Michel de Montaigne was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. This 16th century philosopher was much different from his predecessors and his successors as he proposed no theories, put no trust in reason, and showed no desire to convince readers of anything. This is exactly the reason his ideas can help all those who don’t believe in the heaviness of life but still sailing through the troubles it throws.
We have compiled some of the finest lines by Montaigne which will give you a fresh perspective on life and a sober way to approach various problems:
Why learn anything which serves no practical purpose?
“What is the use of those high philosophical peaks on which no human being can settle and those rules which exceed our practice and our power.”
Reason has its upsides. What about its downsides?
“Dare we conclude that the benefit of reason was placed in us for our torment? What use is knowledge if, for its sake, we lose the calm and repose which we should enjoy without it?”
Don’t be too quick to judge.
“Every man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to; we have no other criterion of truth or right-reason than the example and form of the opinions and customs of our own country.”
Your loved ones will take you for granted. Let them.
“A man may appear to the world as a marvel: yet his wife and his manservant see nothing remarkable about him. Few men have been wonders to their families.”
Don’t worry about looks. They vary with culture.
“In Peru, big ears are beautiful… There are whole nations which carefully blacken their teeth and loathe seeing white ones. Elsewhere they dye them red… The women of Mexico count low foreheads as a sign of beauty. They hold large breasts in such high esteem that they affect giving suck to their children over their shoulders.”
Don’t worry about looks. Especially if it affects your well being.
“[This] lady shares the opinion that chewing distorts the face, derogating greatly from women’s grace and beauty; so when hungry, she avoids appearing in public. And I know a man who cannot tolerate watching people eat nor watching others him do so; he shuns all company even more when he fills his belly than when he empties it.”
Accept yourself. And start with your body.
“Every one of my members, each as much as another, makes me myself; and none makes me more properly a man than that one [penis].”
And REALLY accept it.
“My bowels and I never fail to keep our rendezvous which is when I jump out of bed.”
Sex is no big deal. And don’t make it so.
“The genital activities of mankind are so natural, so necessary and so right: what have they done to make us never dare to mention them without embarrassment and to exclude them from serious orderly conversations? We are not afraid to utter the words kill, thieve, or betray; but those others we only dare to mutter through our teeth.”
Learning should be a form of joy, not pain.
“I am not prepared to bash my brains for anything, not even for learning’s sake. If one book wearies me, I take up another.”
Mistakes are perfectly Okay! Accept and move on.
“What do I know? I am full of errors.”