As a prelude to the 1st lecture, the 2nd and 3rd movements of the Third Brandenburg Concerto, as played on the Moog Synthesizer, were heard. This was selected as illustrating a combination of the Art of Bach and the Science of electronics, in the language of Music.
Fellow members of Brock University, ladies and gentlemen:
In inaugurating "the Chancellor's lectures" I hope to establish not just a lectureship but a tradition at our University, a tradition which will, each year, emphasize some facet or facets of the unity of knowledge, some understanding of the inter-relation of specific disciplines, some recognition of the breadth and height and depth of the human spirit, some challenge to each one of us to widen our horizons and to raise our eyes.
There is also a secondary objective, less important, but still important. I want to involve future Chancellors, to involve the Chancellor-for-the-time-being in an active role. He will be responsible for the selection of the lecturer and for the necessary arrangements. The opportunity will be his to speak himself, if he wishes, and it would be my hope that each Chancellor would do so once during his tenure of office. Your Chancellor must work in and within the concepts and in the philosophy of this, his University. Surely then, the members of this University will wish to know something of his philosophy and his thinking. Such a presentation will always be, as this is, personal, never authoritative, of the heart as well as of the mind.
We have already begun our considerations of the inter-relation of the Arts and Sciences when we listened to the prelude, in the language of music, of two movements of Bach's Third Brandenburg Concerto as reconstructed on the Moog Synthesizer. As a second, or alternate, prelude may we begin, in the language of poetry, with a quaint 17th century felicitie of the English cleric, poet and mediator, Thomas Traherne:-
For giving me Desire,
An Eager Thirst, a burning Ardent fire,
A virgin Infant Flame,
A Love with which into the World I came,
An Inward Hidden Heavenly Love,
Which in my Soul did Work and move,
And ever ever me Enflame,
With restlesse longing Heavenly Avarice,
That never could be satisfied,
That did incessantly a Paradice
Unknown suggest, and som thing undescried
Discern, and bear me to it; be
Thy Name for ever praisd by me.
Science and the Arts find a common dwelling place in men's minds. Science, in the sense that it comprises the ordered system of things-as-they-are, or, if you prefer, the quality of the stuff of the Universe, is, in itself, completely independent of humanity. Our knowledge, our comprehension, of science is limited by our individual minds, but science, in itself, is by no means confined to the minds of men. By contrast, the Arts have humanity and human involvement in their very essence. Whether they, as we understand them, exist in any other locus than in the human mind and hand and heart is debatable. But, within humanity, Science and the Arts complement, supplement and support each other, each contributing massively to the things we live by.
Our era is an era of specialization. The mass of information available to us has become so enormous that we are exposed to, and often try to grasp, too much detail. The doctorate thesis of today can, unfortunately, readily degenerate close to the old reductio ad absurdum of disclosing more and more about less and less until it says everything about nothing.
As a possible antidote for this colossus of detail, may I introduce you to a classification of knowledge over 200 years old, called "The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences", and to the unique way in which these were defined.
The first of the liberal arts and sciences was Grammar, defined as the science which teaches us to express our ideas in appropriate words. Grammar is not a mere compendium of rigid rules, with meticulously listed and indexed irregularities and exceptions. It is the format of a living and therefore dynamically changing language, the format of a living means of communication. The second was Rhetoric. It beautifies and adorns the words we use, giving them sound and speech. Today, the word "Rhetoric" carries with it more than a hint of empty eloquence. But the liberal art and science of Rhetoric is not empty. Sir Winston Churchill established that. Third came Logic, which instructs us to think and reason with propriety and to make language subordinate to thought. Logic is at once a foundation for truth and a scourge for demagogues. We greatly need both today. The first three liberal arts and sciences then comprise a trinity to promote right communications between men.
The fourth liberal art and science was Arithmetic or the science of computing numbers. Arithmetic is currently consolidating a tremendous advance. Calculations which would have taken thousands of man-hours in my undergraduate days are now being completed in a few seconds, or much less, by machines with unthinking but unforgetting memories. The significant happening, however, lies in the programming of these machines so that they do make choices, so that they select preferred paths, so that they don't repeat mistakes, in other words so that they think. Computers are already in course of becoming highly sophisticated individuals in a highly automated society, and their communication is with other "sophisticated individuals" as well as with people.
The fifth liberal art and science was Geometry, defined as the application of arithmetic to sensible quantities and by means of which we are enabled to measure and survey. Some mathematicians will take vigorous exception to this definition, but I like it. This broad definition makes geometry vital to all the Arts and to all the Sciences. Geometry becomes the Art of Arithmetic and does its best to humanize that most inhuman of all the Arts and Sciences.
Sixth came Music, the science of harmony and of all good sounds. I would have placed it seventh. I am happy to confess that I love music more than any of the others of our seven, and welcome our university's increasing participation in the already well established and remarkably rich musical life of the young people in our communities.
You may not know that Dr. Tremain has just joined our faculty as Professor of Music - we welcome him and I would like to introduce him to you.
Seventh, and last, was Astronomy, the extension of Geometry to the contemplation and measurement of the heavenly bodies. In the past two centuries the scope of astronomy has expanded by several orders of magnitude. We are reaching the ultimate limits of our contemplation of things and the ultimate limits of our measurements. Both the contemplation and the measurement are vital parts of this great art and science.
So, as the first three of our divisions formed a trinity for right communications, the fourth, fifth and seventh form a trinity to understand and utilize the Universe in which we live, and the sixth, by providing a symbol of the universal harmony, creates, for those who have ears to hear, a dream that they may, some day, hear "the music of the spheres".
