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Can Science Be an Art? Epistemology as the Vehicle for a Trip from Science to Art and Back Author(s): John Stewart Source: Leonardo, Vol. 22, No. 2 (1989), pp. 255-261 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1575240 . Accessed: 29/07/2013 17:12
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Be Science Epistemology as from Science Trip Can


Art? the Vehicle to Art and

for Back

John Stewart

For those people who are not professional philosophers, it can be difficult to understand what epistemology is all about. It seems so immediately obvious that the world around us consists of real objects (tables, chairs, houses, people, animals, pavements and so on), which we perceive quite simply as they are (in terms of colours, forms, sounds, touch, smell, etc.), that short of following the computer scientist's dictum ("Whymake things simple when you can make them complicated?") one wonders what more there is to be said. In principle, of course, this attitude is in itself an epistemological position, which I shall denote by the term 'commonsense realism'. It is quite probable, I think, that were it not for the advent of modern science we would all still be quite content with the blissful ignorance of common-sense realism. Certainly, the development of epistemology is historically related to the birth and growth of Western science [1]. Locke in particular set out explicitly to put the work of such "master-builders... as the incomparable Mr. Newton" on a secure foundation [2]. His attitude to this task was modest in the extreme: he felt that it was "ambition enough to be employed as an under-labourer in clearing the ground a little, and removing some of the rubbish that lies in the way of knowledge" [3]. By one of the most exquisite ironies in intellectual history, it was from these modest beginnings that the movement of the British Empiricists, continuing through Berkeley and Hume, stumbled upon a major problem, which quite upset the apple-cart. The problem is this: where do ideas and concepts come from? Take Hume's example: how is it possible to arrive at the notion that A is the causeof B?The common-sense answer is that the idea derives from observation and experience by a process of induction. that shows ad absurdum But Hume produces a pitiless reductio that this is quite impossible. In the common-sense view, we would have to suppose that the idea presents itself to us because we observe that B is always preceded by A, and that each time A occurs, B follows. But, asks Hume, how many times would we have to observe such a conjunction in order to be logically justified in arriving at the idea of causality? Once? Twice? Ten times? A hundred, a thousand, a million times? By dint of asking this question seriously, we are forced connection between to recognize that the idea of a necessary A and B can never be strictlyjustified. Worse, if we really had no preconceived ideas, it is far from clear that we would even notice the association between A and B. In short, it seems quite impossible to explain how the formless stream of immediate sensory impressions could ever give rise to the con-

ABSTRACT cept; even if we suppose that causality exists, that A is really the cause of B, that is quite intotheintellectual inImpervious sufficient. Nevertheless, it is unofcritical sights epistemology, most of uscontinue most ofthe deniable that human beings do to imprison time intheilluourselves an idea of The causality. possess wecanand sion that doperceive reparadox is complete. 'asitis'.The author directly ality The solution to this enigma oneofthefunctions that suggests ofartmay beto render ustruly conwas proposed by Kant. Since it scious that is wonderfully reality is manifestly impossible to exrich and more and mysteriously plain the origin of concepts on than weareledto believe complex the basis of primitive sensory onthebasis ofany finite setof perheexplores modes. ceptual Finally, impressions, these concepts thepossibility that ofperceivways must exist a priori, that is to say theworld constructed ing byscienas a precondition for the act of intherepera place tistsmay have observation itself. Since any attoire of art forms. tempt to explain the origin of concepts on the basis of experiI ?? _ ence leads straight to the paradox of induction, Kant suggests that we should seek instead to explain experience on the basis of concepts. This amounts to turning common sense upside-down, and Kant himself spoke of his work as a "Copernican revolution" in the domain of epistemology [4]. Kant's epistemology involves a fundamental distinction between reality 'in itself' on one hand, and representations of reality on the other. The relationship between a thing 'in itself' and a representation of it is definitely not that of a simple reflection as in a mirror, nor even of a systematic correspondence: a representation is constructed on the basis of conceptual categories that do not derive from the objects of knowledge themselves. When we perceive a green table, for example, the 'green table' is a representation of reality, and it is a great mistake to believe that we perceive reality directly as it is. From a Kantian viewpoint, commonsense realism is an immense illusion. Since critical epistemology provides a devastating intellectual refutation of common-sense realism, one might suppose that no one could believe in it any more. But the fact of the matter is that common-sense realism is not only alive and well, it is actually dominant: most of us believe in it most of the time. How is this possible? We are not yet 'out of the woods' of paradox. The issues at stake can be clarified if we take a look at the social process by which facts are constructed in a scientific

