Of all the Causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring Judgment, and misguide the Mind,
What the weak Head with strongest Byass rules,
Is Pride, the never-failing Vice of Fools.
Whatever Nature has in Worth deny'd,
She gives in large Recruits of needful Pride;
For as in Bodies, thus in Souls, we find
What wants in Blood and Spirits, swell'd with Wind;
Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to our Defence,
And fills up all the mighty Void of Sense!
If once right Reason drives that Cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless Day;
Trust not your self; but your Defects to know,
Make use of ev'ry Friend--and ev'ry Foe.
However, Pope's use of the cosmos as a model to teach humanity how to live also reflects the Enlightenment's emphasis on combining rationality with virtue and humility. Although Enlightenment thinkers helped to produce the modern forms of science and reason that greatly changed the natural world, they were also eager to understand the limits of man's knowledge. This characteristic of Enlightenment thinking is particularly clear through An Essay on Man in Pope's frequent emphasis on the importance of living virtuously. Moreover, the fact that he breaks the poem into epistles demonstrates that Pope wrote the poem with the hope that people would approach it personally as if it is a loving piece of writing rather than a strict, didactic poem.