When two disciplines are closely related, the boundary between them is fluid and may be non-existent. I defy anyone to draw a firm boundary between physics and chemistry. Both Science and the Arts come to our minds through our senses. Take, for example, hearing. Here they are inseparable, as Robert Bridges establishes in his Testament of Beauty
...... Lov'st thou in the blithe hour of April dawns - nay marvelest thou not - to hear the ravishing music that the small birdes make in garden or woodland, rapturously heralding the break of day; when the first lark on high hath warn'd the vigilant robin already of the sun's approach, and he on slender pipe calleth the nesting tribes to awake and fill and thrill their myriad-warbling throats praising life's God, untill the blisful revel grow in wild profusion unfeign'd to such a hymn as man hath never in temple or grove pour'd to the Lord of heav'n? Hast thou then thought that all this ravishing music, that stirreth so thy heart, making thee dream of things illimitable unsearchable and of heavenly import, is but a light disturbance of the atoms of air, whose jostling ripples, gather'd within the ear, are tuned to resonant scale, and thence by the enthron'd mind received on the spiral stairway of her audience chamber as heralds of high spiritual significance? and that without thine ear, sound would hav no report. Nature hav no music; nor would ther be for thee any better melody in the April woods at dawn than what an old stone-deaf labourer, lying awake o' night in his comfortless attic, might perchance be aware of, when the rats run amok in his thatch?
Or consider sight. Colour is of the essence of the visual arts. We import the idea of colour into other fields. A stage performance, or a concert, may be colourful or colourless. Bobby Hull is the most colourful hockey star of today. When it is necessary to specify visual colour, we are faced with a complex task. The underlying principle is simple and also highly instructive. What we see is dependent on
Consider E, that which shines on the object at which we are looking. If E = 0, there is no light, so we see nothing. If E is entirely blue light, a normally white object appears blue and a blue object appears blue, A red object will appear black, if it can be distinguished under this light from its background.
Consider R, the quality of our object to reflect light. If R = 0 the object appears black in any light by which we can distinguish the surroundings. If R is only in the red, the object will appear red in a white light and in a red light. Under a blue light the object will appear black, if there are contrasting surroundings.
Consider S, our response to light reaching our eye. If S = 0, e.g. when what reaches our eye is only in the infra-red, the eye doesn't "see" anything. If E and R are in the visible spectrum, that is the wavelength X is between 400 (violet) and 700 (deep red) millimicrons, we see a "colour" dependent on the magnitudes of E and R, adjusted at each wave length for the sensitivity of the human eye.
In summary the equation Y = E R S tells the story. It says that what you see at each wave length is the product of the intensity of the light emitted at that wave length multiplied by the capability of the object to reflect such light and the product of these, in turn, multiplied by a factor indicative of the ability of the human eye (specifically your eye) to see the light so reflected. Over the spectrum the equation becomes sum(Y) = sum(E R S)
This is a remarkable and important equation, because it is valid not only mathematically and colourmetrically but is highly pertinent artistically and, I believe, philosophically as well. Let me put it in other words. There is no external light for us save that which (directly or indirectly) is sent towards us, and of this only that portion which our surroundings are capable of reflecting, and of this, in turn, only that portion which we, as individuals, are capable of receiving. This is true wave length by wave length, - entity of knowledge by entity of knowledge. Such are our boundaries, our territorial limits to our knowledge in the Arts and Sciences.
I must emphasize the importance of the S factor. Fig. 1 shows how a good human eye is sensitive to changes in colour. The horizontal scale is wave length and V, B, G, Y, O and R are marked to indicate an approximate violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. The vertical scale is relative sensitivity. The higher the curve the greater the sensitivity of the human eye to that particular colour. You will note how very little we see of violet and of deep red. I have been told that we see even less of the latter the morning after the night before! The sensitivity of the eye to yellow is extraordinarily high. A colourblind person has a different curve.
|Fig. 1: Relative sensitivity (S) of the normal human eye to different colours. The visable spectrum is from 400 to 700 millimicrons. The letters V, B, G, Y, O, R indicate colours usually described as violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red respectively.|
To illustrate what this curve means to us will you please look at this lemon. Now will you look at Fig. 2 which is a reflected colour curve from a lemon. Look at how much red is reflected. But you don't see it because of your S factor. There is far more red than yellow. Yet the lemon appears yellow rather than orange-red, which would be the case except for the specific sensitivity (and specific non-sensitivity) of your eye.
|Fig. 2: A photographic reproduction in black and white of a multicoloured colour curve of a lemon. The height of curve shows the actual relative reflectance. The relative brightness of the areas under the curve indicates the S factor for the photographic apparatus used in reproducing the picture in black and white. The relative brightness to the human eye would be obtained by adjusting each part of the curve for its S factor as per Fig. 1. On this basis the human eye sees a slightly greenish yellow. The high reflection in the orange and red are effectively lost.|
I want, next, to consider the Arts and the Sciences, first, in relation to beauty; second, in relation to truth; and third, in relation to goodness. Of course I am on dangerous ground and I may be foolish to attempt it, or, perhaps, merely foolhardy. But these issues are precisely those which are being raised by our young people today. They are casting their questions in different words, but what they are really questioning are the fundamental values of and in today's conventional human activities. I have no pat answers, only personal opinions. If I stimulate either considered agreement or considered disagreement, (overall, hopefully, a mixture of both) I shall be content with the attempt.
First, then, Beauty. Beauty is a quality of things grouped together in harmony. The harmony adds something extra so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I submit that this is a universal truth. Anytime there is harmony the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Music - you remember the science of harmony and of all good sounds - is an obvious example of this universal phenomenon. Good poetry is another example. It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is meant, of course, is that beauty is in the mind of the beholder. Both beauty and the mind are dynamic, so our ideas of beauty are not static and are constantly changing.
