Read by Gregg Margarite. Written by Jonathan Swift (or Oliver Goldsmith, see note).
Very much in the tradition of Diogenes, who on hearing Plato had defined humans as “featherless bipeds”, presented him with a plucked chicken, the poet satirically punctures humanity’s supposed elevated status.
He explicitly argues against Aristotle and Smiglesius (1564 – 1618, Polish Jesuit philosopher, known for his 1618 Logica, commonly used as a textbook), and implicitly against those in his own time who presented reason as all important. The poet retorts that man is weak and erring, and instinct is a better guide. He makes a long list of man’s follies and foibles (including a dig at Sir Robert Walpole or “Bob”, who employed party-writers to write his praises). He claims animals avoid these errors (though his knowledge of beasts is not as accurate as that of man). He finally notes human similarity to apes, and that humans at court yet manage to out-ape the apes.
Note: This video attributes the authorship of this work to Jonathan Swift, but it is also attributed to Oliver Goldsmith. Continue reading