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The Spectacle of Skill. Subscribe to Read More to find out about similar books. So what are these Essays, which Montaigne protested were indistinguishable from their author? Anyone who tries to read the Essays systematically soon finds themselves overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of examples, anecdotes, digressions and curios Montaigne assembles for our delectation, often without more than the hint of a reason why.

Many titles seem to have no direct relation to their contents.

The Essays of Michel de Montaigne - Vol. 3

Nearly everything our author says in one place is qualified, if not overturned, elsewhere. Did Montaigne turn to the Stoic school of philosophy to deal with the horrors of war? Certainly, for Montaigne, as for ancient thinkers led by his favorites, Plutarch and the Roman Stoic Seneca , philosophy was not solely about constructing theoretical systems, writing books and articles.


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Montaigne has little time for forms of pedantry that value learning as a means to insulate scholars from the world, rather than opening out onto it. He writes :. We are great fools. Their wisdom, he suggests , was chiefly evident in the lives they led neither wrote a thing. In particular, it was proven by the nobility each showed in facing their deaths. Socrates consented serenely to taking hemlock, having been sentenced unjustly to death by the Athenians.

Indeed, everything about our passions and, above all, our imagination , speaks against achieving that perfect tranquillity the classical thinkers saw as the highest philosophical goal. We discharge our hopes and fears, very often, on the wrong objects, Montaigne notes , in an observation that anticipates the thinking of Freud and modern psychology.

Always, these emotions dwell on things we cannot presently change. Sometimes, they inhibit our ability to see and deal in a supple way with the changing demands of life. Philosophy, in this classical view, involves a retraining of our ways of thinking, seeing and being in the world. And though nobody should read me, have I wasted time in entertaining myself so many idle hours in so pleasing and useful thoughts? Montaigne wants to leave us with some work to do and scope to find our own paths through the labyrinth of his thoughts, or alternatively, to bobble about on their diverting surfaces.

Their author keeps his own prerogatives, even as he bows deferentially before the altars of ancient heroes like Socrates, Cato, Alexander the Great or the Theban general Epaminondas. And of all the philosophers, he most frequently echoes ancient sceptics like Pyrrho or Carneades who argued that we can know almost nothing with certainty. Michel de Montaigne. Published by Doubleday About this Item: Doubleday, Seller Inventory SKU More information about this seller Contact this seller Published by Doubleday and Company Inc.

About this Item: Doubleday and Company Inc. Small tear on 2nd inside page. Shelf wear. Seller Inventory xpp. Hard Cover. Spine lightly stained, portion of front board rubbed through on fore edge, owner bookplate on front endpaper. Essays selected and illustrated in color by Salvador Dali. Translated from the original French by Charles Cotton. Published by Doubleday and Co. About this Item: Doubleday and Co. First Edition. Couverture rigide.

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In-8 15 x 22 cm. Bon exemplaire. Texte en anglais. Grey boards with green spine. Gilt on front is faded. Previous owner's name inside front cover.


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