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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

THE TWO CULTURES





In 1959 the physicist and writer Charles Percy Snow gave in Cambridge the Rede’s Conference : "Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution" whose reflections yet reach us: I) from one side, the incomprehension between scientific and humanist, artists and literary intellectuals. According to Snow, scientists estimate that humanists lack of futurist perspective being not aware of the necessities of the rest of the humanity, a fact that transforms them into anti-intellectuals. Snow sustained that declining literary culture stayed to the defensive in front of forces that threatened to reform it. Nevertheless it is possible to recognize in the anti-scientific movement to an intelligent minority able to mobilize opinions. II) Contrarily, the scientific culture in continuous expansion, trust in their roots, being but creative than critic. Snow sustained that science is sustained in: a) a single truth before any genuine question. b) scientific questions are cognoscible and c) true answers not clash with others.

III) The humanists estimate that future don’t exist and that scientists are superficial optimistic not very aware of the human condition. They added that science are non only isolated of humanities, but of most of the society. The humanist put in trial the scientific search of truth, since their premises are based on a collection of ideas built by restricted social groups (naturalistic scientists), dedicated to maintain an elite in the power with prejudice of minorities (women, coloured people) and until of animals subject to experimentation. No way of certain destructive scientific procedures that involve social and environmental abuses.

Of another side, many humanists would want to involve ordinary citizens (even without expertise), in public discussion and taking of decisions. Robert Oppenheimer, said that scientific and humanists in becoming high specialized have been isolated from its societies to the point of being irrelevant for them. Both cultures should share and teach what they know to their societies, giving their knowledge honestly to those that want to learn. Few scientists know the role of science in their society.

IV) The critic point of this discussion is centered however around if science is the only able to describe objectively the natural and spiritual field and to possess the only truth of the world. Vaclav Havel and others sustain that truth has to do with personal visions owing each human being to trust in their own subjectivity when choosing the truth of natural things. Snow, replied that if subjective things ended up having as much validity as objective reason, the scientific truth will not be discovered but rather would be programmed being their results depending on each one’ beliefs. We think that science has in its own rigid rules limited access to all knowledge. If the tendency continued the division would have serious consequences.

V) Finally, impress certain mixtures and coincidences of certain general principles sketched by artists philosophers and scientifics. "The more you experience, fewer you know". "The sabio wanders without knowing, he looks without seeing, he reaches without acting" (Lao Tse of the Tao Te Ching). In art surprise the beautiful circles of Vasily Kandinsky (1926, "several circles"). While the Russian painter defined them as "simultaneously stable and unstable" and explained as "payees of a unique tension carriyng out countless tensions in his inside", surprise that science explains the form of the spheres in terms of centripetal and centrifuge tensions that finish giving final forms to planets, stars and others.

LAS DOS CULTURAS

En 1959 el físico y escritor Charles Percy Snow dio en Cambridge la conferencia Rede : "Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution," cuyas reflexiones nos alcanzan aun : I) De un lado, la incomprensión entre cientificos y humanistas, artistas e intelectuales literarios. Los científicos estiman -según Snow- que los humanistas carecen de perspectiva futurista siendo poco conscientes de las necesidades del resto de la humanidad, un hecho que los convierte en anti-intelectuales. Snow sostenía que la declinante cultura literaria se mantenía a la defensiva frente a fuerzas que amenazaban reformarla. No obstante es posible reconocer en el movimiento anticientífico a una minoría inteligente capáz de movilizar opiniones. II) Contrariamente la cultura cientifica en expansión continua, confíaba en sus raíces, siendo mas creativa que critica. Snow sostenía que la ciencia se sustentaba en : a) una sola verdad ante cualquier pregunta genuina. b) las preguntas científicas son cognoscibles y c) las respuestas verdaderas no colisionan con otras.

III) Los humanistas estimaban que el futuro no existía y que los cientificos eran optimistas superficiales poco conscientes de la condicion humana. Añadian que la ciencia no solo estaba aislada de las humanidades, sino de la mayor parte de la sociedad. Los humanistas ponian en tela de juicio la busqueda de la verdad de la ciencia, ya que sus premisas se basaban en una colección de ideas construidas por grupos sociales restringidos (científicos naturalistas), destinada a mantener a una elite en el poder en desmedro de minorías (mujeres, gente de color) y hasta de animales sujetos a experimentacion. Ni hablar de ciertos procedimientos científicos destructivos que involucran abusos sociales y medioambientales.

De otro lado, muchos humanistas desearían involucrar a ciudadanos ordinarios (aun sin experiencia), en procesos de discusión y toma de decisiones publicas. Robert Oppenheimer, opinaba que cientificos y humanistas superespecializados se habían aislado de sus sociedades al grado de ser irrelevantes para ellas. Ambas culturas deberian compartir y enseñar lo que saben a sus sociedades, entregando honestamente sus conocimientos a los que quieran aprender. Pocos científicos conocen el rol de la ciencia en su sociedad.

IV) El punto critico de la discusión esta centrado sin embargo en torno a si la ciencia es la unica capaz de describir objetivamente al mundo natural y espiritual y poseer la única verdad del mundo. Vaclav Havel y otros sostienen la verdad tiene que ver con las visiones personales debiendo cada ser humano confiar en su propia subjetividad al optar por la verdad de las cosas naturales. Snow, replicaba que si lo subjetivo llegara a tener tanta validez como la razón objetiva, la verdad científica no seria descubierta sino que estaría programada de antemano dependiendo sus resultados de las creencias que uno tuviese. Nosotros pensamos que la ciencia tiene en sus propias rigidas reglas los limites para acceder a la totalidad del conocimiento. Si la tendencia continuaba la división tendría graves consecuencias.

V) Finalmente, impresionan ciertos solapamientos y coincidencias de ciertos principios generales esbozados por artistas filosofos y científicos. “Cuanto más experimentas, menos sabes”.”El sabio vagabundea sin conocer, mira sin ver,alcanza sin actuar” (Lao Tse del Tao Te Ching). En arte sorprenden los bellos círculos de Vasily Kandinsky (1926, “several circles”). Mientras el pintor ruso los definia como “simultáneamente estables e inestables” y los explicaba como “portadores de una única tensión portadora de incontables tensiones en su interior”, curiosamente la ciencia explica la forma de las esferas en términos de tensiones centrípetas y centrifugas, las que terminan dándo la forma final a planetas, astros y otros.

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