Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

The New Perception: Hypermediating Interdisciplinary Cultures through Aesthetic Education

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

The New Perception: Hypermediating Interdisciplinary Cultures through Aesthetic Education

Article excerpt


In his book The Two Cultures: And a Second Look, C. P. Snow considers how intellectual life in 1959-65, seen through the eyes of Western culture, was divided into two polar groups. Snow calls attention to a serious problem he found within the arts and sciences that is most apparent between "literary intellectuals" and "scientists" who find each other's work incomprehensible. Poets could not converse with mathematicians. Writers could not communicate with physicists. What made matters worse for Snow is that even within the field of science he found that the scientists who engaged in "pure" research had little ability or interest in communicating with the "applied" scientists. As a result of this divide Snow makes a plea to educators to develop in their students a "new perception" that opens "imaginative exploration" (1) building a bridge between this communication gap

Snow characterizes the seriousness of this gap by highlighting a rift among scientists between "pure" and "applied" science. Snow contends, "This complex dialectic between pure and applied science is one of the deepest problems in scientific history." (2) While the status of "pure" research (Snow confesses this was once his own opinion) has changed little in higher education institutions as is evidenced in the course selection of many university Arts and Science schools that have little or nothing to do with the applied studies.

However, at the time of Snow's writing there were simultaneous collaborations and interdisciplinary practices that bridged the gap. Many of these creative exceptions involved artists and scientists who utilized new perceptions that embraced interdisciplinary practices, philosophical reflection and new hybrid practices brought about through the awareness of the electronic age and its language. To elucidate this shift it is necessary to philosophically and practically explore some of the basic elements and practices that the arts and sciences share. The first task will be to suggest that the substance of the arts and sciences had a shared interest in the things of the world. Also the method of the arts and sciences share similar basic principles that may include observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation. This task will raise questions about interdisciplinary practices in pursuit of knowledge. How does one's own intelligence accommodate various knowledge domains?

At the turn of the twentieth century all this begins to change as a result of the electronic age. The very nature of the world finds limits on knowledge that challenge the history of science and the arts. The argument concludes with the suggestion that there is an interplay of the senses and reason that opens our understanding of knowledge towards a more lasting wisdom.


The Substance of Art and Science

It is possible to say that the language of science and art have both evolved in ways that have become too complex for anyone to understand who has not had special training. Quantum mechanics and Dada have challenged the minds of the best thinkers. But educators find a way to unfold the complexity of the woven layers by sequencing lessons from simple to complex. So our exploration begins. What is the language of the Arts and Sciences? What is the medium of art and science? What kind of knowledge does the language of the arts and sciences reveal?

From the earliest times in Greek science there is a great distrust in gaining knowledge from the senses because substances or the objects of the world are always changing, there is no stability to judge their true nature. Therefore knowledge may only be grasped through the logic and reason that yields ideas. For Aristotle the world of the mind and ideas was the only way to access truth by studying the unchangeable substances of our world.

In Aristotle's Categories he implies that substance is that which has an independent existence. …

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