A&O – SCIENCE

ART & ORGANISM

 

the BIOLOGY of ART and AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE

The ART and SCIENCE of ART and SCIENCE

 

SCIENCE

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SCIENCE is… 

“The method of scientific investigation is nothing but the expression of the necessary mode of working of the human mind.”—T.H. Huxley

… recalls Einstein: “Science is a refinement of everyday thinking.”

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SCIENCE consists of Facts and Theories [iv]

    • The best story you can tell with the best facts you have [at the moment], understanding that the facts may be revised upon closer examination, and new ones are constantly sought and discovered.
    • IS SCIENCE an abstract art form? [i] understanding that all internal representations of the external world are abstractions–selective representations.
    • SCIENCE is an engine of MYSTERY understanding that the best science always raises more questions than it answers… we are finite organisms–ripples–on an infinite sea. 
    • The aesthetics of hypotheses
        • “Beautiful” math … physics [iv] 
      • Experiments, Natural and artificial 

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“Science is the asymptote of truth. It approaches it ceaselessly and never touches it. Besides that, it possesses every greatness. It has willpower, precision, enthusiasm, profound attention, penetration, finesse, strength and patience of following-through, the permanent watch over the phenomena, the ardour for progress, and even touches of bravura.” (Sebastien Balibar from “The Atom and the Apple” from 15Jan2018 diary)

    • The asymptote being a curve that gets infinitely closer to a line but never ever touches it ; the idea is often attributed to Victor Hugo—what would the equivalent analogy be for philosophy related to truth ?  (adapted from Philosphy Forum where it is discissed)[i] Simplest definition at Merriam-Webster
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[i] The Geometry of Philosophy.

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turning running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

Keys that jingle in your pocket, words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly, was it something that you said?
Lovers walk along a shore and leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway and the fragment of a song
Half remembered names and faces, but to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over you were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning to the color of her hair!
Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind!

Writer/s: BERTHOLD BRECHT, KURT WEILL

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  • Science. “The method of scientific investigation is nothing but the expression of the necessary mode of working of the human mind.”—T.H. Huxley[xxii] … recalls Einstein: “Science is a refinement of everyday thinking.”

     

    “Science is neither a philosophy or a belief system.  It is a combination of mental operations that has become increasingly the habit of educated peoples, a culture of illuminations hit upon be a fortunate turn of history that yielded the most effective way of learning about the real world ever conceived. –E.O. Wilson (1998)[xxiii]

    Views of Relationship.  “Art is I, Science is we” –Claude Bernard[xxiv]

     

    the technical and rational aspects of the disciplines [must not] take the place of the artistry (e.g. dealing with uncertainty, uniqueness or conflict) … [I am] concerned about … a ‘squeeze play’ in which technical rationality and dwindling professional autonomy in effect squeeze out the opportunity to focus on artistry in practice.”  —Schön’s (1987) view described by Vagle (2010)[xxv]

     

    “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”—Albert Einstein

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”—David Hume[xxvi]

     “…parts and wholes evolve in consequence of their relationship, and the relationship itself evolves. These are the properties of things that we call dialectical: that one thing cannot exist without the other, that one acquires its properties from its relation to the other, that the properties of both evolve as a consequence of their interpenetration”—Levins and Lewontin11 

PAINTING is a SCIENCE? what Constable and Zola have to say 

then, A&O notes on Art as a Science

  • “ART is I, SCIENCE is WE” (Claude Bernard quoted in Bulletin of New York Academy of Medicine, Vol. IV 1928

 

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[i] “scientific abstraction liberates us from the slavery of facts” (Walter Kaufmann. 1958:93.  Critique of Religion and Philosophy.  Harper & Brothers Chapter 32 (Common Sense)

[iv]  Science consists of facts and theories. Facts and theories are born in different ways and are judged by different standards.

Facts are supposed to be true or false. They are discovered by observers or experimenters. A scientist who claims to have discovered a fact that turns out to be wrong is judged harshly. One wrong fact is enough to ruin a career.

Theories have an entirely different status. They are free creations of the human mind, intended to connect facts and thereby provide an understanding of nature. Since our understanding is incomplete, theories are provisional. Theories are tools of understanding, and a tool does not need to be precisely true in order to be useful–they are more-or-less true, with plenty of room for disagreement. A scientist who invents a theory that turns out to be wrong is judged leniently. Mistakes are tolerated, so long as the culprit is willing to correct them when nature proves them wrong.  (Freeman Dyson’s review of   Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein—Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe by Mario Livio.   NYRB  Mar 6 2014:4-8) 

Scientists–all of us–tell the best story we can with the best facts we have.  As facts are validated or discarded, the story changes. [recalls Bayesian reasoning]

In this, science is at least partly described by  Bayesian inference: “… a method of statistical inference in which Bayes’ theorem is used to update the probability for a hypothesis as more evidence or information becomes available. Bayesian inference is an important technique in statistics, and especially in mathematical statistics. Bayesian updating is particularly important in the dynamic analysis of a sequence of data. Bayesian inference has found application in a wide range of activities, including scienceengineeringphilosophymedicinesport, and law. In the philosophy of decision theory, Bayesian inference is closely related to subjective probability, often called “Bayesian probability“. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_inference)

[iv] “Physicists have come to see that all their theories of natural phenomena, including the ‘laws’ they describe, are creations of the human mind; properties of our conceptual map of reality, rather than of reality itself. 

This conceptual scheme is necessarily limited and approximate, as are all the scientific theories and ‘laws of nature’ it contains.  All natural phenomena are ultimately interconnected, and in order to explain any one of them we need to understand all the others, which is obviously impossible.  What makes science so successful is the discovery that approximations are possible. . . . This is the scientific method; all scientific theories and models are approximations of the true nature of things, but the error involved in the approximation is often small enough to make such an approach meaningful.” (Fritjof Capra 1975 in The Tao of Physics, p. 287).

[v] Biology occupies a position among the sciences at once marginal and central. Marginal because‑‑the living world constituting but a tiny and very “special” part of the universe‑‑it does not seem likely that the study of living beings will ever uncover general laws applicable outside the biosphere. But if the ultimate aim of the whole of science is indeed, as I believe, to clarify man’s relationship to the universe, then biology must be accorded a central position.” (Jacques Monod Chance and Necessity Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1971, p xi.)