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sustainablephilosopher's picture

non-representational science

During Thursday's discussion, we laid out the questions that the rest of the course would attempt to answer: how to do science without method, and how to do art without interpretation? The latter seems reasonable enough; however, we are all stumped on what the former would even mean, let alone how to accomplish it. It seemed to me that the fundamental drive of science is to know how the world works the way it does, which seems to imply that it is representational at the core. Art, of course, can be generative and otherwise non-representational; it seeks to create and celebrate beauty, to re-arrange what is physically present, to find meaning behind and within what is physically present, or to generate meaning beyond what is physically present. But isn't science all about seeking to accurately describe nature/ the universe to become privy to its laws and orders, making models to accurately represent this?

 

However, as I thought about it, science does perhaps also use what is there for something different - engineering allows us to take raw products from nature and transform them into things such as machines that can manipulate the laws of aerodynamics for our use. Science frequently exapts materials that serve one purpose in nature for entirely different human purposes. It uses what it knows to conceive of what might be. For example, with the atom bomb, we thought from certain theories in physics that something crazy might happen if we force two atoms together. When we did, we created something the likes of which had not existed before, based on purely speculative scientific theory. As Dan pointed out, it could be said that we created a really bad star, but nonetheless we created something new under the sun from science. In this way, it is just as generative as art.

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