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Montaigne and the Tolerance of Politics$
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Douglas I. Thompson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190679934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190679934.001.0001

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The Power of Uncivil Conversation

The Power of Uncivil Conversation

(p.65) 3 The Power of Uncivil Conversation
Montaigne and the Tolerance of Politics

Douglas I. Thompson

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates Michel de Montaigne’s engagement with the Italian humanist conception of “civil conversation” as an exercise for training effective political counselors and ambassadors. Using himself as a model, Montaigne prescribes a more confrontational, uncivil form of conversation as a means to train his readers into a high tolerance for political negotiation with the widest possible range of interlocutors and opinions. Following the conventions of the humanist literature on political education, Montaigne argues that the best way to practice political negotiation and other forms of conversation with political opponents is to go out and do it. The chapter then compares this theme of the Essais with Rainer Forst’s conception of tolerance as a form of civil public reason.

Keywords:   Michel de Montaigne, Stefano Guazzo, Baldassare Castiglione, civil conversation, Rainer Forst, public reason

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