French writer Michel (Eyquem) de Montaigne (1533-1592) is considered the pioneer of the modern essay. His works set the foundation for popularizing the essay form of writing, especially those that deal with philosophical and wisdom-related subjects.Life
Michel studied classical texts as a youth, and later became a French court official and lawyer. By 1571, he retired and began work on the Essais, or Essays in English, which were published together in 1580 and added to in 1588. Besides writing, Michel also served as a mediator on various disputes, and as the mayor of Bordeaux (a city in Southwestern France) from 1581 to 1585.Essays
The Essays is a collection of essays covering a variety of topics, drawing upon the perspective of Michel�s own personal character, life, and observations. The Essays was fueled by Michel�s curiosity and interest in the world.
In the book, Michel observes and analyzes human nature, himself, society, and various philosophical topics on the human experience.Michel de Montaigne Quotes
Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul.
There is nothing that Nature seems to have inclined us to as much as society.
I find no quality so easy to counterfeit as devotion
Men as often commend as undervalue me beyond reason
Truly, man is a spectacularly vain, diverse, and fluctuating subject. It is hard to establish a specific and uniform judgment on him.
There is as much difference between us and ourselves as there is between us and others.
I quote others in order to better express myself.
I know well what I am fleeing from, but not what I am in search of.
A person is bound to lose when he talks about himself; if he belittles himself, he is believed; if he praises himself, he isn�t believed.
I don�t care as much for what I am to others as I do for what I am to myself.
Wise men have more to learn of fools than fools do of wise men.
What he did by nature and accident, he cannot do by design.
[There is a] difference between memory and understanding
How many things are there that we regarded as articles of faith yesterday and that we tell as fables today?
Not being able to govern events, I govern myself, and apply myself to them if they will not apply themselves to me.
The strength of any plan depends on the time. Circumstances and things eternally shift and change.
When I play with my cat, who knows whether or not she is amusing herself with me more than I am with her?
The desire for riches is more sharpened by their use than by their need.
Pleasing all: a mark that can never be aimed at or hit.
One can say too much even on the best of subjects.
When we have got it, we want something else.
Desires increase as they are fulfilled.
[You can] become a fool by too much wisdom.
It�s better to be alone than in foolish and troublesome company.
I lay no great stress upon my opinions, or on those of others.
It seems to me that the nursing mother of most false opinions�both public and private�is the excessively high opinion one places on oneself.
Souls that are regular and strong of themselves are rare.
Judge by the eye of reason, and not from common report.
Extremity of philosophy is hurtful.
Intelligence is required to be able to know that a man knows not.
Every day, I hear fools say things that are not foolish.
No man continues to do unfavorable things for long except by his own fault.
Things seem greater by imagination than they are in effect.
In true education, anything that comes to us is good as a book: a page-boy�s prank, a servant�s blunder, a bit of table talk�they are all part of the curriculum.
A wise man sees as much as he ought to, not as much as he can.
There is no man who is so good that if he were to submit all his thoughts and actions to the law, he would not deserve to be hung ten times throughout his life.
The word is half his that speaks, and half his that hears it.
The most universal quality is diversity.
Wise people are foolish if they cannot adapt to foolish people.
Knowing a lot is often the cause of doubting more.
Meditation is a powerful and deep study to those who can effectively taste and employ themselves to it. I would rather fashion my soul than furnish it. There is no employment, either weaker or stronger, than that of entertaining one�s own thoughts according to as the soul is. The greatest people make it their whole business�
My trade and art is to live.
[His motto:] What do I know?
People who make it their business to analyze human actions do not find themselves as perplexed in anything as in making them seem consistent, and putting them in perspective with the same luster and reputation; for they so frequently and strangely contradict one another that it seems impossible they should come from one and the same person�
[Publilius Syrus wrote:] �A plan that cannot be modified is bad.�
It seems reasonable to form a judgment of a man based on his most usual methods of life; but, considering the natural instability of our manners and opinions, I have often thought that even the best writers have been a little wrong in so stubbornly attempting to make any constant and solidly drawn-together conclusion of us.
They choose a general air of a man, and according to that, they interpret all his actions, of which, if they cannot bend some [of those actions] to a uniformity with the rest, they attribute them to [a person�s use of] disguise�
Of the man you saw yesterday who was adventurous and brave, you must not think it strange to see him as great a coward the next day. Anger, necessity, company, wine, or the sound of the trumpet had roused his spirits. This is no valor formed and established by reason, but was accidentally created by such circumstances, and therefore it is no wonder if by contrary circumstances it appears quite another thing.
