Montaigne’s “good witness”

Michel de Montaigne indicates a distrust of witnesses who are sophisticated enough to bend and manipulate a story to fit a preconceived point of view, individuals who “cannot help changing their story a little in order to make their views triumph and be more persuasive” (6):

That man of mine was a simple, rough fellow – qualitites which make for a good witness: those clever chaps notice more things more carefully but are always adding glosses; they cannot help changing their story a little in order to make their views triumph and be more persuasive; they never show you anything purely as it is: they bend it and disguise it to fit in with their own views.  To make their judgement more credible and to win you over they emphasize their own side, amplify and extend it.  So you need either a very trustworthy man or else a man so simple that he has nothing in him on which to build such false discoveries or make them plausibl; and he must be wedded to no cause. (6-7)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>