What is Montaigne's attitude toward scientific progress, discovery, and education's impact on humankind?

Quick answer:

Montaigne was skeptical of scientific progress because he was skeptical of human intelligence. He saw science as a set of beliefs created by humans, and he doubted that humans were able to really understand the true world. He did view education as important in developing sound judgment, but his approach to education was unique in how it focused on learning through socialization rather than scientific fact.

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Montaigne is known as a skeptical philosopher because he questioned humans' ability to know truth. His doubts about human intelligence influenced his views on the objective nature of scientific discovery. For example, in In Defense of Raymond Sebond, Montaigne writes, “How does he know, by the effort of intelligence, what inwardly moves the animals?” Here we see that Montaigne does not trust that science can answer questions about the world around us. This is because he viewed science as a product and belief of human intelligence, and he saw this intelligence as limited.

However, Montaigne's skepticism about scientific discovery did not mean that he did not believe in the betterment of humankind through education. In fact, he wrote a book called On the Education of Children, in which he stressed that a philosophical education is a necessary “molder of judgement.” He was a unique humanist in how instead of stressing a traditional humanist education, he claimed that “wonderful brilliance” comes from everyday actions and social relationships.

Thus when comparing Montaigne's skeptical attitude toward science to philosophies of education, you can use his philosophy as an example of an approach to education that did not see science as a necessity.

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