The Practicality of Art

            In the segment of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, where the robot feeds him so he does not have to use his hands, the one line that stands out to me is when the business man says, “It’s no good – it isn’t practical.”  This line has made me think about what sort of message this video is supposed to be getting across.  Some people can say that scientists and inventors sometimes go beyond the practical boundaries of things and instead create, simply for creation’s sake.  Are there moral issues at hand that the scientists over look at times?  Is there a point where the practicality of a machine could overshadow traditional values?  Or is there always going to be that sense of, “I’m going to eat this food with my hands even if there is a machine that can feed it to me.”?  It seems to me that the futuristic dream of a food pill that can replace an entire meal would never be accepted by the public. 

            At the same time, it would not be too difficult to find people who would argue for the superior practicality of science over art.  Rational knowledge has always been traditionally superior to that which can not be proved according to the Scientific Method.  In Modern Times, by placing The Scientist on the same level of impracticality as The Artist, the movie seems to be legitimizing art to those who would belittle in the presence of science.  Art has its practical uses in society and culture, and although the traditional sciences can not prove this, the more modern, social sciences make use of this idea very often.  This, to me, is another perfect example of the blurring differences between art, science, and technology in modern times.


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