This essay argues that Montaigne draws on elements of both the Academic and Pyrrhonian skeptical traditions, but that the fundamental desire for self-knowledge that initially led him to appreciate the insights of the ancient skeptics ultimately leads him beyond them. What lies at the heart of Montaigne’s skepticism is neither an epistemological position nor the experience of doubt, but rather the determination to philosophize self-consciously.
Problematizando a confissão de Montaigne sobre a vaidade que encontra em si mesmo, na Apologia de Raymond Sebond, tentamos defender a hipótese de estarmos diante de uma estratégia retórica, possivelmente destinada a ocultar posição cética do autor perante os costumes religiosos.
In the essay “Of repentance,” Montaigne proclaims his moral autonomy, explaining to readers that he lives his life according to his own laws and that he judges himself in his own court. This essay attempts to give an account of the nature of Montaigne’s conception of autonomy, and ultimately argues that it deserves the attention of philosophers interested in alternatives to the conceptions of autonomy offered by figures from the history of philosophy such as Plato, Kant, and Rorty.
According to the standard view, Montaigne’s Pyrrhonian doubts would be in the origin of Descartes’ radical Sceptical challenges and his cogito argument. Although this paper does not deny this influence, its aim is to reconsider it from a different perspective, by acknowledging that it was not Montaigne’s Scepticism, but his Stoicism, which played the decisive role in the birth of the modern internalist conception of subjectivity. Cartesian need for certitude is to be better understood as an effect of (...) the Stoic model of wisdom, which urges the sage to build an inner space for self-sufficiency and absolute freedom. (shrink)
Despite their divergences, I argue that Sextus, Montaigne, and Hume are committed to several substantive points of commonality and that these commonalities justify us in speaking of them as belonging to a unitary Pyrrhonist tradition. In this tradition, Pyrrhonizing doubt serves to chart the boundary of that-which-resists-doubt, thereby simultaneously charting the shape of that complex of nature and custom which constitutes the bedrock of human life — the life that remains after doubt has done its worst.
This essay explores the educational implications of the thought of Michel de Montaigne and Friedrich Nietzsche on the subject of memory. It explores the sorts of cultural memory practices that Nietzsche has called ‘mnemotechnics’, that is, the aspects of memory use that allow human beings to live life more fully. Nietzsche and Montaigne's work is explored because their work offers a different, and much more philosophically oriented, perspective on memory than is commonly discussed when educators speak of memory. (...) Nietzsche and Montaigne show how remembering and forgetting might be understood more thoroughly and deployed with more finesse. The case is made that such deployments, such mnemotechnics, have great relevance for enhancing the agency of students. (shrink)
Widespread misanthropy, understood as the disposition to reject society, is at once a permanent source of instability and injustice, and yet also a valuable support of cherished liberal practices, such as toleration. We must seek therefore to ‘civilise’ the misanthropic temper. Michel de Montaigne provides an instructive case study in this context, for he successfully moderated his misanthropy by his conviviality and friendship. The non-conditional character of Montaignean friendship functions to moderate rational misanthropic antipathy and thereby suggests a striking (...) reinterpretation of civic friendship. Montaigne may seem an unpromising ally for contemporary defenders of civic friendship, but in fact his essays provide a valuable resource for the political theory of community. (shrink)
One of the most important issues today is the conflict between identity groups. Can the concept of toleration provide resources for thinking about this? The standard definition of toleration – rejection or disapproval of a practice or belief followed by a constraint of oneself from repressing it –has limits. If we seek to make political and social conditions of toleration among diverse people a stable reality, we need to flesh out more deeply and widely what that depends upon. The essence (...) to which it has been reduced was not toleration’s original impulse. In the sixteenth century, the objective was to create conditions of peaceful collective life among diverse groups of believers. I examine one strand of change in moral valuation underpinning political toleration: ideas about the body, time and the self as explored by Michel de Montaigne. We can extract from this analysis a way to think about grounding toleration today: a recognition of the value of particular, embodied selves. (shrink)
