The following sample essay on Human Personality Essay discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
“We will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology. ” (Noam Chomsky) To what extent do you agree? Noam Chomsky did not merely state that novels will offer a wider scope and insight into humanity as compared to scientific psychology, he also supported his reasoning with the fact that literature, novels in particular, focuses on exploring “the full human person”1.
Both psychology and novels offer insights into human personality and behavior, but in different ways. Scientific psychology attempts to establish objectively a general pattern of human behavior.
In contrast, novels explore the breadth and depth of human subjectivity; as Milan Kundera writes “all novels, of every age, are concerned with the enigma of the self. “2 Novels and scientific psychology both contribute to our understanding of human life and personality; the former explores the isolated self, whereas the latter offers insight to the functioning of our brain.
We cannot neglect one or the other as they are both important in understanding human behavior. The most significant difference between scientific psychology and novels is that they attempt to explore the human psyche through different ways of knowing.
Literature is part of the arts, which uses emotion as a way of knowing. A novelist shares his knowledge and perception of the human world as he is writing his book.
If there had been no Shakespeare, then the famous lines “To be or not to be”3 uttered by Hamlet would not have existed. However, if Isaac Newton had not discovered gravity, another scientist would have done so eventually. Knowledge created by novels, or the arts in general, is not replicable and extremely unique, and most importantly it serves to explore what it is to be human.
Novelists write in order to communicate their emotions (I don’t believe this is entirely true. Novelists are clearly interested in ideas as well as emotions. In fact, they often present an emotional character in order to explore an idea or a theory about why we fell what we feel or why we do what we do. Try not to confuse the emotional content of a novel with the novelist himself. ) about a particular topic or situation, which, once understood by the reader, will allow the reader to empathize and feel it as well.
Novels explore the depth and variety of human consciousness; they exemplify our individuality and uniqueness; which is what scientific psychology fails to do. I believe your use of the word emotion is misplaced. You would be better off using the word “consciousness” instead. Scientific psychology attempts to reach a conclusion through reason. The way scientific psychologists use two methods to reach a conclusion; they observe patterns of human behavior and tendencies, establish a theory, and lastly perform a set of experiments to support their theory.
The reliability and objectivity that scientific psychology embodies is advantageous because it can be applied in reality. Scientific psychology has made a variety of contributions to the real world, cognitive psychology has enhanced education; biological psychology has given insight to mental and behavioral disorders. Novels offer its readers a broader scope on humanity, as they explore universal themes of mankind, as well as the different emotions and experiences that can be encountered in life. Scientific psychology explains our bodily functions, the chemical and hormonal reactions in humans which make us behave the way we do.
Thus, it can be concluded that both novels and scientific psychology provide us with knowledge about human life and personality in different ways. By looking at the way in which the novelist and the scientific psychologist treat the human emotion of fear, we can begin to understand the differences between the two. Fear is one of the most commonly felt emotions in the human world. Along with love, anger, and sadness, fear can be explained through the eyes of a scientific psychologist as a chemical and hormonal reaction, and in the eyes of a novelist as another significant human emotion to be explored.
To a neurologist, the feeling of fear occurs when certain hormones are secreted by adrenal glands. Adrenaline is then synthesized and released into the bloodstream, along with noradrenalin. These two hormones are released in situations of fear or stress, causing other physical reactions. Adrenaline increases the body’s heart rate, increases sweat production, dilates the pupils and widens the lung’s bronchioles. To the psychologist, fear causes similar reactions in every human being. We all release the same hormone, adrenaline, which stimulates the same physical responses.
In the eyes of a novelist, fear is different for everyone. This uniqueness we could call the subjective phenomenon of individual self-hood. Different people experience fear from different things, what triggers fear in all of us varies. Some fear darkness, others fear pain and death. Novelists have presented the different emotions that occur in the face of fear through their works. One such example is the protagonist from John Fowles’s The Collector. Miranda Grey lives in constant fear as she is held captive by a butterfly collector, who attempts to collect her as one of his masterpieces.
Miranda’s tale is told through a series of journal entries, as she constantly expresses her fear and inability to escape. The fear of death becomes crippling as Miranda feels she is terribly ill and will not be able to survive “It made me cry. I feel so frightened. I can’t eat. There’s a pain in my lung when I breathe. The beastliness of it all. I can’t write I can’t write… I’ve begged him. I’ve said its murder. I won’t die. Oh God Oh God. Do not let me die. “4 Miranda is not scared of the pain of death, but she is afraid of losing her youth and her successful future as an artist.
Others in her situation may be afraid of the physical torment, but Miranda fears loss; she fears how death will take everything she has away from her. A different type of fear is explored by Josi? Saragamo in his novel Blindness. One of the characters begins to panic as he realizes he is blind and Saragamo describes how fear takes over his entire being in that particular moment “I am blind, I am blind, he repeated in despair. I can’t see, he murmured, still weeping… Abandoned in the middle of the road, feeling the ground shifting under his feet, he tried to suppress the sense of panic that welled up inside him.
He waved his hands in front of his face, nervously, as if he were swimming in what he had described as a milky sea, but his mouth was already opening to let out a cry for help… “5 Both novels are examples of how the theme of fear is explored by novelists and expressed through the thoughts and actions of their characters. Human beings encounter different situations that inflict a sense of fear upon them, and although their physical responses are similar, the thoughts and emotions that take flight are extremely different.
Only through the novel do we begin to understand how the same emotion can mean different things to different people. This reinforces the notion that, although we are biologically similar, we remain intrinsically different. Although both scientific psychology and literature have provided insight and knowledge to human life and personality, both encompass slight flaws in their attempt to define human behavior. Scientific psychology generalizes: it concludes that results obtained from their population sample are applicable to the rest of the human population.
It does not take into consideration the subjectivity and inconsistency that defines human nature. Human behavior is immeasurable, it is imprecise. Scientific psychologists only study the patterns of behavior that can be studied, such as conditioning, but not all behavior can be studied scientifically. Some of our actions are compelled by forces unknown to us. Novels explore the inconsistencies of human behavior. Why does Anna Karenina kill herself? Why does Hamlet feign madness?
These actions, both in the novels and in real life, cannot be explained because humans will always encompass a particular uncertainty. Scientific psychology studies the measurable behavior of humans and the chemical reactions that occur in our body. Novels study the wide scope of human emotion and behavior, the perplexing nature of man. If we only studied psychology, we would not know the inconsistencies of mankind. If we only studied literature, we would not know why most of the times humans respond and behave in similar ways to certain situations. We need to take both of them into consideration.