External Assessment

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litterature and knowledge :
Human science looks at a person from the outside, as he is in relation to his environment. Psychologists formulate and test theories based upon externally describable behaviour of subjects. Accounts of conditions which cause motivation or stress, for example, are based upon the reactions of subjects given external stimuli, i.e. questions and particular situations which are manufactured in order to elicit responses. Responses and behaviour become the data for theories. This helps us to "know and understand" human behaviour as it directly relates to the outside world. However, human beings are extremely complex and a great deal of our internal life is not testable in a scientific environment.

Doubts can be raised about whether psychology provides us with "knowledge" because the data upon which theories are based is limited, and the data is also the evidence. Nevertheless, philosophers recognise that psychology is an account, if not a science, of human behaviour.

Literature helps to know and understand human behaviour differently, because we are given access to it from the inside. Although we are reading about fictional rather than real characters, a great writer can show us the workings of the mind, which we can often know to be true simply because we are moved by them. Literature can provide us with both a deep knowledge of the internal moral struggles of mankind and insights into the inner nature of man and how he comes to know things.

There are particular facets of human nature that we can learn from literature and even if we don't undergo many of the experiences which literature can show us, to come to know of them is to have an increased, expanded, deepened knowledge of mankind.

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