Hamza Yusuf – An Essay on Man with Tom Jones

Hamza Yusuf
AI: Summary © The speakers discuss the importance of learning the language of the House of Stuart and the use of "by" in relation to personal experiences and beliefs. They stress the need for an " act of faith" in order to achieve goals, and discuss the theory of balancing biology and politics in society. Dr. Jones's insights and his focus on the social and ecumenical aspect of the culture are also discussed.
AI: Transcript ©
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Just spent out on the other hand was a lot on us. And it was time to send him first of all,

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really want to thank Dr. Jones for for agreeing to come on I know it's late there in Scotland. So really appreciate the time. But

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Professor Jones is a is a professor of English literature at St. Andrews, which is a very, very notable, I think it's one of like Oxford of Scotland, isn't it, it's, it's considered one of the great universities of

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Oxford and the British Isles take the English language very seriously. So it's hard to get a position

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of that stature, without being a very formidable scholar of the English language. And I think that is very well proven in this extraordinary edition, which is not just an an edit at addition, but really an amazing

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I think, just an amazing presentation of the work, I learned a lot of things I've loved Pope for a long time. And there were lines from this, and also from some of the density and other things that I actually memorized many, many years ago, and have quoted for people that, you know, have heard me quoted Pope in public lectures. But this rereading some of these things, just

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I think it was Ezra Pound just said that a book at 50 is is not the same book that you read when you were 20, or something like that. So these books are wasted on young people who still read them in college, because they're just, there's so much richness in this. So I just, for me, I have to say, you know, without, and this is not flattering in any sense. But I have to say this is really one of the finest pieces of modern scholarship that I've read.

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And and I just think it's amazing work. So I'm gonna, there's some of the passages that I'd like to go over. But before we do that, what, what I'd like to say one of the things that I was curious about was the introduction did not have a lot of biographical data on Alexander Pope, and he has such a fat fascinating biography because he was from a persecuted sect in England wasn't permitted to go to school really, and became this extraordinary autodidact with just a vast addition. And, and I think you really did him justice by,

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you know, the level of erudition, that you present in the annotations and in the introduction, so I'm just curious, maybe just a little biographical data and how you feel that influences him as an author. Yes, so Pope Pope was a was born into a Catholic family, in the 1680s in in England.

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And as he was growing up, Catholics were excluded from various areas of public life, they were excluded from the public schools from the universities and from participation in government as well. And

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hope like many others was very antagonistic towards the new new dynastic regime, the regime of William third that came in in 1689. by many in England hailed as the as the start of what brought about an English and English revolution, the foundation of a balanced constitution, in Britain, and by many celebrators as a wonderful period in in British history, but for Catholics, sort of as a time of repression by an aggressively Protestant King, who also went to war in Ireland, which has a majority Catholic population and was quite oppressive. So, in his early days, he experienced or felt that, that England was maybe not necessarily a very, very welcoming place for people of his of his

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sect, and felt perhaps slightly oppressed. And, and many have argued that Pope

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keen in theory, if not necessarily in practice on in restoring the other royal line, the line of the House of Stuart, which was a Scottish royal family that had ruined Britain previously.

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So his father was a cloth merchant.

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So he comes from a kind of trading background, a

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modest, financially modest background.

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But he his father was successful, successful merchant

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And he moves out to

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the countryside to the west of London and meets

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older men, aristocratic men,

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literary men, and it's very early in his life

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brought into a world of, of quite intense literary study and scholarship. We want one other thing that marked Pope's early life, he said was that one of his earliest forms of reading was

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reading the religious controversies between Protestants and Catholics, that his father had a regular this pamphlet literature in his in his personal library and and Pope digested that when he was very young, so, I think, although and this is something we might may talk about later, post religious consciousness isn't always front and center of his writing, even in this poem, his great ethical poem, he doesn't always come across as a strikingly religious figure or a figure whose religion is very strongly committed to a particular sect of Christianity. Nonetheless, when he was young, he really

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imbibed that that sense of religious controversy.

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He had a period

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up until about 2014, when Queen Anne was on the throne when I think Pope felt very much at the center of British life of British politics. He had a group of literary friends, very famous writers like Jonathan Swift, as well.

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At that moment, I think Pope felt very central but following the death of Queen Anne and a change in, in politics, again, Pope started to put a bit more excluded. So he is mature writings, many of his mature writings from the 17 teens onwards to the end of his life in 1744, a slightly written from the outside, so he, he, he takes a satirical attitude towards the mainstream culture of his day. This is quite a critic of, of manners of politics of literary culture more genuine genuinely. Maybe that's enough one as a starter on posts background I think it's also fascinating that he you know, he suffered from Potts disease, so he had this horrible scoliosis and, and I think, apparently

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was about four foot six, which probably would have been quite just difficult and, and then being a great satirist, and mocking so many people, I guess, he created so many enemies. So he's, he, there's definitely a rebellious

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streak in him. So, you know, I just thought of just the mentality of somebody who is an oppressed minority. And, and kind of a little bit lashing out at the the dominant culture and pedantic, obviously, was one of his great,

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you know, just really set his sights on the dance of his of his time. And there was a great deal of that, I think, in the English tradition. So I just thought that was really fascinating about him. One of the things that I wanted to ask you, because what's fascinating to me about an essay on man is, and we and I followed it up with after Marcus Aurelius, for obvious reasons.

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It it's, to me, the Christianity is so in the background, if it's almost there at all. And I know he was criticized for that. During his life, I mean, a lot of some of the more staunch theologians,

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you know, deem this actually kind of a dangerous book almost. But what what fascinates me is it resonates almost perfectly with for Muslims, just in terms of, of his, his, his views on certain things, and almost moronic to be honest with you. I mean, there's some and I'll get into that, where,

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so I'm just, you know, fascinated by what you think just as somebody who's so steeped in him just as a religious quote, unquote, religious writer, because, you know, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that.

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I think this is a this is a very interesting question. I would, I'd be extremely interested to hear from from Newsha concern and from the rest of the group, where those where those moments are, what what the possible Quranic echoes might, might be.

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I think Pope is certainly a believer.

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I think he does believe in one God.

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Some passages of the poem suggests that he might, either he didn't express himself clearly or that he might have entertained the idea that God was not completely distinct from the creative universe but but maybe within the creative universe, and I think that's one of them. The more controversial ideas that the God

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was the Soul of the World, a great stoic idea. Maybe Pope didn't distance himself quite enough from that idea to satisfy his Christian

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I think he certainly believes in the providential universe. And I think that's that's, to my mind, really, the central concern of the SAR man is to is to just to demonstrate

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the goodness of God's providence.

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Hope is one of the one of the things that characterizes earlier 18th century Britain is an intense fear of the social disorder that can follow from sectarian divide, because there was a civil war in the middle of the 17th century. And people were keen to avoid the severity of religious conflict, that could issue in civil war. So that tended to be for perhaps for social for reasons of social cohesion, a tendency to emphasize those points of religion held in common,

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which can lead towards a very,

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the group of people are called latitude and Aryans. So

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I mentioned too much about the differences between religious sects or even even the great world religions that just, it just emphasize those points that everything everybody has in common. That again, leads to an emphasis on natural religion, the religion that can be derived from observing the world around us that doesn't rely on a particular scriptural revelation and so on.

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I think one, one tiny moment in Pope's poem, where he he, he comes across perhaps as this is Catholic, I don't think there are very, very many moments

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in the poem at all of this kind,

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is in the third episode of the poem,

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arounds, line lines 225 to 30, where he says there are two ways that people identify God one is through natural religion through to observing the world around them. And did you think that it must be the work of a creator, benevolent creator, and the other way is through unbroken tradition of handing down traditions from father to son. So it's not the same as a scriptural revelation necessary, but talks to the, to the importance of inherited tradition in the Catholic Church as opposed to the inner light of the of the Protestant church. So I think in very few moments in the pyre more can get a sense of Pope's Christianity. And even if his Catholicism,

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I agree, one has to look quite hard sometimes to find it. Well, it's interesting, because he,

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you know, apparently he, he, he had a long standing correspondence with Lady Montague. And in there, he says, in one of his letters, that he was familiar with Islam, because she, she was actually enamored of a lot of the aspects of, of the Ottoman Empire. And, and, you know, even though it's later, Locke was heavily influenced, there was a very interesting Oxford Don Edward pokok. Are you familiar with him?

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Very, it's a great distance, but I know,

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the pokok library there, but he had studied in

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he had studied in, in Aleppo, Syria, and spent several years there, he was actually originally I think, a missionary, but he brought back a mass of Arabic library manuscripts, and translated some of them Henry Stob, at that time, was also writing coloriage you know, they and then there was a very interesting in 1734, there was a very interesting trends. It's the first real translation of the Quran. I mean, there's earlier ones

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from the 16th century, but the the first decent one was in 1734.