These readily changing variations and contradictions that so manifest in us have often made some believe that man has two souls, or two distinct powers that always accompany and incline us, one towards good and the other towards ill, according to their own nature and propensity; so abrupt a variety not being imaginable to flow from one and the same source.
For my part, the puff of every accident not only carries me along with it according to its own natural inclination, but moreover, I lose composure and I trouble myself by the instability of my own posture. And whoever looks narrowly into his own bosom will hardly find himself twice in the same condition.
I give to my soul sometimes one face and sometimes another, according to the side I turn her to. If I speak variously of myself, it is because I consider myself variously; all the contrarieties are there to be found in one corner or another after one fashion or another�bashful, arrogant; chaste, lustful; chattering, silent; laborious, delicate; ingenious, heavy; gloomy, pleasant; lying, truthful; knowing, ignorant; liberal, covetous, and prodigal�I find all this in myself, more or less, according as I turn myself about; and whoever will sift himself to the bottom, will find in himself, and even in his own judgment, this changeableness and disagreement.
I have nothing to say of myself entirely, simply, and solidly without mixture and confusion.
One gallant action, therefore, ought not to conclude a man valiant. If a man were brave indeed, he would always be so, and upon all occasions. If it were a habit of valor and not a sally, it would render a man equally resolute in all accidents; the same alone as in company; and the same in lists as in a battle.
For, let them say what they will, there is not one valor for the pavement and another for the field; he would bear a sickness in his bed as bravely as a wound in the field, and no more fear death in his own house than at an assault. And we should not then see the same man charge into a breach with a brave assurance, and afterwards torment himself like a woman for the loss of a trial at law or the death of a child; when, being an infamous coward, he is firm in the necessities of poverty; when he shrinks at the sight of a barber�s razor, and rushes fearless upon the swords of the enemy, the action is commendable, not the man.
If we can get them, we should have wives, children, goods, and above all, health; but we are not so to set our hearts upon them that our happiness must be entirely dependent on them. We must reserve a back-shop, wholly our own and entirely free, wherein to settle our true liberty, our principal solitude and retreat.
And in this we must for the most part entertain ourselves with ourselves, and so privately that no outside relationship or communication be admitted there; there to laugh and to talk, as if without wife, children, goods, followers, or attendance, to the end that when it shall so fall out that we must lose any or all of these, it may be no new thing to be without them.
We have a mind pliable in itself that will be company, that has wherewithal to attack and to defend, and to receive and give. Let us not then fear in this solitude to languish under an uncomfortable emptiness.
We have lived enough for others; let us at least live out the rest of our life for ourselves; let us now call in our thoughts and intentions to ourselves, and to our own ease and repose.
No man is free from speaking foolish things; but the worst thing is when a man painstakingly labors to say them.
[Terence Wrote]: �Truly he, with a great effort, will say mighty trifles.�
This does not concern me; mine slip from me with as little care as they are of little value, and it is the better for them. I would presently part with them for what they are worth, and neither buy nor sell them but as they weigh.
Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl ekɛm də mɔ̃tɛɲ] ), February 28, 1533 – September 13, 1592, was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. known for popularising the essay as a literary genre and is popularly thought of as the father of Modern Skepticism. He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes [ 2 ] and autobiography—and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers the world over, including René Descartes. [ 3 ] Blaise Pascal. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Friedrich Nietzsche. Stefan Zweig. Eric Hoffer. [ 4 ] Isaac Asimov. and perhaps William Shakespeare (see "Influences" section below).
