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Art vs Science

Art and Science designate a branch of learning.

Art as it is found in the phrases the liberal arts, bachelor of arts, master of arts refers to one of the fundamental branches of learning regarded as necessary to every educated person and serving as an instrument for his advancement in knowledge not only generally but specifically in his professional studies.

In the Middle Ages the liberal arts were grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy; with these as a foundation, a student was ready to proceed with his studies in philosophy, theology, law, or medicine.

In modern times the liberal arts, as interpreted by various colleges giving arts degrees, may be the disciplinary or instrumental branches of learning as distinguished from those that are technical or professional in their character or may comprise the cultural as distinguished from the vocational studies.

Science was also used in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance of a branch of learning. It was not identical with art, however, because it was not restricted to studies giving the rudiments or providing the apparatus for further study but was applied to any branch of learning that was a recognized subject of study.

  • I do present you with a man of mine, cunning in music and the mathematics, to instruct her fully in those sciences
  • a gentleman of Tyre; my name, Pericles; my education been in arts and arms—

Since the nineteenth century, especially in reference to departments of knowledge or courses given in schools, colleges, and universities, these words show a wider divergence in implications and applications and a tendency (especially in the plural forms) to be used as generic terms. On the one hand, art is applied to those courses which have for their end teaching students to make or do something that requires skill and a knowledge of technique and also, usually, special gifts such as inventiveness, taste, or ingenuity.

  • the manual arts
  • the fine art of painting
  • instruction jn the arts of design

On the other hand, science is applied only to such courses or studies as deal with the gathering and classification of facts, the drawing of correct inferences from them, and the establishment of verifiable general laws.

  • the sciences of physics, botany, and economics
  • major in science
  • teachers of science

Still other distinctions are drawn between the two, when art or science refers not so much to a branch of learning as to a pursuit for which one is prepared by the study of an art or science; thus, questions arise as to whether architecture is an art or a science, that is

(1) whether its essential demands of the architect are inventiveness, taste, and technical skill, or a knowledge of the principles of physics, engineering, and related sciences;

(2) whether the end to be served is to give aesthetic pleasure or to produce something useful.

  • rhetoric was for Rome both an art and a science It had obvious utilitarian value, and its materials were not only exact logical concepts, but the sonorous words and the noble rhythms which were the glory of their tongue