Brad Shorr recently asked his readers if they considered themselves more marketing scientist or marketing artist. This idea of ‘artist vs scientist’ runs deep today and has implications for education and innovation regardless of what profession we are discussing. The first note I have of this cultural divide being discussed as a critical issue to be dealt with is by C.P. Snow, Cambridge:
“Literary intellectuals at one pole—at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension—sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all a lack of understanding. They have a curious distorted image of each other. Their attitudes are so different that, even on the level of emotion, they can’t find much common ground.” (The Two Cultures and The Scientific Revolution, The Rede Lecture, 1959 by C.P. Snow)
To me, the difference between artist and scientist is one of modes – or ways of thinking – in addition to underlying knowledge. Our education system forces decisions between the artistic and scientific early on. Declaring their difference. Daring you to cross between what appears to be a large cultural divide.
This is a false dichotomy. A fool’s choice. Never leave home with half a toolbox. Embrace the duality!
There are strong reasons to rethink how we look at the connections of art and science. The creative process depends on it. One of my biggest challenges in teaching undergrads has been to remind them of their own inner creativity-regardless of their focus.
Snow picks on the literary and physical sciences world intentionally. I don’t think you’ll find two areas that view the world so differently. Their objectives are different. What they measure is different.
This is a natural outgrowth of focus. Disciplines develop what is a language of their own to describe the subjects and activities of interest. Modes of thinking. It highlights their difference. It makes communication difficult. Understanding disagreeable.
“But at the heart of thought and creation we are letting some of our best chances go by default. The clashing point of two subjects, two disciplines, two cultures—of two galaxies, so far as that goes—ought to produce creative chances. In the history of mental activity that has been where some of the breakthroughs came. The chances are there now. But they are there, as it were, in a vacuum, because those int he two cultures can’t talk to each other.” (The Two Cultures and The Scientific Revolution, The Rede Lecture, 1959 by C.P. Snow)
It’s the difference that can create insight. Not uniformity.
So in answer to Brad’s query – are you marketing scientist or artists – I like to think of myself as both. Building the strength of both approaches I work to discover the insight and the change that will shake things up. (He’s running a science experiment at the moment – click here to figure out how to participate.)
As I was doing a bit of research I came across an Australian band: Art Vs. Science. Sorry, but I simply can’t pass up the chance to add battling mimes into the discussion…
What do you think?