Re: Art (was Re: Skeptics Take on the Extropian Concept)

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*
Sat, 28 Feb 1998 20:50:49 -0800

<trivial trolling/sarcastic crap elided>

>I never understand the whole Creativity vs. Science thing, surely the
>act of science is creative and is an art form. Taking a look at a
>dictionary, art is described as "imitative or imaginative... in which
>skill can be expressed." It doesn't exclude science until, "certain
>branches of learning as distinct from sciences" which kinda rains on
>my parade.
>So here's the BIG question:
>1) What is the difference between science and art anyway?

<Metacomment, personal, to Wax; all others, please ignore:
Wax, if I'm going to bother thinking about what you say, I'm going to have
to assume you're not just listening to yourself talk when you ask those
sorts of questions. Should I invest my time elsewhere?>

Well, science as humans practice it includes the active discovery of "real"
things not immediately evident. For "real", I use Dick's Definition: "what
doesn't go away when you stop believing in it". The active discovery part
can involve creativity in design, hypothesis and perhaps other things.

So my working model is, roughly: The way humans do science, there is art
involved. _But the art is not in the "scio" (~="knowledge")_. The art is
value added by the human practitioners.

A dry collecting of facts, as by a weak-weak AI, possibly still having some
"activity" (e.g., "trying" things, but brute force) _might_ count as "doing
science". I consider the art content of such activity to be vanishingly small.

So mooshing art and science together appears to me to be of low utility.

Art, among its (not-science) distinguishing characteristics, appears to be
the way we humans create nonzero sum, win-win situations. While such
situations might be considered to exist outside the influence of humans,
new ones don't seem to crop up rapidly "in the wild". Science, so far as I
know, does not create these situations, although knowledge has power to
contribute value to them. Science is supposed to be value-free; art is
about nothing _but_ value. Thus engineering is art, and engineering a lab
setup is art, and (perhaps) making sense of the data is art.

But the data compiled in the CRC handbook, or even the Encyclopedia
Britannica, is not art, it's just (we hope) valid information. That has
value, of course, but it's a static pattern of value. Art is about dynamic
patterns of value.

Of course, that win-win vs value-free thingy could just mean that we are
all only kidding ourselves about win-win; the scientific universe is
pretty much zero-sum. Alternately, it could be evidence for "As a Man
Thinketh". Or both at once.

Go figure.


"The highest love [is] uniquely human,
the product of compassion and liberty;
not one at the expense of the other."
-- L. A. Chu and M. M. Butler

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