Literature is a kind of intellectual light what does this mean?


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Meg Hayes answered
The quote you are referring to was spoken by Samuel Johnson, who is speaking about diversity and all people being treated equally.

Basically, Johnson is taking about literature being wisdom. Literature makes us more informed and more educated and therefore more understanding towards ideas such as diversity and equality.

• Meaning of the quote.

In this quote, Johnson means that literature can expose human beings to their own faults, or the faults that are present it society, or perhaps even faults that exist in humanity as a whole.

• Examples.

There is a well known saying that states that people who hate things e.g. Homosexuals, only hate them because they do not understand. According to Samuel Johnson in this quote, if a person read more about gay people and the oppression they face, then they will be exposed to their side of the story. And although that person still may not like what they read, they will be introduced to what they have so far chosen to ignore in life.

• Alternative meaning.

If Johnson was not speaking here about diversity and equality, then his quote "literature is a kind of intellectual light" could be taken to have a literal meaning i.e. Literature (books) actually do provide us with intellectual knowledge. For example, if you read a book about the psychology of eating behavior, then you will become more knowledgeable about that subject.

• Overlap.

Sometimes the two meanings of this quote can overlap and become entwined. For example, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, if you read a book or a paper that was published about the psychology of eating behavior, then you will be more inclined to understand why anorexic and bulimic people are so opposed to eating. This is especially important if that person has particular ideas about anorexic people, because they will understand more about the possible causes of the disorder, and then realize that it cannot be helped and that the cause is sometimes a lot deeper.

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