John Stewart (research scientist), Centre d'Etudes Transdisciplinaires, 44 rue de la Tour, 75016 Paris, France. Received 25June 1987.

? 1989 ISAST Britain. inGreat Presspic.Printed Pergamon 0024-094X/89 $3.00+0.00

LEONARDO, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 255-261,1989


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laboratory [5]. Lack of space precludes going into details here: the crux of the matter is that whenever a social consensus emerges according to which a hypothesis is 'true', the hypothesis (formulated on the basis of a priori conceptual categories) undergoes a metamorphosis and becomes a 'fact'. There are actually two stages in this transformation. Firstly, the hypothesis projects a twin image of itself into the 'real world out there'; and this twin, absolutely identical in every respect with the terms of the hypothesis, takes on an independent existence in the form of a real object. Secondly, the relationship between hypothesis and object undergoes an inversion. Initially it was the hypothesis that gave rise to the object; but, rapidly, more and more reality is attached to the object and less and less to the hypothetical statement about the object, until the point is reached where the object becomes the cause of the hypothesis. In practice, the conjuring trick is performed so neatly that the sleight of hand is imperceptible and no one really notices what has happened. In other words, we arrive at... commonsense realism. It is important to realise that this description of howthe metamorphosis of hypothesis into 'fact' occurs in no way amounts to an epistemological justification. The metamorphosis occurs
Fig. 1. John Stewart, Two silhouettesor a white vase?, ink on paper, 5.5 x 4.9 in, 1987. This classic example of figureground reversal provides a particularly clear illustration of perceptual 'switching'. It is instructive to register mentally the switching from one perceptual mode to the other and to exercise conscious control over the process. Although it is possible to increase the frequency of switching, it is rigorously impossible to be in both modes at the same time.

when a social consensus emerges, and this in turn is likely to happen whenever a hypothesis functions reliably as though there were a perfect two-way correspondence between representation and reality. The catch, of course, lies in the 'as though'; the apparent 'correspondence' is always essentially contingent, being dependent on the strictly local context within which various actors, complete with all their fears, hopes, attitudes and motivations, put the hypothesis to practical use. This contingent locality is revealed by the observation that following a shift in the context of use, often but not necessarily accompanied by new experiments and observations, a 'fact' can turn back into a 'hypothesis' and even perish as an 'artefact'[6]. The history of science is quite littered with examples of established 'facts' that have been overturned by subsequent theories. (In twentieth-century physics, examples include the belief that the structure of physical space corresponds exactly to that of threedimensional Euclidean geometry; the belief that two events separated in space either are or are not simultaneous, independent of any motion on the part of the observer; and the belief that any object possesses both an exact position and an exact momentum; to say nothing of the oscillation between corpuscular and wave theories of the nature of light. Chemistry, geology and biology of course furnish their own examples.) In other words, the metamorphosis of hypothesis into 'fact' is reversible. But as Feyerabend has pointed out [7], this means that the metamorphosis cannot be determined by any valid set of methodological rules, because in that case the metamorphosis would neverbe reversible in this way.We are forced back on the conclusion that the belief in realism (which is nothing other than the psychological dimension of the transformation of hypothesis into 'fact') is indeed an illusion. I come now to a key point in my argument. We have just seen that common-sense realism is essentially an illusion. However, what we also need to realise is that it is an illusion from which there is no practical escape. Whenever a representation or mode of perception functions reliably, it is humanly impossible to avoid falling into the trap of believing that we do perceive reality directly as it is. I cannot emphasize too strongly that there are sound practical reasons for

