May 25, 2009

Bridging the gap between the Humanities and the Sciences

So it's been a couple weeks since my last post. You know how it goes, classes ending, submitting grades, finishing papers, etc. And let's not forget the importance of taking a much needed rest from work!

Well, not too much is going on now . . . besides teaching the lab sections for summer courses and working on summer research projects. Anyways, the other day I was browsing the Edge website and came across this page celebrating the 50th anniversary of C.P. Snow's lecture on the "Two Cultures," that is the culture of the literary intellectual and the culture of the scientist. At the time, the two cultures were seen as divided camps of thinking. Those in the humanities were viewed as the true intellectuals (i.e., those in philosophy, literature/poetry, art, the social sciences, etc.). And the expectation was that scientists had very little to say about culture, the human experience, or human nature.

50 years later, Seed Magazine asked members of the "Third Culture" (i.e., those bridging the gap between the humanities and the sciences) whether the two cultures are still divided today. Visit the link and check out the videos. They're pretty good, and quite short (6-10 mins.). Overall, the answer seems to be that the two cultures are not as divided as once was and is more like a continuum from one pole to the other. Advancements made in the science of the mind have especially contributed to bridging this gap. It has helped changed how we think about those abstract concepts (e.g., human nature, religion, even beauty). As well, it is young scholars who are becoming more and more interested in collaboration among different fields of inquiry.

Below are the videos from Harvard psychologists, Steven Pinker and Marc Hauser. Enjoy!:

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