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The Two Cultures Become Multiple? Sciences, Humanities and Everyday Experimentation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2008
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Journal number55
Volume23
Number of pages14
Pages87-100
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This discussion arose from a quick exchange at the ‘Two Cultures’ conference at the University of New South Wales in 2006. Sciences–humanities relations were the issue. What remained of the ‘two cultures’ divide, if anything? How were the humanities and social sciences responding to the ‘hard’ sciences? How possible at this moment was it to work across the two cultures? In the discussion, Andrew made an off-the-cuff remark that ‘we are all scientists now’. Someone else suggested we could all go into the laboratories. Adrian was not so sure, and thought that now, more than ever, we needed to pay close attention to the specificities of the different kinds of thinking and activity involved in science, and in the humanities, and even perhaps social science's engagement with the ‘other’ sciences. What follows is an attempt to work through these problems, if only briefly, and if only to raise more questions. It turns out that we were probably talking about quite different things that, although not exactly in agreement, are quite complementary. Adrian discusses the contemporary circumstances of the engagement between the two cultures—which in sum he sees at last beginning, but only beginning, to become an actual engagement, rather than a critique, or perhaps worse, badly posed poaching of terms and concepts from science. Andrew responds to this by suggesting that everyday life perhaps has been much more engaged with science for much longer than the academic world of the humanities. Both of us found the work of Isabelle Stengers useful in thinking these questions through.