Before and After

I just came back from today’s concert by Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was fabulous. I am really into symphonies (a switch from concertos) recently, and Brahms No.2 was just beyond words.

The following stream of thoughts came to me BEFORE the performance:
Art and science incredibly mirror each other, in that both involve a process of creating and defining a set of criteria. The criteria is for those who practice it, as well as for those who wish to admire them. Without knowing the standard, one may be able to tell the worst art or science from others, but cannot tell which one of the avant-garde is truly valuable. The standard is subtle, but not trivial. The value of art and science is known only to those who have learned them well enough.

Moreover, both art and science contain elements that are drastically different from “problem-solving” for engineers. They explore and experiment with the underlying structures of the problem, but not merely for the purpose of solving it. This is good and bad. On the bright side, they raise questions and reveal insights that are naturally ignored by the engineer. On the dark side, because the answer to “what is important” for art and science is soft and not known to anyone on earth, it is subject to those in possession of power. Unlike what Plato has envisioned in “The Republic”, those with power are not necessary who deserve the power. In fact, they are usually those who have the strongest desire and lust for power. Thus, this opens up space for the human lust for power to exercise and even rule. A danger, in a sense.

The following stream of thoughts came to me AFTER the performance:

Who cares? The sensational music rules!

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  • anyclouds  On March 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    In some sense, science is always discovered instead of being created. While there might be some criteria for art which can be highly personal, there is no such thing for science, not even for bad science. Though I agree that the value of science is known only to those who have learned it “well enough”.

    • mumamme  On March 11, 2012 at 3:09 am

      I see. Actually, through this post, I meant science as a practice, not as a philosophical pursuit. That is why I discuss the creation of the scientific practice. Yes I should have been more explicit about this point.

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