Michel de Montaigne: the man that was way ahead of his time

Michel de Montaigne

Examining Society’s Divides Through the Eyes of Michel de Montaigne

Feb 20, 2023

It is worth considering what a contemporary philosopher such as Michel de Montaigne might have thought about today’s divided society, particularly in the wake of the recent presidential election in the United States. Michel de Montaigne was known for his sceptical outlook and belief in tolerance and moderation. He would likely have been deeply concerned by the extreme polarization that characterizes modern politics, with individuals and communities entrenched in their beliefs and unwilling to engage with opposing viewpoints.

In light of this, Michel de Montaigne might have argued that we must strive to bridge the divide, listen to one another and engage in meaningful dialogue. He might have pointed to the importance of critical thinking, of questioning our assumptions and of seeking to understand the perspectives of others. In doing so, we might begin to find common ground and work towards a more harmonious society.

Reflecting on the Wisdom of Michel de Montaigne in Today’s World of Politics and Progress

Michel de Montaigne would likely have been disheartened by the current state of politics, in which a bitter, tribalistic struggle for power has replaced the exchange of ideas. Yet, he would also have recognized that this situation is not unique to our time and is a manifestation of a deep-seated human tendency towards conflict and division. In this sense, the challenge of overcoming our differences is as old as humanity itself, and it is one that we must continue to strive to meet.

At the same time, Michel de Montaigne would likely have been cautious about embracing the ideal of progress too readily. He knew that progress often came at a cost and that unintended consequences often accompanied it. In this sense, he might have warned against the dangers of blind faith in progress and of a desire to blindly embrace every new development without considering its potential drawbacks.

As such, Michel de Montaigne would likely have encouraged us to approach progress cautiously, examine its benefits and drawbacks, and chart a course that maximizes the former and minimizes the latter. In this way, we can ensure that our collective advancements enhance the human experience rather than undermine it.


References

These works provide in-depth insights into Michel de Montaigne’s philosophy, including his beliefs on scepticism, tolerance, moderation, and critical thinking. They also offer an overview of his life and his impact on modern thought.

  1. The Complete Essays by Michel de Montaigne: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Essays-Michel-Montaigne/dp/0140446044
  2. The Portable Montaigne edited by Donald Frame: https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Montaigne-Penguin-Classics/dp/014015023X
  3. Michel de Montaigne: Accidental Philosopher by Pierre force: https://www.amazon.com/Michel-Montaigne-Accidental-Philosopher-Force/dp/0520244856
  4. The Essays: A Selection edited by M.A. Screech: https://www.amazon.com/Essays-Selection-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140446028
  5. How to Live, or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell: https://www.amazon.com/How-Live-Life-Montaigne-Question/dp/1590514831

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