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The West German and Italian Left in the “Two Cultures” Debate: Trasnationalization and Localization (1964–1969)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2024

Ettore Costa*
Affiliation:
Scuola Superiore Meridionale, Naples

Abstract

This article delves into the transnational aspects of the “Two Cultures” debate initiated by the British chemist and writer C. P. Snow, and explores how Italian and West German intellectuals localized and translated aspects of the debate within their respective political landscapes. Snow described the relationship between science and the humanities, and attributed a unique social responsibility to science. Prominent leftist thinkers, including Gino Martinoli, Adriano Buzzati Traverso, Aldo Visalberghi, Giulio Preti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Karl Steinbuch, Hans Mohr, Hilde Domin, Jürgen Habermas, and Robert Jungk, engaged Snow's ideas, each formulating their stance on the role of science. These intellectuals were divided in their response. Some concurred with Snow, viewing scientific advancement as a cornerstone of social progress and considering the scientific ethos as a model for political emulation. Others, however, were critical, questioning the very notions of scientific progress, rationality, and modernization. This intellectual discourse foreshadowed the New Left's critique of scientism in the 1970s, a movement that significantly challenged the longstanding marriage between socialism and science.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Central European History Society of the American Historical Association

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