this. Consider the extension of critical epistemology to knowledge in general and to our perceptions in daily life in particular. As Gombrich has so aptly remarked [8], in real-life situations we act first and think afterwards. If we were rash enough to try to keep a 'correct' critical attitude constantly in the forefront of our consciousness, we would be completely hamstrung. We would constantly be assailed by doubts about the wisdom of trying to go through a doorway or to climb a staircase, or even of getting out of bed in the morning. When it comes to practical action, there simply is no sensible alternative to common-sense realism. The result is that the would-be lessons of critical epistemology, expressed as they are in abstract, intellectual terms, make virtually no impression on us. And yet common-sense realism is an illusion; and for reasons that I shall explain shortly I think it is a pity to imprison ourselves by believing in it unreservedly. The question is, of course, whether anything can be done about it.

I shall state immediately the central thesis of this section, to wit: art, by implementing the main insights of critical epistemology in an immediately effective way, provides us with a valuable antidote to the illusion of commonsense realism. It will be well to start this section with an explanation of why I think the illusion of common-sense realism is a pity. It is not that I have a puritanical objection to illusion or error as such. It is rather that when we are under the spell of the particular illusion of common-sense realism, when we believe that we perceive reality itself directly as it is, this not only bars us from actual access to alternate modes of perception, it blinds us to the very possibility that other modes of perception could exist. To make myself clear, I will put forth a major metaphysical postulate (which I cannot strictlyjustify other than offering it as a value judgement): I believe that 'reality' is infinitely richer and more diverse than any single representation (or set of representations) that we human beings are capable of constructing. If this is so, then it is indeed an impoverishment to imprison ourselves within the limits of a single mode of perception; and the pity is redoubled if we are not


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even aware that we are imprisoned. And yet this is exactly what happens when we fall prey to the illusion of common-sense realism. How does art pierce the walls of this prison? In a major philosophical text [9], Heidegger says that a work of art instigates an unceasing tension or combat between 'The World' (which I interpret as corresponding to a particular representation or modality of perception) and 'The Earth' (which I take as symbolising the receptacle of the unlimited multitude of alternative representations which are de facto annihilated whenever we focus on any single modality of perception). In other words, the mysterious magic of a work of art consists in the artist's feat of bringing a particular representation to vivid life without falling into the trap of reducing the totality of reality itself to this single way of perceiving. It is worth noting that Heidegger's analysis is centered not so much on the process of artistic creation as on what happens when a work of art is actively experienced. He speaks of the 'Guardians' of a work of art, those in whom the combat between World and Earth takes place; without its Guardians, a work of art is merely a dead, empty shell. The best way of communicating this concept is probably to give some examples in which works of art induce us to assimilate the epistemological distinction between representation and reality. My first example, didactic in its simplicity, is nevertheless a suitable model. We can perceive the wellknown drawing in Fig. 1 either as a pair of silhouettes facing each other or as a white vase. Two things are worth noting here. Firstly, each of these two modalities of perception annihilates the other: if we see the silhouettes, the vase disappears, and vice versa; it is rigorously impossible to see both at the same time. (This offers a clue to the tenacity of the illusion of commonsense realism.) Secondly, engaging in the activity of making controlled passages from one mode of perception to the other involves a special quality of concentrated awareness. The point I want to make is this: actively experiencing works of art leads us to develop a capacity for concentrated awareness, which in turn can radically modify and enrich our experience of life. Consider the drawings of Escher (Fig. 2). Their fascination derives from the fact that our best attempts to construe these representations as

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though they were what we usually take for reality are systematicallyfrustrated. A variant on this theme is provided by Magritte's hyperrealist painting infuriatingly entitled This is not a pipe (Fig. 3). As long as we remain obsessed with the 'common-sense' question 'What is it really?' the koan-like conundrum persists; release comes only when and if we realise that we are dealing with representations, which are not to be confused with reality itself. With this as a clue, it is possible to see the same theme running through the whole of Magritte's work, and indeed through the whole of the Surrealist movement. The Surrealists to blur were-and are-concerned the cut-and-dried distinction between dreams and reality, to show that the dream-world is as real as what we usually take for reality, and conversely that

