Pope sets out to demonstrate that no matter how imperfect, complex, inscrutable, and disturbingly full of evil the Universe may appear to be, it does function in a rational fashion, according to natural laws; and is, in fact, considered as a whole, a perfect work of God.It appears imperfect to us only because our perceptions are limited by our feeble moral and intellectual capacity.Pope teaches us to both laugh and despair at our contradictions.
Then with a dainty but deadly little cough, Pope interrupts to say perhaps it is our own existence that should first come under the microscope.
“Know then thyself,” the passage begins, echoing the famous words carved into the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in ancient Greece—words that have been taken up by philosophers from Socrates to Descartes and may now sound little more than a cliché. Many of us repeat patterns of behavior for years without ever realizing it.
His conclusion is that we must learn to accept our position in the Great Chain of Being — a "middle state," below that of the angels but above that of the beasts — in which we can, at least potentially, lead happy and virtuous lives.
Epistle I concerns itself with the nature of man and with his place in the universe; Epistle II, with man as an individual; Epistle III, with man in relation to human society, to the political and social hierarchies; and Epistle IV, with man's pursuit of happiness in this world.
Does this make us perfectly balanced or merely mediocre?
Aristotle talks of the golden mean between extremes as his ideal moral position.
Whenever we look for one definitive, universal perspective, we find it constantly shifting and drifting.
Pope’s work is so polished that it may initially appear to be the poetic equivalent of a grand neoclassical building: formally rather imposing and a little bit chilly.
Today, when we turn to read Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man,” the debate between religion and reason rages around our ears.
Books with titles such as “God Is Not Great” and “The God Delusion” have provoked many to wonder if God is merely a lie.