In this paper I interpret Montaigne’s essay, “On Educating Children”, as a pedagogical text through its performance of a distinct epistolary function, one that addresses the letter-recipient for the purpose of shaping the ideas, actions, and beliefs of that individual. At the same time, I also read “On Educating Children” within the context of the wider project of Montaigne’s Essays, which, as I suggest, is an ethical-aesthetic project of self-fashioning and self-cultivation. The net result is an interpretation of (...) teaching as an ethical-aesthetic practice of the self, one that is in concert with the interpretation of Montaigne’s writing of the Essays as a similar practice of the self. In order to build this case, I employ Michel Foucault’s fourfold schema of ethical subjectivity, mapping that schema onto “On Educating Children”, so as to reveal a unique pedagogy of self-formation—a pedagogy that works as much upon the self of the teacher as it does the self of the student. (shrink)
In this paper I interpret Montaigne’s essay, “On Educating Children”, as a pedagogical text through its performance of a distinct epistolary function, one that addresses the letter-recipient for the purpose of shaping the ideas, actions, and beliefs of that individual. At the same time, I also read “On Educating Children” within the context of the wider project of Montaigne’s Essays , which, as I suggest, is an ethical-aesthetic project of self-fashioning and self-cultivation. The net result is an interpretation (...) of teaching as an ethical-aesthetic practice of the self, one that is in concert with the interpretation of Montaigne’s writing of the Essays as a similar practice of the self. In order to build this case, I employ Michel Foucault’s fourfold schema of ethical subjectivity, mapping that schema onto “On Educating Children”, so as to reveal a unique pedagogy of self-formation—a pedagogy that works as much upon the self of the teacher as it does the self of the student. (shrink)
El escepticismo de Pirrón une a su condición fundadora un problema de recepción recurrente en los clásicos de la antigüedad, y presente aquí en extremo: la ausencia de textos escritos del autor. La interpretación del escepticismo como modo de vida, y no como discurso, en Michel de Montaigne y Friedrich Nietzsche, es el resultado de asumir radicalmente, aunque de formas divergentes, la tensión originaria entre escepticismo y (ausencia intencionada o no de) discurso verbal: como restitución de la paridad de (...) palabras y cosas o como privilegio de la lectura sobre la designación del texto. (shrink)
Normal 0 21 This article attempts to explore the Essays of Michel de Montaigne from a perspective that takes into account the close relation between philosophical thought and its literary expression. It claims that the re is a particular skeptical content in essayistic creation. In this sense, the essay, as a literary genre, is not only a free exercise of thought. Rather, it represents the form that can better express the effects of the “pyrrhonian crisis” suffered by Montaigne (...) and especially his acknowledgement of the relative nature of human knowledge. (shrink)
En este artículo pretendo precisar el noutopismo de Montaigne en relación a la organización sociopolítica a partir del análisis de la utilización de Platón que lleva a cabo Montaigne en el capítulo «Sobre los caníbales» de los Ensayos, capítulo que puede ser visto como un intento de valorar la utilidad de modelos de estado como el de la República de Platón a partir de la observación de sociedades reales alternativas a las europeas. Aunque la sociedad caníbal de los (...) Tupinamba se asemeja a la sociedad primitiva descrita en la República y las Leyes, Platón cree que una sociedad como esa ya no es factible, por lo que la solución pasa por la utopía, como aquello a lo que debe aspirar una sociedad compleja. En cambio, Montaigne, que más que criticar a Platón en cierto modo lo justifica, defiende la utilidad de analizar esa sociedad primitiva, como un modelo real que permite mejorar la sociedad europea. La alternativa a la utopía consiste, pues, en mirar al otro para mejor mirarse a sí mismo. (shrink)
Montaigne's thought and writings have been a subject of enduring interest across disciplines. This "Handbook brings together essays by prominent scholars that examine Montaigne's literary, philosophical, and political contributions, and assess his legacy and relevance today in a global perspective.
This present study takes a new look at the essayist Michel de Montaigne and the philosopher Rene Descartes and attempts to show a new interrelationship between the two. Previous studies have linked the latter's Discours de la mÈthode to the Essais and have noted general similarities, but no major study to date has examined the pair from the standpoint of Descartes' TraitÈ des passions and Montaigne's Essais.
A superb achievement, one that successfully brings together in accessible form the work of two major writers of Renaissance France. This is now the default version of Montaigne in English. --Timothy Hampton, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley.
