What’s more important to humanity: Science or Art? This is the type of question that polarizes peoples’ thinking. Science provides us avenues to a better life (or rather, a more efficient life, since it’s unclear that our species as a whole is happier now than it was before the industrial revolution). Art, on the other hand, gives us avenues to a more substantive life. Today I’m going to give you an argument for both, since there are many ways in which the two categories today do not overlap (and, of course, some where they do).
Let’s start with science, because I think in the modern era of iPhones, the Internet, mass food production, and other forms of scientific technologies, that’s the obvious “more important” choice. Let’s look at what science has given us. Well, math, so currency, exchange of goods, basic foresight into planning our needs. Science also gives us physics, biology, medicine, engineering, and a whole slew of different abilities. Some aspects of architecture require scientific precision. Pick up any object around you, and ask yourself if it would have been doable without some form of scientific knowledge. Seriously. Can you find one? Some of you may have picked up your children, but even your children probably required some sort of hospital care. Or their cloths required special fabrics to prevent rashes, or their diapers are made in a way that prevents leaking…the list goes on.
There’s even science to art. Go look at any classical artwork. Try Googling “Enlightenment Artwork.” It’s precise, and much less “imaginative” as, say, something by Jackson Pollock. Which isn’t to say it’s bad artwork, but it certainly makes art…different. Let’s look at literary artwork and “science.” Take Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets—any one of them. They are constrained to the form of iambic pentameter, with 14 lines that alternate end rhymes every four lines, with the last two lines rhyming with each other (if you’re adept in rhyme schemes, that ABABCDCDEFEFGG). It’s kind of a scientific way of creating a poem, right? Science gives life structure. It takes the chaos of the world, and makes it into something understandable, which, in many ways, is beautiful in and of itself.
Of course, if you’re anything like me, you probably have also seen a lot of flaws in science that are undone by artwork. Take spirituality. Science sort of defeats spirituality, doesn’t it? I mean, science is in many ways a secular idea (not all, I know), which is why the church has often fought tooth and nail for its ideas against scientific progress. In that way, science is grounding. To contrast, art elevates thinking in many ways. Art is a form of flight in a world of grounded people. Isn’t that why we love books so much? They let us escape the doldrums of our world. I mean, people literally swear their lives on a book, and practice their lives around what the words in it say.
I spoke about how science encapsulated art, but art also encapsulates science. Let’s use engineering as an example. Engineering is what builds industry, yet the driving force behind it is imagination. It’s an artistic rendering of an idea. Think of Disneyland, and all the engineering that had to be done to make it work. Yet we don’t see Disneyland as some hulking behemoth of industry. Instead, we see it as a magical image of wonder made into real objects. The truth is, simply being efficient does not captivate a human audience. Rather, we have a need to be thrilled, which is why fireworks are made more and more beautiful ever year, rather than simply bigger and louder.
But of course, they both have value. I mean, it’s not like the world functions very well without one or the other. Which do you think is more valuable? Let me know in the comments!
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