Main Article Content
This essay is a reflection on the consequences and outreach of the “two cultures” (as conceived by C. P. Snow) that resorts to a reading of McEwan’s acclaimed novel Solar. Michael Beard, the main character, is a Nobel Laureate who, at a very young age, gained recognition, and who then spent most of his adult years wasting his ingeniousness on futile and personal pursuits. He is unable to understand the ethical and humanitarian implications of his gained knowledge. Even though he ends his career by trying to address the problem of climate change, he does so in a detached manner, as though human and nonhuman lives were not implicated in this Earth phenomenon. At the root of it all lies an assumption that nature and culture belong to distinct ontological spheres. Hence, we aim at investigating how Beard’s worldview can be read as a symptom of epistemological assumptions that no longer serve us. This article explores the ethical implications of a rigid disciplinary perspective in a moment of global urgency – the Anthropocene –, and how Big History can help to narrow the gap between different forms of human knowledge. It also makes brief remarks on how Big History should avoid the ethical perils represented by the idea of a “grand unifying theory of the past” by assuming a permanent and coherent critical stance on its methods and concepts.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).