Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Discussion 1 | Abc Paper

Carefully read Roger Scrouton’s essay “Scientism in the Arts and Humanities,” and choose a different question from the previous discussion in the research project list and answer it in relation to an issue in philosophy and technology according to theses of these two articles. Please only reference Scrouton’s essay and refrain from personal opinions. Your post should not have any first-person pronouns and as always. any badly written posts (i. e., clearly not proofread) will be downgraded. Also, simply writing the article’s author and the year is not a proper citation. All quotes and paraphrases necessitate FULL citations. Choose one or two from these questions: 

What      is the problem for which this technology is the solution?
Whose      problem is it?
Which      people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a      technological solution?
What      new problems might be created because we have solved this problem?
What      sort of people and institutions might acquire special economic and      political power because of technological change?
What      changes in language are being enforced by new technologies, and what is      being gained and lost by such changes?
Carefully read Roger Scrouton’s essay “Scientism in the Arts and Humanities,” and choose a different question from the previous discussion in the research project list and answer it in relation to an issue in philosophy and technology according to theses of these two articles. Please only reference Scrouton’s essay and refrain from personal opinions. Your post should not have any first-person pronouns and as always. any badly written posts (i. e., clearly not proofread) will be downgraded. Also, simply writing the article’s author and the year is not a proper citation. All quotes and paraphrases necessitate FULL citations. 

Choose one or two from these questions:

1. What is the problem for which this technology is the solution?

2. Whose problem is it?

3. Which people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological solution?

4. What new problems might be created because we have solved this problem?

5. What sort of people and institutions might acquire special economic and political power because of technological change?

6. What changes in language are being enforced by new technologies, and what is being gained and lost by such changes?

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Scientism in the Arts and Humanities
Why art is more than matter and meme

Roger Scruton

A s the universities expanded in the twentieth century, and as the hard sciences began to retreat to the marginsof an educational system increasingly reluctant to demand too much of its students, the humanities moved
to the center of the curriculum. First among them was English, a subject that established its place as a university

degree in Britain only about mid-century, and largely as a result of the failed attempt by I. A. Richards to treat the

study of literature as a branch of empirical psychology. Art history rose along with English, bringing with it the

Hegelian historical approach that had been developed in the German universities. And the growing prominence

of philosophy (still considered a branch of the “moral sciences” during my undergraduate days in Cambridge) laid

the foundations for the continuing expansion of the curriculum into areas as diverse as classical civilization, film

studies, and creative writing. The simultaneous expansion of the social sciences to encompass anthropology

(coupled to archaeology in the Cambridge of my youth), sociology, economics, political science, and the theory of

education meant that many of the new areas of study fell uneasily between arts and sciences and required

extensive borrowings from both. Take media studies: was it a branch of sociology or a subsection of literary

criticism? The habit very quickly arose during the 1960s and 1970s of throwing together clusters of disciplines

from the social sciences and the humanities in order to generate “studies” that would appeal to the increasingly

unqualified intake of students by conveying a spurious — and usually highly politicized — image of relevance.

In the current university, the impression arises that outside the hard sciences just about anything goes, and that

the humanities have neither a method nor a received body of knowledge, it being up to the professor to decide

what to teach in his class. Occasional attempts to establish a canon of great books are quickly and easily

Roger Scruton

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overthrown, while the journals fill with articles devoted to what Jean Bricmont and Alan Sokal have castigated as

“fashionable nonsense.”

An additional problem has been created by the growth of post-graduate schools in the humanities and social

sciences. University departments and the people who teach in them are increasingly assessed — both for status

and for funding — on their output of “research.” The use of this word to describe what might formerly have gone

under the name of “scholarship” naturally suggests an affinity between the humanities and the sciences, implying

that both are engaged in discovering things, whether facts or theories, to be added in the same way to the store of

human knowledge. Pressed to justify their existence, therefore, the humanities begin to look to the sciences to

provide them with “research methods” and the promise of “results.” To suggest that the principal concern of the

humanities is the transmission of “culture” — as has been argued by the followers of the nineteenth-century poet

and critic Matthew Arnold — would be to condemn them to second-class status. If all the humanities have to

offer is “culture,” then they can hardly have the same claim on the public purse as the sciences, which constantly

add to the store of knowledge. Culture has no method, while research proceeds by conjecture and evidence.

