Montaigne's Perfect Friendship and Perfect Society: Philosophical Fictions as Useful Reminders

Philosophy and Literature 45 (2):367-382 (2021)
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Abstract

Montaigne’s “Of friendship” is often read as a celebration of his relationship with his late friend, Étienne La Boétie. This is not wrong, but rather, incomplete. Drawing on the chapters of Montaigne’s Essays that immediately follow “Of friendship,” this essay argues that Montaigne’s chapter on friendship is part of a larger project in which he employs philosophical fictions—specifically, his “perfect friendship” with La Boétie and the “perfect society” that he depicts in “Of cannibals”—to reorient us in our relationships not only with our friends, but also with our enemies.

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