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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hans Rottenhammer, Allegory of the Arts (second half of the 16th century). Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.
Hans Rottenhammer, Allegory of the Arts (second half of the 16th century). Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

The arts refers to the theory and physical expression of creativity found in human cultures and societies. Major constituents of the arts include visual arts (including architecture, ceramics, drawing, filmmaking, painting, photography, and sculpting), literature (including fiction, drama, poetry, and prose), and performing arts (including dance, music, and theatre).

Some art forms combine a visual element with performance (e.g., cinematography), or artwork with the written word (e.g., comics). From prehistoric cave paintings to modern-day films, art serves as a vessel for storytelling and conveying humankind's relationship with the environment.[citation needed]

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  • ✪ Progress in the Sciences and in the Arts
  • ✪ The Arts: what are they for?
  • ✪ Camille Paglia - Religion and the Arts in America
  • ✪ Kennedy Holmes at the Arts and Education Council's 2019 St. Louis Arts Awards
  • ✪ Art as Text: Bridging Literacy and the Arts

Transcription

(electronic whooshing and beeping) (gentle, relaxing music) - I'm John Campbell, I'm a philosophy professor in the department here. I'd like to welcome you to this wet and rainy Howison lecture, thank you for struggling through the elements to get here. George Holmes Howison was born in 1834. When he was 50, he came from the University of Washington at St. Louis to take the first endowed chair in philosophy at Berkeley, and he built the philosophy department. He was evidently a charismatic and much loved individual. On his death, his friends and colleagues put together a fund that is funding today's lecture, even still, to continue his work by bringing the most influential thinkers of the day out here to the rural wilderness of California. And we're particularly grateful to Philip Kitcher for having made that long trek here today to the rural sublime. Philip Kitcher is a John Dewey professor of philosophy at Columbia University. He did his PhD at Princeton, having done his undergraduate work at Christ's College in Cambridge. He began as a philosopher of mathematics and science, but then focused on philosophy of biology, and then on the role of biological research in society and politics, and then on the role, generally, of science in a democracy. He said, following Dewey, "I believe in the need for a reconstruction of philosophy, "so that it will not be "a sentimental indulgence for the few." I think it's fair to say that his more recent, I hope it's fair to say, that his more recent work has been deeply influenced by John Dewey's pragmatism, including pragmatism about ethics. And coupled with the pragmatism, a long standing adherence to a quite radical naturalism. He's written a flood of well-received books, the two most recent have been Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism, and The Seasons Alter: How to Save Our Planet in Six Acts. So not a sentimental indulgence for the few. He's also written on literature and music, in particular, on Joyce and Wagner, and on Thomas Mann and Muller. So will you please join me in welcoming Philip Kitcher. His title today is progress in the sciences and in the arts. (audience applauding) - Thank you, John. Thank you very much, John, for that extremely kind and accurate introduction. It's a great honor to give a lecture in this series, which has over the past nearly 100 years, I think, drawn to Berkeley, to the rural wilderness of Northern California, an incredibly distinguished series of philosophers, and I feel slightly humbled to be part of that. But it's a great pleasure to be here, and thank you very much for inviting me. So what I want to talk about today, and to the philosophy department tomorrow as well, is part of a project to save what I think of as an endangered concept. And that's the concept of progress. Now, many people in the current world celebrate progress. Steven Pinker has recently written a book about the importance of progress of various kinds since the enlightenment. But many people are also skeptical. John Gray, for example, has written a recent book in which he questions the possibility of progress. He urges us to give up on the idea, the myth as he thinks of it, of human progress. Now, there are many skeptics about progress around, some people who think that it doesn't make sense, that it serves merely as a concept that we use to congratulate ourselves unwarrantedly. I'm a friend of the concept of progress, but I have to also to admit that I think that the skeptics and the warriors are onto something. I think that the breezy confidence that Steven Pinker sometimes displays is unwarranted, and that this concept deserves a deeper probing. And I want to do part of that probing today, but in a very restricted set of context, I want to talk about progress in two domains, in the sciences and in the arts. And let me begin by thinking about progress concepts. Because I think many of the worries that people have about progress come from not thinking carefully and precisely enough about what a progress concept is. And I'm going to do something, graduate students, this is a throwback to the dim and distant past, when people talked about the logic of various concepts, and I want to talk about the logic of progress concepts. So when you talk about progress, you focus on something, I'm going to call that thing, a system. And you compare two of its states. And you say, a change has occurred between the former state and the later state, and that change is a progressive one. And you can do this for any number of systems, you could talk about the Catholic Church, dividing time up according to papacies, and ask whether the Catholic Church is making progress under Pope Francis. Or you could talk about the theory of the chemical bond and look at it at various stages from the 19th century to the present, and ask whether that theory has made progress. Or you could take a child, or a young musician, and ask, is this musician making progress? And sometimes, it's useful to introduce mathematical concepts in doing that, that's especially so in a fourth kind of case. Imagine you have a friend who's in the hospital, there's some substance inside your friend's body or in the bloodstream or something like that, that is different from what it should be, perhaps it's too high. And the doctors chart your friend's progress by looking at the ways in which the concentration changes over time. And if you had measurements for each time point, you could, as it were, talk about continuous, the continuous changes, and the intervals in which progress was made, and the intervals in which it was not made. So that's the first part of the logic of progress concepts. The second is that your progress concept can be more or less ambitious. You can set out to compare any two temporal states of the system that you're interested in. You give me a pair of years in the history, let's say of New York City, and I'll tell you which one was progressive with respect to the other one, okay? Or you can be much more cautious and say, well, I'm actually not really interested in making all kinds of comparisons, I just want to make some kinds of comparisons. And I'm particularly interested in temporarily adjacent pairs of states. That's because I often want to use my progress concept in deciding how to go on, asking myself, would I make progress by going in this direction rather than that? And you might then aim for something that is locally complete. That is you can make comparisons between all pairs of temporarily adjacent states. But even if you couldn't have that, having some ideas about which were progressive with respect to which others would still sometimes be very helpful. The third part of my logic of progress concepts is the most important. We tend to think of progress in terms of narrowing the distance to a fixed goal that's set out in advance. So if you go on a family trip, and you're going to a particular place, then you measure your progress by the diminishing distance of yourselves from that place. But much progress isn't like that. There's another concept, think of it in terms of progress from, which I'll call pragmatic progress. Pragmatic progress occurs when you solve some of the problems, or expand some of the limits of your current practice. Okay, think about a technology, I heartily dislike the technology of the smartphone. I don't actually own one. I refuse to get drawn into this culture. But the smartphone is not oriented towards some platonic ideal of the smartphone, glimpsed by those who are lucky enough to come out into the light of Silicon Valley, right? That's not the way it works. People make progress with respect to smartphone technology by focusing on the glitches and the difficulties and the limits of current smartphones, and trying to remove those. So we get progress from a not progress to any long term fixed goal. Okay, so I've begun in this rather pedantic and sort of analytic philosophical mode, because I want to draw some morals. And the first of these is that when we think about progress in a domain, like the sciences, or like the arts, the first question we should ask is, how are we defining the states of these systems? The second question that we might ask is whether we're committed to finding a progress concept that will be so ambitious that it will allow us to compare any pair of states. And the third is whether we need to talk about some long term enduring goal fixed in advance. So I'll start with the sciences. And think about some popular decisions that people make when they talk about progress in this realm. The first of these popular decisions is that when people think about progress in science, they say the things like, we know more than we used to. And that leads them to focus on a set of propositions that are, as is sometimes said, on the books at a particular moment in time. We might think of those as the corpus of propositions accepted by the relevant community at that time. And then they make a further move that progress is teleological, they think of the sciences as advancing towards some sort of complete truth. Perhaps it's the complete truth about nature, or perhaps it's the complete truth in a domain, as cell biologists might want to know the complete truth about cells. I want to suggest that both of these things are problematic. First, as has been familiar for at least half a century, there's far more to scientific practice than a simple set of propositions. The science of a time contains lots of other things too, it contains instruments, techniques, rules of evidence, and we can make progress in all of these respects. But more fundamentally, the idea of scientific progress as teleological deserves serious scrutiny. Think about the idea of the complete truth about nature, or the complete truth about any significant aspect of nature. As a goal for human inquiry, that seems absurd. If Paolo Mancosu were here, I would ask him whether, the truth, the whole truth about nature might even be too big. It's not even coherent to think about the whole truth about nature. But even if it is, it's not something that we could ever hope to attain. So I think there are serious worries about these standard ways of thinking about scientific progress. And I'll illustrate that by thinking about this room. How many truths are there about this room for the period of this lecture? Well, I was originally trained in mathematics, and when I think about this, it's pretty easy to generate an answer. There's some infinite number at least as great as the power of the continuum. Why is that? Because there are continuum many spatial points in this room, there are continuum many temporal points in the interval that this lecture will last. And at each of those space time points, there's going to be values of particular physical magnitudes, and then there are all the two place relations, the three place relations, the four place relations, and so on. You can see you get quite a lot quite quickly. Could any human language express all of those truths? If so, which language ought to be chosen? How many potential languages are there for recording these truths? And how many of these truths are worth knowing? I hope the answer to the final question is more than one. If not, I'm in trouble. Now, the obvious reply to what I've just said, is that that's a distortion of the teleological approach to scientific progress. We don't want