How does Montaigne view human nature?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Montaigne possesses a fairly optimistic view of human nature.  His model was Socrates, representing the idea that human inquiry and the mind as a thinking tool is of the utmost of importance.  Montaigne is renowned for wearing the medallion around his neck that suggests "What do I know," raising fundamental questions about the nature of human endeavor.  Yet, I think that Montaigne's body of work suggests that this is something that he uses as an opportunity to refine the nature of the human being.  The fact that Montaigne does not subscribe to anything in the nature of dogmatic or oppressive notions of the good is reflective of his idea that he saw opportunity for growth and advancement of the human being.  His exploration of education as a social venture, where children are able to gain much in terms of their exposure to as many arenas as possible would represent an optimistic and rather redemptive notion of human nature.  His own life as one committed to the social and political experiment whereby a sense of the progressive was highly evident serves to enhance the idea that Montaigne was not afraid of the nature of the human being, rather being able to embrace it with promises and possibilities.


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