Ends and meanings (2 of 2)

September 20, 2012

Martin Willis' defence of the humanities in the face of the current political bias towards the sciences was eloquent, impassioned and timely. I was puzzled, though, by his stated regret that the phrase "the two cultures" had not yet been "left behind". The two cultures of art and science were in place long before C.P. Snow's 1959 Rede Lecture, and Willis' article itself is based on the (correct) premise that humanistic and scientific study are different in important ways.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider, even to embrace, the model of two distinct cultures that can nonetheless speak to each other across the divide, and to celebrate the idea that the humanities and the sciences, although both driven, as Willis rightly says, by "curiosity and imagination", each have a unique contribution to make to higher education and to society.

Gregory Tate, Lecturer in English literature, University of Surrey

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