Robert Pippin has recently raised what he calls ‘the Montaigne problem’ for Nietzsche's philosophy: although Nietzsche advocates a ‘cheerful’ mode of philosophizing for which Montaigne is an exemplar, he signally fails to write with the obvious cheerfulness attained by Montaigne. We explore the moral psychological structure of the cheerfulness Nietzsche values, revealing unexpected complexity in his conception of the attitude. For him, the right kind of cheerfulness is radically non-naïve; it expresses the overcoming of justified revulsion at (...) calamitous aspects of life through a reflective, higher-order affirmative attitude. This complex notion of cheerfulness turns out to have roots in Montaigne himself, and it must be thought of as a kind of second nature cultivated through practice, as a kind of second nature. Understanding the meaning of cheerfulness thereby sheds light on the conception of philosophy as a way of life in both Nietzsche and Montaigne. (shrink)
I have naturally a [comique] and [privé ] style...I hate men base in deeds but wise in words.Although we have many examples of men, contemporary to Montaigne, who claim to write about their private lives, few of them satisfy our curiosity about the state of intimate life in the French Renaissance. For example, in Blaise de Monluc's Commentaires, his vision of recounting his inner self means, as he writes, detailing the "honor and reputation... [he] acquired... by force of arms."3 (...) Similarly, each subject in Théodore de Bèze's Les Vrais portraits des hommes illustres is painted in a more public light. Kings and military leaders reach the "summit of knowledge" and "glory," "surpassing all. (shrink)
"Each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice; for indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and pattern of the opinions and customs of the country we live in" (1.31.152, VS205).1 Remarks such as this from the essay "Of cannibals" have led commentators to argue that Montaigne subscribes to the theory of moral relativism, and that he takes "reason" to be a subjective, rather than an objective, standard for judgment.2 (...) Yet later in that same essay, Montaigne condemns the cannibals' brutal treatment of their enemies (1.31.155, VS209) and concludes that "we may call these people barbarians, in respect to the rules of reason, but not in respect to ourselves, who surpass them .. (shrink)
While contemporary readers may find what appear to be appealing streaks of liberalism in Montaigne's 'Essays', I argue that a more careful analysis suggests that Montaigne's overall stance is quietistic and conservative. To help support this claim I offer a close reading of 'Essays' III.11 ("Of Cripples"), where Montaigne offers his famous critique of the witch trials of early modern Europe. Once Montaigne's objections to the witch trials are properly understood, we see that Montaigne did (...) not seriously or consistently dispute the church's authority in political matters, though certain undeveloped seeds of liberalism do leave an unresolved tension in his writings. (shrink)
The Essays do not look like philosophy in any traditional sense: there are no arguments, conclusions, or proofs, and no apparent philosophical teaching. Yet, Montaigne does describe himself as a philosopher: “a new figure: an unpremeditated and accidental philosopher.” Unpremeditated and accidental philosophy, however, just looks like the formless and disordered thoughts of ordinary life and conversation. While philosophy is invisible, Montaigne himself is always visible. Philosophy disappears into the pre-philosophical at the same time and in the same (...) act by which Montaigne emerges into the public in his concrete particularity. The Essays do not look like philosophy because philosophy is not a teaching but an act, the act of bringing the private, common man into the public. At the same time and in the same act, Montaigne transforms both philosophy and human association: the philosophical act is the invention of modern society. (shrink)
RESUMEN:Este artículo presenta el pensamiento de Michel Montaigne como camino para interpretar aspectos de la formación docente contemporánea. En primer lugar se caracterizan las nociones de ensayo y de experiencia; se analizan las relaciones entre ellas; y se las discute como ejes de una propuesta formativa basada en una exploración seria de la propia vida. Luego, se presentan dos desafíos identificados por Russell : por una parte, si bien han pasado 12 años escolarizados, al momento de comenzar con sus (...) prácticas profesionales los alumnos de carreras de pedagogía tienen dificultades en explicar de qué se trata enseñar. Por otro lado, los profesores que dictan cursos de pedagogía suelen no ser los mismos que acompañan a los alumnos en sus primeras experiencias docentes. Esto tendería a crear una ruptura entre la educación que se recibe como alumno y la que se imparte como docente de práctica profesional. El artículo concluye proponiendo la posibilidad de implementar un ensayo de posición pedagógica. Éste constituiría una estrategia formativa por sí misma que permitiría, tanto a profesores experimentados como a novicios, visibilizar, articular y discutir los argumentos fundamentales desde los cuales orientan su tarea cotidiana como educadores. ABSTRACT:This paper presents Michel Montaigne´s thought as a way of interpreting some aspects of contemporary teacher education. First, it characterizes the notions of experiment and experience, analyzes their relationship, and discusses them as guidelines for an educational project based on the serious consideration of personal life. From this point of view, the paper continues presents two challenges identified by Russell. First, the claim that when beginning their training, education students have difficulty in articulating what teaching is about. Second, the assertion that university course professors are usually not the same people that guide students through their practicum. The paper concludes by proposing the possibility of a pedagogical position experiment. This would be an educational experience as such, that would allow both experienced and novice teachers to manifest, discuss, and articulate the basic assumptions by which they guide their daily work. (shrink)
