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and confess, one comfort still must rise, ‘Tis this, - Though man’s a fool, yet God is wise.” “For forms of government let fools contest; Whate’er is best administered is best: For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight; His can’t be wrong whose life is in the right: In faith and hope the world will disagree, But all mankind’s concern is charity: All must be false that thwart this one great end; And all of God, that bless mankind or mend.” “The good must merit God’s peculiar care; But who, but God, can tell us who they are?
In a note Voltaire did deign to exclude Confucius from this impur amas d'imposteurs odieux, since he s’en est tenu à la religion naturelle. Some of Greatest lines - -"Two principles in human nature reign; Self-love, to urge, andreason, to restrain; Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call, Eachworks its end, to move or govern all: And to their proper operati What an exquisite philosophical poetry ! Some of Greatest lines - -"Two principles in human nature reign; Self-love, to urge, andreason, to restrain; Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call, Eachworks its end, to move or govern all: And to their proper operationstill Ascribe all Good, to their imprope" "Oh fool!
Elsewhere, Voltaire writes quite positively about Chinese culture (like many European free thinkers from the 16th through the 18th centuries such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Christian Wolff, he valued Chinese government and ethics above their European counterparts).(***) For other authors of the age, "reason" refers to this universal set of gifts. to think God hates the worthy mind, The lover and the love of human-kind, Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear, Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.
Perhaps best known as an author of satirical verses and a most engaging translation of the Iliad,(*) Pope also produced an edition of Shakespeare and venture Portrait of Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) by Jonathan Richardson, ca.
Perhaps best known as an author of satirical verses and a most engaging translation of the Iliad,(*) Pope also produced an edition of Shakespeare and ventured into philosophical waters, as did so many writers in the 18th century.
Portrait of Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) by Jonathan Richardson, ca.
1736Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of Mankind is Man. Lovejoy's very interesting Essays in the History of Ideas I finally understood the intellectual context of Alexander Pope's famous philosophical poem, An Essay On Man.
Reason, however able, cool at best, Cares not for service, or but serves when pressed, Stays 'till we call, and then not often near; But honest Instinct comes a volunteer, Sure never to o’er-shoot, but just to hit; While still too wide or short is human Wit; Sure by quick Nature happiness to gain, Which heavier Reason labours at in vain, This too serves always, Reason never long; One must go right, the other may go wrong.
See then the acting and comparing pow'rs One in their nature, which are two in ours; And Reason raise o’er Instinct as you can, In this ’tis God directs, in that ’tis Man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great: With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast; In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer; Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much: Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd; Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd; Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world! Let me end, though, on a note of optimism with Pope's version of a wisdom which truly seems to be (nearly) universal and which we can all hope is therefore true: All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee; All Chance, Direction, which thou canst not see; All Discord, Harmony not understood; All partial Evil, universal Good: And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason’s spite, One truth is clear, whatever is, is RIGHT.(*) He translated only half of a subsequent version of the Odyssey that appeared under his name.(**) This complex of ideas was proselytized by Voltaire, among many others besides Pope.
On a side note, the business with "understood in exactly the same way by everyone" was theory; in practice it could become "understood in exactly the same way by me and my kind." Consider, for example, this passage from Voltaire's Poème sur la Loi naturelle: Est-ce le peuple altier conquérant de Byzance, Le tranquille Chinois, le Tartare indompté, Qui connaît son essence, et suit sa volonté?