Culture means the past, research means the future.

Moreover, once the defense of the humanities is made to rest on the “culture” they transmit, they become

vulnerable to deconstruction. One can summon any number of theories — the Marxist theory of “ideology,” or

some feminist, post-structuralist, or Foucauldian descendant of it — in proof of the view that the precious

achievements of our culture owe their status merely to the power that speaks through them, and hence that they

are of no intrinsic worth. In this way the whole idea of culture as an autonomous sphere of moral knowledge, one

that requires learning, scholarship, and immersion to enhance and retain, is cast to the winds. On this view,

instead of transmitting culture, the university exists to deconstruct it, to remove its aura. The university’s purpose

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is to leave the student, after three or four years of anxious dissipation, with the view that anything goes and

nothing matters.

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Invading the Humanities

his transformation of the humanities into an anti-cultural force seems to be where we are today — or nearly

so. Increasingly, we can see attempts to rectify the humanities’ difficulties by assimilating their subject

matter to one or another of the sciences.

Take, for instance, art history. Generations of students have been drawn to this subject in the hope of acquiring

knowledge of the masterpieces of the past. Art history had developed in nineteenth-century German universities,

under the influence of the Swiss historians Jacob Burkhardt, Heinrich Wölfflin, and others, to become a paradigm

of objective study in the humanities. The Hegelian theory of the Zeitgeist, put to astute use by Wölfflin, divided

everything into neatly circumscribed periods — Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, neoclassical, and so on. And the

“comparative” method, in which images were shown side by side and their differences assigned to the

distinguishing mental frameworks of their creators, proved endlessly fertile in critical judgments. Look at the

works of Wittkower, Panofsky, Gombrich, and the other products of this school of thought, many of whom fled to

safety from the Nazi destruction of the German universities, and you will surely conclude that there has never

been a more creative and worthwhile addition to the curriculum in modern times.

Yet the scholars are not satisfied. Is there any more “research” to be done on the art of Michelangelo, or the

architecture of Palladio? Is there anything to be added to the study of the Gothic cathedral after Ruskin, von

Simson, Pevsner, and Sedlmayr? And how do we confront the complaint that this whole subject seems to be

focused on a narrow range of dead white European males, who spoke clearly for their times, but who have no

great relevance to ours? All in all, the subject of art history has been condemned by its own success to a corner of

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the academy, there to be starved of funds and graduate students — unless, that is, it can be endowed with some

new field of “research.”

Similar problems have bedeviled musicology and literary studies, and in each case the temptation has arisen to

look for some branch of the natural sciences that could be applied to their subject matter, so as to rescue it from

its methodless sterility. Two sciences in particular seem to fit the bill: evolutionary psychology and neuroscience.

Both are sciences of the mind, and since culture is a mental arena, both sciences ought to be capable of making

sense of it. Evolutionary psychology treats mental states as adaptations, and explains them in terms of the

reproductive advantages they conferred on our ancestors; neuroscience treats them as aspects of the nervous

system, and explains them in terms of their cognitive function.

Over the last several decades, therefore, we have witnessed a steady invasion of the humanities by scientific

methodology. This invasion provides us with a useful illustration of the distinction between scientific and

scientistic ways of thinking. The scientific thinker has a clear question, a body of data, and a theoretical answer to

the question that can be tested against that data. The scientistic thinker borrows the apparatus of science, not in

order to explain the phenomenon before him, but in order to create the appearance of a scientific question, the

appearance of data, and the appearance of a method that will arrive at an answer.

