On The Power Of Imagination
Montaigne introduces ambiguity in traditional distinctions, one of them being the separation between imagination and reality. Through both realistic and fantastical examples, Montaigne illustrates the power of imagination to infringe upon reality. He recounts a story of someone who executes himself by power of imagination in expectation of the executioner's blow. Excessive visualization in the mind causes the event to actually occur. In another example Montaigne explains how a man catches impotence from his imagination out of fear of performing poorly. In blurring the distinction between reality and imagination by uniting mere thoughts with tangible outcomes, Montaigne makes his reader reconsider the association of fiction with imagination, and non-fiction with reality. The presentation of the interchangeablility of these ideas plants a seed of doubt in the readers' minds about the ability to control their actions. Perhaps the presentation of these stories are a reflection of Montaigne's own insecurities since he claims that he borrows stories yet "the inferences are my own". Each account of Montaigne's is directly aimed at illustrating the power of imagination as apparent from the title of this essay.
On The Education Of Children
The purpose of Montaigne's "Education of Children" is to lay down the philosophical groundwork for a new and innovative way of teaching children. The purpose of this new system is to foster the child's intellectual growth as opposed to filling the child's head with facts that he regurgitates, but does not understand. As well as encouraging intellectual growth, Montaigne also intends to promote wisdom, character and physical development as a way of education the entire person. The methods used to achieve Montaigne's ideal education are a mixture of the ability and talent of the tutor, the individual attention paid to a student and the well-rounded nature of the curriculum. The actual subjects to be learned are divided by not only the discipline of study, but also the development of physical ability, moral fiber and interpersonal skills. The development of mind, body and spirit together leads to the transformation of a child to a well-rounded man. Montaigne believes in the training of the body as well as the mind, a typically Greek concept. The training of body serves a duel purpose, to ease the burdened mind by giving it something else to think about and by building up the pupil's body in order to fight off injury and disease. It is only after his body has been trained that the intellectual education can begin. Overall, with the completion of the relationship between tutor and pupil the end result will be a reasoning, virtuous, educated and extremely wise individual who will be well equipped to deal with the world and who will be constantly bettering himself.
Montaigne's philosophy can be clearly seen in "The Essays". Life is a process of self-discovery. It is obvious that Montaigne has spent a long time studying his own body and mind, and through his life story he is able to cause awareness in the reader. One must first recognize that he is an individual, and that in the end one can only care about the self. Worrying about the lives of others can only cause excess stress that not only the self has created. Taking time for the self and knowing the body will help center the mind and can only create happiness.
Montaigne also questions the judicial system of his society, which is much like the system of our day. Because every person is an individual he believes that laws are too general to fit the needs of every person. Laws cannot comply with everyone; as a result laws must cope with the immensity of life, raping us of our individuality.