Chapter 2 -SCIENCE, ART AND RELIGION

SYNOPSIS

SCIENCE

Pure Science conceives Reality in terms of Quantity. Quality (or Value) is the special province of Art and Religion.

The recent revolution, led by eminent scientists, in accepted views as to the nature of scientific knowledge. Quotations to illustrate this. Scientific knowledge, it would appear, is a Representation of Reality which may be compared to a diagram.

The main contention of this chapter is that Religion is similarly a Representation of Reality, only it is one comparable, not to a diagram, but to a picture. The religious apprehension of Reality may be likened to Turner's picture, 'Sunrise in Venice', the scientific to a ground plan of the canals and streets. For a comprehensive knowledge of Reality, Representations of both kinds are requisite.

Art

Whatever else Art may be-and no general theory of Aesthetics is here attempted-it is a method of externalising something of the inner quality of life.

Two essential differences between Science and Art.

(1) Science states; art suggests.

(2) Science explains observed data by bringing individual cases under a general law; Art reveals an inner spirit by embodying it in a concrete instance. By thus making visible the invisible, Art may convey information ; for an inner spirit once objectified can be used as a datum for a scientific purpose, but such use is alien to the artist's own intention.

Life is something which can only be known from within. But the knowledge of its inward quality derived from one's own personal experience can be enriched by various means. Of these means Art is among the most important.

The apprehension of quality is an essential element in all conscious life. Two reflections suggest themselves.

(1) Quality is nothing artificial, but an element in the totality of things which any theory of the Universe must seek to explain.

(2) While Art objectifies life in its apprehension of aesthetic value, Religion is concerned with moral value also.

RELIGION

If Religion is to be accepted as a valid Representation of Reality in terms of quality, comparable to the Representation given by Science in terms of quantity, it Must be shewn that a twofold path to knowledge is necessitated by the constitution of the human mind. Proof of this postponed to Chapter IV.

Religion is the inner spirit of the religious man; and of this conduct is the primary objectification. But when we think of Religion as a Representation of Reality parallel to that given by Science, we must study its secondary objectifications, such as myth, creed and rite.

We then notice that, while Religion is akin to Art in that it is concerned with Quality, it resembles Science (1) in its claim to represent Truth, (2) in conceiving the Universe as a consistent Whole. Monotheism, the most mature type of Religion, makes the qualitative affirmation that the Whole is good.

TRUTH

Reality is too large and too rich for finite minds to grasp in its completeness. Truth, then, is the best attainable Representation of Reality in certain of its aspects.

Quality can only be known by being felt; but by means of Art we can feel quality beyond the limits of our own experience.

Religion, using methods of Art,-such as myth, drama, parable, hymn represents ' Reality by making men feel the quality which it ascribes to It.

Hence to test the 'truth' of any Religion we must cross-examine its myths, etc., and find their inner meaning before looking at the intellectual constructions of its theologians.

SCIENCE, ART AND RELIGION

SCIENCE

ALL things that can be measured, and all things, just so far as they can be measured, come within the purview of Science. The realm of Science is Quantity. Quality can be appraised, but it cannot be measured. This holds, even though for practical purposes we may try to correlate our estimate of quality with some scale of quantity. One picture is not two and three-quarter times as beautiful as another, nor is one crime three and a half times as heinous as another, even if the price paid for two pictures, or the terms of imprisonment awarded for two crimes, may be in those proportions. Again, you can measure the chemical constituents of two wines, but not the corresponding flavours; you cannot measure the differences of quality in the notes of a harmonic scale, although a mathematical formula will exactly describe the relative lengths of the vibrating strings.

The pure sciences, of which Physics and Chemistry are the type forms, conceive of Reality only in terms of quantity. But in Art and Religion we have activities of the human mind which appear to conceive no less exclusively in terms of quality. They weigh not, neither do they mete ; they aim only at the recognition, the expression or the creation of Value. Further, the 26 methods by which quality is apprehended, estimated or expressed are different in kind from those which are applicable to quantity. If provisionally we assume that quantity and quality are two diverse aspects of Reality, they cannot be known in the same way.1

There are, however, certain sciences primarily concerned with the phenomena of human activity, such as Psychology or History, which would stultify themselves if they kept strictly to the quantitative methods and mechanical concepts of pure science of which Physics is the type. Psychology and History, as I shall argue later (p. 103 ff.), are compelled to supplement and interpret the results so reached by a sympathetic appreciation of the qualitative character of the inner life of the objects which they study. They are successful in exact proportion as they know how to employ at the right time and in the right way, in addition to methods employed by pure science, a kind of imaginative insight into the finer nuances of character akin to that of a great novelist. That Is to say, Psychology and History operate by a combination of the method of Science with the method of Art. These, then, should be styled ' mixed sciences '. They occupy a position intermediate between the 'pure' sciences of Physics and Chemistry 2 on the one side and Art and Religion on the other. I have mentioned these 'mixed sciences' because, as it will appear later, their existence has an important bearing on the provisional assumption which I am here making that quality as well as quantity is characteristic of Reality itself. But for the rest of this chapter they may be ignored.

