Science and literature are usually viewed to be two horizontal lines that don't connect. They're falsely believed to be distinct disciplines that have absolutely nothing in common; no sort of relationship between these disciplines whatsoever! However, fundamentally speaking, these two separate areas come under the same purview. They're both investigative fields that ask and answer questions about the world. Even though many may like to think that their approaches to the investigation of human life are uniquely different, they're altogether empirically established and undeniably seminal ways of experiencing our world, Huxley, 1963.
Both disciplines represent different ways by which the habit of the human mind is known. Literature, on one hand, experiences the world on another level, finding its forms of expression in words, rhythms, and imagination. Science, on the other hand, is used in establishing facts about our experiences (Beer, 1996). It also reflects how our experiences are a connected system that cannot be separated, one from the other.
This article presents the relationship between science and literature, the characteristics of both disciplines that make them mutually exclusive.
Since Plato's claim that no fact or knowledge can be ascribed to fictional texts, the discipline of literature has suffered greatly in establishing recognition as an intellectual and research-based field worthy of respect and cultural acceptance all over the world. Nevertheless, as imaginative or “fictional” as many literary texts are, the principle of realistic awareness and truth cannot be separated — or altogether eliminated — from the field of literature as a whole (Arnold, 1882).
In essence, literature searches for truths beyond the real world around us by digging deep into our state of mind to find verisimilitude of ideas, actions, and events. Sciences search for the nature of things as they happen in the real world, using substantial elements from here and there, it then uses technology and reasoning to get a hold of it.
“The truth of fiction is that fact is a fantasy” — John Barth in his argument to eliminate the distinctions between fact and fiction.
The truth is, like science, literature also explores the world of reality; fusing possibilities with reality which are also principles on which the idea of science investigations stands. Literature is often described as, “the reflection of real-life experiences”; the creative use of words, sounds, movements and silence to represent activities and events as they occur in real life.
Undeniably, the relationship that exists between modern science and literature can be traced as far back as the modern period, — although this proximity between the two fields have no linear order — when different scientist explored a lot of issues recorded in the Bible to find truth in it and then document their findings. Scientists like Galileo and Copernicus leveraged on the interest the people of their period had in rhetoric to present their thoughts and opinions about the nature of the world (Zapf, 2015).
A lot of ideas in science are formations that materialized as a result of the influence of societal norms and values, from social constructions to truths about nature. Literature is reflections and refraction of social values, as well as the events surrounding the performance of these values in society. Many of the early works of literary were used to praise nature, and have been sort of push for readers to pursue investigations into truths of nature (Zapf, 2015).
Science and literature have both been exclusive tools for the presentation and formulation of ideas about the natural world. They have been used hand in hand to articulate several views of the nature of the human world. The invention of the printing press in 1440, for example, brought a novel way through which theories are disseminated throughout the world (McCarthy, 2017).
Although some literary works are considered to be way too esoteric for the sciences, however, in studying science, textual representations are used by scholars to link the study of nature with empirical investigations they make into materials and events. The unbelievable fantasies of some writers have prompt scientists to investigate the unknown for confirmation. For example, some archaeological materials wouldn't have been found if not for the records provided to scholars to reflect upon (Zapf, 2015; Otis, 2002; Huxley, 1963)
Literature also makes innovation popular; it contributes greatly to the evolution of man by adapting science-related theories and ideas and presenting them in a whole new form for readers to understand. A book like Emperor of Maladies presents the concept of cancers in simple ways to every type of reader.
In this present world, the innovation of science and technology has further helped with the development of literature. They can now be assessed easily on a range of platforms built for the purpose.
However, this relationship is not very much evident, and they seem to be, sometimes, complex and unexplainable. These fields sometimes turn against themselves to criticize the individual impacts they make on human life. These criticisms are what sharpens our consciousness and awareness about life.
In all these two disciplines are both forms of expression. They provide the privilege to carry out investigations into the unknown to make new findings and expand the body of knowledge. They're both important and have practical implications in our daily lives. Naturally, we are all concerned with how facts affect our daily lives, and, invariably, this is what science and literature aim to do (Otis, 2002).
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