Sunday, June 28, 2015

Originality in Fields

Fields of study can be divided into two camps: progressive and non-progressive. The basic difference being that progressive fields of study build up over time to include newer, better concepts and ideas. Non-progressive fields of study do not.

The sciences are progressive fields of study: there are standards in place that show how available theories and data in this day are objectively better than the theories and data available in previous ages.

Art and philosophy are non-progressive. Not only are there no agreed upon standards that allow us to call any one time period better than any other, but the ideas at play don't really change much either. In general any given philosophy is going to be a temporal spin on a timeless concept; art likewise is more the history of new styles of depicting the same situations or telling the same stories.

We can see that this line tends be drawn roughly along the edge of that which is perceived and that which is lived. The studies of things that are perceived tend to be progressive because, in the end, it is nothing more than the collection of observations. If you have only observed one phenomena today and two phenomena tomorrow, well, that is progress. On the other hand, in terms of that which is lived (Aesthetics, Ethics, Religion, with a nod to Kierkegaard) these things are common to all humans and fluctuate because of the situations men find themselves in. The ways of living are timeless, it is only the situations that change. This is why over time art and philosophy change to reflect the situation, but the core ideas do not change.

And one must be content to know those areas where progress cannot be made.

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