Approaching a Possible Redefinition of the Arts and Sciences: The Union of the Two Cultures (with a Special Emphasis on the Discipline of Music)

By Espinosa, Leandro | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Approaching a Possible Redefinition of the Arts and Sciences: The Union of the Two Cultures (with a Special Emphasis on the Discipline of Music)


Espinosa, Leandro, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Abstract

Emerging from our scientific-technological societies, scientific and artistic disciplines are creating a new environment, based on a new art and new or renewed sciences. The phenomenon has risen through a widening of horizons, expanding definitions, and throughout the assimilation and recognition of particular factors that have characterized various apparently non-related disciplines. The tendency is of an increase of exchange and unity of perception in what had been hitherto a divided world. The kind of minds that pioneered this novel approach during the twentieth century, are seen as emissaries of the new world forming today. Further, a dramatic change in the perception of the arts by both artists and scientists is on its way, particularly in the field of music. The emerging conceptions bridge the conflicting elements of the traditional two cultures into a unified view through a more inclusive understanding of the action of causal and noncausal factors that activate our culture.

The union, or harmonious relationship between very old traditions and modern approaches to psychophysical phenomena, are briefly seen, as it relates to the pioneering studies in the field of music psychology advanced by the music theorist Wang Guangqi. The synergetic working of causal and non-causal factors is also seen as they interact in the philosophical practice of an Oriental discipline.

Introduction

A redefinition, intentional or not, of some aspects of the arts and the sciences, seems to have begun during the twentieth century. Since then, an increase in the amount of research and discoveries has led us into more refined considerations concerning our old and new perceptions of artistic and scientific disciplines. Such changes continue in increasing proportions. A wider understanding of the functioning of the arts and sciences, their social implications and their actual manner of conception, has been partially assimilated in some circles, while it is almost ignored in others. Different types of causal and non-causal phenomena have been studied and applied in several fields of human endeavor, creating a new perception of man's reach and capacities. Within this trend, it has become increasingly obvious that the conventional understanding of our intellectual disciplines seems to be missing something, or else we have had a tendency to set aside important aspects of the disciplines in our traditional descriptions or analyses of them. I believe this growing awareness, among other phenomena, was what eventually gave rise to the polemic of the two cultures initiated by Robert Snow. The convulsion generated by this discussion in the intellectual circles of England and the United States, it seems to me, was due to the readiness of society for a deep revision of many tenets it had held for a considerable time; this is, in preparation for a new stage in our scientific and cultural awareness. Many of the dramatic changes, both positive and negative, that occurred during the twentieth century have been part of this transformation. During the twentieth century we were forced to look at our cultural, and therefore societal, structures and weaknesses. We were awakened to a problem with enormous implications, arising from our very way of thinking, of perceiving the world and our life as divided and conflicting, just as the argument of the two cultures has suggested. Yet, the beginning of a solution might have been already under way in the work of several personalities in the sciences and in the arts. These visionaries appeared spontaneously in different places and in different disciplines, arriving to conclusions that point in the same direction. Simultaneously with the budding expansion of our collective horizons and emerging revolutionary views in the sciences and the arts, the twentieth century provided us with a clear and shocking view of our human state of civility as it had been based on our conditioned cultural structures. …

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