Civilized or uncivilized Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities. —-Mark Twain In Montaigne’s essay on Cannibals, those people living in the uncivilized societies are first referred to as “noble savages”. However, most Europeans, at that time, believed that the people without “the benefits of Christianity and civilization” can not be regarded as civilized or advanced. Montaigne holds his ideas and specifically illustrates the reasons of the social norm that uncivilized people seem barbarous are that they have received little molding from the human intelligence and are very close to their original simplicity.
Montaigne also criticizes the barbarian actions of “civilized” European society such as torturing prisoners. He also branches out topic to valour and believes that true victory lies the prize of valour, not winning itself. Based on the ideas of Montaigne, “civilized” world is not as perfect as people thought, and motivate readers to rethink what civilization is about. What I learn from that essay is that civilized people may sometimes have extremely uncivilized behaviors, and uncivilized people also have their civilized aspects.
For those “uncivilized” people, in this essay, it is said that two things are the most important of their life which are “resolution in battle” and “affection for their wives”. Although their way of life seems limited, they live happily with their way of life. I admit their life are simple, but not uncivilized or barbarian. Their fighting is noble and disinterested because all they want to do is to show their valour which is also what people living in “civilized” societies want.
However, we label them with “uncivilized” by reference to the laws of reason and social norms created by completely different cultures of us, and keep doing the barbarian behaviors which are not belong to our “perfect” society such as killing the innocent in order to develop new territories. The action of judging another culture “uncivilized” actually shows the weakness of “civilized” society. Therefore, the difference between both sides are not civilized or not, but the different cultures. All those different cultures make this world more colorful. Montaigne uses Plato’s words in this essay to differentiate various societies or ations,which I agree with most part of those words. It is said that “all things are produced by either nature, or by chance, or by art; the greatest and most beautiful by one or other of the first two, the least and most imperfect by the last”. I agree that things are produced because of those three reasons, but I don’t think any one is better than another, because everything has its own reason of existing. All the different cultures make up of civilization, therefore, as Mark Twain said, civilization is necessities no matter they are necessary or not.
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