The Two Cultures Debate Turns Sixty.
One refreshing way to frame partisan intellectual debates is to think about status. If we strip away all the rhetoric and attempts to occupy the moral high ground what we’re often left with is the claim that some person or discipline should be raised or lowered in status, usually relative to some rival group. This is not a bad way to think about C. P. Snow’s famous “Two Cultures” lecture and the debate it sparked. “Scientists should be higher in status,” is the essence of Snow’s argument. The literary critic F. R. Leavis—who emerged as Snow’s most ferocious opponent—was far less generous towards his own tribe: both literary and scientific intellectuals other than himself should be much, much lower in status, Leavis seemed to feel, especially Snow who should have no status at all.
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