Week1/ The Two Cultures, a biological approach/ Lam Tran

In the lectures, we learned that the seperation between the arts and science was a recent thing developed by universities. Its pretty obvious that Prof. Vesna believes that this is a tragedy. This is completely understandable; the segregating the scientists from the artists hinders human advancement culturally and technologically.

However, the segregation makes sense. Its common knowledge that the human brain is split in half; each side specializing in logical thinking or creative thinking. Of course, its more complicated than what I just wrote and there are some cross overs (numerical computation can be done on either side) and some artistic or scientific thinking requires some functional aspect from the other side of the brain (for example, some science problems require you to be analytical, which is an aspect of the left brain, and holistic, which is an aspect of the right brain). Most people have taken a personality test at least once in their life, probably in school, which labels a person being either more left brain or right brain. Personality tests have changed and become more complex over the years, bring in other factors, such as generosity, leadership qualities, etc., but whatever personality test you take, the different types can be categorized either left brain or right brain. Perhaps it is natural for us to separate the two cultures because that is just how our brains work.

Despite the differences between the two hemispheres of a brain, no single person is either only left brain or right brain. Each hemisphere is dependent on the other and there is communication between the two halves as our mind tries to decipher a code, solve a problem, or comprehending text. Although some activities require more activity on one side than the other, there is still communication between the two. This is going to sound cheesey but universities should work like how our brains work. Using UCLA as an example, the north campus would be much like the right hemisphere of a brain and south campus the left. There are interdisplinary majors and departments at UCLA and I am going to use environmental science as an example. To fully comprehend topics such as global warming, you need to know chemistry, botany, atmospheric science, and geology to comprehend the natural and anthropogenic contributions greenhouse gases and social science, politics, and psychology to be able to work out some sort of solution. Perhaps other departments should also intergrate other disciplines or at the very least try to confer with someone on the other side of campus. I don’t mean that a chemist should ask a creative writing professor what he thinks about which catalysts that can be used in his or her experiment. There are obviously some projects that departments have that cannot use the expertise of lets say… an economist professor. But perhaps some one in theater arts should ask someone in engineering with some ideas for a sci fi play. Hopefully, small interactions like these will grow into something more, bringing the two sides closer together.




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