Conclusion: Entering the Twenty-first century
But the relation of language to painting is an infinite relation. It is
not that words are imperfect, or that, when confronted by the
visible, they prove insuperably inadequate. Neither can be
reduced to the other’s terms: it is in vain that we say what we see;
what we see never resides in what we say. And it is in vain that
we attempt to show, by the use of images, metaphors, or similes,
what we are saying; the space where they achieve their splendour
is not that deployed by our eyes but that defined by the sequential
elements of syntax.
Michel Foucault, on Las Meninas in The Order of Things
Reflecting on consciousness debates it is tempting to say that the kind of integration many aspire to brings to mind a structure first defined within the medieval European university. Here the liberal arts were characterized in terms of the Trivium and the Quadrivium. The traditional Trivium included language, rhetoric and logic. Language was seen in terms of grammar, the study of meaning in written expression. Rhetoric was defined as a comprehension of verbal and written discourse. Logic refers to argumentative discourse for discovering truth. The Quadrivium included Arithmetic, the understanding numbers; Geometry, the quantification of space; Music, the study of number in time; and Astronomy: laws of the planets and stars. On the other hand, this kind of characterization is strikingly out of date. It fails to acknowledge the impact of empirical study, the way in which knowledge proliferated with the arrival of the scientific revolution and the formation of the Romantic framework that now infuses so many of the ideas about art culturally.
Thus the question remains, is there a framework that serves us optimally when coupling art and consciousness? As I have tried to show, humanities scholarship repeatedly demonstrates that the integrative ideal remains and that it coexists with the move toward specialization. On the other hand, scientists are using emerging tools to study venues long inaccessible and allowing us to re-examine questions we could only define philosophically earlier. Although the