Are We Beyond the Two Cultures?

Seed, May 08, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I have always considered it one of my strengths that I have a scientific knowledge that is almost the equal of my conceptual and philosophical knowledge. C.P. Snow emphasized the importance of this fifty years ago (when I was a child of 30 days): "At some point scientists had ceased to be considered intellectuals, Snow noted, and though any educated person was required to know Shakespeare, almost none knew the second law of thermodynamics." See also John Connell. My introduction to the idea was from Heinlein's Notebooks of Lazarus Long: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects!" (please don't write to complain about the reference; it's Heinlein and it was the 1950s. 'Nuff said).
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