them, this awful, vast mass of truth, what we want is a special kind of truth. We want nature's rulebook, we want the axioms of the fundamental theories from which we could then derive all of the other truths about nature. Well, in principle, we could derive all of them, in practice, we could derive any of them that are of interest to us. So that's what we want. And once we have that, we can address any question that concerns us. This image of science remains extremely popular among journalists, among academics generally, and among philosophers outside of philosophy of science. They think in terms of a Newtonian picture, the kind of thing that Newton celebrated in the Principia, where he says, I wish we could derive all the phenomena by ways similar to the principles I've shown in the theory of gravitation. And scientists in various domains have struggled to live up to that. But it really doesn't work. And it fails for two reasons. First of all, there's vertical failure. If you think of the sciences as ordered in some kind of vertical hierarchy, physics could either be at the top as the highest science or at the bottom as the most fundamental science, then there's chemistry, then there's biology, then there's neuroscience and there's psychology, then there are things like economics and sociology, and so on and so forth. The trouble is that you can't get from the most fundamental level all the way up, because there are junctures at which the derivations go astray. You can't derive all the allegedly special sciences from the allegedly fundamental ones. You can't, for example, get genetics out of biochemistry. But that's less important than another point. And that is what I'll call horizontal failure, to distinguish it from the vertical failure. And that is that universal principles are rare. They're welcome when we can find them, but most of the time in most fields, scientists have to settle for a loose collection of models. Models that will cover the cases that are of most interest to them. And sometimes no single model will do. I suspect that in climate forecasting, we are forever committed to using a family of models that will partially agree with one another, and will partially diverge from one another. The moral of my story is that science then is inevitably selective. Scientists proceed by looking at certain kinds of questions about nature. And that agenda of questions evolves over historical time. And we might ask how it's determined. Most of the time when we think about a science, we take it for granted that the scientists are asking the right kinds of questions. They are asking questions about the genuinely significant things, the things that we ought to be asking about. And almost all the time, I want to say, that assumption is completely justified. But it isn't always justified. And looking at cases in which it isn't justified, points us in the direction of seeing how there's something more fundamental about scientific progress than simply taking for granted what scientists actually hail as the questions that are significant and important to answer. So, let's go back to the early 20th century, and ask a question about genetics. In 1900, three scientists independently rediscovered Mendel's laws, or Mendel's rules, as they were called at the time. In 1925, lots of things had already happened in the development of genetics. People had begun to understand the relation between genes and chromosomes, they had used that to start gene mapping, they were able to identify all sorts of details of gene expression, in particular organisms, in particular, the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. All of that was terrific. And inclines us to say, yes, genetics was making fantastic progress. But it was also doing something different. The building you see there, the Eugenics Record Office is now Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. And in the teens and the 20s, it was set up to address and come to terms with socially important questions about things like feeble mindedness and the decline of the race. Much of this, as was pointed out wonderfully and lucidly by the late Stephen Jay Gould, was profoundly socially destructive, and morally, extraordinarily dubious. And there was a whimsical side to it too. One of the genes that was sought by the people earnestly involved in this kind of research was a gene for thalassophilia. Those of you with a little Greek will know what thalassophilia is, it's a condition typically expressed in males between the ages of 14 and 18, that leads them to run away to sea. Now, that sort of thing we could take in our stride, right, you're locating genes on chromosomes, you're mapping genes, you're doing lots of good stuff. Yeah, if scientists do a little bit of peculiar whimsy on the side, that's no big deal. But the genes for feeble mindedness, all of that attempt to understand the genetic determinants of socially consequential behavior was profoundly worrying. And so it seems to me that the verdict on genetics in the early 20th century has to be mixed. And it has to be mixed because the frame with which we naturally start, the frame of saying, well, the scientists were asking the important questions, that assumption is suspect in this case. We have to move to a wider frame, and we have to ask about the way in which the science is actually embedded in society. So I want to say that the sciences make progress when they contribute to the wider human good. They supply information relevant to people's projects, and that information is made accessible to those who need it. When scientists are doing that, it is right to call their answering of those questions as progressive. But sometimes, they pose different kinds of questions, and if those kinds of questions have socially damaging consequences, then we should not be so swift to declare that the science in question is making progress. Some years ago, I tried to embed this in an ideal of well-ordered science, where I thought of the common good as determined through a process of deliberation among representatives of various points of view in the population, who would try to identify the questions in a field that should be given priority after they had informed one another of one another's needs, and after they were dedicated to try to meet those needs. And then well-ordered science would also include the thought that the answers to those questions flowed out into the general population. And that gives me a pragmatic sense of scientific progress, science solves certain kinds of problems, and the kinds of problems that it should be solving to make progress are the problems that people need to have answers to. And that means that what we have is a broader sense of scientific progress than the one that we started with, one that involves certain kinds of social elements. All right. Now I'm gonna turn to the case of the arts. Here, we make a very simple way of thinking about this, that dominates our conversations about the arts. We think about the state of any mode of art, music, or literature, or painting, in any time period is consisting in the works that are produced during that time period. And sometimes we think of one period as superior to another. Think about English drama between 1580 and 1620, and compare that with English drama between 1620 and 1660. Well, the first period wins, doesn't it? I mean, the first period, you have Christopher Marlowe. You have John Webster, John Ford, Ben Johnson, George Peele, John Fletcher, Francis Beaumont, to name just a few of the people who were around at that time. And in the second period, you're probably at a loss to name anybody whose plays still survive, anybody who was active. Course I cheated, I chose my periods extremely carefully. And between 1620 and 1660, well, the theaters were actually shut down for part of that time under Cromwell, and that didn't really encourage a lot of terrific playwriting. So I mean, it's a bit of a cheat, on the other hand, you can see the way in which this is supposed to work. So the popular conclusions are, the arts don't make progress at all, but the sciences, by contrast, are the parade case of progress. Well, we've examined the scientific case, and I hope I've shown you what I think lies behind it. But it's deeply unfair. And the unfairness can be demonstrated when we look at the ways in which we define those original states for the two cases. In the case of science, we said that the state consists of a set of resources, propositions and instruments accepted at that time, and available for use by the people who live at that time. And progress consists in the fact that those resources accumulate and become better adapted to the needs of the people. In the case of the arts, we defined the state very differently. We just looked at the works produced during a time period. And so in the case of music, we might say music doesn't make progress. Did the music of 2015 make progress over the music of 1905? Get serious, nothing composed in 2015 rivals Debussy's La mer, or Schoenberg's first String Quartet. And then there are some pieces by Webern, and I can throw in a bit of Desur too. Or if you incline to popular music, nothing written in the last decade rivals the music of The Beatles, The Stones, The Grateful Dead, all those great people of the 60s and early 70s, you know, get serious about it, okay? So, good, let's apply that same standard to physics, for example. No physical discovery of 2015, see, I chose my dates carefully, again, rivals what Einstein did in 1905. Four papers, the one that I've got there is the famous paper on special relativity, but we shouldn't forget the paper on E equals MC squared, paper on Brownian motion, the black body radiation paper, you know. I think any one of those papers dominates pretty much what the physics community produced in 2015. So, you know, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, if we do it one way in one case, shouldn't we do it the same way in the other case? But the real point of this, of course, is to get you started on thinking differently about progress in the arts, not to suggest that progress doesn't occur in the sciences. The physics available today includes what Einstein contributed in 1905. Indeed, practicing physicists don't have to go back and read those early Einstein papers. They're available in smoother and technically more accessible forms in the textbooks from which the physicists learn. And the music available today includes what Debussy and Schoenberg composed in 1905, and what The Beatles and The Stones and the rest of them did in the 60s and 70s. And so in both cases, we might say there's progress, science and the arts, and expanding collection of resources that help with human lives and human flourishing. So what I want to say about both of these cases, is that the concepts of progress that apply are local, not global, I don't think we can make all comparisons, and pragmatic, not teleological. And in both cases, what we get is an accumulation of resources that help human beings to live better. And this also brings to our attention something that I won't stress today, but I think it's an important point, that in both instances, it's an important part of overall progress that there should be institutions and parts of society that make those resources widely accessible. So the ways in which the sciences and the arts flow out into the public, are also very important. And without them, we might not be as confident as we are in talking about the progress of science or the progress of the arts. But we shouldn't stop. I've only so far scratched the surface of both of these domains. I want to ask what exactly the contributions that these domains make, because maybe there are residual differences when we look more closely at the kinds of contributions made by the arts and by the sciences. So let's talk about the scientific contributions. I usually say when I talk about this topic, you know, if I went out on the street, and I asked people on the street, what is it that the sciences contribute that makes us think of them as important parts of human progress? I usually say, well, what you typically get is stuff about medicine, agricultural innovations, bits of technology. I suspect that isn't true in Berkeley. I suspect if I went out on the street in Berkeley, I might get a different answer, I might get what I'm going to call the official view, that what we actually get from science is an increased understanding of the universe and its operations. Ah, it's not all the medicines, it's not all the new food stuffs, it's not all of that. It's not the bits of technology, it's the human understanding that we get, that's what's really crucial. And this was brought home to me when