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Journal Title:

De philosophia.


13 2

1997/ 249-258

collier, carol; The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

De Philosophia Vol. XIII N 2, 1997

The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

From Portraiture to Indigence
Carol COLLIER - University of Ottawa
This paper is about the modern subject - the Cartesian subject, that
'thinking thing' which, according to Descartes, forms the essence of man, raising
him above the animals and giving him power and authority -- not just over
nature -- but over all that is not part of the 'thinking thing.' With his famous
cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am - and its attendant method of building
knowledge of the world, Descartes ushered in the modern age of rationality, the
subsequent rise of science and the incredible achievements of technology of
which we are the beneficiaries and -- increasingly -- the victims. It is my
contention that the Cartesian 'self-constituted' subject bought both authority
and certainty at a very high price - the price of cutting itself off from the world,
from the past (including its own past), from the body and from the objects of ite
thought. The Cartesian subject is what Louis Dupr calls an 'indigent self
"separated from that totality which once nurtured it and largely deprived of the
interiority which once defined it." 1 I will be making my point through a
comparison of the Cartesian cogito with another -- and in my view diametrically
opposed - approach to the self and the world -- that of Montaigne.
While almost everyone looks to Descartes -- in a tone of praise or blame,
depending on the perspective -- as the father of modern subjectivity, some
commentators look to Montaigne as his precursor -- the one who, through nis
almost obsessive examination of the self along with his radical doubt, paved the
way to the cogito. 2 I hope to show that the move from the Montaignian self to
the Cartesian subject (which was, in effect a move from intersubjecvity to
subjectivity) was not a smooth transition but, instead, a rupture; that Descartes
'tabula rasa' could not flow out of Montaigne's 'web of b e l i e f ; and that
Montaignian doubt could never lead to the cogito. With respect to the last point
I will be emphasizing throughout this presentation that the dichotomy of doubt
vs. certainty underlines the split between Montaigne and Descartes, and I agree
with Louis Dupr who states that "Rather than providing a ground for certitude
as it later did for Descartes, the nature of the self is for Montaigne the source of
all uncertainty." 3

The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

The Web of Belief and the Moi-miroir

Anyone who has read even a few of Montaigne's Essays knows that they
are heavily sprinkled with quotations. The voices of the past, the writings of the
ancient philosophers and poets, speak through him. He hears the voice of the
past, he absorbs it, digests it, transforms it; then he speaks with his own voice a
voice mediated, of course, by his acquaintance with the voices of the past. How
much is his voice and how much is the voice of the past is an open question. As
Philippe Desan says:
"Seul, enferm dans sa tour, il lit. Il assimile, digre, vomit et incorpore
sa propre criture, Sextus Empiricus, Snque, Plutarque, et quantit
d'autres. Le processus de moi-miroir-de-1 'autre entre en action. Montaigne
lit Plutarque, se dcouvre dans les crits des Anciens, imagine un jugement,
modie sans cesse sa propre criture, et devient un peu l'autre. Il a en lui du
Snque et du Plutarque. Moi, c'est l'autre, et l'autre c'est moi."4
Montaigne absorbs the past. The voices of the past serve as voices of authority
for - of collaboration with his text. He does not speak with authority; in fact
he eschews authority (and constantly denigrates his abilities and his writing). The
voices of the Ancients are his authority and they are there beside him on the
page. When he does speak with a certain authority, it is often in a kind of
dialogue with himself or with the reader (as in 1:20 where he argues with himself:
"Silly fool, you! Where your life is concerned, who has decided the term?" or in
the same essay where he argues with the reader: "You might say: 'But what does
it matter how you do it, so long as you avoid pain?' 1 agree with that").. At
other times he addresses the Ancients directly, as in "An apology for Raymond
Sebond" when he says, about Plato: "This is what we ought to say to him, on
behalf of human reason" 5 ; or even brings in one of the Ancients to argue with
another: "Surely Epicurus, with every appearance of human rationality, could
have raised such objections to Plato..."
At the same time the voices of the past serve another purpose: they
mirror Montaigne. For example, when he says (11:17,729) "my build is tough
and thick-set..." and then quotes Martial: "whence my hairy legs and my
hirsute chest..," he is not looking to Martial as an authority but rather as a mirror.
His whole text is a dialogue, like a dialogue with a friend. This is intersubjectivity
-- Montaigne mirrors the other while the other mirrors Montaigne (or, in the
words of liana Zinguer, ..."la conscience, en se reconnaissant en autrui, prend
conscience d'elle-mme"). 6 In fact, the Essays replace the dialogue he had with
his good friend Etienne de la Botie, as Montaigne himself says: "He alone
partook of my true image and carried it off with him. That is why I so curiously
decipher myself."7

