Wisdom from the Past — Say, about 400 Years Past

13 Jul

I often feel discouraged, a bit disappointed in myself, that I use so many excerpts from other people’s works in my blog in order to express how I feel about issues and ethics.  Sometimes, it has seemed to me as though I must really have no rational thoughts about a subject, and therefore must rely on someone else’s thoughts.

Then — today, in fact — I was reminded of a statement from my favorite Renaissance essayist, Michel de Montaigne, a man worth reading if only for the insights into French Renaissance (late 1500’s) life and thought.  But often his insights, though sometimes ponderous, actually reach into the future in prescient ways.  Well worth reading.

Anyway, the statement I was reminded of, that brings me back down to earth, was this:

“I quote others, only in order to express myself better.”

In other words, Montaigne, brilliant as he was, did not have the conceit to think that he could express better in his own words that which the masters before him had expressed in theirs.  To say nothing of putting the time, energy, and research into each topic to try to put a unique spin on it.  [He claimed to be basically lazy, though I think not.]

Granted Montaigne did surround his experts’ words with more observation and wisdom than I do.  Nevertheless, I grasp hold of his basic maxim, doing what I can to express myself either originally, or through others’ words.

We have a wonderful group of writers out there who have great gifts of expression that need to somehow get even more widely read.  And when I read a piece that inspires me, I am proud to point my readers to their items and assert my support for their statements and positions, realizing that there is no way I could say it better.

Some of my favorites include Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Linda Chavez, Mona Charen, John Stossel, Charles Krauthammer, Lawrence Kudlow. 

 Who are some of your favorites?

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