People have a tendency to pass judgment based on societal norms or preconceived notions rather than assuming an objective perspective to critique a culture. While Montaigne rejects any set of principles that dictate how one should think, Descartes adopts a method in how to think objectively. Both their ideologies involve a cultivation of one's own mind versus how externally imposed notions influence our thoughts. However, Montaigne relies heavily on internal reflection and experience; conversely, Descartes embraces a doctrine of observation and examination. Montaigne and Descartes strive to avoid popular opinion and place confidence in human reason to do so.
Montaigne and Descartes's Approaches on How to Live
“We must know ourselves before we can become ourselves.” This statement featured in Montaigne's “Introduction” echoes an over-arching theme prevalent in his works, such as the knowledge of how to live a happy life. Montaigne states, “…the art of happiness is the very purpose of life.” The human discovery of happiness is derived from contemplation of both internal and external influences. External influences might involve church tradition or societal norms. Internal influences involve introspection of one's response to surrounding influences. Man cannot truly appreciate and live in accordance to church doctrine or customs of the day if they do not understand why they are living that way. Montaigne's skepticism parallels reliance on human reason and encourages people not to reject their beliefs, but to contemplate them. Oftentimes, people discard their beliefs without regard to why they are doing so.
[...] Committing countless facts to memory is ineffective if one does not have the wisdom to exercise knowledge. His sole aim is not only to increase knowledge, but happiness; therefore, virtue and morality surmount knowledge for the sake of knowledge. His progressive and innovative method on educating children reiterates his creed that knowledge of how to live leads to a happy life. In Montaigne's essay Cannibals” he states, we should be aware of clinging to vulgar opinions, and judge things by reason's way, not by popular say.” Montaigne's proposal of instilling honor and virtue at a young age with an emphasis on how to think rather than what to think provides the foundation for children to contemplate all matters relating to what it is to be human. [...]
[...] Montaigne and Descartes's ideologies both involve introspection. However, it is important to distinguish the differences between Montaigne and Descartes's philosophy of the pursuit of happiness. Montaigne relies heavily on personal experience and internal reflection whereas Descartes follows a set of principles he has developed. Ultimately, Descartes jettisoned preconceived notions of what is acceptable to think and believe. However, he does use personal experience and internal reflection to develop his principle. Nevertheless, there is more analytical freedom of thought to Montaigne's approach. [...]
[...] My Own Insight It is impossible for humans to be wholly objective. In a society where people are vulnerable to multimedia influences, it is important to contemplate for yourself what standards you will choose to live by. Descartes and Montaigne present two different ways of thinking, but ultimately seek the same end—happiness. Their reoccurring theme of constantly questioning societal norms (skepticism) on the basis of education provides the tools for people to decide for themselves what it is good for them. [...]
[...] Nowadays credibility and truth are born from facts and evidence. The facts and evidence we use to develop credibility and truth are sometimes accurate and sometimes inaccurate. People are susceptible to the influences of magazines, billboard advertisements, commercials, campaigns, fashion, films, and news stations; thus, we cannot be truly objective. Truth is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. If our perceptions are based on what we see, things are not always as they appear. Montaigne and Descartes offer differing approaches on how to live happily in accordance to our human nature. [...]
[...] Can Humans Be Wholly Objective? Introduction People have a tendency to pass judgment based on societal norms or preconceived notions rather than assuming an objective perspective to critique a culture. While Montaigne rejects any set of principles that dictate how one should think, Descartes adopts a method in how to think objectively. Both their ideologies involve a cultivation of one's own mind versus how externally imposed notions influence our thoughts. However, Montaigne relies heavily on internal reflection and experience; conversely, Descartes embraces a doctrine of observation and examination. [...]
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