Let us recognize beauty in the Order of Nature. Robert Bridges put it thus: -
That ther is beauty in natur and that man loveth it are one thing and the same; neither can be derived apart as cause of the other:"
Let us recognize the beauty when man combines his work with the Order of Nature. Rupert Brooke is sometimes mawkish, but I think he was speaking for many of us in his words:-
These I have loved: ... Wet roofs, beneath the lamp light; the strong crust Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food; Rainbows; and the bitter smoke of wood; And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers; And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours, Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon; ... the keen Unpassioned beauty of a great machine; The benison of hot water; furs to touch; The good smell of old clothes; and other such - ... Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring; Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing; ... Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew; And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new; And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass:- All these have been my loves.
Among the Arts, poetry and prose can each reach heights of beauty and depths of ugliness. Each of us could cite examples. Yet, in any of our individual lists, others of us would find room for disagreement. Beauty is, indeed, in the mind of the beholder. My own personal reaction to some of Shelley's poetry will suffice as an example. He wrote in Adonais:-
The splendours of the firmament of timeBeauty! But Shelley throws some of the beauty away by spinning on his elegy, in the fashion of his time, to fifty-five verses, when five, or maybe ten at most, would have done adequately or better. The wonderful verse I quoted is the forty-fourth. How many readers of today would have put the poem back on the shelf before reaching it? Most of them, I am afraid.
May be eclipsed, but are extinguished not;
Like stars to their appointed height they climb,
And death is a low mist which cannot blot
The brightness it may veil. When lofty thought
Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair,
And love and life contend in it, for what
Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there
And move like winds of light on dark and stormy air.
Or "To a Skylark'' - do you recall the first two verses?
Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
To me, the first verse is very ugly poetry and rather stupid rubbish as well. In the second verse, Shelley's magnificent flair for harmonious sound returns.
I do not need to tell you that music ranks very high on my scale of beauty. Its beauty may be in the air (dare I say the tune), or in the form, or structure, or rhythm (I think the rhythm of rock is wonderful although it's too damn noisy), or just in the sheer beauty of the sound. May we let music speak briefly for herself. I ask you, then, to listen to two short well known works of Bach, each characterized, in its own way, by a fundamental Tightness. The first is in the best of classical form - Dinu Lipatti's recording of a Siciliana, written originally as part of a sonata for unaccompanied flute, (recorded under the recording limitations of his day, but still probably unsurpassed) and the second in modern format - the Swingle Singers doing the aria from the D minor suite - the one commonly dog-tagged "The Air for G String". May we listen to these just for their beauty.
(These two compositions were heard)
There is, here, neither time nor necessity to consider beauty in the many other facets of the arts - painting, sculpture, architecture, the dance, the theatre, the hand-crafts. The possibilities of beauty in each of the arts are limited only by the genius, the inner and innate skill, of the artist, and possibilities of ugliness only by his crudity, his ignorance and his hate.
I want now to advance, in very strong terms, the fact that beauty is as fully ingrained in the essential nature of Science as it is in the essential nature of the Arts.
I ask you to consider two definitions of beauty. Each is by a poet, so you cannot accuse me of favouring science.
first, Robert Bridges:-
What is Beauty? saith my sufferings then, - I answer the lover and the poet in my loose alexandrines: Beauty is the highest of all these occult influences, the quality of appearances that thru' the sense wakeneth spiritual emotion in the mind of man: And Art, as it createth new forms of beauty, awakeneth new ideas that advance the spirit in the life of Reason to the wisdom of God.
second, Rabindranath Tagore:-
"Beauty is God's message to us till He come."
Now science surely is, in its essence "the quality of appearances that thru' the sense wakeneth spiritual emotion in the mind of man" and science, in its primary task, which is that of finding out things before unknown and correlating the then new with the then old to broaden the human mind, - surely science, in this primary task, "awakeneth new ideas that advance the spirit in the life of Reason to the wisdom of God."
May I change "to" to "toward" - "awakeneth new ideas that advance the spirit in the life of Reason toward the wisdom of God." I venture, humbly, to suggest that Robert Bridges might agree with the change.
Again, regardless of what differences there may be between our individual religious convictions, we must agree that if the Divine has left any message for us, it must be present in what appears to be His greatest work, the Universe itself.
The greatest beauty of science may lie in that its essence is order. The message of the physical universe, is, ultimately, a message of order, the great Order of Nature. Robert Ardrey in his "African Genesis" said it well. He regards order as the primary concern of that particular part of the Universal Cosmic Management whom he calls "the Keeper of the kinds". Ardrey writes:-
You may sense his presence in a star-scattered sky as silenced you stand on a lonely hill - You may sense his presence in the kind of matter called helium, that has always and will forever behave according to the rules and regulations of helium. You may sense his word in the second law of thermodynamics, or the patterned behaviour of brook trout in a clear New Zealand pool. - You may find his word in the forms of cities and symphonies, of Rembrandts and fir trees and cumulus clouds. You may read his command in the regularity of turning things, in stars and seasons, in tides and in striking clocks. - Where a child is born, or a man lies dead; - there see his footprints, there, and there.
The order is also very delicately balanced, beautifully balanced. Again, Robert Bridges:-
Yea: and how delicat! Life's mighty mystery sprang from eternal seeds in the elemental fire, self-animat in forms that fire annihilates: all its selfpropagating organisms exist only within a few degrees of the long scale rangeing from measured zero to unimagin'd heat, a little oasis of Life in Nature's desert; and ev'n therein are our soft bodies vext and harm'd by their own small distemperature, nor could they endure wer't not that by a secret miracle of chemistry they hold eternal poise upon a razor-edge that may not ev'n be blunted, lest we sicken and die.
