“Essay on Man & Other Poems” by Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man. London: Printed for John and Paul Knapton, 1745. de Beer Eb 1745 P

[ An Essay on Man discordia concors.]

“An Essay on Man” was published in 1734 and contained very deep and well thought out philosophical ideas. It is said that these ideas were partially influenced by his friend, Henry St. John Bolingbroke, who Pope addresses in the first line of Epistle I when he says, “Awake, my St. John!”(Pope 1)(World Biography 1) The purpose of the poem is to address the role of humans as part of the "Great Chain of Being." In other words, it speaks of man as just one small part of an unfathomably complex universe. Pope urges us to learn from what is around us, what we can observe ourselves in nature, and to not pry into God's business or question his ways; For everything that happens, both good and bad, happens for a reason. This idea is summed up in the very last lines of the poem when he says, "And, Spite of pride in erring reason's spite, / One truth is clear, Whatever IS, is RIGHT."(Pope 293-294) The poem is broken up into four epistles each of which is labeled as its own subcategory of the overall work. They are as follows:

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man. London: Printed for John and Paul Knapton, 1745. de Beer Eb 1745 P

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David Hume, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. London: Printed for A. Millar, 1751. de Beer Eb 1751 H; ____, Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding. 2nd ed., with additions and corrections. London: Printed for M. Cooper, 1751. de Beer Eb 1751 H

SOURCE: “Trivializing ” in  Essay on Man, University of Alabama Press, 1993, pp. 6-31.

"An Essay on Man: Epistle 1 by Alexander Pope • 81 Poems by Alexander PopeEdit."An Essay on Man: Epistle 1 by Alexander Pope Classic Famous Poet. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2013. >.

John Locke. An Essay concerning Humane Understanding. 2nd ed. London: Printed for Awnsham and John Churchil, 1694. de Beer Ec 1694 L


Pope’s Essay on Man, a masterpiece of concise summary in itself, can fairly be summed up as an optimistic enquiry into mankind’s place in the vast Chain of Being.Alexander Pope’s works, Essay on Man: Epistle I and Essay on Man: Epistle II are two beautifully complimentary works, meant to be read together. While each one of these essays individually holds great merit, by studying them in juxtaposition, readers are presented with the opportunity to much more thoroughly explore the very vast and complex topics of passion and reason.[John Sergeant], Solid Philosophy Asserted, Against the Fancies of the Ideists: Or, The Method to Science Farther Illustrated. With Reflexions on Mr. Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding. London: Printed for Roger Clavil, [et al], 1697. de Beer Eb 1697 SThe acknowledged master of the heroic couplet and one of the primary tastemakers of the Augustan age, Alexander Pope was a central figure in the Neoclassical movement of the early 18th century. He was known for having perfected the rhymed couplet form of his idol, John Dryden, and turned it to satiric and philosophical purposes. His mock epic The Rape of the Lock (1714) derides elite society, while An Essay on Criticism (1711) and An Essay on Man (1733-34) articulate many of the central tenets of 18th-century aesthetic and moral philosophy. Pope was noted for his involvement in public feuds with the writers and publishers of low-end Grub Street, which led him to write The Dunciad (1728), a scathing account of England’s cultural decline, and, at the end of his life, a series of related verse essays and Horatian satires that articulated and protested this decline. Pope is also remembered...[John Sergeant], Solid Philosophy Asserted, Against the Fancies of the Ideists: Or, The Method to Science Farther Illustrated. With Reflexions on Mr. Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding. London: Printed for Roger Clavil, [et al], 1697. de Beer Eb 1697 SLeibniz discusses the Molyneux Problem at length in his commentary on Locke’s Essay entitled New Essays on Human Understanding. The New Essays was first published many decades after Leibniz’s death in this edition on display here. In contrast to Locke and Berkeley, Leibniz claims that the newly-sighted man would be able to distinguish between the sphere and the cube, but only on the condition that he knew in advance that these very objects would appear to him on receiving his sight.