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Putting the "two cultures" debate to rest

STANFORD -- Is the gap between the two cultures of science and humanities dead or dying?

Diagnosing the current condition of this century-old rift, and determining whether the time has come to end this institutional separation, is the purpose of the conference "Beyond Dualism: Epistemological Convergences Between the Sciences and the Humanities," to be held at Stanford University March 11-12 in room 100, Cordura Hall.

Organized by the Stanford Humanities Center and the Department of Comparative Literature, the conference will bring together prominent scientists and humanities scholars to discuss the contributions that humanists can make in the sciences and those that scientists can make in the humanities. They also will address the question of whether the current institutional divisions between the two areas of scholarship still make sense.

Among those participating are the inventor of the birth control pill, chemist and author Carl Djerassi; contemporary philosopher Jean- Francois Lyotard, who launched the concept "postmodernity"; Nobel Prize- winning chemist Roald Hoffmann; Henry Louis Gates, a leading authority on Afro-American culture; and Christine von Weizsaecker, physicist, journalist and a leader in German Green politics.

"The conference is actually an experiment. I hope that it demonstrates that there are real advantages for both scientists and humanists in working together," said its organizer, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, professor of comparative literature and French and Italian.

The event will consist of a series of lectures given by alternating scientists and humanists. Lectures given by scientists will be accompanied by a response from a humanities scholar, and vice versa. The general topics that the lectures will address are "The History of an Intellectual and Institutional Divide"; "Exchanges of Thought Patterns and Methods"; and "Epistemological and Ethical Inseparability."

The meeting will conclude with a panel discussion of the question, "Does the relation between the sciences and humanities need a rethinking and an institutional remapping?"



Participant list


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