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So he wrote this and said around 1734 2017 3570 33 to 40. Yes. So it's, it's coming out exactly that time. Yeah. So So George sales Poron, which was the first translation I read oddly, and I actually have an original edition of it in my library. But it's actually a really excellent, and I'm convinced that's where Coleridge got the ancient Rime of the Ancient Mariner idea of the albatross. Because Coleridge was influenced by Islam, and had read sales. Translation and, and sales has a footnote on there's a verse in the 17 Chapter of Oran, that we put an albatross around the, the neck of the sins of people you know, on the Day of Judgment will be like an albatross around their necks.

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And then that's what sale says in the footnote that this literally means a bird.

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So, but anyway, he

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I found only one

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there's a a an article that I found on Gale academic article from two English professors at the University of

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Ben falafel in Jordan called intertextual reflections on nature and solitude and Alexander Pope's owed on solitude, and Islamic perspective. So it's kind of an interesting, I wasn't, I wasn't terribly convinced by the argument, because Pope wrote the ode to silence when he was like, 12. I think so. So I doubt that he, you know, I mean, they're making an argument that he was influenced by the Quran in that thing, and it wasn't very convincing to me. But I do feel that, you know, there was such a huge influence at that time of Unitarianism there was a lot of very interesting ideas about religion, beginning to come up with the enlightenment.

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And so I do think that, you know, I'm pretty convinced that he must have had some exposure. And I think it's, it's one of those areas that would be interesting to study.

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For me, just mentioned one one text, which is a text I have looked at a long time in the past, but I don't I don't recall it. Well, I'm afraid but

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a man called Samuel aqui in 1708 translated the work by Abu Bakr Ibn Al to file Yeah, and I think Pope read that Yeah.

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Yeah, a copy of it and and

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from 1708 and suggest that he could, he could well have read that book and

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find when he was,

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yeah, because that's very much in line with the idea that people come to God through nature, because that's essentially the argument and that we actually read that book at the college here. The students do read that and one of the we have a cohort system so they all read great books, college, they all read the same books, which is

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not that popular anymore. You know, there was something that really struck me in your introduction I just thought it was it's

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it was just such a fascinating I hope I can find it here

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it was the it was I think a quote from Pascal about hierarchy in the world

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and he talks about the two carriages coming to the crossroad

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Yeah, here it is. I it's on page

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It's Roman numeral

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So he basically

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he says that I'm you say here,

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in order in the poem was discussed above, in epistle for Ottoman social distinction, a rank ordering of people that will produce order as equality indirectly through hope and fear. Pope holds the view that equality and the distribution of goods would lead to conflict, but fortunes gifts, if each alight possessed, and each were equal, must not all contest. Such attitudes may well be responding to Thomas Hobbes assertion of the fundamental equality of all people, and therefore the necessity of conflict. From this equality of ability arises equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore, if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they

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become enemies, and in in the way to their end, which is principally their own conservation. Sometimes their delectation only endeavor to destroy or subdue one another. Hobbes is a believer in a fundamental equality the conflictual consequences of which are prevented only by social compact. Pope Pope's sympathies are in a different direction. This This was what was so fascinating to me. There is a struck through note in the shoulder of the manuscript page on which a version of a couplet just cited occurs, which reads See, piece, Pascal?

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And I guess that's Yeah, from the Ponce's that the earlier the citation from Pascal's Ponce's concerns the wisdom involved in venerating customary human distinctions. The second provides a reason how wisely is Pascal from the Ponce's how wisely has it been ordained to distinguish men rather by the exterior exterior show, then by the interior endowment? Here's another person and I disputing the way who shall have the preference in this case, why the better man of the two, but I am as good as a man

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On his heat, so, if no expedient be found, he must beat me or I must beat him well, but all this while he has four foot men at his back and I have about one, this is a visible advantage, we need only tell noses to discover it does my part, therefore to yield and I am a blockhead. If I can test the point, see here and easy method of peace, the great safeguard and supreme happiness of this world. And then you write the superficial approval of social distinction is common, but the underlying philosophical reasons for that approval are different Pope's texts as to Pascal sense of the practical value of social distinction, an argument from the assumption of God's legible rather

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than hidden Providence, given God's justice, it is simply impossible that evident inequalities in the distribution of material goods could affect the happiness of the individual, you know, that this path, it just really struck me was so fascinating. I, you know, I was once in Saudi Arabia. And they have a like the British system, they have the roundabouts.

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So, you know, I, I had such a hard time understanding, like right away there, because it's a little crazy. And I asked a Saudi friend of mine, you know, who has the right away, and these roundabouts, he said, The Lexus first

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and then the BMW, and then the Mercedes, and then the Chevy Impala, and then the other people. And it just totally, and he was partly being facetious, but also partly stating a truth.

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That that is much more evident in, in, in certain parts of the world than it is in in in the West, which has become increasingly more egalitarian, at least in its,

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you know, presentation. I mean, I think there's still we all see the hierarchies in the class systems. But nonetheless, there's, there's this idea that,

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you know, I, one of the things that that I knew America was, was going down a different path, when I took my children to this,

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one of these

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theme parks, that, that my father had taken me, me too, as a child. And there was a fast lane for people if you paid more. So when I was a kid, everybody had to stay in the same line. But now, if you had more money, you know, you so I just realized, okay, it's very different. You know, if you look at the difference between first class like 40 years ago in America and first class today, just completely different, there wasn't a lot of difference between first class and economy. So I just thought that was really a fascinating point that he was making. And, you know, you have any reflections on that? Yeah. I agree. So this is very interesting, I think.

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Pascal is this

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presents a God who's who cannot be known. There's not there is no point in humans thinking that they can arrive at an understanding of the attributes of God or the qualities of God or understand God's ways, it's really something of a different, have a different have a different order of knowledge. Thomas Hobbes, on the other extreme, as you as you were just citing

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really doesn't want God in His in the picture of the evolution of human societies that he's presenting.

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But and I think Pope is somewhere in the middle and Pope orphans who Pope says this in his own poem, he's trying to steer between extremes and find, find a middle ground find something that everybody will agree and so he he sees the

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value, the social value of there being order there being a hierarchy, because that puts people in their place.

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The person with forefoot men goes first the person with three foot men go second and

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and it's and it's simple. But he, unlike Pascal, simply being happy to say, this is a you know, just this is a mini human thing and perhaps doesn't relate to God's justice at all we can

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disregard it's not a case of of God's justice to be to be invoked. Pope does want to find a reason he wants to find a reason for order and attribute and say that it's got something to do with the way God's made the world.

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And one of his one of his reasons, which hasn't convinced people,

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not all people, right from the Pope's day is that

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those people will get to go first will always be worrying about losing what they've got. All right, and those people who are lost will always have the hope that one day they will go first.

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And it's that balance of hope and fear that equalizes happiness. Even though people have very different

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conditioners in the world. Yeah, great point. That's one of the things Thomas Sol here, one of our economists here talks about, you know, that that what America provided for poor people was the hope of actually becoming middle class or even wealthy at some point.

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And obviously, the rich people have the fear of, of losing their wealth and losing their position. So, you know, for me, the single most profound

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in this entire work for me, and I'd be curious to see what what what you found, maybe in your,

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in your, you know, deep reading of this amazing poem, what you found what struck you as something that really profoundly struck you as being important and and deep but

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this is a very Quranic because the Quran says we raise some of you over others as a test

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and then there's another there's several verses that deal with this hierarchy in the Quran. Another one says that we made some of you a test for others will you be patient and in the commentaries, they say the rich are tests for the poor, the poor, our test for the rich, the ignorant our tests for the learned the learned our test for the ignorant, and, and, and, and so but But what's interesting is, there is a kind of deference to things like wealth and things like they're not seen as important, but they are seen as as social distinctions. And the rich are told to have compassion for the poor. And obviously, charity is a major

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theme in the Quran of like helping people in less because there but for the grace of God go I this idea that, you know, that could be you could have been in sold in a poor person's, and your wealth has nothing to do with you. Like it's seen as it's a tribulation from God. But what's interesting is in the Islamic tradition, in the in the afterlife, it's reversed, like the rich people wish they were poor, because the poor people enter paradise 500 years before the rich people. So so it's, it's, it's, everything's reversed. So the man with the four coach, you know, four foot men and four horses gonna wish he was the one with the one coach. And so it's an end, you know, obviously, a

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Marxist reading of that would be, oh, well, that makes perfect sense. You know, this is social control. But what's fascinating for me is that these ideas came out of the crucible of persecution that religions, even though governments use them as social control, they were they did not come out that the prophets that brought these traditions were persecuted peoples very often, they weren't in power, it took Christianity 300 years before it got into power. In Islam, it was not anywhere near it was much quicker. But these verses were revealed in the crucible of persecution. So it's a very interesting thing. But I'm curious to what you would have to say about just what struck you what I

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was going to say what what hit me was the idea of the equality of happiness. And and it really gave me a different perspective on and I'm wondering if Jefferson might have even been influenced by Pope because I'm sure he'd read him. But

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what when, when Jefferson said, you know, all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Like we have that that you know, Pope's argument, and and obviously, you showed other people before him who had put this forward, but his argument that there's a there's an equality in the ability to be happy that a popper can be as happy as a monarch and a monarch can be as miserable as a popper. You know, I just that just struck me as just incredibly profound.

