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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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Radical Moderation

Radical Moderation

(p.119) 5 Radical Moderation
Montaigne and the Tolerance of Politics

Douglas I. Thompson

Oxford University Press

Renaissance theories of diplomacy seek to address the tension between the ambassador’s dual roles as mediator between princes and representative of one prince exclusively. Michel de Montaigne transposes this concern onto the question of how to negotiate the resolution of civil conflict when one is a partisan within the conflict. In his view, moderation is the capacity that this activity demands. This is a deeply paradoxical virtue: if one is to be moderate and not overly hostile toward all signs of partisanship, one must retain some contact with partisan extremes. Montaigne argues that one should handle this paradox by acknowledging the customary, habitual aspects of one’s partisan attachments, so that one may affirm them without incapacitating oneself politically. The chapter then compares Montaigne’s conception of moderation with William Connolly’s conception of “bicameral citizenship,” which also seeks to enable non-incapacitating partisanship.

Keywords:   Michel de Montaigne, moderation, negotiation, William Connolly, partisanship, citizenship

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