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Literature and Human Behaviour

Uploaded by thomy on Apr 24, 2001

Compare and evaluate the ways in which literature on the one hand, and the human sciences on the other may help us to know and understand human behaviour.


Literature has been a major part of human culture throughout human existence. It has always been used as a way of defining how humans interact with each other. Literature is defined as ‘the writings of a period, language, or country’. If ancient times are also to be considered, then myths, legends, and theatre, which passed down literary ideas, and social critiques before the time of the written word, should also be included in this definition. The plays of William Shakespeare are a perfect example of pieces of literature that are not only entertaining, literature for literature’s sake, but also provide great insight into human nature. In one form or another, literature is entrenched as an expression of the ways of humanity, and so by absorbing it, one can gain a greater understanding of human behaviour.

The human sciences offer a different angle to the understanding of human behaviour as literature does. Literature gives us insight into what is going on inside people’s minds. How someone from a culture that one might not understand, thinks. Many of Shakespeare’s plays are centered around the downfall of a particular character. This downfall arises from within the character, it is the result of a tragic flaw. The human sciences on the other hand, provide information on how humans interact with each other. They often involve social studies in which experiments involving the interactions of humans are observed and recorded. If for example some human scientists performed a particular experiment with enough people, and got a similar result each time, they can conclude that a human being is likely to act in a certain way, given the situation which was in the experiment. In this way human scientists can draw conclusions as to what is a normal reaction for a person to have in a situation, and can describe traits which are almost universal to humans. These human sciences give us a knowledge of the external aspects of human behaviour, which is extremely valuable to have. If for example, a police force wanted to know whether or not a new method they had developed for deterring graffiti artists worked efficiently or not, they might perform a human science experiment, where they secretly test their method on a sample...

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Uploaded by:   thomy

Date:   04/24/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,230 words)

Views:   1682

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