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Pope's explanation of the aim of the work and his summary of the first epistle are as follows. John (pronounced sin-jin), Viscount Bolingbroke (1678-1751), outstanding Tory statesman who had to flee England in 1715. Bolingbroke was an early friend of Pope and Swift, and a member of the Scriblerus Club.
"The Design/Having proposed to write some pieces on human life and manners, such as (to use my Lord Bacon's expression) `come home to Men's Business and Bosoms,' I thought it more satisfactory to begin with considering Man in the abstract, his nature and his state; since, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being."The science of human nature is, like all other sciences, reduced to a few clear points: There are not many certain truths in this world. He is considered to have given Pope the origìnal impetus for writing the Essay on Man, the Moral Essays, and the Imitations of Horace. These are axioms common to many traditional cosmologies: (1) that a deity of Infinite Wisdom exists and in his goodness could only create the best of all possible worlds; (2) that the world so created is a plenum formosum, i.e., full, containing the maximum number of kinds of beings; (3) that the hierarchy of kinds of being is arranged in even steps, so that each kind has its due degree. Bacon's Advancement of Learning: "Aspiring to be like God in power, the angels transgressed and fell (Isa.
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I was unable to treat this part of my subject in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, breaking the chain of reasoning: If any man unite all these without diminution of any of them freely confesshe will compass a thing above my capacity."What is now Published is only to be considered as a general Map of Man, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connection, and leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, refection, reason; that Reason alone countervails all the other faculties, ver.
Consequently, these Epistles in their progress (if I have health and leisure to make any progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfections of the angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the brutes; though, to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miserable.
ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST EPISTLE/Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to the UNl VERSE/Of Man in the abstract--I. That Man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a Being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable to the general order of things, and conformable to Ends and Relations to him unknown, ver.
That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and things, ver.
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