Petrarch And Montaigne: The Complications Of Human Limitations

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“Let them keep their prodigious opinion of themselves and the bare name of Aristotle, whose five syllables delight the ignorant” (Petrarca 247). From ancient times, numerous scholars have exalted Aristotle because of his various contributions to topics and debates that seem to have withstood time until the early Renaissance period. Petrarch acknowledged Aristotle’s importance, but viewed him as only human and deferred true knowledge to God. Montaigne had similar feelings, describing humans as simple creatures, backing up his propositions with various anecdotal experiences. In their works, Petrarch and Montaigne regret man’s shortcoming in glorifying human philosophical thought as the key to wisdom, but recognize the value of human fallibility …show more content…
He recognizes age as a key limitation, but is positive of the lessons it can teach us: “Nor do I complain of the natural decay that has hold of me—any more than I regret that my term of life is not as long and sound as that of an oak” (Montaigne 842). Montaigne struggled with kidney stones and his experience with the disease uniquely shaped how he thought about various aspects of life, both physically and emotionally. Suffering gave him a notion of what is pleasant, and he relates this to the present topic by realizing limits are what inform humans of their potential. Montaigne explained, “We must learn to endure what we cannot avoid” (Montaigne 835), concluding men should be content simply with living. Philosophy is noted as an important tool, but there is great responsibility with life, and he stresses God never commanded any man to guide other with their reason. Montaigne asserts life as a human being is, “not only the fundamental, but the most illustrious of your occupations” (Montaigne 850). His solution is, “Greatness of soul is not so much pressing upward and forward as knowing how to set oneself in order and circumscribe oneself” (Montaigne 852), meaning it is best to be moderate in enjoying various actions, such as eating and sleeping to enjoy a good, moral life. The mind, our rational side, and our body, the sensuous side, should be reconciled so both can best create a human experience that is rewarding and fulfilling. Living is the “greatest task of all” (Montaigne 850), and in the end, both thinking and sensing will lead us towards truth and the path of a good life because it is what the creator has bestowed upon

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