I came back from a run a couple of years ago. And I ran into a friend of mine, who's a theoretical physicist who said, "You've gotta listen to the radio, "gotta listen to the radio, 10:15 this morning, "it's the greatest scientific announcement of our lifetime." He was born in the same year I was, so I knew that what he said was false, since the greatest scientific achievement of our lifetime was made when we were six, when Watson and Crick discovered the molecular structure of DNA. But I didn't want to sort of spoil his fun. And what he was alluding to was the detection of gravitational waves. All right. That for him, and for his community, is what's really important about scientific progress, the increase in understanding. Now, when we turn to the arts, it seems that these appear much more nebulous. And that might be because when people think about the contributions of the arts, they think, they compare them to the practical benefits of science. So if the everyday view is the dominant view, I think one can understand why people say, ah, the arts, they don't contribute as much, they aren't as important in us accumulating these resources, the things that are really important are the practical stuff. So I wonder whether the popular comparison actually presupposes what I call the everyday view, rather than the official view adopted by my friend, the theoretical physicist. I want to answer the question, what do the arts contribute, in a Deweyan pragmatist style. I want to think about the arts as enriching human experience. And I want to think of this as having a number of different dimensions of which I'll list three today. First is the intensity of aesthetic experience itself. Just the fact of engaging with a work of literature, or a work of visual art or a film, or a performance of dance, or with a building, or with a piece of music, brings us to moments where I think we feel vitally alive and an intensity that is absent quite a lot of the rest of the time. So that I think is an important part of it. But this isn't, these are not simply isolated events or episodes, these are things which often it seems to me recur in our further experience. So that later experiences that we have had are transformed by the aesthetic experiences of the past. What, our relation to a particular poem, our relation to a piece of music or to a painting informs the way that we have further experiences. And they interact with one another in ways I will want to try to sketch later on. And that can lead not simply to an enrichment of our experience over time, but also, I think, to cognitive gains. So I'm taking a stand here, a Deweyan stand on issues in aesthetics that often divide theorists. I'm saying, I'm putting in my case for pluralism. That we should not think about all individual works of art as valuable, in the same way and for the same reason, because they may do differently on these different dimensions of aesthetic contribution. So I think in the case of works of art, they give us new cognitions, but they don't do it by informing us directly, by asserting or arguing with us. The novels and works of literature that argue with us and that are didactic, I think in particular of Sartre here, rather than Camus, seem to me less effective than the works that show us things. But the cognitive contributions come from modifying the ways in which we approach other parts of our experience, they show us new possibilities. And I want to say they sometimes provide us with new vocabularies, they refigure the starting points and methods of our discursive reasoning. When we think about cognitive contributions, I think we have a tendency to think as if they consisted in providing us premises from which we might then draw new and different conclusions. But I don't think that great works of art and literature work that way. I think they show us things that lead us to conceptual revision. And that is not necessarily something that occurs in the moment. It's something that occurs through the rebuilding of something in our psychology that I'm going to call a synthetic complex. So think about the ways in which you react when you read a work of fiction or a poem, or when you listen to a piece of music, or when you look at a picture that really moves you. You pass through a sequence of psychological states, and those are partly shaped by your antecedent judgments and conceptions and emotions, and partly the product of your apprehension of the words, the colors and the sounds. Out of that process comes something different. And it's something that unfolds in your reflection on it, and in the interaction between what has happened to you and your further experience, that rebuilds the ways in which your emotional and cognitive dispositions, and your dispositions to use various concepts, fit together. And so you get a restructuring of a part of your psychological life. This happened, I think, I mean, I will give two very simple and obvious cases. This happened for some Victorian readers of Dickens' novels, when they read not only Dickens' descriptions of the plight of the poor, but also Dickens' vocalizations of the reactions of the bourgeoisie, to the plight of the poor. People came to see themselves in those voices, and they didn't like what they saw there. And it came famously in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, in some ways as a work of literature, it's not a wonderful piece of writing, but boy is it powerful in changing the ways in which people think about their social relations with others. Even if Lincoln didn't say to Harriet Beecher Stowe when he met her, "So you're the little lady who started this great war," it's something it seems to me, he ought to have said. So I think the same thing goes on in our interactions with bits of science, sometimes. I think scientific understanding can do the same sort of thing. I think it did that for Richard Dawkins, who's written eloquently about this, and who says, very often, you know, "How unfortunate are those people "who are deprived of seeing the world "through a Darwinian lens, "look at what they are missing." And I resonate with that in Dawkins, I can see why he says it, and I think I can understand the phenomenon to which he is pointing. But now, I want to ask a question. We won't have a vote on this. But when I've asked questions of people I've talked to about this material in the past, I get a fairly strong reaction. And that is that most people in whom I ask about this, after they've heard me talk about, you know, art and science and along these or similar lines, will say, yeah, actually, for me, it's the works of literature I've read, it's the music I've heard, it's the films I've seen. That's what's done most for me in having an impact for change in my life. But many people who are deeply immersed in the practice of the sciences will say, no, it's the sciences. I don't want to make judgments about this, I think there are possibly temperaments that lead people into different areas of work and research, and some people may, because of their temperaments, be more inclined to pursue courses of life that lead the arts to be more important for them than the sciences. Another question we might ask is whether within the sciences themselves, these artistic reshapings play a critical role at moments of great scientific change. That's a thesis that Thomas Kuhn, who once taught here at Berkeley, floated in a book that he wrote before the structure of scientific revolutions, in his book on the Copernican revolution. So I'm going to, just a moment of subversion, a subversive thesis. If scientific progress is understood in terms of the pure benefits of greater understanding, maybe the case for progress in the arts is stronger than that, for progress in the sciences, because of the phenomenon to which I've just alluded. The fact that it seems that for most people, it's works of art that have this transformative impact on their lives. But there's a residual difference, and this is going to lead me back towards the worries with which I began. Scientific progress, you might say, is cumulative in ways that progress in the arts isn't. And that's because of a phenomena that I pointed to earlier, that the scientists don't have to go back and read Einstein's 1905 relativity paper. The later stages of a science absorb and they build on the efforts of earlier stages, whereas the arts, always are looking for new ways forward, new forms of creativity. In the words of Harold Bloom, "Poets engage in strong misreadings of their predecessors." They don't, sort of, just thrust them into the past, they wrestle with them and come to something entirely new. Now in changing environments, new directions in art, and sometimes new genres of art are needed. The works of literature that might have satisfied one particular generation living in a particular kind of world don't speak, or they don't speak vividly and forcefully to people who live later. And that's because the environments in which we live, physical, social and cultural can change. So art we might think of as constantly renewed to adapt to the features of the age. Not all past artworks lose their significance by any means, that's for sure. In the history of the string quartet, the great string quartets of the 20th century, Schoenberg's, Bartok's, Janacek's, don't make Beethoven and Haydn and Mozart irrelevant. But by contrast, the words and things that all the scientists produce are often hidden by the accomplishments of their successors. So nobody would go back and try to learn chemistry from Lavoisier's revolutionary book. Nobody interested in astronomy today would pick up Galileo's telescope. Interestingly though, biologists still turn back to Darwin. Darwin is one of the great exceptions to this. Darwin continues to be relevant to the biology of today. And in this process, there's a change. And I think Eliot caught this in his essay on tradition and the individual talent. Where he says, "No poet, no artist of any art "has his complete meaning alone. "You cannot value him alone, "you must set him for contrast "and comparison among the dead. "What happens when a new work of art is created "is something that happens simultaneously "to all the works of art which preceded it." And that means that there are gains and losses with respect to the arts. And that happened with respect to poetry because of the kind of poetry that Eliot and his friends wrote. After Eliot, Pound and Yates, Dante, Donne and Tennyson get read differently. Dante is somehow elevated, he's somehow much more relevant, much more important than he had seemed, say, to the Victorians. Donne emerges from being a quirky odd figure in the 17th century, to being a lively and interesting and profoundly relevant poet. And poor Tennyson, the beloved poet of the mid 19th century and beyond, somehow sounds lesser than he did. If you listen to Schoenberg's third string quartet, and then listen to Beethoven's third Rasumovsky quartet, as I once did at a concert in Berlin, where they played them in that order, the Beethoven sounds completely different after the Schoenberg, and you can understand why the first performance of the Rasumovsky quartets, the musicians protested, tore up the scores and trampled on them. I mean, it suddenly sounds incredibly revolutionary. So these things, this point that derives from Eliot, I think, raises a possibility, the possibility of loss. That you can lose access to a former work of art that might have been valuable for you. And I wonder whether the same can happen with respect to the sciences. But the important theme that I want to draw from this general phenomenon, concerns something that I think is deeply lying behind the skepticism about progress with which I began. And that's the idea of people somehow being at odds with their own times with the age. You know, I have already confessed, I don't own a smartphone, so maybe I am one of these people. I think it makes sense to say of some people that their lives would have gone better if they'd lived in earlier times, that their temperaments and talents are more adapted to those times. And that means that we might think that the artistic or scientific resources available at a later time, do not allow the people living at the time to live as well as they would have done at some earlier time. They are less well adapted than they would have been. And this means that my comparison on which I have been building throughout this lecture, is only one possible way of making these comparisons. There are in fact, two concepts that we might focus on in thinking about socially embedded notions of progress for the arts and the sciences. The first says, fix the environment. Fix the present. Ask whether life in this environment would go