our everyday perceptions are as illusory as dreams. Other schools of artthe Impressionists, the Cubists, contemporary art through action painting and beyond-all contribute, each in its own way, to diversifying our repertoire of possible modes of perception. In my own experience, the effect of a painting is not limited to the time I spend actually looking at it. It is possible to assimilate something of the artist's vision, so that it becomes available as an alternative to usual modes of perception. Thus, for example, it sometimes happens to me, at table or in the street, that I suddenly see the faces of friends or strangers with the deep lineal clarity of a Dfirer portrait (Fig. 4). When this sort of thing happens, art is effectivelyimplementing what critical epistemology affirms intellectually: I am reminded that the

Can Science Be an Art? Stewart,


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TheBetrayal oil on canvas,21.5 x 28.5 in, 1928-1929. Fig. 3. Rene Magritte, ofImages, Paris,France.Reprinted (?1987, ADAGP, by permission.)"Thisis not a pipe?- Well Howmanyreadersget the pointunaided? whaton earthis it then?" The presentauthor, for one, had to haveit explainedto him.The perceptual switchinvolvedhere is at the level of epistemological thought. blase complacency with which I habitually observe the world is infinitely narrow and meagre compared to the unbounded richness of reality. So far I have spoken only of the graphic arts, but the 'epistemological perspective' applies equally to all forms of art. The art form that is most directly and obviously related to the waywe habitually perceive the world is probably literature, and in particular the novel. In all the great novels (from Thackeray and Eliot, through Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Flaubert, Stendhal and Melville, to Lessing and Fowles) we are presented with an open invitation to perceive those around us (including ourselves) in a new way. To be more precise, it seems to me that these novels organise, with deliberate but tender irony, a back-and-forth 'switching' between two distinct modes of perception (analogous to the 'switching' between vase and silhouettes in my basic metaphor). On the one hand, we can identify with the closed, self-centered consciousness that the characters have of themselves; on the other, we can take a step back and partake of the lucid external vision that the author brings to bear, which by contrast reveals the narrow vanity of our usual way of perceiving things. It is with theatre that the vital tension of a mode of perception that must be both convincingly established and at the same time revealed as illusion reaches its paroxysm. The basic existential problem of the actor, who must both enter into and 'live' the part he is playing and yet at the same time keep control so as not to 'lose' himself in the role, provides another metaphor for the essence of what I am trying to say. It is therefore not surprising that the greatest of playwrights provides me with a quotation that expresses perfectly my fundamental metaphysical article of faith: There are more thingsin heaven and earth,Horatio, Thanare dreamtof in your philosophy.... Act I, Scene 5) (Hamlet, And the relationship between art and daily life that derives from my 'epistemological perspective' is stated quite straightforwardly in another quotation from the same author: All the world'sa stage And all the men andwomenmerely players....
(As YouLikeIt, Act II, Scene 7)

In my own experience, this constitutes an alternative mode of perception that offers fascinating possibilities for 'switching'. It is more or less as though I said to myself, in a real-life situation, "These people are not really X, Y and Z; they are actors impersonating X, Yand Z".The results of this switch are frequently hilarious: people generally caricature themselves with such merciless precision! The fact that we do this quite unconsciously of course only adds spice when we do manage to see the joke.

