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Can Humans Be Wholly Objective?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Montaigne and Descartes's Approaches on How to Live
  3. Montaigne's Use of Experience
  4. My Own Insight
  5. Conclusion

People have a tendency to pass judgment based on societal norms or preconceived notions rather than assuming an objective perspective to critique a culture. While Montaigne rejects any set of principles that dictate how one should think, Descartes adopts a method in how to think objectively. Both their ideologies involve a cultivation of one's own mind versus how externally imposed notions influence our thoughts. However, Montaigne relies heavily on internal reflection and experience; conversely, Descartes embraces a doctrine of observation and examination. Montaigne and Descartes strive to avoid popular opinion and place confidence in human reason to do so.
Montaigne and Descartes's Approaches on How to Live

?We must know ourselves before we can become ourselves.? This statement featured in Montaigne's ?Introduction? echoes an over-arching theme prevalent in his works, such as the knowledge of how to live a happy life. Montaigne states, ??the art of happiness is the very purpose of life.? The human discovery of happiness is derived from contemplation of both internal and external influences. External influences might involve church tradition or societal norms. Internal influences involve introspection of one's response to surrounding influences. Man cannot truly appreciate and live in accordance to church doctrine or customs of the day if they do not understand why they are living that way. Montaigne's skepticism parallels reliance on human reason and encourages people not to reject their beliefs, but to contemplate them. Oftentimes, people discard their beliefs without regard to why they are doing so.

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