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It isn't, and

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it's people So Samuel Johnson, one of Pope's near contemporaries, slightly younger than Pope coming to eminence in a later 18th century.

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Says he thinks it's because Pope hasn't seen poverty

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that he can dismiss it. Johnson feels quite easily.

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You can say it's okay to be poor because you have done the hope of being rich or having a better life.

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Samuel Johnson Center that was

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just hasn't really seen that amongst the poor. That isn't something he that for him characterizes the psychology of the, of the poor.

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But Samuel Johnson famously likes to spoil people. He's, I think he had a very, very pessimistic view of, of human nature in general. And, and, and thought happiness was, was not to be attained anywhere, really, for humans, perhaps, as a slightly more optimistic agent he wants to see wants to see the possibility of human happiness because he has, I think, a strong fundamental belief in the benevolence of God and the providential organization of the world and it s for many of his contemporaries, it just, it just seems so

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there has to be some kind of explanation for this problem of calamitous virtue, the fact that good good people that we see around us are made to suffer, there must be there must be a reason for that. And he's, he's seeking that reason. And

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yes, he finds he finds that way, one of the, one of the things that has always struck me is very,

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very important about this poem, and I'm very rich isn't is another way in which I was trying to see the benevolence of, of God and God's providence in, in creating the universe.

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And it perhaps tends a bit more towards

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some of the more enlightened mind Enlightenment ideas we see in poped. Getting towards the idea of human science, the human sciences have kind of slightly more detached view, or study of human nature, but it's, it's more around the beginning of epistle three, which is where Pope deals with humans in society.

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And what I find it I'll read a bit of the passage if that's okay. And one of the things I find interesting about this is, Pope uses the language of what what in his time is modern material science, people who talk about the universe just as matter as atoms bumping into one another and creating by chance, what we see in front of us, he uses some of that language, but he turns it towards a picture which is which is one of God's love. So he says, look around our world, behold the chain of love combining all below and all above see plastic nature working to this end, the single atoms each to other tend attract attracted to the next in place, formed and impelled its neighbor to

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embrace see matter next with various life in dude, press to one center still the general good. See dying vegetables life sustain, see life dissolving, vegetate again, all forms that perish, other forms supply. By turns, we catch the vital breath and die like bottles on the sea of matter born, they rise, they break into that sea return, nothing is foreign parts relate to whole one all extending all preserving soul connects, each being greatest with the least mate based in aid of man, and man of Beast, all served all serving, nothing stands alone, the chain holds on and where it ends, unknown.

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So this passage speaks to me a lot, because one of my favorite parts, it's wonderful. It has it has that

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it takes the language of the materialists and says like, I can use that language too. But I'm gonna give you I'm gonna give you a picture of God's love and of the human love as well. Making societies work making the universe work. And I feel

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whether you're whichever faith you're with, or if you're a person of no faith, there's still something that you can see, you know, who, who wants social discord, who, who positively wants pain and misery and suffering to be amplified and generated? Who wouldn't prefer harmony and but order a mutual support and benevolence? And I think there's is there's a picture there of how one can move from

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looking at the world around you trying to understand its principles of operation, and come up with a course of action as an individual and as a society and as a social group. That leads to good outcomes. So

00:34:22 --> 00:34:35

that's right, once it speaks Greek to me. Yeah, well, I think two responses to that first, who would want discord while the Masters of War certainly, I mean, there are people that love to rile up

00:34:37 --> 00:34:45

to groups and then sell weapons to them. You know, so unfortunately, you know, Raytheon General Electric. I mean, there's a lot of,

00:34:47 --> 00:34:54

you know, CEOs out there that they just start seeing great opportunities when strife breaks out.

00:34:56 --> 00:34:59

The second comment about what you said about

00:35:00 --> 00:35:00

Johnson who,

00:35:03 --> 00:35:19

you know, I lived in, in with Bedouin in West Africa. And essentially, they're like homeless people, you know, I mean, homeless people set up tents. And like, we have a whole tent city out here in California, because we have one of the largest homeless populations.

00:35:20 --> 00:35:34

So, you know, I lived with some of the poorest people on the planet, and at the time, mortality was considered, I think, maybe the third poorest country. They've since discovered a lot of natural gas. But

00:35:35 --> 00:35:59

what struck me is how joyful these people were, and how genuinely happy they were. And I think one of the worst things about our culture, Western civilization is is we don't have dignity and poverty, I think there probably was, in the feudal system, more dignity with the poverty, but I mean, maybe I'm being nostalgic, I don't know. But

00:36:00 --> 00:36:05

But I have seen dignity in poverty in, in many places in the Muslim world.

00:36:07 --> 00:36:50

And, and, and it's, I really haven't, haven't seen it, with rare exception in the West, there's something very degrading about poverty. And I think it's, it's partly because of the deeply materialistic aspect of of the, you know, the modern culture. But yeah, I don't agree with with Johnson on that at all. Because I really have seen what we would consider real destitution in terms of just material, I mean, people that everything they owned was in a small box. And yet, they had smiles etched on their faces, you know, I mean, I literally knew people there that just had permanent smiles, they were just happy people.

00:36:57 --> 00:37:03

So anyway, the introduction is just there's it was just so rich, and there's so many things in there.

00:37:04 --> 00:37:06

But going to the,

00:37:08 --> 00:37:08


00:37:10 --> 00:37:11

the the

00:37:12 --> 00:37:13

some of the things that

00:37:16 --> 00:37:19

yeah, I love this passage here.

00:37:20 --> 00:37:23

On it's on page 11.

00:37:24 --> 00:37:39

Then say not man's in perfect heaven and fault, say rather man's as perfect as he ought, his knowledge is measured to his state and place, his time a moment, a point is space.

00:37:40 --> 00:37:55

If it'd be perfect in a certain sphere, what matters sooner or late or here or there, the blessed today is as completely so as who began 1000 years ago, I love that passage. It's that's a very Muslim passage because

00:37:56 --> 00:37:58

Imam Al Ghazali said that,

00:37:59 --> 00:38:04

that this is a perfect world for the purpose of the world.

00:38:05 --> 00:38:07

And, and man was created

00:38:08 --> 00:38:14

with a perfection for the purpose that man was meant to serve. So that's a very

00:38:16 --> 00:38:23

that's a very, you know, Muslim view of, of, you know, people. There's a verse in the Quran in surah

00:38:24 --> 00:38:30

chapter called The Dominion. It's a later chapter, but earlier, it was revealed early,

00:38:31 --> 00:38:32

where it says,

00:38:33 --> 00:38:34

you know, that

00:38:35 --> 00:38:41

God created the heavens of the earth and you will not see any flaw in the creation and then it says, look, again,

00:38:42 --> 00:38:56

you know, in other words, with that first look, you're that's what you're gonna see you're gonna see all these flaws, but it's saying look deeper look again, and your eye will come back weary from trying to find a flaw.

00:39:00 --> 00:39:08

And then also this another on page 13 Hope humbly then with trembling pinions, sore weight, the great teacher death.

00:39:09 --> 00:39:31

And God adore what future bliss he gives, not the to know, but gives that hope to be thy blessings. Now, Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Man never is but always to be blessed, the soul uneasy and confined from home, rest and expatiates in a life to come. The beautiful,

00:39:32 --> 00:40:00

beautiful passage, I mean, some of these, they're just so stunningly and obviously I mean, you you've shown the, you know, I always when I taught a freshman seminar, and I would show them the rough draft we have a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence you know, it's it's a great if you've never seen it, it's worth looking up because it's everything's I crossed out and knew where originally it was life, liberty

00:40:00 --> 00:40:09

In the pursuit of property, which was locks, you know, and I guess Jefferson mix that one being the philosopher that he was, but

00:40:10 --> 00:40:13

yeah, I just amazing

00:40:16 --> 00:40:17

you know, just the,

00:40:19 --> 00:40:20

let's see,

00:40:22 --> 00:40:44

hopes, hopes manuscripts for the poem work did have quite a lot of crossings through as well. So it took him It took him a long time to get to these precise formulations of these phrases. And we it's that's one of the phrases you'll hear people use in the UK still in if someone's house springs eternal.

