ART & SCIENCE – WIB Beveridge meets William Wordsworth


Shared elements of Science and Poetry


A&O. Found & saved great connection between art & science that taps into my own experience: Maria Popova’s 2012 blog entry on W.I.B. Beveridge (“The Art of Chance-Opportunism in Creativity and Scientific Discovery”) and a 2013 blog on William Wordsworth (“William Wordsworth on pleasure as the shared heart of poetry and Science”). and saved as  C:\Users\Neil Greenberg\Dropbox\A&O\Art & Science – Wordsworth & Beveridge.docx 


 (For Wordsworth … “Much like great science, the consistent pursuit of which develops in the scientist acumen often shorthanded as “intuition,” great poetry acquires underpinning of intuitive convictions: The Man of science, the Chemist and Mathematician, whatever difficulties and disgusts they may have had to struggle with, know and feel this. However painful may be the objects with which the Anatomist’s knowledge is connected, he feels that his knowledge is pleasure; and where he has no pleasure he has no knowledge. What then does the Poet? He considers man and the objects that surround him as acting and re-acting upon each other, so as to produce an infinite complexity of pain and pleasure; he considers man in his own nature and in his ordinary life as contemplating this with a certain quantity of immediate knowledge, with certain convictions, intuitions, and deductions, which from habit acquire the quality of intuitions; he considers him as looking upon this complex scene of ideas and sensations, and finding everywhere objects that immediately excite in him sympathies which, from the necessities of his nature, are accompanied by an overbalance of enjoyment.”)  [so, perhaps this “pleasure” defining “knowledge” is the dissipation of dissonance: the accord between belief and the object of belief]  (


Maria Popova, who founded and continues to nurture the on-line masterpiece of interdisciplinarity, The Marginalian, share my admiration for WIB Beveridges’s small masterpiece, The Art of Scientific Investigation. It has been around since 1950, but I discovered it in college, drawn in by the occurrence of both art and science in the title. It seemed to validate my discursive eclectic disposition and attraction to the boundaries of reason.   See Popova’s (2012 blog entry on “The Art of Chance-Opportunism in Creativity and Scientific Discovery.” Where she quotes Beveridge:

“Successful scientists have often been people with wide interests. Their originality may have derived from their diverse knowledge … Originality often consists in linking up ideas whose connection was not previously suspected. […] Therefore reading ought not to be confined to the problem under investigation nor even to one’s own field of science, nor, indeed, to science alone.”