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Wikipedia Summary for Michel de Montaigne

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne ( mon-TAYN; French: [miʃɛl ekɛm də mɔ̃tɛɲ]; 28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592), also known as Lord of Montaigne, was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight. His massive volume Essais contains some of the most influential essays ever written.

Montaigne had a direct influence on Western writers including Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Montesquieu, Edmund Burke, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Edward Gibbon, Virginia Woolf, Albert Hirschman, William Hazlitt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Henry Newman, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Alexander Pushkin, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Stefan Zweig, Eric Hoffer, Isaac Asimov, Fulton Sheen and possibly, on the later works of William Shakespeare.

During his lifetime, Montaigne was admired more as a statesman than as an author. The tendency in his essays to digress into anecdotes and personal ruminations was seen as detrimental to proper style rather than as an innovation, and his declaration that, "I am myself the matter of my book", was viewed by his contemporaries as self-indulgent. In time, however, Montaigne came to be recognized as embodying, perhaps better than any other author of his time, the spirit of freely entertaining doubt that began to emerge at that time. He is most famously known for his skeptical remark, "Que sçay-je?" ("What do I know?", in Middle French; now rendered as Que sais-je? in modern French).

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Lying is a terrible vice, it testifies that one despises God, but fears men.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Venus is not so beautiful all naked, alive, and panting, as she is here in Virgil.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is a rare life that remains orderly even in private.

--Michel de Montaigne
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A good marriage needs a blind wife and a deaf husband.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Decency, not to dare to do that in public which it is decent enough to do in private.

--Michel de Montaigne
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I speak to the paper, as I speak to the first person I meet.

--Michel de Montaigne
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There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mould.

--Michel de Montaigne
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No passion disturbs the soundness of our judgement as anger does.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The sage says that all that is under heaven incurs the same law and the same fate.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The finest thing in the world is knowing how to belong to oneself.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Wickedness sucks in the greater part of its own venom and poisons itself therewith.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Whether you find satisfaction in life depends not on your tale of years, but on your will.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The most terrible and violent of our own afflictions is to despise our own beings.

--Michel de Montaigne
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An honest man is not accountable for the vice and folly of his trade, and therefore ought not to refuse the exercise of it.

--Michel de Montaigne
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We must reserve a little back-shop, all our own, entirely free, wherein to establish our true liberty and principal retreat and solitude.

--Michel de Montaigne
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A man must not always tell all, for that were folly; but what a man says should be what he thinks.

--Michel de Montaigne
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All general judgments are loose and imperfect.

--Michel de Montaigne
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He who is not very strong in memory should not meddle with lying.

--Michel de Montaigne
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To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it.

--Michel de Montaigne
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To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind to 't.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Habit is a second nature.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Between ourselves, there are two things that I have always observed to be in singular accord: supercelestial thoughts and subterranean conduct.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Even opinion is of force enough to make itself to be espoused at the expense of life.

--Michel de Montaigne
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We cannot be held to promises beyond our power or our means. That is why -- since nothing is really in our power but our will -- it is on the will that all the rules and duties of Man are based and established.

--Michel de Montaigne
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All is a-swarm with commentaries: of authors there is a dearth.

--Michel de Montaigne
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A man may by custom fortify himself against pain, shame, and suchlike accidents; but as to death, we can experience it but once, and are all apprentices when we come to it.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Whatever can be done another day can be done today.

--Michel de Montaigne
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He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak.

--Michel de Montaigne
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I am not so shocked by savages who roast and eat the bodies of their dead as by those who torture and persecute the living.

--Michel de Montaigne
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A lady could not boast of her chastity who was never tempted.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is a small soul, buried beneath the weight of affairs, that does not know how to get clean away from them, that cannot put them aside and pick them up again.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Stupidity and wisdom meet in the same centre of sentiment and resolution, in the suffering of human accidents.

--Michel de Montaigne
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I neither complain of the past, nor do I fear the future.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The customs and practices of life in society sweep us along.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Our truth of nowadays is not what is, but what others can be convinced of; just as we call money not only that which is legal, but also any counterfeit that will pass.

--Michel de Montaigne
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I may indeed very well happen to contradict myself; but truth, as Demades said, I do not contradict.

--Michel de Montaigne
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We must learn to endure what we cannot avoid. Our life is composed, like the harmony of the world, of contrary things, also of different tones, sweet and harsh, sharp and flat, soft and loud. If a musician liked only one kind, what would he have to say?

--Michel de Montaigne
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What am I to choose? Choose what you please, as long as you choose. There you have a foolish answer, which seems to be the outcome, however, of all Dogmatism, which will not allow us to be ignorant of that which we are ignorant.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is not a mind, it is not a body that we educate, but it is a man, and we must not make two parts of him.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Tis no wonder, says one of the ancients, that chance has so great a dominion over us, since it is by chance we live.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The art of dining well is no slight art, the pleasure not a slight pleasure; neither the greatest captains nor the greatest philosophers have disdained the use or science of eating well.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Shame on all eloquence which leaves us with a taste for itself and not for its substance.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Make use of life while you have it. Whether you have lived enough depends upon yourself, not on the number of your years.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Nature has made us a present of a broad capacity for entertaining ourselves apart, and often calls us to do so, to teach us that we owe ourselves in part to society, but in the best part to ourselves.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Is it not a noble farce, wherein kings, republics, and emperors have for so many ages played their parts, and to which the whole vast universe serves for a theatre?

