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Art as a Product of Nature as a Work of Art

  • Paul Feyerabend
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 165)

Abstract

It seems that the sciences and the arts are no longer as sharply separated as they were only thirty years ago. It is now quite fashionable to speak of scientific creativity and of the thought that enters into a work of art. Computer art, fractals, electronic music, film, debates about the role of metaphor and imagery, the whole enterprise of deconstruction have further lessened the urge for precise classifications. Yet the remaining differences are enormous. Scientists may rhapsodize about the unity of all human efforts; they may redden with excitement when speaking about the artistic aspects of scientific research: but their tolerance vanishes when the aspects become real, enter their laboratories and wish to be heard. And where is the scientist who would permit good, solid science money (such as a small percentage of the hundreds of millions that keep flowing into the Human Genome Project or of the billions that had originally been promised to the Texas Supercollider) to be spent on an examination of, say, La Monte Young’s music? Conversely, where is the artist, or the art commission ready to fund a new and revolutionary science project? Even social scientists who, after all, are dealing with people and who occasionally support the efforts of special cultures insist on objectivity and write in a severely impersonal style.

Keywords

Planetary System Human Genome Project Perpetual Motion Electronic Music Modem Science 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Kurt von Fritz, Philosophie und Sprachlicher Ausdruck bei Demokrit, Platon und Aristoteles, Neudruck, Darmstadt, 1966, 11.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    ‘The School of Giorgone’, The Renaissance, London 1894.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Kritik der Urteilskraft, section 53.Google Scholar
  4. 5a.
    The theoretical trend is represented, a.o. by Leon Battista Alberti’s essay On Painting, J. R. Spencer (transl.), New Haven 1966;Google Scholar
  5. 5b.
    cf. also Joan Gadol, Leon Battista Alberti, University of Chicago Press 1969.Google Scholar
  6. 5c.
    Tradition’s bible was Cennino Cennini, The Craftsman’s Handbook, D. V. Thompson Jr. (transl.), Dover Reprint New York and London 1959.Google Scholar
  7. 5d.
    For the rise and the fate of academies cf. N. Pevsner, Academies of Art. Past and Present, Cambridge University Press 1940.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Interestingly enough there may be a phase difference between a style and its philo sophical evaluation and the latter may be ignorant of the style to which it applies. Cf. Carl Dahlhaus, Klassische und Romantische Musikaesthetik, Laaber Verlag 1988, esp. chapter ii.Google Scholar
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    S. E. Luria, A Slot Machine, A Broken Test Tube, New York 1985, 115.Google Scholar
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    Luria reports that Fermi had little sympathy for speculative theories such as the general theory of relativity. (The same was true of Michelson, Rutherford and even Planck.)Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    The Born-Einstein Letters, New York 1971, 192.Google Scholar
  13. 12a.
    Even highly implausible approaches have led to success. An example is Maxwell’s calculation of the viscosity of gases. For Maxwell this was an exercise in theoretical mechanics, an extension of his work on the rings of Saturn. Neither he nor his contemporaries believed the outcome — that viscosity remains constant over a wide range of density — and there existed contrary evidence. Yet more precise measurements confirmed the prediction and thus, indirectly, the kinetic approach. Cf. W. O. Niven (ed.), The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, Dover Publications, New York 1965 (first published 1890), 377 ff.Google Scholar
  14. 12b.
    For more recent conflicts between physical commonsense and mathematical theory ending in a triumph of theory cf. G. Birkhoff, Hydrodynamics, Dover Publication, New York 1955, sections 20 and 21.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Details in my paper ‘Has the Scientific View of the World a Special Status Compared with Other Views?’, Proceedings of the Erasmus Symposium of 1992, forthcoming. The idea that “peripheral” knowledge claims can be reduced to “more fundamental ones” and, ultimately, to elementary particle physics which underlies the idea of a coherent body of scientific knowledge is a metaphysical desideratum, not a fact of scientific practice. For details cf. e.g. Nancy Cartwright, How the Laws of Physics Lie, Oxford 1984.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Robert Mark, Experiments in Gothic Structure, MIT Press 1982, 11.Google Scholar
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    Survey and literature in Otto von Simson, The Gothic Cathedral, New York 1962.Google Scholar
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    Cf. the material and literature in E. Grant (ed.), A Source Book in Mediaeval Science, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass. 1974.Google Scholar
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    Cf. the historical introduction in A. C. H. Love, Treatise on the Mathematical Theory of Elasticity, London 1924.Google Scholar
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    Mark, op. cit., 13.Google Scholar
  21. 19.
    In this section I have made use of formulations first published in Common Knowledge, vol. 1, part 3, 1992.Google Scholar
  22. 20.
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  23. 21.
    Frank Manuel, The Religion of Isaak Newton, Oxford 1974. Cf. also query 31 of Newton’s Opticks.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Feyerabend
    • 1
  1. 1.MeilenSwitzerland

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