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Michel De Montaigne 1533-1592


									Michel De Montaigne

         “To the Reader”
           “Of Cannibals”
Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions”
          “Of Repentance”
“To the Reader”
 “…written in good faith…”
 “I want to be seen here in my simple, natural,
  ordinary fashion, without straining or artifice; for
  it is myself that I protray.”
 “I myself am the matter of my book….”
“Of Cannibals” I: Utopian dreams
 Of King Phyrrus: the lesson of the Roman “barbarians”
   “Thus we should beware of clinging to vulgar opinions, and judge
     things by reason’s way, not by popular sway.” (1507)
 Of Brazil: the lesson we learn of underestimation
   “I am afraid we have eyes bigger than our stomachs, and more
     curiosity than capacity. We embrace everything, but we clasp only
     wind.” (1507)
 Of Plato’s Atlantis and Aristotle’s Carthaginians: the lesson we
  learn from myth and legend of ideal lands (1507-8)
   “…clever people observe more things and more curiously, but they
    interpret them…and they can’t help altering history a little.”
   “We need a man either very honest, or so simple that he has not the
    stuff to build up false inventions and give them plausibility; and
    wedded to no theory.”
“Of Cannibals” II: Barbarism Redefined
 “…each man calls barbarism what is not his practice; for
  indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason
  than the example and pattern of opinions and customs of the
  country we live in.” (1509)
 “Those people are wild…whereas really it is those that we
  have changed artificially and led astray from the common
  order, that we should call wild. The former retain alive and
  vigorous their genuine, there most useful and natural, virtues
  and properties, which we have debased in the latter in in
  adapting them to gratify our corrupted taste.” (1509)
“Of Cannibals III” Barbarism Rethought

 “All our efforts cannot even succeed in reproducing the nest
  of a little bird, its contexture, its beauty, and convenience; or
  even the web of a tiny spider.”
 “These nations, then, [including ancient Palestine (my insert)]
  seem to me more barbarous in this sense, that they have been
  fashioned very little by the human mind, and are still very
  close to their original naturalness. The laws of nature still
  rule them, very little corrupted by ours.”
“Of Cannibals IV: What Plato Missed
 “This is a nation, I should say to Plato, in which there is no
  sort of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no science of
  numbers, no name for a magistrate, or for political
  superiority, no custom of servitude, no riches or poverty, no
  contracts, no successions, no partitions, no occupations, but
  leisure ones, no care for any but common kinship, no clothes,
  no agriculture, no metal, no use of wine or wheat. The very
  words that signify lying, treachery, dissimulation, avarice,
  envy, belittling, pardon—unheard of. How far from this
  perfection would he find the republic he imagined: Men fresh
  sprung from the gods.” [Seneca] (1510)
Cannibal Utopia: Values
 Men:valor against the enemy; love for their wives
 Women: keep the men’s drink warm and seasoned
 All: their souls are immortal, and the gods will judge them at
  death for reward or punishment.
 Divination is a divine gift
   False prophets are cut into a thousand pieces, or drawn and
Cannibal War: Natural Evil?
 With nations far away.
 Soldiers fight naked, with bows and wooden swords.
 Victors return home with heads of the vanquished and set
  them up in their doorway.
 Prisoners are treated well, then quickly killed.
 Then they roast and eat him in a communal meal; pieces are
  sent to those absent.
   This is solely for revenge, not nutrition.
Ourselves: Any Less Barbarous?
 I am heartily sorry that, judging our faults rightly, we should
    be so blind to our own.” (1512)
   Worse to eat a man alive
   Worse to put him on the rack.
   Worse to kill with dogs and pigs (on the pretext of religion)
   Cannibalism was once ancient practice, and considered it
    rational and healthful.
   But “Their warfare is wholly noble and generous, and as
    excusable and beautiful as this disease can be; its only basis
    among them is rivalry in valor. They are not fighting for the
    conquest of new lands….” (1512)
Courage: Their Core Virtue
 “But there is not one in a whole century who does not choose
  to die rather than to relax a single bit, by word or look, from
  the grandeur of an invincible courage; not one who would
  not rather be killed and eaten than so much as ask not to be.”
 “The worth and value of a man is in his heart and his will;
  there lies his real honor. Valor is the strength, not of legs and
  arms, but of heart and soul; it consists not in the worth of
  our horse or our weapons, but in our own. He who falls
  obstinate in his courage, if he has fallen, he fights on his knees.”
  [Seneca] (1514)
“Our Ordinary Vices”
Are More Barbarous
 Treachery
 Disloyalty
 Tyranny
 Cruelty

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