‘Life depends on science but the arts make it worth living’

Scientist claims true fulfilment is achievable only through the humanities, writes Rebecca Attwood

The arts and humanities are “superior” to science, a top cardiologist has argued.

John Martin, director of University College London’s Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine, has 53 patents, 20 staff and has founded a biotechnology company.

But, speaking at the launch of Humanities Matter: The Campaign for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences last week, he said he was “not a very good scientist” and that his success was due to having studied philosophy before training as a doctor.

Science encourages the idea that humans are just “molecular machines” that have to be made more efficient, he said, and its job is simply to measure the universe and predict its activity. But humans are more than this; they have a soul, Professor Martin said, and it is the job of the humanities to help people achieve their destiny as “true human beings”.

He said he told his students that they were repairing hearts “so that our patients can fulfil themselves by enjoying art, literature and music”.

If Einstein had not written down E=mc2, another scientist would one day have done so, he claimed, but no one else could have written Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Read full story, and the accompanying editorial.

 

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