00:40:46 --> 00:40:51

Yeah, learning a little learning is a dangerous thing. I mean, he he really gave us quite a few.

00:40:52 --> 00:40:56

You know, just very memorable turns of phrase quite stunning.

00:40:57 --> 00:41:09

You had a wonderful footnote on page 19 190, which is about the bliss of man could pride that blessing fine, is not to act or think beyond mankind.

00:41:10 --> 00:41:56

And its is not to know or think beyond mankind, Pope removes the contradiction of men knowing what man can't know, by revising to act, which suggests in impersonation or stagecraft, as well as agency the bliss of man could pride that blessing fine is not to act or think beyond mankind. The cleaner text makes this couplet a contradiction. Man could never think beyond man montane of moderation, a man may both be too much in love with virtue and be excessive in adjust action. Holy Writ agrees with this Be not wise that you should, but be soberly wise, the citation is probably Romans 12 Three, for I say, through the grace given unto thee me to every man that is among you do not think

00:41:56 --> 00:42:40

of himself more highly than he ought to think but to think soberly, according as God had dealt to every man the measure of faith, very contrasting views, de Montaigne of experience, no generous mind can stop in in itself, it will still pretend further and beyond its power. It sallies beyond its effects, Montaigne, apologies, anyway, it goes on. But I just thought that was such an interesting, you know, annotation on that on what he's saying, because, again, the Quran says that you've only been given a little bit of knowledge. You know, there's this idea, we, in our tradition, God God is that there's a transcendent and then the imminent perspective, and that the transcendent in our

00:42:40 --> 00:43:04

theology, they say, whatever occurs to your mind, God is other than that. So God is beyond concept you we cannot conceptualize god, he's out. God is outside of binaries. There's actually a verse in in the 47 chapter that says, we created everything in binaries. And then it says, and there's nothing like God.

00:43:05 --> 00:43:11

In other words, there's no binary there. And so

00:43:13 --> 00:43:27

that unknowability You know, that the human, we read one of the one of the books we read was Bartleby the Scrivener you've probably read that Melville. Pretty good. Yeah. So I used to

00:43:29 --> 00:43:40

teach that. So I've read it several times. And I finally I felt like I really finally nailed it, you know, this, this last reading, because, you know, the character.

00:43:41 --> 00:44:28

This the the owner, who hires Bartleby, the, it, he's constantly commenting on his, his, you know, he thinks he's got them all understood, except for Bartleby. You know, he's just like, it's constantly driving him nuts, like, what's going on with, you know, these people that we have in our lives, like some people, we just get, we, you know, we know that, you know, what you see is what you get, they don't have a sleeve to wear their heart on. But then there's other people, that you're just like, What is going on with this person, you you just cannot figure them out. And, and at the end, I just felt like, Melville was saying, you know, Bartleby our humanity. It's that what that man

00:44:28 --> 00:44:59

never understood, you're lucky if you work yourself out in this life, you know, if if you can come to self not don't even bother trying to know anybody else. And, and, and I, you know, I feel that's a real theme in this book, you know, is in this poem, is any thoughts? I think you're you're quite right. And Pope Pope takes a big a big subject. I think he invokes Isaac Newton, you know, the first person really to do

00:45:00 --> 00:45:03

To quantify how gravitational force operated,

00:45:05 --> 00:45:16

and set it out and in very precise mathematical terms, and he says, you know, Newton might have been able to work those things out. But could he could he? Could he describe even a single movement of his own mind.

00:45:19 --> 00:45:28

So that that same kind of wanting to be humble in the face of your own, of your own being, and, and the source of your being,

00:45:29 --> 00:45:33

I think extends extends through through this poem. And both so if

00:45:35 --> 00:45:36

he wants to,

00:45:37 --> 00:45:50

he's telling people not to be prideful, don't don't imagine that humanity has now arrived through science or any other means that it's a way of understanding all there is to be known about the universe. So don't don't think beyond yourself.

00:45:52 --> 00:46:23

But at the same time, and this is one of the things I find very interesting about the poem as well is that he says, Don't don't think beyond yourself. But at the same time, the poem invites us to extend ourselves to be better versions of ourselves. So we shouldn't rest easy with who we are, because we should strive to be the best kind of human that we could be to have the best, appropriately human view. But we shouldn't think beyond that. So you know, there's,

00:46:24 --> 00:46:46

there's a challenge, there's a challenge there, I think, again, for that anyone can come pick up no matter what their faith background or their political battle, you know, you want to be the best kind of person you can be. But where's your limit? When have you overstepped into arrogance or pride or making some false assumptions or acting on behalf of others when you win when you have no right to perhaps so?

00:46:47 --> 00:46:47


00:46:48 --> 00:47:08

Ghazali has a great poem, a mama Ghazali, one of our great scholastics and mystics as well, but he has a poem where he says, you know, you ask, Where is God? And you don't even know where you are, like, in this in this great universe, like, what are your coordinates?

00:47:09 --> 00:47:10

And then he says,

00:47:12 --> 00:47:20

you drink your water, and you don't even know how it comes out the other end, you know, and you want to know who God is.

00:47:23 --> 00:48:05

To that, what what you were just speaking self love is, you know, his take on it is so interesting, like, you know, narcissism is obviously a perversion of something which is natural, which is to love yourself. And then, you know, the, the, you know, the kind of Aristotelian moderation, like self love is necessary, and the extremes would be narcissism and self loathing. And so finding that but, but he's using it to really, you know, he says on 36 self love and reason to one end Aspire pain, their aversion, pleasure, their desire, and this is again, very,

00:48:06 --> 00:48:06

you know,

00:48:08 --> 00:48:20

the Muslims pretty much and the Quran, I think concurs with the, the, the or rather the Platonic view concurs with the Quran to say it more appropriately for us.

00:48:21 --> 00:48:24

This idea of a ranking,

00:48:25 --> 00:49:16

you know, that reason is given to govern appetite. And and irascibility and irascibility is to ward off harm, and appetite is to accrue benefits, and obviously pleasure being one of them in moderation. And then he says, Our greatest evil or our pleasure are wrong, they're rightly understood our greatest evil or our greatest good modes of self love the passions we may call to his real good or seeming moves them all, but since not every good we can divide and reason bids as for our own provide passions, those selfish if their means be fair list under reason and deserve her care. Those that imparted court a nobler aim, exalt their kind and take some virtues name just

00:49:16 --> 00:49:17

fantastic stuff.

00:49:19 --> 00:49:20

So I think purpose

00:49:22 --> 00:49:23

trying to work out how those

00:49:25 --> 00:49:36

the desire to preserve one's own existence that is, you know, that is I see he thinks God goddess clearly and implanted that in people look around that's that's just something that people want to do is

00:49:38 --> 00:49:48

it must be to some end it must be some purpose. What goods is this form of selfless doing and provided as you as you say, there there are

00:49:49 --> 00:49:53

rational limits set upon it, or there are

00:49:55 --> 00:49:59

in reasoning this reason in this case is perhaps not hold. But it's

00:50:00 --> 00:50:05

is quite, against quite loving, it's quite sociable, as long as my

00:50:07 --> 00:50:15

as long as my self love doesn't detract from the right to exist the means of existence or the other beings then

00:50:17 --> 00:51:08

then it's a it's a reasonable form of self love, right. And he will obviously develop that further he has some really wonderful things to say about moving from self love to love of our fellow man, and then to extend it beyond even to you know, the animals and, and the world itself. On page 46 I just this was another fantastic for me. Virtual virtuous and vicious every man must be few in the extreme but all in the degree, the Rogue and full by fits is fair and wise. And even the best buy fits what they despise his butt by parts we follow good or ill, for vice or virtue self directs it still, each individual seeks a several goal. But heavens great view is one and that the whole the

00:51:08 --> 00:51:15

counter works each folly and caprice that disappoints the effect of every device, that happy frailties to all ranks applied

00:51:16 --> 00:51:20

shame to the version to the matron pride that, you know, it reminded me of the

00:51:22 --> 00:51:22


00:51:23 --> 00:51:33

you know, the web of our life is of a mingled yarn good and ill together you know, in Shakespeare, that that

00:51:35 --> 00:51:45

you know that this dialectic in in the poem is very strong. Between the the is Smith, you know, this human being that is kind of a,

00:51:46 --> 00:52:17

an interstitial space between the angels and the beasts and, and rising to this higher nature's is, you know, is the struggle and that's where I feel that he's less Christian in that the salvation for him is through the practice of virtue that he's really calling us to to being virtuous human beings and fighting these you know, these these these downward poles, but you know, I just thought that was such a fantastic

00:52:22 --> 00:52:37

Yes, discouraging people. Yeah. discouraging people think from thinking they can be good all the time. And the same way that no, no, no one person is, is all kinds of people. An individual person will be some days good, some days less good, some days positive and some

00:52:38 --> 00:52:42

great encouragement to introspection and and humility.

