The Virtues of Violence and the Pitfalls of Pity | Newberry

The Virtues of Violence and the Pitfalls of Pity

Essais de messire Michel seignevr de Montaigne, chevalier de l'Ordre du roy, & gentil-homme ordi-naire de sa chambre

Essais de messire Michel seignevr de Montaigne, chevalier de l’Ordre du roy, & gentil-homme ordi-naire de sa chambre, Newberry Case 3A 584 TP O2

A Newberry Colloquium
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

4 PM

Towner Fellows’ Lounge

Cynthia Nazarian, Monticello College Foundation Long-Term Fellow
Newberry Colloquium

During the bloody Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants in France (1562-98), the philosopher Michel de Montaigne criticized civil conflict, but not violence itself. Instead, he argued that violence was useful—as a testing grounds for virtue and the stability of the soul. This presentation explores why Montaigne portrayed sympathy not as a virtue but as a threat. Far from seeking compassionate, pacifist alternatives in the midst of violent times, his Essays argued instead that it is the practice of violence within limits that identified the ethical subject, and the threat of contagious, unreasoning fellow feeling that risked its freedom.