Two Cultures, Three or just One?

Posted on August 19, 2009



This year marks the 50th anniversary of the conference by C.P. Snow on ‘The Two Cultures “, the one in which he complained about the hegemony of the “Literary Culture” upon the “Scientific-Empirical Culture”. Since then, there are still those who keep on dreaming with the day in which the scientists replace the politicians. Others, like John Brockman,  do their day editing and publishing best-sellers of “Pop Science” and promoting from some foundation the advent of a supposed “Third Culture”, that of the “Humanist Scientists” who educate the public (by chance those that he manage).

Paraphrasing J.M. Keynes we might say that the scientists who believe themselves free of literary influences are usually slaves of some defunct philosopher. In this case Plato, who dreamed of expelling the poets from his ideal Republic. He too was aspiring to end with the diffusers of myths and replace them by cultivators of the rigorous thought (his, of course).

But, since Thomas Khun published “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962), we know that the scientists stick to erroneous ideas (paradigms) for many subjective reasons (pride, prestige, interest and even religious faith). Some “evangelists” of the popularization of science are pathetic, like these ethologists who studying the pigeons give an opinion on the social human organization. The biologists will be able to keep on scanning the cerebral activity and on registering the hormonal changes –surely with big profit for the Humanity. But they hardly  will advance one centimeter further away from Shakespeare and Freud in the comprehension (and the control) of the Passions.