Are essays a good way to do philosophy? What if they’re full of digressions and contradictions? Could that possibly make them more philosophical, not less? This week we’re thinking about Michel de Montaigne and the art of the essay.
What Is It
French thinker Michel de Montaigne invented a whole new genre in which to do philosophy: the essay. But in his use of that form, Montaigne repeatedly digresses and contradicts himself. So why did he think the essay was a good medium for philosophy? What impact did Montaigne’s invention have on his own philosophical work, and on the centuries of thought that followed? Are there particular forms of writing that help us live a more philosophical life? The philosophers live their best life with Cécile Alduy from Stanford University, author of The Politics of Love: Poetics and Genesis of the "Amours" in Renaissance France (1549-1560).