00:52:44 --> 00:52:44


00:52:45 --> 00:53:33

And then on on 38 He's got this wonderful just about the toys and you know here some strange comfort every state attend and pride bestowed on all a common friend. Some see some fit passion every age supply. Hope travels through, though quits us when we die. Behold a child by nature's kindly law, pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw. Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight, a little louder, but as empty quite scarves garters, gold, amuse his riper stage, and beads and prayer books are the toys of age, pleased with the Bible still, as that before, till tired, he sleeps, and life's poor plays, or, I mean, there's obviously resonance with Shakespeare there, but I've found

00:53:33 --> 00:53:39

there's a verse in, in the, in the Quran, that I just

00:53:40 --> 00:53:49

thought it was so almost, you know, it's, it's, it says that, you know, know that the life of this world is but play and amusement

00:53:50 --> 00:53:59

and then ornamentation, and then vying with one another, in children and in the acquisition of wealth.

00:54:01 --> 00:54:51

And it's, and then it says, it's like a rain that comes down. And, and the green sprouts up. And, and, and, and, and it's beautiful, but then you see it wither and become chaith, and then blow away in the wind. And it really struck me, like that passage is so similar to that verse in the Quran, you know, this idea of, of play, and then, you know, as children and then entertainment, like, children amuse themselves, but then as we grow older, we need, you know, entertainment, we need to be amused, you know, by by other by other, you know, plays and novels and television now and these type things, so, I just, I thought that was just a really fantastic

00:54:52 --> 00:54:54

think he's quite, in some ways quite well.

00:54:56 --> 00:55:00

Interestingly, he includes beads and prayer books and

00:55:00 --> 00:55:08

As the distractions of later life, so he in a way, it's the it's the critical attitude to that to the mere display of that.

00:55:09 --> 00:55:19

Yeah. When you get old, if you start to worry about your death and and what's going to happen next well, then then you'll just distracting yourself with another another one of the toys that's appropriate.

00:55:20 --> 00:55:24

Yeah. And there's something horrible about people that find

00:55:26 --> 00:55:40

faith in an old age and then become, you know, these these kind of, you know, judgmental people that are like condemning the youth for sowing their wild oats when they were doing the same thing when they were young, right? I mean, it's a very common trope.

00:55:42 --> 00:55:43


00:55:45 --> 00:55:51

There was a few other things I wanted to, before we open it up for any questions.

00:55:52 --> 00:55:55

So many great lines in here. I mean, I just

00:56:04 --> 00:56:13

what, what was your favorite section? Because it's, it's considered an incomplete poem. Like he wanted to add more to it. Yeah. Yes, I mean, he,

00:56:14 --> 00:56:57

he has these ideas throughout his life of writing a very full book of poems, which not this this was, in some ways the he called it like a scale on a map. So this was the abstract part. And then he would move on to much more practical questions of how to how to live up a particular life. But he didn't necessarily finish all of those. I really like the third epistle, I find that very, very interesting, where he gives them a historical account of how how societies emerge. And it's partly it's partly mythical, and it's partly, you know, probably the best guess at the time of how of how human societies did start to, did start to

00:56:58 --> 00:56:59

make themselves.

00:57:00 --> 00:57:06

I think there's an interesting passage around line 241 of epistle three,

00:57:08 --> 00:57:12

which page is page 67, sorry,

00:57:13 --> 00:57:16

which is where both is talking about

00:57:17 --> 00:57:32

the moment where he thinks that he thinks the first societies would have been patriarchal societies, where a king was identified simply on the basis of, of strength and virtue, and that kind of natural religion, and

00:57:34 --> 00:57:40

close social ties would have gone along with that. But then he thinks is, it's part of the history of things that

00:57:41 --> 00:57:56

political organization tends to, to become corrupted. And this is this is his version of describing that he says, who first taught songs enslaved and realms undone, the enormous faith of many made for one. So that is, rather than the king being the

00:57:57 --> 00:58:45

having the responsibility of his position, is the king starts to think that the others are made for him of made for his use, who first came up with that, that proud exception to all nature's laws, to invert the world, and counter work its cause. So he only gives an idea of how this might happen. Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law, till superstition, taught the tyrant or then shared the tyranny, then lifted aid, and godson of Congress, slaves of subjects made shame, it's the lightnings Blaze and thunders ground, when rocked the mountains, and when grown the ground, she taught the week to bend the proud to pray, to power unseen and mighty a father name. So I won't

00:58:45 --> 00:58:46

continue but this is

00:58:48 --> 00:58:56

how false religion and and, and exploitative politics can, can go together in these in these early stages

00:58:57 --> 00:59:02

of human social development, was one of my favorite passages fantastic.

00:59:03 --> 00:59:14

And very modern. They really, yeah, these these are very modern ideas, because this is at a time when the Divine Right of Kings was just beginning to be challenged.

00:59:15 --> 00:59:28

In Western society, I mean, he's born What 1688, right, the year of the Glorious Revolution. So in Hobbes, I think, you know, I mean, Hobbes had already made made his,

00:59:29 --> 00:59:32

you know, market at just

00:59:33 --> 00:59:45

realizing, you know, the kind of harm that that a lot of religion produced and I think he's addressing that here in that in that passage, you know, just the the abuse that power

00:59:47 --> 00:59:59

does. Also very interesting on 75. Ask of the learner the way the learner their blind is bids to serve and that to shun mankind, some place the bliss in action, some in ease, though

01:00:00 --> 01:00:18

Let's call it pleasure and contentment these some some two B's find pleasure and in pain some swelled to Gods confessed even virtue vain or into that to each extreme they fall to trust in everything or doubt of all who thus define it say they more or less than this, that happiness is happiness.

01:00:21 --> 01:01:10

Yeah, fantastic. And then and then this is where I just wow you know this just floored me. Here equal is common sense and common ease remember man the universal cause, acts not by partial but by General Laws and makes that happiness we justly call subsist not in the good of one but all there's not a blessing individuals find but some way liens and harkens to the kind, no bandit fierce no tyrant mad with pride, no cavern, hermit, rest self satisfied, who most has shown or hate mankind pretend, seek and admire or fix a friend. And then order is heavens first law in this confess some are and must be greater than the rest more rich more wise but who infers from hence that such are

01:01:10 --> 01:01:27

happier shocks all common sense, Heaven to mankind, impartial we confess, if all are equal in their happiness. I mean, I just that really just struck me as just such an extraordinary statement

01:01:28 --> 01:01:40

because you know we have billionaires that commit suicide and you know and poppers that flourish in their poverty with with real joy. And I've, I've seen both

01:01:42 --> 01:01:42

I admire the

01:01:45 --> 01:01:50

sense that that truly human goods goods of this world at least,

01:01:51 --> 01:02:00

are always with and for other people as well. There is not it's not an entirely solitary good kind, just for you.

01:02:01 --> 01:02:23

That wouldn't really be a human truly human that's it that's, that's debasing the nature of the human if you if you think there are things that are truly good for you that you alone could enjoy all real human goods are actually shared with with others and have some sense of the of the of the of the wider world of the social whole of of the way God's created the universe.

01:02:24 --> 01:03:00

Yeah, and then again on 83 What makes all physical or moral ill there deviates nature and here wonders will God sends not ill if rightly understood, or partial ill is universal good or change admits or nature lets it fall short and but rare to man improved at all. We just as YZ might have had them complain that righteous Abel was destroyed by Cain. You know, it's interesting, you said you know, in that passage you read earlier who started at all he asked that question in the juicers and Cain did.

01:03:09 --> 01:03:25

Yeah, and then whatever is is is is right, this world is true was made for Caesar but for Titus two, and which more blessed to change his country say or he whose virtues side to lose a day. I loved your footnote that was a wonderful Suetonius

01:03:27 --> 01:04:19

I found my dad readings with toniest Watson, as he's out, he feels some lacuna that Tacitus and others miss, but not not very often read, but wonderful. little note about on an on another, that you know, he was always doing favors every day and on another occasion remembering at dinner, that he had done nothing for anybody all day, he gave utterance to that memorable and praiseworthy remark friends I have lost the day what a wonderful beautiful statement the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him he said that you know every every articulation every joint has charity written on it every day so so you should give charity for every joint in your body every day

01:04:24 --> 01:04:25


01:04:31 --> 01:04:41

yeah a widths of feather and achieve a rod and honest man's the noblest work of God fame, but from death of villains name can save as Justice tears his body from the grave

01:04:42 --> 01:04:47

you know the ending I just, yeah, it was just it was really

01:04:49 --> 01:05:00

that the yeah here this this section on 96. God loves from hold to parts but human soul must rise from individual to the whole set.

