Are there really two cultures?


  • Rémi Brague Université Paris I; Ludwig-Maximilians Universität von München


Are there really two cultures, one literary and another scientific ? In the modern world, following the great developments of natural science and technology, the human culture seems to have lost its fundamental unity : modern and postmodern society is in fact characterized by an extreme fragmentation of knowledge. For which reason, it has lost almost completely the meaning and the ideal figure of wisdom (savant) : the cultured man who searches to dominate with competence the sphere either of physical sciences (Naturwissenschaften) or of the so-called human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). In any case, there still remains a sense in which to talk about a general culture : it goes beyond the specific competence in determinate spheres of knowledge. Culture can be understood even today in the sense of the conversatio civilis, of which the scholastics spoke : it treats of the social use of the logos that permits human communication and the self-orientation of man in the world. In this sense, culture does not correspond completely to literary erudition, historical or scientific, but is the forma mentis that guides the life of man, orients his work and his personal engagements, based on a conscious choice of determinate values. Therefore, there are not two cultures, but only one, and it overcomes the order of knowledge : it is neither literary nor scientific.



How to Cite

Brague, Rémi. “Are There Really Two Cultures?”. Acta Philosophica 16, no. 2 (September 30, 2007): 285–294. Accessed December 6, 2023.