Perhaps the strangest essay I read was his thoughts on cannibals. His understanding and philosophical stance just goes to show how there are always different ways of seeing things that appear strange, unusual, or bizarre. Montaigne says:.
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- ESSAYS OF MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE.
Indeed we seem to have no other criterion of truth and reason than the type and kind of opinions and customs current in the land where we live. There we always see the perfect religion, the perfect political system, the perfect and most accomplished way of doing everything. These people are wild in the same way as we say that fruits are wild, when nature has produced them by herself and in her ordinary way; whereas, in fact, it is those that we have artificially modified, and removed from the common order, that we ought to call wild. Lastly, I would like to end with passages on his perspective on philosophy.
He says:. For it seems to me that the first ideas which is mind should be made to absorb must be those that regulate his behavior and morals, that teach him to know himself, and to know how to die well and live well.
We Are All Cannibals
It should make its tranquility and joy shine forth; it should mould the outward bearing to its shape, and arm it therefore with a gracious pride, with an active and sprightly bearing, with a happy and gracious countenance. The most manifest sign of wisdom is a constant happiness; its state is like that of things above the moon: always serene. To do so is the equivalent to saying either that the time for a happy life has not yet come or that it is already past.
Each essay provides an opportunity to exercise your mind, to observe your own patterns of thinking, and maybe, to arrive at a deeper understanding of the subjects that are indeed part of our daily lives. His wisdom and worldview are at times refreshing, funny, objective as can be, but also applicable to our current endeavors. Yet wherever her purity shineth she makes our vain and frivolous exercises wonderfully ashamed. Those nations seem, therefore, so barbarous unto me, because they have received very little fashion from human wit and are yet near their original naturality.
The laws of nature do yet command them, which are but little bastardized by ours; and that with such purity as I am sometime grieved the knowledge of it came no sooner to light, at what time there were men that better than we could have judged of it. The very words that import lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulations, covetousness, envy, detraction, and pardon, were never heard of amongst them. How dissonant would he find his imaginary commonwealth from this perfection!
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Nature at first uprise, These manners did devise. Virgil, Georgics II.
Furthermore, they live in a country of so exceeding pleasant and temperate situation that, as my testimonies have told me, it is very rare to see a sick body amongst them; and they have further assured me they never saw any man there either shaking with the palsy, toothless, with eyes dropping, or crooked and stooping through age. They have great abundance of fish and flesh that have no resemblance at all with ours, and eat them without any sauces or skill of cookery, but plain boiled or broiled. Their beds are of a kind of cotton cloth, fastened to the house roof, as our ship cabins.
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They rise with the sun, and feed for all day as soon as they are up, and make no more meals after that. Their drink is made of a certain root, and much of the color of our claret wines, which lasteth but two or three days. They drink it warm. It hath somewhat a sharp taste, wholesome for the stomach, nothing heady, but laxative for such as are not used unto it, yet very pleasing to such as are accustomed to it.
Instead of bread, they use a certain white composition, like unto corianders confected. I have eaten some, the taste whereof is somewhat sweet and wallowish. They spend the whole day in dancing. Their young men go ahunting after wild beasts with bows and arrows. Their women busy themselves therewhilst with warming of their drink, which is their chiefest office. He commends but two things unto his auditory: first, valor against their enemies; then lovingness unto their wives. The form of their beds, cords, swords, blades, and wooden bracelets wherewith they cover their hand-wrists when they fight , and great canes, open at one end by the sound of which they keep time and cadence in their dancing , are in many places to be seen, and namely in mine own house.
They are shaven all over, much more close and cleaner than we are, with no other razors than of wood or stone. They believe their souls to be eternal, and those that have deserved well of their gods to be placed in that part of heaven where the sun riseth, and the cursed toward the west, in opposition. They have certain prophets and priests, which commonly abide in the mountains, and very seldom show themselves unto the people.
But when they come down, there is a great feast prepared and a solemn assembly of many townships together. Each grange as I have described maketh a village, and they are about a French league one from another. The prophet speaks to the people in public, exhorting them to embrace virtue and follow their duty. All their moral discipline containeth but these two articles: first, an undismayed resolution in war; then an inviolable affection to their wives.
He doth also prognosticate of things to come, and what success they shall hope for in their enterprises.
And therefore he that hath once misreckoned himself is never seen again. The European man is holding a flag in his right hand which is a representation of newly discovered land and beginning of colonization. Broad, Theoder Galle and Jan van der Straet tried to make a…. Michel de Montaigne wrote on the cannibalism common among the new natives, he refers to it as a "barbarous and savage nation" Michel de Montaigne, On Cannibals, Pg. Montaigne understood that their culture was different from his.
Another, more popular opinion of the natives was from St. Francis Xavier…. By the time he was twenty-one, he had contributed several papers to the short-lived Edinburgh University Magazine, the best of which was a fanciful bit of fluff entitled "The Philosophy of Umbrellas. Essays Essays FlashCards. Browse Essays. Home Page Essay on Montaigne — of Cannibals. Show More. Fighting in battle measures a mans worth. Montaigne is impressed by their perception and concepts of war. War has no purpose other than displaying ones courage.
There is no bloodshed, or brutality. Warfare, from the views of a complex society, is a tool to gain possessions or achieve revenge. The purpose of battle has been diluted and twisted by the complex beliefs of a less in touch society. Much of what Montaigne argues is against complex societies. He creates the argument of nature verses custom.
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