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Purity And Civility In The Praise Of Folly By Desiderius Erasmus And Of Cannibals By Michel De Montaigne

1521 words - 6 pages

Purity and Civility in The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus and Of Cannibals by Michel de Montaigne

Both in “The Praise of Folly” by Desiderius Erasmus and “Of Cannibals”
by Michel de Montaigne-relating to the common point to which attention
is tried to be drawn-inquiry of true civility with regards to the
Nature and its necessity according to certain circumstances are

First of all,Erasmus stating “Truly,to destroy the illusion is to
upset the whole play.The masks and costumes are precisely what hold
the eyes of the spectators.” Aspires to put forward the idea that
there is a definite pact between people-which can be rather called as
a concious illusion-on wearing veils of wisdom,called roles just as if
they were performing a play.Under these veils,probably lies something
much more different than what is seen on the stage;a virtuous man may
be a wretched being or a king may be a beggar in fact.

Just like this case,in “Of Cannibals”,Michel de Montaigne implies
ironically by the statement:

“All this is not too bad-but what’s the use?They don’t wear breeches.”
That although costumes or breeches,which are taken as a token for
civility,may turn out to be just the opposite.They are veils under
which true identities and intentions are concealed.However,then the
question what makes a person sensible-in other words both natural and
spontaneous in manners is aroused.Montaigne makes his point explicitly
on this matter.Regarding the community of the newly discovered
land,which is Brasilia and the natives’ manners which are innate and
not cultivated,he reasons that not to offend the Nature but to yield
to Her is the correct behaviour.What makes people corrupt and
miserable is their own actions trying to change the Nature for their
own pratical use.Although the above mentioned nation seems to be
barbarious in modern sense,when looked deeper inside-retaining their
originnal naturalness –they turn outto be even much less barbarious
compared to the modern man.

“I am not sorry that we notice the barbarous horror of such acts,but I
am heartily sorry that,judging their faults rightly,we should be so
blind to our own.I think there is more barbarity in eating a man alive
than eating him dead;...”

Such a frank kind of reasoning seems to be too much striking at
first,since Montaigne goes even further in justifying the behaviour of
the cannibals and degrades that of modern men’s.As acts of modern men
are degraded by likening them to eating a man alive.

“ we have not only read but seen within fresh memory,not among
ancient enemies,but among neighbours and fellow citizens,and what is
worse,on the pretext of piety and religion.”

It is to be discerned that Montaigne also satirizes the conflicts
which were brutal between Catholics and Protestans as something to be

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