Montaigne on Witches and the Authority of Religion in the Public Sphere
Philosophy and Literature, Vol. 33, pp. 235-251, 2009
17 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2009
While contemporary readers may find what appear to be appealing streaks of liberalism in Montaigne, I argue that a more careful analysis suggests that Montaigne’s overall stance is quietist and conservative. To help support this claim I offer a close reading of Montaigne’s essay “Of Cripples” where he develops his well-known critique of the witch trials of early modern Europe. Once Montaigne’s objections to the witch trials are properly understood, we see that Montaigne did not seriously or consistently dispute the Church’s authority in political matters, though certain undeveloped seeds of liberalism do leave an unresolved tension in his writings.
Keywords: Montaigne, witch trials quietism
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