Yes, there is great beauty in order.
Another great beauty of science, to me, is in a personal belief which is now shared by fewer of my scientific colleagues than it would have been, say ten years ago - a belief which is, today, under some considerable challenge. May I illustrate my belief by reference to Einstein.
It is, I feel, highly significant that the statements of Einstein which have had the greatest
effect and influence on our times, and these are mathematical statements, are simple. In
the year in which I was born Einstein published his equation relating mass and energy
which is, today, the basis for computations of the most vital interest. For better or for
worse, it is the basic equation or statement of the nuclear age. This equation is
E = m c²
or, in words, energy and mass are interconvertible at an exchange rate given numerically by the square of the velocity of light. This equation dates my personal era. It says first, and most important, that mass can be converted into energy, and, secondly, that, when so converted, a little mass yields a tremendous amount of energy. This simple equation is, at once, the atomic bomb and each peaceful use of atomic energy.
The final equation of Einstein's treatise on the general theory of relativity is
a = (M k) / (4 pi<²)
or, in words, the radius (or the size) of the universe is determined by and is proportional to the mass of substance contained in such universe. The mathematical derivation is complex and, lying in the four-dimensional continuum of space-time, difficult to comprehend, - but the final idea is unified and simple. Einstein's concept of a closed finite universe is no longer acceptable, but I hold that his essential thesis of a simple ultimate universality remains, at worst, attractive and, hopefully, is correct.
A challenge to this simplistic view comes today from particle physics. You will have to ask my colleagues in physics or in chemistry how many "ultimate" particles are recognized today. The electron, proton, and neutron are only the kindergarten of today's complexities. Frankly, I have not had time to try to understand properly the present status of particle physics, except to recognize that it challenges any theory of simplicity. Let me then quote from the late J. Robert Oppenheimer, with whose approach to the conflict between these two views, I would concur.
If our history is any guide, our guesses as to the future of physics will turn out not to have been very clever. They should perhaps be considered an account of present efforts and the hopes that inspire them, rather than predictions. Regarding the two views, their merits and demerits - which are spectacular - a warm debate goes on.
The history of physics may be no guide. In particle physics we may have to accept an arbitrary, complicated, not very orderly set of facts, without seeing behind them the harmony in terms of which they might be understood. It is the special faith and dedication of our profession that we will not lightly concede such a defeat.
A third great beauty in science is its universality, its immensity. For reasons which will become apparent at the time, I prefer to delay discussing this until, a week from tonight, we consider the Arts and the Sciences in relation to goodness.
The beauty of Science is not, as in the Arts, a function of human creativity. It is, for human appreciation, dependent only on human discovery. Science has an ultimate beauty far less transient than the beauty of the Arts, far more universal. It and its beauty existed before the earth was and will exist long after the earth has been. To hold that its beauty is less than that of the Arts is, to me, merely an admission of failure to understand what Science is and what Science is all about.
Let us now consider the relationship of the Arts and the Sciences to Truth.
Superficially, the balance is on the side of Science. Ultimate scientific facts are probably as true as anything is "true". The problem is that we do not know ultimate scientific facts, and it appears impossible that we ever shall do so (perhaps that impossibility is one ultimate scientific fact). In any event, and quite literally, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars But in ourselves, that we are underlings".
Our knowledge of Science is based on observations of phenomena. Any observation has an experimental error and a sampling error. Each measurement we ever have made, now make, or will make is an approximation. There are well known methods for calculating the most probable value of a group of observations, for determin-the most probable future trend from a series of observations and for anticipating the trend of a trend, e.g. changes in the rate of change, of say, acidity in a vessel in which a chemical reaction is proceeding and hence, if desired, to counteract such change before it really gets underway. But this kind of thing is an exercise in the probable. We are not dealing with truth but with the next best thing that is available.
Our measurements have another important limitation. They are pertinent only for the conditions under which they were made. When we approach certain critical conditions all hell breaks loose in our preconceived notions.
Consider one rather simple example. The interior inherent vitality of any substance increases or decreases as a condition which we call "temperature" is raised or lowered. This is a matter of definition. We define our temperature scales by the assumed constancy, under a given set of conditions, (you remember "the Keeper of the kinds") of the vitality of the most common of substances on the earth's surface, water, specifically at its freezing point and at its boiling point, designating these zero degrees centigrade and one hundred degrees centigrade respectively. When the temperature is high enough, even elements become so vibrant that they can't stay in one piece and their atoms break apart. The other end of the scale is when, theoretically, substances, literally, quit cold. This is, of course, "absolute zero" and is a definite temperature which we have never reached and never shall reach. It is a concept, not a reality, a limiting condition which can be approached but not attained. When we get within a few degrees of absolute zero, lunatic things start to happen - for example, an electric current once induced into a metal ring will keep on running around as if perpetual motion might be possible. Again, at these temperatures, liquid helium acquires the ability to flow through very small spaces, and the ridiculous thing is that the smaller the space the more easily it seems to get through. Any time we try to extrapolate our ordinary knowledge to a limit we find ourselves much less competent than we thought. It's a sort of scientific Peter Principle that has been around for a long time.
There are other limits in our perceiving. You remember the S factor in colour measurements. The human eye is an inefficient optical instrument but we have devised optical instruments of greater efficiency and sensitivity to take our measurements for us. Nevertheless the general principle holds that any instrument, no matter what it measures, has its own S factor. The S factor will be with each one of us all our days.