In his own time, Montaigne was admired more as a statesman than as an author. The tendency in his essays to digress into anecdotes and personal ruminations was seen as detrimental to proper style rather than as an innovation, and his declaration that, 'I am myself the matter of my book', was viewed by his contemporaries as self-indulgent. In time, however, Montaigne would be recognized as embodying, perhaps better than any other author of his time, the spirit of freely entertaining doubt which began to emerge at that time. He is most famously known for his skeptical remark, 'Que sais-je?' ('What do I know?'). Remarkably modern even to readers today, Montaigne's attempt to examine the world through the lens of the only thing he can depend on implicitly—his own judgment—makes him more accessible to modern readers than any other author of the Renaissance. Much of modern literary non-fiction has found inspiration in Montaigne and writers of all kinds continue to read him for his masterful balance of intellectual knowledge and personal story-telling.Contents Life
Château de Montaigne. Montaigne's family home
The family crest of Michel Eyquem, Lord of Montaigne
Montaigne was born in the Aquitaine region of France. on the family estate Château de Montaigne. in a town now called Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne. not far from Bordeaux. The family was very rich; his grandfather, Lord Ramon Eyquem, had made a fortune as a herring merchant and had bought the estate in 1477. His father, Pierre Eyquem, Lord of Montaigne, was a French Roman Catholic soldier in Italy for a time and had also been the mayor of Bordeaux. His mother, Antoinette López de Villanueva, was from a wealthy Sephardic Jewish family. [ 5 ] [ 6 ] His mother lived a great part of Montaigne's life near him, and even survived him, but is only mentioned twice in his essays. Montaigne's relationship with his father, however, is frequently reflected upon and discussed in his essays.
From the moment of his birth, Montaigne's education followed a pedagogical plan sketched out by his father and refined by the advice of the latter's humanist friends. Soon after his birth, Montaigne was brought to a small cottage, where he lived the first three years of life in the sole company of a peasant family, 'in order to', according to the elder Montaigne, 'draw the boy close to the people, and to the life conditions of the people, who need our help.' [ 7 ] After these first spartan years, Montaigne was brought back to the château. The objective was for Latin to become his first language. The intellectual education of Montaigne was assigned to a German tutor (a doctor named Horstanus who couldn't speak French). His father hired only servants who could speak Latin and they also were given strict orders to always speak to the boy in Latin. The same rule applied to his mother, father, and servants, who were obliged to use only Latin words he himself employed, and thus acquired a knowledge of the very language his tutor taught him. Montaigne's Latin education was accompanied by constant intellectual and spiritual stimulation. He was familiarized with Greek by a pedagogical method that employed games, conversation, and exercises of solitary meditation, rather than books. Music was played from the moment of Montaigne's awakening. [ 8 ] An épinettier (playing a zither original to the French region of Vosges ) constantly accompanied Montaigne and his tutor, playing a tune any time the boy became bored or tired. When he wasn't in the mood for music, he could do whatever he wished: play games, sleep, be alone - most important of all was that the boy wouldn't be obliged to anything, but that, at the same time, he would have everything in order to take advantage of his freedom.
Around the year 1539, he was sent to study at a prestigious boarding school in Bordeaux, the Collège de Guyenne. then under the direction of the greatest Latin scholar of the era, George Buchanan. where he mastered the whole curriculum by his thirteenth year. He then studied law in Toulouse and entered a career in the legal system. He was a counselor of the Court des Aides of Périgueux and, in 1557, he was appointed counselor of the Parlement in Bordeaux (a high court). From 1561 to 1563 he was courtier at the court of Charles IX ; he was present with the king at the siege of Rouen (1562). He was awarded the highest honour of the French nobility, the collar of the order of St. Michael, something to which he aspired from his youth. While serving at the Bordeaux Parliament, he became very close friends with the humanist poet Étienne de la Boétie. whose death in 1563 deeply affected Montaigne. It has been argued that because of Montaigne's "imperious need to communicate," that, after losing Étienne, he began the Essais as his "means of communication;" and that "the reader takes the place of the dead friend." [ 9 ]
In a prearranged marriage, Montaigne married Françoise de la Cassaigne. He did not marry her under his own free will and was pressured by family to do so [ citation needed ] ; they had six daughters, though only the second-born survived childhood.
Following the petition of his father, Montaigne started to work on the first translation of the Catalan monk Raymond Sebond's Theologia naturalis. which he published a year after his father's death in 1568 (In 1595, Sebond's Prologue was put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum for its declaration that the Bible is not the only source of revealed truth). After this he inherited his estate, the Château de Montaigne, to which he moved back in 1570. Another literary accomplishment was Montaigne's posthumous edition of his friend Boétie's works.
