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The notion that our society, its education system and its intellectual life, is characterized by a split between two cultures--the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other--has a long history. The reissue of The Two Cultures and its successor piece, A Second Look (in which Snow responded to the controversy four years later) has a new introduction by St The notion that our society, its education system and its intellectual life, is characterized by a split between two cultures--the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other--has a long history. The reissue of The Two Cultures and its successor piece, A Second Look (in which Snow responded to the controversy four years later) has a new introduction by Stefan Collini, charting the history and context of the debate, its implications and its afterlife.


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The notion that our society, its education system and its intellectual life, is characterized by a split between two cultures--the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other--has a long history. The reissue of The Two Cultures and its successor piece, A Second Look (in which Snow responded to the controversy four years later) has a new introduction by St The notion that our society, its education system and its intellectual life, is characterized by a split between two cultures--the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other--has a long history. The reissue of The Two Cultures and its successor piece, A Second Look (in which Snow responded to the controversy four years later) has a new introduction by Stefan Collini, charting the history and context of the debate, its implications and its afterlife.

30 review for The Two Cultures

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Shakespeare vs Thermodynamics: "The Two Cultures" by C. P. Snow (original review, 1993) As a maths and physics graduate, I observe that most compilers of the best books of all-time lists are, self-evidently, not from my side of the cultural divide. They should at the very least, it seems to me, be required to read C. P. Snow's "The Two Cultures" and "The Scientific Revolution", not to mention Arthur Koestler's "The Sleepwalkers" (a maste If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Shakespeare vs Thermodynamics: "The Two Cultures" by C. P. Snow (original review, 1993) As a maths and physics graduate, I observe that most compilers of the best books of all-time lists are, self-evidently, not from my side of the cultural divide. They should at the very least, it seems to me, be required to read C. P. Snow's "The Two Cultures" and "The Scientific Revolution", not to mention Arthur Koestler's "The Sleepwalkers" (a masterly history of how mankind has viewed, and developed ideas about, the universe) - and then put them on the lists, as they deserve to be there IMO. At least they do if you buy into the idea of a top 100 in the first place, which, in my view, would be like trying to rank great composers/mathematicians/physicists - inherently rather ridiculous. It might have been better though to have just two lists from either side of the cultural divide. It would not be difficult to come up with 100 tomes from the sciences after all.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Interesting opinions on science and the cultures within science. Some of it still applies today, most of it is outdated. I was assigned to read the speech C.P. Snow gave in 1959 and decided to read the accompanying book. It was pretty hard to get through, but I did find some interesting parts. It's interesting to read for scientists, but mostly as a source of information about history. Interesting opinions on science and the cultures within science. Some of it still applies today, most of it is outdated. I was assigned to read the speech C.P. Snow gave in 1959 and decided to read the accompanying book. It was pretty hard to get through, but I did find some interesting parts. It's interesting to read for scientists, but mostly as a source of information about history.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nelson Zagalo

    Portuguese extended-version: https://virtual-illusion.blogspot.com... ------------------------------------------------------- This book was made from a talk by CP Snow, in 1959, that made lots of ripples throughout the academy, much of them against Snow, condemning him for contributing to augmenting the divide between science and humanities. I must confess how surprised I feel reading such condemnations, even more when by people like Stephen Jay Gould. It's strange how even today people approach th Portuguese extended-version: https://virtual-illusion.blogspot.com... ------------------------------------------------------- This book was made from a talk by CP Snow, in 1959, that made lots of ripples throughout the academy, much of them against Snow, condemning him for contributing to augmenting the divide between science and humanities. I must confess how surprised I feel reading such condemnations, even more when by people like Stephen Jay Gould. It's strange how even today people approach this book defending, it states the obvious, but then saying the world should not be like this, because things are very simple, and we should be able to understand each other! I'm sorry for not entering the same wagon. Maybe some years ago I would agree, not today. The two cultures here presented exist, because humans have different motivations, different drives in their lives. We can't all like the same things, because we're different. Of course we could say that much more than 2 cultures must exist, which is true, however trying to understand, at least, these groups and accept them, would make much good than just keep saying that all of us should understand the world in the same manner, or share the same world-views. About the book itself I must say it doesn't help, because Snow doesn't help. There's no method, no true definition is presented of both sides, no characterisation of the different profiles is presented, no sociology even less a psychology is developed. Thus the argument becomes almost indefensible. And because of this Snow committed a big error, he just used to characterise the poles, the domains: science and humanities. The problem is that this is the same error of trying to classify anything as man or woman oriented, the Bell curve will say men are like this, and women like that, but beyond the mean of the curve, exists lots of men and women not identifying themselves with the labels. The same happened here. A lot of scientists love to read literature, and lots of literary people manifest interest in the sciences. Saying this, I'm just saying the book is weak, not that the divide between mathematic and literary oriented minds don't exist.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    I read this (the original, published in 1959) in college. It was assigned reading. The premise, that mankind was dividing into two separate and non-communicating communities of arts and science, didn't seem revolutionary then. The poles still exist today, but are even less evident among the many other polarizations in current culture: economic, religious, political and ethnic. From the vantage point of fifty years of actual observation, the polarizations persist not because they are natural but b I read this (the original, published in 1959) in college. It was assigned reading. The premise, that mankind was dividing into two separate and non-communicating communities of arts and science, didn't seem revolutionary then. The poles still exist today, but are even less evident among the many other polarizations in current culture: economic, religious, political and ethnic. From the vantage point of fifty years of actual observation, the polarizations persist not because they are natural but because they are convenient. Humans seem to thrive in "us and them" dichotomies. We create them. We feed them. We make jokes about them: "There are two types of people; ..." And yet it also seems we ignore them, as we actually live our lives. There may be scientists (certainly engineers) who have no artistic impulse, but also many more who do. And people straddle divides every day, even as they may identify with this or that community. Robert Frost was right. Building walls doesn't make better neighbors, but we build them anyway. Partly from fear; partly of necessity; mostly (I think) from habit.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick Black

