Friday, April 5, 2019

Dunning-Kruger Montaigne

From Montaigne, “Of Presumption” (1580):

It is commonly said that good sense is the gift Nature has distributed most fairly among us, for there is no one who is unsatisfied with the share he has been allowed — and isn’t that reasonable enough? For whoever saw beyond this would be beyond his sight. I think my opinions are good and sound, but who does not think the same of his own?

Quoted in Ward Farnsworth’s The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User’s Manual (Boston: David R. Godine, 2018). Adapted from an unidentified public-domain translation.
Farnsworth’s gloss: “Our limited capacities prevent us from perceiving our limited capacities.”

Related reading
All OCA Dunning-Kruger posts (Pinboard)

comments: 3

The Arthurian said...

So, did Descartes plagiarize Montaigne?

"Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess." -- Descartes at Project Gutenberg

Michael Leddy said...

Descartes borrowed quite a bit from Montaigne. I found a footnote suggesting that they may have both heard a common joke. Tipping in material from literary and philosophical ancestors without attribution was once pretty common. Sterne and Coleridge both did so. The “rules” of attribution are markedly different for us.

Michael Leddy said...

I think “He got it from Montaigne” is a more likely explanation than “They heard the same joke.” And thanks for adding the Descartes connection.