Skeptical and Natural Philosophy

Michel De Montaigne

How did Montaigne convey his ideas?

Montaigne (1533–1592) used an indirect approach to explaining his ideas, which was not surprising for someone as intellectually sophisticated about literature, philosophy, and history as he was. Montaigne translated Natural Theology; or, The Book of Creatures, (written from 1420 to 1430) by Raimond Sebond, a fifteenth century Spanish theologian, who had taught at the University of Toulouse, where Montaigne had studied. The University of Toulouse offered much advanced and humanistic thinking at that time in a curriculum that encouraged intellectual creativity. Montaigne’s translation, The Apology of Raimond Sebond, was the result of Montaigne’s original embellishments. His primary thesis was that sensory and intellectual knowledge are uncertain. His conclusion was that judgment should therefore be suspended concerning matters that go beyond experience. Along the way to that conclusion, Montaigne discussed many conflicts of opinion that were relevant to disputes current in his day.


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