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The Two Cultures
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The Two Cultures

The Two Cultures is the title of an influential 1959 lecture by British scientist and novelist C.P. Snow.

Its thesis is that the breakdown of communication between the "two cultures" of modern society - sciences and the humanities - was a major hindrance to solving the world's problems. As a trained scientist who was also a successful novelist, Snow was well placed to pose the question, though his ideas were derided by the literary establishment led by F. R. Leavis. Published in book form, Snow's lecture was nonetheless widely read and discussed, leading him to write a follow-up, The Two Cultures: A Second Look, in 1959.

The term has entered the general lexicon as a shorthand for differences between what might be called the qualitative and quantitative outlooks on life.

Famous quotes

  1. I remember G. H. Hardy once remarking to me in mild puzzlement, some time in the 1930s, Have you noticed how the word "intellectual" is used nowadays? There seems to be a new definition which certainly doesn't include Rutherford or Eddington or Dirac or Adrian or me? It does seem rather odd, don't y'know.
  2. A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second law of thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?