Montaigne’s Humanity

For the Winter 2021 edition of City Journal, the skeptical doctor covers the life and works of the famous 16th-century French essayist, Michel de Montaigne.

We cannot derive a coherent doctrine from Montaigne. He was skeptical about the profound finitude of human knowledge but believed in facts, which he used to establish points that he wanted to make. He was not a rationalist but did not disdain logic to make an argument, and was therefore not an irrationalist, either. Rather, his skepticism was a call to intellectual modesty, and his appreciation of the immense variety of the human and natural world a reminder that the ocean of truth lies all before us and will forever do so.

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