Music is the art form that offers the most serious resistance to my 'epistemological' interpretation. I find it difficult to determine whether this is because or in spite of the fact that in our culture music is a particularly abstract, intellectual form of art (it is the one most commonly appreciated and practised by scientists). Music, and instrumental music in particular, has of course an exceptional capacity to transport us into a 'world' of its own. The trouble (from my 'epistemological' point of view) is that this other world bears no recognizable relationship to anything in our ordinaryworld. The result of this 'schizophrenia' is that when we return from a musical 'trip' our habitual modes of perception are not necessarily enriched. Is it a total coincidence thatjazz musicians are notorious users of psychoactive drugs that present similar problems? Be that as it may, in my own case the way in to an epistemological perspective on music has come through opera and song. Indeed, my epistemological musings have contributed to a quantumjump in my appreciation of opera. Hitherto, opera had left me somewhat less than indifferent: squalling prima donnas on the radio definitely did not appeal to me, and on the rare occasions when I actually went to the opera, the idea of people actually singing at each other seemed patently absurd. It was here that the 'epistemological' attitude came to my aid by helping me to relax: to staywith my initial impression as long as I was in that mode of perception, but to remain open to the possibility that an alternative mode might supervene. And thus it was that the magic moment so well known to opera-lovers finally came to me: the moment when the marvellous emotional intensity that lies dormant and unsuspected beneath the surface of the most banal or absurd of situations suddenly breaks forth in full splendour. I would like to conclude this section, therefore, by claiming that it does seem feasible to perceive art as a way of putting flesh and blood onto the dry bones of the intellectual insights of critical epistemology. Of course, this is a somewhat unusual way of thinking about art; the mainstream of philosophical thought has been primarily concerned with the basis of aesthetic values, as exemplified by Kant in
the Critique of Judgement [10]. How-

ever, the 'multiple worlds' view of art that I have advocated here is not


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it is in line with

Dewey's Art as Experience [11 ], and has

been explicitly developed by Eco [12]. And even more to the point, I have a precise reason for proposing this 'epistemological perspective': to equip myself with a tool for coming to grips with the subject of the next section, that is, can science itself become an art form, and if so what would it be like?

The links between science, art and the 'multiple worlds' view are many and varied; I cannot here do more than briefly cite a few of the more important cases. Popper [13] has made the fundamental point that scientific knowledge is not a 'reflection' of reality, but is based on hypotheses that (provisionally) escape falsification. Gregory [14] has drawn a formal seven-point analogy between this 'hypothetical' structure of scientific knowledge and that of human knowledge in general; and Gombrich [15] has demonstrated the relevance of the Popper-Gregory approach to an understanding of perception in the visual arts. Kuhn [16] has pointed out that scientific progress is not just a question of the continuous accretion of ever more precise and detailed knowledge. Such periods of 'normal science' are punctuated by 'scientific revolutions', in which whole conceptual paradigms shift in such a way that the world visions of successive epochs may be largely incommensurable. In a related vein, Holton [17] has described the range of different 'themata' that may underlie scientific thought, and Polanyi [18] speaks of the 'heuristic passion' with which scientists adopt particular paradigms or themata. He also extends these concepts to the arts, recalling E. M. Forster's distinction between 'flat' and 'round' characters in a novel: we say that a character is round if it can 'convincingly surprise' the reader. Bohr, author of the complementarity principle in quantum mechanics, has proposed an extension of switching between perceptual modes to an understanding of human knowledge in general [19]. Science, tragedy and comedy have been associated since their common origins in classical Greece; their continuing links have been extensively explored.

Finally, the theory and practice of science as it is actually performed in the laboratory epitomize the 'multiple worlds' view. The very concept of modelling (both descriptive and normative) recognizes the metamorphosis of one world into another: the method of multiple working hypotheses-in use for almost a hundred years-champions the creativity of holding several simultaneous explanations; the technique of brainstorming and the similar approach of lateral thinking both give the fullest support to the divorce between an idea and its 'real' counterpart by suspending evaluation of veracity. However, although these numerous links are definitely suggestive of possibilities, they are not in themselves sufficient to show that science, as it currently exists, really attains the status of an art form. Heidegger, for example, clearly had strong reservations on this score, perhaps best summed up in his famous phrase "science does not think" [20]. Thus, whereas he considered that there is a close relationship between poetry (taken as the epitome of artistic expression) and thought (i.e. philosophical thought), he manifestly felt that science belongs to a different register altogether. I

would now like to examine more closely what is at issue here. In terms of my 'epistemological perspective', as I have schematically summarized it, art is effective just in so far as it succeeds in maintaining a vital tension between two complementary requirements: Firstly, a work of art must create a fresh mode of perception, a 'World' as Heidegger would say, that is incommensurable with our usual way of perceiving things. Moreover, this new World must be convincing enough to detach us from our complacent common-sense realism, which leads us to believe that our habitual perceptions correspond to all that there is. But secondly, a work of art must also manage to communicate this new World in such a way as to increase our awareness that not only our habitual modes of perception, but all particular modes of perception, including the new World itself, are merely representations of reality, and that we will impoverish ourselves if we fall into the illusion of taking them singly or collectively as the totality of reality itself. Now it seems to me that in the case of science, in particular as it is communicated to the general public, these two requirements tend to work against

