"I put forward formless and unresolved notions, as do those who publish doubtful questions to debate in the schools, not to establish the truth but to seek it." Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Remember all those essays you were required to write in school? Well, you can thank French essayist, Michel de Montaigne, for that! Montaigne, an important humanist philosopher of the Renaissance period, invented the essay as a new genre of philosophical expression.
The word, essay, means "try" or "attempt" in French and may be defined as short to medium-length pieces that draw on various ideas, including personal experience, to explain rather than prove a position or point of view on a particular subject. Montaigne called his writings essays because he was experimenting with ideas, trying to see what he could figure out about himself and other people.
Montaigne, like all Renaissance philosophers in general, reconciled new ideas with old ways of thinking and acting. He made it acceptable to write your ideas even if you didn't know whether they were true, which helped place philosophy on a new track by making it more speculative and less definitive.
Montaigne's views on behavior, emotion, awareness, self-acquaintance, humility, openness, and planning influenced the likes of Shakespeare, Rene Descartes, Fredrich Nietzsche, and Ralph Waldo Emerson and, still to this day, make for some useful words of wisdom applicable to all areas of life, including personal finance and investing:
Behavior / Emotion
"A man who fears suffering already suffers from what he fears."
"My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened."
"There is no passion so contagious as that of fear."
"It is the mind that maketh good or ill, that maketh wretch or happy, rich or poor."
"A straight oar looks bent in the water. What matters is not merely that we see things but how we see them."
Awareness / Self-Acquaintance
"It is a sign of contraction of the mind when it is content, or of weariness."
"A spirited mind never stops within itself; it is always aspiring and going beyond its strength."
"Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself."
"I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself and not by borrowing."
"I study myself more than any other subject. That is my metaphysics that is my physics."
"A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself."
"A wise man sees as much as he ought, not as much as he can."
Humility / Openness
"The beautiful souls are they that are universal, open, and ready for all things."
"Stubborn and ardent clinging to one's opinion is the best proof of stupidity."
"There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees."
"It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others."
"I quote others only in order the better to express myself."
"He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak."
"I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly."
"I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of."
"Not being able to govern events, I govern myself."
"No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port."
"Every one rushes elsewhere and into the future, because no one wants to face one's own inner self."
"I write to keep from going mad from the contradictions I find among mankind - and to work some of those contradictions out for myself."
Stevenson, J.,Ph.D. (2005) , The Complete Idiot's Guide To Philosophy, Third Edition. New York: Penguin Group
Quotes from BrainyQuote