01:05:00 --> 01:05:35

Self love but serves the virtuous mind to wake as the small pebble as the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake, the center moved a circle straight succeeds, another still and still another spreads, friend, parent neighbor, first it will embrace his country next. And next all human race wide and more wide overflowing of the mind. Take every creature in of every kind, Earth smiles around with boundless bounty blessed, and Heaven beholds its image in his breast, I mean, wow.

01:05:36 --> 01:05:37

What a vision

01:05:38 --> 01:06:08

is just the universe, ya know, it's so beautiful, just just as and then come, then my friend, my genius come along, you know, Oh, Master of the poet and the song. And while the Muse now stoops are now ascend to man's low passions, or their glorious ends, and beautiful, shall then this verse to future ah, pretend here we are, you know, few 100 years later, read and I love how the great poets really know they're going to be,

01:06:09 --> 01:06:23

you know, they just Shakespeare has that Homer has it, you know, they really, they have that wonderful recognition that, that it's not them, you know, the Muse is working through them.

01:06:25 --> 01:06:26

And, and,

01:06:27 --> 01:07:10

and so there's, there's kind of a, you know, there's, there's an absence of ego. It's not like a boast, it's a recognition of something, you know, the muse was working here. And then, you know, thou wert, my guide, philosopher and friend that urged by the I turned the tuneful art, from sounds to things from fantasy to the heart, for which false mirror held up nature's light, showing the showed airing pride, whatever it is, is, right, that reason, passion, answer one great aim, that true self love, and social are the same, that virtue only makes our bliss below. And all our knowledge is ourselves to know. Wow.

01:07:12 --> 01:07:16

Incredible work. Thank you so much for this doctor.

01:07:20 --> 01:07:43

for allowing me to speak with you about about the time. Yeah, no, it's just, I mean, I was just really just affected by your work and, and the annotations. It's opened up so much. So we can, yeah, we can open it up if anybody has any. I mean, it's a great opportunity with Dr. Jones, being so

01:07:44 --> 01:07:45

steeped in

01:07:47 --> 01:07:49

in this incredible poet.

01:07:51 --> 01:08:01

Well, it looks like we do have a couple of people raising hands. So they can take on their Hameed first because he's had his hand raised a while. I'm putting you on.

01:08:06 --> 01:08:18

Hello, Dr. Jones, thank you so much. To everyone else. Thank you stay tuned for, for for organizing this. And for Dr. Jones for joining us.

01:08:19 --> 01:08:28

Your introductions, I think an incredible contribution to the, to the scholarship. The previous people who might

01:08:29 --> 01:08:32

read who talk about an essay on man,

01:08:33 --> 01:08:35

there seems to be, you know,

01:08:36 --> 01:08:42

a an understanding that the poem is it should be read as a poem. And

01:08:43 --> 01:09:11

and I think Carrie Solomon and the * of the text talks about how you were not doing that. But no one seems to come up with a model in terms of how it should be read as a poem. And I think yours yours does that. And so it's an I think you have this, this, this wonderful line on your on Roman numeral page 2020. For the political illness of Pope's text is intrinsic to its essays.

01:09:12 --> 01:09:14

And, and it seemed to me that you were

01:09:16 --> 01:09:37

the way that that that if that's the case is that it's a more of a communicative in a more of a communicative way, these the subtle changes of, of tense and mood and some of the rhythm and stress. I was wondering if that can be pushed further, in terms of there's this

01:09:39 --> 01:09:54

JW Mikhail in his lectures on poetry. In his definition of poetry. He says, if the technical art of poetry consists in making patterns out of language, the substantial and vital function of poetry will be analogous. It will be to make patterns out of life.

01:09:55 --> 01:10:00

And I was wondering if if he's using poetry, maybe not

01:10:00 --> 01:10:01

Just as a communicative

01:10:02 --> 01:10:32

device to be able to make these these subtle shifts and for ambiguity and these things, but and maybe you you mentioned this in your introduction, but I didn't, perhaps I didn't pick up on it. But I was wondering if he's using this pattern language of poetry to make to create assumptions in the universe, that there are these patterns to make his arguments is the law, some of his theological arguments, you know, that custom is law really dealt with to make those decisive arguments?

01:10:34 --> 01:10:41

And point. Okay, thank you. So what a wonderful question. So rich and complex and detailed.

01:10:42 --> 01:10:47

I think you're, I think you're right that Pope wants to.

01:10:50 --> 01:11:01

philosophy on its own, can be quite abstract. It doesn't, it doesn't show us the human experience of ideas or of or of the world. I think the the kind of

01:11:02 --> 01:11:26

essay that Pope is writing this verse essay, is about showing us the experience showing us how humans move from one position to another. And I agree with you, I think that's a pattern it's not just about the patterning of of language, patterning of language, both in the making of lines which which are very memorable and stay with us but also in making the larger shape of the poem is absolutely

01:11:27 --> 01:11:38

a desire to change the way people are to change to change people's behavior. That's that's the great reforming end of, of the of the poetry Pope has his

01:11:40 --> 01:11:53

Roman and Greek models to refer back to the point of poetry is to delight and to instruct and, and instructing isn't isn't just dry. It's not it's not simply the imparting of doctrine that could be repeated, but

01:11:54 --> 01:11:57

the demonstration of

01:11:59 --> 01:12:37

attitudes and points of view and feelings and thoughts that we can adopt and which will change our lives. I think that I think that is that is precisely I think that's what Pope means by being by being an ethical right, that you'll be your he talks at one point about writing a short system of ethics on the Horatian model. So taking the the Latin poet Horace as his model, but what ethics are and I think that I think the ethics there is about change, changing the way that your reader thinks and acts in their daily lives. I think that is his ambition. So I I agree with with the with the proposal that you were making your question. Yeah, great, great point. Thank you for that.

01:12:40 --> 01:12:47

Such a he's such a, you know, he's a little bit of a stickler because they're, you know, there is a I mean Shakespeare purposely

01:12:49 --> 01:12:50

you know, breaks

01:12:53 --> 01:13:04

meat or when he wants to, and, and Pope apparently when he edited Shakespeare, he corrected some of the bits of Shakespeare that I mean what Gaul

01:13:07 --> 01:13:15

although Shakespeare was wasn't as popular during his time, as he became later, yeah, precession was just beginning and purples.

01:13:16 --> 01:13:30

And one of the other great poets of the early 17th century was John Donne and posted versions of his poems and he said, the poems of Dr. Dr. John Donne versified. Because if they weren't, as if they weren't verse when when

01:13:32 --> 01:13:34

he sounds

01:13:36 --> 01:13:36


01:13:40 --> 01:13:45

All right, moving on to the next question. We have Ariana so Arianna to ask you to unmute.

01:13:48 --> 01:13:59

Okay. Hi. Salaam Alaikum. And Hello, I'm Dr. Jones. I'm just listening to this discussion. It was it was really nice.

01:14:00 --> 01:14:41

And it kind of reminded me of what in among the Muslim circles we say when two or more people are gathered in the remembrance of God or the discussion of God, it's, um, it's considered a form of worship. So it's, it's, I kind of regarded it a little bit like that too. But in listening to your input in the discussion about the author, I was just a bit struck about how it seems like you have some understanding of Islam and of the Quran. And so I just wanted to know, in your study, you know, the Enlightenment was a really interesting age of disc. A lot of people were exploring their views of God, other than just talking about philosophy. You know, it seemed like it was a personal

01:14:41 --> 01:14:42

journey, in a sense for

01:14:44 --> 01:14:59

the Europe so I wanted to know how your work on the Alexandra Pope and then also, your studies have contributed to your sort of if it's not too personal to your own personal journey.

01:15:00 --> 01:15:08

and like how you sort of how you view God? And if you have a particular religious tradition that you're, you're fond of?

01:15:10 --> 01:15:11

Thank you for the question. And

01:15:13 --> 01:15:22

it is a personal question, but I have no I don't hesitate to answer, I happen to be a person of no particular faith, I was I was brought up in a in a

01:15:23 --> 01:15:28

broadly Christian environment that had had more to do with the,

01:15:29 --> 01:15:31

the Methodist branch of the

01:15:33 --> 01:15:42

Anglican Christian Church was was, was the only one with which I had much contact when I was when I was growing up. So I come from no particular faith tradition.

01:15:43 --> 01:15:46

But I see a great deal, I suppose I do have

01:15:49 --> 01:15:57

social and political commitments, which, to my mind, bear comparison with some of the commitments that I see exemplified in people of lots of faiths.

