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date: 21 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Essays contain a number of well-known gems with regard to early modern medical knowledge (II, 37), healthy living (III, 13), and death and dying (I, 20). That Montaigne treats notions concerning health, sickness, and potential cures as interpretable opinions and considers all medical belief as dependent on individual corporeal and mental givens has been less discussed. That these givens are grounded in notions of a material soul and a thinking body, due to a reversal of hierarchies that is prevalent in the essayist’s writing, is less known. This chapter shows how Montaigne assesses personal health and sickness and the means he suggests to preserve good health. The essayist’s interest in one particularly common medical practice–purging–is reviewed within the context of humoral theory. A discussion of death and dying, as exemplified in the passing of family members and the author’s best friend Étienne de La Boétie, ending in Montaigne’s thoughts concerning suicide, the afterlife, and his own approaching end, ensues.

Keywords: body, soul, life, death, dying, health, illness, suicide, La Boétie, Montaigne

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