Michel de Montaigne: «On the Vanity of Words»
Fake news is nothing new, nor is the susceptibility of our societies to being manipulated by words written or spoken. Complaints about misinformation have existed for as long as written documents have. Not least in view of the grotesque socio-political phenomena we increasingly witness, the question of right or wrong, truth or not is highly topical again today: Why on earth do people vote for a political party that is constitutionally classified right-wing extremist, as is the case in Germany with the AfD party? Is it despite or precisely because of this fact? How can it be that Donald Trump doesn’t even bother to conceal his numerous indictments, but rather triumphantly flaunts them, posing like a martyr—and still constantly gains sympathy and supporters?
→ “Fake News”
«The greatest benefit to be had from good health is sensual pleasure. So we should always seize the first pleasure available and accessible to us.» … «I have never experienced any harm from something that gives me pleasure. That is why I have decided to more or less ignore all medical advice that goes against my pleasure.» … (Book III, Chapter 13: «Of Experience»)
→ “Montaigne in praise of booze”
«Millers, blacksmiths, armorers: None of them would survive the roaring noise in their ears if it cut them through marrow and bone as it does us others. My perfumed collar may serve my nose well, but after having worn it for three days in a row, only those around me will notice it. I myself live in a tower with a mighty bell that tolls the Hail Mary several times a day. The clangor shakes even my tower. I found it unbearable at first, but soon I became used to it, and it no longer bothers me today; it doesn’t even wake me up any more.» (Montaigne, Chapter XXIII «On Habit»)
→ “Montaigne, on the power of habit”
The humanist Michel de Montaigne must have closely studied the conquest of America and turned to many contemporary sources in order to arrive at his decidedly anti-imperialist judgment, excerpts of which you will read here. Given his profound and radical criticism of the conquistadores, I suppose he was rather isolated with his views in the political landscape of his time. Even some one hundred years after publication, the Vatican found good reason to put his writings on the index at the end of the 17th century. At any rate, the lucidness of Montaigne’s analysis is amazing.
→ “Montaigne on the Conquista. Considerations of an Early Anti-Imperialist”
“Another example for the similarity between humans and animals is the fox the Thracians used when they wanted to cross a frozen river:
→ “Montaigne on “the audacious arrogance of today`s human race towards animals” – Part II”
«It ultimately comes down to this: anything not like us is useless. Thus, God himself has to be human-like in order to be deemed useful. It is quite evidently not by rational consideration, but out of unreasonable, brain-numbing pride that we consider ourselves to rank higher than other living beings and that we separate ourselves from their way of existence and withdraw from their society.» (Michel de Montaigne)
→ “Montaigne on “the audacious arrogance of today`s human race towards animals” – Part I”
«Mon métier et mon art, c’est vivre.»
The French nobleman Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was born on the family estate Château de Montaigne, some 60 kilometers northeast of Bordeaux in the Périgord region. He spent most of his life there and also wrote his so-called Essais in the tower of his castle, which he had converted into a studiolo to work in undisturbed.
→ “Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) – The Inventor of the Essay”