The Two Cultures and a Second Look
Third culture required
Snow's Rede Lecture "The two cultures" today looks still interesting and to a good part prophetic. As he himself recognized in "A second look", he had most probably only the merit of pointing out the matter at the right time and eventually place
Snow's Rede Lecture "The two cultures" today looks still interesting and to a good part prophetic. As he himself recognized in "A second look", he had most probably only the merit of pointing out the matter at the right time and eventually place (Cambridge). The matter is the division among intellectuals between humanism and science. This gap causes bad uncommunicability between the parties, with the former essentially advocating the title itself of intellectuals only for themselves while being almost completely ignorant even of the second law of thermodynamics (compared, on the other side, to a fundamental like Shakespeare) and ignoring the latters. Such uncommunicability is dangerous because of the role the intellectuals (should) play in politics (in the Roman sense), which is decision making or orienting. Snow sides with the scientists and defends the merits of the Scientific Revolution they incepted, which brought the improvement of life quality evident to anyone, also to those neglecting it and nostalgic of a non-existent pre-scientific golden age.
Snow's core concern is, interestingly, humanitarian: science and its products need to be extended to all world to share with them such better life quality. Thus, this gap needs to be closed, and quickly - Snow already recognized the acceleration of social changes and of technology of Kurzweilian taste as of today. And the place to merge the fields into a third culture is, of course, educational institutions and programs, which he compares and criticizes (American: low level is general and not rigorous but wide, high level is the thoughest; Russian: though since the beginning, and hyperspecialistic at high-level; English: rigorous and specialistic also at low level).
This edition of the Lecture also contains a long introduction on premises, context and consequences of the speech, which I suggest to put as afterwards and read after the actual text(s).
A landmark in Western culture, also because inherent especially or only to it, it gave voice to the latent zeitgeist and it is important above all for this feat, besides being well structured. For the rest, a bit overestimated.