E=[mc.Sup.2] and Other Artistic Equations: Encouraging the Complementary Skills of Einstein and of Picasso through Redefinition
Dezember, Mary, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table
E=[mc.sup.2] and Other Artistic Equations
In his 1963 essay "The Two Cultures: A Second Look," C.P. Snow calls for communication between what he describes as the "two cultures" of "scientists" and "literary intellectuals" (Snow, 1963, p.59) so that, globally, humanity can survive and prosper (Snow, 1963, p.59, p.64, p.68, p.90). In fact, in this follow up essay to his "The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution," 1959, Snow stresses the direness of the polarized situation between the "two cultures." He emphasizes the necessity of fostering communication, the dangers of this polarization to life on a global scale as, Snow states, "... science is determining much of our destiny, that is whether we live or die," and the imperative responsibility of educators to ensure communication that will hopefully be regarded by political "decision-makers," for, he adds, "... the purposes of avoiding disasters, or for fulfilling--what is waiting as a challenge to our conscience and goodwill--a definable social hope" (Snow, 1963, p.90, p.91).
It may be possible--through redefinition--to achieve some steps toward this "definable social hope" by helping students and educators to see or by validating what many already see: that the "two cultures" exist within each person and that recognizing these different aspects of ourselves as complementary rather than in opposition contributes to a balanced, healthy, and whole personality. I suggest that when individuals begin to identify with both "cultures" they will be less tolerant of such polarity within education and society and will begin to foster and even expect a mending of this fractured societal persona. My thesis comes from the results of a questionnaire answered by 55 of my students (1)--members of the science and mathematics "culture," for they attend a science, engineering, and technology research institution, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology--who were taking one (2) of the following three Humanities courses during the Spring semester 2006: Art History 372, Modern Art; English 311, Creative Writing; and Technical Communication 211, Rhetoric and Media.
Using redefinition in the classroom. Before discussing how I have interpreted the results of the survey, I will explain how I have used redefinition in the classroom. I believe and teach--to varying degrees, according to the course (3)--that articulated and supposed differences are not in opposition but are complementary and, thus, necessary for a healthy and whole personality and society. I offer alternative philosophical ideas, whether called monism, unity, pluralism, non-dualism, non-oppositional dualism, or complementary dualism, (4) rather than perpetuating the predominant dualistic philosophy of western culture that defines differences as opposites and, thus, as in opposition--one being good or right and the other being bad or wrong--and forever divided. Further, my method of redefinition includes my theory that personalities are either form-driven or content-driven and that individuals, though driven by their dominant skills, need balance in these traits. Specifically, a person's life choices, i.e. education and career, are chosen by that person's preference for that which is form-driven, meaning life situations where form, formulas or structures are primary and the content results from that form, or content-driven, meaning life situations where imagination and experiences are primary and the form or structure results from those experiences. Thus, those with the propensity for the studies of science and mathematics tend to be form-driven, while those with the propensity for the studies of arts and humanities tend to be content-driven.
For example, Albert Einstein could be seen as having had a form-driven personality that tends to favor reason, logic, method, and formulas; however, he must also have had significant content-driven traits that enabled him to value and exercise the imaginative qualities required by invention. …