Art Treasures

monaalisaOn a typical Sunday 10,000 people visit the Louvre. If a wicked sorcerer threatened to vaporize all the museum’s visitors or all of its art, sparing one or the other based on your plea, which of the two would you save? (Assume both will be obliterated if you won’t choose.)


  1. What an awful choice, but I’d have to go with the Art. Think how many people have given their lives to try to preserve our culture, how many wars have been fought. Think how hollow a culture would seem without its Art and Music and Literature. I just checked out the follow-up question to this one in the book: “What, if any, fruits of our culture are worth more than even a million lives?”. That kind of takes it to its limit. How many lives would I be willing to sacrifice in a war to protect the obliteration of our culture? … almost whatever it would take.

  2. Ian Borchardt says:

    Getting rid of the glass pyramid would almost be worth it losing all the art (I consider the architecture of the Louvre to be as much art as what it contains within it, btw). However I would have to side on saving the people, if only because we have sufficient historical records of the art contained within the Louvre that it is possible to recreate it to a high degree of fidelity. And that is if we actually bother with the physical reproduction. In fact it is possible that the act of replacing the lost art treasurs would actually teach us more about the art. What is the difference, in terms of art, between the original and the forgery, if both are indistinguishable? Save the fact that one can only possess one original. The value of that, is not in the art, but rather the ownership.

  3. Well, I think I would save the lives: each life is an universe in itself, while a piece of art, while still important and beautiful and so on, is only an object.
    We would still have the ideas that came from those piece of art, and even if it became forgotten, someday some other human could get the opportunity to re-invent that piece of art, and be blessed in believing it original.