Science vs. Art (was re: .. until you newbies ..)

Gerald Gleason (
Mon, 10 Jul 1995 19:36:14 GMT

Jeff Inman writes
> What your example really did was to clarify your rather unusual
> definitions. The point you are making depends on me accepting your
> neurotic style of vocabulary. For more sensible people, it is
> perfectly obvious that metalurgy is in fact both an art and a science.
> It makes clear that science is a groping with principles, and while
> epistemological problems remain (i.e. always) the best that can be
> done is to organize things into intuitive categories and principles.
> It is the height of arrogance to forget that one is exploring rather
> than merely elaborating.

I recently bought Ken Wilber's book _Sex,_Ecology,_Spirituality_, and I've
started on it at a number of different points (it's a rather intimidating
800 some-odd pages including extensive notes, references and index). At
one point he credits the 'Enlightenment' with splitting knowledge into
what he calls the Big Three of science (it), religion(or morality, we),
and art (I), which at the time was probably a "good" thing, but
subsequently science took over to become the "Big One".

When looked at in this way, it is clear that we can look at any topic in
any of these three aspects, but the distinction that is being made in this
thread is somewhat different. Here 'art' is being used as a substitute
for 'pre-systematic science' or something like that. Art in the sense of
self-expression with its primarily subjective stance is not even at issue.

> In fact, the very way you originally described the "art" of metalurgy
> revealed that it was a science in utero (or something), which required
> you to come up with a second definition of "art" (the fictional,
> mythological useless variety) so that you could persist in separating
> astrology from anything remotely "scientific".

> Here's how you helped me: metalurgy can be understood as a primitive
> science. And also as an art. This helps me understand what one kind
> of art (i.e. what the greeks called techne) is a struggling after
> principles in a domain that is still too large to have real exploitive
> power, in terms of reductive techniques, etc. That's also the way I
> understand astrology, at the moment.

Isn't this moving even further from any sensible use of the terms?
Metalurgy is technology, not science whether or not is has a strong
scientific foundation, and nobody has said anything relating fundamentally
to art.

I posted mostly because this discussion reminded me of what I was reading
in Wilber's book, and what he was saying seems very much in sync with what
at least some anthropologists in this group are saying. It's not that
science and the objective path do not have something to offer, but that it
is tendered as the only way to knowledge of any kind. Collective and
individual subjects are clearly part of reality, and there are domains of
knowledge to be explored (for example anthropology) where exclusively
"objective" information is of little or no use.

Gerry Gleason