"The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution" was a Reade memorial lecture held by British author C P Snow on May 7 1959. It is divided into four chapters, each one dealing with an aspect of the problem of the 1950s as Snow saw them. It is also a great example of rhetoric at work. I shall give a short outline of each of the chapters.
1. The two Cultures
Where Snow tells us about his unique position as both author and scientist (never mind that he never managed to graduate in Science). He sees a wide gap between men of Science and men of Literature - they do not even speak the same language anymore. The scientists know nothing about Shakespeare, and the men of letters know nothing of the second law of thermodynamics. (Again, never mind the difference between Shakespeare talking about love and death as a human condition on one side and physics as as specialized science on the other.) Snow concludes that the problem has to do with the way education is served in England. He does some pretty odd comparisons; scientists are morally sound, straight, collectivist and have "the future in their bones" - where the literary person has no morals, are feline and odd, solitary thinkers and lives in the past.
2. Intellectuals as Natural Luddites
Here we learn that all authors, namely John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry D. Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and D. H. Lawrence tries to evade the industrial revolution and escapes into nostalgia. Scientists and poor people on the other hand bravely celebrate the oncoming Industrial Revolution. Here Snows main argument is a very tinted list of authors, topped with Ezra Pound as fascist and T S Elliot as nostalgic and conservative.
3. The Scientific Revolution
Education is the key to the future, England is kept back by her imperial past, USA and USSR are the undisputed leaders in education. Snow actually credits USSR to be the most progressive country in the world, probably because Sputnik was news at the time.
4. The Rich and the Poor
Poverty will be gone by the year 2000, if we don't do it then the communists in China or USSR will. Solving the problem of poverty and famine is easy, just combine
money and science and a solution is bound to come up.
That's it - basically Snow tells us that there is a problem because he says there is one, and that English education is to blame. Very soon he met some fierce opposition by the name of F R Leavis, who tore Snow's lecture to bits. Unfortunately he did so in such a fierce aggressive manner that most of the sympathies ended up with Snow. Leavi's main thesis holds very true though; in his essay Snow names 7 authors, these he turns into the literary establishment, that he then turns into The Culture, that dominates the world and causes poverty and famine. Deduced like this, it is obvious that Snows arguments are false. That doesn't necessarily mean that there is nothing of value in them.