Diametrically Beyond Two Cultures: Conflict between science and humanities is rooted in cognition.
In the Rede Lecture of 1959, the scientist and writer C. P. Snow described what he termed “the two cultures.” The term defined a cultural world with humanistic intellectuals at one pole and physical scientists and engineers at the other. Snow continued: “Between the two, a gulf of mutual incomprehension—sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding. They have a curious distorted image of each other. Their attitudes are so different that, even on the level of emotion, they can’t find much common ground.”
As Jiro Tanaka points out in a recent essay:
Over the ensuing decades, Snow’s lecture has elicited impassioned commentary from intellectual luminaries such as the literary critic F. R. Leavis and the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould. The academic culture wars of the eighties and nineties were in many ways a re-enactment of this feud. Partisans on each side intoned their shibboleths proudly, like battle cries, until one day this polarization coalesced, farcically and irrevocably, in the form of Alan Sokal’s Social Text hoax.
“But,” Tanaka asks, “what if this divide between literary intellectuals and physical scientists were more than just a clash of cultures?” and continues: “The answer I would suggest as the leading candidate is a spectrum (or continuum) ranging from ‘mechanistic’ to ‘mentalistic’ thinking” like that proposed by the diametric model of the mind.*