Is what Sherlock Holmes does science or art?
That's a subject upon which Holmes seems to have changed his mind -- but, then again, maybe not.
Early in his career, the young consulting detective talked often about "the science of deduction." That phrase was used as the title of chapter two in A Study in Scarlet and chapter one in The Sign of Four. Holmes employed in his trade both the scientific method and scientific tools such as chemical analysis and fingerprints.
But in the opening scene of "The Greek Interpreter," he implies that detection is an art when he traces his talent that way to the artistic strain in his family. "Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms," he tells Watson.
This reference to the art of detection becomes explicit in "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange": “At present, I am, as you know, fairly busy, but propose to devote my declining years to the composition of a text-book which shall focus the whole art of detection into one volume.”
I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I have just completed a novella called Art in the Blood, which involves murder at an art gallery. My amateur detective, Sebastian McCabe, traces his sleuthing abilities to art in his own blood: His sister is an illustrator and his mother was once a soap opera actress.
So, science or art? I think the only possible answer to that question is "yes."
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