De Philosophia Vol. XIII N 2, 1997

But the Essays are also a dialogue with himself (something that frustrates
scholars who attempt to weave the Essays into a cohesive whole). Montaigne did
not so much correct his essays as add to them (this is evident when one looks at
the revisions to the 1580 text made in 1588 and 1592 which are almost always
additions and which, in effect, add layers to the discourse). Often what he says in
one place contradicts what he says in another place but that did not matter to
him. Montaigne believed that he was responsible for what he wrote in the past
even when he was no longer in agreement with it. And, he was also not convinced
that what he believed later was necessarily better than what he believed earlier.
His famous "Moy cette heure et moy tantost sommes bien deux; mais quand
meilleur je n'en puis rien dire" shows that for him time is not linear and
progressive. According to Steven Rendall, Montaigne's discussion on repentance
suggests "that an author's responsibility for what he has written -- and especially
for what he has published - cannot be limited to those parts of his work with
which he still agrees." 8 For Montaigne, denial is a form of lying.
This interweaving of Montaigne and the Ancients, of Montaigne now and
Montaigne "tantost" -- this 'portrait' that Montaigne is creating ~ lends itself
well to the image of a web. Nancy Streuver refers (adapting Quine's phrase) ~ to
Montaigne's 'web of belief.' 9 Dudley Marchi refers to Montaigne's Essays as
"webs of multidimensional cultural materials" 10 and reminds us that the word
text comes from the Latin word 'textere' which means to weave. The web is
multidimensional because it encompasses what Montaigne has read and what he
has written as well as what he has experienced: people, events, history,
philosophy, daily life all sit together on the page, producing what Marchi refers
to as "a leveling of authority in which all 'texts' are of equal value." 1 1
Montaigne's Essays are Montaigne as much as Montaigne is his Essays: "By
portraying myself for others I have portrayed my own self within me in clearer
colours than I possessed at first. I have not made my book any more than it has
made me - a book of one substance with its author, proper to me and a limb of
my life." 12
For the humanists, rhetoric is an expression of reality. Because for them
(in the words of Louis Dupr) "word and reality remained united," the task of
rhetoric consisted in "transmitting a truth inherent in the very nature of the
real." 13 In Montaigne's case the real is his 'self woven through a tapestry of
voices of the past (including his own past) as well as the experiences of the
present (and it should be emphasized that bodily experiences are given a lot of
space in Montaigne's portrait - e.g. III, 13: "When I was young -- I yielded as
freely and as thoughtlessly as anyone to the pleasure which then seized hold of
me -- making it last and prolonging it, however, rather than making Sudden
thrusts." "I like a hard bed all to myself, indeed (as kings do) without my wife,
with rather too many blankets" etc.) . Montaigne's tapestry is an interweaving of
many truths (the web of belief referred to earlier) and the self, as part of the

