Eric Kandel is a Nobel Prize winner who has written a book called The Age of Insight. He was recently interviewed in Wired.
Kandel’s book talks about the relationship between science and art and how they influence each other. Science and art represent two completely different ways of thinking but they can both work together to give us a clearer picture of the whole. Kandel uses the example of anxiety to illustrate this point; a brain scan may reveal the neural signs of anxiety, but a painting can show what being in a state of anxiety feels like.
Modern science is showing us that we are not as rational as we think and a lot of the choices we make in life – what brand of soap you buy to whom you marry – are driven by emotion (I’ve been talking about this for years). Experiencing things like design and music is important if you want to understand what’s going on in the world. You can distribute as many surveys as you like, and fill out census forms, but you won’t get the same kind of insight unless you’re participating in the moment. That’s what art is.