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L'Espill calls for the "Third Culture"
Humanities and the third culture
Francisco Fernández Buey
The contents of Catalan journal L'Espill, a new Eurozine partner, fulfil philosopher Fernández Buey's wish for a crossover between the sciences and the humanities – the project known as the "Third Culture". "Humanists need scientific culture to overcome reactionary attitudes based exclusively on literary tradition," writes Buey. "Nor is there any doubt that scientists need a humanist training [...] in order to overcome the old scientism that still tends to consider human progress as a simple derivative of scientific-technical progress."
..."If we want to do anything serious in favour of a rational and reasoned resolution of some of the great controversial socio-cultural and ethical-political issues in societies such as ours, in which the techno-scientific complex has got an essential weight, there is no doubt that humanists will need scientific culture to overcome reactive attitudes which are based exclusively on literary traditions. And we should add, as some of the great contemporary scientists used to do, that there is neither any doubt that scientists and technologists will need humanistic training (that is to say, historical-philosophical, methodological, literary, historical-artistic, and so on) in order to overcome the old scientism and its positivist roots, which still tends to consider human progress as a simple derivation of the scientific-technical progress. This is the real reason by which, in the last decades, and from different perspectives, sensitive scientists and engaged humanists are giving so much importance to the investigation of what could be a third culture."
It was the humanities scholars who prepared the ground for the advance of science in the public mind. In the seventies, when public intellectuals were still following the stars of enlightenment, emancipation and social justice, Jean-Francois Lyotard came along and gave them a dire message: one cannot believe in these stories any longer. The philosopher named the new phase "postmodernism". But no society can live without a meaningful interpretation of their lives. This is where the third culture of engineers, physicists and evolution biologists comes in — as presented on edge.org — showing the public how our world and its interpretation is being changed by their work.