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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 24, Issue 1, 2014

The Experience of Animality

Krzysztof Skonieczny
Pages 87-102

Becoming Animal in Michel de Montaigne’s Views. Toward an Animal Community

It is a recent tendency to read certain pre- and early-modern thinkers as “anticipatory critics” of modernity; the name of Michel de Montaigne often comes up in this context. Most of the critical approaches treat Montaigne like a pre-Rousseau proto-romantic which is indeed is an important part of Montaigne’s thinking. However, as I show in this paper, his Essays also allow for a different interpretation. Namely, I demonstrate that 1) Montaigne’s appraisal of Nature is far from a romantic-idyllic one; 2) his understanding of the interspecies division is more subtle than it is often thought; 3) his thought thus interpreted includes an ethics of becoming-animal that is based on a radically anti-Platonic (and thus anti-Cartesian) body-mind economy.

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