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Montaigne’s comparative method of thought showed sensitivity of the cultural differences.  In the first paragraph, he writes; “Thus we should be aware of clinging to vulgar opinion and judge things by reasons way not by popular say. ( 353)” In that sentence, Montaigne is explaining that instead of judging people by comparing them to our own way of life, we should look at people from other cultures with fresh eyes removing all prejudices and prejudgment. He also points out the brutality which civilized men has done against others in comparison to how the Cannibals treat others; “Each man calls barbarism whatever is not his same practice. (355)” He points out the brutal way that the Portuguese killed their captives versus the Scythians. The Scythians treated their captives very well and although they were eventually killed, it was done quickly without torture. Upon seeing the way the Portuguese brutally killed their captives, the Scythians took up the same practice, thinking that the “Portuguese were greater masters on the treatment of enemies and more knowledgeable. (358)” Another thing to note, is that the Cannibals believed a person’s soul was immortal. Which makes one wonder, did this belief help them justify within themselves that eating the body of their enemy for revenge was ok because their enemy’s soul did not die?  As Montaigne points out, being more civilized did not mean that people loss their ability for cruelty or brutality towards others. In fact, he points out that civilized people are blind to their own faults against others often, in the name of religion or piety.  He ask his readers to look at the way civilized men have mistreated others by the torturing of other people using instruments of death such as The Rack, this mechanism slowly broke every joint in a person’s body while having their limbs pulled apart in separate directions (which was a common form of torture in the 1500’s by the Inquisitors), another form of torture was having people mangled and torn apart by dogs or swine,  having people burned alive but perhaps  the worse horrific act described by Montaigne was  civilized people eating another person while they were still alive. Indeed Montaigne story makes the reader asks “How can I cast judgment on another person’s culture when my own is no better”?  

 

 

 

Montaigne’s essay “In the Power of Imagination”, he shows us that we all have fears, phobias or belief in one form or another that may not be the same but as humans are minds are willing to believe in the power of the imagination and the inconsistency in which we change our opinion, outlook and view on life. This could be some thought or idea that was implanted in our mental psyche by another or one that we came to a conclusion on our own. In the essay “Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions” it shares with us that often time’s people will desire something but would rather stay stagnant in their desire instead of trying to obtain it. Cicero “They despise pleasure but are too cowardly in pain they are indifferent to glory but infamy breaks their sprit”(366).  Montaigne “There is much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others. (343)” It also shows us how that we are not always consistent with our actions; Montaigne “What we have just now planned, we presently change, and presently again we retrace our steps: nothing but oscillation and inconsistently similar to a patchwork quilt being put together as the pattern is continuously changing. (366)”. I feel that the essay is showing us that life is full of contradictions and inconsistencies.

 

 

1. Read Montaigne, Essays (Of Cannibals, Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions, To the Reader, On the Power of the Imagination); France; Vol. C

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