Description and Experience

Dalrymple’s writing often relies on both objective data and his own personal experience. At Psychology Today, he notes the frequent gap between the two:

…it seems to me that the distinction between knowledge by description and knowledge by acquaintance, or by direct experience, is a valid one. The reading of literature is probably the best way of trying to close the gap, Shakespeare being the greatest closer of the gap than any other writer (or at least any other writer known to me). He seems not only to have described but experienced his myriad characters from the inside, as it were; and because of his incomparable literary gifts, he helps us to do so as well. When we read Macbeth, we seem to understand not only Macbeth’s actions but to know what it is actually to be Macbeth, though we have no intention of becoming him ourselves.

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