    Another fine selection from Canto's outstanding line of Cambridge Publishing reprints, CP Snow's seminal essay is referenced widely enough -- and simply enough grokked -- that one might consider it, as Calvino wrote, with "Books Everyone Else Has Read and So It's As If You've Read Them, Too". It's short and absolutely worth your time, with an excellent critical essay introducing the polemic itself (noting especially the litotic third taxon of Snow's partitioning). Another fine selection from Canto's outstanding line of Cambridge Publishing reprints, CP Snow's seminal essay is referenced widely enough -- and simply enough grokked -- that one might consider it, as Calvino wrote, with "Books Everyone Else Has Read and So It's As If You've Read Them, Too". It's short and absolutely worth your time, with an excellent critical essay introducing the polemic itself (noting especially the litotic third taxon of Snow's partitioning).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Let's say 3.5 stars. Snow's general argument, that science people and humanities people should just all get along already, is near and dear to my heart. I went to a nerdy science high school, so half my classmates were practically born with a slide rule in their hand, and the other half were the children of doctors and lawyers who wanted their kids to go to the good public high school but who were not exactly thrilled about all the math they were being subjected to. (It was an interesting early l Let's say 3.5 stars. Snow's general argument, that science people and humanities people should just all get along already, is near and dear to my heart. I went to a nerdy science high school, so half my classmates were practically born with a slide rule in their hand, and the other half were the children of doctors and lawyers who wanted their kids to go to the good public high school but who were not exactly thrilled about all the math they were being subjected to. (It was an interesting early lesson in the socioeconomics of education how few poor classmates I had, but that's another story.) The end result was that half my friends spent all their time complaining that they even had to take English and read books, and the other half would get all defensive (understandably so) and scornfully remind everyone that math can't describe love. Basically, I wanted to wring all their necks, so when I heard of this CP Snow character who had coined the phrase "The Two Cultures," I figured I'd enjoy reading his lecture. The problem is, the essay is sort of a muddled mess. He starts out describing the cultural gap, and laments the fact that most literary intellectuals couldn't explain The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which he describes as the scientific equivalent of Shakespeare. Amen to that. But then he tries to tie the who thing to the future of developing nations, makes a bunch of laughably, horribly, awfully, painfully optimistic predictions about the fate of said nations, all while talking in circles about the differences between British, American, and Russian education. In other words, taken as a whole coherent lecture, it basically isn't coherent. I'm not even entirely sure that the difference in cultures was even his main POINT, but it's hard to tell between all of the rambling asides he makes. This edition also contains the sequel to the original lecture, where he revisits his initial thoughts in the context of the various criticisms he's received, which turns into an even less coherent jumble of words than the first one. If the concept interests you in the first place, it's worth reading the original lecture, just to see what the big deal is all about. It's only maybe 50 pages; you can read it in an hour. Which brings me to my final criticism. Seriously, how does anyone justify an introduction of historical context EQUALLY AS LONG as the actual content of the book? The scientist in me is scoffing at the typically pompous literary intellectual who must have made that decision.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ray Cavanaugh

    I am surprised this work is not more a part of the liberal arts college curriculum; it’s clearly written, pretty short, and addresses a very interesting, relevant issue – the split between literary intellectuals and scientific intellectuals. These two groups, each comprised of many very smart people, seem to exist largely in a state of mutual incomprehension (and sometimes mistrust, even scorn). For so many scientists, their literary experience is limited to “a bit of Dickens.” In the literary cu I am surprised this work is not more a part of the liberal arts college curriculum; it’s clearly written, pretty short, and addresses a very interesting, relevant issue – the split between literary intellectuals and scientific intellectuals. These two groups, each comprised of many very smart people, seem to exist largely in a state of mutual incomprehension (and sometimes mistrust, even scorn). For so many scientists, their literary experience is limited to “a bit of Dickens.” In the literary culture, most are completely unaware of the Second Law of Thermodynamics – the scientific equivalent to: “Have you read Shakespeare?”……

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean Higgins

    This was a very interesting and provoking consideration of who needs who the most between the two cultures of the humanities people and the science people. Snow himself was a scientist-turned-novelist who believed in the power of, and need for technology to solve problems, and saw a lot of ignorance/pessimism from the English lit-elites. Snow gave the first lecture in 1959, so a number of his comments are dated, but the intro helps with context, and the whole book calls for educators to get the This was a very interesting and provoking consideration of who needs who the most between the two cultures of the humanities people and the science people. Snow himself was a scientist-turned-novelist who believed in the power of, and need for technology to solve problems, and saw a lot of ignorance/pessimism from the English lit-elites. Snow gave the first lecture in 1959, so a number of his comments are dated, but the intro helps with context, and the whole book calls for educators to get the two cultures talking to each other. It's especially apropos as I'm talking with some men about starting a liberal arts college in the digital generation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Raman

    The word "tech-bro" gets thrown around a lot in the terminally-online community. In many ways, Snow was the original "tech-bro", waxing eloquent about the merits of science as a tool to solve all the problems of the world that the other culture, that of the "literary intellectual", had let fester for so long. While the term comes with the baggage of misogyny and subtle racism, which might not be entirely relevant in this context (1950's British academia was definitely a white boys' club, though, The word "tech-bro" gets thrown around a lot in the terminally-online community. In many ways, Snow was the original "tech-bro", waxing eloquent about the merits of science as a tool to solve all the problems of the world that the other culture, that of the "literary intellectual", had let fester for so long. While the term comes with the baggage of misogyny and subtle racism, which might not be entirely relevant in this context (1950's British academia was definitely a white boys' club, though, so there's that), the modern tech-bro shares much of the same worldview espoused by Snow. When I came across a summary of his Rede Lecture thesis, I was anxious to get my hands on the text, if only to tear it apart. This is where Stefan Collini's excellent introduction works its magic. In fact, you could pick this book up simply to go through it. In 75 pages (nearly two-fifths of the length of the book), the introduction provides a detailed socio-political and historical background of the era as well as that of Snow and his primary detractors. This provides much-needed context for going through the book's core thesis and convinced me to appraise Snow's arguments in good faith. This lecture is largely a commentary on pedagogy within the narrow geographical and temporal confines of interwar Britain. However, Snow had quite a bit to say on the general zeitgeist, not just of his own era, but also ours in the 21st century. He was remarkably prescient in pointing out issues that would, in the long run, prove to be a detriment to inter-disciplinary cooperation in solving humanity's burgeoning crises. However, in the process, he paints with the broadest brush possible such as when he says of the literary intellectuals: “Intellectuals, in particular literary intellectuals, are natural Luddites.” or, his indictment of the apolitical staidness of engineers: “...not so engineers, who are conservative almost to a man. Not reactionary in the extreme literary sense, but just conservative. They are absorbed in making things, and the present social order is good enough for them." It goes without saying that such analysis is reductive, however, in my anecdotal experience, one can possibly draw a straight line between the engineers that Snow talks about and the Elon Musk-worshipping, "just-learn-to-code" tech-bros who lack a deeper understanding of the issues plaguing society and whose solutions amount to plastering deep wounds with technological band-aids. Similarly, it's possible that literary intellectuals are, to a large extent, skeptical of technological advancement. After all, stalwarts such as Tolkein and Lewis constantly allude to the superiority of tranquil pastoralism over "brutish" industrial advancements. A rather surprising aspect of this work is that, although the text talks almost exclusively about academia, the subtext is full of the kind of class analysis that you wouldn't really expect to come from a resident of the Imperial Core. If you can look past his paternalistic treatment of the Third World, you can see vestiges of deep-seated solidarity for the working classes in Snow's writing. He constantly laments about the outsized influence of out-of-touch intellectuals in the shaping of the world and makes such well-meaning, but ultimately laughable predictions like: “This disparity between the rich and the poor has been noticed. It has been noticed, most acutely and not un-naturally, by the poor. Just because they have noticed it, it won't last for long. Whatever else in the world we know survives to the year 2000, that won't. Once the trick of getting rich is known, as it now is, the world can't survive half rich and half poor. It's just not on.” It's well worth remembering that, while built upon an underlying thesis, this is far from being an academic treatise, and, as such, Snow fails to provide hard data while making some of his generalized statements. In fact, the whole lecture feels like a long, drawn-out diss track against the snobs in academia at the time who dismissed science as unworthy of the status of being an "intellectual" pursuit. On the whole, though, it is a short and fierce book chock-full of interesting ideas and zany predictions well worth your time if you are interested in catching a sliver of post-War optimism and naivete unrestrained by such things as peer-review. I'll leave this with another quote from Stefan Collini's introduction: “At the heart of the concept of the 'two cultures' is a claim about academic disciplines. Other matters are obviously intimately involved - questions of educational structure, social attitudes, government policy-making and so on. But if the concept is to possess any continuing persuasiveness it must offer an illuminating characterisation of the divide between two sorts of intellectual enquiry.“