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Can Science Be an Art? Stewart,


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each other, so that in the end neither of them is fully realized. To start with the second count, contemporary Western society is so thoroughly imbued with scientific technologies that manifestly work, that the general public understandably identifies 'scientific' with 'true', as in the common phrase: 'it is scientifically proven that . . .'. Indeed it may not be too much to say that with the general decline in institutional religious belief, science has taken the place of the Church as the major social reference point for 'truth'. Of course working scientists, who have daily experience of the fluctuating status of scientific hypotheses, know that this image of science as revealing a single, fixed truth is a travesty. This probably explains their instinctive reticence towards most attempts at popularizing science. But the straightforwardapplication of this corrective-insisting that the current hypothesis is only a hypothesis, that there are numerous untidy details which do not fit in, and so on-effectively militates against the first requirement, which is that a distinctive scientific 'vision of the world' be convincingly communicated. It may therefore be worth exploring an alternative strategy for fulfilling the second requirement. In terms of my 'epistemological perspective', I have suggested that a basic technique for achieving this second requirement consists of purposely providing at least two alternate modes of perception between which switching can occur. If we apply this to science, in the hope of raising it to the status of an art form, I see two major possibilities. The first possibility is to set up an 'external' equilibrium between a scientific vision on one hand and an everyday way of perceiving things on the other. The potential here is surely tremendous. As Bachelard [21] has noted, scientific thought is characterised by an 'epistemological breach'in plain language, the basic notions of science are an outright affront to common sense. In this, I think he is right; just consider a few examples. Inertial motion.According to physicists, any object, if simply left to itself, will continue moving indefinitely in a straight line. As Koyre [22] has pointed out, this is a strikingly nonempirical notion: no one in her right mind has ever seen or heard of such a thing. Primaryand secondaryqualities.According to physicists and neurophysi-

ologists, sounds, colours, smells, and so on-the most direct of our sensory impressions-do not really exist as such. They are merely the illusory result of a rather clumsy conjuring trick that nature plays on us. The only things that really exist are particles (atoms) and electric charges (electrons) in various states of motion, and these things themselves are completely colourless, soundless and tasteless. Even Thomas, who doubted what he saw, believed when he touched; but that most tangible (sic) of realities falls equally under the aegis of this astonishing doctrine. If this is not enough, consider a third example: genes.According to geneticists, these microscopic entities, which live as parasites in every one of the cells of which our bodies are made, are transmitted unchanged from generation to generation. Not only are these genes impervious to the vicissitudes of our life experiences, but they actually have the effrontery to programme all our actions with the sole aim of ensuring their own reproduction, thus reducing our most cherished hopes and fears to the status of superficial epiphenomena [23]. I am not trying to ridicule science. On the contrary, I am trying to convey the strength as well as the essential weirdness of scientific perceptions of the world. Science as art would then involve establishing a switching relationship between such visions on the one hand and familiar everydaymodes of perception on the other. In this case, there would be no need to water down the sharpness of scientific vision; on the contrary, everything could be done to exacerbate the shock, to bring out the fascination of this terrifying wayof perceiving things, which has the power to impress itself on our minds as being at least as 'real' as our ordinary modes of perception. I can imagine a number of variants on this theme of setting up an external equilibrium between scientific and everyday modes of perception. One, of particular relevance to our present condition, would be to arrange a confrontation between an 'expert' and a 'layperson'. The point is not to make the expert an object of derision, but simply to redress the usual imbalance, which leads us so often to submit passively to 'expert opinion'. We are looking for that critical point where we can see things both from the expert's point of view and from the layperson's, so that we end up really wondering