Structuralism in literary criticism, as exemplified by Roland Barthes in his 1970 book S/Z, was scientistic in this

sense. It raised questions that had the appearance of science, and addressed them with theories that could not be

refuted since they failed to make predictions. Barthes’s flamboyant analysis of Balzac’s short story “Sarrasine,”

casting about the technicalities of Saussurian linguistics, created a certain stir in its day, and was immediately

taken up by literary critics hungry for a “method” that would deliver results. The results never came, and that

particular episode is now more or less forgotten.

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A similar case today can be found in the new “science” of “neuroaesthetics,” introduced and championed by V. S.

Ramachandran, Semir Zeki, and William Hirstein, which promises to produce its own journal and already has a

growing pile of publications devoted to its results. And the art historian John Onians has followed this example by

attempting to recast his discipline as the science of (as the title of his 2008 book calls it) Neuroarthistory.

Philosophers and critics have, over the centuries, asked themselves questions about the meaning of art, why it is

so special, and why it affects us as it does. Their speculations have been subtle, difficult, and alert at every point to

the human significance of the subject — what the work of art means to us, who interpret it and take it to heart.

This human significance is a cultural phenomenon — the kind of thing that the humanities emerged in order to

study. And so the first move of Ramachandran and Hirstein, in the 1999 paper in which they laid out their theory,

is to present art as already dressed in the science they propose to apply to it:

The purpose of art, surely, is not merely to depict or represent reality — for that can be accomplished very

easily with a camera — but to enhance, transcend, or indeed even to distort reality…. [W]hat the artist tries

to do (either consciously or unconsciously) is to not only capture the essence of something but also to

amplify it in order to more powerfully activate the same neural mechanisms that would be activated by the

original object.

Having thus reduced the effect of art to one of perceptual distortion, and dazzled the reader with a reference to

“neural mechanisms,” Ramachandran and Hirstein summon a psychological principle — the “peak shift” effect, by

which an animal that has learned to respond to a stimulus responds more strongly to an exaggeration of that

stimulus — to give a general explanation of “what art really is.” The ensuing mishmash of abridged and

misapplied theories has been explored and exploded by the British professor of philosophy and aesthetics John

Hyman. In his 2010 article “Art and Neuroscience,” Hyman shows that the neuroaestheticians misunderstand the

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peak shift effect, that they are woefully ignorant of art, and that their theories really have nothing to say about art

as distinct from non-art. For our present purposes, it is also worth noting the way in which science intrudes into

Ramachandran’s description of the subject. Instead of a careful and circumspect attempt to define a problem,

there is a perfunctory description of a few artistic phenomena, an unwarranted reference to a preferred

explanation (“neural mechanisms”), and an anticipation of the result of applying it. This is the sure sign of

scientism — that the science precedes the question, and is used to redefine it as a question that the science can

solve. But the difficulty of understanding art arises precisely because questions about the nature and meaning of

art are not asking for an explanation of something, but for a description.

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Science and the Subjective

hy should there be such questions, and why is it that they lie beyond the reach of the empirical sciences?

The simple answer is that they are questions that deal with the “spirit,” with Geist, and therefore with

phenomena that lie outside the purview of experimental methods. But this is not an answer that would satisfy

people today; putting it that way is likely to prompt a wry, skeptical smile. The “spirit” vanished with Kant’s

demolition of the Cartesian theory of the subject. Or if it didn’t vanish, then how could it have survived the

advances in cognitive science, genetics, and evolutionary psychology that have abolished the illusions through

which religion governed our world? All that Ramachandran and company are doing, it might be said, is to replace

the vague language in which the dispute between science and the Geisteswissenschaften — “spirit or mind studies,”

in some ways a more helpful term than our “liberal arts” — was originally formulated with something more in

keeping with our modern view of what we are. The problem is that there is no agreed-upon “modern view of what

we are,” in no small part because we are unsure of the relation between “we” and “I,” being unsure of the place of

the self-conscious individual in the science of the species.

