Contradictions In An Essay On Man Nsf Sts Dissertation

Voltaire could have been called a fervent admirer of Pope.

Section I (17-34): Section I argues that man can only understand the universe with regard to human systems and constructions because he is ignorant of the greater relationships between God’s creations.Pope denied that he was indebted to Leibnitz for the ideas that inform his poem, and his word may be accepted.Those ideas were first set forth in England by Anthony Ashley Cowper, Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1731).Chance is rather “direction, which thou canst not see” (290).Those things that man sees as disparate or unrelated are all “but parts of one stupendous whole, / Whose body nature is, and God the soul” (267-8).In the edition of Lettres philosophiques published in that year, he wrote: "The Essay on Man appears to me to be the most beautiful didactic poem, the most useful, the most sublime that has ever been composed in any language." Perhaps this is no more than another illustration of how Voltaire could vacillate in his attitude as he struggled with the problems posed by the optimistic philosophy in its relation to actual experience.For in the Lisbon poem and in Candide, he picked up Pope's recurring phrase "Whatever is, is right" and made mockery of it: "Tout est bien" in a world filled with misery!Thus every element of the universe has complete perfection according to God’s purpose.Pope concludes the first epistle with the statement “Whatever is, is right,” meaning that all is for the best and that everything happens according to God’s plan, even though man may not be able to comprehend it (294).This order is, more specifically, a hierarchy of the “Vast chain of being” in which all of God’s creations have a place (237).Man’s place in the chain is below the angels but above birds and beasts.

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