The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

weave, is as changing as the rest: "I give my soul this face or that, depending
upon which side I lay it down on. I speak about myself in diverse ways: that is
because I look at myself in diverse ways. Every sort of contradiction can be
found in me." 14
Certainty is singular and, of necessity, common to everyone who looks
for it. For Montaigne, there is no truth separated from the self. Truth is multiple
and changing, there are truths for Montaigne, but no Truth. Or, as MerleauPonty has written: "Montaigne commence par enseigner que toute vrit se
contredit, peut-tre finit-il par reconnatre que la contradiction est vrit."15

The Tabula Rasa

As much as Montaigne and the humanists absorbed the past, Descartes
(in spite of having had a similar education) rejected it. In his Discourse on
Method he says:
..."regarding the opinions to which I had hitherto given credence, I thought
that I could not do better than undertake to get rid of them, all at one go, in
order to replace them afterwards with better ones, or with the same ones
once I had squared them with the standards of reason."16
As much as Montaigne thought that only fools have made up their minds
and are certain, Descartes thought that the search after certainty and truth was a
laudable, indeed superior, objective. He was prepared, in his words, to devote my
whole life to cultivating my reason and advancing as far as I could in the
knowledge of the truth, following the method I had prescribed for myself. 17
For Montaigne, separating himself from the past was impossible; for
Descartes it was impossible to do otherwise. This radical shift is one of the first
signs of the move to the modem subject. According to Letocha, the first task of
modernity (which takes the initiative in what she calls "l'espace de la
conscience") is to start with a blank slate, "en condamnant tous les modes
htronomes de la pense: tradition, croyance, vidence reue, vrit rvle,
sagesse prouve par le temps, ordre socio-politique tabli, mode de production
des biens matriels et symboliques." 1 * Montaigne's 'space of consciousness'
represented all that and more since, as we have seen, his own 'self was part of
the web. Thus the 'tabula rasa,' along with separation from the past and the
world, includes a separation from - indeed an unravelling of ~ the 'self.'
Descartes believed that "buildings undertaken and completed by a single
architect are usually more attractive and better planned than those which several
have tried to patch up by adapting old walls built for different purposes." 19
Montaigne s entire work is constructed from "old walls built for different

De Philosophia Vol. XIII N 2, 1997

purposes"; Descartes, on the other hand, resolved to become the sole architect of
truth and to this end he developed his 'method.' 20
The 'method' which Descartes elaborated, and which to him could only
bring success, was composed of four main precepts:
1. To never accept anything as true if he did not have evident knowledge of its
truth and unless it presented itself to his mind so clearly and so distinctly that he
had no occasion to doubt it.
2. To divide each of the difficulties he examined into as many parts as possible.
3. Beginning with the simplest and most easily known objects to ascend little by
little and step by step, to knowledge of the most complex.
4. To make enumerations so complete and comprehensive as to leave nothing
Thus the Cartesian subject separates, divides, excludes, orders and rebuilds, according to its choice. We have come a long way from the irrepressible
Montaignian self! The field of discourse has shifted. Descartes is looking for
certainty and, having wiped the slate clean, having subjected everything to his
radical doubt, he finds that there is one thing he cannot doubt and that is the
undeniable fact that he is doubting: "I noticed that while I was trying thus to
think everything false, it was necessary that I, who was thinking this, was
something. And observing that this truth am thinking, therefore I exist' was so
firm and sure that all the most extravagant suppositions of the sceptics were
incapable of shaking it, I decided that I could accept it without scruple as the first
principle of the philosophy I was seeking." 22 Following that, the second
principle that came to Descartes clearly was that "I was a substance whose whole
essence or nature is simply to think, and which does not require any place, or
depend on any material thing, in order to exist...this 'I..'.is entirely distinct from
the body, and indeed is easier to know than the body, and would not fail to be
whatever it is, even if the body did not exist." 23
Descartes has taken four leaps that Montaigne could never have taken.
Firstly, he has moved from hyperbolic doubt to complete certainty about at least
one activity, the cogito, establishing it as a permanent foundation. Secondly, he
has established the subject, the thinking subject, as a substance. Thirdly, this
substance is separate from the body and "any material thing." Fourthly, he has
established theoretical Reason as the guiding principle of philosophy and the
rule of scientific truth. It is in these four leaps that one can clearly delineate the
break between the self of Montaigne and the subject of Descartes. Let us look at
them in turn.
With the establishment of the cogito, Descartes has turned Montaigne's
skepticism on its head. For Montaigne, scepticism led to the inability to
pronounce on anything with certainty. For Descartes, it led first to complete
negation and then to a series of certainties. It is this negation, according to
Popkin, that "separates the Cartesian development of doubt from that of the