In spite of these limitations, and the even more basic limitation that all our measurements are relative only to our own location in space and time and different from those observed at other space-time locations, what other means than observing have we for assessing the Order of Nature? What other means have we of finding out things in nature before unknown and of correlating the then new with the then old to broaden the human mind? Such observation and correlation is Science as I interpret it. Such observation and correlation is one of our few highways in our search for Truth.
What about the Arts and the Truth? I believe that genuine art, of any variety, is as basically concerned with the truth as is Science. The Arts communicate in a non-mathematical language, but real art always has a structure or form. What is lost in precision is often gained in lucidity. Is there not a genuine reflection of truth in the mere existence of the Taj Mahal, or of the cathedral at Coventry, or of the Jerusalem Windows? Is there not something of an insight towards the ultimate in Rembrandt's vision of Peter's denial, or in Tom Thomsons's "West Wind"? Have you listened intently to the Good Friday music in Parsifal, or to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, or to Britten's "War Requiem"? Is it possible not to be deeply moved by Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet"? Even on TV, "Amahl and the Night Visitors" says wonderful things to each one of us.
I recognize that I am being carried away by scanning the heights. There was a cartoon in Saturday Review a few weeks ago. The guide in a gallery of modern art was saying severely, "Madam, if the artist knew what he intended to convey, it would be commercial". Of course practitioners of the arts and of the sciences produce their quota of the trite, the inadequate, the incorrect, the smug, the silly and the stupid. Each of us has seen more falsehood and rubbish, both of art and of science, in the art- form called advertising than we require or desire. It is one of the tragedies of our civilization that we give great rewards to such rubbish.
But the essential conclusion remains, - in the realm of the True, as well as in the realm of the Beautiful, Science and the Arts each contribute massively to the things we live by.
Next week we will consider Science and the Arts in relation to goodness. That is a matter of no small consequence these days. Then I propose to pass on to synthesis, to attempt to place Science and the Arts in the overall structure of the human situation and in the lives of a few specific artists and scientists.
As a bridge between lectures we will conclude by listening to "The Little Train of the Caipira" conducted by its composer Heitor Villa-Lobes.
(This was heard here, and as prelude to the second lecture)
Last week we began our considerations of the interrelation of the Arts and the Sciences by recognizing that they have a common dwelling place in men's minds. We reviewed a very old classification, called "The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences", remarkable for its scope and for the uniqueness of its definitions. We showed that in our sense of hearing, and in our sense of seeing, it was impossible to separate the artistic impact from the phenomena of sound and of light by which we become aware of the things around us.
We considered the Arts and Sciences in relation to beauty. I suggested that the possibility for and of beauty in the arts was limited only by the inner and innate skill, by the genius of the artist and the possibilities for and of ugliness only by his crudity, his ignorance and his hate. We paid particular attention to the beauty of Science in terms of its order, its structure, and its universality, emphasizing that its beauty was not of human creativity as in the case of the Arts, but, for us, a matter of human discovery; that its beauty was far less transient than the magnificent beauty of the Arts, existing before the earth was and that it will exist after the earth has been.
We tried to assess the contribution of Science and of the Arts to the truth, emphasizing, in Science, the limitations of our measurements and the limitations in the basic validity of our deductions from our measurements, yet recognizing that our knowledge of the Order of Nature came only from these sources. Science is therefore an essential part of our search for truth. We held that the non-mathematical, but definitely structured and formed language of the Arts was, at its best, as basically concerned with truth as was Science, and that it, not infrequently, did convey an aspect of truth with greater lucidity, if with less precision. We concluded that in the realm of the True as well as in the realm of the Beautiful, Science and the Arts each contribute massively to the things we live by.
Tonight we come to a consideration of the Arts and the Sciences as they stand in relation to the Good.
The Arts are so closely related to humanity that they import morality to themselves and, in this sense, can cover the full range of morality available to men. Extremes are sometimes evident, for example, in the dance and in painting. Thus any religious dance is intended to impart the morality of the rite of which it is an expression, from God-worship, or should I say Good-worship, to Satan-worship. Ballet can encompass the delightful nai've innocence of the Nutcracker, as well as a simulated orgy in some choreography of the Scherazade (accompanied by beautiful music) and Hindemith's ballet "The Demon", which is designed to portray evil. The paintings on the walls and ceilings of the Sistine Chapel change it from a rather undistinguished room to a place which any sensitive man, of any creed whatever, or none, would recognize the moment he entered as being a holy place. You and I have seen the occasional painting that deserves whatever kind of ribbon should be given for sheer nauseating lewdity. I am not talking about sex and still less about nudity, - merely about lewdity for pornography's sake. If I had the arranging of an exhibit including such a painting, a photograph of the painter and perhaps his biography would be hung beside it, along with the name and residence of the owner. An art exhibit is not a proper place for censorship. The painter should be identified with his own progeny.
I do not know any music that is sustained evil. Schoenberg makes, in the golden calf scene of his uncompleted opera Aaron and Moses, a valiant effort in this direction, but, for me, personally, the effort doesn't quite succeed. The Venusberg music in Tannhauser is just good sensuous ballet music and not evil at all. I have never heard the music for "The Demon". Maybe, just maybe, Hindemith has succeeded where others have failed.
That music can enshrine the good is to me, and I hope to you, beyond debate. The Good Friday Spell music in Parsifal is pregnant with good. The air by Beethoven which has become known to us as "Creations Hymn" ("Die Ehre Gottes aus der Natur" which begins "Die Himmel ruhmen des Ewigen Ehre." "The heavens are telling the Lord's endless glory") sings, even without any of its words, of majesty and right. May I repeat, music can enshrine the good. Let us once more let music speak for herself. I ask you to listen to Dame Myra Hess, herself playing her own arrangement of the Bach chorale "Jesu, joy".