As a conscious subject, I have a point of view on the world. The world seems a certain way to me, and this

“seeming” defines my unique perspective. Every self-conscious being has such a perspective; this is what it means

to be a subject rather than an object. When I give a scientific account of the world, however, I am describing only

objects. I am describing the way things are, and the causal laws that explain the way things are. This description is

given from no particular perspective. It does not contain words like “here,” “now,” and “I”; and while it is meant to

explain the way things seem, it does so by giving a theory of how they are. In short, the subject is in principle

unobservable to science — not because it exists in another realm but because it is not part of the empirical world.

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It lies on the edge of things, like a horizon, and could never be grasped “from the other side,” the side of

subjectivity itself.

Is the subject a real part of the real world? In one sense not. For if I look for it in the world of objects I shall never

find it. But without my nature as a subject, nothing for me is real. If I am to care for my world, then I must first

care for this thing, the subject, without which I have no perspective from which to see the world, and so have no

world. This attention to the subject is the purpose of art, or at least of the art that matters. And that is one reason

why those humanities that have art and culture as their theme will never be reducible to natural sciences.

We understand others through the attitudes that Martin Buber summarized as relations between Ich and Du (I

and You) but which would perhaps better be described as relations between I and I. We see each other I to I, and

from this relation all judgment, all responsibility, all shame, pride, and fulfillment arise. This momentous fact

about the human condition might be summarized in the word bequeathed to us by Roman law, and taken up by

Boethius and Aquinas: “person.” We are persons, and personality is of our essence.

Flowing from personality, there are concepts that play an organizing role in our experience — concepts like

ornament, melody, duty, and freedom — but belong to no scientific theory because they divide up the world in a

way that no natural science could countenance. Science tells us a lot about the ordered sequences of pitched

sounds; but it tells us nothing about melodies. A melody is not an acoustical but a musical object. And musical

objects belong to the purely intentional realm: they are about something else; they are imbued with meaning; they

are sounds as we self-conscious beings experience and relate to them. The concept of the person is like the

concept of a melody. It features in our way of perceiving and relating to each other, but it does not “carry over”

into the science of what we are. The fact that the person does not carry over into science does not mean that there

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are no persons, but only that a scientific theory of persons will classify them with other things — for example,

with apes or other mammals.

In other words, the kind of thing we are is defined through a concept that does not feature in the science of our

nature. Science sees us as objects rather than as subjects, and its descriptions of our responses are not descriptions

of what we feel. When we refer to the soul, we generally do not refer to some Cartesian substance floating in the

inner nowhere. We refer to the organizing principle of first-person awareness: the capacities for self-attribution,

self-knowledge, and inter-subjective response that seem to distinguish ours from every other species, and that

make the life of a person into a thing worthwhile. This organizing principle is what Aristotle and Aquinas meant

by describing the soul as the form and the body as the matter of the human being; all that I have added to their

account is to define the form in terms of the organization exhibited by the first-person singular — that is, in

terms of a person.

Our behavior towards each other is founded on the belief in freedom, in selfhood, in the knowledge that I am I

and you are you and that each of us is a center of free and responsible thought and action. Out of these beliefs

arises the whole world of interpersonal responses, and it is from the relations established between us that our

own self-conception derives. It would seem to follow that we have an existential need to clarify the concepts of

the self, of free choice, of responsibility and the rest if we are to have a clear conception of what we are, and that

no amount of neuroscience is going to help us to clarify those concepts. We live on the surface, and what matters

to us are not the invisible nervous systems that explain how people work but the visible appearances to which we

respond when we respond to people as people. It is these appearances that we interpret; and it is upon these

interpretations that we craft responses that will in turn be interpreted; and so on. It is because culture is built

upon these interpersonal and inter-subjective relations that it is a distinct realm of human inquiry, one which

cannot be replaced by a natural science.

