Philosophy is important to literature because certain aims of both fields ultimately converge. Some people go to the University to study philosophy for the same reason some others would rather study literature, history (and sometimes languages). All of these are fields that aim to help you think critically, improve your communication skills, and make you more conscious of yourself and the world around you.
Some philosophers, Gregory Sadler for one, believe that one can learn more about philosophy in literature classes than he would learn in a philosophy class. The chances are there, as philosophy has gotten so broad that it is nearly impossible for it to contain itself; it has to split across other disciplines. Has sociology not become one of those disciplines now?
Similarly, philosophy is important to literature and vice versa because literature can be done through philosophy, as is the case with freely philosophizing through literature. (More of this in the next subheading).
Shouldn’t this be the case when there are countless undefined philosophers masquerading as litterateurs? Think of William Shakespeare and Wole Soyinka among others.
Perhaps this is because they have a vantage point against getting too serious in unveiling their views. Franz Kafka for one is of the opinion that philosophy should not only be determined by the seriousness of the mood or atmosphere of the work. He opined that some philosophy could even be done in humor. This, you’ll also agree, we have seen in William Gaddis’ A Frolic of His Own, Richard Wright’s Native Son, to mention but a few.
Also Read: 30 Philosophy synonyms you should know
In essence, finding out how philosophy is important to literature means understanding the margin between philosophy and literature and knowing that the knowledge of one of them will improve our understanding of the other.
By the way, philosophy is eminent in literature. There are always some elements of it in literary works. It could be in the reader’s response to the work or say—atmosphere, with ‘critical thinking’ being the most common of these elements.
Nevertheless, no justice has been done to this topic if we do not consider certain opposing views and consider striking a balance with our view. It is generally believed that while philosophy focuses on reality or truth alone, the fictional nature of literature may make it get around the law of nature often. This is true, we agree, but will you say that Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” is not philosophical because it is fictional?
Whether or not we have realized it, we should understand that philosophy (or its elements) is important to every piece of literature that will make meaning. Sometimes, to see this, we may need to narrow down to the theme or message of the given literature.
And lest we forget, not every philosophy is worth being a philosophy to certain philosophers. In light of this comes such ideas as pseudo-philosophy. Philosophy could be mere ideology (think of all that makes our minds).
How is philosophy related to literature?
No circumlocution, so pay rapt attention. On the one hand, some literature like “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare are highly philosophical. On the other hand, certain widely appreciated philosophy works like Plato’s “Symposium” are a good fit for the literature category—without altering the philosophy.
So, what makes the difference? Although they are not the same, philosophy and literature overlap in several ways.
Is philosophy more important than literature?
Subjectively, your opinion counts in answering this. Your conclusion is susceptible to what matters more to you: whether living life or leading life.
In a more general tone, however, literature is more important than philosophy. While we won’t go wrong to say that philosophy is an advanced form of literature, we should remind ourselves how that is the reason literature (as the foundation) is essential.
Before you lead, you must first live. Literature for living. Philosophy for leading.
For further studies on this, read our article: Philosophy or literature, which is more important? It should answer your question elaborately.Share