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AESTHETICS AND MOTIVATIONS IN ARTS AND SCIENCE

 

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FOREWORD

The volume based on papers presented in a Seminar held in Visvabharati, Shantiniketan, under the title of 'Aesthetics and Motivations in Arts and Science' carried forward a dialogue which began with C. P. Snow's famous phrase on the Two Cultures and the writings of many modern Scientists, particularly Heisenberg and Poincare and most of all S. Chandrasekhar.

The starting point of this dialogue was and continues to be the tacit assumption of not only the autonomy but even insularity of the two domains.

Fundamental questions have been raised on the assumptions in the twentieth century.  Do the exact sciences recognise the seminal role of the non-cognitive and intuitive?  Is the experience of beauty the exclusive prerogative of the Arts?  Prof. Mukhopadhyaya raises these questions again with great lucidity and clarity.  He draws attention to the history and context of the discourse in the nineteenth century and the subsequent debates.  He goes on to ask the more basic question of the definitions of the disciplines and the nature of creativity.

Many amongst the other participants begin by examining the postulates of S. Chandrasekhar in his book entitled 'Truth and Beauty : Aesthetics and Motivation in Science'.  Understandably the nations of symmetry, asymmetry, chaos and order and beauty and truth are investigated and interpreted in the field recognised as the arts and the sciences - both physical and natural.  The quest for discovering the ideal or unifying behind phenomena is common to both.  The quest for discovering the ideal or unifying behind phenomena is common to both.  The patterns of growth and methods vary.  If all that is understood by science begins from conjectures, axioms and postulates and seeks to identify principles, the arts begin from a deep experience and reflection of observed phenomenon and through a process of internalisation, give it expression through specific media to present a new ordering of the universe.   Heisenberg had repeatedly drawn attention to the strangely beautiful interior he discovered as a fundamental feature of quantum mechanics.  Chandrasekhar speaks of "the shuddering before the beautiful, this incredible fact that a discovery motivated by a search after the beautiful in mathematics, should find its exact replica in Nature persuades me to say that beauty is that to which the human and responds at its deepest and most profound".  He goes on to present a criteria of beauty, a subject to which many of the participants return from their distinctive points of view of the sciences and the arts.

The themes of the Seminar ranged from role of the historical context in scientific discoveries to the process of creativity and patterns of creativity within a prescribed convention / discipline.

Of equal concern in the papers is to explore Nature - understood at its broadest sense.   While the sciences aim to discover the consistency in Nature and arrive at simple models which can be universally applicable, the arts begin from the perception of Nature.  Visual impulses are revived, these are processed and internalised.  Thereafter the artist creates an illusion or virtual reality through verbal and visual form.  The inner experience is a state of undifferentiated bliss or ecstasy called rasa in the Indian tradition.  The artistic expressions are varied, like the spectrum of a rainbow.  In turn, the hearer/spectator also experiences a state of ecstasy or bliss called rasotapati.   Viewed thus, both are seeking a multi-referenced unity behind differentiation.   P. M. Bhargava and D. P. Chattopadhyaya's papers represent two distinctive ways of examining the issues.  One begins from rationality cognition analyses data and makes comparison, the other speculates notions of harmony and structure as a philosopher.   Pertinently the latter refers to the role of Myth in the arts.  K. G. Subramanyan presents the case from the point of view of an artist.

The reading of the papers urges one to the explore the inter-relationship not only between the two identified domains, but more basically the inter-relationship between the actual and causality.  The 'a-causal' also called the intuitive is the core.  From this point in time and space there is expansion and enlargement through cognitive and non-cognitive faculties.  The journey is fulfilling if there is affirmation or confirmation of the initial and incipient experience of the whole and total.

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has been endeavouring to create bridges of communication between and amongst disciplines through many of its programmes.  In many seminars, specialists of diverse fields ranging from the natural and physical sciences to philosophers, artists and craftsmen have been brought together to ponder over a single theme; such as that of Space, Time, Future of the Mind and Mind of the Future, Man and Nature.   It has also concentrated on the nature and process of dialogue and I-Thou relationships.  The papers of the present Seminar directly realted to these endeavours.  When Dr. K. C. Gupta requested IGNCA to take up the publication of the volume, it happily responded, as this volume would be another milestone in the journey of dialogue.

I have no doubt that the volume will be received with interest by all those who are interested in moving beyond the narrow walls of specialised disciplines and wish to participate in a deeper dialogue.

KAPILA VATSYAYAN

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