Montaigne is widely appreciated as an important figure in the history of skepticism, but the precise nature of his skepticism remains unclear. While most treatments of Montaigne’s skepticism focus on the “Apology for Raymond Sebond,” there is reason to believe that the “Apology” does not contain his last word on the subject, and that—as many scholars have pointed out—whatever endorsement he gives there to ancient Pyrrhonism must be qualified in light of the fact that he does maintain beliefs, (...) not only about appearances, but also about reality itself. This essay argues that by the end of the Essais, Montaigne has developed a skepticism that is, as he would say, “all his own,” one that is best understood as a therapeutic practice meant to treat what Montaigne calls our “natural and original malady.”. (shrink)
Before imagination became the transcendent and creative faculty promoted by the Romantics, it was for something quite different. Not reserved to a privileged few, imagination was instead considered a universal ability that each person could direct in practical ways. To imagine something meant to form in the mind a replica of a thing—its taste, its sound, and other physical attributes. At the end of the Renaissance, there was a movement to encourage individuals to develop their ability to imagine vividly. Within (...) their private mental space, a space of embodied, sensual thought, they could meditate, pray, or philosophize. Gradually, confidence in the self-directed imagination fell out of favor and was replaced by the belief that the few—an elite of writers and teachers—should control the imagination of the many. This book seeks to understand what imagination meant in early modern Europe, particularly in early modern France, before the Romantic era gave the term its modern meaning. The author explores the themes surrounding early modern notions of imagination (including hostility to imagination) through the writings of such figures as Descartes, Montaigne, François de Sales, Pascal, the Marquise de Se;vigne;, Madame de Lafayette, and Fe;nelon. (shrink)
In response to Walter Benjamin's caveat that every image of the past not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably, this essay examines images of spitting in the work of Michel de Montaigne and Georges Bataille. By resisting insertion within codified cycles of exchange-especially those of institutionalized violence-their images exemplify a defiance to servitude that can be generalized to a theory of sovereignty. An archaeological inventory indicates possibilities provided by the montage of (...) images for the construction of a heterological counterhistory, where spit and spitting challenge the dominance of spirit in Western culture. (shrink)
Montaigne’s wide and critical reading contributed enormously to his writing. that we know more about Montaigne’s reading than any other Renaissance author. This chapter begins by discussing the books Montaigne read and the comments he made on his reading. It argues that we should take seriously his advice to read in order to become wise, by discovering one’s own views, rather than to become learned, by summarizing the views of others. It describes Montaigne’s method of writing (...) in reaction to his reading by building fragments, such as axioms, proverbs, narratives and comparisons into logical sequences, using seven basic types of logical connection and the ways in which Montaigne uses quotations taken from history and poetry in the Essays, concluding with a discussion of the use of quotations in “Of vanity”. (shrink)
A característica mais notável da filosofia renascentista foi também o que tornou sua assimilação pela história da filosofia tão difícil: a interação entre forma e conteúdo, entre ideia e sua expressão. Tal resulta da tentativa de realizar outra inter-relação que lhe é ainda mais essencial: aquela entre teoria e prática, pensamento e ação. Nos Ensaios de Montaigne, o método constitui antes de tudo um estilo de vida: a linguagem é aí o meio pelo qual a implicação entre mundos externos (...) e internos, o eu e a realidade - assim entre intelecto e sensibilidade, arte e natureza, fato e valor, identidade e alteridade etc. - busca tornar-se evidente, permitindo a percepção de seu permanente remodelar recíproco. The most remarkable characteristic of Renaissance philosophy was also what made its assimilation by History of Philosophy so difficult: the interaction between form and content, between idea and its expression. This results from trying to achieve another inter-relationship which is even more essential: that between theory and practice, thought and action. In Montaigne's Essays the method is primarily a lifestyle: there the language is the means by which the implication between external and internal worlds, self and reality - and so between intellect and sensibility, art and nature, fact and value, identity and otherness, etc - seeks to become apparent, allowing the perception of its permanent reciprocal remodeling. (shrink)