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What Pictures Are About

his returns us to the history of art and the study of pictures. What are pictures — scientifically speaking, in

contrast to what they mean? It is fairly obvious that Titian’s famous painting of the Venus of Urbino (1538)

consists of a canvas on which are distributed pigments (see below). We could describe this distribution using

geometrical coordinates in two-dimensional space, and so pixelize Titian’s picture in a digital formula that

enables a machine to reproduce it. This formula makes no mention of the woman, her servant, or the eyes that

challenge and the hand that hides. Yet it contains all the information necessary to produce the image, in which

those things are seen by someone who has the capacity to understand pictures. We could imagine animals who

were adept at recognizing the distribution of pixels, and could selectively respond to every difference between

patterns of pigments that we see as pictures, but who could not see pictures. And of course, we are familiar with

the digital programs that record, transmit, and present pixelated images in machines that see nothing at all.

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Titian, Venus of Urbino (1538), Galleria delli Uffizi, Florence

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The normal response to that kind of example is to say that pictorial images are emergent features of the physical

objects in which they are contained. The picture of the young lady of Urbino is not something over and above the

colored patches in which we see it, but neither is the picture reducible to these patches: though the right

distribution of colored patches can produce the picture, what it is is a feature of the painting that emerges for

those with the imaginative powers required to perceive it. Indeed, someone might be an expert in producing

copies of the Venus of Urbino even though he is blind to its subject matter, and sees it only as a distribution of

pigments on a canvas.

It is certain that there is much to be said about Titian’s painting in terms of the disposition of pigments on a two-

dimensional matrix. But it will not amount to an interpretation of the painting and will tell us nothing about its

significance or value. For it will not mention the most important fact about the painting, which is what it is about.

The word “about” is notorious: it is the very same word that causes all those difficulties in understanding mental

states that were once thought to present an immovable obstacle to any simple physical analysis of the mind.

Pictures have intentionality just like beliefs and desires. And they can be compared in this respect not only with

other paintings but with works of literature and music. It is a question of interpretation whether Titian’s painting

is to be understood as the expression of a domestic and nuptial sexuality, or whether the young lady is to be seen

more as a courtesan than a wife. One can compare the painting with another that explicitly refers to Titian’s, the

famous Olympia by Manet (1863, see below), in which the rough trade of the Boulevard is put in ironical relation

to the soft downy embraces of Renaissance Venice. Interpretation starts here, in comparative judgment, and it is

hard to see what neuroscience can contribute to the result. Pictures are understood by finding their meaning, and

by assessing the place of that meaning in the life of the observer, and what it conveys about the human condition.

You are likely to gain insight into Manet’s painting if you set it side by side with two novels: Daudet’s Sappho

(1884) and Zola’s Nana (1880). You understand what Manet is saying better if you see Titian’s world ironically

reflected in the forms and props that surround this hard-bitten boulevardienne.

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Édouard Manet, Olympia (1863), Musée d’Orsay, Paris

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Art critics have a discipline, and it is one that involves reasoning and judgment. It is not a science, and what it

describes forms no part of the physical world, which does not contain Olympia or anything else you see in

Manet’s painting. Yet someone who thought that art criticism is therefore deficient and ought to be replaced by

the study of pigments would surely be missing the point. There are forms of human understanding that can be

neither reduced to science nor enhanced by it.

Here is where the neurothugs step in, to declare that, of course, the science of pixels won’t explain pictures, since

pictures are in the eye of the beholder. But there is also such a thing as the fMRI of the beholder, and this does

contain the secret of the image in the frame. Since understanding a picture is a matter of seeing it in a certain way

— in such a way as to grasp its visual aspect, and the meaning which that aspect has for beings like us — then we

should be examining the neural pathways involved in seeing aspects, and the connections that link those

pathways to judgments of meaning.

