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But if Montaigne's were just another essay on this by now well-worn theme, it would have only an historical interest for most readers today.It does more, however, than set out Montaigne's views on this topic.The final section is the essay “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude,” a call to arms against tyranny that influences revolutionaries and philosophers for centuries.
It leads the reader through a dialectical experience in the course of which he entertains by turns several attitudes, each supplanting the earlier ones and leaving him at the end with an opinion precisely the reverse of that with which he started.
To use Montaigne's own playful formulation, the reader has learned by experience to judge by "la voie de la raison" rather than by "la voix commune" (the pun is admirably rendered in Donald Frame's translation by opposing "reason's way" to "vulgar say". " We must, moreover, ask this question at every stage of our developing experience of the essay.
“The Power of the Imagination” shows how superstitions can kill, self-consciousness can defeat, and a doctor’s reassurance can cure.
“The Education of Children” lists Montaigne’s surprisingly modern ideas for how kids should be taught.
In the process, we learn his prescription for how to help a young person grow into someone who will lead a worthwhile life.
“Friendship” explores the difference between ordinary companions and true friends.This edition of his book features eighteen of Montaigne’s 107 essays, along with a well-known and influential discourse by Montaigne’s dearest friend, Étienne de la Boétie.The essays were first published as three Books; those chosen for this edition are organized by Book.As ought to be clear to anyone who reads the rest of the Essais, its main subject, despite the title, is not cannibals, or even the paradise in the Andes described in the second part of the essay, but rather how we ought to judge other cultures - and ourselves.We are only too prone, Montaigne suggests, to form hasty judgments based more on ignorance and prejudice than on experience and careful examination, and to assume that our own society provides a standard of excellence and civilization by which all others may be judged.The second essay, “Idleness,” explores the problem of a wandering mind.The third, “Through Philosophy We Learn How to Die,” suggests a proper attitude toward death.Most of the essays discuss several topics, but each contains a central theme.In Book 1, the first essay, “By Differing Means We Attain the Same End,” describes two ways to win mercy after defeat in battle.He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography—and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written.Super Summary, a modern alternative to Spark Notes and Cliffs Notes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature.