URUGUAY: I SAW THE BEST MINDS

[ Fri. Feb. 14. 2014 ]

From 1981 until today, through The Reality Club, or its online version, edge.org, the literary agent and provocateur John Brockman has brought together "the best minds of his generation" to talk. It's an old-fashioned salon of intellectuals, only adapted to the times, i.e. nearly free of literary intellectuals and full of scientists and technologists.   we are not interested in received "wisdom". …

…In 1991 John Brockman wrote that  the intellectual map of the West and the "traditional" intellectual world of the fifties had been condemned to the margins In the past few years, the playing field of American intellectual life has shifted, and the traditional intellectual has become increasingly marginalized. A 1950s education in Freud, Marx, and modernism is not a sufficient qualification for a thinking person in the 1990s.

Indeed, the traditional American intellectuals are, in a sense, increasingly reactionary, and quite often proudly (and perversely) ignorant of many of the truly significant intellectual accomplishments of our time. Their culture, which dismisses science, is often nonempirical. It uses its own jargon and washes its own laundry. It is chiefly characterized by comment on comments, the swelling spiral of commentary eventually reaching the point where the real world gets lost.

So borrowing from C.P. Snow, author of "The Two Cultures" (1959), which described the divorce between science and humanities, and who, in 1963, predicted the emergence of a "third culture", in which the gap between the two fields of knowledge would narrow until it disappears, Brockman wrote his own essay on "The Third Culture" (1991). …