Consider this statement from the book “Presence: exploring profound change in people, organizations, and society” By Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers (2004), p. 51:

The problem-solving mind-set can be adequate for technical problems. But it can be woefully inadequate for complex human systems, where problems often arise from unquestioned assumptions and deeply habitual ways of acting. Until people start to see their own handprint on such problems, fundamental change rarely occurs.

Condider also this statement by Sigmund Freud, as written to his fiance Martha Bernays (Ref: “The Secret Artist: A Close Reading of Sigmund Freud” by Leslie Chamberlin, 2003, p. 66).

I think there is a general enmity between artists and those engaged in the details of scientific work. We know that they possess in their art a master key to open with ease all female hearts, whereas we stand helpless at the strange design of the lock and have first to torment ourselves to discover a suitable key to it.

These quotations encompasses some thought. I have seen other opinions as well. There is enmity between the ‘scientist’ and the ‘artist’. In my opinion, however, the scientist is also an artist, like the painter, musician, poet, etc. What does the painter, musician or poet try to capture? Perhaps a piece of nature or a sense of inner self based on experience. The scientist does this as well. A work of science tries to capture nature, or may express an inner thought based on observation. The difference between what people call ‘artist’ and the ‘scientist’, I believe, is a sensory difference. Music, painting, poetry, etc. are directly sensory in their expression. Science is taken as cold and calculating, only the facts of reality. To me, science is the greatest of the arts because it encompasses not just one or two senses, but all senses, although indirectly, by thought and reason based on observation and imagination. It is perspective really.

Artists are intriguing personalities for the ability to create a new vision and make us think in ways we have not explored before. Well, isn’t that what the scientist does too? So, why is the scientist not considered an artist? My instinct tells me that the reason is that science is not so easily absorbed as say, music, painting or poetry. It requires some explanation, and indeed, such explanation is demanded, instead of just acceptance as given to music, painting or poetry. Art has freedom of expression to go against establishment, but science does not? This is false. Science goes against establishment all the time. So, why does the ‘artist’ reach the ‘heart’ when science does not in romantic ways. Again, it is perspective. There is no separation of heart and mind really. It is an artificial separation based on emotional appeal.

The artistic expression of music, painting or poetry assault the emotions of the ‘heart’ directly, while science is more of the ‘mind’. I maintain there is no difference other than one of perspective. Are the paintings of Da Vinci or Monet more beautiful than the Hubble telescope pictures of the deep universe. Is the music of Beethoven or 50-cent more soulful than standing wave resonance or the 3 degree Kelvin  background radiation we all know a snow, hiss, static. Are the poems of Byron or Rumi more meaningful than Newton’s laws or Maxwell’s equations? Hmm…These are not easy questions. It is not a question of society, but a question of self and the perceptions we all carry entangled with emotion. It may be a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

I am not sure I have resolved the quotations any further, and have lectured on my opinion of art and science. So, what about this key and lock analogy concerning the female heart? Maybe that’s it, the ‘artist’ in action acts as a key, while the ‘scientist’ discerns the working of the lock to discover the key. A different approach indeed. Very intriguing, and in the end there is only one key that fits each lock. There is no master key, no universal lock. As Shakespeare said, “The play is the thing, wherein I’ll capture the conscience of the king“. This is closer to reality than any analogy of tool (key) or mechanism (lock). The emotions are one aspect of mind, thought is another. Behavior is an art and a science in itself, not always understood to ourselves, but a thing of great complexity to be sure.

Advertisements