Michel De Montaigne Essays Summary

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He continued his education at the College of Guyenne, where he found the strict discipline abhorrent and the instruction only moderately interesting, and eventually at the University of Toulouse, where he studied law.

Following in the public-service tradition begun by his grandfather, he entered into the magistrature, becoming a member of the Board of Excise, the new tax court of Périgueux, and, when that body was dissolved in 1557, of the Parliament of Bordeaux, one of the eight regional parliaments that constituted the French Parliament, the highest national court of justice.

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After having been interrupted again, by a renewed outbreak of the plague in the area that forced Montaigne and his family to seek refuge elsewhere, by military activity close to his estate, and by diplomatic duties, when Catherine de Médicis appealed to his abilities as a negotiator to mediate between herself and Henry of Navarre—a mission that turned out to be unsuccessful—Montaigne was able to finish the work in 1587.

The year 1588 was marked by both political and literary events.

There, at the age of 24, he made the acquaintance of Étienne de la Boétie, a meeting that was one of the most significant events in Montaigne’s life.

Between the slightly older La Boétie (1530–63), an already distinguished civil servant, humanist scholar, and writer, and Montaigne an extraordinary friendship sprang up, based on a profound intellectual and emotional closeness and reciprocity.

To the cannibalistic natives who operate a society that is much more primitive than the Europeans and who are concerned with the mere rudimentary aspects of life, the European society is peculiar. This is assuming the belief that the Europeans are the norm.

The Europeans “consent to obey a boy” (p.240) and have extreme social injustice where “... By identifying the “self” and the “other”, he first sets the differences between the two and then blurs them to state that the universal human posses characteristics of both societies and that one is not necessarily more civilized than the other.


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