Judging of the Death Essay

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¶ … judging of the death of another," written by Michel de Montaigne. I will proceed to analyze the themes in the attached excerpt. In doing so, I plan to provide some traditional criticism in order to situate Montaigne in relation to his times and the philosophical trends. I will follow this up with a rhetorical analysis of this piece. I will be concluding with some structural criticism.

Michel de Montaigne is a French writer who lived during the renaissance years. His most famous work is the book "Essais," the title of which can be translated as "attempts." He is known for having introduced the essay as a literary genre. Under these circumstances we could state that the essay is nothing more but an attempt to reach knowledge. In fact, Montaigne's essays played an influential role upon the development of various currents of thinking and other philosophers such as Nietzsche, Emerson, Rousseau or Descartes. The themes which he addressed in his writings varied from the social and religious challenges of his contemporary society to issues of self-discovery and self development, the nature of the universe or that of the soul.

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One of the statements that rendered him controversial was that the main theme of his writings was himself. While that was unusual for those times, it is worth underlining that he was actually trying to provide a personal view of the world, under the circumstances in which the individual endowed with reason was beginning to be considered a rightful measure unit for the world. Writing about himself, he was doing nothing more than writing about humanity.

In his opinion, the role of the philosopher was to question everything and try to find answers with the help of reason. Doubt was the starting point for the philosophical reflection. The writer's purpose was to find the truth and once he succeeded in that, he also found peace and harmony as a human being, and this too was an important goal. In his opinion there is no such thing as a science that can provide humanity with the absolute truth.

Essay on Judging of the Death of Another, Written Assignment

As far as the value of his writings is concerned, it can very well be stated that he was decisively ahead of his time. For example, he has nothing in common with the medieval conception of the spheres, according to which sky was placed somewhere in universe where gods and angels lived.

The main theme of the essay under analysis is represented by death. but, since death is such an important matter for the individual, it could be stated that the philosopher takes into consideration all the implications of the relation between death and the individual. According to Montaigne, the attitude that the individual has towards death is relevant in telling something about his character and even about the manner in which he deals with aspects of life that prove to be most challenging.

This approach to analyzing man in terms of his own positioning regarding life and death is a rather profound one. Its complexity is to be appreciated all the more if we are to think that a theme such as death leads the philosophical questioning towards other aspects such as freedom, the belief in God, etc.

The initiative of the writer is all the more comprehensible if we take into consideration the social and cultural climate in which he lived. Renaissance was a revolutionary period. Man was discovering the universe and himself. The newly acquired knowledge imposed changes upon the life perspectives and people were willing to discover and understand more about themselves, humanity and the universe.

The first statement that Montaigne makes in the essay under analysis is that man has great difficulty in believing in his own death. Everybody knows that we are not immortal and that one day we cease to exist, independently of our will. It is a proven fact. What the philosopher means is that people experience great difficulty in accepting that their own lives have an implacable end. The type of knowledge regarding one's own death is superficial because of the implications which come with accepting your mortal nature.

On the one hand, death makes the individual realize how limited his freedom is. On the other hand, it makes him understand how limited the power of his will is. We may wish to live forever, but we are unable to. Death becomes a proof of an unchangeable destiny. From this point-of-view it can even be considered a supportive factor for demonstrating that a superior entity exists.

In fact, another theme brought into discussion in the essay is represented by the idea of destiny. If death is something that we can not escape, one could think that this is the way things have been planned ( by a presumable) superior entity. Death has been planned for us by someone else and we can do nothing but respect this plan. Naturally, there is a strong doubt regarding a large number of other things which take place in life- things which have also been planned for us and which we can not escape.

And, if we are realizing something that someone else has decided a priori for us, than we are not that free. And freedom is not the only issue here. We may also assume that we are ignorant since we have such a limited understanding of what happens to us and why. Montaigne's considerations reflect the philosophical questions of his time. Society was undeniably going a process of development, but on could very well ask himself where that was leading to and what happiness really is.

In the essay Montaigne speaks about the stars as a metaphor for the mechanisms which rule over our destinies. From a certain point-of-view, the stars could be interpreted as a sign meant to help us decipher our destinies. Taking the analysis of the text to a more profound level, the idea of destiny could be interpreted as a life route which is decided not by a superior entity such as god, but by the rules of the universe.

It is known that the movement of the other planets and stars has given precious information about the changes in nature and so on during time. Under these circumstances one can understand why the stars area sort of code which, once broken an d interpreted, reveals important information about the universe and man. Not only does it reveal important truths, but it also serves as a sort of guide.

The example that Montaigne makes is represented by the words of Caesar regarding the sea. It was this natural element which prevented him from achieving his goal easily. But Cesar was not afraid, not of the sea, nor by the dangers posed b it (such as death).

In his attitude we are to interpret a new and more courageous attitude towards death. And if one is more courageous in the confrontation with death, which is the ultimate, unbreakable adversary, then we may assume that one will be brave in the confrontation with life and its challenges. Once again, we may interpret this taking into consideration the changes which were occurring during renaissance times. The technological advancements made place for a better life.

At the same time, they also allowed for a new understanding of the world. This changed the manner in which the individual positioned himself in regard to his problems, but also his ideals. The renaissance ideal which we can hope to find in Montaigne's essay is that of a new man who believes in his capacity to act, to attempt to fulfil his own dreams.

Another belief that the philosopher refers to in his essay is the conception according to which the earth is made by more layers in which different entities exist. For example, the angels are believed to live in the sky, which goes beyond the stratosphere and is made of a part of the universe which resides outside the earth. According to the philosopher, there is no such thing. Man may be the subject of some implacable rule of the universe, but there is nothing which can prevent him from trying to shape his own life according to his personal will.

Another subject which the essay addresses is represented by courage. The philosopher states that some people will put their lives in danger in order to become heroes and acquire glory and fame with this status. Although they are aware of the risks of dying, they actually hope to live in order to enjoy the moments of glory. Glory and fame are ideals which renaissance took from the ancient times and which are considered a worthy goal. Worthy enough to be paid with the price of one's life.

Under these circumstances another theme that we can declare to have found in the text is represented by the belief in the immortality of the soul. If there is a superior entity which decides how life is supposed to be then why should it not also decide upon what… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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