Re: Science, Knowledge, Understanding, Art and Wonder

Subject: Re: Science, Knowledge, Understanding, Art and Wonder
From: David Campbell (
Date: Sat Sep 10 2005 - 19:58:03 EDT

----- Original Message -----
>> Why do poets and artists so often disparage science in their work?
>> At a meeting of romantic poets in 1817, Keats suggested that Newton
>> had destroyed the wonder of the rainbow by explaining how it came
>> about.

This thread is has been great reading!

I think it is human nature to believe we dismiss what we figure out. Once we
understand something intellectually it seems all too common to disparge any
emotional reaction others have to it. I have heard this articulated in many
ways my whole life. "Oh that, that is just semantics", or "oh that, that is
just a pentatonic scale (or tonal music or random noise or whatever)". It is
as if, once something is seen as "data" and named accordingly, the value of
it is somehow diminished. Maybe that is where the term "explain it away"
comes from. I think people's personal relationship to the wonder of
something is threatened by someone else's explanation of it's "true" nature,
as if the scientist is superior to poet because he knows the real truth of
the nature of things.

Having said that I think it is naive to assume science is passionless, and
wonder is only reserved for those who don't know how things work. I love
watching the stars for the pure beauty of it, but am also amazed by the
science of it as well. What placates my poet's heart is is the knowledge
that science is wholy unable to accurately explain much of it anyway.

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