Montaigne

In the Michel De Montaigne reading, one small paragraph stood out to me the most. Montaigne writes: “If falsehood, like truth, had only one face, we would be in better shape. For we would take as certain the opposite of what the liar said. But the reverse of truth has a hundred thousand shapes and limitless field”. In other words, truth is “finite and certain”, whereas falsity is infinite. Montaigne uses this notion in his fervent argument against the vice of lying. In his argument, Montaigne is very articulate in his protest, and brings up a few solid points. For instance, that “We are men, and hold together, only by our word”. I must say i agree with the aforementioned ideas, however, I think that lying is wrongfully “demonized”, especially by Montaigne. Montaigne stresses that we should persecute lying in children more so than other “harmless faults”. I find that lying is largely persecuted among children, however, I believe that most children learn primarily from what they see, not what they are told. In this case, it is nearly impossible to omit lying from a child’s developing habits, as it is a large part of their every day lives. We are all guilty of a few “white lies” here and there, maybe even several a day. Secondly, not every lie is immoral. “Truth stretching” is a key component to human advancement. It can advance our careers, serve us in nearly any way needed, and often times keep us out of trouble. Lastly, and most significant to me in my juxtaposition to Montaigne’s thoughts on lying, is simply that the truth is too easy. Montaigne even says it himself that “A thousand paths miss the target, one goes to it”. This can be taken two ways. From a moral standpoint, this suggests that the truth is the only path to the “target” and therefore should be taken every time. I feel, however, that the truth is too simple, and that ultimately lying is an art, or a skill not to be taken lightly. Some might want to crucify me for believing this, but I feel that successful “truth stretching” is a sign of cognitive ability and even a sign of higher intellect. After all, what’s more intriguing: false speech, or silence?

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One Response to Montaigne

  1. breannanappi says:

    That is a great paragraph in the story. I agree with you, we tell our children not to lie but at the same time we lie every single day. I’m not saying that lying is good or bad but something you write stuck out to me; “It can advance our careers, serve us in nearly any way needed, and often times keep us out of trouble.” The part that stuck out to me the most was how you said that it can keep us out of trouble. I am trying really hard to think of an example where that is good. If we do something wrong and tell a lie to get out of it then that is not good. I believe we need to be responsible for our actions. I’m not saying that lying is always bad because I feel that sometimes we have to lie to protect people, especially innocent children. At the same time we need to show children that we have to take responsibility when we do something wrong, no matter how big or small it is.

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