By Frederick Copleston
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Additional info for A History of Philosophy (Part I: Hobbes to Paley, Vol 5, Modern Philosophy: The British Philosophers)
T the elose of the scene Gargantua suggests that the most learned philosophers of the day belong to the sehool of the "pyrrhoniens, aporrheticques, scepticques et ephectiques" (technical terms probably from Diogenes Laertius). Busson cites this as evidence that skepticism was widespread: Rationalisme, pp. 234-235. Popkin's view that this comic episode should not be given too much weight as a historieal or philosophical document seerns mo re sound: History of Scepticism, pp. 21-22. The whole scene is conceivably based on a similar passage in Lucian's Philosophiesfor Sale.
Montaigne read the Dialogues and made use of them in his Essais. Villey finds seventeen borrowings, all but three in the "Apologie"; and these three could have come from Brues or elsewhere. 2 In several other cases, it is high ly likely that Montaigne went to Brues and other sources, such as Agrippa, for his lists of the opinions of the philosophers. But it is surely not just as a compendium oflists that the Dialogues appealed to the essayist. Montaigne could not have helped being fascinated by the incrimination of the legal code and the judieial system, the long treatment of the relativity of morals (and the morality of moderation), Bai:f's and Aubert's praise of the state of nature and the condition of the animals, the repeated attacks on foolish erudition, and finally, but most important of all, the constantly reiterated theme of the diversity and contradiction in every field of human affairs.
CHAPTER III MONTAIGNE'S EARLY ESSAYS Since the beginning of the twentieth century Montaigne scholarship has been increasingly aware that many, though not all, of the difficulties and apparent contradictions raised by the rich variety of ide as in the Essais can be enlightened and sometimes resolved if we keep in mind that the essayist's point of view evolved as he wrote, so that what we have is the record of a developing mind, not a static one. The Montaigne who wrote the earliest chapters of 1571 was to change, both as a man and as an artist, in the course of the years.
A History of Philosophy (Part I: Hobbes to Paley, Vol 5, Modern Philosophy: The British Philosophers) by Frederick Copleston