Montaigne sIn existographies, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) (IQ:180|#136) (Cattell 1000:171) [RGM:222|1,500+] (Gottlieb 1000:432) (HD:2) (FA:29) (GPhE:#) (CR:73) was a French philosopher, atomic theory based realism writer, statesman, and magistrate (judge) noted for his three-volume 1580 Essays, among other works, wherein he attempt to explore thoughts of the day on existence and learning, much of which themed the 55BC On the Nature of Things, particularly those views of Epicurus, cautioned with the more conserved views of Lucretius, followed by those of Cicero, thirdly; many of the essays centered around Montaigne’s two favorite topics: sex and death. [1]

Montaigne came from a Spanish-Jewish family (see: Jewish atheism), that had forcibly converted to Catholicism, and had to flee France to escape the Spanish Inquisition. His brother and sister, eventually, converted to Protestantism. In the wars between the French Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots, Montaigne attempted to act as a peacemaker. At one point, he was jailed briefly by the Protestant, at another by the Catholics. Montaigne urged King Henry IV to issue the Edict of Nantes, which gave each sect the right to worship. Scholars have tended to classify Montaigne somewhere between a skeptical believer and a secret atheist. [5]

Montaigne (HD:2), of note, is the first person cited in James Haught’s “Part Two: the Renaissance”, preceded by Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) (HD:1), a dark age gap of about of 461-years, his 2000 Years of Disbelief (1996)

Sebond | Apology for
In 1569, Montaigne published his translated Raymond Sebond’s Book of Natural Creation: Natural Theology (1436) from Latin into French; the gist of which Montaigne abstracted as follows: [6]

“Sebond’s drift is bold, and his scope adventurous, for he undertaketh by humane and natural reasons, to establish and verify all the articles of Christian religion against atheists.”

The reason, supposedly, for doing this translation is as follows: (Ѻ)

“One of the primary motivations for writing this treatise was the Protestant Reformation. Montaigne believed that the movement inspired by Martin Luther would cause widespread atheism because the vulgar multitude does not have the capacity to independently judge things. Montaigne believes that if some religious beliefs are proven to be mistaken, then the multitude will renounce all their previously held religious beliefs without consideration.”

In 1580, Montaigne, in his “Apology for Raymond Sebond”, a follow-up to the above, gave the following short history of soul theory:

Crates and Dicaearchus were of opinion that there was no soul at all, but that the body thus stirs by a natural motion; Plato, that it was a substance moving of itself; Thales, a nature without repose; Asclepiades, an exercising of the senses; Hesiod and Anaximander, a thing composed of earth and water; Parmenides, of earth and fire; Empedocles, of blood, e.g. "He vomits up his bloody soul" (Sanguineam vomit ille animam). Posidonius, Cleanthes, and Galen that it was heat or a hot complexion: “their vigor of fire and of heavenly race” (Ignens est ollis vigor, et coelestis origo). Hippocrates, a spirit diffused all over the body; Varro, that it was an air received at the mouth, heated in the lungs, moistened in the heart, and diffused throughout the whole body; Zeno, the quintessence of the four elements ["I know not," says Mr. Coste, ''where Montaigne had this; for Cicero expressly says that this quintessence, or fifth nature is a thought of Aristotle, who makes the soul to be composed of it; and that Zeno thought the soul to be fire.'' (Cicero, Tusc. Quaes, i.9). After this, Cicero adds, "that Aristotle calls the mind, which he derives from that fifth nature entelechia [entelechy], a new-coined word, signifying a perpetual motion." Though Montaigne has copied these last words, in what he proceeds to tell us of Aristotle, he censures him for not having spoken of the origin and nature of the soul. But had he only cast his eye upon what Cicero had said a little before, he would have been convinced that Aristotle had taken care to explain himself concerning the origin of the soul, before he remarked the effect of it If he has not thereby fully demonstrated what the nature of it is, Zeno has not given us much better light into it when he says, "the soul or mind seems to be fire''; and it would not be difficult to show that in this article the other philosophers have not succeeded better than Zeno and Aristotle] ; Heraclides Ponticus, that it was the light; Zenocrates and the Egyptians, a mobile number; the Chaldeans, a virtue without any determinate form: “A certain vital habit in man's frame, which harmony the Grecian sages name” (Habitum quemdam vitalem corporis ease, Harmonium Grseci quam dicunt.) Let us not forget Aristotle, who held the soul to be that which naturally causes the body to move, which he calls entelechia [entelechy], with as cold an invention as any of the rest; for he neither speaks of the essence, nor of the original, nor of the nature of the soul, but only takes notice of the effect. Lactantius, Seneca, and most of the dogmatists, have confessed that it was a thing they did not understand. Heraclitus, who was of opinion that every being was full of souls and demons, did nevertheless maintain that no one could advance so far towards the knowledge of the soul as ever to arrive at it; so profound was the essence of it.”