  10. 4 out of 5

    Manuel

    the following link will give you an excellent review and analysis on what C.P. Snow meant by "the two cultures": https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p... it portrays the (global) educational gap between Sciences and Art, and how it affects us as individuals and society (by global CPS meant U.K., U.S., & U.S.S.R). by "affects" i mean 60 years ago!. still, it's very informative and gives you some clues on why such a gap is still present. at the end of the book the guy "translates" that gap into rich the following link will give you an excellent review and analysis on what C.P. Snow meant by "the two cultures": https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p... it portrays the (global) educational gap between Sciences and Art, and how it affects us as individuals and society (by global CPS meant U.K., U.S., & U.S.S.R). by "affects" i mean 60 years ago!. still, it's very informative and gives you some clues on why such a gap is still present. at the end of the book the guy "translates" that gap into rich and poor countries. he naively believed that the gab "will be removed". on each day that now passes by... current economy is proving him dead wrong!. he also states that scientific revolution will flourish if we get rid off the "H-bomb war, over-population, [and] the gap between the rich and the poor." at least we humans don't use H-bombs no more.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    C. P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” is a short take on a long-standing debate in academia, the split between sciences and humanities departments. He writes ‘the intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups’, with intellectual life comprising practical life: the two polar groups are the literary intellectuals (he has some issue with how they began to term themselves intellectuals) and scientists, particularly physical scientists. This dichotomy s C. P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” is a short take on a long-standing debate in academia, the split between sciences and humanities departments. He writes ‘the intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups’, with intellectual life comprising practical life: the two polar groups are the literary intellectuals (he has some issue with how they began to term themselves intellectuals) and scientists, particularly physical scientists. This dichotomy still abounds today, and any claims of ‘1001 cultures’ fails to consider the overarching departments these 1001 cultures reside in, forget familial resemblances. The have their own ‘cultures’, in both intellectual and anthropological sense, comprising shared beliefs, attitudes, behaviors that cut across subgroups. The introduction is regretfully not as good: it makes a case for literary intellectuals straight away in the second paragraph and sets a ridiculously skeptical outlook towards the rest of the work. It offers a history of the division of academia disciplines, even the struggle of the natural sciences against philosophy. He writes that Snow’s claims are heavily biased in favor of natural scientists, in terms of morality, human welfare, and future progress. However, Snow provides few but effective examples for both natural sciences prejudice against engineer/production and literary intellectual prejudice against natural sciences. The introduction writes that Snow writes of the gap but provides no recourse: he writes of his lack of knowledge of the political measures, he apologies, accepts his flaws, corrects, and reiterates. In II, he does write of a bridging of the gap, but states it is too early to tell. The introduction’s take on F. R. Leavis’ criticism of Snow is sadly, far more biased towards literary intellectuals than Snow is towards natural sciences. Trilling’s well written criticisms of Snow, regarding politics, commonalities between the two cultures, and East-West relations, should have been the focus. This is grounds for furthering the debate, not Leavis’ tirade. The introduction gets poorer here: ‘the very construction of scientific knowledge is itself dependent on culturally variable norms and practices; seen in this way, ‘science’ is merely one set of cultural activities among others’ is stated as fact, even writing that ‘masculinist bias of the conception of rationality that the ideology of science appeals’, that literary theory argues that science ‘is a discourse that involve the same kinds of rhetorical strategies, literary tropes, and unstable meanings as other forms of writing’. Science is far from being as nebulous as critical theory, in my experience. Theory and belief are written as “work” carrying the same weight as tested empirical research. There is a vast chasm between belief legitimized as ‘theory’ through publication and ‘empirical research’. Snow’s claim of anti-scientific bent can already be seen in the introduction, where the writer knows very little of scientific writing, language, or method. Though it is alright in stating that both cultures should begin to bridge the chasm, the introduction once more shows its scientific illiteracy by writing ‘accuracy, clarity, and economy are certainly required in the presentation of results, but arranging one’s findings in intelligible form is regarded by many research scientists as something of a chore’, and that ‘elegance of style tends not be cultivated or prized as a professional ideal, though individual scientists may cherish it’. The writer has clearly no idea of how technical terms, operational constructs, and other terminology are made superbly precise for each field, and that writing is clear, unambiguous, and brief for purposes of progress. Knowledge is not limited to a few who possess the capacity to traverse hundreds of pages of verbose babble that is at best, hazy. Lacan’s work is an example: his use of arithmetic is flawed at best and outright wrong at worst yet his ideas are simple. Again, one culture knows very little of the other culture, forget claims of the ‘the manner in which a book or article is written is itself the chief embodiment of the level of understanding that has been reached’. Snow’s point of ‘scientific illiteracy’ can be easily addressed by actually attempting to look at why the Snow is making such claims, why scientific writing is what it is, but the literary side does none of this. The introduction lost me at the point, there was no point in reading it. It also makes the claim that ‘science’ and ‘literature’ are not stable entities, but as Snow points out, he is speaking of their cultures, which comprises features past to present, that an entity is dynamic does not mean it is tabula rasa new every iteration. The introduction should be read after the book, to understand the extent of the anti/unscientific bent in the literary culture. I’m tired of this, so moving on. Snow’s work isn’t as biased as I’d suspected, stating that both thrive across a chasm of ‘mutual incomprehension’, with each h, lding skewed beliefs about the other, so much so that common ground is difficult to come by. Of particular importance is the idea that scientists are ‘shallowly optimistic’ and that literary intellectuals are ‘lacking in foresight and anti-intellectual’, both of which are strains prevailing in the current academic atmosphere, leading individuals to ‘interpret the past wrongly, to misjudge the present’ and to deny our hopes of the future’. Snow is aware of his cultural influences and writes that these cultures are particularly defined in his sphere of existence, so perhaps this mirrors, limitedly, the ethnoautobiography, only including ethnic/cultural influences. For the shallowly optimistic accusation, Snow writes of the difference between individual and social conditions: despite the continued poverty of the individual condition, the social condition has improved considerably, in fields of medicine, technology, health care, and nutrition. The scientists, for Snow, are impatient, inclined to do, ‘until it’s proved otherwise’. In a way, his idea of literary sensibility stagnation and scientific self-correction reflect the shift of dogmas, like that of heavy criticism of twin studies during a particular point in history in scientific study compared to the uncritical communist tint of some literary sensibilities even now. That the scientific revolution resulting in the net upliftment of the social condition is often dismissed and Snow covers most of his pages making a case for this, but again, he is aware ‘that people believe their myths as fact’. Notably, his take on Dostovesky’s rather unpalatable political ideas and how persons not knowing much of change and with a hostile attitude towards the scientific revolution will impose social change is a pretty decent take on today’s political systems that beginning to adopt a moral bias resembling one from the time when religion and state weren’t so separate, it is moving from secularism, the idea that there should be no dogmatic conventions or non-conventionalism, to relativism, where conventions are permissible. Oddly, he never mentions anything aside from observation and conversation. Making an empirical claim like this requires greater evidence, which is why he got lambasted badly by Leavis. Where is that scientific bent of mind? Nevertheless he makes a fair observation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manolo

