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Humanities 2014, 3(2), 244-263; doi:10.3390/h3020244
Article

“Without an Analytical Divorce from the Total Environment”: Advancing a Philosophy of the Humanities by Reading Snow and Whitehead Diffractively

Received: 30 April 2014; in revised form: 16 June 2014 / Accepted: 16 June 2014 / Published: 20 June 2014
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Abstract: This article develops a philosophy of the humanities by reading C.P. Snow’s famous thesis of “the two cultures” through the early work of Alfred North Whitehead. I argue that, whereas Snow refers to Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World, he ultimately paves the way for a reductive interpretation of humanities scholarship, which is a move that can be repaired by delving into Snow’s own reference to Whitehead following a diffractive reading methodology. This way of reading was first formulated in the context of feminist epistemology (but can be found elsewhere and under different names) in an attempt to generate constructively conceptual rather than closed hermeneutical readings of theoretical texts by making the reading dynamic and open-ended (in Karen Barad’s terms: reading their insights “through” one another). As such, reading diffractively shies away from relying on classification and is playful with the past, present, and future of the humanities. The article argues that the diffraction of Snow and Whitehead hinges on theories of “beauty” and will demonstrate (with Whitehead) that humanities scholarship originates in a total environment in which works of art—as the subject matter of humanities research—stand out and preserve themselves as “enduring objects”.
Keywords: humanities; history and philosophy of the humanities; classification; theories of time and temporality; diffractive reading; C.P. Snow; Alfred North Whitehead; beauty humanities; history and philosophy of the humanities; classification; theories of time and temporality; diffractive reading; C.P. Snow; Alfred North Whitehead; beauty
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

van der Tuin, I. “Without an Analytical Divorce from the Total Environment”: Advancing a Philosophy of the Humanities by Reading Snow and Whitehead Diffractively. Humanities 2014, 3, 244-263.

AMA Style

van der Tuin I. “Without an Analytical Divorce from the Total Environment”: Advancing a Philosophy of the Humanities by Reading Snow and Whitehead Diffractively. Humanities. 2014; 3(2):244-263.

Chicago/Turabian Style

van der Tuin, Iris. 2014. "“Without an Analytical Divorce from the Total Environment”: Advancing a Philosophy of the Humanities by Reading Snow and Whitehead Diffractively." Humanities 3, no. 2: 244-263.

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