The Daily Duck wants to know why the seemingly perpetual interest in inter-disciplinary scholarship, especially when comes to jamming fields as disparate as the arts and sciences together.
More to the point, what’s the problem? Is literature suffering from it’s distance from science? Is science suffering? No. There is no magical middle ground between science and art where some mystical synergy kicks in to enable fantastic realms of new possibilities. Like most border areas it is a dead zone, a no-man’s land of barbed wire and trenches. That’s what keeps Germans in Germany and what keeps scientists productive.
Apparently C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures is being cited as an inspiration for this. This I think is highly ironic as I agree with F. R. Levis’s critique, that Snow was neither especially proficient in the arts or the sciences, and in any case most of the Two Cultures was poorly thought through, the Two Cultures being itself an illustration of why simply ramming the arts and sciences together is unlikely to produce much of lasting value.
That said, the discussions that I have been having with atheists does suggest that the scientific view of the world, when taken to extremes, leads to a narrowing in outlook (see Subjective Truth…). I suspect very much that an analogous narrowing comes with an excessive emphasis on a subjective/artistic way of looking at the world (e.g., some of the excesses of the post-modernists). But I don’t at all think that familiarity with one area can act as an antidote to the other, indeed I suspect it is possible that they could well reinforce each other being both consequences of the same carve-up encouraged by Kant with science getting (real) objective knowledge and art and religion left with faith-based, subjective consolation-games.
In my view it is this carve-up that is the problem yet the thinking in both areas reinforce the separation. While I agree that the attempts to jam arts and science together is unlikely to produce much of value, I do think there is an overall philosophical failure that has left our hearts separated from our heads. I have been trying to show how Jane Austen was pointing out this failure in her novels starting with Sense and Sensibility.