Saturday, August 14, 2010

arts and science

People think of the arts and science as being separate enterprises, separate cultural institutions, but are they? Can you be a craftsman, a maker of things, without also being an investigator of material properties? Can you successfully make anything without becoming a self acknowledged observer of various phenomenon? Can you use a tool mindfully and successfully without learning the physics involved in what it does to wood, or steel or clay? Scientists would perceive their own enterprises being loftier than the making of things, but their science would be more intelligent if they were also trained in craftsmanship. Scientists tend to be reluctant to acknowledge their debt to the arts, and the supremacy of the arts, but science without the arts would not exist.

Joseph Moxon was an early member of the Royal Society of London, also known as The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge. Joseph Moxon was thought to have been the only tradesman elected to the Royal Society during its first 40 years, but he was also the author of Mechanick Exercises: Or The Doctrine Of Handy-Works

A society of scientists without the capacity to make instruments, and test principles would not be very scientific, would it? We build a nation of scientists and on principles of science by starting children crafting things in schools at the earliest opportunity and throughout formal education. To teach without making and craftsmanship is to place ourselves at risk of becoming a nation of idiots.

There is a difference between the artist and the scientist. For the scientist, those things which cannot be explained are often granted no fundamental existential qualities. For the artist, the pursuit of those things which have no fundamental existential qualities is the raison de vivre or in Swedish, anledning att leva.

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