Montaigne And The World Of The French Renaissance

1757 WordsApr 13, 20178 Pages
History is primarily a study of people. How they lived, why they lived that way, and what impact their lives had. Montaigne is one of those characters in history that has a reach far beyond his life and the study of it by historians. Montaigne’s Essays, a completely new literary form, are an insight not only to the man but also to the world of the French Renaissance. In discussing a variety of topics from education and women to cannibalism and the human nature, Montaigne marks himself as both modern and pre-modern, influenced heavily by the Age of Reconnaissance and the Wars of Religion. Montaigne was a man ahead of his time and a read can gain much from his Essays, lessons vital to today despite that he wrote 400 years ago.…show more content…
Not only should a student not simply memorize, but he should also question what his tutor teaches him. As Montaigne suggests, “The tutor should make his pupil sift everything, and take nothing into his head on simple authority or trust” (Montaigne, p. 56). This idea was not new to Montaigne, as Socrates first said question everything. What Montaigne is describing is critical thinking, which is an important aspect of modern educational skills that students are supposed to learn. Only once the student learned how to learn should he receive education in the fields of logic, physics, geometry, and rhetoric; Montaigne saw these as fundamental for future learning of any other subjects (Montaigne, p. 66). The Greeks taught these subjects long before Montaigne, but his use of them shows him as well read. Not only does Montaigne give instructions on how to educate children, he also says what should not be a part of their education. The most abhorrent practice in contemporary education, for Montaigne, was the physical punishment of students. Montaigne laments, “Instead of being invited to study, children are now confronted with terror and cruelty. Away with violence and compulsion! There is nothing, in my opinion, that is so debasing and stupefying to a noble nature.” (Montaigne, p. 72). Being against physical punishment puts him ahead of his time and shows Montaigne’s character as a gentle soul, compassionate for his fellow human being. As

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