An Essay On Criticism Sparknotes

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If man had the omniscience of God, he would be miserable: “The bliss of man [...] / Is, not to act of think beyond mankind” (189-90).

Section VII (207-32): Section VII shows that throughout the visible world, a universal order and gradation can be observed.

Section IV (113-30): Section IV claims that man’s sin of pride—the attempt to gain more knowledge and pretend to greater perfection—is the root of man’s error and misery.

By putting himself in the place of God, judging perfection and justice, man acts impiously.

Section V (131-72): Section V depicts the absurdity of man’s belief that he is the sole cause of the creation as well as his ridiculous expectation of perfection in the moral world that does not exist in the natural world.

Section VI (173-206): Section VI decries the unreasonableness of man’s complaints against Providence; God is good, giving and taking equally.Absolute submission to God will ensure that man remains “Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow’r” (287). Pope’s first epistle seems to endorse a sort of fatalism, in which all things are fated.Everything happens for the best, and man should not presume to question God’s greater design, which he necessarily cannot understand because he is a part of it.The subtitle of the first epistle is “Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to the Universe,” and this section deals with man’s place in the cosmos.Pope argues that to justify God’s ways to man must necessarily be to justify His ways in relation to all other things.According to Pope’s own conclusions, man’s limited intellect can comprehend only a small portion of God’s order and likewise can have knowledge of only half-truths.It therefore seems the height of hubris to presume to justify God’s ways to man.Pope urges his friend to “leave all meaner things” and rather embark with Pope on his quest to “vindicate the ways of God to man (1, 16).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.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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