Art and Science: Two Wings on Which We Will Fly into the Future


The start to this year's monthly faculty seminars of the Faculty of Science came on Wednesday, October 12, with a talk by Prof. Talât Halman, the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Letters and the founder of the Department of Turkish Literature. A varied audience of scientists, engineers, social scientists, historians, scholars and students filled Mithat Çoruh Auditorium to hear Prof. Halman speak on the subject of "Science and Art."

Since fall 2008, the Faculty of Science has been holding seminars on the first Wednesday of every month. The seminars are intended to bring researchers and students from different scientific disciplines together to discuss recent developments and advances in the sciences. A distinguished scholar of the arts and letters, as well as a world-renowned literary man and poet, Prof. Halman thus seemed an unusual choice of guest speaker at first glance.

However, the arts and letters have as much of a claim on truth and knowledge, and as much legitimacy in their attempts to describe and explain nature, existence and human life, as do the sciences. Yet, in their endeavors, these two poles, as it were, not only fail to recognize one another, but also often fail to recognize the common grounds of motivation they share and how vital they are for each other's full blossoming.

Prof. Halman put this by way of an analogy, with reference to the words of Charles Darwin: art and science are like the two wings of a bird. If you can use both wings, you can fly; but if you can't use both, you'll be no different from a chicken.

Prof. Halman's main focus was the relationship between science and art in the context of the university and the academic world. Noting that education in the sciences with none in the arts is incomplete and inadequate, Prof. Halman set out his view of the university as a space where it is possible for art and science to come together in a magnificent synthesis, a culture encompassing the true potential of humankind.

Prof. Halman said that the past has seen numerous assaults on scientific development and expansion in the arts, and that it is unfortunate that Turkey has not succeeded in becoming a leader in scientific and artistic progress. Yet, because of institutions such as Bilkent University where the arts and sciences come together in what may be called a melting pot, the future holds a great many prospects, according to Prof. Halman.

Those who attended the seminar left feeling inspired and optimistic about the grand possibilities of a closer union between art and science. We can say with certainty that if the future indeed brings what Prof. Halman anticipates, then this will be due, first and foremost, to the efforts of such individuals as Prof. Halman himself.

Information about past and upcoming faculty seminars of the Faculty of Science can be found at