better with the resources of the past or with those of the present. That's what I've used, and I've said, well, in the present, typically, you have most of the resources that you would have had in the past and a few more besides, and in both cases, probably the things that are developed in the sciences are adapted to the differences that have emerged in the present. So progress comes quite easily. But ask a different question. Consider life with the past resources in the past environment, compare it with life with the present resources in the present environment. If you do that, you may not get the same answer, you might get different verdicts. So there are two notions or two standards for progress. I want to say that a practice like science or art or religion would make weak progress if the developments between the earlier stage and the later stage enable those who live at the later stage to live better than they would have done if the earlier form of the practice had continued unaltered. That's the notion where you fix the environment. It makes strong progress if the developments made between the earlier stage and the later stage enable those who live at the later stage to live better than those who lived at the earlier stage. The people who are skeptical about progress are skeptical often about strong progress. And I haven't really responded to what they say here. That's because I think that they have a point. So I'll conclude, I think weak progress is very common in the histories of both the sciences and the arts. I think strong progress often occurs in the histories of the sciences and the arts. But in both cases, there may be significant periods during which strong progress is not made. And worries about strong progress underlie the common forms of skepticism about progress, and those need to be addressed and dealt with. Now, how does it come about that strong progress fails where weak progress happens? The answer lies in a point I alluded to earlier. When we focus on individual domains of human life and human practice, it's completely possible for all of them internally to make progress. And yet for them not to contribute overall to human well being because of interaction effects between them. And that suggests that if you are interested and thinking about not simply being a pessimist, human progress is impossible, but actually trying to build on those cases in which both strong and weak progress have happened in human history. And as Dewey wanted, make them more systematic and sure-footed, then you'd better attend to this kind of phenomenon. And for that, you need an account of how various kinds of institutions and areas of human life fit together. So I want to conclude with a confession of a pragmatist meta philosophy, this is drawn very largely from Dewey. And it's this. Wilfrid Sellars famously says that the point of philosophy, what philosophy aims to understand is how things in the largest sense of the term hang together in the largest sense of the term. And that seems to me, right. And it's important, because in each age, philosophy should be in the business of trying to understand how in that age, the conceptions and the practices that the age has inherited, fit together and hang together. And without that, without that kind of systematic attempt to understand what the various parts and enterprises in which people engage, do in combination with one another, we can't hope to do what Dewey hoped, which was to make human progress more systematic and sure-footed than it is. This is just the tiniest beginning of an attempt to work out a version of that kind of Deweyan pragmatism by focusing on a phenomenon that I think is not well understood, and to which I hope to have brought a little bit of clarity. Thank you. (audience applauding) - [Audience Member] Yeah, I think there's a stark distinction that I would have expected you to draw that you didn't draw, and so I want to question whether your pragmatism sort of commits you to reject it, and that's just the distinction between epistemic progress and social progress, so it seems like that could be deployed to analyze the eugenics case, right? And it seems in general, sort of enlightenment picture of science would have it that in general, epistemic progress would further social progress. And perhaps in general social progress would further epistemic progress, but they can come apart, right, so you can have epistemic progress that hampers social progress, the eugenics case would be a case of that. And, you know, you could get all four varieties. That seems like a natural picture, right, and provides a natural diagnosis of a lot of cases, is that a distinction, is part of your view rejecting that distinction? - Actually, yes. And the argument was given, but perhaps too quickly, and perhaps the argument is confused. So let me try again. What I want to say is that the concept of epistemic progress itself is to be cashed out in terms of answering significant questions, and that raises the question of what counts as significant. And what I'm then doing is tying the notion of significance, not only to some picture, some model of understanding, that might be shared only by a tiny minority, but to the needs of a much broader society. So I'm saying that a concept that figures in the notion of epistemic progress is itself socially and morally laden. So that's the way in which I'm trying to block the simple separation you give, right? I mean, if the scientific community answers the wrong questions, however good its answers are to those questions, it's not making progress. This is sometimes put in the form of fantasies about scientists going off and pursuing completely trivial things. But to me, it seems to me the more forceful version of that is when scientists start addressing questions that are not only socially relevant, but socially harmful, and that's the point of the eugenics case. I mean, interestingly enough, the scientific community that I am analyzing there, the community of scientists from 1900 and 1925, wouldn't have made the distinction you make, right? And we should remember that. - [Audience Member] Thanks so much, that was really interesting. I just wanted to go back to something you said about science towards the beginning of the talk, when you mentioned genetics between, what, 1900 and 1925. And you pointed out that there was sort of progress among some measures, but not along others, which seems absolutely right. And then you went on to outline your sort of conception of well-ordered science, where what science should be up to is contributing to the kinds of goods that would be decided on by some ideal rational deliberation between scientists and the public, I'm not sure of the details, but something of. And it sounded-- - Perhaps I shouldn't have said that. - [Audience Member] It sounded like you, one way of hearing what you were saying, I don't think this is what you meant, but one way of hearing what you were saying was, this is the dimension along which to measure progress, namely, is the science doing better with respect to contributing to what would be decided at the result of this ideal deliberative process. And one way, I guess one way of hearing that makes it sound kind of teleological, you know, like suggesters like the truth, that says, look, there's this thing truth out there, and we've gotta measure it, progresses to whether we're approaching it. Especially when you build in the idealization. It starts to sound like there's this thing out there, and we should measure science as to whether we're approaching it. Now, I don't think that's probably what you did mean, so the question is, could you elaborate on it? - So actually, I mean, I think it may have been a mistake to talk about the ideal of well-ordered science in that context. What I wanted to do was to give some kind of substance to the idea of science contributing to the common good. And my way of doing that is to envisage what would be, this goes back to my sort of pragmatist views about ethics and ethical method. That goes back to the idea that that emerges from a certain kind of engagement with others, where we take one another's needs and wishes and aspiration seriously, and seek, using the best information we have, an outcome that all of us can live with. Now, that as an ideal is not intended to be a specification of a final state we could reach. That as an ideal functions as a diagnostic tool for trying to identify in the present, the places that are problematic. And so what I would want to do is suggest that we make progress of a certain kind, which is in a gender setting, say, by making those kinds of decisions better, so that we come to do better at figuring out what kinds of subjects and questions would be pursued in a situation where people were more attuned to one another and more willing to deliberate in this way. And that we then use that as a measure of how to assess scientific progress more generally. And I'm being quite liberal in most of the talk about the standard, I'm taking it for granted. I mean, even if the molecular biologists of today are not doing the best they could possibly do at figuring out what the question, they're doing pretty well, right? And I'm gonna cut them some slack on that. I mean, I think that actual scientific communities most of the time, are asking the right kinds of questions. And that if we've moved in the direction of having the kinds of scrutinies and deliberations around what kinds of topics are best to pursue, that the public would rightly endorse them. So what I'm suggesting is, yeah, pretty much everything is fine, but there are going to be these anomalous cases, and the anomalous cases show up when we start thinking about the common good in the terms that I've attempted to. So I mean, there's a sense in which there's, there's something a little bit vertiginous about this, because the standard that is used as it were to assess the contribution to the common good, is a standard itself that we can only apply imperfectly and with respect to which we also need to make progress. More about this tomorrow. - [Audience Member] So I wanted to ask about textbooks a little bit, because this is one place where the disanalogy seems to come out. So in physics, a textbook might explain an idea in a way that everyone thinks is more perspicuous than the original presentation by Einstein or whoever, the original. Usually, there's some rough edges, there's some conceptual missteps and things, these get cleaned up. And the textbook gives you the idea, the same idea, but better. But that's very different from what happens in music. So a music professor or a music textbook doesn't rewrite a Beethoven quartet better, so that everything essential that you were supposed to get out of the Beethoven quartet, you now get in a more perspicuous, better, more effective form. Instead, they just tell you to listen to the Beethoven quartet. - Exactly. - [Audience Member] So why, I guess I didn't quite see what your take is on that, in the end. - It leads into something about which I'm, with which I'm struggling, and that is the... So I'll say another Deweyan thing. Dewey says, at one point, that any general philosophical account of something is tested in the crucible of its consequences for education. And so you've thrust me into the consequences for education. Now, in the case of the sciences, if we are really interested in improving understanding, improving the, as it were, the transformative effects that the sciences can potentially give in people's psychological lives, what we want is just what you described. Efficient, perspicuous ways of identifying what's really essential. In the case of artworks, what we want is making those artworks accessible to individuals. And it seems to be a consequence of my views, it's a consequence I accept, that education in the arts has to be as more complicated, and more difficult than education in the sciences. And that's because in the evolution of our social environments, genres proliferate, styles proliferate, and if you're thinking about a young person, for whom, you know, there's this massive collection of resources, how can that person be led to find the things that are going to have the transformative effect on him or her. That suggests that we actually need to spend an enormous amount of time and think very, very seriously about how we do education in the arts, whereas education in the sciences poses another challenge to us. I mean, if you're really, if you take the transformative view that I have, then the emphasis on education in the sciences should be precisely at getting this kind of conceptual clarity with respect to the fundamental breakthroughs and the big ideas in the sciences, and also the understanding