Defining Aesthetics

Science and art are different, and any effort to quantify or analyze what we consider as art is futile. I’m sure many people agree with the previous sentence. I’m still thinking about it, but nevertheless, it is a fascinating topic to imagine about whatever the end result might be. However, I’d like to level the playing field: Western Science has always been an interloper: where reason exists, faith does not, where things can be explained, there is no individual bias. It’s not like that (and never has been) for much of Asia, for us it is an easy and sendentary lifestyle switch between a religious moralist (of many beliefs) and a rigorous thinker, often both rolled into one. And that is why, I believe when Science begins to take on artistic avenues, we have an upper hand.

It is inevitable after all. Science is bound to go on quantifying everything, and if a person believes that everything is explainable (as a good scientist ought to do) then it follows that artistic and aesthetic media also demand (and will pursue) an explanation. It’s like saying: “I love you, because my genes are so bloody damn attracted to you.” Or, “I love Mona Lisa because da Vinci’s brushes had a titanium thresh to it and it makes the enigmatic smile glimmer a bit.” It’s like explaining the inexplicable. Something bordering on blasphemy.

And yet, Science has begun to do such things. Stylistics is a branch of Linguistics (which I’m very interested in, incidentally) which tries to define style in rigorous terms – it’s trying to translate “I like this.” into “Why I like this.” Though any measure of success is a long way off (as is other disciplines striving for a similar aim, like Psychiatry) an amazing amount of raw data has indeed been collated. It awaits a future Einstein to find a mathematical pattern in them, and then we’re all set.

When Science does find a law governing our likes and dislikes, does it imply an end to our artistic abilities? Because a law necessarily implies the next step along the process-line: inventions tailored to take advantage of it. Perhaps the next J.K Rowling might be an old 286 lying along in an attic somewhere running a sporting new version of Gentoo Linux that adds in the latest in the 3.0 Linux kernel: Artificial Intelligence.

Or, perhaps not.

For discussions of this sort, and the relevance of technology in our lives today, give Netfuture a whirl.

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