Mar 01 / Simcha

Self-Acceptance or Self-Improvement? (D. Brooks)

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Art: Andrew Cleary

In a compelling piece in yesterday’s New York Times (Ease and Ardor, 2.27.14), op-ed columnist David Brooks takes a close look at two of the greatest essayists who ever lived: Michel de Montaigne and Samuel Johnson.

Brooks notes how the two men tackled similar problems and were fascinated by some of the same perplexities, yet emerged with different attitudes towards adversity and  living life: Montaigne focused on self-understanding and self-acceptance, while Johnson sought self-conquest and self-improvement; where the former sought a life of wisdom and restraint, the latter pursued a life of improvement and ardor.

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