of the methods of the sciences. And it should be much less on learning lists of amino acids or memorizing diagrams about complicated relations within the cell, and all of that sort of thing. And I think, at the moment, both forms of education in the affluent countries suffer from the fact that we think, in the scientific case, that we should, as it were, force everybody through this pathway, which is necessary for those who are going to want to do creative work in the sciences to traverse. And what that has done to very many young people, I think, is deaden the scientific curiosity with which they start. And so I don't know how to do this, or I don't know how to formulate this recommendation, but it seems to me important that up to a certain age, we should treat all people as if they were potentially wanting to become scientists. But then there comes a moment at which what we want to do is imbue this sort of tremendous sense of, we wanna retain and imbue this tremendous sense of natural curiosity about the world, with the conceptual framework that will enable the people then to, you know, to continue to engage with the scientific discoveries that will occur in their lifetimes. In the case of arts, it's different, that people will come in, they will differ in the kinds of art forms they like, they will differ in the kinds of genres they like, they will differ in the kinds of styles they like. And individual attention seems to be needed both to take them to the initial things that are valuable for them, to give them a sense of what it is to have that kind of transformative engagement with art, and then to try to broaden from that to build. And these tasks, I think, are practically enormously difficult. And it's a consequence of my view that they have to be undertaken. So I take your point as a completely correct observation about, but it's an observation about, in the end, about the different needs of education in these areas. - [Audience Member] When you were talking about gains and losses, I had an association, or I started a train of thought that was not really in what you were saying. But I started thinking about the kinds of dynamic of gains and losses that happen in any conversation. Something said at the beginning of the conversation, appropriate to the beginning, maybe later on in the conversation with, it's been superseded by other insights that we've gathered or we've produced. And then I started thinking, well in the life of a marriage, think of all the, how every time you say something to your partner, it resonates with things you would have, the way you would have said that at an earlier stage in the relationship, or the reasons why you say it this way now, and you're using a turn of phrase that she used before, and you're using it now and knowing that she'll know that you used it. There's this history, this thick history that informs the present, and describes a kind of progress, or a kind of ongoing life of the party, life of the culture, because you can scale this up. And I was wondering if in a way your idea about art was, if that was kind of the picture you were suggesting, that the kind of transformations, the kinds of episodes, that the work of art takes part of, the kinds of transformations that affords you are like that, they're embedded in this conversation. And this is related to the educational point of view, because in some sense, the kind of conversation we do in the lab is different than we do in the culture. And one of the things, imagine our students, they're coming late to the party. And there's a lot of talk that's been going on, many bottles of wine have been drunk. And we want to sort of get them to figure out how to listen to what's going on now, which is a function of what's been going on. And that happens very differently in the context of art than in the context of science. - I think that's right. I mean, one of the points I made about the Deweyan conception of the value of art, is that the work continues to resonate with you, and its later impact on you is dependent, not only on the changes that were produced at the time, but the way those changes have led to further interactions in your subsequent experience. And that, of course, I mean, in many cases, the process of psychological change that goes on in relation to a particular work of art for an individual can last a lifetime. It can be like a very long, enduring marriage. So I mean, with respect to Joyce, I come back to Joyce again and again and again, and it's always different. It's always, there's always new things there. There's always something that points me in new directions, and that's because of the ways in which I've grown. But it's also because of the order in which a particular series of previous interactions occur. So I think that's right. I wonder whether that's entirely absent from thinking in the sciences? I'm not talking now about, you know, students coming to understand things, but I'm talking about in the life of a creative scientist. It seems to me that there's a lot of room for contingency built in, in both of these domains. It's not inevitable that once you start down a particular line, it has to go in this direction, it could have gone quite differently. I mean, I think that's one of the things that in retrospect is unnerving about the general phenomenon of progress. That is when we look back on many episodes in the past, that we count, and perhaps with very good reason, as being episodes of progress, we realized how easily they could have gone in different directions. So contingency is unnerving, I agree. - I wonder if \I could follow up on Dewey for a moment. The first sentence of art as experience is one of the great sentences in aesthetics, it's something like, the thing that gets in the way of framing inadequate theory of art, is the existence of the art objects themselves, on whose basis we frame such a theory. And his ideas that we think the art is somehow intrinsic to the object or the thing, when in fact, the thesis of the book is that art is experience. Art literally is experience. He then goes on, and offers a theory of experience, according to which all experiences are aesthetic. Because for him, aesthetic is, it's a condition on being an experience, that it has a certain kind of integration, a balancing of parts. So that-- - So I'm gonna read Dewey a bit differently, because it seems to me that the dominant in the book is a tone of regret, that precisely because of the divorce between everyday life and the art world, the world of art objects, experience has become flattened for people. So Dewey wants desperately to restore the creative part, the idea not just of the individual as a consumer of artworks which are produced elsewhere, but the, as it were, the interaction with other people's artworks as being an interaction with one's production of things oneself. And that makes the answer to this earlier question about education even more complicated, because it suggests that a part of the development of the young person who comes to interact fruitfully with works of art consists in bringing about the conditions where that person can find his or her own creative work of art. So I mean, I think, yeah, I know that Dewey is inclined to sort of go off the end and say all experience is aesthetic, but that really is quite at odds with the, I think this very important theme in art as experience. - [Audience Member] Thank you. Yeah, so I was wondering how your account would treat two different sorts of periods in the development of science. So like, the first being one, in which, as the discoveries are being made, it seems that the common good is being benefited. Like say, if we take for granted that the development of technology in the 20th century greatly benefited the people who lived through it but accelerated climate change. So, you know, a period that then runs into those sorts of future worsenings of the common good, and then kind of the flip side of that, periods in which maybe we're not asking questions that seem like they would be fruitful, we're not making discoveries that are helping the common good of our contemporaries, but eventually, it becomes clear in retrospect that we were laying the foundations for necessary, or sorry, we're laying necessary foundations for discoveries that would help people. And I guess a slight sub question to that second part, sorry, this is getting really long, is because that often does happen in science, where we'd start out by asking questions that lead us to results that are completely unpredictable, take us in different directions and could end up benefiting the common good. I'm curious what bearing that might have on your prescription for trying to model asking the right questions, like ones that would be democratically chosen, more or less. Thank you. - Excellent questions. There are two questions, one is about what what happens when we've got these unforeseen, ghastly consequences? And the answer there is, you know, it's perfectly justifiable for people at the early stages to think they're making progress, and maybe they are making progress for a while. But it's not part of my thesis to suppose that if you go on doing the same thing that is genuinely progressive earlier, there can't come a point at which it tips and goes the other way. So with respect to quite a lot of environmental issues, actually, one could say, so people engage initially in something that's genuinely progressive, they keep doing it, and it keeps being progressive for a while, but then there comes a moment at which they think of themselves as making progress, but then they're wrong, okay. So that's the way in which I want to address that kind of case. The other case is also I think, very challenging and very interesting. So it is surely the case that there are going to be occasions on which you get unpredictable in advance benefits from pursuing a particular line of investigation. So let's now put this in the framework of people deliberating about, as it were, what projects to fund or what projects to pursue. So the flat footed way of doing this is to say, well, you go to the things that are obviously going to meet the needs of the people here and now. But I want my deliberators to know some things about the history of science too, and one of the things I want them to know is that in the course of the history of science, sometimes the indirect route has been very important, and that sometimes it's been very good just to let people who have apparently irrelevant questions to ask, follow their hunches. So I used to always tell my students in philosophy of biology that there were two strategies in the early decades of the 20th century for coping with human disease. One is, let's go do the genetics of human disease right now using Mendel's methods, okay? And the other was, let's think about fruit flies, and milk bottles and bananas and a tiny little room in a Columbia building. That's another thing I tell my students, you know, when Sturtevant was a sophomore, he discovered gene mapping, you know, you might consider doing something like that, too. But, okay, so there are these apparently irrelevant questions, and of course, they lead back 70 or 80 years later, to exactly what the other school wanted to do. So there are lessons that we can draw from the history of science. If you actually think of this as a process in which, you know, you do the best you can. And part of doing the best you can is to take on some ventures whose relevance isn't immediate. Now, of course, you can always choose wrongly. You can always back the wrong people who look terribly bright and excited about some idea, and it may lead nowhere. But it seems to me that if you were thinking about directions in which science could go, how could you do better than this? How could you do better than attend to human needs, in the light of all the evidence, which actually includes the very phenomena that you're pointing to? I mean, I think informed democracy here is the best we've got. But it's not perfect. - There's a question I really want to ask you, but Hannah. - [Hannah] Oh, thank you, thanks very much for that, it was really interesting. I wanted to go back to the distinction that you made at the beginning between, I think it was teleological progress towards a goal, and pragmatic progress where you're working from something. - I think I know what this question is going to be, but ask it anyway. - [Hannah] I was gonna say, why don't you go ahead and answer it? - No no no, why don't you ask it, and then-- - [Hannah] Well I first had a kind of question about the, how the distinction works, but also how important it is to the larger things that you want to do in this project. And the kind of question that's internal