Article published in:History of Linguistics 2005: Selected papers from the Tenth International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences (ICHOLS X), 1–5 September 2005, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
Edited by Douglas A. Kibbee
[Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 112] 2007
► pp. 103–111
Montaigne's view of skepticism and language in the Essais
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was one of the most influential authors in the rise of modern thought, especially in the French context, his influence reaching philosophers as important as Descartes and Pascal in the seventeenth century. He was also one of the main representatives of the revival of ancient skepticism in the modern age, with his own brand of skeptical thought contributing to the development of modern skepticism as distinct from the ancient one. Language was discussed in the Essais (1570-1580) from a skeptical perspective, mainly in relation to knowledge, moral and cultural relativism, and religious experience. Montaigne contributed to the development of a philosophical discussion of language, addressing fundamental questions such as: the diversity of languages and cultural relativism, the imperfection and inadequacy of ordinary language for philosophical reflection, and consequently, the need for a special language and a specific style such as that found in the Essais.
Published online: 28 November 2007