    The main idea, that scholars who dwell in the humanities and those who specialise in scientific subjects are far from understanding each other, is both obvious and interesting. It's obvious because anyone who has heard, read or seen specialists talk about current issues can appreciate how different their conceptual foundations are. And it's interesting because most people don't seem to care or give it any importance. Snow talks (most of the time in circles, by the way) about the dangers of schol The main idea, that scholars who dwell in the humanities and those who specialise in scientific subjects are far from understanding each other, is both obvious and interesting. It's obvious because anyone who has heard, read or seen specialists talk about current issues can appreciate how different their conceptual foundations are. And it's interesting because most people don't seem to care or give it any importance. Snow talks (most of the time in circles, by the way) about the dangers of scholars barely communicating, but in hindsight I barely can recall his main ideas. The book is a jumbled mess and doesn't follow a particularly ordered scheme, and it was very difficult for me to understand where it was going. Still, he has the merit of having coined the concept of the two cultures (and having a name for a problem is the first step towards solving it). There are also some interesting ideas about how science could end world's hunger and suffering, but they're so tremendously naive they could make anyone laugh. For example, he mentions that the world couldn't be divided into poor and rich people by the year 2000, for it was already known how fortunes were made. Still, Snow understood that it's not good intentions, but capital and a well structured plan what would be needed to help the world's poorest countries. It would be interesting to see how Snow's narrative would've changed if he was still alive. With science becoming more interdisciplinary (i.e.: speech experts, mathematicians, AI scientists, sound engineers and countless technicians collaborating to make computers understand human speech, or art historians collaborating with computer scientist to unveil the secrets hidden under layers of paint) I guess he would've been more optimistic. Even if the gap is still pretty big, I think he would be rather happy to see the direction in which we're advancing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This was assigned reading for my Humanities MA over ten years ago. The premise is simple enough: there are two groups of people in the intellectual world - literary intellectuals and scientific intellectuals. These two cultures have their own languages and approaches to life and education, and they seem ignorant of one another, much to the ultimate peril of the world they share. Snow advocates for greater scientific literacy, and stands on the side of industrialists and the scientifically literat This was assigned reading for my Humanities MA over ten years ago. The premise is simple enough: there are two groups of people in the intellectual world - literary intellectuals and scientific intellectuals. These two cultures have their own languages and approaches to life and education, and they seem ignorant of one another, much to the ultimate peril of the world they share. Snow advocates for greater scientific literacy, and stands on the side of industrialists and the scientifically literate, whom he views as those who actually get things done in the world and who will be greatly needed to do the work of solving the issues of poverty, hunger, and inequality. He’s practical in that regard, and his intentions are noble, though his words are extremely general. His criticism of literary intellectuals being natural luddites also stings and doesn’t seem accurate to me even when applied in a general sense. In this edition of the book, Snow revisits his lecture four years later and talks about the response to it, as well as its shortcomings. This includes overestimating the speed of China’s industrialization, the omission of the social sciences in his separation of the cultures, and not simply naming it “the rich and the poor,” as that was the main thrust of the lecture he wanted his listeners to focus on. Instead, most critics got bogged down in semantics and micro details instead of using the lecture as a jumping off point for a discussion of how an interdisciplinary approach to education, with an emphasis on scientific literacy, could be used to resolve many of the world’s most persistent problems. Yes, we can discuss how accurate Snow’s dichotomy of intellectual life actually was and is, but that would be missing the greater goal. Were he to give this lecture in 2019, I fear people would still fall into the same old patterns of criticizing the most surface level points from the sidelines while neglecting the more noble intent of Snow’s words.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    While Snow did refer to his family background and class, it wasn't until Collini's introduction that I understood just how much the 'two cultures' were wrapped up in class issues. After understanding the historical background of the lecture, it is obvious that Snow was coming from a deeply personal place and did indeed view literary elites as 'the enemy,' not just of scientists, but of innovation. While Snow refers to big, sometimes emotive ideas, i.e. world peace through closing the gap between While Snow did refer to his family background and class, it wasn't until Collini's introduction that I understood just how much the 'two cultures' were wrapped up in class issues. After understanding the historical background of the lecture, it is obvious that Snow was coming from a deeply personal place and did indeed view literary elites as 'the enemy,' not just of scientists, but of innovation. While Snow refers to big, sometimes emotive ideas, i.e. world peace through closing the gap between the rich and the poor, these ideas are reduced to their 'scientific', therefore, meaureable qualities. He then goes on to say that he has no idea how this will work in the real world, that he has no sense of the political, meanwhile attacking the literary world, whose talents lie in just that shadow - creating a space in which ideas can be played out, science can be transferred to non-scientific minds, ideas are implemented throughout society. The main point of contention I have found with Snow's argument is that is coming from a very personal place, but is presented as 'fact' rather than opinion. Take for example, his rant against Faulkner in the early essays that later became the Rede lecture - that Faulkner 'gives sentimental reasons for treating Negroes as a different species.' Anyone who has studied Faullkner seriously would laugh at this as a reactionary statement, not a considered one. Yet, just these kinds of thoughts, coupled with Snow's personal history with England's class and educational systems are the basis for his attack on the literary world. that being said, his suggestions for moving forward by educating the world at large in science is a noble one, I just don't understand why he has to take literature down with him!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sefa

