Montaigne's Essays illuminate the difficulty of achieving total self-knowledge, and/or self-mastery. How did Montaigne attempt to overcome this difficulty?

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Montaigne explained in this work that total self-knowledge or mastery was nigh impossible. He reckoned that humans, being inside our own heads, can only see a portion of our experience and therefore only understand a small bit of it. If we could totally understand ourselves, we would be tantamount to God.

He did believe, however, that one could improve their self-mastery and begin to grasp more and more of oneself and one's environment. In fact, he set himself along this path personally in an attempt to try and enlighten himself totally. He laid out practical steps as to how he would achieve that, and he certainly became more self-aware, though it is debated how masterful he truly became in the end.

His steps achieve true knowledge of himself were the following: first, he decided that he must accept that he cannot know the true purpose and reason behind many things. The second step toward his idea of enlightenment is to focus on humanity's internal freedom.

This is integral to fully...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 21, 2019
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 12, 2019