Two cultures… or one culture? Nicole Carnarius

The Indictment of the Enlightenment


A very true point was brought up in class that while many “science types” have read at least one Shakespeare play, most artists do not know the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The impulsive side of me wants to say that is because art is a way of life where science is a profession. A Shakespearean play is not about art but about life and therefore can be used to understand the human condition. In order to consume art, the person must understand it, and in understanding it they can learn something about their own life. The Law of Thermodynamics is about science. Of course a scientist would say that the Law is about life, but its not required for life. For scientists, knowing the Law helps them in their profession create scientific works that benefit humanity; however, knowing the Law isn’t required of the average person to use something that is created by scientists. As for the play, as far as the “reading” parts concerned, theoretically, anyone who can read can read Shakespeare; however there is a certain level of guidance on the part of a teacher needed to understand it. Most artists have at some point in their life “read” the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but they just do not remember it anymore.


So what am I trying to say? Science can be a form of art, but it can also be a form of conveying information. Just like writing can be a form of art, but it can also be a form of conveying information. Shakespeare, in creating a play combined the science of writing with creativity. Other people use the science of writing, but only to do boring remedial tasks. It is true that many people cannot understand science but it also true that most people do not need to understand science in order to function in our consumer society. Being a scientist already puts some one into the upper or upper middle class of society because most people have no desire to learn this complicated way of simplifying things they cannot understand. In fact there is a large population of people who won’t do anything intellectually engaging after high school. The majority of the population consumes science, but does not create it. Art, on the other hand, is consumed and created by many people.


Moving on, now that scientists have engineered digital devices and developed computer technology, artists can use computers as well to make art. All that is required of them is knowing how to use computers. Art in this form can either be used to make data more engaging or data can be used to make art more entertaining. It is a process that I do not know if I am okay with. All in all, I cannot be sure that I am okay with many parts of modern society and haven’t decided whether to take part in them yet. Science seems to be the enemy, even though it can help people live longer and provide them with modern day conveniences. It’s not trustworthy yet. I guess everything has to be digitalized and made more accessible, but its just too shocking. In fact I’m only really angry at it out of fear. As long as the Internet never fails us, science will have a noncapitalistic outlet into society with which to redeem itself, but until science starts saving the world from the precarious position its put us in, I’ll use science to help make art, but I won’t use art to help out science.


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