Michel de Montaigne, Philosophy, Sociocultural Phenomena

Montaigne in praise of booze

«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»)

Sound advice for the young

«Young people should enjoy excess more often, just to keep up the practice. Otherwise the slightest lapse will throw them off balance, and they will become awkward and unsociable.» 

«A young person should violate the common rules of conduct once in a while, just to feel the own energy and keep from growing moldy and lax. There is nothing that makes life more dull and drudging than being micro-managed by rules and discipline.»

«I feel sorry for all those fine young, healthy people who lock themselves up at home following the stupid advice of their doctors. Isn’t it better to risk a minor cold now and then rather than give up the enjoyments of social life, going out and partying? How obnoxious of science to ruin our sweetest pleasures! We should rather boost our energies to the fullest. Standing up to challenges and holding our ground will make us tougher.»

«The Germans drink almost all wines with equal pleasure. Their aim is to swallow rather than to taste—and much to their benefit too: Their desires are fullfilled more abundantly and quicker.»

«The ancients spent whole nights at drinking exercises, and often added the days. We should equally extend and intensify our daily drinking habits. Like gofers and heavy workers, we shouldn’t miss any opportunity to drink, and we should never skip the desire.»

Montaigne likes to recur to antecedents from antiquity

«In his Laws, Plato finds drinking parties downright useful (provided there is a leader of the pack in charge of keeping control). To Plato, drunkenness is a relaxed and reliable test of a person’s nature. At the same time, it encourages older people to enjoy themselves with dance and music—things that do them good, but they usually don’t dare to do when sober. Plato adds that wine is capable of giving balance to the soul and health to the body.» (Book II, Chapter 2: «Of Drunkenness»)

«It is absolute perfection and virtually divine to know how to enjoy yourself properly. We turn to other ways of life because we do not understand the use of our own; we want to go beyond ourselves because we do not see how much we have inside of us. But no matter how high we climb, we must still walk on our own legs. And even on the highest throne in the world, we still just sit on our own ass.»


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