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The Importance Of Literature Vs Science Essay

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The Importance Of Literature Vs. Science Essay, Research Paper

The Importance of Literature vs. Science

If we lived in a world without literature, learning only the sciences,

would we be the same people? Does the human race need literature at all, does

it have any worth whatsoever except as entertainment? Do people actually learn

from literature? These are all questions that divide the human race into two

separate sections, those who believe in the power of literature, and those who

see it as impoverished compared to the social sciences in its ability to teach

us about ourselves. However we need not be so divided on this issue.

Literature is as rich a teacher as science, but merely differs in technique.

Literature offers knowledge to those that seek it, gives experience to those who

understand it, and pleasure to those that love it. Science on the other hand

imparts knowledge, leads to experience, and gives pleasure to the few who love

it.

Literature is just as varied and expansive as Science is. There are

hundreds of styles, millions of authors, and thousands of languages which make

up literature. Instead of different fields, as in science, there are different

genres. Literature is often backed up by research or first hand information,

but can also be fanciful flights of the imagination. They are similar to the

research, observation, and hypothesis found in science. Experiments can be

performed in both. A scientist could ask what if, and logically and

scientifically follow his what if through. A writer could ask the same and use

his imagination, knowledge, and perhaps a little research, to guide his

imagination. Literature and Science are similar.

However they differ in some important respects. Science is an exact

realm of numbers and averages and measurements. The last time you read a

romance novel, were there charts showing the Freudian prediction of the average

persons love life? Literature does not have the same kind of exactitude that is

offered by Science. But it does offer precision in another way. Literature

often is the description of one or a few peoples lives in detail. It is from

these detailed ?case studies? as a scientist would call them, that we can learn.

It is the argument of science that people are similar and thus scientific

averages do have some relevance to humans. Yes people often do share similar

characteristics, and behave similarly if coming from the same society. And thus,

a detailed insight into one persons’ life could give you an insight on the lives

of others. In a way Literature allows you to live thousands of lives in a short

time, and gain a little experience from each of them. Science on the other hand,

offers you charts and tables to which you must apply the situations of daily

life. It is in this fundamental way that literature and science are different.

Literature offers you insight which you apply to life, in science, you apply

life to your theories. It’s just a matter of whether life is the cookie cutter

or the dough.

Imagine a world without literature. All your Literature courses in

school are replaced with social sciences: philosophy, psychology, etc. Would

people be the same? No doubt life would be a great deal less interesting, as

our minds would not be as stimulated. The world would also be a more closed

place, and news, and history would seem less related and more distant. Why?

Because sciences do not show you what something is like, the describe it. For

example, if science wanted to describe a hit and run it would say ?Yesterday,

7/15/96, one 5′4 Caucasian of birth date 3/16/70, was contacted by a rapidly

moving multialloy compound in the form of a red colored Peugeot 504 on

Libertador 2000-2100, Buenos Aires. The Peugeot 504 maintained its velocity

without regard to the sudden impact of the Caucasian. The human being

controlling the Peugeot 504 was not identified, and neither was the license

plate.? However if literature wanted to describe one it would say ?Yesterday

morning a man was struck by a red Peugeot 504, killing him on impact. The

driver of the car, as of yet unidentified, did not bother to stop the car. This

is a sad reflection of some peoples’ inability to face their own mistakes.?

Literature could make that last sentence because it does not need to back up

every little thing with two thousand pieces of measurable accurate evidence. It

can think in leaps and bounds with very little touch with hard facts. Science

can describe an incident, but it can’t make you feel anything about it.

Literature on the other hand, gives you insight and feelings into other peoples

minds. For example, it is much more beneficial to read a book about Egypt, than

to read a scientific report on it. Through the characters in the book you can

get a feel for the culture that the scientific report would not have.

A world without literature would also leave science wanting. Many

scientists would agree that without literature, science would not be the same.

It would be colder, and less human. Human’s are not creatures of precision and

logic, or we would have rulers for hands, and calculators for hearts. Most

people would prefer to sit down and pick up a science fiction novel than a book

on astrophysics. Also, writers do not have to be very skilled to be able to

teach. Scientists who teach have had to train and learn for many years before

they can do so. However, Joe Blow could sit down and write a book on life in

the streets of Amsterdam, and we would learn something. Literature can almost

always teach you something, proficiency in it merely accelerates and improves

the teaching process.

This is not to say that science is useless however. Social sciences and

literature complement each other well in understanding humans and their behavior.

Science teaches us the ?how?, while literature teaches us the ?why?.

Literature takes us into peoples’ minds, science takes their minds and

categorizes them. This is why literature will always be perceived as being more

human, because it relates to emotions rather than to logic, and humans are

creatures of emotion. Science cannot describe certain things. How does science

describe love? It can give all the physical ramifications of it, psychology can

give us the probable actions done by a person in love, but it can’t make us

understand what it is to be in love. Literature can give you some experience,

although it be a limited, third person sort of experience. And of course, the

only way to know an emotion is to experience it.

In conclusion I say that we should not pick one or the other, but

continue to let them complement each other. There is a time for hard facts and

evidence, and there is a time for poems and soliloquies. There is a time for

Einstein and Pasteur as there is a time for Shakespeare and Tolkien. Human

beings are a composite of their primal emotions, and their need for structure

and organization. Thus, without one or the other, we would not be humans

anymore.




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The Importance Of Literature Vs. Science Essay, Research Paper The Importance of Literature vs. Science If we lived in a world without literature, learning only the sciences,


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