Art and (not) science

Why do art and science mix so poorly? I’ve only heard a handful of genuinely artful songs that are even abstractly about science, but they cannot escape seeming self-conscious and didactic. A common thought, ‘I’m sure lyrics about pink petals or moonlight would be much more appropriate to this music’. This seems somewhat at odds with the idea that idea that art reveals truth. And of course, in some sense or other, art reveals a lot of truth. So what specific type of truth is it in science, that lends itself so poorly to artistic elaboration? Is it reductionism? Perhaps science songs seem didactic because people do not need the world reduced to its base elements to understand it, and feel patronised.

Ideas to proceed:

Attempt to falsify ‘there is no good science in art’;

Attempt to better define ‘good science’ and ‘art’ in each case, including different art forms. Some would say a beautiful explanation of natural selection or an economic system is art, and I would agree.

A look at a couple of arts:
music (there is tiny amount of science-based music), drama (much more common, i.e. Douglas Adams, Eliezer Yudkowsky), non-fiction (of course), poetry (≈ more than music, less than drama).

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One Response to Art and (not) science

  1. Larks says:

    Maybe it’s because science requires precision, and there’s not much room to make theories fit rhythms?

    Or science uses systems rather than stories; there’s neither plot nor protagonist.

    ( http://meteuphoric.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/systems-and-stories/ )

    Or science involves different types of emotions; it’s hard to wax lyrical about your girlfriend’s beauty being statistically significant at the 5% level.

    Or the people who make art aren’t the people who know about science.

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