Die zwei (und mehr) Kulturen des „Klons“

Utopie und Fiktion im biowissenschaftlichen Diskurs der Nachkriegszeit
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Geschichte der Biowissenschaften im 20. Jahrhundert Zwei-Kulturen-Debatte Geschichte des Klonbegriffs Wissenschaft und Literatur Transhumanismus 

The Two (and More) Cultures of the “Clone”. Utopia and Fiction in Post-War Discourses of Life Sciences

Since the late 1950s, „two cultures” has become a catch phrase for describing a deep divide between science and literature. When Charles P. Snow, who initiated this discussion, introduced the notion of “two cultures” in a lecture at the University in Cambridge in 1959, he referred to an incompatibility of scientific and literary worldviews in Western societies. His thesis of two contradicting cultures immediately received a huge variety of different responses from philosophers, scientists, novelists and literary scholars. However, this article argues that this widespread debate was part of a broader post-war discourse on the impact of modern science on society, in which especially the idea of „scientific progress“ was at stake. Central to this debate was the question of how scientific and technological progress could affect the notion of the „human“ itself. The paper analyses the emerging discourse on cloning against this background. The constitutive role of fiction and imagination in both fields, science and literature, is explored by tracing the scientific, utopian and literary cultures in which figures of human clones have taken different shapes since the 1960s. At that time, scientists developed utopian views in which the „clone“ became a metaphor for future possibilities of transcending and reshaping the human nature. Science fiction writers reacted to this by portraying the human clone as an individual and by depicting human clone figures in a psychological way.


history of 20th century life sciences two cultures debate history of the clone concept science and literature transhumanism 

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© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für WissenschaftsgeschichteBerlinGermany

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