The Therapeutic Skepticism of Michel de Montaigne

Review of Metaphysics 68 (4):781-801 (2015)
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Abstract

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.”

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