Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

1. Réflexions sur la postérité philosophique et politique de Montaigne

Philippe Desan


What makes Montaigne a modern author? Why are the Essais considered to be the first great
philosophical texts announcing Descartes’ metaphysics and Modernity? What we like in Montaigne is
precisely his hyper-subjectivity, confronting a globalized world. We have come to value and admire the
moment of introspection, a retraction of the self-sufficient modern subject. Instead of this essentialist position,
we propose a political reading of Montaigne. We argue that philosophical reflections drawn from the Essais
cannot be separated from their links to a collective entity. Montaigne’s way of perceiving the world is also the
expression of a collective vision of the same world. Politics were an important constraint on Montaigne’s
thinking and the isolation in his tower is not so much the expression of a withdrawal from society but a sign
of obligation stemming from his political failure. Montaigne writes when his political involvement with the
real world is not going as he would like. Montaigne might have preferred to have a political posterity, but
instead we have given him a philosophical one

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