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Download Michel De Montaigne Accidental Philosopher 2003

Links to the sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a wider range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for. Category: Short Introduction Length: pages Published: Publisher description: Montaigne is commonly regarded as an early modern sceptic, standing at the threshold of a new secular way of thinking. Category: General Introduction Length: pages Published: Publisher description: Michel de Montaigne has always been acknowledged as a great literary figure but never thought of as a philosophical original.

This major reassessment of a much admired but also greatly underestimated thinker is for historians of philosophy and scholars in comparative literature, French studies and the history of ideas.

Category: Biography Length: pages Published: They are all versions of a bigger question: how do you live? How do you do the good or honorable thing, while flourishing and feeling happy? This question obsessed Renaissance writers, none more than Michel Eyquem de Monatigne, perhaps the first truly modern individual.

A nobleman, public official and wine-grower, he wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

Maybe if this tendency continues, Montaigne will one day come to seem as significant a figure in the history of philosophy as Descartes. It presents Montaigne as a philosopher opposed to any simple form of foundationalist rationalism. Hartle sees him rather as an Oakeshottian sceptic, who believes that philosophy should be conducted as a conversation that clarifies what is already known, and that seeks to make clearer some of the conditions under which we know, rather than aiming to ground our understanding on method.


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For Oakeshott and, Hartle argues, for Montaigne, too, our custom-bound prereflective conceptions are and ought to be the ground of philosophy, rather than theories built from the first foundations upwards. She has an excellent passage, for example, on the reason Montaigne makes so much of the fact that his memory is bad: only by having a bad memory can he avoid being enslaved to presumption and its errors. People who forget readily and rapidly can see things freshly and reason back from what they deeply know, rather than having to rely on received opinion.

But she suffers from philosophy. This gives her a penchant for isolating and naming systems, and for finding propositional formulations that would explain inconsistency even if the systems which she isolates and names are systematically unsystematic. And does this amount to a position of a kind that would enable a person to choose to be an accidental philosopher?

Ann Hartle

Some of my best friends are philosophers. I tend to believe that texts are better considered as things with geneses and effects than as things which manifest positions. Why regard a text as a manifestation at one remove of a programme or a set of at least logically prior principles which can be inferred and systematised from it? This could be seen as a paraphrasable belief along these lines: Montaigne believed that human reason was inadequate to comprehend certain truths about God and the world; hence he adopts an attitude to authority which is bifold — authorities may tell us truths which we cannot ourselves apprehend, or they may hoodwink us with nonsense.

Therefore on some points authorities must be trusted even if one experiences their absurdity; on others they might be compared with authorities from which they differ in order to illustrate the deficiencies of our reason. This form of training necessarily fostered both a respect for custom and a sense of surprise when authorities clashed; credulity and incredulity alike could emerge when apparently reliable witnesses told different stories.

In saying this I am not just saying that I start from a different position from Hartle, and that as a result I see the origins and the point of Montaigne rather differently.

‘The bonds of our society’: Montaigne and the transformation of virtue - ABC Religion & Ethics

I am making the larger claim that she, and other philosophers who aspire to the tower, may still have the soot of the stove on their faces even when they think they do not, and that perhaps they have more to learn from literary criticism than they realise. The reverse is doubtless also true; but to make Montaigne appear to be as important as he is requires one to resist the desire to find systematisable propositions underlying his writing.


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