The Visionary Eye
Mathematician, poet, philosopher, life scientist, playwright, teacher, Jacob Bronowski could readily be referred to as a Renaissance Man. But in the historical context that would do him a disservice: he is, par excellence, a Twentieth Century Man, who has traced the arts and sciences of earlier centuries and especially those of his own time to their common root in the uniquely human imagination.
Bronowski is the author of such widely read books as The Ascent of Man and Science and Human Values. In 1977, The MIT Press published A Sense of the Future: Essays in Natural Philosophy. In those essays, the emphasis is on scientific questions, but in a number of them the notion of "art as a mode of knowledge" is invoked to make the science clearer and its human dimension more vivid. The Visionary Eye serves as a companion volume: here the emphasis is on the arts and humanities, but (as the subtitle suggests) "science as a mode of imagination" comes into play to extend the reach of the visionary eye.
The Visionary Eye contains eleven essays: "The Nature of Art," "The Imaginative Mind in Art," "The Imaginative Mind in Science," "The Shape of Things," "Architecture as a Science and Architecture as an Art," and Art as a Mode of Knowledge, Bronowski's A. W. Mellon Lectures given at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The essays discuss examples taken from across the spectrum of the arts, past and present—music, poetry, painting and sculpture, architecture, industrial design, and engineering artifacts—in the coherent context of Bronowski's view of the human creative process.
"[Bronowski] practiced in life what he expresses in this work; he brought to a television public ideas and information without condescension, without absolute certainty, made science an adventure in the human predicament. He showed all of us that we share that challenge of beauty and values which is art, of the other way of knowing which is science."
—Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
"Poet, playwright, philosopher, scientist, teacher and, in his later years, TV personality...Bronowski probably did more to bring art and science together than any other person of our time. This stimulating book collects his 1969 Mellon lectures on art and the imagination, as well as his essays on esthetics, design, the intellect and freedom."