Creatures of Habit
The Consolations of Philosophy written by Alain de Botton recounts the life of French essayist Michel de Montaigne and his journey beyond the boundaries of France. As he crossed borders to various European countries, Michel observed the many differing perspectives that each society possessed. Each province had their own standards used to police society into thinking that certain things are ‘normal’ versus ‘abnormal’. This narrow way of thinking disturbed Montaigne because he believed that every culture has several different customs and beliefs that may seem foreign to some but they are completely accepted by their respective culture. He thought it was necessary for everyone to immerse him or herself in a culture with an open mind in order to broaden their understanding of normality; the reason one finds certain cultural customs alien is because it is not practiced or is rarely seen where they come from. Society is so quick to categorize the world into what is acceptable and unacceptable without taking into consideration the fact that cultures are inherently different and one society is not superior over the others. I experienced the same cultural ignorance that Montaigne grappled with while working with individuals with intellectual disabilities; people are so quick to judge because they correlate the unfamiliar with the inadequate.
Michel de Montaigne comes to a realization that the French are very close-minded; they are creatures of habit and they do not want to veer off the sheltered and comfortable path. Montaigne explains that the French “once out of their village, they feel like a fish out of water. Wherever they go they cling to their ways and curse foreign ones… they travel about wrapped up in their cloaks and protecting themselves from the contagion of an unknown clime” (de Botton 132). Change causes them to feel an uneasiness that thwarts their ability to experience new things. Montaigne illuminates the French society’s...
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