Length: 6 Pages 1533 Words

Montaigne in his Apology for Raymond Sebond begins his exploration into the human capacity for knowledge with this belief that only though God can one achieve true knowledge. God is the only infinite, all seeing, being with divine wisdom. He is not subject to the laws and rules of the human domain, and he exists in a realm outside of human comprehension. God is an unchanging, permanent being, and only from this state can the concept of truth propagate. Montaigne believes that the one tie that binds all truth is this idea of permanence. Montaigne even states, “Truth must be the same everywhere” (xxvi). He insists that the only product of humanity that has withstood the test of time and has not changed since its inception was the Catholic Church. The dogma of the Catholic is categorized as, “What has been held always, everywhere by all”. The strength in the Catholic faith comes from its static nature, which provides a source of truth for humanity. Catholic truth is in strict conformity with the existence of God, and knowledge can only come from an almighty source. Montaigne goes on to say that, “No creature ever is: a creature is always shifting, changing, becoming.” Man embodies the idea of imperma Continue...

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He characterizes man as being the most vain of all his creatures because he clings to this notion of knowledge and that though this attainment of knowledge he perceives himself as enlightened. He questions, "Why should it be a defect in the beasts not in us which stops all communication between us (Montaigne 17) Man has always attributed the lack of communication between himself and the animals as a flaw in animals because man has always assumed he is at a higher level then the animals. On the subject of reasoning Montaigne offers the story of Chysippus and the fox. The dog reasoned that his master had gone as far as these roads and had picked on of the three. Since the building block of human knowledge is this flawed truth, then human knowledge itself is flawed. He is fragmented, does not have divine reasoning abilities, and has a finite amount of time allotted to him. Montaigne goes on to inquire, "When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her (Montaigne 17) By introducing this question, Montaigne has turned the idea of the all-powerful man on its head. The fact that we can communicate to each other the knowledge of our thoughts and ideas is the dividing line between man and beast. This story is just one of many that displays the innate and associative reasoning skills of animals, which though rarely observed, destroys the exceptional nature of the human mind. From a man's perspective, it is our knowledge, which sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. The first two showed no trace of what he was looking for, so his master had inevitably had gone down the third path. He states, "After all, what aspects of our human competence cannot be found in the activities of animals (Montaigne 19). Just think of what we considered the book of human knowledge today. He cannot possibly know the inner workings of such thing only through the use of his senses, he can only for his own opinions. It is in this argument that Montaigne makes two major points, the first of focuses on man's inability to communicate with animals.


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