Why We Need Art to Understand the Mind

In contrast to the British Enlightenment, Modernist Vienna saw that humans were not perfect rationality machines. Thus Viennese medical science gave rise to the likes of Klimt and Freud. 

What's the Latest Development?


In tracing the roots of his profession to the salons of Modernist Vienna, neuroscientist Eric Kandel explains the historical relationship between science and art. Kandel, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize, says it was the autopsies of the Viennese doctor Carl von Rokitansky that gave the world its first powerful metaphors of the subconscious. "The truth is often hidden below the surface," said Rokitansky. "One has to go deep below the skin to find it." And while Rokitansky was speaking on integrating a patient's medical history with his or her current physical condition, his ideas were picked up by one of his students, Sigmund Freud.

What's the Big Idea?

Freud, of course, would pioneer a new psychology that recognized the influence of subconscious desires. Contrary to the British Enlightenment, which saw rationality as the defining human characteristic, modernist painters like Klimt and Schiele worked to express a new conception of humanity, at once plagued by anxiety and capable of towering sexual heights. "A brain scan may reveal the neural signs of anxiety, but...a Schiele self-portrait, reveals what an anxiety state really feels like," said Kandel. "Both perspectives are necessary if we are to fully grasp the nature of the mind, yet they are rarely brought together."

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


Setting a maximum wage for CEOs would be good for everyone

Could this be the long-awaited solution to economic inequality?

Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the Apple Park campus on September 12, 2017 in Cupertino, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

Under capitalism, the argument goes, it's every man for himself. Through the relentless pursuit of self-interest, everyone benefits, as if an invisible hand were guiding each of us toward the common good. Everyone should accordingly try to get as much as they can, not only for their goods but also for their labour. Whatever the market price is is, in turn, what the buyer should pay. Just like the idea that there should be a minimum wage, the idea that there should be a maximum wage seems to undermine the very freedom that the free market is supposed to guarantee.

Keep reading Show less

How humans evolved to live in the cold

Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science
  • According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
  • Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
  • Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
Keep reading Show less

Drill, Baby, Drill: What will we look for when we mine on Mars?

It's unlikely that there's anything on the planet that is worth the cost of shipping it back

popular
  • In the second season of National Geographic Channel's MARS (premiering tonight, 11/12/18,) privatized miners on the red planet clash with a colony of international scientists
  • Privatized mining on both Mars and the Moon is likely to occur in the next century
  • The cost of returning mined materials from Space to the Earth will probably be too high to create a self-sustaining industry, but the resources may have other uses at their origin points
Keep reading Show less