“To really learned men has happened what happens to ears of wheat: they rise high and lofty, heads erect and proud, as long as they are empty; but when they are full and swollen with grain in their ripeness, they begin to grow humble and lower their horns. Similarly, men who have tried everything and sounded everything, having found in that pile of knowledge and store of so many various things nothing solid and firm, and nothing but vanity, have renounced their presumption and recognized their natural condition.”
“The Complete Essays of Montaigne”
Book II, Part XII “Apology for Raimond de Sebonde”
Translated by Donald M. Frame
The early 21st Century may well be defined by future historians and critics as the “Age of Presumption”, characterized by googled facts, shallow thinking, time spent watching Reality TV, Sports and Superhero Movies, while posting selfies to Facebook. True knowledge organically evolves into wisdom only through deep thought, an embrace of experience and life-long learning, and self-conceived humility. Michel de Montaigne, the great French Essayist and Skeptic, famously posited “What do I know?”. But this humble mantra is most likely the road to “Know Thyself“, one of the oldest of Greek maxims.