Summary Of Montaigne's Apology Essay

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Like Popkin, Screech has two tasks that will be investigated: first- he has provided a translation and introduction (36 pages) for the entire corpus of Montaigne’s Essays and secondly – he has provided a stand-alone introduction (25 pages) for the translated Essay – An Apology for Raymond Sebond. Like Pokin, he will have to situate his assessment of the Apology with the broader confines of all the Essays.
3.1 The Argument of the Complete Essays
The introduction to the Complete Essays is dominated by a reading of the Apology essay. It faithfully summarizes the more detailed Apology introduction provided in the stand-alone volume. However, it does introduce some nuance to the reading of Montaigne’s scepticism while investigating new themes that are external to the Apology.
Screech identifies Montaigne as maintaining a complex harmony among his sources.
Montaigne was first, it seems, as we read him, a Stoic, then a
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It is deliberately paradoxical that the poet who dominates the pages of the Apology should be Lucretius… But Epicureanism is flatly opposed to Pyrrhonist scepticism. Far from asserting that all man’s boasted knowledge is mere opinion, it holds that the senses give Man access to infallible certainty. (Apology xxiv-xxv)

Screech’s thesis is also borne out by the textual analysis – Lucretius, Democritus and Epicurus comprise 19% of the philosophical references in the Apology versus fewer than 10% in the entirety of the Essays. However, by the final essay, there is not a single mention of Lucretius nor of Democritus.
However, Screech also rejects Montaigne as a religious sceptic; a man who is subtly mocking organized religion throughout the Essays. He identifies this interpretation as a trap set for the unwary reader.
But Montaigne had done his job well – well enough for many free thinkers… to see him as a forerunner of their sceptical Deism or atheistic

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