Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

«Du repentir» (III, 2): scepticism and self-knowledge in Montaigne

Luiz Eva


This paper aims to offer a new interpretation of the famous introductory passage to «Du repentir»
(Essais III, 2) more in keeping with its philosophical scepticism. I mainly purport that, in spite of the originality
of Montaigne’s project of self-portrayal, it can consistently be seen as being founded upon a sceptical negative
argument about knowledge in general (and knowledge of the self in particular). First, I will argue that the usual
claim that Montaigne is relying on a Heraclitean picture of the world is misguided insofar as his text can be
more precisely related with the Pyrrhonian for practical life (as it is presented by Sextus Empiricus), namely
the phainómenon. I subsequently consider Montaigne’s remark on how each man bears the whole form of the
human condition. I suggest that it should be construed as an example of how he fails to obtain self-knowledge,
rather than as indicating how to achieve it. Finally I speculate on why he does not see his search for selfknowledge
as being pointless, and how this introduction ties in with the main theme of «Du repentir»

Text complet: PDF