The Midas Touch

9 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2006

See all articles by James Ming Chen

James Ming Chen

Michigan State University - College of Law


In his celebrated 1959 lecture, "The Two Cultures," C.P. Snow excoriated the conflict between the scientific and literary cultures. That conflict still resonates in a society crippled by cultural divides over a wide range of scientifically sophisticated issues, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, childhood vaccination, embryonic stem cell research, abortion, and end-of-life decisionmaking. C.S. Holling, Lance Gunderson, and Donald Ludwig have responded to Snow's challenge by proposing an integrative theory of panarchy for organizing our understanding of the dynamics underlying complex economic, ecological, and institutional systems. Drawing lessons from the intertwined Greek myths of Midas, Hermes, and Pan, this essay concludes that the quest for truth in science and in law will favor those who, like the god of unpredictable change, have long heard and always will hear the music.

Keywords: The Two Cultures, C.P. Snow, C.S. Holling, panarchy, complexity, complex adaptive systems, mythology

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Chen, James Ming, The Midas Touch. Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, Vol. 7, 2005; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-18. Available at SSRN:

James Ming Chen (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

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