    In 1959 Rede lecture, Snow points that the intellectual life is split into "two cultures", science and humanities. Although he mentions scientists not understanding literature enough, he mostly blames literary scholars for not comprehending science. According to Snow, one of the reasons of the division is early specialization during education. Snow also argues that the gap between rich and poor countries can be eliminated with the help of science and he thinks wealthy countries must act to fix it In 1959 Rede lecture, Snow points that the intellectual life is split into "two cultures", science and humanities. Although he mentions scientists not understanding literature enough, he mostly blames literary scholars for not comprehending science. According to Snow, one of the reasons of the division is early specialization during education. Snow also argues that the gap between rich and poor countries can be eliminated with the help of science and he thinks wealthy countries must act to fix it. It is worth reading, interesting and controversial (see "Two cultures?" by F. R. Leavis). Although details are not valid anymore (the comparison between UK, US and USSR), main points are still relevant, I think. No idea about "real intellectuals" but based on my observation the division is very much alive, even after 50 years. When I was in college, most science/engineering students do not understand and do not have any interest in humanities, and vice versa.

  16. 4 out of 5

    dead letter office

    the author (who was some sort of a scientist and also some sort of a literary figure) examines what he sees to be the growing divide between the scientific community and the humanities. it's not that it's dated, because the divide is still there, but his approach to the problem seems (fifty years on) a little naive and maybe a bit alarmist. it would be kind of nice if educated people took some kind of interest in science and mathematics, though. and nothing frustrates me more than scientists and the author (who was some sort of a scientist and also some sort of a literary figure) examines what he sees to be the growing divide between the scientific community and the humanities. it's not that it's dated, because the divide is still there, but his approach to the problem seems (fifty years on) a little naive and maybe a bit alarmist. it would be kind of nice if educated people took some kind of interest in science and mathematics, though. and nothing frustrates me more than scientists and mathematicians who refuse to look beyond their own fields.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tam

    Well, I can't possibly rate this book, for it is basically a historical document for me. It was written more than 50 years ago, half a century, when sciences and technologies have not reached their status as of today. But the introduction is superb. It summarizes and analyzes critically, it discusses the changes after Snow delivered the old lecture, it points out its problems - things that no longer apply - but also talks about the implications to the modern time, for there are still lessons wort Well, I can't possibly rate this book, for it is basically a historical document for me. It was written more than 50 years ago, half a century, when sciences and technologies have not reached their status as of today. But the introduction is superb. It summarizes and analyzes critically, it discusses the changes after Snow delivered the old lecture, it points out its problems - things that no longer apply - but also talks about the implications to the modern time, for there are still lessons worthy of learning.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Prof. Mohamed Shareef

    The culture of science and the culture of humanities cannot be united because they belong to two entirely different rivers. So there is a growing misunderstanding between the people of these two cultures. This book can be better understood if it is read after reading the novels 'The Masters' and 'The Affair' written by C.P.Snow. If you don't have that much time, you can also go for the dramatized versions of them which are shorter. The culture of science and the culture of humanities cannot be united because they belong to two entirely different rivers. So there is a growing misunderstanding between the people of these two cultures. This book can be better understood if it is read after reading the novels 'The Masters' and 'The Affair' written by C.P.Snow. If you don't have that much time, you can also go for the dramatized versions of them which are shorter.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Fascinating essay about the book by Peter Dizikes: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/boo... who discusses whether a "third culture" (evolutionary biologists, psychologists and neurscientists) is "superseding literary artists in their ability to 'shape the thoughts of their generation.' " Fascinating essay about the book by Peter Dizikes: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/boo... who discusses whether a "third culture" (evolutionary biologists, psychologists and neurscientists) is "superseding literary artists in their ability to 'shape the thoughts of their generation.' "

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Delightful quick autobiographical read details Snow's mutually exclusive circles of literary and scientific friends. I notice much the same in my own life. I don't meet many mathematicians, scientists or technicians who are into poetry or literature generally. Delightful quick autobiographical read details Snow's mutually exclusive circles of literary and scientific friends. I notice much the same in my own life. I don't meet many mathematicians, scientists or technicians who are into poetry or literature generally.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zhijing Jin