The following are other noted quotes from this essay:

“What good can we suppose it did Varro and Aristotle to know so many things?”
— Michel Montaigne (1580), “An Apology for Raymond Sebond” [10]


Atheism | Skepticism
Montaigne was a big fan of Lucretius; one example quote of which is as follows:

“Since the movements of the atoms are so varied, it is not unbelievable that the atoms once came together in this way or that way, or that in the future they will come together like this again, giving birth to another Montaigne.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1564), "Personal Note", hand written note in person copy of Lucretius' De rerum natura [2]

Many have asserted, per his use of Lucretius, that he was an atheist; example view of which is as follows:

Diagoras and Theodorus flatly deny that there were ever gods at all.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580) [5]

Socrates thought and so do I that the wisest theory about the gods is no theory at all.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#64|148+)

“How many things do we name miraculous and against nature? Each man and every nation doth it according to the measure of his ignorance.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Essays [5]

“Nothing is so firmly believes as that which we least know.”
— Michel Montaigne (1580), Essays [5]

“It is setting a high value upon or opinions to roast men and women alive on account of them.”
— Michel Montaigne (1580), Essays [5]

Man is completely crazy: he does not know who to fabricate a worm, but he fabricates gods by the dozen, and not only does he fabricate them by the dozen but, he fabricates them by the thousands and indicates exactly how far their power extends.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1570), Essays (2:12); cited by Jean Meslier (1529) in Testament (pg. 57)

Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1570) (Ѻ)

“How many things served us but yesterday as articles of faith, which today we deem but fables?”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#60|148+) ↑↑

Montaigne's commentary on the second objection against Raymond Sebond’s circa 1425 Natural Theology: the Book of Creatures (Ѻ), also raised objection that was an atheist or skeptic, who hid is true beliefs for his own protection or for the sake of social stability.

French thinker Jean Meslier, in his Testament (1729), supposedly, quotes from Montaigne more than any other source, from amid his supposed 50-book library. (Ѻ)

Montaigne medallion
A depiction of the 1576 “evidence” medallion (Ѻ), that Montaigne had made, which wore around his neck, to remind him to avoid presumption, “our natural and original malady”, and to hold back judgment on matters of opinion, until evidence is forthcoming.
Belief | Evidence
In 1576, Montaigne ordered a medallion to be struck with the words Que sais-je? or “what do I know?” inscribed on it, which he wore around for the rest of his existence to remind himself that nothing should be believed without evidence. [4]

“Receive things thankfully, in the aspect and taste they are offered to thee, form day to day; the rest is beyond thy knowledge.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), words inscribed on his ceiling; cited by Jennifer Hecht (2003) in Doubt (pg. 302)


Religion | General
Montaigne, in his copy of On the Nature of Things, marked the many passages in the poem that seemed to him ‘against religion’, namely against religio-teachings such as creation ex nihilo, divine province, judgment after death. “Fear of death is the cause of all our vices”, is one margin note. In a number of places, he kept making reading note comments about how the soul is corporeal (see: soul theorist), as the book was arguing: [1]

“The soul is bodily” (296)
“The soul and the body have and extreme conjunction” (302)
“The soul is mortal” (306)
“The soul, like the foot, is part of the body” (310)
“The body and the soul are inseparably joined” (311)

These reading notes, made by Montaigne, are said to suggest a fascination with the most radical conclusions to be drawn from Lucretian materialism.

Religion | Birthplace
Montaigne is noted for pioneering the religion is the result of one's birthplace ideology; two statements of this are as follows:

“We have religion because we happen to be born in a country where it was in practice; we regard its antiquity or the authority of men who have maintained it, and we fear the threats it fastens on unbelievers.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1576) [8]

“Everyone’s true worship was that which he found in use in the place where he chanced it to be.”
— Michel Montaigne (1580), Essays; similar to Richard Dawkins’ 2004 The God Delusion statement turned verbally elaborated on 2006 “What If Your Wrong” response

Richard Dawkins, in his The God Delusion (2004), and audience Q&A (2006), has used a variant of this answer. [9]

See main: Parentally-created geniuses
Montaigne was raised, from birth, via a very elaborate meticulously-arranged education process, similar it seems to Hypatia and John Mill.


