Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Debate (1) - Art vs Science

It’s the age old question every university student hears/asks/ignores at some point during this long journey we call education. The battle between art and science, if we never thought about it before Frosh cheers and the various –isms of solidarity coerced us into picking a side. Is science the most irrefutably logical system of study, one that is based on a logical progression of ideas and theories? It is easy to think so, until that charismatic sculpture major walks in and passionately rants about all the reasons why Michelangelo was the father of modern socialism or something.

I’m not saying that’s true -- I mean who really understands the hyperbole that is political theory -- but the arts have this way of bringing life into everything and convincing many that a well-paying job is less important than fulfillment or self-actualization or some crap like that. BUT IS IT CRAP?

It’s important to note at this point that while all we artsy/scientist students are fighting over the carcass of our argument, the Management/business students of the world are putting their suits on and going to their next job interview at Johnson & Johnson or something. Accounting seems so much more fun once you've graduated and aren’t living in your old bedroom in the parents’ house. They probably laugh at us all day everyday for worrying about cells and molecules and movies and the expressions of paintings, as they calculate those risk ratios or GDPs or whatever it is they do in bo-rrrinngg seeming courses of theirs. Thus, they do not really factor into this questioning.

So coming back to the original questions of what is ‘better’, ‘more useful’, ‘better paying’, it’s easy to get reeled into examples of the big names in each field. Stephen Hawking vs. Andy Warhol, Siddhartha Mukherjee (guy’s a world-renowned oncologist) vs. Quentin Tarantino. It’s a shame their contributions to civilization are brought down to comparison, especially since both Art and Science are meant to coexist such that they contribute to each others, progress and work together to further our understanding of the universe.
Ultimately, all we want to do is influence the environment around us in whatever capacity we choose to. How is Art or Science better than the other in doing so? Neither this blog, nor a million others will actually answer that question. The only opinions that matter are of students like us, people taking the first steps towards life and productivity; we can defend and understand our choices in programs, and should be able to do so for so many others.

Science – Based on fact and the discovery of significance
Art – Based on argument and giving things importance based on how they affect another.

Science – The largest department at UTSC (very dependent upon whether you categorize Psychology as a science or not). We are constantly finding out the most fascinating facts about the world around us, and being taught the mechanisms behind the way everything (literally everything) works.

Art – The liberating, tantalizing quirks of UTSC’s most ‘free spirited’ students. I still remember those guys from the Annual UTSC  Rainbow tie Gala (LGBTQ event) , who kept changing their clothes with each other...I THINK as a symbolization of the ideologies we have regarding transphobia/transgendered and what not. Anyhoo, I just thought it was cool that they randomly dropped their clothes in the middle of the meeting place because the bathroom just wasn’t as interesting an option.

Science – Get’s more challenging over time
Art – Get’s more challenging over time.

Still don’t understand where to start, do you? There is no way of reconciling their differences with their similarities, and I highly doubt the drama between the two departments is going to leave the Frosh monologue anytime soon. BUT, this is the first of a three-part blog about the way Art and Science have been shaped over the centuries, and the perceptions students have about them. Stay tuned for next week, where you’ll hear from someone OTHER THAN ME, about the same issue. If it is an issue, I definitely cannot think of an appropriate word and maybe if I were a poetry specialist this would not be happening.

G’day UTSC. Winter is over, the new pope might be an African Cardinal and not our usual Italiano/German. March is one month before April. April is the month the semester ends. There is so much to look forward to, but mostly just the pope thing.



  1. i always love your blogs, they are short enough to keep us interested but also substantial enough to make a lotof sense. Can't wait to see the next part to this and this is sooo truee, everyone at utsc is obsessed with comparing the arts to the sciences. Way to go Maha!

  2. I agree with everything Jasmine said! ^
    Your blogs are always so well-written and interesting. Look forward to next week :) keep at it Maha!

  3. Very true! People find the most unproductive things to argue about, you can study what you want in university but what you choose to do with your degree afterward is all up to you. Whether it will make you successful or not will eventually be proven in time. Can't wait for the rest!

  4. 'mostly just the Pope thing' = rofl

  5. I think the question of science or art being productive isn't completely useless, because I can empathize with the frustration of the cancer researcher who thinks she is on the brink of a breakthrough but is held back by funding while someone working on a self-absorbed work of art gets a grant. Or the frustrated historian who thinks that their work should get more exposure because it would put into context many of our current problems and disspell misconceptions that create wasteful conflicts. The question of which particular piece of art vs. science is worth more is not at all a silly question to ask, but what I do think is that science is more amenable to scrutiny and comparative analysis of merit than art tends to be, which isn't a reflection on how worthwhile it is. In a world with limited resources, this question will always matter, but it should not, as you said, be used to degrade either.

  6. It's true, questioning is always the right thing to do. Who are we if not a critical species that contemplates our decisions and actions. It should be Arts & Science, just not Art vs Science

  7. That being said, can't thank all of you enough for your comments/interest/support !

  8. POPE POPE POPE POPE POPE POPE ... "mostly just the pope thing"... Girl's a hoot and a half. Loved it. Always a pleasure reading your incredible insights. I officially feel smarter (:


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