The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

sceptics, and leads to the ultimate conquest of scepticism in the cogito." 24 But
Montaigne's doubt was an end in itself. It was not negation; it was part of the
fabric of the web of belief. It allowed for the inclusion of different beliefs. For
Descartes, on the other hand, doubt was a tool, a method by which he allowed
himself to negate everything in order to include later only those things that were
absolutely certain. It was a means to an end and that end was his cogito.
Descartes' second leap establishes an even greater distance between his
cogito and the Montaignian self: the subject is now a substance. With this we
have entered the ontological field of discourse, as opposed to the rhetorical field
of Montaigne. For Descartes the subject has a substantive existence. In order to
be permanent and certain, it must therefore be static and unchanging.
Montaigne, for whom "there is as much difference between us and ourselves as
there is between us and other people"25 would class Descartes among those who
"are wrong in stubbornly trying to weave us into one invariable and solid
fabric." 2 6
Further, the thinking substance is separate from the body and from "any
material thing." This again increases the distance between Montaigne and
Descartes. As Charles Taylor says about the separation between the Cartestian
thinking self and the world: "Coming to a full realization of one's being as
immaterial involves perceiving distinctly the ontological cleft between the two,
and this involves grasping the material world as mere extension ... We have to
objectify the world, including our own bodies, and that means to come to see
them mechanistically and functionally, in the same way that an uninvolved
external observer would." 27 In contrast, Montaigne's self is intimately tied up
with his body as it is with the world itself, with his experience, with his past and
with the past of other 'selves.' If the thinking subject is now a substance separate
from the world, what becomes of Plato's thought? Of one's own past thoughts?
The self no longer absorbs Plato's thoughts (otherwise the self would be in a
state of flux, which it can no longer be). The self no longer is Plato's thoughts, it
has Plato's thoughts. In the same way it no longer is a body but rather has a
body. The thinking self, a substance cut off from the world, will now have
thoughts about that world. Those thoughts will now in some way have to
conform to something outside of the thinking self. The point of reference for
the ontological subject is outside. The self-referentiality of the rhetorical subject
is gone.
Finally, if the point of reference is outside the self, then it must be the
same for all 'selves.' And this brings us to Descartes' fourth leap, the leap to
Reason. What becomes so clear to Descartes, the absolutely certain and
indubitable existence of the thinking self, must come clear to anyone who
applies the same method. As Descartes says, "whenever two persons make
opposite judgements about the same thing, it is certain that at least one of them is
mistaken, and neither, it seems, has knowledge. For if the reasoning of one of

De Philosophia V o l . XIII N 2, 1997

them were certain and evident, he would be able to lay it before the other in such
a way as eventually to convince his intellect as well." 28 Montaigne holds a
diametrically opposed view. For him the debate and controversy that surround
all philosophical discussion and his inability to convince another of any
particular proposition are "a sure sign that I did not myself reach it by means of
a natural power common to myself and to all men." 29

