In what ways does the study of literature contribute to the understanding of the human condition?

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Let us assume that the "human condition" means those events and behaviors which most define a human life, and which nearly all human life shares: such as birth, death, physicality, emotionality, fear, and love. These are both ubiquitous among human life, and pivotal for individual human life. 

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Let us assume that the "human condition" means those events and behaviors which most define a human life, and which nearly all human life shares: such as birth, death, physicality, emotionality, fear, and love. These are both ubiquitous among human life, and pivotal for individual human life. 

If one wants to understand the human condition, they not only have to understand themselves, but how other people experience life. Literature helps in both respects. Reading a book which resonates with yourself can help you articulate the parameters of your own existence; can help you understand your own experiences. Perhaps more importantly, literature can guide a person towards the goal of understanding others. This requires knowledge of lives unlike yourself, and the ability to empathize with the conditions of those lives, and the choices other people make. Books can expose you to unfamiliar ideas, objects, and places, and help you visualize how they are different from what you know through your own life experience. They can also, through character development and thoughtful description, help you empathize with other perspectives. 

Ultimately, you could say that understanding the human condition is a matter of perspective. One must be aware of the dimensions of their own perspective, and understand and empathize with other peoples' perspectives. Literature is an incredible tool for people to gain this kind of insight. 

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