The Volatile Nature of Truth Exposed in On the Education of Children

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The Volatile Nature of Truth Exposed in On the Education of Children

To some, truth is something that is absolute and unchanging. To others, truth is volatile and inconstant. In the 16th and 17th century, the foundations of civilization itself had been shaken. Many of the ideas which were thought to be absolutely true had been plunged into the depths of uncertainty. The cosmological, geographical, and religious revolutions called into question the nature of truth itself. It is no wonder, then, that some of the great writers at the time included within their works a treatise on the ways in which truth is constructed. Because of the major ideological revolutions that shaped their world, Montaigne and other authors all used characters and theatrical devices to create their own ideas on the construction of truth.

Montaigne believes that truth, like the ideas of all humans, is in a constant state of change. Through education, or through merely hearing the ideas of others, an individual's conception of truth may be altered. Montaigne goes one step further, alluding to the notion that opinions can change without cause, in saying, "My ideas and my judgement merely grope their way forward, faltering, tripping, and stumbling; and when I have advanced as far as I can, I am still not at all satisfied. I can see more country ahead, but with so disturbed and clouded a vision that I can distinguish nothing" (Montaigne 50). The opinions of individuals are rarely totally clear on any given matter. It is education that has the power to transform the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of them. Without knowledge, we have nothing upon which to base our ideas. Therefore, in order to find truth, we should educate ourselves as much as possible, w...

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...to be left behind by the rest of history. The revolution of thought that occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries forced Montaigne, and other authors to change the foundations of their own thought. They were all willing to present to us their own ideology of truth so that we may benefit from their knowledge. Everyone faces these crises in life, the crisis of one's own opinions being shattered by reality. We may hold on to our opinions, disregarding fact or twisting the facts to fit our theories. But in order for progress to occur, we must at times shed our previous beliefs in favor of ones newly created. We must endeavor to find a version of the truth that is based in knowledge, and one that satisfies our desires. We may never find a version of truth that is satisfactory for everyone. But our search cannot cease. The truth, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.
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