Time's Arrow

Howard Marchitello

in The Machine in the Text

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608058
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729492 | DOI:
Time's Arrow

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This chapter returns to a series of challenges posed famously in C. P. Snow's The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, particularly Snow's assessment of the science-literature agon and his perceived privileging of science. Less a contribution to the so-called Culture Wars than an attempt to understand Snow's arguments about culture and history, this chapter is especially concerned to rethink his later rejection of thermodynamics as the model for intellectual inquiry. In its place Snow identifies molecular biology and the new science of DNA as the ideal measures of scientific literacy and the ideal intellectual model for both cultures. In the figure of the double helix, Snow finds evidence that at the molecular level the material world is a work of art. From this new perspective on the “two cultures,” the chapter returns to the art–nature debate that was central to the literary and scientific works under consideration throughout this book.

Keywords: C. P. Snow; two cultures; thermodynamics; double helix; crystallography; entropy

Chapter.  16163 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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