idiosyncratic philosophy readings :
three German philosophers - Joachim Ritter, Hermann Lübbe and, most
prominently, Odo Marquard - have for many years (since the late 1950s)
argued for what they call a "Compensation Theory" of the two cultures,
arguing that both aspects of knowledge production are intimately dependent
on each other.
The argument, as far as I can recall, goes thus:
the humanities are a response to problems arising from the historic and
contextual neutralization necessitated by the scientific method - for in
order to neutralize the context and to neutralize history well one must know
what they are. Also, this neutralization of key modes of human perception
brings forth the need to compensate for an perceptive imbalance, and so the
humanities take on the role as "stories of conservation, sensitivity and
The fertile, but essentially anti-narrative world view of the sciences
produces a desire for stories - and the humanities were created to
compensate for that desire. Thus, and contrary to dominant opinion, the
sciences actually pre-date the humanities in their current form - pursuits
such as history etc in the pre-scientific age were more holistic approaches
to knowledge production (Aristoteles etc) - until the isolation and
deepining of one mode of knowledge production in the sciences called forth
the need for the similarly focused, precise and narrative compensatory
knowledge production, that of the Humanities...
I do not have the book with me but I remember a lucid article by Marquard
called "Philosophie des Stattdessen" (Philosophy of the Instead) discussing
this theory. And, I have no clue if these ideas have found any traction in
the Anglo debate on CP Snow.
Perhaps someone who really knows these things intimately can tell me ?
2009/5/12 roger malina <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> I enjoyed your story about random generators on computers
> that in fact are pseudo random generators
> the conclusion of your story was
> ¨""That's the story. Its point is that students usually have no way to
> understand, let alone develop for themselves those transformations.
> But they do need them now. C.P. Snow would treat this more or less as
> a language problem. The two cultures cannot talk to each other. But I
> have come to believe, it is a matter of attitude. What do you expect
> and request from yourself!""
> Frieder Nake
> I think I agreee with your point= its what I call the burning issue
> When you really need to do something you dont ask the question what
> university department teaches it, or which funding agency paid for it,
> you work with the people who have the expertise you need whether they
> have a phd or not or what profession they call themselves.
> But the problem is quite deep, because depending on the way you
> grow up, some things are natural and some things are really difficult;
> I was just reading Alan Lightman's book of essays " a sense of the
> mysterious" which is a great book on the two cultures debate
> ( there is an interesting interview of him on line
> Lightman re iterates a " wisdom" that i remember my father telling me
> as a kid= Alan Lightman makes the generalisation that there are
> a number of good examples of first rate scientists who went on to
> do good work in the arts and humanities, but there are almost
> no examples of people who started their careers as artists and then
> went on to make important discoveries in the sciences or engineering
> or mathematics
> If he is right= there is not only a matter of the attitude as you argue,
> or of language problems as you quote Snow, but that in fact the way
> we are trained as kids and young people actually changes your brain
> and the way that you perceive the world; Someone with a strong
> mathematical training as a young person, actually sees the world
> differently and
> thinks differently than a person trained and who worked as a poet or
> in their youth.
> Is this true ? is this "asymmetry" true between how the arts and the
> as training affect a brain structure/cognition/perception differerence ?
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