Saturday, October 25, 2014

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Instrumentalist Art-Science?

"... the fundamental principles of science offer no argument for atheism or against it."

Great stimulating response, Ken. Still, I essentially disagree with your assertion above.

However, I should first say that my notion of "being ok" with art-science serving the concept of atheism, was meant as an example of how one particular way of interpreting art-science could stimulate a broad productive discussion -- to reveal an edge I think it has, but has not explored. Still, I wish I had rather focused my comment on the concept of the supernatural. Atheism is a disbelief in God, and my sense is that the question of whether or not one believes in God, while most often the question asked of an individual in order to determine his/her position on the existence of things, humans, and the cosmos, is the wrong question to be asking. The better question would be, "Is there a Supernatural?"

The conduct of water molecules succumbing to gravity in a waterfall makes no argument for atheism or against it. But our knowledge that a waterfall is the name we give to an interaction between water molecules and gravity, and that it conforms to scientific principles derived over time by humans in a quest to gain reliable and scalable knowledge about things, is a different matter. The edict that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is only sometimes accurate. A null result repeatedly, e.g., the absence of evidence for any supernatural element taking place in the operations of a waterfall or the cosmos, can logically be construed as evidence against the persistent claim that such an element nonetheless exists and interacts robustly with the natural world. The fundamental principles of science and the layers of knowledge they have created over time, in contrast to the creation and existence stories embodied in supernatural belief systems, do offer an argument for !

Art and science employ different methodologies, and I think it is important for artists to engage science with an understanding of it that scientists will respect -- no fuzzy science, no new-age pseudoscience. On the other hand, it is important for scientists to know that art has a tenuous grasp on theory, employs sometimes rigorous but entirely subjective methodologies, and is by its nature an intuitive grasp and expression of knowledge. It is always interpretive, always a statement of personal belief, and is slippery prey for a logician. That's not just a difference, it's torque power for reaching deeply and affecting how people think. A difficulty for art-science and for a list discussion such as this one on Yasmin, is that, to paraphrase Barnett Newman, some of us are ornithologists and some of us are birds. With no judgement intended or implied as to being either of those -- the true kinship of art and science is the spark of insight that can result when each discipline!
is allowed and encouraged to ignite the other . . .


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