What is Art?

“Unlike The Arts, Science tells us something valuable about the world.”

This statement is relatively controversial because ‘valuable’ can be interpreted in numerous ways. You could say that something is valuable as it contributes to a global area/issue, or valuable as it has personal merit (perhaps in a sentimental fashion). Either way, the definition in which someone considers something to be valuable will determine their opinion on whether this claim is true or false. Today, we will go ahead and explore both arguments for the same claim.

One argument is that science does tell us something valuable about the world while the arts don’t. This is true on the premise that valuable is defined by being useful on a global scale. Generally speaking, the sciences are a method to explore areas of our world which we cannot understand at first glance, therefore being deemed helpful to society. The experiments that have been conducted and the discoveries that have been made exemplify this, because they all lead to knowledge which only helps us better understand the smaller details of the world. For example, the discovery of Penicillin was fundamental to developing the antibiotics we have nowadays, therefore showcasing the impact it has on a wider scale. You can also argue that art doesn’t have as strong as an impact; using Jackson Pollock’s “Convergence” art piece as an example, it can be considered not valuable as it is merely a cluster of strokes that don’t add up to any artistic meaning. It might purely be what his emotions were in that time being placed on a canvas, however this would not be clear to an audience, hence losing its potential meaning and limiting the artwork’s impact on the world.

A counter argument is that both sciences and arts do tell us something valuable about the world. This is valid for both definitions of ‘valuable’, because artworks tend to convey significant messages that shed light on a particular subject or issue. Were it not for the existence of arts, abstract meaning is lost and we would miss out on many details that come from personal imagination or experience. Michelangelo’s “Prisoners” is a significant sculpture created for the purpose of exhibiting the struggles of slaves during the Roman rule. This particular art piece is important in representing those feelings felt in the earlier days as well as demonstrating why it was quite harsh for the people at the time. Despite seeming like a regular sculpture at first impression, the context and meaning that it holds is vital for helping modern society understand events that have occurred in history. Therefore, showing how arts can be as equally valuable to sciences when applied appropriately.