Creativity, Duty Calls, Science

So beautiful, it’s almost science

JMW Turner: The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage of Macon

In today’s Guardian I read about a new Turner biography written by James Hamilton.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) is famous for his energetic land- and seascapes. And what’s more..

..fresh research suggests JMW Turner’s work was also rooted in groundbreaking scientific theories.

Well, sure, why not? It seems Turner had many scientists as friends and it’s not surprising at all that some of the things they have told him may have made it into his paintings.

But now here comes the greatest compliment you can make an artist:

Hamilton said Turner’s sun was more than art – it was almost experimental science.

Wow! Your art is so great, it’s almost science. Almost!

What hubris!

Florian

Duty Calls

Duty Calls

A pretty famous comic from xkcd is called ‘Duty Calls’:

Duty Calls1> Are you coming to bed?

2> I can’t. This is important.

1> What?

2> Someone is wrong on the internet!

Who doesn’t know that feeling? Ok, most people, I’d guess. But ‘Duty Calls’ will be my category for all the stuff that I write being upset about something I read on the web.

I guess I will be able to monitor my mental status by how quickly it fills up.

The first example of a Call For Duty is my reaction to an article I recently read in PLoS Biology.

Books, Duty Calls, Philosophy

Feyerabend and the tyranny of science

In October 2011 PLoS Biology, a top biology journal, tried something new – it took a deeper look at the boundary between biology and philosophy:

“Does the cultural divide between science and the humanities, first articulated by C. P. Snow over 50 years ago, still exist between biology and philosophy? In a mini experiment to find out, we asked a philosopher and biologist to review the recent English translation of Tyranny of Science, by 20th century philosopher Paul Feyerabend, perhaps best known for rejecting the claim that science is a singular discipline unified by common methods and concepts.”

What a nice idea! The philosopher is Ian J Kidd from Durham in the UK, who does research on Feyerabend and other philosophers of science, while the biologist is Axel Meyer from Konstanz in Germany, who studies diversity in fish. And Feyerabend (1924-1994) is a very good choice, because he is notorious as a polemic writer and not known for holding back his opinions. If there is any divide of any kind anywhere, Feyerabend will be right in the thick of it.

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