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Essay on Man | Alexander Pope

Essay on Man | Alexander Pope



Essay on man written by alexander pope 

An essay on man is a poem published by alexander pope in the year 1733-34 it was dedicated to henry saint john 

first discount bullenbrook hence the opening line says awake saint john it is an effort to rationalize or rather vindicate the ways of God to man a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of paradise lost that he will justify the ways of God to men.

It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man because man cannot know god's purposes he cannot complain about his position in the great chain of being and must accept that whatever is is right a theme that was satirized by Voltaire in Candide more than any other work it popularized optimistic philosophy through England and the rest of Europe 

On its publication, an essay on man received great admiration throughout Europe Voltaire called it the most beautiful the most useful the most sublime didactic poem ever written in any language 

In 1756 Russo wrote to Voltaire admiring the poem and saying that it softens my ills and brings me patience Kant was fond of the poem and would recite long passages from it to his students 

This work a rationalistic effort to justify the ways of god to man is philosophical in nature as has been stated in the introduction Walter had become well acquainted with the English poet during his stay of more than two years in England and the two had corresponded with each other with a fair degree of regularity when Voltaire returned to the continent 

Following are the major ideas in the essay on man 

"First a god of infinite wisdom exists 

Second, he created a world that is the best of all possible ones 

Third the plenum or all-embracing whole of the universe is real and hierarchical 

Four authentic good is that of the whole not of isolated parts 

Fifth self-love and social love both motivate humans conduct 

The sixth virtue is attainable 

Seven one truth is clear whatever is right"


Partial evil according to the pope contributes to the universal good godsends not ill if rightly understood according to this principle vices themselves to be deplored may lead to virtues for example 

Motivated by envy a person may develop courage and wish to emulate the accomplishments of another and the avaricious person may attain the virtue of prudence one can easily understand why from the beginning many felt that Pope had depended on Lebanese.


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