Snow Job

The Two Cultures 1

Exactly half a century has passed since C.P. Snow penned a little book — originally delivered as a lecture — which wielded an influence out of all proportion to its length, and, the truth be told, even more out of proportion to its exceedingly modest virtues. The Two Cultures – remarkably unperceptive when written and even less revealing now – purports to examine the cleavage between the divergent “cultures” of the sciences and the humanities. At the time it provoked quite a tempest of discussion. The work is accounted a classic, and continues to receive accolades and recognition. I recommend you check it out (it can be found at 001.2 Sn in the library stacks) and ask yourself “why?” (The book is a mere 51 pages, and even with the follow-up lecture in the library’s edition, just 100 – yet could now perhaps better be compressed into a single tweet.)

You’ll find a more positive assessment of The Two Cultures in this article from the Daily Telegraph, and a series of quite peculiar short comments vaguely related to the book in the article Science and Art: Still Two Cultures Divided? in the New Scientist.

Update: Smithsonian magazine offers a far more interesting and evocative article about the interrelationship of science and the arts and humanities in “Forensic Astronomer Solves Fine Arts Puzzles”.

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Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

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