Essays Montaigne

That the taste of good and evil things depends in large part on the opinion we have of them15.

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On habit: and on never easily changing a traditional law24.

That it is madness to judge the true and the false from our own capacities28. Nine and twenty sonnets of Estienne de La Boëtie30. On fleeing from pleasures at the cost of one’s life34.

The core of "Of Cannibals" is Montaigne relaying what he has learned about a tribe of people living in Brazil from a man who lived among them for "ten or twelve years." This includes that they have a well-working system of government, share everything they have with one another, live in nature, fight valiantly in war, enjoy good health, practice a religion free from corruption, and have no words for lying, malice, or greed.

The more Montaigne describes these people, their beliefs, and their everyday lives, the more we find a partial reversal of a common stereotype: while many Europeans would consider them uncivilized, Montaigne finds these people and their way of life to be reasonable and even virtuous, while the Europeans he lives among are much more callous and barbaric.

Much like American author Herman Melville, who later chronicled his life among the cannibals in (1846), Montaigne sees more barbarous behavior among his immediate neighbors.

As evidence, Montaigne cites everything from language usage to architecture.

that can be traced in Prior's late works attests to his philosophical inclinations, and the study of it enlightens a crucial aspect of the reception of the Essais across the Channel after Charles Cottons English translation (1685-86).

His life's work, the Essays (begun in 1571), established the essay as a literary genre and record the evolution of his moral ideas, that I thought I should not need any other book; before that, in Shakspeare; then in Plutarch; then in Plotinus; at one time in Bacon; afterwards in Goethe; even in Bettine; but now I turn the pages of either of them languidly, whilst I still cherish their genius.

He neither wanted nor expected people beyond his circle of friends to be too interested.

His Essays’ preface almost warns us off: Reader, you have here an honest book; …


Comments Essays Montaigne

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