Charles he spent about thirty years of his life

Charles Percy Snow, also known as
C.P. Snow, was a British scientist and novelist who in 1959 delivered a lecture
at Cambridge called “The Two Cultures”.  This
lecture was later on made available in book form.  C.P. Snows main purpose was to explain the
divide in western society, as he saw it, into two groups.  The first group being the culture of the intellectuals
and the other being the culture of science. 
“The Two Cultures” is about the difference of opinions of people in the humanities
and sciences field.  While ideally, these
two fields are supposed to complement each other, Snow tries to prove how far
they have drifted away from each other, to the point that not only do they
strongly disagree with each other, but to a point they strongly disapprove and
mock each other’s work.  C.P. Snow, who
belongs to both the scientific and literature communities, attended Cambridge University where he spent about thirty
years of his life interacting and working with the scientific community. After
that, he decided to write his own book and that is what took him among writers.

There were plenty of days where he spent his working hours with scientists and
evenings socializing with the writers. That is what led him to initially
discover and then discuss the increasing gap between people in the science and
arts fields.

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Snows blames both,
the scientists and intellectuals, for the distrust and called it a “breach in
two major branches” which has been largely ignored by the world.  Snow thinks that their differences might be
traced back to the vast differences in their attitudes.  While literary people consider science people
to be non-emotional, boastful and totally lacking in foresight, science people
consider intellects to be lacking in foresight, disconnected with the real
world, unconcerned about other people and unwilling to adapt to the realities
of the world.  According
to Snow, while some of these reservations about each other might make sense,
most of these are baseless and rely on dangerous misinterpretations.


Snow tries to further explore the reasons for this gap between the two
communities.  He starts by talking about
the much debated scientists’ optimism.  It’s
a common understanding that scientists are usually motivated to make new
discoveries and envision a “new and better” world.  Some people are against this attitude as they
call it “unwanted optimism”.  Snow argues
that this optimism is necessary as human life is inherently lonely and tragic,
and scientists are the people who figure out if something can be done and
indeed bring a change to society.  In my
opinion, Snow was a little bit in favor of the scientist as he labelled the
prominent writers of the 20th century as politically impractical and
called 20th century literature to be misguided.    Although,
Snow also blames the scientific community for failing to understand or show
interest in the intellectual or literature world at all.  His bias was also
visible when he claimed that the scientific culture has a great deal of
argument, which was more rigorous and at a higher conceptual level than that of
the literary person’s argument.  Snow says that the “Scientists are intelligent
men, but they show complete lack of interest in art, intellect or social life”.

 Snow then goes on to say that intellectuals
consider a “traditional culture” to be the mainstream culture and have a
complete disregard for scientist or scientific achievement. 

C.P then tries to
dig in further and explore the reasons as to why the gap between scientists and
literary people has been widening over the years.  Even though Snow
showers praises on the scientific community, he also blames them for failing to
understand or show interest in the intellectual or literary world at all.  He claims that “scientists are intelligent men
with admirable ways who show complete lack of interest in art, intellect or
social life”.  Such an incomprehension of
both sides is really dangerous and a loss to both sides. He recalls the time
during World War II when he interviewed about thirty to forty thousand
scientists and engineers and found out that they were absolutely negligible or had
no links to traditional culture.

Snow claims that the intellects are impoverished because
they fail to observe and acknowledge the natural order. He thinks that they
absolutely fail to understand what all science has done in decrypting the
natural order or what it means for the world. Snow himself thinks that the
scientific exploration of the world is the “most beautiful and wonderful
collective work of man’s mind”.  Even if
the intellects wanted to acknowledge scientific achievements, they could
not.  There is nowhere these two cultures
can meet.  Maybe it was possible thirty
years ago, but not today as science has progressed way more rapidly than
literature has. Today, scientists or engineers make twice or three times the
amount of money art majors or writers make.  Snow also places the blame for this whole
situation on the British education system, which places undue emphasis on
specializations rather than general education.  He thinks one of the most crucial
reasons for the widening gap is the flawed education system.  On the contrary,
more scientifically accomplished countries like the U.S and the U.S.S.R have
way more diverse curriculums which give students a more rounded education.

According to Snow, British schoolmasters blame it on the competitive and
popular Cambridge-oxford scholarship, which puts the ultimate benchmark of the
British school system on specialization in one specific field.  Snow believes that there is an urgent need to
change the educational system and make it a much more diverse system that would
benefit everyone.

As Snow himself stated on page one of his text, “All that I
need say is that I came to Cambridge and did a bit of research here at a time
of major scientific activity.  I was privileged
to have a ringside view of one of the most wonderful creative periods in all
physics” and he then later states “So for thirty years I have had to be in
touch with scientist not only out of curiosity, but as part of a working existence”.  With these words alone I feel Snow may have
been leaning towards the side of the scientists rather than both the writers
and scientists.  Although he claimed to
be a member of both communities it’s is quite obvious, in my opinion, that Snow
showed favoritism to the scientific community throughout his writing.  Snow made more negative comments towards the
writers, even though he did have some negativity towards scientists.  This may have been due to the fact that
during the time he gave the lecture on “The Two Cultures” science was much more
in favor then writers and the same may even be true today.  As I mentioned previously science, for the
past few decades, has proved to be more important and actually needed to keep
the world going.  Whereas intellectuals
are of less importance, this is proved through the education system which is
still flawed today.  Science is something
that is needed, without it the world wouldn’t be able to flourish.  It plays a role in almost everything we
do.  Almost everything we have today was
started by someone in the science field. 
For example, we wouldn’t have electricity if it wasn’t for a scientist
conducting experiments, and electricity is something that almost the whole
world needs to carry out day to day life. 
 As for writing, some may view it
has playing a major role but in reality it does not have nearly as much
importance as science does.  For that reason,
I can get a sense as to why Snow would be in favor of the scientific

I also do feel there is still a cultural divide amongst
intellects and scientists, which is a problem I don’t see getting resolved
anytime in the near future.  I feel this
may be due to the fact some education systems fail to teach the importance that
every subject matter is important.  Many countries
education systems put much emphasis on science and math and tend to put writing
on the back burner.  I feel if the
education system as a whole, in every country, should start by ensuring every
student gets a well-rounded, diverse education. 
Being educated on every subject equally can make students much more ready
for real world experiences.  As myself
and many other college students it is hard to make a final decision on your
major but it something that you are in a way pushed to make within your first
two years of college.  But once you make
a choice all of your classes all correspond to that one decision.  For example, I decided to be a business
major, I have taken every class from accounting to business law but in four
years I have only taken one writing class. 
I feel this is a great example as to why I feel science is still of much
more importance than writing.  As Snow
stated in the text, “cultural divide is not just an English phenomenon: it
exists all over the western world.  But
probably sharpest in England, for two reasons. 
One is our fanatical belief in education specialization” and “is our
tendency to let our social forms crystalize.” Education should not just focus
around one’s specialization, but rather it should instead teach things that
students can actually benefit from once they are out in the real world.