To be in love with art is to love the grandest sentiments and aspirations of the human condition and to be in love with the study and description of human experience in its myriad forms. To be in love with science is chiefly to be in love either with the delusion that we can know reality or to love utility – to love service to the self and the capacity to have one’s needs met. To love art however is to the self and others – not the needs of the self. Though one paradoxically needs art just as much as one needs science. Both allow people to live well, both help us be virtuous, but only the craft of art is innately virtuous (when following its proper intentions and goals) because it alone both studies the human quality of and stimulates the capacity of virtue. Science is the non-human realm of humanities’ knowledge; it can allow us to be virtuous – but it itself provides no virtue. It can give us a cure – but it will never itself distribute the cure. Science without ethics or proper motivations and passions has allowed billions to suffer needlessly, and has even caused much suffering. This is largely because of Capitalism, but also because of a love of technology (the product of science) which has focused the more egotistical and animal aspects of humanity – while art emboldens us to always be more and be our best selves.
To love art is to humanity; to love science is to love knowledge for its own sake – which can be a form of hubris. For nothing is known truly for its own sake. Either someone knows because the knowledge will aid them in either a selfish or selfless task, or they know because they enjoy knowing. Or they enjoy having the appearance of a knowing and well-read person – a slight distinction but one worth making. The last one is surely one of vanity and ego. Whether the one preceding it is is debatable. Is it vane to enjoy knowledge for its own sake? To think highly of one’s self not as one appears to others, but for who they really are because they know about this world? This is coupled with a larger question, being: Is it vane to enjoy, to take pride in, a supposed virtue for its own sake? Though this is something that I’m still exploring, at the moment I would say yes.
Virtue with no benefit for the self or others is simply vanity. It is egoism. Except instead of priding one’s self with appearance – clearly to be vane – one instead pride’s one’s self with how one is without relation to other’s or even to one’s self; for if these virtues do affect our lives then they serve a purpose and are no longer virtues-for-their-own-sake. But is it also not hubris to assign a selfish and small-minded end to something as grand as virtue? Is not the man who uses his intellect to attain drink or sleep with women committing a different, but perhaps related, form of error? While in one case one is intelligent, uses his intelligence for nothing (so in a sense his true intelligence becomes questionable) and is vain and prideful – he is intelligent because he enjoys thinking of himself as intelligent. In the other example, a different type of vanity ensues. One is in love with the pleasures, and either thinks so highly of one’s self that he thinks one’s pleasure is more important than another’s pain (or even his own, though when we are in pain is when we will consider relinquishment of suffering to be more important than pleasure; otherwise pleasure is more often the operating motivation) or he thinks so highly of himself that he thinks he is more important than the needs of others. So, one is vain and prideful, valuing intelligence because of how he appears to himself, or because he is vane and narcissistic, valuing intelligence because of the sensual pleasures and fame it gets him. This is the hubris on one hand of Virtue Ethics and on the other of Hedonism and Egoism. To value virtue for its own sake or to value it for selfish and narrow ends. The task of art is to put the proper appreciation of virtue and attention generally speaking into the service of the sufferers of this damned world – rather than exercising our own egos which is the task of daily life for most.
Science has its purpose and immense utility. But science for its own sake is like intelligence or strength for its own sake – it is vanity. Love of knowing for knowing’s sake (when really we can know nothing substantial in absolute) is a form of hubris, for people enjoy very much the delusion that they know what’s going on in the world, that they know what reality is made of and are virtuous in their knowledge of things. Asides from the utility of science, it should be explored personally not for the hubris of knowledge but the disasters and dangers of ignorance. The ignorant act poorly and don’t think well. Knowledge can direct our lives and have us make better choices and study can help us think more clearly. These are good for the benefits it gives to our lives and others and because they are in themselves better states-of-being than the ignoramus who is small. Vanity however also is a type of smallness; it is the smallness that obsesses with declaring to the heavens, “look how big I am!” We all know that only children, that is, only the small, are concerned with how big they are.
To clarify, the exploration of science is linked to virtuous activities but is itself not a virtuous pursuit – all that I have listed, that science will help our state-of-being and have us act better, are fundamentally personal aspects of science which are intrinsically related to art but not science. Science can be used in this way but it first-and-foremost is the study of the world, not the study of how we are to behave in the world – this is for art and philosophy. It also should be mentioned that artistic traits and creations can just as well be used under the motivation of vanity, however art itself due-to its creative and empathy role is not intrinsically attached to vanity as I’ve described it, while “pure science” that is science without aid to others is. One could argue that science can be empathy producing through finding and reporting the facts of poverty for example. And though these facts are significant and reporting them is a good, fundamentally people are motivated by experience and not facts. That is to say, a movie about fictitious children in poverty will move the spirits of people more so than facts about children dying of clean drinking water ever could. And once again, this is science with a purpose, so isn’t “pure science” in the sense of merely wishing to know what is the goings-on in the world.