The Third Culture

John Mcreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 2 Sep 1995 22:38:14 +0900

Has anyone but me read John Brockman's _The Third Culture_? The content
is fascinating, interviews with eminent scientists--mostly biologists
and physicists--followed up with interviews of others in the
group commenting on the principal figure in each section. What is
directly relevant to the kinds of debates we've had on this list
(in re postmodernism, mathematics, scientific vs. humanistic
anthropology) is Brockman's claim that the scientists who appear in
the book are the heralds of a "third culture". The allusion is,
of course, to C.P. Snow's two cultures:the sciences and the
humanities. Where Snow hoped that figures would emerge who would
help to overcome this division, Brockman's claim is that these
scientists have rendered the humanities irrelevant to the modern
world by writing in a way that speaks directly to the concerns of
the educated public. Since what he considers irrelevant is most of
what passes for theory in literary criticism, cultural studies, etc.,
this is a mighty challenge indeed.

John McCreery