Change in Science, Technology, the Arts, and Humanities

How does change differ within various aspects of society?  Are differing changes somehow related?  C.P. Snow has argued that there is a chasm between the arts and humanities, and science and technology (Snow, 1965).  However, all of these endeavors are inevitably influenced by the times in which they are pursued.

Consider the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Richard Holmes (2008) describes the lives and scientific accomplishments of Joseph Banks, William Herschel, and Humphry Davy during the “second scientific revolution” of 1770-1830.  He outlines how their popularization of findings in exploration, botany, astronomy, and chemistry influenced the poetry of their contemporaries: Coleridge, Byron, Keats, and Shelley.

Moving to the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Louis Menand (2001) presents a study of Oliver Wendell Holmes, William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey that shows how these four men developed a philosophy of pragmatism following the Civil War and continuing, at least, until World War I.  Their thinking fundamentally affected America in law, science, and education, reaching far beyond academia.

Finally, considering the early and mid 20th century, Howard Gardner (1994) portrays the 20th century creative genius of Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, T.S. Eliot, Martha Graham, and Gandhi.  Arthur Miller (2002) focuses on just Einstein and Picasso.  He chronicles the impact of Henri Poincaré’s 1902 geometry book La Science et L’Hypothèse on the thinking of these two great geniuses.  The non-Euclidian exposition in this book influenced both the notion that gravity bends light (i.e., relativity) and the Cubist movement in art.  These are two seminal developments in the early 20th century.

Thus, change in one arena can have enormous impacts on other areas, sometimes directly but often indirectly as such changes are manifested in the broader social dialogue.  In this way, the causality of change often functions more like a network of relationships through which change propagates, rather than a simple A affects B.


Gardner, H.E. (1994). Creating Minds: An Anatomy Of Creativity As Seen Through The Lives Of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, And Gandhi. New York: Basic Books.

Holmes, R. (2008). The age of wonder. New York: Vintage.

Menand, L. (2001). The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Miller, A.I. (2002). Einstein, Picasso: Space, time, and the beauty that causes havoc. New York: Basic Books.

Snow, C.P. (1965). The two cultures: And a second look. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


  1. Thanks for a enlightening article!

  2. Gary says:

    Being a history buff, it would have been nice to have links to the books mentioned and where they could be acquired… Guess I’ll just have to search for them myself… Yep, I’m a lazy history buff. 😉

  3. I cannot WAIT to read more of this. I mean, you just know so much about this. So much of it Ive never even thought of. You sure did put a new twist on something that Ive heard so much about. I dont believe Ive actually read anything that does this subject as good justice as you just did.

  4. i think this is just stating the obvious

  5. Make sure you go on together with your great weblog posts, I truly like them.

  6. But wanna remark on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the subject material is real wonderful : D.

  7. iphone4x says:

    To follow up on the up-date of this topic on your web site and would really want to let you know just how much I loved the time you took to publish this beneficial post. Inside the post, you actually spoke regarding how to truly handle this thing with all comfort. It would be my personal pleasure to collect some more suggestions from your web-site and come as much as offer other individuals what I have learned from you. Thank you for your usual wonderful effort.

  8. Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your web site is very cool. I’m impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched all over the place and just could not come across. What a perfect site.

  9. Regards for helping out, superb information. “The laws of probability, so true in general, so fallacious in particular.” by Edward Gibbon.

  10. An impressive share, I have simply passed this along a colleague who was doing a little bit similar review on this. He actually bought me breakfast because I discovered this for him… smile!

  11. I found your website on a search engine and reviewed a number of of your other posts. Keep up the excellent job!

  12. Thanks for spending the time to share, I really feel strongly about it and love reading more about this. Please keep updating your site with more details!

  13. Oh my, what a spectacular post. Thanks!

  14. I definitely like that. You’ve touched my heart!

  15. Useful info. Fortunate me I found your web site
    unintentionally, and I’m surprised why this accident didn’t came
    about earlier! I bookmarked it.

Leave a Reply