The function of science is to reassure; the purpose of art is to upset. Therein lies the value of each.
Science and art are two of the most glorious fields in which numerous people have made their great contributions. As the society develops, people concern more about the function of science, of art and of other realms. Some may argue that the function of science is to reassure, and the purpose of art is to upset, however, as far as I am concerned, science and art have more significant values than just to reassure or to upset people.
The main function of science is to propel the development of human society and to provide people the power to understand the nature and ourselves. In the primordial days of the human history, when the conception of science first emerged, science was to answer people's questions and to satisfy people's curiosity towards myriad mysterious phenomenon. If we understand the science in such way, we can't see clear differences between the inchoate religion and the inchoate science, because, the functions of both of them are nearly the same, and both contain totally absurd theories if one studies them today. One may agree that in that period of time, science was largely to reassure people's fear towards the mysteries just as what religions try to do.
However, the development of science finally makes it an important tool for us to understand the nature and to change the nature in our favor. The understanding of electricity expels the old thought that the thunder is a sign indicating that the god is angry. The advancement achieved in medicine greatly elongate human's life, and nowadays people no longer depend on certain rituals to give them health. Discoveries and inventions alike have transformed our society into the nowadays form, and provide us great power to determine our future. If science is only to reassure us, how can we achieve the feats we have made through our history? As Francis Bacon once said, "Knowledge is power", the true function of science is to give us the power to conquer the difficulties we confront.
Unlike science, arts which seldom give us the power to better our material lives, mainly concern about our spiritual lives. Admittedly, some arts actually upset people by let us see the weakness of the human nature or the darkness of our society, as the art works of Michelangelo. However, arts possess much more functions than just upset us. Arts can ease our emotions and reassure us, as the music of Mozart does; arts can give us confidence and braveness, as the music of Beethoven does; arts can also tell us what philosophy is, as the music of Mahler does. Although arts possess so many functions,one can judge that the major function of art is to represent the life and to present the artists' ideals. Most literary works, such as fictions, poems, dramas, give us a vivid image of the society. Other forms of arts have the same kind of functions. For example, Tchaikovsky composed music to represent the hard life of the common Russian people, while Van Gogh drew pictures to represent the beauty of the nature. There're also other pieces of art showing us the inner part of the artists, for instance, the representative new trend movie "four hundred blows". By presenting the life and the ideals, arts give us true understanding of our circumstances and ourselves in a spiritual way. Arts can not explain why it rains,but it explains how people feel about the rainy day.
Practicality is now our great idol, which all powers and talents must serve.Anything that is not obviously practical has little value in today's world.
In today’s society idealism seems to become an ideology that is marginalized and practicality is our great idol, thus, the speaker asserts that anything that is not practical bears little value. I admit that being practical is the wide-accepted dogma in order to survive in this world, but by going too far to claim that anything that is not practical has little value is against the empirical observation as well as the general stimulus that push the human society forward.
Admittedly, practicality has become a cult in today’s society. Too often do we hear people talk about being practical whenever they come to make important decisions or choose between several alternatives. The deep-rooted cause underlying this phenomenon is that with the development of modern society, the emphasis is placed more on financial gaining, quick fame, sensible choice and so forth. Our society is rather stable compared with that of the last century when war, violence, human right movements has become the symbol of that period. People are enjoying this peaceful environment with less crucial missions rested upon them and as a result, they shift from idealism to struggle for the common well being of mankind to the practical concept of individual achievement.
This ideology has its merits since after all the disaster and upheaval that our human race has undergone, it is judicious to focus on the economic aspect of things in order to tackle the most important social problems such as poverty, hunger and environmental problems which all deserve us to sit down and work out practical solutions. On the personal level, being practical is how a person would possibly succeed in his career or personal life. One is likely to make sensible decisions for his education and job choice on the basis of practical consideration of his own strength and weakness and careful analysis of the prospect of research direction and job market. Even those in power and intellects need to consider practically since hasty decision built upon pure ideal meditation would hardly find its way in the modern society and is doom to failure.
Agreeing with the speaker that practicality has become the great idol in our society, I am strongly against his point that anything that is not practical has little value. Even in today’s society, idealism is by no means relegated to the place of total neglect and disregard. For one thing, in history, so much achievement is the outcome of several generations’ struggle such as fighting for equality for women, human rights movement,etc. In today’s society, practicality is the way we can obtain our goal but idealism offers the philosophical explanation of why we should set this as our goal and the clear the ultimate value of our pursuing. What is more, by totally fixed one's eyes upon the practical aspect of things, we face the danger of neglecting one important part of our pursuit, that is the mental enjoyment brought out by idealism. If we have a clear goal set in mind and put practical endeavor at the same time, the result would be more satisfactory and valuable.
To sum up, I agree with the speaker insofar as the wide acceptance of practicality is considered. Being practical is the tenet of modern society and it does shed light on the wise way of doing things and obtaining goals, no matter in the personal or social level.But the speaker goes too far by claiming that it is the only valuable ideology in society.I am strongly against this idea since in history or at present, we human beings still need the philosophical explanation to clear our goal and to provide motivation. In this aspect, idealism would never be replaced with pure practical consideration. Otherwise,human society will be replete with insensible people directed by economic profit and quick fame and recognition.