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Montaigne über Trost

Schlüter, Gisela

Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Bd. 65 (2023), Iss. 1: S. 30–53

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Schlüter, Gisela


Looking at the fluid textual corpus of the Essais, one can identify several lines of argument concerning consolation. Before delving into his work on the Essais, Montaigne connects to the genre of consolation literature through his famous letter of consolation to his wife, in which he draws entirely on what Plutarch had written to his wife on the same occasion of losing a child. He then critically examines the themes of consolation related to death and pain. Setting aside Christian ideas of an afterlife, he focuses on traditional philosophical approaches to finding solace: Stoic selfimmunization and, on the other hand, skeptical-Epicurean distraction. As Montaigne approaches old age, he rejects Stoicism and its remedies as incompatible with human beings, instead evoking the bittersweet comforts of illusion recommended by Skepticism.