Thursday, November 5, 2015
Michel de Montaigne was a French statesman and writer who lived from 1533 to 1592, around what is considered to be the tail end of the French Renaissance. He wrote a collection of 107 essays on a variety of topics such as philosophy, politics, history, education, and social and cultural differences. He is generally credited with the invention of the essay as we know it today and is considered one of the best historical examples of humanist philosophy. Montaigne extensively studied the idea of identity, especially his own, which he found to be constantly changing. As such, he encouraged people to preserve their personally identity and freedom, but also to interact with and be open to the ideas of the world around them. He scorned the loftiness of the intellectuals of his time and always wrote with humility, stressing that his readers should think about his ideas and draw their own conclusions. Montaigne is best known for his essay ‘On Cannibals’ in which he defends the rights of native peoples to practice their culture without judgement or interference from western society.