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Romanticism: opposed to science?

Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 10, 2009, 04:28:38 PM
Quote
That's an exceptional insight. After all, this was the time when William Wordsworth wandered lonely as a cloud along England's lakes and John Keats told us all we need to know on earth is "beauty is truth." To this day, Romantic poets and scientists are not supposed to be seen together. "Romanticism as a cultural force is generally regarded as intensely hostile to science, its ideal of subjectivity eternally opposed to that of scientific objectivity," Holmes writes.

What's superlative about "The Age of Wonder" is that Holmes, author of vivid biographies of Shelley and Coleridge, takes the air out of the terms "subjectivity" and "objectivity" and reveals the ways in which the artists were as enveloped in science as the men and women in the labs around them. In a harmony of scientific and artistic sensibilities, he shows, the Romantics tapped the marvels of nature and sounded the infinite benefits of science. It's a song, if we can hear it, that can transform us today.

http://www.salon.com/books/review/2009/08/10/age_of_wonder/index.html?source=newsletter

Salon is for libfags, but they have some good articles.

I think Romanticism versus science is really syncretism versus reductionism.

Metal is clearly on the syncretic side, e.g. syncretic eclecticism.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 10, 2009, 05:27:14 PM
Here is a story about William Blake that always summed it up for me:

Thomas Taylor gave Blake, the artist, some lessons in mathematics and & got as far as the 5th proposition which proves that two angles at the base of an isosceles triangle must be equal.  Taylor was going through the demonstration, but was interrupted by Blake, exclaiming "ah never mind that - what's the use of going to prove it.  Why I see with my eyes that it is so, & do not require any proof to make it clearer."

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 10, 2009, 06:07:08 PM
Here is a story about William Blake that always summed it up for me:

Thomas Taylor gave Blake, the artist, some lessons in mathematics and & got as far as the 5th proposition which proves that two angles at the base of an isosceles triangle must be equal.  Taylor was going through the demonstration, but was interrupted by Blake, exclaiming "ah never mind that - what's the use of going to prove it.  Why I see with my eyes that it is so, & do not require any proof to make it clearer."

Could you possibly elaborate on the point you're trying to get at?  I'm not trying to be a dick, but as someone who has studied mathematics, that is one of the dumbest quotes I've ever seen.  The entirety of mathematics is using deductive logic to prove theorems.  Just because something is self evident doesn't mean you don't need to prove it.  I mean, is Blake trying to imply that all of mathematics should just be understood using common sense.  Mathematics is absolutely littered with proven theorems and ideas that are counter-intuitive.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 10, 2009, 09:01:18 PM
I think from the article it is clear that Romanticism is not inherently opposed to science.  In fact, I would argue most ideologies are not opposed to science.  They may very greatly in their interpretations of scientific knowledge, but as long as the methodology of science remains intact (as it did with the Romanticists in question) there's really no problem.

Quote from: Conservationist
Metal is clearly on the syncretic side, e.g. syncretic eclecticism.

I don't know if it's quite that simple.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 10, 2009, 09:03:51 PM
The quote is an example of the old epistemology divide.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 10, 2009, 09:17:10 PM
The quote is an example of the old epistemology divide.

Interesting.  I'm afraid  I can't really comprehend what Blake's point is.  Could anyone help clarify it further?  It seems he's making an empiricist critic of a very narrow area of mathematical concepts.  Am I way off?  What are the implied extensions of thought from this?

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 11, 2009, 12:14:57 AM
Quote from: HPL
when age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men, when grey cities reared to smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow none might dream of the sun or of Spring's flowering meads; when learning stripped Earth of her mantle of beauty, and poets sang no more save of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward-looking eyes; when these things had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone away forever, there was a man who traveled out of life on a quest into the spaces whither the world's dreams had fled.