--Michel de Montaigne
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The finest lives in my opinion are the common model, without miracle and without extravagance.

--Michel de Montaigne
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He that had never seen a river imagined the first he met to be the sea; and the greatest things that have fallen within our knowledge we conclude the extremes that nature makes of the kind.

--Michel de Montaigne

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Tortures are a dangerous invention, and seem to be a test of endurance rather than of truth.

--Michel de Montaigne
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You have your face bare; I am all face.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Who is only good that others may know it, and that he may be the better esteemed when 'tis known, who will do well but upon condition that his virtue may be known to men, is one from whom much service is not to be expected.

--Michel de Montaigne
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As far as fidelity is concerned, there is no animal in the world as treacherous as man.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Oh senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm or a flea and yet will create Gods by the dozen!

--Michel de Montaigne
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But the touch or company of any man whatsoever stirreth up their heat, which in their solitude was hushed and quiet, and lay as cinders raked up in ashes.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Glory and repose are things that cannot possibly inhabit in one and the same place.

--Michel de Montaigne
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A man should think less of what he eats and more with whom he eats because no food is so satisfying as good company.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Courtesy is a science of the highest importance. It is...opening a door that we may derive instruction from the example of others, and at the same time enabling us to benefit them by our example, if there be anything in our character worthy of imitation.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is an absolute perfection... to get the very most out of one's individuality.

--Michel de Montaigne



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Time steals away without any inconvenience.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Persons of mean understandings, not so inquisitive, nor so well instructed, are made good Christians, and by reverence and obedience, implicity believe, and abide by their belief.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Is there a polity better ordered, the offices better distributed, and more inviolably observed and maintained, than that of bees?

--Michel de Montaigne
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Excellent memories are often coupled with feeble judgments.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Dreams are faithful interpreters of our inclinations; but there is art required to sort and understand them.

--Michel de Montaigne
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If you have known how to compose your life, you have done a great deal more than the person who knows how to compose a book. You have done more than the one who has taken cities and empires.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Among the liberal arts, let us begin with the art that liberates us.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is easier to sacrifice great than little things.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It would be better to have no laws at all, than to have too many.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is for little souls, that truckle under the weight of affairs, not to know how clearly to disengage themselves, and not to know how to lay them aside and take them up again.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Wisdom has its excesses, and has no less need of moderation than folly.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The great and glorious masterpiece of humanity is to know how to live with a purpose.

--Michel de Montaigne
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I enjoy books as misers enjoy treasures, because I know I can enjoy them whenever I please.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Obstinacy and contention are common qualities, most appearing in, and best becoming, a mean and illiterate soul.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Tis the taste of effeminacy that disrelishes ordinary and accustomed things.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The worth of the mind consisteth not in going high, but in marching orderly.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Man is the sole animal whose nudities offend his own companions, and the only one who, in his natural actions, withdraws and hides himself from his own kind.

--Michel de Montaigne
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People of our time are so formed for agitation and ostentation that goodness, moderation, equability, constancy, and such quiet and obscure qualities are no longer felt.

--Michel de Montaigne

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For table-talk, I prefer the pleasant and witty before the learned and the grave; in bed, beauty before goodness.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The most regular and most perfect soul in the world has but too much to do to keep itself upright from being overthrown by its own weakness.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is equally pointless to weep because we won't be alive a hundred years from now as that we were not here a hundred years ago.

--Michel de Montaigne
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That is why Bias jested with those who were going through the perils of a great storm with him and calling on the gods for help: Shut up, he said, so that they do not realize that you are here with me.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Whoever will imagine a perpetual confession of ignorance, a judgment without leaning or inclination, on any occasion whatever, hasa conception of Pyrrhonism.

--Michel de Montaigne

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The bitterness of the potion, and the abhorrence of the patient are necessary circumstances to the operation. It must be something to trouble and disturb the stomach that must purge and cure it.

--Michel de Montaigne
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The plague of man is boasting of his knowledge.

--Michel de Montaigne
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An honest man is not accountable for the vice and folly of his trade, and therefore ought not to refuse the exercise of it. It is the custom of his country, and there is profit in it. We must live by the world, and such as we find it, so make use of it.

--Michel de Montaigne
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It is in the enjoyment and not in mere possession that makes for happiness.

--Michel de Montaigne
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How many quarrels, and how important, has the doubt as to the meaning of this syllable Hoc produced for the world!

--Michel de Montaigne
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The premeditation of death is the premeditation of liberty; he who has learnt to die has forgot to serve.

--Michel de Montaigne
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We must reserve a back shop all our own entirely free, in which to establish our real liberty and our principal retreat and solitude.

--Michel de Montaigne
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Repentance is but a denying of our will, and an opposition of our fantasies.

--Michel de Montaigne

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Plenty and indigence depend upon the opinion every one has of them; and riches, like glory of health, have no more beauty or pleasure than their possessor is pleaded to lend them.

--Michel de Montaigne

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In my youth I studied for ostentation; later, a little to gain wisdom; now, for recreation; never for gain.

--Michel de Montaigne

We wish you a perfect day!