In 1571, he retired from public life to the Tower of the Château, his so-called "citadel", in the Dordogne. where he almost totally isolated himself from every social and family affair. Locked up in his library, which boasted a collection of some 1,500 works, he began work on his Essais ("Essays"), first published in 1580. On the day of his 38th birthday, as he entered this almost ten-year period of self-imposed reclusion, he had the following inscription crown the bookshelves of his working chamber:
'In the year of Christ 1571, at the age of thirty-eight, on the last day of February, his birthday, Michael de Montaigne, long weary of the servitude of the court and of public employments, while still entire, retired to the bosom of the learned virgins, where in calm and freedom from all cares he will spend what little remains of his life, now more than half run out. If the fates permit, he will complete this abode, this sweet ancestral retreat; and he has consecrated it to his freedom, tranquility, and leisure.’ [ 10 ]
Portrait of Michel de Montaigne by Dumonstier around 1578.
During this time of the Wars of Religion in France, Montaigne, himself a Roman Catholic, acted as a moderating force, [ citation needed ] respected both by the Catholic King Henry III and the Protestant Henry of Navarre.
In 1578, Montaigne, whose health had always been excellent, started suffering from painful kidney stones. a sickness he had inherited from his father's family. From 1580 to 1581, Montaigne traveled in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, partly in search of a cure. He kept a detailed journal recording various episodes and regional differences. It was published much later, in 1774, under the title Travel Journal .
While in the city of Lucca in 1581, he learned that he had been elected mayor of Bordeaux; he returned and served until 1585, again moderating between Catholics and Protestants. The plague broke out in Bordeaux toward the end of his term.
Montaigne continued to extend, revise, and oversee the publication of Essais. In 1588 he wrote its third book and also met the writer Marie de Gournay. who admired his work and later edited and published it. King Henry III was assassinated in 1589, and Montaigne then helped to keep Bordeaux loyal to Henry of Navarre, who would go on to become King Henry IV.
Montaigne died of quinsy, [ 11 ] at the age of 59, in 1592 at the Château de Montaigne and was buried nearby. Later his remains were moved to the church of Saint Antoine at Bordeaux. The church no longer exists: it became the Convent des Feuillants, which has also disappeared. [ citation needed ] The Bordeaux Tourist Office says that Montaigne is buried at the Musée Aquitaine, Faculté des Lettres, Université Bordeaux 3 Michel de Montaigne, Pessac. His heart is preserved in the parish church of Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne .
The humanities branch of the University of Bordeaux is named after him: Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3 .
Michel de Montaigne.Essais
His fame rests on the Essais. a collection of a large number of short subjective treatments of various topics published in 1580, inspired by his studies in the classics, especially Plutarch. Montaigne's stated goal is to describe humans, and especially himself, with utter frankness. Montaigne's writings are studied within literary studies, as literature and philosophy.
Inspired by his consideration of the lives and ideals of the leading figures of his age, he finds the great variety and volatility of human nature to be its most basic features. He describes his own poor memory, his ability to solve problems and mediate conflicts without truly getting emotionally involved, his disdain for the human pursuit of lasting fame, and his attempts to detach himself from worldly things to prepare for his timely death. He writes about his disgust with the religious conflicts of his time, reflecting a spirit of skepticism and belief that humans are not able to attain true certainty. The longest of his essays, Apology for Raymond Sebond. contains his famous motto, "What do I know?"
Montaigne considered marriage necessary for the raising of children, but disliked strong feelings of passionate love because he saw them as detrimental to freedom. In education, he favored concrete examples and experience over the teaching of abstract knowledge that has to be accepted uncritically. His essay "On the Education of Children" is dedicated to Diana of Foix .
The Essais exercised important influence on both French and English literature, in thought and style. [ citation needed ]Related writers and influence
Thinkers exploring similar ideas include Erasmus, Thomas More. and Guillaume Budé. who all worked about fifty years before Montaigne.
Since Edward Capell first made the suggestion in 1780, some scholars believe that Shakespeare was familiar with Montaigne's essays. [ 12 ] John Florio 's translation of Montaigne's Essais became available to Shakespeare in English in 1603. [ 13 ] It is suggested that Montaigne's influence is especially noticeable in "Hamlet " and "King Lear ", both in language and in the skepticism present in both plays. For an example, compare Shakespeare's Hamlet to Rosencrantz, at Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, about line 240, with an earlier quote of Montaigne:1. ". for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison." 2. "Whether the events in our life are good or bad greatly depends on the way we perceive them."