The Subject vs. the Self

With Descartes and the cogito, we have come a long way from Montaigne
and his 'moi.' The essence of the self, for Descartes, is thinking; in addition, the
self is a substance, divorced from the body, the world, the past and subject to the
dictates of Reason. It speaks with authority because the truth of which it speaks is
both certain and objective.
This reflects an essential difference between Montaigne and Descartes in
the purpose and method attached to the idea of the self. In a similar way in
which doubt is an end in itself for Montaigne and a tool in the search for
certainty for Descartes, so Montaigne's search for the 'self in his Essays is an
end in itself while Descartes' subject, as described in both the Discourse and in
the Mediations is a tool in his search for knowledge of the world. This can be
seen clearly with even a cursory look at the development of themes in the
Meditations. Descartes arrives at the certainty attached to the subject (the I
think") in the second meditation. In that same meditation he defines the
thinking self as his essence and then uses this original certainty as the
springboard for his proof of God (in the third meditation), of mathematical truth
(in the fifth meditation) and of the material world (in the sixth meditation). Both
the cogito and God are needed to support the certainty of knowledge of the
external world, but in the steps towards certainty, the cogito comes first. As Louis
Dupr puts it: "In the course of the modern age [the subject] surprisingly came
to stand for the ultimate source of meaning and value previously attributed to
God or to a divine nature ... Descarte's introspection reverses the traditional
order from God to the soul. All ideas -- including the idea of God -- have their
formal basis in the mind, which envisions all beings as cogitata. At least in that
sense the self forms the foundation for the idea of God, and without that
foundation the second ontological one, laid by God's causal activity, would play
no role in the s e l f s reflection. God has to be proven, and to be proven on tne
basis of the prior certainty of the self. The thinking self, then, remains the
ground - though not the cause - of the idea of God." 30
This is in stark contrast to Montaigne for whom knowledge of the self
comes first and foremost from knowledge of the external world -- as pointed out
early, his subjectivity is fundamentally an 'intersubjectivity. His self is
autobiographical and empirical; it lives in an ever-changing world and it has an

The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

ever-changing history. Since the external world offers nothing of certainty, the
self, enmeshed in that uncertain world, cannot play the role for him that the
detached cogito does for Descartes. The self is as ever-changing as the world of
which it is part and Montaigne's skepticism is essential to both. The Cartesian
subject is not a personal self in fact Descartes rarely talks about himself in any
biographical sense.31 The Cartesian subject is epistemological and metaphysical
(the cogito is ever-present but the person is absent). Descartes' isolation of the
self from the world allows him to create a universal subject. But, as Charles
Taylor points out, "Montaigne is an originator of the search for each person's
originality; and this is not just a different quest but in a sense antithetical to the
Cartesian." 32 It is the self's originality and particularity that preclude it from
being the basis of any certainty and which make skepticism both the source and
the result of Montaigne's moi.
Descartes' cogito was born out of the seventeenth century's need for
certainty. What Stephen Toulmin refers to as that century's "Quest for
Certainty" was not just a philosophical exercise but was, in his words, "a timely
response to a specific historical challenge the political, social, and theological
chaos embodied in the Thirty Years' War" with Descartes and his
contemporaries hoping to reason their way out of the chaos. 33 Dupr as well
points to that need for certainty which was tiie hallmark of Descartes as it never
was for Montaigne; he shows that Descartes conversion of doubt into his method
for certainty was "a last ditch effort toward spiritual survival on the part of one
who, with many of his learned contemporaries, felt he had no intellectual security
left beyond that of his own doubt." 34 His goal was certainty, "to cast aside the
loose earth and sand so as to come upon rock or clay." 35 His rock or clay was
his 'self,' the cogito ; Montaigne's self would forever be among the loose earth
and sand.
As rock will not grow out of sand the Cartesian subject did not grow out
of the Montaignian self. Instead, the Cartesian subject established itself precisely
by rejecting its roots, its plurality, and its texture. As much as Montaigne's self
grew out of the world of which it was a part, Descartes' subject owes its creation
to its complete separation from the world. It became Louis Dupr's 'indigent
self,' our modern self, going into the twenty-first century searching for its roots,
its poetry, its gods and its life.