    The author Snow argues that, in the British system, there is a severe imbalance of the number of talents in humanities and natural science. He proved this by asking intellectuals "do you know what is mass and acceleration?", which is equivalent to "can you read?" in humanities. Only 1 out of 10 provides a positive answer. This experiments shows that the scientific illiteracy is 90% among intellectuals. He then argues that this imbalanced expertise of humanities and natural science is detrimental The author Snow argues that, in the British system, there is a severe imbalance of the number of talents in humanities and natural science. He proved this by asking intellectuals "do you know what is mass and acceleration?", which is equivalent to "can you read?" in humanities. Only 1 out of 10 provides a positive answer. This experiments shows that the scientific illiteracy is 90% among intellectuals. He then argues that this imbalanced expertise of humanities and natural science is detrimental, as the US, Germany, former USSR, and Scandinavian countries pays lots of attention to science, which is essential to the world after WWII. Comments: From a practitioner's view, it is about a tradeoff. If students are taught every subject from humanities to science, then they lack expertise. So it is about how to balance education curricula, given what the world needs (and will need soon). Another point is that if we observe most employees, their knowledge learned at school is hardly applied anywhere. For the mass population who go through 12 years of education until high school, the main point is not about what to teach, but how to let students know the appropriate application of book knowledge into real life. For example, we can use the probabilistic view (e.g., survival bias) to identify what is propaganda and what is authentic takeaways (e.g., attribute X leads to success). We can also use logical reasoning to assist a lot of decisions. On the contrary, knowing that chemical A + chemical B can produce chemical C, or a trigonometry formula is not that applicable to ordinary people's life after graduation. These knowledges are like isolate islands from daily life, which is proved by the fact that most people forget them when they are older than 30. This proof is reasonable because if these knowledges were practiced, people would not forget them. For more skilled people, such as high-tech researchers, they need to go through philosophy classes to learn "what is right, what is wrong", and also international politics to learn "what is needed by the world; what will be damaging the entire human society". After these lessons, there is much less need for humanitarians to have after-arguments criticizing the over-development of nuclear power, or negligence in cybersecurity technologies. Such mandatory education solves the problem in the first place, instead of reflections by another party. I think this is what Snow wants to promote. ------ Resources: A succinct summary is here.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    It was quite interesting to read this, after having heard the phrase "The Two Cultures" and hearing paraphrases of the lecture for years. The 50th year anniversary edition has an introduction by Stefan Collini at least half as long as the original lecture plus the second look. I would definitely recommend this as it fills in the context around Snow and the conditions of the lecture and its spread. For the lecture itself, I was surprised at how short it was and how the focus was not just on the ( It was quite interesting to read this, after having heard the phrase "The Two Cultures" and hearing paraphrases of the lecture for years. The 50th year anniversary edition has an introduction by Stefan Collini at least half as long as the original lecture plus the second look. I would definitely recommend this as it fills in the context around Snow and the conditions of the lecture and its spread. For the lecture itself, I was surprised at how short it was and how the focus was not just on the (supposed) divide between literary and scientific intellectuals. It focuses quite a bit on the gap between rich and poor countries. I'd say that this part of the lecture has been fairly well addressed in the intervening years (that is, the poorer countries of the world in the past 50 years have seen huge progress in life expectancy, sufficient food, and children surviving into adulthood). That's not to say there isn't more progress to be made, but the world's poorest have seen the fruits of the scientific revolution to some extent now. For the divide between literary and scientific types, I don't know if progress has been made. Snow I think explains the situation somewhat in an exaggerated form, but it seems to me that the core argument rings true. I read a lot of history and philosophy, but I wouldn't consider myself literary (I have read some fiction, but I find I prefer non-fiction). Most of my friends are also on the scientific side. I don't detect overt antagonism between the groups (though in the common culture many physicists do seem to not appreciate philosophy), but there is an awareness that there is far more innumeracy and lack of scientific knowledge than would be expected. It seems that Snow's point of educating people broadly seems like a good suggestion, but as with everything, the devil is in the details. I'd still recommend reading the essay despite its age because it outlines the issues well and offers a good analysis of how things were. It's also not that long, and fairly easy to read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    I feel like I was sold a false bill of goods. This was supposed to be the essay that set out clearly the gulf between the sciences and the humanities. I’d been hearing about it for years. I’m pretty I sure I skimmed it once online: “Yep, the sciences… yes, literary… poor communication… dire consequences, ok…” I’d ordered a hard copy some time ago. I anticipated an explanation of oppositional modes of thought, of how these two cultures are so distant. Something that would define patterns or traje I feel like I was sold a false bill of goods. This was supposed to be the essay that set out clearly the gulf between the sciences and the humanities. I’d been hearing about it for years. I’m pretty I sure I skimmed it once online: “Yep, the sciences… yes, literary… poor communication… dire consequences, ok…” I’d ordered a hard copy some time ago. I anticipated an explanation of oppositional modes of thought, of how these two cultures are so distant. Something that would define patterns or trajectories of scholarship, or of discourse. But no. Perhaps the fault was mine, my expectations where they were. If that’s what I was looking for or what you’re looking for, well, this summary basically covers it. Instead, Snow’s essay is about politics, comparative education systems, and income inequality. Bringing the disciplines together, he says, is necessary for closing the gulf between rich and poor. He only characterizes—no, caricatures—the two disciplines. Or if we’re honest in our analysis, he really just makes an argument that our politicians should be better versed in the sciences, so we can teach more science to our students, because that is the solution to our economic problems. And in the end, Snow doesn’t seem to think much of the humanities. (By the way, I don’t recall the term “humanities” appearing anywhere in the essay. Instead, it’s “literary intellectuals” by which he appears to mean writers and critics, and not scholars, and within that, maybe even just novelists. And he certainly doesn’t seem to mean the arts more broadly; he doesn’t use the word “arts” until the last page of the sequel essay he wrote four years later.) No, mostly he makes fun of the literary intellectuals, who he claims labeled themselves intellectuals and, being a bunch of luddites, immerse themselves in the past, “wishing the future did not exist.” He even titles a section: “Intellectuals as Natural Luddites.” The literary intellectuals are the traditionalists, he says, and are ill-suited for contemporary times. The culture of scientists, on the other hand, “contains a great deal of argument, usually much more rigorous, and almost always at a higher conceptual level, than literary persons’—even though the scientists do cheerfully use words in senses which literary persons don’t recognize, the senses are exact ones. And as if to put a pin on the point: “Remember, these are very intelligent men.” And later: “In the moral, they are by and large the soundest group of intellectuals we have; there is a moral component right in the grain of science itself, and almost all scientists form their own judgments of the moral life.” Any such defense of the literary crowd? Nope. But wait! The scientists, says Snow, don’t read very much. “Their imaginative understanding is less than it could be. They are self-impoverished.” Ah, there is the value of the writers. But wait—what’s the next sentence? “But what about the other side [the literary intellectuals]? They are self-impoverished too—perhaps more seriously, because they are vainer about it.” Really? I guess Science is the true intellectual feat of humanity, says Snow, and what the writers need to do is learn more about it and spread the good word more. And having established that, Snow takes on the education system in the U.K., measuring it up against the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., hardly to return. Is there anything about empirical sources of knowledge (science!) versus discursive sources of knowledge (humanities!)? Nope. Anything about isolating variables in experiments versus hypothetical variables in fiction? Nope. Anything in there about the balance of reason and feeling? Nope. This is what I wanted. This is what it seems the title suggests. Or, this is what I projected onto the title. I was looking for an exploration of the differences between those who scour the world for knowledge and those who explore the implications of that knowledge. I was hoping for something that laid out different intellectual frames of thinking, the kind you’ll find in James Turner’s book Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities. No such landscape here. Now, to his credit, in his essay three years later (“The Two Cultures: A Second Look”), Snow admits that describing the two cultures wasn’t really his goal—it was about income inequality: “Before I wrote the lecture I thought of calling it ‘The Rich and the Poor’, and I rather wish I hadn’t changed my mind.” And further to his credit, he says there’s nothing original to his thoughts, and he downplays any significance to his words except that they happened to come at a time when people wanted to hear about… two cultures. He writes: The first deduction, then, is that these ideas were not at all original, but were waiting in the air. The second deduction is, I think, equally obvious. It is that there must be something in them. I don’t mean that they are necessarily right…but contained in them or hidden beneath them, there is something which people, all over the world, suspect is relevant to present actions. It would not have mattered whether these things were said by me or Bronowski or Kling, or A or B or C. My guess is that the title made the piece. It captured a general sense of divide. And it promises a lot, and I bet people (like me) heard about it, projected layers and nuance onto it, and then talked about it with others. The title is perfect in its simplicity, after all. It suggests its conclusion right from the get go, and this makes coffee table conversation easy. And so, while I do think Snow’s moral center is generally praiseworthy—his whole goal is to help the impoverished people of all nations find gainful employment for healthier, happier, and longer living—the work left me wanting to read something else. PS. Something else worth reading is the Introduction, by Stefan Collini, written in 1993. But that's a whole separate review. Do I recommend it? No. Kind of a bear to get through, and a little insulting. But perhaps yes, so that you can be authoritative when people bring it up. Would I teach it? No. Something like this might be useful in an interdisciplinary class like the digital humanities class I’m about to teach, but this isn’t the text I would choose. Lasting impressions: Snow is sometimes humble and deeply interested in the issues of his day. And, he appears to have credentials: he had both a PhD in Physics and had published numerous novels and works of non-fiction. But the text falls short of its title. This isn’t about “The Two Cultures”—it’s about global income inequality. If you want to read about the sciences and humanities, keep looking…

