Curious Thought on Things like Literature -- What is it for?

Pavel Janoušek

The article gives consideration to the question of humane thinking in the context of what is usually perceived under the notion of science. Its argumentation rises from a linguistic paradox: the word "science" is in nowadays Czech (but as well in other languages) used so to speak entirely in singular -- despite the fact that the single/uniform de facto does not exist and the word "science" is just an abstract notion, which hides a lot of very diverse "sciences".

The polemic thorn of the reflection points against mechanic identification of all the sciences only with certain scientific branches and against the idea that approaches, methods, customs and criteria used by these sciences have obligatory value for the whole "science", while the approaches, methods, customs and criteria used by other sciences are unscientific, or at least suspicious.

The article gives notice of the fact that in other disciplines common ideas about the science as a synonym for new discoveries, technologies, approaches, goods or therapeutic methods are not valid. On the example of the thinking on literature points that there exist "curious" sciences that do not directly change the world of man but they "just" explain it, for they are devoted to the sphere of human existence, which is practically impossible to reduce to mathematical models. Key words for these sciences are not words as "exactness, empiricism, experiment and statistics" or words like "progress and development" but collocations "creative memory". It is their own reason, purpose to preserve the awareness of the given society of itself and its ability of creative thinking -- leading a ceaseless dialogue with itself and its environment. Another fact arises from this: while in common mechanic concepts "science" has global dimension, "curious" sciences are local and are existentially connected with a quite concrete collective, be it defined by nation, language of territory. Without this collective they would not exist -- and on the contrary, these collectives would lose constituent part of their identity, which they are distinguished by.

Other specific qualities of "curious" sciences and different ways of their functioning grow from the described features, and these are analyzed in the major part of the article.

Keywords: Science. Arts. Literary Studies. Thinking on Literature. Social Memory.