Much of Blaise Pascal 's skepticism in his Pensées was a result of reading Montaigne. [ citation needed ] Ralph Waldo Emerson chose "Montaigne; or, the Skeptic" as a subject of one of his series of lectures entitled Representative Men. along side other subjects such as Shakespeare and Plato. In "Schopenhauer as Educator", Friedrich Nietzsche says of Montaigne: "That such a man wrote has truly augmented the joy of living on this Earth". [ citation needed ]
The American philosopher Eric Hoffer employed Montaigne both stylistically and in thought. In Hoffer's memoir, Truth Imagined. he said of Montaigne, "He was writing about me. He knew my innermost thoughts." The Welsh novelist John Cowper Powys expressed his admiration for Montaigne's philosophy in his books Suspended Judgements (1916) and The Pleasures of Literature (1938). Judith N. Shklar introduces her book Ordinary Vices (1984), "It is only if we step outside the divinely ruled moral universe that we can really put our minds to the common ills we inflict upon one another each day. That is what Montaigne did and that is why he is the hero of this book. In spirit he is on every one of its pages. "
Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his recent popular work The Black Swan quotes Montaigne as his great influence.Quotations
Michel de Montaigne — Philosophe Occidental Renaissance … Wikipédia en Français
Michel De Montaigne — Montaigne Philosophe Occidental Renaissance Statue de Michel de Montaigne, Esplanade des Quinconces à … Wikipédia en Français
Michel de montaigne — Montaigne Philosophe Occidental Renaissance Statue de Michel de Montaigne, Esplanade des Quinconces à … Wikipédia en Français
Michel de Montaigne — Montaigne auf einem zeitgenössischen Gemälde Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (frz. Aussprache /miʃɛl ekɛm də mõtɛɲ/; * 28. Februar 1533 auf Schloss Montaigne im Périgord; † 13. September 1592 ebenda) war Politiker, Philosoph und Begründer der… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Michel de Montaigne — Michel de Montaigne. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne o más simplemente Michel de Montaigne (nacido en Burdeos el 28 de febrero de 1533 en el château de Montaigne en Saint Michel de Montaigne, Dordogne, muerto el 13 de septiembre de 1592) fue un… … Wikipedia Español
Michel de Montaigne — Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (28 de febrero 1533 23 de septiembre 1592) fue un pensador y escritor francés del Renacimiento, creador del género literario conocido como ensayo … Enciclopedia Universal
Michel de Montaigne — (1533 1592) French humanist and philosopher … English contemporary dictionary
Michel de Montaigne University Bordeaux 3 — Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3 University Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3 Established 1971 Type Public Location Bordeaux, France … Wikipedia
Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux III — Université Bordeaux III Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3 Informations Fondation 1971 Type … Wikipédia en Français
Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Saint Michel. 44° 52′ 30″ N 0° 01′ 51″ E … Wikipédia en Français
Michel de Montaigne
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. Montaigne is known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography — and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers the world over, from William Shakespeare to René Descartes, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Stephan Zweig, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He was a conservative and earnest Catholic but, as a result of his anti-dogmatic cast of mind, he is considered the father, alongside his contemporary and intimate friend Étienne de La Boétie, of the 'anti-conformist' tradition in French lierature.In his own time, Montaigne was admired more as a statesman then as an author. The tendency in his essays to digress into anecdotes and personal ruminations was seen as detrimental to proper style rather than as an innovation, and his declaration that, 'I am myself the matter of my book', was viewed by his contemporaries as self-indulgent. In time, however, Montaigne would be recognized as embodying, perhaps better than any other author of his time, the spirit of freely entertaining doubt which began to emerge at that time. He is most famously known for his skeptical remark, 'Que sais-je?' ('What do I know?').Remarkably modern even to readers today, Montaigne's attempt to examine the world through the lens of the only thing he can depend on implicitly — his own judgment — makes him more accessible to modern readers than any other author of the Renaissance. Much of modern literary non-fiction has found inspiration in Montaigne, and writers of all kinds continue to read him for his masterful balance of intellectual knowledge and personal story-telling.Quotes by French Philosopher Michel de Montaigne
If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship rather than love. Michel de Montaigne . philosopher
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with serious intellectual insight; his massive volume Essais contains some of the most influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers all over the world, including Francis Bacon, René Descartes,Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Albert Hirschman, William Hazlitt,Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Stefan Zweig, Eric Hoffer,Isaac Asimov, and possibly on the later works of William Shakespeare. (wikipedia)
Stubborn and ardent clinging to one's opinion is the best proof of stupidity.