Consultant, McKinsey & Company

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What is the difference between an artist and a scientist?

Supposing that there is a difference.

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      Feb 17 2011: Agreed. And well said! It also seems like at high levels art becomes more scientific and science, more artistic. It's the low level exposure that most people are exposed to that makes everyone think that the two are shockingly different.
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    Feb 23 2011: Most scientists can make a living at it, while most artists can't and support themselves doing something else.
  • Feb 23 2011: The scientist would question this question's validity and ask whether the words 'scientist' and 'artist' are abstractions at a level that makes analysis pointless. The artist would view the question as a point of departure to launch off to some unknown point of arrival. The two - scientist and artist - live in the same individual.
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    Feb 17 2011: What we really need is more science galleries and art labs.

    Science galleries with wine and cheese parties, groups of people spending their Friday night wandering through a white well lit room full of test tubes, electron microscopes and Bunsen burners.

    Art labs with paired up individuals in lab coats spending all day trying to replicate the exact drip of spray paint on brick, analyzing wax samples from lost-wax method bronze sculptures and the molecular properties of paper mache.
  • Feb 17 2011: You might find Richard Feynman's thoughts on this topic interesting, as he dabbled in art.
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    Feb 16 2011: The artist and scientist are not the same. The artist seeks to find truth through the creative process unrestricted by rules or onerous conditions other than those that are self imposed. The scientist is fettered by the impossible achievement of truth while following the dictums of discipline. Into this shallow pool of discord the artist flounders with their own impassioned imposition and obstructions of capability while the scientist fights imposed obstructions of process and self imposed restriction on capability.

    Where we can still argue from the observers point of view whether something is art the same might be said true of science. In art we look for the contradiction and eradication of conceptual restrictions and call them innovation. In art we advance concepts that are inherently political and sometimes incredibly biased by the events that spawned the creations. In a wildly swinging point, I’d have to say then sometimes we don’t. The artists are allowed this freedom to move from position to position freely.

    The scientist is looking for truth that is forced through a fine mesh of process. Innovation can be found in the question, but process is found in the method. Sometimes falsely constrained the scientist must measure and force a result that is quantified. “What is beauty”, may be constrained into a falsifiable premise regardless of the categorical processes that are inherent in the question. Yes, there are chosen methods that bound the question and are accepted, but unanswered is the loss of context inherent in any such answer.

    So, yes there is a difference in the freedom of action between the scientist and artist. Whether that is good or bad is an entirely different question.
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    Feb 23 2011: Only the proof of concept differs.
  • Feb 23 2011: Scientists study the world that is, while artists study the world to be.  Scientists study the actual world, while artists study possible worlds.

    They both begin with a creative process, followed by an efficient technique, even though artists are stereotypically creative, and scientists are stereotypically efficient.  In fact, some artists suffer for lack of efficiency, while some scientists suffer for lack of creativity.

    Are the stereotypes encouraging a vicious cycle, or do you think the fields actually facilitate the different processes, separately?
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    Feb 21 2011: Main difference is in their way of understanding and thinking of each other.
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    Feb 20 2011: The accuracy of what they do. One is subjectively creating while the other is objectively creating. One is attached to the human emotions, one to the universe and how it works.
  • Feb 16 2011: A scientist explores physical reality, an artist explores infinite realities.
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    Feb 16 2011: E. O. Wilson's book, CONSILIENCE: The Unity of Knowledge, may be interesting to you. My summary review is here:

    See Also:

    Review: The World Is Open–How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education

    Review: Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution
  • Feb 16 2011: Maybe the difference is how we FILTER.

    Think of an artist as creatively-based and a scientist as knowledge-based. Say, for instance, each are handed a sea shell. For the scientist, his first thought may be the shell's Latin name. For the artist, that first thought may be emotional - and an urge to express that emotion.

    That certainly doesn't mean that a scientist cannot write a poem about a seashell or that an artist doesn't comprehend the Fibonacci sequence. I'm just hypothesizing that this initial response is maybe the difference.

    Supposing that there is one.
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    Feb 16 2011: They both look at the world to find out the same things. Scientists look for material proofs while artists look for others as well.