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Rousseau also critiqued the work, questioning "Pope's uncritical assumption that there must be an unbroken chain of being all the way from inanimate matter up to God. The essay, written in heroic couplets , comprises four epistles. Pope began work on it in , and had finished the first three by They appeared in early , with the fourth epistle published the following year.
The poem was originally published anonymously; Pope did not admit authorship until Pope reveals in his introductory statement, "The Design," that An Essay on Man was originally conceived as part of a longer philosophical poem which would have been expanded on through four separate books.
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According to his friend and editor, William Warburton , Pope intended to structure the work as follows:. The four epistles which had already been published would have comprised the first book. The second book was to contain another set of epistles, which in contrast to the first book would focus on subjects such as human reason, the practical and impractical aspects of varied arts and sciences, human talent, the use of learning, the science of the world, and wit, together with "a satire against the misapplication" of those same disciplines.
The third book would discuss politics and religion, while the fourth book was concerned with "private ethics" or "practical morality. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan The proper study of Mankind is Man. Go, wondrous creature!
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule— Then drop into thyself, and be a fool! In the above example, Pope's thesis is that man has learnt about nature and God's creation through science; consequently, science has given man power, but having become intoxicated by this power, man has begun to think that he is "imitating God".
In response, Pope declares the species of man to be a "fool", absent of knowledge and plagued by "ignorance" in spite of all the progress achieved through science. Pope argues that humanity should make a study of itself, and not debase the spiritual essence of the world with earthly science, since the two are diametrically opposed to one another: man should "presume not God to scan".
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. London: Printed for J. Retrieved 21 May Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius.
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Reason extends that instinct into emotional connection. Section IV : Section IV discusses the state of man at the time of creation, in particular the harmony between all elements of society.
Initially bound by instinct, man looked to other creatures for instruction on how to act and develop their own forms of society, using reason to teach themselves. Section V : Section V explains the development of political societies, especially the origins of monarchy and patriarchal government.
By contrast, superstition and tyranny both originate from the same principle of fear. Both religion and government take many forms, but their ultimate ends are to govern the soul and to govern society. Atoms, for example, attract and are attracted to each other, which ensures that they remain in their proper place. Likewise, dirt sustains the growth of plants, and when a plant dies, it returns to dirt to nourish its fellow plants.
An Essay on Man, by Alexander Pope
All creatures are imbued with either instinct or reason, whichever is best suited to their nature. By contrast, reason seems to result in more calculated behavior and these creatures must labor at happiness which instinct quickly secures.
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While these are hardly original observations, Pope implies that instinct is the work of God while reason is that of man. This conclusion accounts for the development of man.
Man then learned various behaviors—ploughing from the mole, political arts from the bees, etc. Through observations of his fellow creatures, man began to build his own cities, demonstrating sociability through government and religion.
Everyone conducted themselves virtuously and celebrated God until patriarchs directed self-love towards personal ambition and priests perverted religious worship. What does the poet mean by native air? Explain summary of the poem the dunciad. Pope's Poems and Prose study guide contains a biography of Alexander Pope, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
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