Why does Pope state that the proper study of mankind is man? 

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Pope is expressing a widely held belief among eighteenth-century intellectuals. The prevailing Enlightenment philosophy held that the natural world was an object to be studied, measured, and exploited for the good of humankind. But the natural world in itself was not worthy of serious study, certainly not by artists and writers. The Romantic notion of nature as a force in its own right, something of intrinsic power, worth and value, was wholly alien to the eighteenth-century mindset. If nature was invoked in poetry or landscape painting, for example, then it was only to the extent that it had been shaped by human beings. Pope's own pastorals, for example, taking Virgil's Eclogues as their guiding spirit, value nature only insofar as its interactions with human figures provide moral instruction and general insights into the human condition.

In An Essay On Man, Pope is keen to highlight our God-given place in the universe and how little we really know despite the enormous strides made by natural...

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