Research What Are You Reading...On Michel de Montaigne

What Are You Reading…On Michel de Montaigne

During this week in 1533, Michel de Montaigne was born in Guyenne, France. One of the great Renaissance thinkers of his day, Montaigne’s work inspired many canonical philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche. He also contributed to the fields of politics, literature, education, and psychology through his various writings and activities (as diplomat and statesman, among other things).

Although some of Montaigne’s claims have been surpassed, disproved, or rendered irrelevant, a quick search through any scholastic database shows that thinkers throughout the humanities still find it useful to reflect on what he said. His thoughts on what it means to be human, how children learn, and the relationship individuals have to their surroundings regularly influence our daily actions. In honor of Montaigne’s 484th birthday, I present some of the most interesting work that’s been done on him in the last couple of years.


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  1. Good old Montaigne. Here is the statue of Michel de Montaigne by Paul Landowski (1896-1961), which stands in Square Paul Painlevé across the street from the main entrance to the Sorbonne on Rue des Écoles, was executed in 1933. As Montaigne said: “To lament that we shall not be alive a hundred years hence, is the same folly as to be sorry we were not alive a hundred years ago.” In one of his 107 essays, titled “That to Study Philosophy is to Learn to Die,” Montaigne turns to mortality — the subject of one of the best psychology and philosophy books — and points to the understanding of death as a prerequisite for the understanding of life, for the very art of living. (Thoughts of M. A.)


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