How does one differentiate between poetry and science?

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wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The question is complex: epistemologists would say they are two “ways of knowing.”  Science is the method of building new knowledge on what is already known, by applying logic, cause-and-effect, physical laws, etc. according to strict rules of the discipline.  Art, on the other hand, creates and appreciates according to much more ephemeral “rules” of aesthetics, a subjective reaction to forms, rhythms, connotations, etc. that do not use the same mental functions as science.  When we say a mathematical formula is “beautiful,” we usually mean its symmetry, its logic, its “statement” of truth is satisfying.  When we say that a sunset is “beautiful,” we are referring to the emotional tranquility, the sense of a universal order it gives us when we see it.  Art lets us “know” things by tapping into a universal order using our emotions; science lets us “know” things by showing the relationship between the (until now) unknown and the already known.  Your brain does a lot of things – science is one, art is another.  On a certain level, they complement each other, and the differentiation is a false one:  Is the Eiffel Tower science or art?