Two immediate fans of Montaigne were: Marie de Gournay, described as his "adopted daughter", who in 1580, at age 15, began reading Montaigne, and latter traveled to Paris to meet him, and Pierre Charron, described as his "adopted son", who in 1601 published Of Wisdom, later described as a "seminary of atheism" for centuries. [7]

Quotes | On
The following are noted quotes on Montaigne:

Montaigne was the first Frenchman who dared to think.”
Julien la Mettrie (1751), “Anti-Seneca” (pg. 129)

“The Essays of Montaigne were published in 1588, and form an epoch, not only in the literature, but also in the civilization, of France. What Rabelais was to the supporters of theology, that was Montaigne to the theology itself. The writings of Rabelais were only directed against the clergy; but the writings of Montaigne were directed against the system of which the clergy were the offspring. Under the guise of a mere man of the world, expressing natural thoughts in common language, Montaigne concealed a spirit of lofty and audacious inquiry. Although he lacked that comprehensiveness which is the highest form of genius, he possessed other qualities essential to a great mind”
Henry Buckle (1856), History of Civilization, Volume One (pg. 373-74)

“I have something of Montaigne’s wantonness in my spirit, who knows, perhaps also in my body?”
— Friedrich Nietzsche (1888), Ecce Homo (pg. 27)

Michel Montaigne is one of the most entertaining doubters of all time. His The Defense of Reymond Seybond (1957) is one of the greatest works in the history of doubt.”
Jennifer Hecht (2004), Doubt: a History [7]
Montaigne Essays
A first-edition copy (Ѻ) of Montaigne’s Essays (1580).

Quotes | By
The following are noted quotes by Montaigne:
“All knowledge comes to us through our senses. They are our masters. Learning begins and ends in them. The senses are the beginning and end of human knowledge. You will find that the notion of truth comes to us first through the senses, and they cannot be refuted. Whoever can force me to contradict my senses holds me by the throat and cannot make me recoil an inch.”
— Michel Montaigne (1529), Essays (2:12); cited by Jean Meslier (1729) in The Testament (pg. 550)
Power, truth, justice: they are words that denote something great, but that something we are quite unable to see and conceive.”
— Michel Montaigne (1580), Essays [3]

“Let nature have her way; she understands her business better than we do.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#73|148+) ↑↑↑↑↑

“It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#25|148+) ↑↑↑↑

“The most profound joy has more of gravity than of gaiety in it.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#77|148+) ↑↑

“I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#19|148+) ↑↑

“The soul which has no fixed purpose in life is lost; to be everywhere, is to be nowhere.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#24|148+) ↑↑

“I tell the truth, not as much as I would like to, but as much as I dare. I dare more and more as I grow older.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#33|148+) ↑↑

“The great and glorious masterpiece of man is how to live with purpose.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#35|148+) ↑↑

“We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#48|148+) ↑↑

“We are born to inquire into truth; it belongs to a greater to possess it.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#66|148+) ↑↑

“My reason is not framed to bend or stoop: my knees are.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#20|148+) ↑

“In the education of children there is nothing like alluring the interest and affection, otherwise you only make so many asses laden with books.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#21|148+) ↑

“I quote others in order to better express myself.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#40|148+)

“There is no passion so contagious as that of fear.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#43|148+)

“When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books; they quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#51|148+); this, neurochemically, is called dopamine raising

Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#71|148+)

“He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#72|148+)

“I know what I am fleeing from, but not what I am in search of.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#1|148+)

“I see men ordinarily more eager to discover a reason for things than to find out whether the things are so.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#2|148+)

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to be self-sufficient.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#8|148+)

“If you don't know how to die, don't worry; nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don't bother your head about it.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#15|148+)

“In my opinion, the most fruitful and natural play of the mind is in conversation. I find it sweeter than any other action in life; and if I were forced to choose, I think I would rather lose my sight than my hearing and voice. The study of books is a drowsy and feeble exercise which does not warm you up.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Ranker best Montaigne quote (#99|148+)

“On beauty, the Indies paint it as black and dusky, with large swollen lips and a wide flat nose. In Peru, the biggest ears are the fairest. In the Basque country, the women are more beautiful when they shave their heads and other places.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Essays (see: evolutionary psychology); cited by Jennifer Hecht (2003) in Doubt (pg. 299)

