Michel De Montaigne Essay

736 words - 3 pages

Michel de Montaigne

The world is a place of chaos nowadays. At every turn of a corner, there is desolation triggered from humanity's sidetracked views of what the world is about. With all this deception and superficiality, pureness in the human soul seems almost non-existent. Michel de Montaigne recognizes the essential need of this purity for the improvement of society in his Essays. Although the main topics he is focusing own are his own nature, own habits, and own opinions, he uses these personal vignettes to illustrate larger truths about man and his behaviors, his strengths and weaknesses. He subtly forces us to see the materialistic ideals that supposedly make us "happy" and dares us to see how it has tainted our minds and souls. Through his work he sets out to encourage man in the careful study of himself, in order to understand life and the world around him.
The meaning of purity in humans to Montaigne is expressed in his short note to the reader, "to live under the sweet liberty of Nature's primal laws" (3). To have purity meant to have simplicity, to live contently with what Mother Nature has given us and as little artifice as possible. What does Montaigne mean by artifice? Artifice is the unnecessary "magnificence which drains away immediately from use or money" (334). In "On Coaches", we see Montaigne's frustration with society's tendency to attempt to gain respect with "deeds of the purse-string" rather than true "deeds of virtue" (338). He asserts that this type of generosity doesn't have any real influence because of the tainted intentions behind it. Montaigne urges us to see the limits of the mind that is shaped by shallowness and materialistic possessions.
He speaks with a harsh tone, "and against the ides of a universe which flows on while we are in it, how puny and stunted in the knowledge of the most inquisitive men" (341), trying to wake society out of he oblivion of artifice it has settled itself on to. In "To philosophize is to learn how to die" he...

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