An immense advance has been made during the last few years by a group of thinkers trained in pure science and mathematics towards a clearer understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge. The change of outlook may without exaggeration be styled revolutionary. Since, however, it is one for the exposition of which my personal competency might reasonably be called in question, I prefer to let experts in these fields of knowledge speak for themselves.

The doors through which Nature imposes her presence on us are the senses. . . . Older physics was subdivided into mechanics, acoustics, optics and theory of heat. We see the connections with organs of sensethe perceptions of motion, impressions of sound, light and heat. Here the qualities of the (perceiving) subject are still decisive for the formation of conceptions. The development of the exact sciences leads along a definite path from this stage to a goal which, even if far from being attained, yet lies clearly exposed before us : it is that of creating a picture of Nature which, confined within no limits of possible perception or intuition, represents a pure structure of conception, conceived for the purpose of depicting the sum of all experiences uniformly and without inconsistencies.

Nowadays mechanical force is an abstraction which has only its name in common with the subjective feeling of force. Mechanical mass is no longer an attribute of tangible bodies, but is also possessed by empty spaces filled only by ether radiation.

Inaudible tones, invisible light, imperceptible heat, these constitute the world of physics-cold and dead for him who wishes to experience living Nature, to grasp its relationships as a harmony, to marvel at her greatness in reverential awe.3

So the German mathematician and physicist Max Born. Similarly Mr. Eddington, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, in the essay already quoted (p. 27) in a footnote.

Leaving out all Aesthetic, ethical, or spiritual aspects of our environment, we are faced with qualities such as massiveness, substantiality, extension, duration, which are supposed to belong to the domain of physics. In a sense they do belong ; but physics is not in a position to handle them directly. The essence of their nature is inscrutable ; we may use mental pictures to aid calculations, but no image in the mind can be a replica of that which is not in the mind. And so in its actual procedure physics studies not these inscrutable qualities, but pointer readings which we can observe. The readings, it is true, reflect the fluctuations of the worldqualities ; but our exact knowledge is of the readings, not of the qualities. The former have as much resemblance to the latter as a telephone number has to a subscriber.

Until recently physicists took it for granted that they had knowledge of the entities dealt with, which was of a more intimate character; and the difficulty which many find even now in accepting the theory of relativity arises from an unwillingness to give up these intuitions or traditions as to the intrinsic nature of space, time, matter and force, and substitute for them a knowledge expressible in terms of the readings of measuring instruments. In considering the relations of science and religion it is a very relevant fact that physics is now in course of abandoning all claim to a type of knowledge which it formerly asserted without hesitation. Moreover, these considerations indicate the limits to the sphere of exact science.

The conclusion of the matter is summed up in popular language by Mr. Bertrand Russell : 4

What we know about the physical world, I repeat, is much more abstract than was formerly supposed. Between bodies there are occurrences, such as light-waves; of the laws of these Occurrences we know something-just so much as can be expressed in mathematical formula-but of their nature we know nothing.

We naturally interpret the world pictorially; that is to say, we imagine that what goes on is more or less like what we see. But in fact this likeness can only extend to certain formal logical properties expressing structure, so that all we can know is certain general characteristics of its changes. Perhaps an illustration may make the matter clear. Between a piece of orchestral music as played, and the same piece of music as printed in the score, there is a certain resemblance, which may be described as a resemblance of structure. The resemblance is of such a sort that, when you know the rules, you can infer the music from the score or the score from the music. But suppose you had been stone-deaf from birth, but had lived among musical people. You could understand, if you had learned to speak and to do lip-reading, that the musical scores represented something quite different from themselves in intrinsic quality, though similar in structure. The value of music would be completely unimaginable to you, but you could infer all its mathematical characteristics, since they are the same as those of the score. Now our knowledge of nature is something like this. We can read the scores, and infer just so much as our stone-deaf person could have inferred about music. But we have not the advantages which he derived from association with musical people. We cannot know whether the music represented

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