“On sexual desire, I would see my soul regain another kind of sight, another state, and another judgment. This would disappear fast once the desire was sated.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Essays; cited by Jennifer Hecht (2003) in Doubt (pg. 300)

“Time is a mobile thing, which never appears as in a shadow together with matter, which is ever running and flowing, without ever remaining stable or permanent.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Essays; cited by Jennifer Hecht (2003) in Doubt (pg. 300)

“Religion is that which binds society together.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Essays (truncated quote); cited by Jennifer Hecht (2003) in Doubt (pg. 302)

“The properties that we call occult in many things, as that of the magnet to attract the iron—is it not likely that there are sensory faculties in nature suitable to judge them and perceive them, and that the lack of such faculties causes our ignorance of the true essence of things.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580), Essays (truncated quote); cited by Jennifer Hecht (2003) in Doubt (pg. 304)

“He who obeys laws because he believes them to be just, does not obey them justly according to their true worth.”
— Michel Montaigne (1592), “On Experience”; cited by Julien la Mettrie (1751) in “Anti-Seneca” (pg. 129)

1. Greenblatt, Stephen. (2011). The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (pgs. 243-; soul notes, pg. 249). Random House.
2. (a) Screech, Michael A. (1989). Montagne’s Annotated Copy of Lucretius: a Transcription and Study of the Manuscript, Notes and Pen-Marks (birth quote, pg. 11; Quarrie, 4+ pgs). Libraire Droz.
(b) Greenblatt, Stephen. (2011). The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (pgs. 248-49). Random House.
(c) Note: Copy, of the 1563 De rerum natura, edited by Denys Lambi, bought in 1989 by British librarian Paul Quarrie, at auction for 250 pounds ($450), which turned out to be Montaigne’s person copy; humorous note—penned in Latin on the verso of the third flyleaf.
3. (a) Montaigne, Michel. (1580). The Essays of Montaigne (translator: E.J. Trechmann) (Book 2, Ch. 12, pg. 494). Publisher, 1927.
(b) Henderson, Lawrence J. (1935). Pareto’s General Sociology: A Physiologists Interpretation (pg. 33). Harvard University Press.
4. Rowan-Robinson, Michael. (2001). The Nine Numbers of the Cosmos (pg. vii). Oxford University Press.
5. Haught, James A. (1996). 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt (§3: Michel de Montaigne, pgs. 29-31). Prometheus.
6. (a) Sebond, Raymond. (1436). Book of Natural Creation: Natural Theology (Liber Naturae sive Creaturarum: Theologia Naturalis). Publisher.
(b) Raymond of Sabunde – Wikipedia.
(c) Montaigne, Michel. (1580). An Apology for Raymond Sebond. Publisher.
7. Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (quote, pg. 264 + 296; influence, pg. 304-07). HarperOne.
8. (a) Montaigne, Michel. (c.1576). “Essay”, in: The Complete Essays of Michel Montaigne (translator Donald M. Frame) (born in a country, pgs. 324-25). Stanford University Press, 1958.
(b) Montaigne, Michel. (1592). The Complete Works (translator: Donald Frame) (born in a country, pg. 394). Everyman’s Library, 2003.
(c) Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (quote, pg. 264 + 296). HarperOne.
9. (a) Dawkins, Richard. (2004). The God Delusion (born, pg. 25). Houghton Mifflin Harcout.
(a) Dawkins, Richard. (2006). “What if You’re Wrong?”, response (Ѻ) to student query from audience, Randolph College (Liberty University), Lynchburg, Virginia, Oct 23.
10. (a) Montaigne, Michel. (1580). “An Apology for Raymond Sebond”; in: The Complete Works (translator: Donald Frame) (Varro and Aristotle, pg. 435). Everyman’s Library, 2003.
(b) Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (Varro and Aristotle, pg. 298). HarperOne.
11. (a) Montaigne, Michel. (1580). “Apology for Raymond Sebond”, Works of Raymond Sebond, Volume Two (translator: Orlando Wright) (§:12:117-344; quote, pg. 260-62). W. Vaezie, 1862.
(b) Montaigne, Michel. (1580). “An Apology for Raymond Sebond”; in: The Complete Works (translator: Donald Frame) (Varro and Aristotle, pg. 435). Everyman’s Library, 2003.

Further reading
● Montaigne, Michel. (1592). The Complete Works (translator: Donald Frame) (atheism, 6+ pgs). Everyman’s Library, 2003.

External links
Michel de Montaigne – Wikipedia.

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