I am frequently struck by the difference between the way I think and the way everybody else does. I am an artist through and through. I am preoccupied with how to make beauty using words. Nearly everyone else I know thinks—or at least tries to think—rationally. The ultimate in rational thinking is following the scientific method defined by the following acts: make an observation, ask a question, propose a hypothesis, make predictions, and test the predictions. The only kind of thinking allowed is that which deals with measurable facts and is mathematical. In other words, only concrete, quantifiable, and corporeal data is admissible.
Because rational thinking is limited to physical existence, it cannot deal with intangibles such as happiness, beauty, love, hate, joy, and exaltation—all the elements that define human experience. In fact, adherents to the scientific method often maintain that such intangibles don’t exist; they are merely fantasies. If that’s true, then art doesn’t exist, either. It is imaginary.
In my work in intelligence—my career for thirty-five years—I allowed myself to think only in the rational/scientific mode. That was because the only thing that mattered was the factual truth. How I felt about it, whether it was pleasing or ugly, was immaterial.
All that said, I loved my work and derived great emotional satisfaction from it. Even in my most rational moments, it was my feelings that drove me. My life and work were obviously shaped by elements that rational thinking in its purest form cannot address. My opinion that much, maybe even most, of life deals with the intangibles is clearly shared by people who buy and read my six books, all fictional stories.
I am happy to accept artistic thinking, dominated by the incorporeal, as my preferred outlook. It allows me to create, and that is what I was born to do.
2 thoughts on “Artistic Versus Scientific”
When you created things to go into the executive training program, one of the courses was to help people to open up their creative mind. I am a mathematician and some of my better accomplishments came from putting together pieces from disparate thoughts into a single creative idea. I have long been a proponent of what I call Gestalt thinking, i.e., putting together all of the information to solve a problem instead of straight linear thinking. I hope that some of the courses in your training program helped some people to move more towards the first way of problem solving rather than the second.
Thanks so much, Dale. I’m very attracted to what you call Gestalt thinking. It’s also obvious to me that when one has mastered different thinking modes (e.g., linguistic, musical, scientific), one’s ability to solve problems is greatly enhanced.