Poetry at the Post: Montaigne on Knowledge & Experience or A Day for Contemplation in Oaxaca

Michel de Montaigne

OF EXPERIENCE

There is no desire more natural than that of knowledge. We try all ways that can lead us to it; where reason is wanting, we therein employ experience,

Per varios usus artem experientia fecit,
Exemplo monstrante viam,
[“By various trials experience created art, example shewing the way.”—Manilius, i. 59.]
which is a means much more weak and cheap; but truth is so great a thing that we ought not to disdain any mediation that will guide us to it. Reason has so many forms that we know not to which to take; experience has no fewer; the consequence we would draw from the comparison of events is unsure, by reason they are always unlike. There is no quality so universal in this image of things as diversity and variety. Both the Greeks and the Latins and we, for the most express example of similitude, employ that of eggs; and yet there have been men, particularly one at Delphos, who could distinguish marks of difference amongst eggs so well that he never mistook one for another, and having many hens, could tell which had laid it.

Portrait of Michel de Montaigne by Dumonstier around 1578.
Portrait of Michel de Montaigne by Dumonstier around 1578.

INSTITUTE OF MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN STUDIES, DURHAM UNIVERSITY

6 – 7 November 2015

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) at Durham University invites proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the reception of Montaigne’s Essais in England and the larger Anglophone world, including Ireland, Scotland, and North America, during the first two hundred years following their initial publication in French.

Any approach to the study of Montaigne’s influence is welcome, including literary criticism, philosophy, theology, psychology, history of science, and history of the book. Authors to consider range from Bacon and Hobbes up to Locke and Hume, and include literary figures, as well, such as Florio, Cornwallis, Daniel, Shakespeare, Jonson, Burton, Browne, Dryden, Johnson, Pope, Swift, and Sterne. Early career academics and postgraduates are encouraged to apply, as well as more established scholars.

For consideration, please send a title, an abstract of no more than 200 words, and a one-page CV to montaigneinearlymodernengland@gmail.com no later than 1 August 2015.

An examination taking place in Cosin's Library, 1842, Durham University
An examination taking place in Cosin’s Library, 1842, Durham University

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