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The Two Cultures (Canto)
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Top Customer Reviews
If anyone reads the second half of this essay, they see that it writes about the widening gap between rich countries and poor - the technologically trained and untrained. Yes, Snow writes about the schism and even mutual suspicion between the communities of liberal arts and hard sciences. That's just a fact, at least as true now as it was 45 years ago. That is not what's interesting.
The consequence is what matters. Overpopulation, mass starvation, and destruction by war or disease are political problems. The solutions must involve tools provided by technology. The tragedy of "the two cultures" is the breakdown between the politicians who must wield the tools and the technologists who must create them. This is not about technology controlling the world, it is about creating a generation of thinkers who can reason about both social and technical problems. It is about education that allows people to examine the physical facts of the physical world that underly so many curable causes of human misery. It is about understanding the technology of possible solutions well enough to weigh the costs and rewards in a rational way.
As I write this, the 2000-era Bush administration is busy firing science advisors who don't give the "right" answer, is cancelling the space research programs that have given the largest volume of new knowledge, and creating new scorched-earth policies for environmental management. It's a problem not just in the US, but worldwide. This is exactly the failure that Snow hoped so fervently that educated men and women would have the wisdom to prevent.
Let's call it a must read.
C. P. Snow was a British scientist and novelist. His life straddled “the two cultures,” the scientific and the “classical” one, and thus he was in an ideal position to expound on the subject, which he did in 1959, in the “Rede Lecture” series. This series of lectures dates back to the 16th century, named after a British Chief Justice, and is given at Cambridge. They still exist, though they seem to be held on a more intermediate basis in the 21st century. The current Kindle edition is composed of 10 introductory essays, which is almost half of the work. The other half is Snow’s actual Rede lecture presented in 1959, and then a “second look” by Snow at the original lecture, which he presented four years later. The latter lecture addressed the impact and response to the original.
Naturally the 10 introductory essays are of variable quality. For me though, they provided much background on Snow himself, as well as the issues of the day which his central thesis addressed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Stirring prose and compelling case for bridging the gap between the sciences and the humanities. The retrospective brings the arguments up to date. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Multiversalist
Great book. Definitely worth reading. I only leave four and five star reviews for products I would purchase again and recommend to friends and family. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Buyer
Older folks may remember it fondly as THE ABACUS AND THE ROSE, the title under which this Elder first bought it. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jack Sember Lewis
A little bit dry but brings up the important idea of how literature and science fit in and which is more important to learnPublished 14 months ago by kmbjac
A dated novel which has little current relevance. I couldn't help escape the images of a take-off of Great Expectations, very derivative. Read morePublished on March 16, 2014 by craigr1971
Only needed it for class, but gives a good perspective of how science and literary minds should work together in societyPublished on September 9, 2013 by rawr
Despite these lectures having been given decades ago, the central question is still relevant. It is a useful text for students of both cultures (for the divide remains) to read to... Read morePublished on September 4, 2013 by Chelle
C.P. Snow's 1959 Cambridge lecture 'The Two Cultures' is mainly remembered for the descriptor it gave to a growing academic polarization between science and humanities that many... Read morePublished on June 26, 2012 by whiteelephant