The Third Culture

Neuroscience and the Humanities

The Third Culture

In 1959, CP Snow, a scientist and fiction writer, published a book called The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, in which he argued that science and the humanities were no longer communicating, and that such a failure of communication also represented the breakdown of our educational system. He posited, in a later version, the creation of a third culture, one that would synthesize the two existing cultures, allowing science to speak about the humanistic questions dominating intellectual discourse–what is art, what does it mean to be human, etc. Groups such as The Edge ( have been championing this third culture for quite some time.

I deeply believe in the power of this third culture not only to add to our intellectual understanding of who we are and why we do what we do, but also to reframe what it means to be educated today. As a high school student ten years ago, I chose the humanities over the sciences, because I could be only one. I believe, as Snow wrote, that such a choice is fallacious, a false dilemma, and my educational course has traced a path from the humanities through the social sciences to the admittedly gray area of neurobiology and behavior.

These writings are my contribution to third culture thought.  They will deal, for the most part, with the implications of brain/behavior research on our understanding of humanistic concepts such as art, philosophy, and consciousness.


June 24, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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