Essays By Montaigne Summary

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Montaigne echoes the wisdom traditions of the world’s religions and philosophies: death is part of life, inextricable from each moment.

In the face of death every day, what higher good is there than friendship?

Since Montaigne sets out to encourage man in the careful study of himself in order to understand life and the world around him, much of this essay on experience relys on the writer's own life events.

He uses these personal vignettes, or anecdotes, to illustrate larger truths about man and his behaviors, his strengths and his weaknesses.

On physicians: to be a "right" physician, one must have experienced every illness, accident or mishap one seeks to treat.

On going to stool: to have a right bowel movement, one must have peace, quiet, punctuality and privacy to avoid unruliness of the belly.We still want to think of life in terms of knowable systems, within which an individual life, and even the life of our species, is a random manifestation of measurable forces. We came about randomly; we will pass on randomly (and the world will be better off for it). Where do we find friends amid all our “connections”? Is female friendship different from male friendship? For Montaigne, friendship is a spiritual practice rooted in divulgence and sharing. As you read these selections, here are some more questions to think on: What is the nature of the universe, of God? Spend a week or so following Montaigne’s advice to think about death. Is it possible to become so comfortable with your own death that you become less afraid of it?Our current discourse on consciousness and evolution tends toward the impersonal. For the modern medical reader, this essay reminds us of the status of medicine as "profession" in the late 16th century and relates a patient experience with kidney (or? He helps us to appreciate that it is possible to "live through" and emerge even healthier from certain pathologic events without professional intervention.Michel de Montaigne is regarded as the father of the essay.“Friendship,” he says, “is enjoyed...proportionally as it is desired; and only grows up, is nourished and improved by enjoyment, as being itself spiritual, and the soul growing still more refined by practice.” Friendship is transcendent: of family relationships, social duties, and customs.Loyalty to one’s friend should cause one to defy all norms, says Montaigne.Montaigne subscribes to a radically different definition of “essay,” one especially suited for writing.The French word essayer means “to try, to attempt, to test.” An essay, in Montaigne’s conception, is a trial, a test-drive of an idea, a throwing of noodles against the wall.


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