01:15:58 --> 01:16:07

And I suppose, for my, my personal journey, in relation to this text is perhaps seeing how

01:16:09 --> 01:16:20

it protects which is, which was understood to be very central to be a very mainstream statement of early enlightenment, philosophical and theological principles.

01:16:21 --> 01:16:23

And, and for that reason, has been

01:16:24 --> 01:16:35

regarded as quite dull or uninteresting, in, in, in lots of English studies departments for a number of a number of years.

01:16:36 --> 01:17:00

I wanted to see how, if and how it could be made to speak to questions that, that I felt were interesting and important, as well as questions that were important for a person of Pope's faith, and for people of other faiths. And it was, it was wonderful to hear Sheikh Hamza illustrate the connections between Pope's thinking and, and, and, and the Koran.

01:17:02 --> 01:17:04

So for me, that was the that was the interesting

01:17:05 --> 01:17:09

question, to see how this way of thinking about

01:17:10 --> 01:17:11

God as a,

01:17:13 --> 01:17:15

as a force that made the universe

01:17:16 --> 01:17:25

something that could be brought together by or improved by love and acts of charity and goodness, and, and, and how people

01:17:27 --> 01:17:40

attempting to be full people to be the fullest kind of person they could be, might Intuit something of what they should do. So we know that our, we know that our own perspectives on the universe is limited.

01:17:41 --> 01:18:11

We can just accepting those limits doesn't necessarily mean sitting back and doing nothing. We still want to engage, we still want to try we still want to exert ourselves as humans in the world. How should we do that we need to we need we need to launch ourselves into an inquiry or into A into A, an act of faith in some way to try to act. So in perhaps in quite a secular and socially minded way. Those were the kinds of questions that that were, that were speaking to me. I mean, it is interesting to place,

01:18:13 --> 01:18:19

Pope's poem, in this bigger history of European enlightenment thought, which thus,

01:18:21 --> 01:18:27

a little more fully start to think about the relationship between the major world religions for example, and to see

01:18:29 --> 01:18:32

historical connections between them and and commonalities in the way in which

01:18:33 --> 01:18:35

religious traditions

01:18:36 --> 01:18:36


01:18:38 --> 01:18:48

I've just been reading a little recently about a later 18th century linguist and translator and a judge in the East India Company.

01:18:49 --> 01:19:06

William Jones, who is also a translated from Arabic as well as Sanskrit and Persian, Persian being the administrative language of the Mughal empire and therefore, have large parts of the territory that the East India Company was responsible for.

01:19:08 --> 01:19:11

And he was very interested in understanding

01:19:13 --> 01:19:20

as far as he was able, Islamic legal traditions as well as Hindu legal traditions and and thinking about the ways in which

01:19:21 --> 01:19:59

full of injustice as it was, to my mind thinking about ways in which British and Islamic legal traditions might co-habit in which people might live alongside one another. And I think in some ways, Pope Pope's is thinking along those kinds of lines, that kind of big ecumenical tradition, how does, how do we think about the all of those things that are generally true about humans, they're probably going to be true of people of all faiths in all all times in all places. And in some ways that's that's one of the things the Enlightenment the Western European enlightenment, tries to do to think about humanity on in a very general way.

01:20:00 --> 01:20:05

Again, thank you for the question. And thank you for sharing your time.

01:20:07 --> 01:20:11

Thank you. And just a reminder, we are at the one and a half hour mark.

01:20:14 --> 01:20:17

All right, I have buffman. Next, I'm asking you to unmute.

01:20:21 --> 01:20:23

Hello, thank you very much, sir. I'm article

01:20:27 --> 01:20:31

you touched upon the question that I was going to ask, but I'm still.

01:20:33 --> 01:20:34

So he Yeah.

01:20:35 --> 01:20:40

And I apologize if this was answered very clearly in the text. But it was my first reading. And so

01:20:42 --> 01:20:55

it wasn't clear to me and I, and from the discussions, maybe it isn't clear. But, you know, he, I see this kind of pushing on the two ends, when two people desire the same thing, conflict occurs.

01:20:56 --> 01:20:59

And he's pushing towards the pursuit of virtue.

01:21:02 --> 01:21:08

And, and you kind of mentioned it as well. And I'm looking for, does he

01:21:10 --> 01:21:13

discuss or suggest? Or

01:21:14 --> 01:21:22

kind of, can we infer from from from from the poem and from the discussions that you've had on the book?

01:21:24 --> 01:21:25

can we infer any

01:21:27 --> 01:21:43

path or direction that he is pushing people towards? Because you can, it seems like it's almost pursuit of virtue means by default, it there's not going to be any complex, all those people with a type personalities who are pushing the envelope, and people pushing technology

01:21:44 --> 01:21:54

even would have approved of today's advances in technology, knowing that all this competition, all this conflict, all this strife that occurs because of it.

01:21:56 --> 01:22:08

Where would he push people towards? Like, is there an asymptote from the top and from the bottom that he's pushing people towards? How do I how do we how do we navigate that? How do we understand the text on that perspective? Right. Thank you.

01:22:11 --> 01:22:16

Thank you. Thanks. Thanks again for another very interesting question. I think my

01:22:19 --> 01:22:20


01:22:21 --> 01:22:27

I would say that is in some of Pope's key metaphors, that the answer to this question lies one of them is the family. So

01:22:29 --> 01:22:34

and again, this isn't this is I say this without necessarily being my beliefs, but perhaps Pope's beliefs.

01:22:35 --> 01:22:38

What makes a king Well, it's, it's the father of the people.

01:22:40 --> 01:23:01

Family life is a kind of model for social life. So I think Pope thinks of families and the love that exists within families and the way in which families function is isn't is a model, it's something that can be fallen, fallen back on how if we if we depart from that kind of familial love in which people love themselves in one another,

01:23:02 --> 01:23:15

then something is going is gone wrong. So any moment when people have departed from from that other other examples of these metaphors, which which are quite powerful, are perhaps around

01:23:17 --> 01:23:45

agriculture and horticulture, the development of, of plant life, if we're if we're helping nature on its way, we're good gardeners, if we're good farmers, if we're, if we're, if we're bringing things from the resources that nature has given us, we're expanding and developing resources, then then we probably okay, but if we are, if we're being extractive or if we are destroying, if we don't, then you know, so, I think

01:23:47 --> 01:23:54

if the question is what, what is Pope actually think virtue is, I think, I think we go to these key metaphors of, of,

01:23:55 --> 01:23:58

for me familiar, love and responsibility.

01:23:59 --> 01:24:29

Gardening and, and, and care and, and the development of, of agriculture, and that there could be others where he talks about the Chain of Being that orderly system of of hierarchy, which is also a set of obligations and responsibilities for for everybody within it. If you think you're not part of the chain, you're wrong. So it's only it's only when you have that sense of your connectedness to the rest of the, of the universe, that you could be acting virtuously? Yeah, great.

01:24:30 --> 01:24:38

Yeah, thank you for that question, too, is a really interesting, I mean, I think I don't see if you agree with this.

01:24:39 --> 01:25:00

But I think he's very much in a virtue ethics traditions. So I'm sure like a rally is and Nicomachean Ethics. I mean, these would resonate greatly with him. You know, he'd probably be a friend with Alistair McIntyre. If he was alive today, you know, but from the don'ts Yeah, because he brought up a really important point.

01:25:00 --> 01:25:11

that I wanted to bring up with you and really forgot is he seems to be very wary of science and and and he's very concerned and I think that's more than that done Siyad

01:25:12 --> 01:26:02

I think it's in the dense yet but yeah the end of the dense yet he says in vain in vain the all composing our resistless falls the Muse obeys the power she comes she comes the sable throne behold of night primeval and of Chaos Old before her fancies gilded clouds decay, and all its varying rainbows die away, which shoots in vain, it's momentary fires, the media drops and in a flash expires as one by one at dread Medallia's strain. The sickening stars fade off the ethereal plane, as Argus eyes by Hermas wand have pressed, closed one by one to everlasting rest. Thus at her felt approach and secret might art after art goes out and all is night. See skulking truth to her old

01:26:02 --> 01:26:07

cavern to her old cavern. flat this is where it gets interesting.

01:26:08 --> 01:27:00

Yeah, see skulking true to her old cavern fled mountains of kazoo history heaped or her head, philosophy that leaned on heaven before shrinks to her second cause, and is no more. I mean, that's such a powerful, you know, he's seeing something that I don't even I mean, bacon obviously begins this process. So he's aware of what's happening. But for him to see that first cause the metaphysics is disappearing from the world, the search for the first primal cause, and now it's empirical science that is beginning to reign supreme. So he's really seeing this, you know, so, so, shrinks to her second cause and is no more physic of metaphysic bags defense.

