The similarities and differences between the sciences and the arts as intellectual discipline

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Theory Pages: 6 (2337 words) Published: April 22, 2004
During the course of this essay, I will attempt first to criticise science and scientists and show the arrogant assumptions that are made about science. I will then discuss the similarities between arts and sciences in the light of my criticisms, and finally look closely at the many differences between arts and sciences. There are several different criticisms that have been commonly levelled at science and scientists as a whole. I shall begin by attempting to identify these criticisms and identifying the reasoning behind each of them.

The first of these criticisms is that science has been given similar status to a religion. It was commonly thought in the early days of science that science would eventually develop a theory for everything, thereby replacing religion through removing the ambiguous and the incomprehensible parts of life with which religion dealt. In many ways science has replaced religion in the 21st century, as it has become the object of faith and even devotion. A blind faith has been placed in the unquestionable correctness of science and scientific research. It was Emile Durkheim who first advanced the theory that given enough time, science would replace all traditional religions to be replaced by a formal, unquestionable religion based upon science. It is the arrogance of many scientists that leads us to believe that scientific theories are facts, and can be treated as 'truth' replacing religion by explaining the facts behind the creation and existence of the world. The problem with this belief that science is unquestionable fact and can be treated in a similar way to a religion is twofold. First, scientific theories are advanced through observation and experimentation, these theories can never be proved entirely correct since they are based only on certain observations, as the full facts can never be known, a theory can only be said to be correct in so far as it is correct from the observations made given the facts available. Secondly, science and religion can never be directly linked since they do not overlap in any shape or form. Science deals with the physical, religion with the insubstantial. In their very essence the two are diametrically opposed to one another and can't be compared. In short, science deals with the how, religion, the why. Although science attempts to understand the world around us, how it was created and how we and other creatures came to exist, it can never fully explain the automated human search for a higher being. There seems to be a desire within humans to believe in something larger and greater than that which is visible and physical, something science can never explain. For this reason, science can never replace religion, as it simply does not explain enough. It's explanations fall far short of what would be needed to satisfy human curiosity. Religion, in general, does a much better job of explaining what needs to be explained about human nature.

However, Scientists in recent years have attempted to give their work a status of being unquestionably correct. As I have already explained, the truth of science or the correctness or otherwise of a given theory can never be entirely proved. A theory can only be proved correct in so far as it is correct given a certain set of facts, and without having all the facts available, a theory can never be given the status of absolute fact, and consequently, no scientific theory can ever be proved, although it can be proved false through further research. However, this strong criticism of science can be taken even further. Karl Popper put forward the theory that scientific 'facts' of the present day are simply probabilities, and only hold this status until such time as new evidence emerges allowing the theory to be dropped or adapted. Thomas Kuhn took this criticism of scientists even further, he believed that scientists, for the vast majority of the time, went to great lengths to fit their experiments to already existing theories, or...
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