The Necessity of Judgment

A weighty biography of Michel de Montaigne by Philippe Desan is meticulously reviewed by the good doctor for the October 2017 edition of First Things.

No doubt this is deeply disconcerting to some, who therefore wish to ignore or deny it, or to devise schemes for creating the New Man who will not suffer from these defects, but for others (among whom I am one) it is consoling. Thanks to this apprehension of an unchanging reality, I come no longer, in the words of Dr. Johnson, “to pursue the phantoms of hope” or “expect that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow.” I am content to be discontent, if by discontent we mean aware of the inescapable imperfections of our own condition.

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