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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

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Publication details for Professor Richard Scholar

Scholar, Richard (2017). Montaigne on Free-Thinking. In The Oxford Handbook of Montaigne. Desan, Philippe Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 434-452.

Author(s) from Durham


Abstract and Keywords
This essay suggests that free-thinking is an important and often misunderstood context for the venture—and adventure—of Montaigne’s Essays. Where free-thinking is now generally understood to indicate a principled independence from the dogmas of any church or creed, it is argued here that Montaigne belongs to a different age, in which free-thinking was a much wider anti-authoritarian and experimental cast of mind that he and his contemporaries could bring to bear on all kinds of questions. That kind of free-thinking was both a Renaissance inheritance of the libertas philosophandi of the ancients and a contemporary trend among certain French humanist-statesmen admired by Montaigne. Montaigne’s response to his precursors and contemporaries, in “Of the education of children” (I, 26) and elsewhere, nonetheless, confirms that his thinking floats free from any determinations of context and remains irreducible to the expression of an “-ism.”