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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article distinguishes three approaches to Montaigne’s Essays from the perspective of ethics: first, a view of the writer as an agreeable friend or companion to us, and his writing as a compilation of charming practical advice on how to get more out of life; second, Montaigne as a systematic moral philosopher, despite his often unsystematic writing, arguing for propositions that he defends more or less well with proofs and examples; third, Montaigne’s Essays as arising out of a moral culture steeped in the virtues that are incarnated in actions and narrative and assume praise and blame and judgment. I follow this third approach, defining virtue as a deliberate and habitual activity, analyzing several chapters that deal explicitly with different virtues and often the difficulty in discerning and judging them (especially temperance, prudence, courage), and then considering the question of whether Montaigne represents himself as a virtuous man.

Keywords: Aristotle, virtue, ethics, temperance, moderation, prudence, justice, courage, judgment, cruelty

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