C.P. Snow’s ‘Two Cultures’


Everyone who’s studied arts or sciences at university will be aware of the gulf between the faculties. Arts students think scientists are arrogant and insular, and scientists think the arts are pointless and dumb. When engineers get involved, the mutual hatred rises like in a cartoon thermometer.

The separation has been referred to as ‘The Two Cultures’ since C.P. Snow coined the term in a 1959 lecture. I just re-read the book to try and see what light Snow sheds on the problem, and whether it’s still historically relevant today, when people like Brian Cox and projects like Synapse are helping to bridge the gap.

What I found was a lecture that defined a problem while typifying it, rather than helping to solve it.

Read my review of the book here, and see if you agree with my conclusion: that while Snow and Leavis were taking pot-shots across the arts-science divide, they were missing a much bigger and more important problem that could unify the faculties – or sink them both.