Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/461

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SCIENCE VERSUS ART-APPRECIATION.

455

I think we all agree that for each learner, science consists essentially of definite, objective facts which must be acquired in much the same way that one gets possession of other external objects. Upon demand, the student must show the amount of stock on hand, and this is taken as the index of his success. When the teacher wants to mark progress, he requires each one to open his mental storehouse and exhibit the sum of its contents.[1] It naturally follows as a corollary that the chief aim of science-teaching is to stimulate the pupil to gain possession of scientific realities, and thus add to his stock of knowledge. Each fact acquired is an addition to his mental possessions. Therefore, he must dispassionately learn what actually exists, never forgetting that he is nature's witness and that his testimony is valuable only in so far as he tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

On the other hand, art can not be analyzed into equal units, nor its composition expressed by a formula. Neither can its character be determined by the application of rules and measurements, for each work of art is a new thing in the world, and is, in fact, a law unto itself. To attempt to measure art by these quantitative and objective standards is like taking a sieve to fetch water. Art being a degree of harmony, an expression of feeling, a way of doing, it can be estimated only by one who has sufficient capacity of feeling. There is no yardstick which can indicate to every person the exact amount of art in any given production. The only way to estimate it is by a direct appeal to one's own internal measure, called appreciation. As Plotinus long ago said, 'The kingdom of Art is within us.' We are misled into thinking that there exists a common objective standard, because we so often find many competent judges agreeing as to the merits of a work of art. Undoubtedly, there may be a great similarity in personal standards due to a common artistic environment and a similar social heritage, which have formed our conceptions of art as of all other objects depending on personal valuation. The main object of art-teaching therefore should be to build up within each pupil the highest possible standard of esthetic appreciation. He must be incited to make esthetic judgments as to the quality of objects, and in this way he develops his capacity to appreciate. Each decision made is a distinct mental growth.

However, to meet the demands of our examination system for a definite quantity of knowledge, we teach only a body of collateral facts so closely related to art as to deceive us into thinking that it is art. We are satisfied to obtain results which can be measured by a definite,


  1. As the pupil finds that courses of study, systems of examinations, methods of promotions, and in fact, the phenomena of science itself, are all based on the quantitative and external standard of measurement, it is but natural that the one idea that takes possession of and dominates his intellectual life is that quantity is the sole criterion of success.