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03 JANUARY 2013

The Value of Culture: Two Cultures

"Melvyn Bragg considers the 150–year history of the Two Cultures debate. In 1959 the novelist C.P. Snow delivered a lecture in Cambridge suggesting that intellectual life had become divided into two separate cultures: the arts and the humanities. The lecture is still celebrated for the furore it provoked – but Snow was returning to a battleground almost a century old. Melvyn Bragg visits the old Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, scene of many of modern science's greatest triumphs, to put the Two Cultures debate in its historical context – and Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, reveals the influence the Two Cultures debate had on his development as a scientist."

(Melvyn Bragg, 2013)

"The Value of Culture: Two Cultures", Radio broadcast, Episode 3 of 5, Duration: 42 minutes, First broadcast: Wednesday 02 January 2013, Presenter/Melvyn Bragg, Producer/Thomas Morris for the BBC Radio 4, UK.

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TAGS

1959 • all matters which most concern us • American education • American schools • artistic intellectuals • arts and humanitiesarts education • British education • C P Snow • Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge • Charles Percy Snow • civilisationClassicalclassicscommerce • cultural agenda • cultural high ground • cultureCulture and Anarchydisciplinary protectionism • editorial control • education system • elites • experimental teachingF R Leavis • free thought • German education • German schools • GreekH G Wellshabitshigh culture • illiteracy of scientists • intellectual life • John Tyndall • knowledgeLatin • literary intellectuals • manufacturingmaterialismMatthew ArnoldMelvyn Braggmodern sciencemodern society • Paul Nurse • quality of education • Rede Lecture • reliable official knowledge • Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufactures and Commerce • RSA • schoolingsciencesciences and humanitiesscientific age • scientific culture • scientific education • scientific naturalism • scientific revolution • scientific teaching • scientists • Second Law of Thermodynamics • shared languagesocial class • speaking the same language • stock notions • study of perfection • technological culture • technology • the best which has been thought and said in the world • the classics • The Value of Culture (radio) • Thomas Huxley • traditional culturetwin pillarstwo cultures • Two Cultures debate • two separate cultures

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
12 MARCH 2011

Scientists revise their criteria of rationality as they enter new domains

"The conventional model of science, technology and society locates sources of violence in politics and ethics, that is, in the application of science and technology, not in scientific knowledge itself.

The fact–value dichotomy is a creation of modern, reductionist science which, while being an epistemic response to a particular set of values, claims to be independent of values. According to the received view, modern science is the discovery of the properties of nature in accordance with a 'scientific method' which generates 'objective', 'neutral', 'universal' knowledge. This view of modern science as a description of reality as it is, unprejudiced by value, can be rejected on at least four grounds.

All knowledge, including modern scientific knowledge, is built through the use of a plurality of methodologies. As Feyerabend observes:

There is no 'scientific method'; there is no single procedure, or set of rules that underlines every piece of research and guarantees that it is 'scientific' and, therefore, trustworthy. The idea of a universal and stable method that is an unchanging measure of adequacy and even the idea of a universal and stable rationality is as unrealistic as the idea of a universal and stable measuring instrument that measures any magnitude, no matter what the circumstances. Scientists revise their standards, their procedures, their criteria of rationality as they move along and perhaps entirely replace their theories and their instruments as they move along and enter new domains of research (Feyerband, 1978, p. 98).

The view that science is just a discovery of facts about nature does not get support from philosophy either. If scientific knowledge is assumed to give true, factual knowledge of 'reality as it is', then we would have to 'conclude that Newtonian theory was true until around 1900, after which it suddenly became false, while relativity and quantum theories became the truth' (Bohm, 1981, p. 4)."

(Vandana Shiva, 1990)

1). Shiva, V. (1990). 'Reductionist science as epistemological violence'. 'Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity'. A. Nandy, Oxford University Press: 314.

Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society (London: New Left Books, 1978).

David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981).

TAGS

analytical thinkingCartesiancultural valuesdescription of realitydiscoursediscoverydiscursive fieldepistemologyethicsfactual knowledgehierarchy of legitimacyIsaac Newtonknowledge • logical-analytical • logical-analytical paradigmmeasuring instrument • model of science • Modernmodern science • modern scientific knowledge • myth of neutralityobjectiveobjective reality • Paul Feyerband • plurality of methodologies • positivismproperties of naturerationalityreductionism • reductionist science • researchresearch methodsciencescientific knowledgescientific method • scientific options • sociology • stable knowledge • stable rationality • theorytraditiontrust • trustworthy • truthuniversal • universal knowledge • universal methoduniversal rationalityVandana Shiva

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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