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Why does Montaigne change so many definition of words - Essay Example

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By moralizing, it pertains to the way that people use their language to assert their superiority over others. Montaigne redefines the words of “barbarian,” “victory,” “wild,” and…
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Why does Montaigne change so many definition of words

Download file to see previous pages... arbitrary, and people define concepts, according to their views of truth and reason, without considering the existence and validity of other truths and reasons.
While people define “bodies” in the physical sense, they stress its sacredness, which is why they think that people who eat human flesh are “barbarians,” but Montaigne disagrees with the idealization of the human body, when it can serve many immoral purposes. He reminds his readers that “bodies” are not exactly detached from the act of being consumed or used in other corrupt ways. He provides examples of ancestors who ate the bodies of people who were “incapable of fighting” (114). This means that able bodies trump weaker ones, even if they both have bodies. People in power define “bodies” as they see fit, and the morality of doing so becomes blurred in different circumstances and cultures.
“Barbarian” is another word with contested meanings. Montaigne defines “barbarous” as a concept coined by a society that looks down on a pure society, and if the latter are described as “wild,” they are wild because they are pure. He denigrates that people call something “barbarous,” simply because they are “contrary” to their “habits” (108). If these barbarians are considered “wild,” for him, they are wild in a good way. They are wild because “the true, the most useful, and natural virtues and properties are alive and vigorous” (Montaigne 109). Instead of seeing “wild” as the opposite of civilized, Montaigne argues that it is a civilization on its own that is not inferior to Western society.
To be barbaric is related to “victory” and its many hued definitions. Montaigne describes “victory” as aligned to the simple desire of controlling people’s emotions. For the “barbarians,” “victory” happens when they have broken the spirit of their prisoners, until the latter beg for their lives (115). Montaigne differentiates this from the “victory” of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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