01:27:02 --> 01:27:34

And metaphysic calls for aid on sense see mystery to mathematics fly. I mean, that's just such an incredible statement, given where we are today because that's, that's the stem, it's all stem. That's where we're at. And he saw this, you know, in vain they gaze toward turn giddy rave and die, religion, blushing veils, her sacred fires, and unawares, morality expires.

01:27:36 --> 01:28:01

No, nor public flame nor private dares to shine nor human Spark is left nor glimpse, divine low thy dread empire, chaos is restored. Light dies before thy I'm creating Word. Thy hand great anarch lets the curtain fall and universal darkness berries all. I mean, wow.

01:28:03 --> 01:28:16

What a vision. Yeah. And see that at that time, you know, Kierkegaard one of my favorite, it's in his notebooks, but he said that very few people see creeping villainy

01:28:18 --> 01:29:09

because they have neither the imagination nor the dialectical ability. And one of the one of my favorite lines that we didn't look at but you know, in and, you know, this is many decades ago that this first struck me, he says, you know, vices a monster so frightful mean as to be hated needs, but to be seen, but seem to all familiar with her face, we first endure, then pity, then embrace. I mean, he, I think he really saw something powerful about what was coming. And Nietzsche obviously, is next in line, you know, he's he, he sees the same vision, and from a secular, atheistic perspective attempts to, to give us a solution. But I just, you know, that that those are I think

01:29:09 --> 01:29:53

they're the last lines, aren't they of the dance? Yeah. Yes, I said last night, it's a wonderful illustration for you to have brought to us because in some ways, it's the it's the it's the negative image of of the end of the essay, oh, man, with that, opening out of possibilities to universal here's the universe closing closing in on itself. Now, when when all of the all of the principles have been a bit of abandoned order off kale, right? I mean, that's the, like, He that he's seeing the chaos emerging. You know, I think Shakespeare in Hamlet sees that, that that you know, because he's he's got the old world of order, which is his father, and then the new world of power.

01:29:54 --> 01:29:59

Which is his his uncle, you know, in the poison is in the ear, which is such a weird place.

01:30:00 --> 01:30:36

to poison, you know, it's like the new ideas that are coming in, you know, and then Fortin bras, you know, power, I mean, he actually uses two words of power for it and bras, you know, he comes in when all the chaos at the end of the play, you know, this is the modern world, it's it power is going to determine everything because order is lost. And when, when chaos. People beg for order. And that's when that's when the demagogues come, that's when they show up and they start telling people, we're going to set everything right, we're going to bring back the order.

01:30:38 --> 01:30:42

Again, just to go back to one of the points about the

01:30:44 --> 01:30:49

that Pope's biographical background in his early life that we started with.

01:30:50 --> 01:30:53

When William the third, this quite

01:30:54 --> 01:30:58

aggressively Protestant monarch came to the throne in 1688 1689.

01:31:00 --> 01:31:06

One of the first things he did and continued to do throughout his reign was to wage war against France. And

01:31:07 --> 01:31:20

a lot of the work of some of the first institutions of British state finance so the Bank of England for example, and a modernized Stock Exchange and so on, were founded to enable William the third to wage war against France.

01:31:22 --> 01:31:26

So this since the birth of a new world being found in a world which does

01:31:28 --> 01:31:59

thrive on conflict, which which has not learned the lessons of the Civil War of Britain and try to create social harmony and, and peace and so on, even if that means accepting, well, the person with forefoot men gets to go ahead of me because I've only got one, we can accept those kinds of injustice. Because the alternative is anarchy. But I think Pope sees in this kind of modern war machine which is starting to, to, to be born. Some of the threats as well as that is in is in the world of

01:32:01 --> 01:32:05

scientific philosophy, kind of materialistic and Meccan mechanical philosophy.

01:32:07 --> 01:32:15

Right. Thank you for that question. Because you brought up something that I was wanted to bring up. Any other questions?

01:32:16 --> 01:32:27

Yeah, we can we can. I hope it's not with Dr. Jones permission. I don't want to. I know it's getting late over there. So do you have a few more minutes with us? be fine. Great.

01:32:28 --> 01:32:30

We do have much stuff out. So I lost him.

01:32:35 --> 01:32:37

And I thank you for taking my question.

01:32:39 --> 01:32:41

So a couple questions. And one comment

01:32:42 --> 01:32:51

that a lot of discussion on virtue. And we discussed virtue last month in the meditations as well. So question to you, Dr. Jones.

01:32:52 --> 01:33:05

Do you think Pope also had a stoic bent or that stoicism influenced him? Because there was a lot of the same concepts that came in then maybe Sheikh Hamza, you could

01:33:07 --> 01:33:14

address? There's a lot of sort of, in our tradition, this notion of the balance the Middle Way, the Serato, Mr. Payne, and

01:33:15 --> 01:33:21

is there a reading you would recommend on discussing how to balance the virtues

01:33:22 --> 01:33:36

from our tradition? So those were the two questions and just a comment for future perhaps we discuss the question concerning technology by Heidegger sometime, because that'll address this topic that the last person asked on.

01:33:37 --> 01:34:08

Yeah, great, great suggestion. And I've kind of thought about, you know, Heidegger's on technology, but it's there's a lot of domain knowledge when you get into somebody like Heidegger. I mean, we have we have a wonder alimentation. But something to think about. Your your response. Dr. Jones, just quickly, thank you. That's a that's a very interesting question as well, I think Pope is he's read a lot of those classic, stoic, stoic authors. And I think he shares a lot with them.

01:34:10 --> 01:34:21

particularly about the ideas of being tested a bit of being tried. The passage from Seneca that I had, in my mind, as Sheikh Hamza was, was talking about the different different kinds of people being a test for one another.

01:34:23 --> 01:34:25

Seneca saying, you know, God doesn't,

01:34:26 --> 01:34:45

God's favorite people aren't on let off. It's precisely his favorite people who get all of the sufferings because that's, you know, that's that enables them to show their strengths. So that sense to me, I think Pope has that sense of shares that sense that human life is a state of probation, as the British said it in his period of time that we you're being tested.

01:34:47 --> 01:34:54

I think one one place where Pope is slightly different is that he has a bit more room for what he calls passion or self love, that he thinks

01:34:56 --> 01:35:00

that an appropriately human life is not necessarily

01:35:00 --> 01:35:22

to mastering or living without your passions or your self love, but seeing which virtues can spring from the passions or on self love. So I think it's slightly different. He's he has a bit more room for the way in which what he calls self love, which you might call the desire for self preservation,

01:35:23 --> 01:35:35

or the social appetite. And it's difficult to find an equivalent modern expression for his use of the word. I think he has more time for those things than the stoics do. Yeah, great, great.

01:35:36 --> 01:35:39

Difference. Because he

01:35:40 --> 01:35:47

Yeah, he's definitely much more yes to life. In that way. Yeah. So in terms of,

01:35:48 --> 01:35:53

you know, there's a great work if you're interested that the questioner

01:35:54 --> 01:35:55


01:35:56 --> 01:36:31

by nacinda dena Tosi, it's probably one of the finest virtue ethics books written in the Islamic tradition. And it's actually translated a really brilliant translation. From the Persian. It exists in both Persian and Arabic and our tradition. He originally wrote in Persian, but there's an excellent Arabic translation that was done about 400 years ago. But but that's probably one of the best books that we have on virtue ethics, in our tradition, and it's called an Assyrian ethics in English. And I think it's

01:36:32 --> 01:36:42

the author, the translator, you know, nobody ever remembers translators, which is one of the great tragedies of being a translator. But

01:36:43 --> 01:36:52

the I think it's Wiccans, I think, but it's called an Assyrian ethics and a si r e a n, ethics.

01:36:54 --> 01:36:55


01:36:58 --> 01:37:22

next question, that was actually our last question. Oh, okay. Great. Thank you everybody so much. And I really want to especially thank Dr. Jones, first and foremost for this extraordinary work that he's given the world but also just giving us your time and insights and clear love of this amazing

01:37:23 --> 01:37:46

poet philosopher so thank you so much Dr. Jones, and I hope one day are cross our paths cross perhaps in Scotland I I think you're Are you English? I'm English. Yes. So but I I'm mostly Irish, but I have Chisholm. My grandmother was a Chisholm from from the highlands.

01:37:47 --> 01:37:51

With it thanks thank you for having me for sharing your

01:37:52 --> 01:38:24

knowledge your your curiosity and and wonderful questions in this but it's been a very interesting experience for me in some way to learn quite a lot about Pope which I didn't know before. So thank you. Okay, great. Well, take care. And God bless. Thank you. Thanks, everybody. Subhanak longer have to go shadow under learn to stop reporter with a grocery in in Santa Fe Foster, il Medina and one little story had you too so but happy what also the subversive Han Arabica laser jammers. Ramona masoumeh hamdulillah her granny

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