For Montaigne, the question of what we know hinges on the question of how we know. The problem for a principle of certainty is that we know primarily through our senses, and our senses are apt to be deceived. This deception takes place because of our passions. We bought knowledge at the price of our passions (48), and the result is that life is like a dream (156). What does Montaigne mean by this? Do our passions affect us only negatively? If we are subject to our passions, what do we know in the end? Montaigne’s first idea, “Certainly, we have strangely overpaid for this fine rationality we boast of and this capacity to judge and to know, if we have bought it at the price of that infinite number of passions in which we are constantly entangled” (48), can be understood with the analogy he gives of wine as a cure to a sick man. “better to give them none at all than to expose them to certain injury for the sake of a doubtful cure” (48). Essentially, Montaigne believes that the knowledge we have attained has come at a
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