Sociology PhD student, UC Santa Barbara
When Oscar Wilde wrote that “Life imitates Art,” he was playfully subverting conventional wisdom about nature that dates back to at least the time of Aristotle, and continues to shape our unstated assumptions about the world. We usually think about art as a human meditation about a “real world” that is separate from people.
This has its corollary in our epistemology, or the way that we come up with knowledge about the world. As members of a scientific culture, we tend to think of epistemology as a process of going out into that real world and discovering objective facts about nature. In this narrative, only bad scientists pollute their science with personal biases and politics. This is a story that says if we are diligent enough, we can discover what the world looks like when human subjectivity and error are filtered out of our perception, that we can find a “truth” which transcends the unique characteristics of our particular culture.