Review by Choice Review
Had this reviewer been the editor of this collection, Ann Hartle's contribution, "Montaigne and Skepticism," would have come first. Why? Most people think of Montaigne only as a skeptic but do not know how his philosophy differs from ancient Pyrrhonism. Hartle explains that Montaigne's was a commonsense skepticism: new doctrines should be accepted cautiously since they may be overthrown by even newer ones. Though not a traditional philosopher, Montaigne is known for his philosophic doubt, which is not the same as Descartes' methodological doubt a generation later. Descartes embodies the same mood that animates the French clothing industry: out with the old, in with the new--an attitude that continues to infect French philosophy, which each generation begins afresh. As befits the "Cambridge Companion" series, the sweep of this book's 11 clearly written chapters is impressive, embracing Montaigne's religious, political, judicial, and ethical thought, the latter being understood in Aristotle's sense of the search for the good life. The writing is accessible to the generalist while also helpful to the specialist. A chronology of Montaigne's life, a good bibliography, and a substantial index make this a valuable reference tool. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. D. Stewart emeritus, Ohio University
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