Before we move from “Divided Faculties”, I want to pass along Steven Pinker’s “Science is Not Your Enemy: An impassioned plea to neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians” as another way to consider the two cultures in the twenty-first century. (Here is a link to the article: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114127/science-not-enemy-humanities.) Where Snow grounds his literary intellectuals in deconstructionism, Pinker goes so far as to say that those who resist science often do so not so much based on an inclination to reject notions of true or false, but on a resentment of the approaches used by scientists: “In the major journals of opinion, scientific carpetbaggers are regularly accused of determinism, reductionism, essentialism, positivism, and worst of all, something called ‘scientism.’”
Pinker includes a speech from G.W. Bush’s adviser given in 2007 to support the anti-science sentiment, where scientific discovery is seen as “soul-less scientism” which compromises the “moral and spiritual health of our nation, the continued vitality of science, and our own self-understanding as human beings and as children of the West.” In our readings, we have become familiar with the division of science and literature based on intellectualism’s assertion of the importance of studying the classics and of adopting a deconstructionist attitude toward scientific truths. It is useful to understand that the category of “anti-science” has been expanded to include those who see science as impinging on their faith. Pinker defends the work of scientists as “of a piece with philosophy, reason, and Enlightenment humanism”, rather than sacrilegious labor, which aligns with Snow’s understanding of scientists as equally concerned with both the moral and social life.
Snow notes the gap between the two cultures as having been widened during the thirty years prior to his lecture, saying that at one point the groups once “managed a kind of frozen smile across the gulf”. Education is discussed as the only way to reconcile the two cultures. However, that reconciliation has yet to come, especially within universities – as Pinker points out, the humanities is “the domain in which the intrusion of science has produced the strongest recoil. Yet it is just that domain that would seem to be most in need of an infusion of new ideas.” Since Snow’s lecture, the two cultures have been politicized in new ways, redefined, re-categorized, and have undergone a replacement of prejudices, but the issue is still intact – and as we can see through Pinker’s article, the solution that Snow sought remains hazy.