creators today, many of them, they are very insterested in science, on different aspects, views, debates about it, etc.

    ...Hui's idea is much better, and I have a few examples to hand - I'll have to post them tomorrow though as I'm just off to bed.
    I gave another artist, the sculptor Fleischmann, as an example of art going off what she said. The beauty of nature, in this case the structure of DNA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dodecaplex View Post
    Yup, according to this, she has an "ambivalent attitude towards technology."
    LOL, so have many people for ages. Funny how people around here can be pessimistic about humans but optimistic, even utopian, about science and technology.

    You know about the thalidomide babies that were born with distorted limbs cos science said it's a good drug to prevent morning sickness. There are many examples of science going wrong. It's not all wrong, but it's not all right either.

    Sometimes we think science is right, but with hindsight it ends up being very wrong.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15536544

    Then again, let's just do a false dichotomy...again. You gotta choose my way or you're wrong.
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    Yes, but did Thalidomide prevent morning sickness
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    If I were a drinking man, I'd create a drinking game out of the number of times Sid says "false dichotomy".
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