The Interactions of Science and Art as a Sociocultural Problem

Russian Studies in Philosophy 16 (1):87-93 (1977)
Abstract
The debates now in progress about the interactions of science and art compel one involuntarily to recall that such discussions have been held more than once and were, a long time ago, perhaps no less heated. It suffices to cite virtually at random certain statements of Pisarev, for example , for us to see, as in a cloudy mirror, both today's advocates of scientism and the romantics of art. Does this mean that all we need is to bear in mind the wise words of the past in order to advance, as is believed by Iu. I. Kagarlitskii ? Obviously, that is not the case. The problem of the interactions of science and art is a philosophical one, not one of natural science; and the results achieved in debates of the past do not eliminate the questions of world view that constantly arise anew. Philosophy has no axioms such as exist in mathematics. It is therefore difficult to imagine that subsequent history has added nothing whatever to the understanding of past debates. Yet reference to these debates would appear to be essential today to clarify at least one of the factors of the problem we have posed. It might appear that this factor has been pointed to, but it has constantly been beclouded by the explanations of how science influences artists, and how art influences scientists who are at the same time artists, by references to the unity of the creative character of science and art, and so forth. In my opinion, it is essential, however, to emphasize that the very problematics of the interactions between science and art depend on the social and cultural environment within which they exist and are discussed. Turning to the past, we can see that science and art are not realms of activity handed down to humankind "since the creation of the world." They develop in the "body," if one may put it thus, of a specific socium, a specific culture. It would, of course, be absurd to conceive of any direct contact between science and art without the mediation of human beings, of society, of culture. Moreover, the debates themselves are determined by the level at which science and art are found within a given sociocultural space, by virtue of which analysis of these debates may provide data to the researcher for an understanding of the direction of social development. The RST influences all spheres of human activity, including the esthetic. Today, however, particularly in the West, there is a tendency to elevate the significance of the RST to an absolute, to explain many processes by its direct influence on social consciousness independently of the social conditions in which it occurs. Therefore, it would seem to be methodologically important for today's debates to demonstrate, on the basis of some concrete historical material, the connection between those shifts in social consciousness that sometimes explain the direct influence of progress in science and technology, on the one hand, and certain sociocultural conditions, on the other
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