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paulo Glez Ogando

    Snow delivered 7 May 1959 a lecture at Cambridge: "The Two cultures and the scientific revolution", and immediately after a book was printed. The book I am talking about here is a second and expanded version, "The Two Cultures: A Second Look". The book has an introduction by Stefan Collini, almost the same lenght than Snow's text. He tells a pre-history of the debate for a whole perspective, Snow's own life, the developement of the idea of the "two cultures", reactions and controversies after the Snow delivered 7 May 1959 a lecture at Cambridge: "The Two cultures and the scientific revolution", and immediately after a book was printed. The book I am talking about here is a second and expanded version, "The Two Cultures: A Second Look". The book has an introduction by Stefan Collini, almost the same lenght than Snow's text. He tells a pre-history of the debate for a whole perspective, Snow's own life, the developement of the idea of the "two cultures", reactions and controversies after the lecture, or the changing map of the academic disciplines with the current increasing specialisation. With the "two cultures" Snow alludes to the 'literary intellectuals' and the 'natural scientists', between whom he claimed to find a profound mutual suspicion and incomprehension. However, in the originial lecture he was isolating only one small corner of the situation: he was talking primarily to educators and those being educated. He explains why he selected that particular word, and in addition he says that «the reasons for the existence of the two cultures are many, deep, and complex, some rooted in social histories, some in personal histories, and some in the inner dynamic of the different kinds of mental activity themselves». Besides, Snow considers the situation in England, contrasting mainly with those of the United States and of the U.S.S.R.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Five stars because this is a classic example of a common argument: as knowledge and knowledge production has become more and more specialized, there is an unbridgeable gulf between the arts and humanities on one side and the sciences on the other. The book is basically an attack on any epistemological position other than positivism. The author's test of whether an intellectual can rightly call him/herself an intellectual is whether they can explain the second law of thermodynamics is frankly con Five stars because this is a classic example of a common argument: as knowledge and knowledge production has become more and more specialized, there is an unbridgeable gulf between the arts and humanities on one side and the sciences on the other. The book is basically an attack on any epistemological position other than positivism. The author's test of whether an intellectual can rightly call him/herself an intellectual is whether they can explain the second law of thermodynamics is frankly condescending. That said, it is really true. One reason why politics is so shrill in the United States today is that activists are unable to access the policy making machinery of government without engineering public moral outrage. Government is now exceedingly technocratic and beholden to the social science outlook that unless an activist can master the literature in a given policy area, they are excluded from debate. You have to either take the think tank advocacy research route or the community organizing route.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    The Two Cultures C.P. Snow I read this book a couple of decades ago, but recently realized I could only remember a bit of it. So I decided to read it again. Only The Rede Lecture (1963) has been read and reviewed; not the second part of the book writen in 1963: The two cultures, a second look. I. The Rede Lecture (1959) Under the catching concept that a divorce has happened between the arts and the sciences, Snow puts his finger on critical failures of UK's educational system of the time. He conten The Two Cultures C.P. Snow I read this book a couple of decades ago, but recently realized I could only remember a bit of it. So I decided to read it again. Only The Rede Lecture (1963) has been read and reviewed; not the second part of the book writen in 1963: The two cultures, a second look. I. The Rede Lecture (1959) Under the catching concept that a divorce has happened between the arts and the sciences, Snow puts his finger on critical failures of UK's educational system of the time. He contends that the closing of the gap lying between these two cultures is necessary both in practical and intellectual senses (p. 50). Going beyond the topic of the two cultures, The Rede Lecture tries to identify where the current educational system was failing: In leading to the intellectual oportunity loss directly attributable to the divide between arts and sciences (the two cultures), in the inability to properly invest on productive industry, and in the inability to educate a workforce needed to help reduce the gap between poor and rich countries. 1. The two cultures Summary: Snow declares the existence of "a gulf of mutual incomprehension" between literary intellectuals and scientists, particularly, the physicists. The former do not appreciate the fact that scientific culture is a culture in both intellectual and antropological sense. As examples of the intellectual impoverishment he mentions that the litearary intellectuals can not describe the second law of thermodynamics, which he defines as "about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?". For the science camp, he mentions that most scientists his team had interviewed (about 30-40 thousand, about 1 in 4 in the UK, most aged under 40) confessed not having read much but "a bit of Dickens". He blames for this situation the specialization in the UK school education system, perhaps dictated by the Oxford and Cambridge scholarship examinations (p. 19). And warns that "All the lessons of our education history suggests we are only capable of increasing specialisation, not decreasing it." (p. 19) 2. Intellectuals as natural ludites Summary: Intellectuals have not yet (in 1959) begun to comprehend the industrial revolution. The industrial-scientific revolution, and the agricultural revolution "are the only qualitative changes in social living that men have ever known." Neither the traditional culture nor the scientists listenend to the needs to train people in science, particularly applied science. In fact, he accuses both of them of snobism. And harshly scolds such snobs with sentences of the kind: "The industrial revolution looked very different accourding to whether one saw it from above or below." 3. The scientific revolution Summary: The scientific revolution is the application of science to industry (p. 29). He has realized to his surprise that in the USA (where there is a wider acquaintance with industry) no novelist has ever assumed his readership to be acquainted with industry. Pure scientists have been ignorant of productive industry (p. 31). Yet, educating in "productive industry" (PI) is essential to "coming out on top of the scientific revolution" (p. 37). Compares UK to USA and USSR. The Russians have a deeper understanding of the PI than the American or the English. Then outlines his specification for coming on top of the industrial revolution, in terms of how many men and women are to be educated at university level in each of 4 categories (pp. 37-8). Among the advanced countries, he thinks that the UK has the most "precarious position" (p. 38) because their ancestors had invested too little talent in the industrial revolution and too much in the Indian empire (p. 39). He then warns that the UK must make changes and educate themselves "or watch a steep decline in our own lifetime". 4. The Rich and the Poor Summary: Snow identifies the "gap" between rich and poor nations as the main issue caused by the scientific revolution, and makes a plea for the West to help in reducing such gap. Its "divided culture", he says, is a "trouble" to this (p.42), as it incapacitates the West to grasp the size of the problem and the acceleration required to fix it. The example set by China (p. 45), which had transformed its society and education system in just 10 years, proves that lack of industrial tradition is not an impediment to industrialization, and therefore only "will" is needed (p.45). It is therefore possible to carry out the scientific revolution in India, Africa, South East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East within 50 years. Aside from will, capital is needed (p.46), in fact trained human capital. Snow proposes that enough scientists (armies of them) be educated by the West and sent to these countries to develop them. The qualitites of the scientist are glorified as being ideal for the task (p. 46). Reducing the gap between the rich and poor countries is an imperious need, and participating is needed to avoid that the West becomes an "enclave", and the UK and "enclave of an enclave". Criticism on chapter 4: This chapter leaves me with the feeling that Snow is aiming at an incredibly complex problem which requires much deeper analysis. Of course, it is easy to see this in 2016, about the time he predicted was needed to fix the problem. In hindsight, his strategy seems simplistic at best. I wonder if Snow's vision can be termed as "postocolonial" in the sense that (1) he is in possession of truth (he knows what needs to be done, with little analysis to back his views up), and (2) he ignores any forces of transformation that are borne within those countries. The fate of the poor world is viewed as dependent exclusively on the will of the West. He fails to recognize the need for local empreneurship to be the leading force in the development of poor countries. In his vision, intervention by the West, rather than collaboration, will fix the problem.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Robbins

