Art and Science are the same

I heard a teaser for some discussion on NPR but missed the show: what are the differences between Art and Science? Since I missed the show here is my own proposition: they issue forth from the same font. Both are in the business of forming metaphors that help us understand more about the world; both help express what was previously not well grasped. They may focus on different subject matters, and Science may work in different media, but they are, in essence, the same.

Hmmmm, science generally deals with objectively understanding the physical universe, Art generally deals with ideas which need not necessarily be linked to anything tangible at all and may be very subjective.

Chalk and cheese are the same in that they are both pale-coloured solids.

I don’t know about that. Science forms its metaphors exclusively by consensus, according to a rigorous procedure, and old metaphors are tossed out when new, better ones come along. Art is individual; it’s not about consensus at all, but about where the artist’s (or artists’, if it’s a collaborative work) head was at when the work was produced. Art and science deal with fundamentally different questions. If I had to pin it down, I’d say science is about describing the universe in which man lives, and art is about describing what it’s like to live in that universe. Eh, even that doesn’t sound quite right to me.

So they may be the same on some meta-level or something, but not in any practical way. Which is not to say that they aren’t often complementary, of course.

The arts and science are the same in that they borrow each others’ labels when appropriate.

Science becomes art (like the ‘medical arts’) in order to sound more human and approachable.

Arts become science (like ‘political science’) in order to sound more credible and objective.

I think it has to do with* method* .
You start out with something basic like an idea (idea for a painting or sculpture) or an assumption (about say, something in nature) and you set out to make it take form/shape or as in science, proove whether or not your assumption is true or real.
Can’t a work of art in the making be considered somewhat of an experiment?

What? Art and science are the same?

When did you here of a fiction writer performing experiments, recording data, and then communicating the results so that anyone performing the same experiments should obtain the same results?


Easy,partner. Just speculatin’! When I think of art, fiction writing isn’t the 1st thing that pops to mind, as you can read in my response.
Seems like I’ve heard this discussion somewhere before; and in searching the deep, dark crevices of my mind, I stumbled across this answer. Maybe someone else has heard this too. You’re right–the ‘can it be repeated’ question doesn’t fit.

I think there are some parallels between science and art, but calling them the sameby definition may be stretching it.

Seems to me that art is more about creating new universes. Nah, maybe that’s not quite right. But I guess it’s partially correct in the sense that artists deal with alternate realities, which may or may not be linked to “real” reality.

Well, the fact that they generally deal with differnt subjects doesn’t seem to mean to mean too much. Physics and biology also are dealing in generally different subjects, yet we consider them both “science.” As Nevermind says, it has to do with having similar methods. And similar intents. And “objective”? Neither is. Both are dependent upon the predescent models and the individual’s world view.

Lux fiat, science has less consensus and art more than your characterization suggests. Very diverse scientific models contemporeneously coexist. Much great science has been done by individuals (eg Newton creating calculus and using it as his private tool). And for its part Art has its models that are the consensus, the prevailing schools at the time … that’s what art history is all about, the development of perspective, Impressionism, Cubism, etc. Very similar to science, individuals communicating their own perceptions of reality, and their own means of making the metaphors, to the community at large. With models evolving or being replaced as a result.

And Fang, I’ll answer you obliquely, and again the “objective” issue, by quoting Jacob Bronowski:



quote: A popular cliche in philosophy says that science is pure analysis or reductionism, like taking a rainbow to pieces; and art is pure synthesis, putting the rainbow together. This is not so. All imagination begins by analysing nature … what a man discovers is discovered by him; it would not take exactly the same form in the hands of somebody else - neither the sculpted figure nor the law of nature would come out in identical copies when produced by two different minds in two different ages. Discovery is a double relation of analysis and synthesis together.


Well, that is wrong. Feynmenn and Gellmann came up with the same theory, the same equations explaining the same actual fact at the same time. They did not rely on each other to do so. There are other examples. They saw the ‘actual’ reality of the situation and they both came up with the same answers.

According to your quote, it would be impossible for anyone to agree without talking to each other. There are many examples of people coming up with the same physical theory without the people involved talking.

Your “Scientist” is a fool. BTW, I am quoting well known people while you quote some shmuck I, and my Dad(Who has a PHD in Math), have never heard of.


Well, yes, OK then Art and Science are the same, but only if you have deliberately pre-selected a model in which they are the same (by ignoring the differences); like I said, chalk and cheese are the same if I decide at the outset that state of matter and general colour are the only important criteria, but that would be self-serving.

“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.”
-Paul Dirac


Don’t mind my rhetorical consternation, it’s purely for the artist effect, you know.

I remember having read about two kinds of knowledge:

  1. narrative knowledge and
  2. non-narrative knowledge (actually it was labeled differently but I forgot the original denomination).

