The Public Interest

The Two Cultures of Political Economy

Mark T. Lilla

Winter 1981

THE late C.P. Snows distinction between the “two cultures”-that of the scientist and that of the literary intellectual-is well-worn by now, well-worn because it contains so much truth. Snow, one of the few men able to transcend this division, was distressed to see the two cultures moving further apart as science and technology progressed. He criticized the scientific community for failing to humanize and broaden its members, but he reserved his sharpest language for the literary intellectuals whom he called “Luddites.” Like the 19th century union, the modern Luddites seek to destroy science and innovation because they fail to understand the rudiments of science and do not believe in the possibility of real progress. 

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