Notes on Rousselot’s “What we call science, St. Thomas called art.”

1.) Both science and art necessarily rest on idealizations. Literature has characters, painting has subjects, science rests on idealizations of experience that either cannot be confirmed or cannot exist: inertia, black boxes, ideal gasses, test particles, gravitational falls (that do not have to overcome inertia), closed systems, etc. (Duhem mentions several pages worth more).

2.) For all of its PR about seeking truth, real life science frequently only cares about this to the extent that truth can make things. Quantum Theory from the 30’s to the 90’s make for a good case study of this. If something gets practical results, those who question its theoretical foundations are marginalized or completely ignored (de Broglie, Bohm, and even to some extent Einstein.)

3.) Art has always claimed a special place in giving meaning to life since beauty get pride of place as an answer to the chaos or disorder of life (which is particularly clear in monuments and memorials). Our contemporary opinions on science seem to tug towards the idea that the sciences should take over this highest function of art, either by appropriating to themselves the power of mythos or (what might come to the same thing) by showing us that this highest function is based on a lie and an illusion.

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