Narrative knowledge includes narratives, songs, dances, art; it involves metaphysical meanings and emotional attitudes; it forms a whole that quantitatively remains relatively the same and can be mastered equally by any member of the community.

Non-narrative knowledge includes bare facts laws and theories aspiring to become laws ground on; it exludes narratives, songs, dances, art; it does not involve metaphysical meanings and emotional attitudes; it forms a whole that increases quantitatively, which means that only some members of the community can master certain areas of it.

Practically speaking, one can come across resemblences between the two, but not becase their inherent nature, but because of the human drive to relate emotionally to facts that he amalgamates into metaphysical theories. Perhaps the integrative impulses and the metaphorical virtues of languages have too strong an influence for science to extract itself crystal clear from the mental dough consisting of common place, tradition, personal beliefs, emotional responses andsoon.

While I wouldn’t describe Jacob Bronowski as being as well-known now, nearly 30 years after his death, as he once was, he’s hardly some obscure “shmuck”. Try a Yahoo search: 2970 hits (while, for comparison, “Murray Gell-Mann” yields 5520). Or try seaching the Guardian (a leading UK newspaper) archive: half-a-dozen mentions in the last year, as against one for Gell-Mann. And, funnily enough, many of those are discussing art and science. For, while nobody would make any great claims for Bronowski’s own research, he’s a classic example of a commentator on science and the humanities reaching a broad audience. He’s no more or less obscure now than, say, Carl Sagan is likely to be in 20 years time.

It is better to cite specific examples rather than merely quote other peoples’ opinions. And this is an interesting example …

In the sense that both hit on V-A fairly independently, true enough, but this is a terribly narrow view of the episode’s importance. For a start, it wasn’t terribly obvious to anybody what the “actual facts” actually were; the experiments all disagreed at the time and this is an example of theory telling the experimentalists what to believe. Both Feynman and Gell-Mann also came to it from rather different directions and originally intended to write separate papers, emphasising the different contexts. It was only because of departmental politics that they were arm-twisted into signing the same draft. This was probably written by Feynman - it definitely reads more like him and Gell-Mann is apparently privately rather dismissive of it at times. The basic point about it being V-A was already being discussed in public, thanks to Marshak and Sudarshan. As is usually the case, the way someone writes something up can have a very big effect on how people react to the idea. Marshak and Sudarshan (and Sakuri) had made a big discovery; Feynman and Gell-Mann were using the same discovery as a jumping-off point to bigger ideas.

And that’s pretty much what Bronowski was getting at.

sleestack, Some schmuck!?!

Bronowski was far from some schmuck. He was a great intellect, a mathemetician, a biologist, a philosopher, and a highly accomplished student of Blake. He was a secular humanist and someone who understood that the human drive to use imagination in order to understand the universe was similar in both the Arts and the Sciences.

I show my era. He died 28 years ago, right after he finished his Public television series The Ascent of Man. I was twelve when it aired and learned to love science from watching it. His book of essays On Knowledge and Imagination would still be great fodder for many discussions in GD. He is my model of what an wide-ranging intellect should be. You never heard of him? Your loss. And that of your learned papa.

Anyway, you misread the quote, ignoring the different eras bit. Yes, many scientific models have been developed independently. Newton only revealed calculus because it was developed otherwise. NonEuclidiean geometry has several independent developers. And so on. No different in art where similar schools develop independently. In diverse religious literature where similar stories make similar points, despite different origins. When approaching the same phenomena, similar metaphors may arise in art and science both. bonzer otherwise says it better than I am able.

Are Art and Science really the same. No. I think science tends to be more focused and Art isn’t always aware of what exactly is is trying to make a metaphor of. But the dichotomy between them, the characterization of them as polar opposite intellectual endevours, is more false than true.

The goal of science is discovery.

The goal of art is expression.

They are far from the same thing. They may not be polar opposites, put they are distinct from one another.

Max, an interesting and pithy thesis. Care to expound?

Are you saying that scientists do not have the goal of expressing what they discover through means such as formula or other models?

And that Art is about the technique of expression and not about the unexpected connections, the realizations about the world, which they have uncovered? That Art is not interested in understanding and finding out but only in the act of expressing that which is already understood?

That is one way I think art and science are the same. Both require a creative spark, and offer a different or new way at looking at something…a new discovery. Maybe it helps to understand if we broaden our view of science.
Its not about just collecting data anymore than writing is just slapping words down on a page, or writing music is about connecting a bunch of notes together. (at least not good music, anyway)

Someone recently told me da Vinci (artist and scientist) said something regarding how he saw them as being the same. Maybe if you look into stuff from/about him you may find an answer.

I haven’t got time to write, but this is one question I have to respond to.

Art and science are alike in some ways, and not in ALL ways, and perhaps on the same level,

HOWEVER:- Hear this:-

“We live our lives only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting. There is neather art or science above beauty”

In short, BEAUTY IS THE MEANING OF LIFE. That is how I see it.