UCLA

BioTech 177


The Two Cultures

Posted on April 15, 2009 by maria_g

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The lectures directly parallel Snow’s “The Two Cultures” in that both discuss the dichotomy of the intellectual world: the scientists vs the writers (or as he refers to them, “the non-scientists”. As Snow puts it, “there seems…to be no place where the cultures meet,” reflecting on the division between science and art. This division, at least in England, is owed to the specialization of the educational system. Unfortunately, such specialization is also clearly engrained in the American culture because college students must take (for the most part) only classes pertinent to their major, thus neglecting other fields and perspectives. Snow reflects upon this by simply stating that “both [scientists and non-scientists] are ignorant.” Scientists ponder about “what sort of tool would a book make” while writers try to translate science-speak into their own poetic language.

Nevertheless, as discussed in class, the two cultures do meet in what Snow refers to as the third culture: “though they are not scientists themselves, they would share a good deal of scientific feeling.” This third culture arises out of the tragedy of man (regardless of his specialization)—“each of us is alone…each of us dies alone.” It is this tragedy that unites all men in an endeavor to find themselves through either scientific formulas or poetic verses. Such unity offers a promise of a world less dual, less dangerous, less destructive. Is it really possible? Only time will tell…

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