to it is that when I think about progress from a problematic situation, I think about the notion of a problem. And on the face of it a problem is something that kind of impedes you from doing something that you want to do, or aim to do. So even though I do get and like the idea about a contrast between moving from and moving to a clearly defined goal, it does seem to me that there's something teleological built into the idea, even of the pragmatic progress. Was that the question you were expecting? - Yes. Yes, and it's a very important question. And so I'm glad to have the opportunity to answer it. You're right, there's gotta be something which we might think of as a local goal, an end in view. Because what I want is relief from the problem, so in that sense, I've got, but I was a little bit more careful than I sometimes am today because I did say a fixed long term goal. So let me give you an example that is supposed to warm you up for seeing the difference between what we might think of as local teleology or local, you know, local goal directedness, and what I was calling teleology, in the having a fixed long term goal sense. Okay, so I, a pretty poor gardener these days. And I look at my flower bed, and it's dreary, and it's full of weeds, and I wanna do something about it. And I have a number of desiderata. And these desiderata may not be jointly satisfiable, okay, that's an important part of the story. I want lots of color, I want blooms at different times of the summer. You know, I want a harmony of colors, I want easy care. I want it to be drought resistant, and blah blah blah blah blah. So what do I do? I start out in a particular direction, I buy some seeds, I use these ideas in sort of starting up buying some plants and putting seeds in and watering, and, you know, some years later, after numerous experiments and trials and applications of these desiderata, and others that have cropped up in the meantime, I get something and I say, this is pretty good, this is the sort of thing I wanted. Going back to Alver's point, it could have gone in any number of different directions, right? I wanna say that in a certain sense, that wasn't teleological, I didn't have, as it were at the beginning, a fixed goal. I had a problem in the sense of something that was unsatisfactory, it's unsatisfactoriness was associated with various desiderata, but you know, I revised some of the desiderata along the way. And it's all been a sort of contingent, path directed process. The deeper question you're asking is, how do you identify problems, what's a problem, and that is a very deep question, but I want to say much more about that tomorrow. That is, I mean, that's a really deep and serious question. And anyone who wants to talk about progress, as I want to talk about it, has to have an answer to that question. - I'd like to ask you about the relation between the conception of progress that you're roughing out, and the conception of progress that the scientists, or the artists, the practitioners themselves, and what they're doing. I mean, if I'm an artist, and my overriding objective is to make something truly avant garde, I don't care about the public good. I mean, the public good can go and get stuffed, I want to do something that moves things on. If you think about psychiatry, psychiatrists really aren't really, what's the word I want, bothered about whether there has really been progress in psychiatry. Now, from the point of view of the public good, there's clearly been a lot of progress in psychiatry. I mean, patients are no longer bundled into unfunded asylums, and standards of clinical care are a lot better. But when psychiatrists torture about whether there's been any progress, what they mean is that for, especially for complex disorders like schizophrenia, or major depression, they don't understand what's going on any better than they did a century ago. That's the fear, that when you're looking for the nuts and bolts of it, and it's not really an issue about the public good, you would not assuage that worry, maybe we're not making any progress in psychiatry, by saying, but look the standards of clinical care are improved out of all recognition. That's not what they mean. Or if, sorry. - Again, it's like the question that was asked down here, it's two questions, and they're both good ones, and they're both ones that I need to face up to. Let me deal with the psychiatrist first. So the psychiatrists may well be in the grip of what I call the official view, right? So they may be thinking, what we gotta do is tell the truth about the human psyche, and the way it gets disordered in various ways. And that may blind them to one of the modes of progress, I mean, part of my view allows, and you can see this in the way that I talked about the contributions of science not being simply sets of propositions, but also techniques and so on and so forth, is that you might make progress in one mode. And even though you were making no progress whatsoever in another mode, and what I want to say about the psychiatrist, is that they're, because they perhaps have inherited this official view in its application to psychiatry, they've overlooked an important mode of psychiatric progress, which is in forms of practical care. Okay, so that's the way I would deal with that. So what about the artists? So the artists are also, I mean, the artist you describe is very much in an internal tradition with which that artist is interacting. It's not just, you know, I wanna do something avant garde, but rather, I've got ideas about where to take, you know, abstract expressionism next, or I've got an idea about where to go next with 12 tone music, or what minimalism should do next. So that's very much again, you know, the idea of there being sort of an internal sort of standard that's cut off from the public. But there are other artists whom I think are moved by the fact that the kind of art that is being produced doesn't speak to certain classes of people. So some artists, I think, are moved to say, look, what we need is a new form of music, because everybody's, you know, I mean, the young are not turned on by, you know, sort of the high music that has gotten such a lot of status in the culture. What we need is crossover stuff, Radiohead, and Radiohead needs to come to terms with Ligaty, and then we'll put the two together and we're gonna make something fantastic. And that's much more outwardly directed, it seems to me, so it depends, and you can think of this in terms of the novel, right? I mean, you know, the marginalized audiences to whom my novel will now speak. And that, I think that's a genuine, there you see the social stuff coming, and so I think it's a mixture. But it's a really good thing to think about. - I guess I have a background Quinian kind of worry about... If you said my conception of progress is picked up from what's internal to each discipline, and what the practitioners are thinking in each discipline, that would be one take. But as you presented it, your conception of progress seems to come from outside any particular discipline to be something that's being worked out a priori. - No, not a priori, but actually in terms of a wider reflection, which I pointed to at both the beginning and the end. I mean, the conception of progress comes, is really wrestling with skepticism about the very idea. The very idea of progress, what is it to talk about? And that skepticism is partly based on the idea of, yeah, you can talk about progress internal to one of these enterprises or domains. But when you enlarge the frame and you look at the human consequences, I mean, if you think about all of the people who are saying, who are deriding the idea of progress, they're all moved by this thought that as you expand your vision, right, so take a very simple example. We both grew up on an island that made fantastic economic progress in the 19th century, right? Expand the frame, look at the places that were feeding into that. And you wanna say, no, it's compromised by all of that, it's compromised by the exploitation of India and so on and so forth. And it's precisely that move, the move of expanding the frame. And so that's what pushes me, and it pushes me in the genetics case, I mean I was challenged by the very first question. That challenges me to look at the ways in which the consequences pan out for the broader society. Because it seems to me, that's where you have to respond to skepticism. So it's not a priori, but it's based not only on looking at the internal constraints of the discipline, but also at a broader set of facts about how that discipline is situated, that then, if not attended to, foster this kind of worry and skepticism about progress. Does that make sense? - [John] That makes perfect sense. - Okay, good. - Last call. - [Audience Member] I think I just wanna follow up this conversation you were just having with John, 'cause it does seem like you're tying progress, potentially too much to its actual effects on, you know, the flourishing of people in the broader society. I mean, it seems like there's a perfectly intelligible narrative where there's all kinds of progress going on in the science and the arts. If you start from the internal perspective, the problems get more and more difficult and challenging and potentially inaccessible. And so the benefits of engaging with them become harder for the society to realize in some ways, but you might say, there's a lot of progress going on. Unfortunately, as we've disinvested in education simultaneously with the problems becoming, you know, more and more challenging to understand on their own terms, the benefits of this progress are accessible to an ever smaller set of people. I want to say about that situation, it might still be the case that if people could acquire an appreciation for the things that are going on in the different domains, it would enrich their lives in all kinds of ways counter factually, but it isn't, in fact, because they don't have the educational opportunities and so on, it seems like in that situation, we do have progress, but it's not bringing about the kinds of Deweyan benefits that you're pointing to. So what do you say about that? - I say that a fourth part of the logic of progress concepts is that you're always looking at a frame. And you can take the internal frame, and we can say, I mean, we do say a lot of the time, this scientific domain is making rapid progress, and we don't even think about whether the questions that are being answered have social merit or anything like that. So that seems to me perfectly reasonable. But when, I think the skeptics and the cynics say, enlarge the frame, see if your judgment is stable when you enlarge the frame. And what they want from progress is something that when you move to the widest frame, which is probably the impact on humans, and maybe more than humans, across, you know, not only the present, but also the future, turns out to be positive. So it's as if you could imagine a sequence of frames that get wider and wider and wider. The thought is that real progress is, look at the narrowest frame, it's there, you enlarge the frame, it's there, it continues, it's stable as you enlarge the frame. So that's the thought. Now, the example that you gave was really interesting, because of course, you can get this situation, and it almost came up in the question, there was another scenario that was very close to the two that were offered at the back. Where you think about a scientific development, like the discovery of quantum mechanics, which from the internal point of view is really important. And then in the 30s, starts to trouble various people because it enables the production of these extraordinary weapons, okay? Now, what happens if you get an awful social consequence because a scientific, piece of scientific understanding, answer to what seemed to be a very good question, gets translated. So this is exactly what I'm thinking of as institutional friction, you can have an institution of policymaking that surrounds the science and translates it into practice, that does horrible things, even though the institution itself is not guilty. So that can happen, and that I think happens in the case you imagine, where, as it were, the sciences are making these wonderful benefits, but the educational system is science, science is so dismal and deteriorating, that the effect on the broader public isn't appreciated. So, absolutely, I mean, so there's a lot to be said here about frames and the interactions among institutions within society. Yeah. And I hope to say all of it at some point. And better than I just did. - That was wonderful. Lucid, deep, unexpected, thank you very much. (audience applauding) (gentle electronic music)

