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The Importance of Literature vs. Science

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The Importance of Literature vs. Science

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  • October 1999
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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...

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