Arts and Science: the differences and the similarities

Up till now in TOK we have been exploring the natural sciences. We established the complex nature of the scientific method, realising that it is not a completely ‘objective’ area of knowledge, which has now led us to the study of arts. I was not there for the introduction of ‘the arts’ but here is what I could make of the slides and my own understanding when it comes to comparing the arts and the natural sciences.

The sciences seek to explain the physical truths of the world, while the arts portray and explore the human experience, and emotion. The physical nature around us all is the same, so technically it should/ could be explained the same way by all of us, therefore science relies on shared knowledge. Whereas human experiences and emotion are personal to an extent, and therefore art is a cultivation of individual knowledge or it would be fairer to say that art is not created with the intention to be agreed by everyone (although it does happen) whereas science is.

The creator and receiver interaction in both areas of knowledge can be a similarity and a difference. For example, the general public plays a role in the acceptance of a theory, and when paradigms are really strong the receivers are harder to influence. And similarly, in art, the receiver plays a role in making an artist famous or not. So the presence of such relationships could possibly be seen as a similarity between the two areas of knowledge, and the nature of the relationships differentiate them. In science, ideas are put out with the intention to be accepted. In the arts, although an artist might have their intentions, it is not necessarily for the receivers to comply. And when art is looked at through time, it can be interpreted differently depending on the receiver’s context, whereas science does not necessarily have this sort of subjectivity.

Both science and art challenge and question existing knowledge. They both have an aspect of curiosity to them, which is essentially a common driving force. There is an equal sense of imagination and thinking outside the box that takes place in these two areas of knowledge. I firmly believe that an artistic and scientific brain go hand in hand. Having the qualities of an artist, I think, can help a scientist be more successful. Because I think it tunes your brain to notice more abstract patterns. And if we look back at the great minds of the past, almost all were adept in a variety of fields, theatre, science, philosophy etc.


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  1. Nick Reply

    Thanks Aarushi. I hope your trip is going well – and being an Arts trip you may even have a chat with people about the ideas you express here. There is much wisdom about what you write; an interesting challenge will be to see what conceptions of knowledge/truth are implied. Because I think we all want to say that there *is* some knowledge in teh arts – but it is hard to pin down; and we would likely *not* want to open the door to “it’s all opinion”. But that seems hard to be precise about.

    Looking forward to discussing further with you. Hope you have a great trip and break.

    • Reply

      Hi Mr. Alchin,
      Thank you for the comment. I had an absolutely amazing trip, thank you! Just got back this morning, so I did not yet get a chance to talk to my friends about this, but I just thought I would put out another point that came through when I was talking to my dad about this. My dad brought us the point that in science we often search for the ‘why’ of things, but in arts, it is more about the outcome or experiencing the art. Like for example, some art pieces explore emotion, but they are created to evoke that emotion in the receiver, whereas human sciences such as psychology which also deal with emotion, look into why that emotion came about. So I guess they are searching for different truths, maybe one way to put it is science is searching for the causation, whereas art is searching/ creating a truthful experience
      (because every art creates a unique experience)? I am not sure though, just a thought.

  2. Nick Reply

    Great point. Perhaps your Dad is getting at the fact that science is a means; but art is an end in itself?

    The notion of ‘different truths’ is interesting too – do you mean different *type* of truth? And if so, what does that mean?

    Hope you have a great rest of holiday 🙂


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