The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Montaigne 1.25


We labour but to cram our memory, and leave the understanding and the conscience empty. Even as the birds sometimes fly in search of grain, and bring it in their beaks without tasting it, to feed their young, so do our pedants go picking knowledge out of books, carrying it at the end of their lips, only to spit it out and scatter it to the winds.

It is remarkable how aptly I come in to exemplify this folly. Am I not doing the same thing in the most part of this composition? I go sniffing about among books, now here now there, for the sentences which please me, not to store them, for I have no storehouse, but to transplant them to this book where, to tell the truth, they are no more mine than they were before….

But, and this is the worst part of it, their scholars and their little ones are not fed nor nourished by this knowledge; rather it is passed from hand to hand, to the sole end of making a show of it, to entertain others, and to make up stories of it. It is like a counterfeit coin that has no value in commerce, and is useful only as a counter for casting up.

—Montaigne (Essays,
‘Of Pedantry’


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