But what, exactly, would such a study show? Suppose we have achieved a perfect decipherment of the pathways

involved in seeing an aspect and in stabilizing it in the mind of the observer. This is not a judgment of criticism,

and while it might enable us to predict that the normal observer will, on confronting Titian’s picture, see a naked

woman lying on a couch and looking at him, it will say nothing in answer to the critic who says: Yes, but that is

not all that there is, and indeed you must see that this woman is not naked at all, but rather unclothed, that her

body, as Anne Hollander shows so convincingly in Seeing Through Clothes, has the texture and the movement of

the clothes she has removed, and that those eyes do not look at you but look through you, dreaming of someone

you are not. Critics don’t tell us how we do, with normal equipment, see things, but how we ought to see them,

and their account of the meaning of a picture is also a recommendation, which we obey by making a free choice of

our own. Neuroscience, then, remains only a science: it cannot rise to the level of intentional understanding,

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where meaning is created through our own voluntary acts. Hence we should not be surprised at the dreariness of

neuroaesthetics, and its inability to cast light on the nature or meaning of works of art.

Just as there is an understanding of art, which forms the domain of criticism, and which is a rational exercise with

its own standards of validity, so there is an understanding of people, which forms the domain of interpersonal

relations, and which is a rational exercise obedient to norms of its own. And just as it is an error to think you can

replace art criticism with the neuroscience that allegedly explains the experience of art, so too is it an error to

think you can replace interpersonal understanding with the neuroscience that allegedly explains our behavior.

This shift requires describing human behavior in terms that remove it from the context that gives it sense; it

requires becoming a reductionist, someone who fails to see that the most important features of the human

condition are emergent features, ones that inhabit the surface of the world and are invisible to those whose eyes

are fixed on the …
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Technology represents the art of applying scientific processes and ideologies in the production of goods and services. Technological advancement represents the most significant invention and progress in human history. Technology invention is credited for enhancing convenience, improving the production capacity, reducing the production time while improving the lead time. Most organizations and individuals focus on technology due to improving the quality of products and services they produce. The impact of technology can therefore be not overlooked as the world has been tremendously been changed the technology. Technology has the ability to impact the lives of individuals in a negative manner and through Roger Scruton’s essay, it is easier to pinpoint the negative effect that technology can have on individuals through tinkering with their daily life activities. In the article, we will seek to answer the question about describing the kind of people and institutions that are most likely to be affected by the technological intervention and the kind of people or institutions that are most likely to benefit from a technological intervention as described by Roger Scruton in his essay, “Scientism in the art and humanity.”
With each technological intervention, there are those people and organizations that or whom are most primed to maximumly benefit and there are those whose livelihood and way of life is mostly going to be cut shot. As described by Scruton in his essay some of the people who are at the forefront of being affected by technology are artists. Artists especially those who draw paints write and sing and produce songs are mostly going to be negatively affected by technological interventions since they rely on their logical and mental abilities to produce what they can (Scruton, 2020). Most technological advancements lack the mental abilities to develop or invent ideas from scratch and what they mostly do is increase the speed and accuracy of reproducing already invented ideas and most of the time they lack the authenticity or the logic of seeking reproduction authority from the original creators of the content. Take, for example, the illustration that Scruton used in his essay regarding Titian, Venus of Urbino paint created in 1538, he illustrated that technological intervention with the capabilities to reproduce the exact authentic pictures using pixels and copying it to the digital world have been invented by those who lack the idea of what is inscribed or illustrated by the ink in those paints. the inventors of these technologies lack the mental capabilities to comprehend what is hidden in the pictures or art that their technologies can produce with precision, speed, and accuracy. The original creators of art affect negatively since many people access their art without their involvement hence negatively affecting their financial status.
As described through the article, those individuals and organizations that are bound to benefit through technological invention are those who do not or lack the mental capabilities to produce original contents or those who lack the time and moral standards to look for original and authentic products and only rely or buy what they can see as they want to reduce on cost and save money. Others who would benefit are those who lack the moral standards and self-discipline to desist from illegally reproducing other people’s original content.

Scruton, R. (2020, September 26). Scientism in the Arts and Humanities. The New Atlantis. Retrieved from

Scientism in the Arts and Humanities

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