Rejecting Society: Misanthropy, Friendship and Montaigne

Res Publica 19 (1):53-65 (2013)
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Widespread misanthropy, understood as the disposition to reject society, is at once a permanent source of instability and injustice, and yet also a valuable support of cherished liberal practices, such as toleration. We must seek therefore to ‘civilise’ the misanthropic temper. Michel de Montaigne provides an instructive case study in this context, for he successfully moderated his misanthropy by his conviviality and friendship. The non-conditional character of Montaignean friendship functions to moderate rational misanthropic antipathy and thereby suggests a striking reinterpretation of civic friendship. Montaigne may seem an unpromising ally for contemporary defenders of civic friendship, but in fact his essays provide a valuable resource for the political theory of community



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After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1984 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
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Ordinary vices.Judith N. Shklar - 1984 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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