Note, this is homework, but I'm NOT looking for someone to do my homework for me.
For my Critical Reasoning course, I'm tasked with categorizing the following passage as either a description, or an explanation. I've read up to the required chapter though, and I have yet to find a formal definition of either! Checking the index also didn't yield any results.
Searching around, the basic difference appears to be that an explanation is objective; it doesn't involve any kind of opinion. A description on the other hand is affected by the point of view of the author, so is subjective.
Are these definitions correct?
The passage is:
In Egypt, Persia, and Japan, orris powder was made from the dried root of the iris and used prodigiously in the art of perfumery. Orris has an odor not of iris but of violets. Until the recent development of chemical scents, most violet-perfumed products were made from orris, it being cheaper to produce than violet extract. Orris also has the ability to strengthen the odors of other perfumed substances and has been used for centuries as a fixative in the manufacture of powders and perfumes.
Orris came to prominence in Europe during the excesses of the French court prior to the Revolution. It was used to mask the unpleasant smells of stale body odor prevalent in high society, since bathing was considered unhealthy. One story tells of an argument between Louis XIV and his mistress Madame de Montespan that concluded with the lady telling the king that, for all her faults, she didn’t smell as badly as he. Orris powder was employed to scent and preserve the odoriferous and often lice-infested coiffures of the French aristocracy. Orris was mixed with flour to make a stiffener, so that the hair could be molded into fanciful sculptures studded with ribbons, pearls, beads, and artificial flowers. Large quantities of Iris germanica var. florintina are grown in Mexico today for their roots, which are shipped to France for use in the
By my above definitions, I'd classify this passage this an explanation, since it's from a matter-of-fact point-of-view.