3uGH7D4MLj wrote:You say that we are obliged to attempt to understand relative values of human activities. Do you mean find out which is best somehow?
Indeed I do, 3u. I am very far from supposing this to be a clear or simple issue to work out, but I submit that all of us make distinctions between the value of different human activities, and that we cannot help but do so. There is a clear difference in rank between the work of Byron, or Einstein, or Kant on the one hand, and that of the local janitor on the other. There is a reason we all know the name Napoleon, but none or almost none of us knows the name of the person who stitched Napoleon's vest.
Art and science are both concerned with the higher, if not the highest, of human concerns; but they seem at least superficially to adopt radically different approaches to these concerns. We are then left to wonder which is correct, or if there is a way of reconciling them or of rigidly dividing them. It is not sufficient to leave the matter at acknowledgment of the mere difference of human activities, noting that they have different priorities and each has its own sphere of activity. This is not sufficient because the priorities of these activities and the limits of their spheres are often hotly contested. Philosophy would have the final word about matters that science believes itself best able to investigate. The political often attempts to impinge on the private, and this means as well on the artistic; while the artistic would have full liberty of critiquing or lampooning the political at its will, which is often obnoxious if not dangerous to the political. The religious proclaims an authority which transcends all other authorities, and thus would have its say over and against the claims of any other human activity. There are conflicts between the various human activities, and these conflicts make discrimination between these activities inevitable and necessary.
We in our modern day have obscured the necessity of discrimination through our insistence on multicultural tolerance on the one hand and internal specialization on the other – have obscured, I say, but not eradicated, this necessity. The need to make distinctions and to judge their relative value shows through and must show through, because the good, or the means to attaining it, is not universally agreed upon. Those of us who would investigate the good are brought then perforce to consider the question of the rank order of human activities.
And here we agree, 3u: Aristocles' claims regarding the good are most pressing indeed, and quite transcend any particular dispute or agreement between art and science. Yet I think that we can best consider Aristocles' claims via the question of the relation between art and science.
To that question, then.
Aristocles wrote:I hope my simple seeming answer is not offensive in that it takes from the complexity of any individual or institution, etc. As far as the pacifist and militant, I assert/argue neither aspires to have peace or war as an end in itself. In other words, a desire for a labeled pacifist or militant for peace or war in itself, desired moreso than something bigger, something more common, more singular, does not appears to be the case (just as I simply asserted the good microbiologist would not pursue infinite money, recognition for its own sake). A quality of that which is good is a measure of some ends being greater than others. I am thinking pacifism is usually the best approach to a greater end, but the calculation becomes much more difficult the more one's life is in imminent danger. So, the declaration of one being a pacifist/militant is an aim at that which is good just as a declaration of one being an/a artist/scientist, but the details need to be further unpacked to better illustrate the aims being rather similar.
Very interesting, Aristocles.
Permit me to press the matter a bit further. Let us consider our pacifist and our imperialist once more, and in particular let us consider the possible ethics or ways of life which might arise from their visions of the world. You have said that neither is looking for peace or war as an end in and of itself, and this is a worthy insight. The implication is that peace and war are but means to another, true end, desired by both the imperialist and the pacifist in-and-of-itself: both are seeking the good, a good which is held in common between pacifists and imperialists of all stamps. The differences between these two individuals are as it were accidental differences. If these two individuals could be brought to see with clarity the one common end that they are seeking, their differences would be reconciled.
Now, the differences dividing our pacifist and our imperialist concern not the end that they seek, but the means. Although the aim of these individuals is the same, the means that they adopt are clearly contradictory. While the imperialist might praise martial courage, aggressiveness, and uncompromising love of one's own, the pacifist might praise evasion of combat, passivity, and tolerance for differing worldviews. As these two ways of life both aim toward a common end, the question of priorities arises: which way of life is best able to attain that end? One cannot live as an imperialist of this kind and simultaneously as a pacifist of this kind; one must choose between the two ways of life, or one must choose some third way. In adopting one of these ways of life, we must reject the other; in adopting some third way of life, we must reject one or both of the original two.
Let me then rephrase my question as follows: on what grounds may we claim that art does not propose a way of life that is contradictory to that proposed by science, or vice versa? On what grounds may we claim that one or both of these human activities does not represent a misplaced attempt to win the good, doomed from the beginning to failure by an erroneous methodology or vision?
It seems to me that these questions must be answered before we can even begin to conceive of the possibility of an artistic science or a scientific art.