Since antiquity, perceptive thinkers in western culture have maintained that literature has its own rationality, a rationality as valid in its own domain as the reasoning of theoretical and empirical science. The dismissal of literature’s rationality in our own scientific era has wreaked havoc in the philosophy of education, sowed discord in religion, and led poets like William Blake to warn of our diminished humanity. And yet, in spite of their uneasy relations, there is a mutuality between literature and science. Charles Darwin’s reasoning through probabilities to reach his theory of evolution engages the same pattern of reasoning as the literary reasoning of rhetoric in Cicero’s deliberations on civic matters or John Henry Newman’s preaching at Oxford on matters of religious belief.
Jane Rupert holds a PhD in English from the University of Toronto. She is an independent scholar living in Madoc, Ontario.