It is a style that is completely internal, malleable and self-justifying. And because there is no imposed structure, the essays are less argumentative than exploratory, speculative while also avoiding relativism, committed but not systematic, and often severed at the moment Montaigne senses he is approaching a conclusion. As readers, we are guided along the contours of the mind in motion, with the writer thinking and discovering as he writes. Here, style is epistemic, style is judgment, and it reflects the process of induction.
Thus, a particular mode of argument it is not simply a demonstration of the how the writer thinks, but the arrival of knowledge itself.
The sensation one feels in reading is like that of falling through a consciousness, unprepared and desperate to make sense of itself and the world, a process hideously and perpetually internal that is at once denigrating and self-flattering. The rhythms of thought are not only depicted, they are captured. The register in this case is not only the recorded thought, but the moment of the thought itself, its pitch and delivery.
Thoughts move forwards as well as backwards, or back in on themselves, or spiral away before being retrieved several pages later. Montaigne catalogues his thoughts at the very moment at which they occur in attempt to clarify them——before he can distrust them, before he can become ashamed of himself——just as Hamlet uses the artifice of the play to produce a renewed moment in which to hold a sense of resolve muddled by prolonged contemplation.
Montaigne is a writer we can be sure Shakespeare had read and knew well.
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The essays contain a great deal of philosophy, but are not themselves a work of philosophy. Instead, we find in the essays a vocation liberated of the need to be right all the time. Simon de Beauvoir said that all philosophies had to be arrogant by virtue, because they sought to lay claim to something excessive: total possession of truth. Dogma and intellectual rigidity are eschewed at every turn. And it is towards this conceitedness that many of the essays are counterposed. Across nearly every subject, Montaigne demonstrates a pathological agnosticism.
His sense of doubt is pregnant and unceasing, both of himself and others——critical, but rarely affirming or denying anything outright.
Key Passages From the Writings of Master Stylists
Yet, in spite of his legacy to skepticism there is in the essays a clear and utter want of solipsism. The life of the skeptic is readily synonymous with that of the iconoclast.
Yet occasionally the primacy of the former temperament has a tendency to get in the way of the dedication required for latter. Montaigne, for all his agnosticism, was averse to the trending political and religious rebellions of his time. He opposed The Reformation on the grounds that it had thrown Europe into what would become a protracted and cyclical civil war. His inherent distrust of individual opinion also meant that the revisions of one person could never justify the renovation of an entire institution, nor were they fit alone to establish a new one——believing instead that extant authority was best fit to regulate itself.
But to accuse our author of contradiction is a truism. Organized religion, however, receives a much different treatment. He could not make a mite, and he makes gods by the dozen. At a time when atheism was intellectually unattainable and any public display of irreligion meant persecution or death, it is tempting mostly for the satisfaction of those of us in the club to want to assume more about levels of unbelief in those who were obvious suspects.
We can be confident enough though in saying that he was in all likelihood a Deist, or at the very least, a member of a new Christianity bastardized by Pagan thought. But Faith is a different matter. That reason could be used as a defense in the name of faith——doubt as a qualifier for credulity——is to us an anachronism of the mind. The question of whether or not this is reconcilable is the subject of the Apology.
In the end we are presented with a case for doubt as act of humility in the face of a higher intelligence——that is, the intelligence of the Creator, which, Montaigne maintains, is not accessible through reason or everyday experience.
To be certain of anything else is extreme arrogance. To doubt oneself is necessary; to doubt God is folly. Thus, it is equally a statement of terminal credulity. It is also the most flippant. To write about vanity, says Montaigne, is the greatest vanity of all——a product of the needless proliferation of opinions and commentaries, which is a mark of decadence routinely mistaken for enlightenment. One only needs to spend an hour with social media or the twenty-four hour news cycle to feel the truth of this.
Essays : thought and style (Book, ) [saediritorchru.gq]
It is considerably longer than most pieces, and the author begins by announcing the foolishness of his enterprise:. Here you have, a little more decently, some excrements of an aged mind, now hard, now loose, and always undigested. And when shall I make an end of describing the continual agitation and changes of my thoughts, whatever subject they light on, since Diomedes filled six thousand books with the sole subject of grammar?
We know we have thoughts, but are we aware that we have styles of thought? This book, written by one of the most gifted and celebrated social thinkers of our time, is a contribution to understanding the rules of the different styles of thinking. Author Mary Douglas takes us through a range of thought styles from the vulgar to the refined. Throughout this fascinating journey, Thought Styles shows us how the different styles work and how outsiders can learn the styles of insiders.
The discussion ranges from the style of folklore to the styles of therapy, shopping, religion, and animal rights. The result is a book full of insight. Readers will find themselves thinking in new ways about the mechanics of communication in everyday life. Professionals and researchers in sociology, communication, and anthropology will especially appreciate this auspicious new book. Aesthetic Taste in Aesthetics. Animal Ethics, Misc in Applied Ethics. Edit this record.
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Google Books no proxy Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy. Configure custom resolver. Maja Horst - - Science and Engineering Ethics 17 4 Staffan Selander - - Studies in Philosophy and Education 27 4 Teaching as Therapy. Catherine Scott - - Educational Philosophy and Theory 40 4 Styles of Rationality. John Wettersten - - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 25 1 How to Study: A Brief Guide.