Tags: How To Conclude A College EssayThe Essay BankFree Samples Of Research PapersVlsi Research PapersEssays And Letters In EnglishImportance Of Literature Review In Research Ppt
There are further elements of the then contemporary intellectual atmosphere, such as the Great Chain of Being, which play important roles in this striking text, but my review is already long and I want Pope to come to word again in this passage on the peculiar position of Mankind in the order of things.Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of Mankind is Man.He says the world is beyond our understanding (a la Job), yet he contends to understand our proper role.
These are all just components of the circumstances that led to the creation of the work, which itself is yet both more and less than these.
In the late 17th century and through at least the first half of the 18th century a particular complex of ideas permeated many of the cognoscenti of the time.
The subject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subject; metaphysical morality was to him a new study, he was proud of his acquisitions, and, supposing himself master of great secrets, was in haste to teach what he had not learned.” (The Life of Pope, 17Overall, I agree with Samuel Johnson’s view on Pope’s An Essay on Man: “The Essay on Man was a work of great labour and long consideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances.
The subject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subject; metaphysical morality was to him a new study, he was proud of his acquisitions, and, supposing himself master of great secrets, was in haste to teach what he had not learned.” (The Life of Pope, 1781).“Whatever is, is right” is Pope’s theme as he aims to “vindicate the ways of God to Man.” According to Pope, we are to accept our place in life.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great: With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast; In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer; Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much: Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd; Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd; Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world! Let me end, though, on a note of optimism with Pope's version of a wisdom which truly seems to be (nearly) universal and which we can all hope is therefore true: All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee; All Chance, Direction, which thou canst not see; All Discord, Harmony not understood; All partial Evil, universal Good: And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason’s spite, One truth is clear, whatever is, is RIGHT.(*) He translated only half of a subsequent version of the Odyssey that appeared under his name.(**) This complex of ideas was proselytized by Voltaire, among many others besides Pope.
On a side note, the business with "understood in exactly the same way by everyone" was theory; in practice it could become "understood in exactly the same way by me and my kind." Consider, for example, this passage from Voltaire's Poème sur la Loi naturelle: Est-ce le peuple altier conquérant de Byzance, Le tranquille Chinois, le Tartare indompté, Qui connaît son essence, et suit sa volonté?
Two foundational aspects of this complex are the idea that human nature is independent of time and place and that the only matters of real importance are those that are understood (or at least are understandable) in exactly the same way by everyone.
This latter point bears some emphasis, since it directly contradicts the prevailing attitude here at the beginning of the 21st century: anything that requires recondite theory, anything that is not universally accessible to all human beings is either error or essentially irrelevant to anything of significance.
Believe me: kings and lords don’t really have it any better then you – they can be quite sad at times!
Rather than “vindicate the ways of God to Man,” Pope simply tries to excuse/whitewash the ways of God to Man through tautologies and wise-sounding contradictions. If man’s knowledge of the world is imperfect and incomplete, how does he know the world is complete and infinitely wise?