, Research Paper
Different Viewpoints on Human Nature
Throughout history there have been arguments about anything and everything that is disagreeable. People innately have there own and often different opinions. A prominent discussion topic throughout history has been the nature of mankind. Many have written works about human nature but few are discussed in greater detail than Candide, The Prince, and Essay on Man. Voltaire, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Alexander Pope, who wrote these three works respectively, concur with each other on many view points. But it is their differences that make the works unique.
Voltaire wrote Candide in 1759 during the period known as the Enlightenment. It is a story that has a deeper symbolic meaning about life and human nature. At face value it seems to be an optimistic tale that speaks highly of man. But when looked at closely, it envelops a whole new meaning. It is full of sexual allusions and darker views on human nature and man himself. This wasn’t exactly a new concept, it was just brought about in a different and unusual way. Candide is different from the other works in the fact that it was written as a story about a baron’s son, which Voltaire uses as a third party media to get his views across. Both Machiavelli and Pope were straightforward in their works. Another difference between Voltaire and the others is his sarcasm. Candide translated into English means optimism. In this work, Voltaire was not saying that people are good. He says that people are greedy, power driven beings that put themselves above others. Yet his literal words all seem happy and joyful. He uses his wit and sarcasm to get his point across.
The Prince, written in 1513 by Niccolo Machiavelli, is an essay about how to rule a state and keep its adjuncts content. Whether it be a princedom, a republic or a mixture of the two. In his essay, human nature and how it interacts with the prince is discussed greatly. Machiavelli tells the prince that he should be as greedy and as devious as can be gotten away with. He explains how to gain and control states and gives examples of how his points are proven. Machiavelli’s main point is that there are classes of people and that people are in a certain class for a reason. He says people should remain that way so that all the roles are filled. He differs from the others in this aspect and also in his view that people are ignorant fools. Another way Machiavelli differs from the other two is religion and god. Where as Alexander Pope tries to intervene god in human nature, Machiavelli says to ignore it and try to become as powerful as one can without thought about what moral consequences could occur.
Alexander Pope wrote his work, Essay on Man in 1733. He talked about man in relationship to the universe and how human nature dictates who we are. He differs in his views by focusing on a different perspective. Pope looks at mankind as a miniscule almost non-existent speck when compared to the universe, a much larger entity. Yet, it is so much more than just a grain of sand on a beach. Each person has a duty and if a duty is not done then the whole picture can be disrupted. So while man is small, it is not in the least insignificant. Pope also tends to discuss God and religion a lot when talking about human nature. He is a religious person and believed god created the earth. He says it is human nature to be greedy but we must restrain ourselves from breaking gods laws. Pope wrote this essay totally to the point. It is in rhyming poetic form yet is titled Essay on Man and strays not far from its main topic.
Pope, Machiavelli, and Voltaire are considered three of the most intelligent people to have lived. Their essays about the theories of mankind and human nature were astounding considering the time period we are talking about. They disagree about many of the concepts of human nature, yet agree on the basics. Mankind is greedy and self loving. It is hard to have concurring opinions when talking about a topic so abstract as human nature. It is difficult to prove the nature of man now, yet alone in the 16th or 18th centuries. Human nature will be debated and quarreled over for many years to come.