But there's a great deal to be said for looking for the truth in an effective way.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 11, 2009, 04:15:42 PM
Here is a story about William Blake that always summed it up for me:

Thomas Taylor gave Blake, the artist, some lessons in mathematics and & got as far as the 5th proposition which proves that two angles at the base of an isosceles triangle must be equal.  Taylor was going through the demonstration, but was interrupted by Blake, exclaiming "ah never mind that - what's the use of going to prove it.  Why I see with my eyes that it is so, & do not require any proof to make it clearer."
Could you possibly elaborate on the point you're trying to get at? 
Honestly, and I'm not trying to be a dick either, I'm not sure that I can explain it to you so that you perfectly understand it.  For me, the lesson works best as an anecdote, but that's how I understand things.  To put it as best as I can:  what matters for Blake is THAT he knows x, not HOW he knows that x is true, in other words, he BELIEVES x.  It's not that truth verification isn't important, it's just that belief in x can be justified without verifying it's truth via mathematics it can also be justified through sense perception.  At the end of the day, in order to operate within physical reality I find science and rational justification not AS necessary/important as lots of people think.  There is more than one way to operate within reality and affect a positive change.  For me, Blake puts science/math/rational justification in its proper place.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 11, 2009, 04:42:06 PM
I would argue most ideologies are not opposed to science.  They may very greatly in their interpretations of scientific knowledge

...mainly because science cannot interpret its own knowledge, only produce it. Allahu ackbar!

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 11, 2009, 05:13:21 PM
Mathematics and science, to me, means representation of reality. Many operations in mathematics have only abstract meaning, but lead to real results; you let logic of mathematics lead you to the results. I guess you could say that science and rational justification are not necessary/important as people think, if you live in a cave. Understanding the verification of truth leads to more comprehensive understanding of reality. I guess in from Jim Necroslaughter's quote of Blake is fair to represent Romanticism as such, but it seems that Romanticism is very primitive and too ideal for our modern times. Engineering, the manipulation of reality, is the foundation of our society, whether it be for good or bad. It seems Blake is undermining engineering, rather than supporting the environmental side of Romanticism.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to the responsibility humans have for technology and environment, and that Blake quote doesn't do Romanticism much justice. I see Romanticism as containing a certain degree of naturalism, leaning toward more sustainable practices, rather than denying the importance of science and rational justification.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 11, 2009, 05:23:34 PM
To Jim:  Your explanation actually makes it perfectly clear, thanks for the clarification.

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...mainly because science cannot interpret its own knowledge, only produce it.

Right, but we can also determine certain interpretations to be more or less legitimate than others.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 12, 2009, 06:49:17 AM
Romanticism is part of the critique of reason and as such is anti-rationalist/anti-scientific. So there is an opposition but you needn't understand this opposition as absolute (i.e., dualistically). Romanticism however does entail that reason is of secondary importance and that the will is primary both in terms of understanding human nature and nature-nature (reality). How one understand "will" is an entirely different matter.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 12, 2009, 08:01:17 AM
Part of romanticism is that it conveniently forgets, in all its pastoral paean to the "unquantifiable" and its "critique of science," that science is the reason we wear clothes and don't still sleep in our own shit.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 12, 2009, 01:43:36 PM
There is no doubt room for both ideologies. Science has without question advanceed the human race to a great extent, particularly in the 20th century. With that mind however, we have in the last century abandoned abstract thinking and philosophy to make room for science. So mathematics and science, hand in hand with capitalist ideology, being the dominant driving force behind society is part of the reason why we're in so much shit now. It has gone unchecked by the abstract thought so dominant in the 19th century. After all, what is science without interpretation and a proper purpose to its research.

Re: Romanticism: opposed to science?
August 12, 2009, 06:50:52 PM
Part of romanticism is that it conveniently forgets, in all its pastoral paean to the "unquantifiable" and its "critique of science," that science is the reason we wear clothes and don't still sleep in our own shit.

Yes we are so high above those shit sleeping lions, aren't we?


I see it more as a dynamic, or a spectrum.  Reason is on one side and Romanticism is on the other, and it is not about where you are on the spectrum, but that you adopted that dynamic in the first place.  You would essentially be adopting both by adopting one.

Another argument is the one that the greeks made, that man did not invent his clothes, but that they were a manifistation of a need.  A man did not invent a chair, but this and that happened, and one convenience led to another, and eventually man had chairs. 

Romanticism and Nationalism both were not a rejection of science either, but rather something that manifested from a need.  Nationalism was born of a need for a united state and romanticism came from the distance growing between man and nature.

Finally, a lot of romantics were very fond of science and it's probings, but one thing that they did rebell against was reliance on technology.  Surely they benefitted from those clothes, and who with any sense would sleep in shit?  But, they saw no benefit in constant comfort and convenience, and if they had it their (idealistic) way, they would say to hell with technology all together, and the clothes as well.