Science's Achilles Heel

Science's Achilles Heel - Sarah Brodsky Rhetoric R1A...

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Sarah Brodsky Rhetoric R1A 6/13/07 Science's Achilles Heel: Why Science Cannot Solve the Mysteries of Art Despite the amazing knowledge we have gained from science, there are still questions that go unanswered in the world today. One of the most interesting unanswered questions has to do with something as common as a cell phone and as complicated as the universe itself. The human brain can be considered the most mysterious object known to man. With all of the advances in science today, we still cannot crack the mysteries of the brain. Because of this, science cannot possibly determine what art is. Without the ability to understand the brain and human emotion, there is no way of determining if there is some universal way humans distinguish art from anything else. Figuring out exactly what an art-viewer is thinking when looking at art requires access the the art-viewer's consciousness. The Biologist Edward O. Wilson believes that science can tap into the human consciousness and retrieve the answers to the question 'what is art?' Wilson states that, since all human activities and ideas originate in the brain, all human activities can be explained scientifically, once scientists know how to interpret the brain. He writes, “Every mental process has a physical grounding and is consistent with natural sciences” (Wilson in Carey, 65). Wilson goes on to say that human nature exists and is composed of epigenetic rules, innate operations in the sensory system and the brain. Primary epigenetic rules determine the way our senses apprehend the world while secondary epigenetic rules relate to our thinking and behavior. Some thoughts are more effective than others in arousing emotion, and the artwork portraying these thoughts go unforgotten due to archetypes, the “widely recurring abstractions and 1
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core narratives that are dominant themes in the arts” (Wilson in Carey, 66). He concludes that the quality of art “is measured by [its] humanness, by the precision of [its] adherence to human nature” (Wilson in Carey, 67). However, there are many forgotten artworks that have archetypes. Different human beings have very different views of art, even within the same culture. How can epigenetic rules establish a universal human nature if views on art change from person to person? There is yet to be an artwork that corresponds to something universally human, and if there is such a work, Wilson does not
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Science's Achilles Heel - Sarah Brodsky Rhetoric R1A...

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