Two Cultures? On Campus? – Simone Chen

I have to say that CP Snow has presented a very interesting, and, of course, important point. He has shown us the dichotomy between science and humanities by placing evidence of this divide clearly on the table for everyone to see. And, sure, after seeing proof I have to agree that there are discrepancies between the field of science and that of art. However, are there so many differences that the two can be considered entirely different cultures? Maybe. For one there have been many misunderstandings between the two in the past, some of which have fostered unpleasant feelings. Very much like the example mentioned in the “Myths and Confusions” by director Steven Wilson, which stated how many artists misinterpreted the nature of research and relayed a more negative impression of the scientific world to the public because of their common misconception that “technological innovation…[play] out of dark forces of commercial, military, and government domination and exploitation”. Another example, the Sokal affair, which is mentioned in Professor Vesna’s work “Toward a Third Culture: Being in Between”, further portrays the lack of understanding between humanists and scientists. It displays how the incorrect usage of discoveries from the scientific field has disturbed, and maybe even offended, scientists, and reflects scientists’, especially Sokal’s and Bricmont’s, contempt for those who misuse it in a serious context. It also depicts how oblivious everyone is to scientific discovery by stating how no one managed to catch any of the questionable ideas presented in Sokal’s parody, “Transgressing the Boundaries”; because they all assumed that everything written was correct. So from all of this it seems that humanities and science in society are not all in the same boat at all. There appears to be a great gap in communication between the two.

However, are there two well defined cultures on the UCLA campus? I think not, or at least not two extremely different cultures. From what I have seen so far most students intermingle very well, regardless of which part of campus they spend their time in. Although I was surprised to hear that UCLA was divided into “North Campus” and “South Campus” and that people even referred to themselves as either a “north campus person” or “south campus person” at first, I soon realized that there wasn’t that big of a difference between the two. Because both are still relatively open to new ideas and willing to exchange the information they learn. I think the main reasons why there aren’t two distinct cultures on campus is because of the fact that we’re still young (thus making us more open minded) and are still searching for what to do with our lives, as well as the fact that we are able to take classes from all different fields of study. Hence science majors are able to get a glimpse of what north campus students do, and vice versa. Because of this constant mingling between north and south campus I have to say that there really aren’t two cultures on campus, but one big culture encompassing both aspects; one big culture striving to find its goal in life. Even if there were different cultures, efforts are being made to bring the North and South together by presenting students with classes like DESMA 9 to help them string the two concepts: art and science together.

I have to say though that I reached this simple conclusion only after talking to a rather small proportion of the whole student population on campus so there is a huge chance that I will soon discover how right or wrong my current assertion is.

 For more info on one big culture look at: http://www.lablit.com/article/39

 

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