The Three Cultures: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities in the 21st Century

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Overview

In 1959 C. P. Snow delivered his now-famous Rede Lecture, "The Two Cultures," a reflection on the academy based on the premise that intellectual life was divided into two cultures: the arts and humanities on one side and science on the other. Since then, a third culture, generally termed "social science" and comprised of fields such as sociology, political science, economics, psychology, and anthropology, has emerged. Jerome Kagan's book describes the assumptions, vocabulary, and contributions of each of these cultures and argues that the meanings of many of the concepts used by each culture are unique to it and do not apply to the others because the source of evidence for the term is special. The text summarizes the contributions of the social sciences and humanities to our understanding of human nature and questions the popular belief that biological processes are the main determinant of variation in human behavior.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"To anyone interested in the modern academy, Jerome Kagan's Three Cultures is a must read. With penetrating insight and a rare breadth and sense of history, Kagan takes us on a tour of the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. But much more than a descriptive essay, this work is a profound commentary on the relation between knowledge and the human condition. It should be read by scholars and students in every discipline and will hopefully cultivate a bit more humility in our institutions of higher learning."
-Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Jerome Kagan, a highly distinguished developmental psychologist, here demonstrates an enormous breadth of knowledge of the three cultures - natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. In comparing them he discusses such issues as their different criteria of truth, their tendency to give differing interpretations of the same event, and their changing relative popularity. In discussing each in turn he emphasizes its successes and failures, its merits and errors. This book is stimulating and provocative from the first page if only because no reader will agree with every one of his points. It should be widely read."
-Robert Hinde, St. John's College, Cambridge

"The Three Cultures compares the premises, vocabulary, sources of evidence, contributions, and limitations of the research, scholarship, and theories of natural scientists, social scientists, and humanists...The book ends by asking scholars in and out of the Academy to adopt a posture of greater humility. It is time for the members of all three cultures to recognize that, like tigers, sharks, and hawks, each is potent in its own territory but impotent in the territory of the other."
-Rorotoko

"...The Three Cultures is best read as if you and your acquaintance, the author, were taking a stroll through once-familiar paths...Kagan's opinions are uncluttered, instructive, and wise. Each reader will take from the text those that challenge thinking..."
—Douglas K. Candland, PsycCRITIQUES

"...this is an invaluable contribution to an ongoing discussion. Highly Recommended..."
—L.R. Braunstein, Dartmouth College, CHOICE

"The knowledge demonstrated by the author, with the enumerable demonstrations (instructive and at times funny, as they are) of all three scientific cultures is very impressive and admirable...As Kagan concludes: "It is time for the members of the three cultures to adopt a posture of greater humility" [275]. Just for this reason alone this book should be widely read by scholars, but especially by students of every possible discipline."
—Kristoph K.P. Vanhoutte, metapsychology.net

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521732307
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/27/2009
  • Pages: 324
  • Sales rank: 1,286,590
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerome Kagan is a developmental psychologist, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and emeritus professor at Harvard University. He has received the Distinguished Scientist Awards from the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research in Child Development. Jerome Kagan has written several books dealing with the assumptions of the social sciences. He is best known for his research on moral development, infant cognition, and temperamental biases in children.

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Table of Contents

1. Characterizing the three cultures; 2. The natural sciences; 3. Social sciences 1; 4. Social sciences 2; 5. The humanities; 6. Current tensions.

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