Compare Popes And Swifts Ideas On Reason

2707 words - 11 pages

Reason’s Significance
     One of the most important differences between humans and all other forms of life can be seen in our ability to think and rationalize our decisions and choices as humans. Without reason, we as humans would be no different than a cat or dog. God, in his infinite wisdom, blessed man with the ability to reason, but left it entirely up to us whether or not we choose to use it. Alexander Pope and Jonathon Swift, two prominent writers of the eighteenth century, take two very different approaches when it comes to the importance or insignificance of reason. Pope chooses to argue that reason is the balancing factor in our lives and helps us to achieve the most possible success if we listen to its judgment. Swift, on the other hand, chooses to take reason to the extreme and show the effects of its very possible distortion. Although entirely different, these men show the very best and worst applications of reason.
In “Gulliver’s Travels,” Jonathon Swift shows what happens when we place too much emphasis on reason. In his satire, Swift pokes fun at those who are consumed with the Enlightenment way of thinking. He believes that to place reason in such high esteem is not as necessary as some are making it out to be. Although he seems to believe that reason has its place in our society and every day life, it is not the governing factor by which we should live. In “Gulliver’s Travels” we see what can happen when people loose touch with reason and the consequences that follow their decisions.
In Gulliver’s third voyage to the island of Laputa, Swift pokes fun at those that are obsessed with learning science and abstract thought. He gives us a detailed account of the inhabitant’s lives and daily activities. He begins to describe the Laputians physically by saying that they always have their head tilted to one side or another. He also talks of the eyes of the citizens. He claims that one is poked out, looking upward and the other is turned slightly inward. Swift satirizes their attention span as well. He tells that someone must follow the inhabitants around and continuously poke their ears or mouths because their attention span is so short and they must be remind to pay attention. He even goes as far as to make fun of the clothes they wear. He tells that they are covered with musical instruments and various forms of celestial bodies. By referencing the Laputian’s clothing, Swift seems to be making fun of the importance placed on reason in England during the period of Enlightenment. He does not seem to think that reason is important at all or at least not to extent that others make it out to be. The other voyages in “Gulliver's Travels” seemed strange for obvious reasons such as the drastic size difference of the inhabitants, but the voyage to Laputa is preposterous based on its sheer impracticality. He finds it humorous how the inhabitants of the island can be so consumed with absolutely nothing. They spend their...

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