(This was heard)
By contrast, Science is essentially amoral, just as Mathematics is essentially amoral. Moral issues arise only when the knowledge which science brings to the human mind is employed for good or for evil. Knowledge, and scientific knowledge is no exception, has always endowed the recipient with power. An early example of such power was in the primitive priest-magician who could predict the seasons. The problem, today, the problem which is bothering so many of our young people (and it should bother us more), is that the power consequent from scientific knowledge has reached frightening proportions in our nuclear age, a power which, we fear, may prove too much for some human mind to bear. This power does not lie with the recipient of the information and, still less, does it lie with the scientist. It lies in a few political centers, each with essentially one man as focus. In many ways the human situation is so terrifying that the concern of our young people with issues of war and peace is not only inevitable, but is fully justified. There are occasions when I would reject completely the resulting tactics and arguments. Yet any sensible person can only share their deep concern and their desire to do something about it. War and peace have become identified, you see, with the evil and good use of technology.
You and I may know that it is not as simple as that, but the identification cannot be rejected out-of-hand either. Last week I said that computers were already becoming sophisticated individuals in a highly automated society. That statement was incorrect for they have, in fact, already become such. Intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBM systems are operable only with computers. Defense, our defense such as it is, would be non-existent without computers. There simply isn't time available for human defense calculations before the ICBM's have done their worst. Whether we like it or not, once the ICBM button is pushed, the holocaust is won or lost not by any human being, but by computers operating robot machines. The computers are the controlling individuals. They think more effectively and better than we can. You and I and all of us become mere pawns in the game of megadeaths. What a hell of a word! There is a hope. I said "once the ICBM button is pushed". But even that decision will, itself, be significantly influenced by computerized information given to the Button Man.
The concentration of power inevitable from the availability of nuclear knowledge and computational knowledge induces a shock wave in the human situation, and so it should, but a shock wave, unfortunately, challenging the merit in all authority. We would be fools, idiots, not to recognize that nuclear knowledge and computational knowledge are here to stay and to increase in scope and potential. As long as man exists, technology can be used over the whole scale of good to evil or evil to good. This is, and will remain, of the essence of the human situation.
Technology is not science. Technology is sired by science out of humanity. It inherits from one parent an impersonality and a "keen unpassioned beauty" and from the other a personality and power which can corrupt and destroy. The computer in the moving picture 2001 showed all these characteristics. Technology! - in our every day life, necessity is no longer the mother of invention. The reverse is true, for invention has become the mother of necessity. We think we have to have multiple telephones, two cars, (maybe three - for the kids), thermostatically controlled home heating, air conditioning, the latest in stoves and ovens, a refrigerator, a deep freeze, hi-fi, AM & FM, TV sets (more than one, including one in colour) a washing machine, a dryer, such minorae as a hair dryer and an electric shaver and maybe an electric can-opener and an electric tooth brush. Is it any wonder some young people are trying to escape from so technologically-oriented a society. Trying to escape from a cultural situation has been going on since the day of the first hermit and of the first Utopian colony. Today this may take the death-wish road to drugs and self destruction, or the isolationist road to communal living. In so far as communal living is constructive, not just escapist, I approve. Yet, old fashioned or not (and perhaps I am old fashioned), I prefer to listen to Milton:-
He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasure, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true wayfaring Christian.
I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, un-exercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out to see her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for not without dust and heat. . . . That which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.
Now it is time to get back to the mainstream of considering science in relation to goodness, Fundamentally, science, to us, is a representation of the form of the cosmos. If the cosmos is good (and I personally believe that it is so) then science pertains to the good also. If the cosmos is evil or merely indifferent, then science pertains to the evil or to the merely indifferent. Its offspring, technology, promotes, at man's choice, both good and evil within the human situation. The choice does not belong to science but to individual men and women, with the dreadful responsibility that all humanity and, indeed, all earth-things become benefactors or victims of their choice.
But, on another interface with humanity, science is, in my opinion, an element for good in that it convinces us that we are not as important as we once thought, while, at the same time, we are unique in the sense that we know of no other life-center like the Earth. We are but mini-micral dots on a tiny speck of dust, revolving around a somewhat larger dust particle, which, in turn, is merely a member of one of the too-large-a-number-to-be-counted dust clouds that comprise the cosmos. We are not nothing, but we are next to nothing. Our religious concepts must grow with our scientific concepts and it is very good that they should do so. Today we are concerned with the God of Galaxies. Mark Van Doren tells the story:-
The god of galaxies has more to govern
Than the first men imagined, when one mountain
Trumpeted his anger, and one rainbow,
Red in the east, restored them to his love.
One earth it was, with big and lesser torches,
And stars by night for candles. And he spoke
To single persons, sitting in their tents.
Now streams of worlds, now powdery great whirlwinds
Of universes far enough away
To seem but fog-wisps in a bank of night
So measureless the mind can sicken, trying-
Now seas of darkness, shoreless, on and on
Encircled by themselves, yet washing farther
Than the last triple sun, revolving, shows.
The god of galaxies - how shall we praise him?
For so we must, or wither. Yet what word
Of words? And where to send it, on which night
Of winter stars, of summer, or by autumn
In the first evening of the Pleiades?
The god of galaxies, of burning gases,
May have forgotten Leo and the Bull.
But I would hold that we are not lost. The situation is not
As all the heavens were a bell
and Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race
Wrecked, solitary, here.
