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September 10, 2004

"For this plain reason, man is not a fly"; Pope and Brains

I quoted Alexander Pope's Essay on Man back on August 8. Here's another nice passage.

The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No powers of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.

Say what the use, were finer optics given,
To inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
To smart and agonize at every pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?

I don't ask for better senses, but I do wonder sometimes why God didn't make people smarter. I think I'd like to be average. But whether you believe in God or Evolution or Both, there must be a reason why people don't reason. Maybe high IQ leads to neurosis, or dangerous pride, or too much thinking when action would be more appropriate.

My Mazdaspeed car provides an analogy. Why don't all cars have turbochargers? For one thing, there's the expense. For another, my car needs Premium gasoline, and if I ever forget and put in Regular, bad things will happen to my engine. Fancy engines, like fancy minds, are more delicate, and we can get by without them in normal situations. Still, I like going fast around corners and saving that five minutes getting to work.

Posted by erasmuse at September 10, 2004 10:14 PM

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