Montaigne-Of Giving The Lie

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Christian Smith March 1, 2011 ENGL 2123-04 Allison Barker Of Giving the Lie: All Lies are Wrong Section 1 After hundreds of years in slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, and after crossing the Red Sea, God summoned Moses to Mount Sinai where he bestowed upon him his Ten Commandments, the ninth of which stated “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” ie one should not lie. Thousands of years later in France, Michael de Montaigne examined this idea and how it pertained to his extremely religious French society. In his writing titled “Of Giving the Lie” Montaigne denounces the idea of lies, even small ones. This can be most plainly seen when he writes, “Lying is an ugly vice, which an ancient paints in most shameful colors when he says that it is giving evidence of contempt for God, and at the same time of fear of men. It is not possible to represent more vividly the horror, the vileness, and the profligacy of it. For what can you imagine uglier than being a coward toward men and bold toward God? Since mutual understanding is brought about solely by way of words, he who breaks his word betrays human society. It is the only instrument by means of which our wills and thoughts communicate, it is the interpreter of our soul. If it fails us, we have no more hold on each other, no more knowledge of each other. If it deceives us, it breaks up all our relations and dissolves all the bonds of our society” Montaigne hits upon several points concerning the many reasons why lying, of any kind ultimately should not be condoned. First in foremost, to a man writing during the 16th century the idea of God and religion had somewhat of a different meaning then it does today. In a time when ideas such as religious toleration and scientific discoveries such as the theory of evolution were completely unheard of, the teachings of the church and the fear

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