who is right. In a similar vein, the deployment of a scientific attitude in an everyday situation has distinct comic possibilities. Le Lionnais [24] has pointed out that, from the scientific point of view, it is little short of incredible that if one lifts up a pencil and lets it go it drops back to the table and stops there, or that when one picks up a cup, it does not slip between one's fingers like greased lightning. So we could imagine a play or a film in which an absent-minded professor takes his science seriously, and starts asking why (and if) we really can pick up pencils and cups and put them on the table. Here again, it is not (simply) a question of poking fun at science; we are looking for the balance-point that makes us wonder who is right. A final variant is to deploy the technique of the theatrical switch that I referred to previously. Readers who have the opportunity of attending a scientific meeting should try saying to themselves, "That speaker is not really a scientist, she is an actor caricaturing a scientist." In my own experience, the result can be devastatingly funnyand in no way precludes switching back and listening with renewed appreciation to what the speaker (thinks she) is saying. The second major possibility for organising switching consists of setting up an 'internal' equilibrium between several rival scientific theories in such a way that the spectator is unable to decide definitively in favour of any of them. The history of science (and, as working scientists know well, contemporary science) abounds with examples of controversies that remained open over a significant length of time. These could serve as starting points. If we choose the appropriate historical viewpoint, it should not be difficult to set up the required equilibrium. A model of what I have in mind is provided by Latour, who illustrates the reversible metamorphosis between hypothesis and 'fact' by recounting the nightmare of a sociologist haunted by successive theories of dinosaurs [25]. Another amusing example, this time of role reversal, has actually been published in a scientific journal in the form of a "One-ActPlay"[26]. It might also be instructive to rehabilitate a frankly obsolete theory, the simpler the better-we could bring in an unshakable believer in the flat earth, for example, or a lost, lonesome timetraveller, unable to convince his hosts (sympathetically concerned for his


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sanity) that atoms, electrons and so on actually exist. Let me emphasize again that the aim is to arrive at a point where everyone reallywonders who is right. Finally, the 'internal' and 'external' approaches could also be combined. Something along the lines of the fable of the miller, his donkey and his son could serve as an example: a 'fall guy' lets himself be convinced in turn by each of a series of mutually contradictory scientific theories. The final moral-he would have done better to trust his own common sensewould be worthwhile only if everyone was convinced at the time, along with the anti-hero. These are of course only a few suggestions, designed principally to illustrate my point. My hope is that I have communicated my conviction that, although science is arguably not fully an art form at present, it could perhaps become one if we put our minds to it. Acknowledgments
I would like to thank the reviewers of Leonardo for their constructive criticisms, and for their permission to incorporate certain of their comments into the revised version of this text. I also wish to

thank Cordon Art, Baarn, The Netherlands, for permission to reproduce Escher's Waterfall; ADAGP, Paris, France, for permission to reproduce Magritte's Cecin 'estpas unePipe;and Editions Cercle d'Art, Paris, France, for permission to rede 'artiste from their produce the drawing La mere book Direr, Dessins.

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1. B. Russell, The Wisdomof the West (London: Macdonald, 1959). 2. J. Locke, quoted in Russell [1] p. 215. 3. J. Locke, quoted in Russell [1] p. 215. 4. I. Kant, quoted in Russell [1] p. 238. 5. B. Latour and S. Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The SocialConstruction (London: Sage, ofScientificFacts 1979). 6. Latour and Woolgar [5]. 7. P. Feyerabend, Against Method(London: New Left Books, 1975). 8. E. H. Gombrich, "Illusion and Art", in R. L. Gregory and E. H. Gombrich, eds., Illusion in Natureand Art (London: Duckworth, 1973). 9. M. Heidegger, "Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes", in Holzwege(Frankfurt/Main: Klostermann, 1949). 10. I. Kant, CritiqueofJudgement(London: Macmillan, 1950). 11. J. Dewey, ArtAsExperience (New York:Minton, Balch, 1934). 12. U. Eco, OperaAperta (Milan: Bompiani, 1962). 13. K. R. Popper, The Logic of ScientificDiscovery (London: Hutchinson, 1959).

Can Science Be an Art? Stewart,


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