    C.P. Snow’s famous lecture makes more sense when paired with his later writing “A Second Look” from 1963. Yet, the most confusing aspects of the original Rede Lecture is the conflation and the interchangeable use of ideas about science, industry and technology. The “two cultures” is not so much humanities vs. science but the academic literary intellectuals vs. a techno-industrial-science research elite. While I can accept that this might have been a tension in post-war Britain the great question C.P. Snow’s famous lecture makes more sense when paired with his later writing “A Second Look” from 1963. Yet, the most confusing aspects of the original Rede Lecture is the conflation and the interchangeable use of ideas about science, industry and technology. The “two cultures” is not so much humanities vs. science but the academic literary intellectuals vs. a techno-industrial-science research elite. While I can accept that this might have been a tension in post-war Britain the great question is whether the “two cultures” perspective is of any use today as a explanatory framework for understanding a post-truth world. It might be. Perhaps there are two cultures: One believes in replicable and naturalistic knowledge built by peer-reviewed and systematic thinking and the other that believes that knowledge (and facts) should be arranged to serve political purposes. The latter believing that the truth of a political party or movement is important than the “facts.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aidan Lowrie

    An interesting look at the problems in Britain's education system that have lead to two (or arguably three) distinct schools of thought. I found the discussion of the differences in education across the world (in the 1950's at least) to be particularly fascinating, as the way in which people are educated was something I'd ignorantly considered to be uniform across the planet. My favourite aspect of the lecture came near the end, when Snow spoke of the divide between the rich and poor across the An interesting look at the problems in Britain's education system that have lead to two (or arguably three) distinct schools of thought. I found the discussion of the differences in education across the world (in the 1950's at least) to be particularly fascinating, as the way in which people are educated was something I'd ignorantly considered to be uniform across the planet. My favourite aspect of the lecture came near the end, when Snow spoke of the divide between the rich and poor across the world and the ways in which the 'developed' countries of the world need to band together to address global inequalities to prevent the divide from growing further. I think that while steps are being made in the right direction, there's still a long way to go before the world reaches the point he envisioned.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sharad Pandian

    A brief book 50 years old, lamenting the split of intellectuals into non-interacting groups of those who are inclined to the scientific and those who are inclined to the literary. Little has changed, and his ambitious dream that the developed Western world channel capital and resources into the less developed world to even out the benefits of the engineering revolution has not come to pass, nor does it seem likely to. In many ways it is outdated, because with the growth of massive corporations i A brief book 50 years old, lamenting the split of intellectuals into non-interacting groups of those who are inclined to the scientific and those who are inclined to the literary. Little has changed, and his ambitious dream that the developed Western world channel capital and resources into the less developed world to even out the benefits of the engineering revolution has not come to pass, nor does it seem likely to. In many ways it is outdated, because with the growth of massive corporations it is rapidly becoming clear that unchecked capital is not quite the wholesome good it purports to be, but there's something endearing in Snow's simple optimism.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dominika

    This is a rejection of romanticism before modernism, celebrating scientific progress. He seems a bit more intersectional in his disciplines at the end of the book, but comes off as a STEM lord because to him, it's just the most logical solution. I would argue that there are far more types of people than what he considers the two cultures: Literary scholars and scientists, and he's very clearly biased in some of his thoughts (scientists don't see race....LOL). But there is a persistent population This is a rejection of romanticism before modernism, celebrating scientific progress. He seems a bit more intersectional in his disciplines at the end of the book, but comes off as a STEM lord because to him, it's just the most logical solution. I would argue that there are far more types of people than what he considers the two cultures: Literary scholars and scientists, and he's very clearly biased in some of his thoughts (scientists don't see race....LOL). But there is a persistent population that tries to reject progress and I agree with the general point that nobody wants to live in the past unless you're wealthy and are ok with a healthy dose of child death.

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