Great Human, Tiny Race: A Touch on Human Nature Displayed in Gulliver’s Travels

 Great Human, Tiny Race: A Touch on Human Nature Displayed in Gulliver’s Travels

 

Paper details:

Write a 3-5 pages paper on the following topic: Prompt: Michael J. Conlon argues that the text of Gulliver’s Travels “keeps the reader off-balance and vexed about the nature of mankind.”[3] We will continue to discuss two theories of human nature in conflict or tension during the eighteenth century: the Hobbesian and the Shaftesburian. What do you think—is the Travels more Hobbesian or Shaftesburian in its perception of human nature? Or is it some “vexing” mix of views? My take: a vexing mix of views. DO NOT cite any other works other than the original text. PLEASE. Thanks. However, you can take a look at the chapters talking about each voyage in this book to get some ideas and quotes: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101074878743&view=1up&seq=149, if you can get access into it (the book is called “Gulliver’s Travels: a critical study, by William A. Eddy). But if you’re good at paraphrasing, you could borrow the gist of some good ideas you saw from outside sources. Hobbesian views of human nature: (human are) selfish, ego-centric (->pride), grasping; Hobbes is pessimistic about the future of human race (->human degeneracy); need law and government institutions to make us on line (->the corruptions of our mind are deep in the bones). Shaftesburian views: (humans are) benevolent (natural disposition to each other), social, and institutions, morals, and values are the things that corrupt humans (the environmental explanation of human corruptions). Some ideas I had: Why “vexing”: 1. The captain at the end of Voyage IV served as an example of human benevolence, especially that he occurred when Gulliver was confused about his current state that he is neither Yahoo (Hobbesian creature) nor Houyhnhnms (contains rational felicity). 2. The fact that Gulliver is neither shows that human nature is beyond the dualism of Hobbesian views and Shaftesburian views. 3. On what level are those two views mixed: the existence of human benevolence seems more theoretical but human malice is more practical in this world from Swift’s points of view. On Hobbesian views: 1. Human degeneracy a. how Gulliver was marooned at the beginning of each voyage; b. Glubbdubdrib, p. 184 of the original text; 2. Human narcissism a. Voyage III, eg. one eye inward and one eye upward; b. pride and vanity: “necessities of nature” p. 48, p. 100, and in Voyage IV; c. Voyage IV; 3. Human’s significance and insignificance (how Gulliver’s perceptions shift in each Voyage) a. Voyage I: shows human’s pettiness: p. 42, “I might be a match…”, that shows our supposed grandeur. On Shaftesburian views: Voyage IV, the captain who saved Gulliver at the end -> natural benevolence

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