Michel de Montaigne

  • French philosopher
  • Born February 28, 1533
  • Died September 13, 1592

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Lord of Montaigne ( mon-TAYN, French: [miʃɛl ekɛm də mɔ̃tɛɲ]; 28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592) was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight. His massive volume Essais contains some of the most influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on Western writers, including Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Albert Hirschman, William Hazlitt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Stefan Zweig, Eric Hoffer, Isaac Asimov, and possibly, on the later works of William Shakespeare.

It is not death, it is dying that alarms me.

If a man urge me to tell wherefore I loved him, I feel it cannot be expressed but by answering: Because it was he, because it was myself.

Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.

There is perhaps no more obvious vanity than to write of it so vainly.

We are Christians by the same title as we are natives of Perigord or Germany.

Make your educational laws strict and your criminal ones can be gentle; but if you leave youth its liberty you will have to dig dungeons for ages.

I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself, and not by borrowing.

Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.

I quote others only in order the better to express myself.

Any person of honor chooses rather to lose his honor than to lose his conscience.

The public weal requires that men should betray, and lie, and massacre.

Few men have been admired of their familiars.

It should be noted that children at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity.

Unless a man feels he has a good enough memory, he should never venture to lie.

The entire lower world was created in the likeness of the higher world. All that exists in the higher world appears like an image in this lower world; yet all this is but One.

There is a sort of gratification in doing good which makes us rejoice in ourselves.

I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy.

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.

Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face.

Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face.

I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.

I speak the truth not so much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little more as I grow older.

Wit is a dangerous weapon, even to the possessor, if he knows not how to use it discreetly.

My trade and art is to live.

Covetousness is both the beginning and the end of the devil's alphabet - the first vice in corrupt nature that moves, and the last which dies.

Those who have compared our life to a dream were right... we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep.

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her.

Let us permit nature to have her way. She understands her business better than we do.

The world is all a carcass and vanity, The shadow of a shadow, a play And in one word, just nothing.

Confidence in the goodness of another is good proof of one's own goodness.

The strangest, most generous, and proudest of all virtues is true courage.

Ignorance is the softest pillow on which a man can rest his head.

Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think.

We only labor to stuff the memory, and leave the conscience and the understanding unfurnished and void.

Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside equally desperate to get out.

The confidence in another man's virtue is no light evidence of a man's own, and God willingly favors such a confidence.

It is a monstrous thing that I will say, but I will say it all the same: I find in many things more restraint and order in my morals than in my opinions, and my lust less depraved than my reason.