It has been pointed out that at times, he does little more than echo the same thoughts expressed by the English poet. Even as late as , the year in which he published his poem on the destruction of Lisbon, he lauded the author of Essay on Man.
In the edition of Lettres philosophiques published in that year, he wrote: For in the Lisbon poem and in Candide , he picked up Pope's recurring phrase "Whatever is, is right" and made mockery of it: Pope denied that he was indebted to Leibnitz for the ideas that inform his poem, and his word may be accepted. They pervade all his works but especially the Moralist.
Indeed, several lines in the Essay on Man, particularly in the first Epistle, are simply statements from the Moralist done in verse. Although the question is unsettled and probably will remain so, it is generally believed that Pope was indoctrinated by having read the letters that were prepared for him by Bolingbroke and that provided an exegesis of Shaftesbury's philosophy. The main tenet of this system of natural theology was that one God, all-wise and all-merciful, governed the world providentially for the best.
Most important for Shaftesbury was the principle of Harmony and Balance, which he based not on reason but on the general ground of good taste. Believing that God's most characteristic attribute was benevolence, Shaftesbury provided an emphatic endorsement of providentialism.
However, later he changed his plans. The first epistle answers the questions: Epistle III is about man vs. Throughout the whole poem, Pope tried to contemplate on the nature of a human being and persuade the reader to recognize the existence of a Supreme Power.
He states that our abilities to understand the divine system are limited as our intellect is. He not only created all that exists but also can control the forces of nature; he can do the supernatural things, something that does not obey physical laws. He can do anything. We should bear in mind that although God has unlimited power, this does not mean that He manifests this power everywhere. We are responsible for what we do. People can see this opposition of good and evil even in nature.
Yes, God created flowers, seas, soft grass, fruits and lovely animals. But, on the other hand, earthquakes, floods, snakes, and plaques are also the part of our existence on this planet. We do not like such negative things, but who are we to claim that they are unnecessary? Instead, we can take care of sick people, feed the hungry and give a shelter for the homeless.
We learn that there is a hierarchy in the universe. The general scheme is as follows: This Great Chain of Being is perfect and unchangeable. The morality here is that a human should accept his medium place and never try to become godlike striving for more knowledge and perfection.
A lot of attention is dedicated to the greatest sin of pride. We tend to think that we are in the center of the world and that everything was created only for our own use. We are ready to complain against the Providence when something bad happens to us, we put pride over reason, and these are our main mistakes.
The author dwells upon the problem of identity and self-love. God wants us to love ourselves, not in everything, but in the best. The love for oneself is built on the same reliable and strong foundation as our love for the nearest and dearest. We must try to love ourselves — exactly what helps us strive for better. In the universe, everything is bound together in the sole system of society where an individual is connected to the society as a part of the whole. A person lives in society; he is compelled to participate in any collective activity.
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An Essay on Man consists of four epistles, which is a term that is historically used to describe formal letters directed to a specific person. The first epistle looks at man's relation to the universe in order to present the concept of harmony that is referred to throughout the rest of the poem.
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Famous for its expressive breadth and insightful wisdom, “An Essay on Man” () has been extremely popular during last three centuries. Its author, Alexander Pope, was a representative of the Neoclassical movement of the Enlightenment era. Critical analysis of “An Essay on Man” “An Essay on Man,” being well-structured and carefully thought out, has its own history. Alexander Pope’s oeuvre refers to .