Rather it is good that we should grow ourselves. Van Doren says so too, for his poem concludes
But God remembers, and is everywhere.
He even is the void, where nothing shines.
He is the absence of his own reflection
In the deep gulf; he is the dusky cinder
Of pure fire in its prime; he is the place
Prepared for hugest planets: black idea,
Brooding between fierce poles he keeps apart.
Those altitudes and oceans, though, with islands
Drifting, blown immense as by a wind,
And yet no wind; and not one blazing coast
Where thought could live, could listen - oh, what word
Of words? Let us consider it in terror,
And say it without voice. Praise universes
Numberless. Praise all of them. Praise Him.
We turn now to a more difficult task, the task of synthesis, an attempt to place Science and the Arts in their context in things-as-they-are as seen by humanity. I would first submit that there are several dynamic tensions, dynamic equilibria, which constitute the human situation. The Arts and Sciences are intimately concerned with two of these - that between Reason and Faith and that between Reason and the Passions in the lives of individual men.
Perhaps it is because of my acquaintance with chemical equilibria, but (and the existentialist connotations will be obvious), I ask if, and to the extent that, man has "free-will," how can this be on any other basis than that his decisions cover the entire range between right and wrong, between success and failure, between yin and yang. There is nothing static about this. It is profoundly dynamic, and the resulting tensions promote action which swings the balance one way or the other in the many equilibria.
The equilibrium between Reason and Faith has been built up, partly legitimately, partly by ignorance, and sometimes deliberately by demagogues on both sides, into a serious confrontation between religion and science. The Galileo story and the Darwin story are obvious examples. It would seem important, however, to emphasize one aspect of the nature of science which is often neglected in this context.
Faith is usually taken as an acceptance, probably a non-critical acceptance, of a divine revelation through the particular religion to which the faithful one adheres. Let me, as a scientist, suggest that it is something very much more.
The only reason we think there is such a thing as science is because observations of phenomena in many, many instances have fallen into a pattern which appeared ordered or understandable to human minds, or from which predictable sequences of events, or other observations, could be correctly anticipated. Each attempt in science to correlate facts and observations is to construct, deduce or infer statements or "laws" which are assumed to be correct, and, therefore, a logical basis for action until disproved by other observations. Each such assumption is an act of faith, - make no mistake about that. Did the sun come up yesterday morning? Of course it did, stupid! Did the sun come up this morning? Of course it did! Will it come up tomorrow morning? Because of the sun's past performance we believe, i.e. we have faith, that it will come up tomorrow morning and we proceed to act, not merely on that general assumption, but on the more precise assumption that sunrise will be at a predetermined time known precisely to within a small fraction of a second. This is why I have often said elsewhere, and I repeat here, that science is an intelligently questioning faith, an agnostic faith (this is not a contradiction in terms) in the concept of order or, if you prefer, in the context of "the Keeper of the kinds". Faith is as deeply inherent in our knowledge of the Order of Nature as it is in the Moral-spiritual Order.
In the human equilibrium between Reason and the Passions, Science and the Arts are directly concerned. Kahlil Gibran has put it precisely and adequately :-
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing:
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.
I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.
Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason".
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, - then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion".
And since you are a breath in God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.
Our situation is basically a part of a dynamic equilibrium. Within this, I would hold that the highest reason is based on unity. The Arts share in this as much as Science. It has been written:-
The Highest Reason, which is in God, and which is God, is absolutely ONE. God knows all things by One Idea, which is identical with HIS being.
The lowest reason, which is in the most material of corporeal things, is segregated in an extreme degree, each idea being separated into innumerable distinct objects.
As the scale is ascended a greater and greater unity is found. The higher any man is in the scale of existence, the more capable he becomes of grasping abstract conceptions and understanding the relations of things, and thus of knowing a greater and greater number of things in the light of a smaller and smaller number of ultimate ideas.
The messages which our senses receive from the universe appear to be a message of order. This order is on a scale incomprehensible to our little minds but, if anything is certain, I would take it that we are part of a cosmos and not merely in a chaos. Note too the identity of light, or of other electromagnetic vibration, with the knowledge which it brings, - for the attributes of the vibration, e.g. its velocity, appear to be of the very essence of that portion of the structure of universe of which we can be aware. So it is with Science as with the Arts. The messenger and the message go hand in hand; and gift and the giver are one.
I want to propose a symbol to show the relation between Science and the Arts, a symbol to remind you of this every time you see it. Here is the symbol. The symbol is the compass. It is adjustable, it is orderly, it is capable of accuracy, it is useful, and it is beautiful. The compass draws a circle which, to the ancients, was a symbol of the Universe.
Dynamic equilibria! Harmonious balance! May we let music say this to us, as we listen to the Glasgow Orpheus Choir singing "The Blue Bird"
The lake lay blue below the hill.
O'er it, as I looked, there flew
Across the waters, cold and still
A bird whose wings were palest blue
The sky above was blue at last,
The sky beneath me blue in blue.
A moment, ere the bird had passed
It caught his image as he flew.
(This was heard)
Now, having soared to the skies, let us return to the earth. Scientists and artists are human beings. Strange, isn't it?