Contents

Definitions

In its most basic abstract definition, art is a documented expression of a sentient being through or on an accessible medium so that anyone can view, hear or experience it. The act itself of producing an expression can also be referred to as a certain art, or as art in general. If this solidified expression, or the act of producing it, is "good" or has value depends on those who access and rate it and this public rating is dependent on various subjective factors. Merriam-Webster defines "the arts" as "painting, sculpture, music, theatre, literature, etc., considered as a group of activities done by people with skill and imagination."[1] Similarly, the United States Congress, in the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act, defined "the arts" as follows:[2]

The term 'the arts' includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, industrial design, costume and fashion design, motion pictures, television, radio, film, video, tape and sound recording, the arts related to the presentation, performance, execution, and exhibition of such major art forms, all those traditional arts practiced by the diverse peoples of this country. (sic) and the study and application of the arts to the human environment.

History

In Ancient Greece, all art and craft was referred to by the same word, techne. Thus, there was no distinction among the arts. Ancient Greek art brought the veneration of the animal form and the development of equivalent skills to show musculature, poise, beauty, and anatomically correct proportions. Ancient Roman art depicted gods as idealized humans, shown with characteristic distinguishing features (e.g. Zeus' thunderbolt). In Byzantine and Gothic art of the Middle Ages, the dominance of the church insisted on the expression of biblical truths. Eastern art has generally worked in a style akin to Western medieval art, namely a concentration on surface patterning and local colour (meaning the plain colour of an object, such as basic red for a red robe, rather than the modulations of that colour brought about by light, shade and reflection). A characteristic of this style is that the local colour is often defined by an outline (a contemporary equivalent is the cartoon). This is evident in, for example, the art of India, Tibet and Japan. Religious Islamic art forbids iconography, and instead expresses religious ideas through geometry.

Classifications

Lawrence Alma-Tadema's Catullus-at-Lesbia's (1865)
Lawrence Alma-Tadema's Catullus-at-Lesbia's (1865)

In the Middle Ages, the Artes Liberales (liberal arts) were taught in universities as part of the Trivium, an introductory curriculum involving grammar, rhetoric, and logic,[3] and of the Quadrivium, a curriculum involving the "mathematical arts" of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.[4] The Artes Mechanicae (consisting of vestiariatailoring and weaving; agriculturaagriculture; architecturaarchitecture and masonry; militia and venatoriawarfare, hunting, military education, and the martial arts; mercaturatrade; coquinariacooking; and metallariablacksmithing and metallurgy)[5] were practised and developed in guild environments. The modern distinction between "artistic" and "non-artistic" skills did not develop until the Renaissance. In modern academia, the arts are usually grouped with or as a subset of the humanities. Some subjects in the humanities are history, linguistics, literature, theology, philosophy, and logic.

The arts have also been classified as seven: painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, performing and cinema. Some view literature, painting, sculpture, and music as the main four arts, of which the others are derivative; drama is literature with acting, dance is music expressed through motion, and song is music with literature and voice.[6]

Visual arts

Architecture

The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece
The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and structures. The word architecture comes from the Greek arkhitekton, "master builder, director of works," from αρχι- (arkhi) "chief" + τεκτων (tekton) "builder, carpenter".[7] A wider definition would include the design of the built environment, from the macrolevel of town planning, urban design, and landscape architecture to the microlevel of creating furniture. Architectural design usually must address both feasibility and cost for the builder, as well as function and aesthetics for the user.

Table of architecture, Cyclopaedia, 1728
Table of architecture, Cyclopaedia, 1728

In modern usage, architecture is the art and discipline of creating, or inferring an implied or apparent plan of, a complex object or system. The term can be used to connote the implied architecture of abstract things such as music or mathematics, the apparent architecture of natural things, such as geological formations or the structure of biological cells, or explicitly planned architectures of human-made things such as software, computers, enterprises, and databases, in addition to buildings. In every usage, an architecture may be seen as a subjective mapping from a human perspective (that of the user in the case of abstract or physical artifacts) to the elements or components of some kind of structure or system, which preserves the relationships among the elements or components. Planned architecture manipulates space, volume, texture, light, shadow, or abstract elements in order to achieve pleasing aesthetics. This distinguishes it from applied science or engineering, which usually concentrate more on the functional and feasibility aspects of the design of constructions or structures.

In the field of building architecture, the skills demanded of an architect range from the more complex, such as for a hospital or a stadium, to the apparently simpler, such as planning residential houses. Many architectural works may be seen also as cultural and political symbols, or works of art. The role of the architect, though changing, has been central to the successful (and sometimes less than successful) design and implementation of pleasingly built environments in which people live.

Ceramics

Ceramic art is art made from ceramic materials (including clay), which may take forms such as pottery, tile, figurines, sculpture, and tableware. While some ceramic products are considered fine art, some are considered to be decorative, industrial, or applied art objects. Ceramics may also be considered artefacts in archaeology. Ceramic art can be made by one person or by a group of people. In a pottery or ceramic factory, a group of people design, manufacture, and decorate the pottery. Products from a pottery are sometimes referred to as "art pottery." In a one-person pottery studio, ceramists or potters produce studio pottery. In modern ceramic engineering usage, "ceramics" is the art and science of making objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials by the action of heat. It excludes glass and mosaic made from glass tesserae.

Conceptual art

Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work takes precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. The inception of the term in the 1960s referred to a strict and focused practice of idea-based art that often defied traditional visual criteria associated with the visual arts in its presentation as text.[8] Through its association with the Young British Artists and the Turner Prize during the 1990s,[citation needed] its popular usage, particularly in the United Kingdom, developed as a synonym for all contemporary art that does not practise the traditional skills of painting and sculpture.

Drawing

Drawing is a means of making an image, using any of a wide variety of tools and techniques. It generally involves making marks on a surface by applying pressure from a tool, or moving a tool across a surface. Common tools are graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax colour pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels, and markers. Digital tools which can simulate the effects of these are also used. The main techniques used in drawing are line drawing, hatching, crosshatching, random hatching, scribbling, stippling, and blending. An artist who excels in drawing is referred to as a drafter, draftswoman, or draughtsman.[9] Drawing can be used to create art used in cultural industries such as illustrations, comics and animation.

