The two-cultures, science and moral education
Professor G.H.Bantock has put us greatly in his debt by valuable analyses of the issues behind the two-cultures debate; analyses which make explicit problems which neither Lord Snow nor Dr Leavis adequately exposed in their original lectures.1 In particular we can now clearly see that at the very centre of a conflict between manifestly different forms of understanding, lie vitally important questions about moral values. To Professor Bantock this central issue is preeminently a fight between ‘two conflicting views of the ends of human existence’. On the one hand there is the Baconian scientific ethic of the extended use of science in industrial development for an escape from the horrors of starvation and deprivation. On the other hand there are the values beyond those of ‘bread’ and ‘jam’, values that literary culture has been concerned to preserve and communicate. Snow, certainly in his Rede Lecture, seems to back the former, Leavis for many years now has been the arch-apostle of the latter. That fundamentally Leavis is on the right side and Snow on the wrong, Professor Bantock seems in no doubt. And that not so much because of any straight examination of these sets of values but because he considers Leavis rather than Snow to have the trained capacity that entitles him to make such value judgments. Indeed, in Chapter 5 of Education in an Industrial Society, he devotes considerable space to arguing that ‘it is pre-eminently to an education in literature that …training in moral awareness and sensitivity’2 must be assigned because of the peculiar way in which moral values arise in the making of literary judgments.