Richard Wagner, who composed such wonderful music, was one of the more objectionable of human beings. He quarrelled with everyone (except perhaps Franz Liszt, whose daughter, Cosima, he married), he lied, he slandered with liberal abandon. He enjoyed annoying people, getting mad himself and getting people mad. Liszt, who died an abbe in the third order of St. Francis, and who was one of the most kind, generous and considerate of musicians, spent years living with another man's wife and then, leaving her, (I understand the current term is,) shacked up with other girl friends. A magnificent and beautiful section of the Vatican was assembled by Lucrezia Borgia, a brilliant woman of most unsavory reputation, as well as being the daughter of a pope. Galileo, like many men, lacked the courage to meet martyrdom. I do not blame him. He just did not have that particular kind of courage. Giordano Bruno had this courage and paid its price. Students in German 190 read a story of a visit to Beethoven's quarters, remains of meals lying around, music manuscripts everywhere, the piano marked with ink spots, an unemptied chamber pot beneath it. But, as the story says, who else is Beethoven? Do I need to comment on Picasso's personal life and art? Let us agree that rules are not made for geniuses. Have you read C.P. Snow's account of the development of the concept of the double helix structure of desoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, the essential constituent in all living cells, which carries with it a double winding stair of genetic memory and knowledge? The scientists involved were very human in their credit grabbing and in-fighting, and had a great deal of concern for their own self importance.
Michelangelo, certainly one of the most universal of artists and observers in human history, covered a breadth of human experience, as two of his sonnets testify. He spent many years, lying on his back on a scaffolding, painting an epic of mankind on a ceiling. He was fed up, and discouraged, and the pope hadn't paid him for over a year, and he wrote (as translated by Symonds)
I've grown a goiter by dwelling in this den -
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy
Or in what other land they hap to be -
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:
My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine; my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro;
In front my skin grows loose and long; behind
By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;
For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
Come then, Giovanni, try
To succor my dead pictures and my fame,
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.
But, on another occasion, realizing what he was accomplishing, he wrote
How can that be, lady, which all men learn
By long experience? Shapes that seem alive,
Wrought in hard mountain marble, will survive
Their maker, whom the years to dust return.
Thus to effect cause yields. Art hath her turn,
And triumphs over Nature. I, who strive
With Sculpture, know this well; her wonders live
In spite of time and death, those tyrants stern.
So I can give long life to both of us
In either way, by colour or by stone,
Making the semblance of thy face and mine.
Centuries hence when both are buried, thus
Thy beauty and my sadness shall be shown,
And men shall say, "For her 'twas wise to pine"
We recognize the human limitations of our greater men and women, but we over-recognize these limitations today. We tend to destroy our heros. Lord Moran wrote a biography of Sir Winston Churchill, master of the art and science of rhetoric, which emphasized his infirmities of age, his childishness, his having to take sleeping pills every night. Dare I ask, who gives a damn? Churchill was there in an hour of our greatest need.
We need, we need badly, to emphasize the potential and the accomplishments of individual human beings. Arnold Toynbee wrote
A human society is inherently incapable of playing an active creative role in human affairs. The society is not, and cannot be, anything more than a medium of communication through which the individual human beings interact with each other. It is human individuals and not human societies that 'make' human history.
Then, Toynbee quotes from Henri Bergson
It is useless to maintain that social progress takes place of itself, bit by bit, in virtue of the special condition of the society at a certain period of its history. It is really a leap forward which is only taken when society has made up its mind to try an experiment; this means that society must have allowed itself to be convinced, or at any rate have allowed itself to be shaken; and the shake is always given by somebody.
I am no hero-worshipper. Hitler and Stalin eliminated any such ideas which I might have had. But I am, and I urge you to be, a hero-appreciator. Humanity has nothing better than its best.
Now we come to the final question - What is the enterprise? These lectures can only be an expression of a personal view. I would hold that the enterprise is two fold. The first part is civilization. Is not a civilization really people living together with self-control? That self-control must be commensurate with the power in their hands. The dynamic equilibrium today is tenuous. One way swings to a "Brave New World" with its imposed controls and its World State Motto in capital letters all the way around this theatre. "COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY".
In such a hell on earth I would hope I might have the courage (but I am by no means confident that I would) to be "the Savage", to demand, as he did, the right to suffer, the shocking right to have typhoid and syphilis and cancer. The other way lies brinkmanship and holocaust.
The second part, I feel, relates to the Universe as a whole, of which we are a part. Why do men work? Kahlil Gibran has answered for us:-
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite. You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary. And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, And all knowledge is vain save when there is work; And all work is empty save when there is love; And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God. And what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house. It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit. It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Work is love made visible.
There is a wonderful ancient Jewish legend to the effect that, when Moses threw the wand into the Red Sea, the sea, quite contrary to the expected miracle, did not divide itself to leave a dry passage for the Jews. Not until the first man had jumped into the sea did the promised miracle happen and the waves begin to recede.
As a last intermezzo in music, we will now hear an orchestral arrangement of a chaconne of Buxtehude. It is a musical example of working with love. It has structured beauty and combines the work of an old master with modern orchestral techniques. The orchestra is the National Symphony of Mexico conducted by the arranger, Carlos Chauvez, who is its regular conductor .
(this was heard)
It is not just the Poet - each one of us who would observe, who would discover, who would clarify, who would improve, who would build, who would create, each is and becomes, by conscious choice, a music maker and a dreamer of dreams.
"We are the music-makers -," - this is a University! -
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth
Built Nineveh with our sighing
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them by prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
Participation in life;- that is what the Sciences and the Arts are all about - dangerous, challenging, dynamic, creative, vibrant, alive, - bringing the heritage of the past into an ever advancing present, - observing, discovering, improving, building, creating. This surely is, for us, the ultimate enterprise. In it Science and the Arts participate, complementing, supplementing and supporting each other in the human situation. And our situation, if I know anything about it at all, is in a wonderful universe, greater than our greatest imaginings. Of it and by it we are made. And as the universe has made us, we, on an infinitesimal but finite scale, seem, perhaps, to have been given an opportunity to help to shape the universe to be.