Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dear Man, dear Mankind. Are you enlightened?

"What is enlightenment?", questioned Kant. It was way back in the 18th century."Dare to know. Have the courage to apply your own wisdom", was his answer. Kant represented the spirit of the 18th century enlightenment movement. He was talking of the newly discovered Man- the questioning and the reasoning Man, the creative Man, the scientific Man, Man at his best. The scientific discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo, and later Newton, had indeed proved that, "On earth, there is nothing great than Man; and in Man, there is nothing great than mind".

This greatness of Man, of Mankind, has enchanted me since childhood. What is this greatness  that led to this gradual but magnificent evolution of the cave dwelling savage to one day unanimously sign the human rights charter? Have you known this Man in men? And do you want to keep this Man alive, or would you let him die each day, the way most of us do? Are you enlightened?

Lets explore...

As Alexander Pope  rightly recited in the 18th century, 
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan. 
The proper study of Mankind is Man. 
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;

Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself, abus'd or disabus'd;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides...

PS- This is a series I plan to update regularly. I want to explore where it takes me. And you too.