Painting

Painting is a mode of creative expression, and can be done in numerous forms. Drawing, gesture (as in gestural painting), composition, narration (as in narrative art), or abstraction (as in abstract art), among other aesthetic modes, may serve to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner.[10] Paintings can be naturalistic and representational (as in a still life or landscape painting), photographic, abstract, narrative, symbolistic (as in Symbolist art), emotive (as in Expressionism), or political in nature (as in Artivism).

Modern painters have extended the practice considerably to include, for example, collage. Collage is not painting in the strict sense since it includes other materials. Some modern painters incorporate different materials such as sand, cement, straw, wood or strands of hair for their artwork texture. Examples of this are the works of Elito Circa, Jean Dubuffet or Anselm Kiefer.

Photography

Photography as an art form refers to photographs that are created in accordance with the creative vision of the photographer. Art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism, which provides a visual account for news events, and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.

Sculpture

Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials; but since modernism, shifts in sculptural process led to an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or moulded, or cast.

Literary arts

Literature is literally "acquaintance with letters" as in the first sense given in the Oxford English Dictionary. The noun "literature" comes from the Latin word littera meaning "an individual written character (letter)." The term has generally come to identify a collection of writings, which in Western culture are mainly prose (both fiction and non-fiction), drama and poetry. In much, if not all of the world, the artistic linguistic expression can be oral as well, and include such genres as epic, legend, myth, ballad, other forms of oral poetry, and as folktale. Comics, the combination of drawings or other visual arts with narrating literature, are often called the "ninth art" (le neuvième art) in Francophone scholarship.[11]

Performing arts

Performing arts comprise dance, music, theatre, opera, mime, and other art forms in which a human performance is the principal product. Performing arts are distinguished by this performance element in contrast with disciplines such as visual and literary arts where the product is an object that does not require a performance to be observed and experienced. Each discipline in the performing arts is temporal in nature, meaning the product is performed over a period of time. Products are broadly categorized as being either repeatable (for example, by script or score) or improvised for each performance.[12] Artists who participate in these arts in front of an audience are called performers, including actors, magicians, comedians, dancers, musicians, and singers. Performing arts are also supported by the services of other artists or essential workers, such as songwriting and stagecraft. Performers often adapt their appearance with tools such as costume and stage makeup.

Dance

A ballroom dance exhibition
A ballroom dance exhibition

Dance (from Old French dancier, of unknown origin[13]) generally refers to human movement either used as a form of expression or presented in a social, spiritual or performance setting. Dance is also used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body language) between humans or animals (e.g. bee dance, mating dance), motion in inanimate objects (e.g. the leaves danced in the wind), and certain musical forms or genres. Choreography is the art of making dances, and the person who does this is called a choreographer. Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social, cultural, aesthetic, artistic and moral constraints and range from functional movement (such as Folk dance) to codified, virtuoso techniques such as ballet. In sports, gymnastics, figure skating and synchronized swimming are dance disciplines while Martial arts "kata" are often compared to dances.

Music

A musical score by Mozart. Play (help·info)
A musical score by Mozart. About this soundPlay 

Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence, occurring in time. Common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, metre, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their reproduction in performance) through improvisational music to aleatoric pieces. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to individual interpretation, and occasionally controversial. Within "the arts", music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, and auditory art.

Theatre

Theatre or theater (from Greek theatron (θέατρον); from theasthai, "behold"[14]) is the branch of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle – indeed, any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to the standard narrative dialogue style, theatre takes such forms as opera, ballet, mime, kabuki, classical Indian dance, Chinese opera and mummers' plays.

Multidisciplinary artistic works

Areas exist in which artistic works incorporate multiple artistic fields, such as film, opera and performance art. While opera is often categorized in the performing arts of music, the word itself is Italian for "works", because opera combines several artistic disciplines in a singular artistic experience. In a typical traditional opera, the entire work utilizes the following: the sets (visual arts), costumes (fashion), acting (dramatic performing arts), the libretto, or the words/story (literature), and singers and an orchestra (music).

The composer Richard Wagner recognized the fusion of so many disciplines into a single work of opera, exemplified by his cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen ("The Ring of the Nibelung"). He did not use the term opera for his works, but instead Gesamtkunstwerk ("synthesis of the arts"), sometimes referred to as "Music Drama" in English, emphasizing the literary and theatrical components which were as important as the music. Classical ballet is another form which emerged in the 17th century in which orchestral music is combined with dance.

Other works in the late 19th, 20th and 21st centuries have fused other disciplines in unique and creative ways, such as performance art. Performance art is a performance over time which combines any number of instruments, objects, and art within a predefined or less well-defined structure, some of which can be improvised. Performance art may be scripted, unscripted, random or carefully organized; even audience participation may occur. John Cage is regarded by many as a performance artist rather than a composer, although he preferred the latter term. He did not compose for traditional ensembles. Cage's composition Living Room Music composed in 1940 is a "quartet" for unspecified instruments, really non-melodic objects, which can be found in a living room of a typical house, hence the title.

Other arts

There is no clear line between art and culture. Cultural fields like gastronomy are sometimes considered as arts.[15]

Applied arts

The applied arts are the application of design and decoration to everyday, functional, objects to make them aesthetically pleasing.[16] The applied arts includes fields such as industrial design, illustration, and commercial art.[17] The term "applied art" is used in distinction to the fine arts, where the latter is defined as arts that aims to produce objects which are beautiful or provide intellectual stimulation but have no primary everyday function. In practice, the two often overlap.

Video games

A debate exists in the fine arts and video game cultures over whether video games can be counted as an art form.[18] Game designer Hideo Kojima professes that video games are a type of service, not an art form, because they are meant to entertain and attempt to entertain as many people as possible, rather than being a single artistic voice (despite Kojima himself being considered a gaming auteur, and the mixed opinions his games typically receive). However, he acknowledged that since video games are made up of artistic elements (for example, the visuals), game designers could be considered museum curators – not creating artistic pieces, but arranging them in a way that displays their artistry and sells tickets.

Within social sciences, cultural economists show how video games playing is conducive to the involvement in more traditional art forms and cultural practices, which suggests the complementarity between video games and the arts.[19]

In May 2011, the National Endowment of the Arts included video games in its redefinition of what is considered a "work of art" when applying of a grant.[citation needed] In 2012, the Smithsonian American Art Museum presented an exhibit, The Art of the Video Game.[18] Reviews of the exhibit were mixed, including questioning whether video games belong in an art museum.

Arts criticism

See also

References

  1. ^ "Definition of The Arts". Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 1 June 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  2. ^ Van Camp, Julie (22 November 2006). "Congressional definition of "the arts"". PHIL 361I: Philosophy of Art. California State University, Long Beach. Archived from the original on 29 July 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  3. ^ Onions, C. T; Friedrichsen, George Washington Salisbury; Burchfield, Robert William (1991). The Oxford dictionary of English etymology. Oxford: at The Clarendon Press. p. 994. ISBN 978-0198611127. OCLC 840291596.
  4. ^ "Quadrivium" . The New International Encyclopædia. 1905 – via Wikisource. The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy.
  5. ^ In his commentary on Martianus Capella's early fifth century work, The Marriage of Philology and Mercury, one of the main sources for medieval reflection on the liberal arts
  6. ^ Rowlands, Joseph; Landauer, Jeff (2001). "Esthetics". Importance of Philosophy. Archived from the original on 16 April 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  7. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001–2016). "architect (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 19 March 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Conceptual art". Tate. Archived from the original on 9 May 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  9. ^ "The definition of draftsman". Dictionary.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  10. ^ Perry, Lincoln (Summer 2014). "The Music of Painting". The American Scholar. 83 (3): 85.
  11. ^ Miller, Ann (2007). Reading bande dessinée : critical approaches to French-language comic strip. p. 23. ISBN 978-1841501772. OCLC 939254581.
  12. ^ Honderich, Ted (2006). The Oxford companion to philosophy. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199264797.001.0001. ISBN 978-0199264797. OCLC 180031201.
  13. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001–2016). "dance (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  14. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001–2016). "theater (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  15. ^ "The New Face of French Gastronomy - Knowledge@Wharton". Knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu. 20 December 2013. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  16. ^ "applied art" in The Oxford Dictionary of Art. Online edition. Oxford University Press, 2004. www.oxfordreference.com. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  17. ^ "Applied art | Define Applied art at". Dictionary.com. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  18. ^ a b Parker, Felan (12 December 2012). "An Art World for Artgames". Loading... 7 (11). ISSN 1923-2691. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  19. ^ Borowiecki, Karol J.; Prieto-Rodriguez, Juan (2015). "Video Games Playing: A substitute for cultural consumptions?". Journal of Cultural Economics. 39 (3): 239–258. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.676.2381. doi:10.1007/s10824-014-9229-y.

Further reading

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