Louis Dupr, Passage to Modernity (Yale University Press, 1993).

This is not to deny the essential difference between the Cartesian and Montaignian "selves"
(as Charles Taylor points out, Montaigne represents the "point of origin of another kind of


De Philosophia Vol. XIII N 2, 1997

modern individualism, that of self-discovery, which differs from the Cartesian both in aim
and method. Its aim is to identify the individual in his or her unrepeatable difference, where
Cartesianism gives us a science of the subject in its general essence...") However, certain
commentators see Montaigne as paving the way for Descartes and for the modem subject.
See in particular Philippe Desan, Naissance de la mthode (Paris: Nizet, 1987): "Le 'moi' de
Montaigne sera en effet le point de dpart de la mthode de Descartes" (p. 17); Montaigne
"reprsente en quelque sorte la transition entre la scolastique et le rationalisme cartsien" (p.
124); "En effet, Descartes partira prcisment d'o Montaigne s'tait arrt." (p. 134). See
also Peter Schaeffer, The Political Philosophy of Montaigne, p. 314: "Yet, I shall suggest,
Montaigne's particular mode of portraying himself paves the way for subsequent
developments." Further, Elaine Limbrick in an article entitled "La relation du scepticisme
avec la subjectivit" (in Eva Kushner (ed.), La problmatique du sujet chez Montaigne, Paris:
Honor Champion, 1995) makes the following comment about Montaigne's Essais: "Son
plaidoyer en faveur de l'exprience individuelle, contre l'autorit d'Aristote et tous les
dogmatistes, anticipe le travail de Descartes dans te Discours de la mthode" (p. 80). In the
same book, Franois Rigolot, in an essay entitled "Perspectives modernes sur la
subjectivit," states: "Chez Montaigne, pourtant, s'esquisse dj la conception d'un sujet
proto-cartsien qui envisage la possibilit de se penser lui-mme et de penser les autres dans
leur altrit partir de sa subjectivit" (p. 168).
Louis Dupr, op. cit.
Philippe Desan, Naissance de la Mthode (Paris: Nizet, 1987), p. 120.
Montaigne, op.cit. (11:12, 579).
Ilana Zinguer, "Auto-constitution, aspect de la subjectivit chez Montaigne," in Eva
Kushner, La problmatique du sujet chez Montaigne (Paris: Honor Champion, 1995), p. 59.
ibid. (111:9)
Steven Rendall, Distinguo (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 122.
Nancy S. Stniever, Theory as Practice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).
Dudley Marchi, Montaigne Among the Modems (Providence/Oxford: Bergbahn Books,
1994), p. 6.
ibid., p. 6.
Montaigne, op.cit., (11:18,755).
Louis Dupr, op.cit., p. 105.
ibid. (11:1,377).
Preface by Merleau-Ponty to Michel de Montaigne, Essais III (Paris: Gallimard, 1960).
Descartes, Discourse on Method, in Cottingham, Stoothoff, op.cit., p. 117.
ibid., p. 124.
Danile Letocha, "Comment dfinir la modernit quand on est encore rgi par ses
Carrefour, 1991, 13-1, p. 6.
Discourse on Method, op.cit., p. 116.
In fairness to Descartes, it must be admitted that his quest was not the same as
Montaigne's. Descartes was seeking truth in the sciences as the title of the Discourse on

The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

Method itself states; while Montaigne was seeking to portray himself. However, it cannot be
ignored that the result of Descartes' seeking truth in the science was a radical transformation
of the concept of the self.
ibid., p. 120.
ibid., p. 127.
ibid., p. 127.
Richard H. Popkin, The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza (Berkeley and
Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979), p. 181. Popkin is here paraphrasing
Gouhier's article "Doute mthodique ou ngation mthodique?" in tudes Phil., IX.
Montaigne, op.cit. (11:1,380).
ibid. (II. 1, 373).
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 145.
Descartes, Rules for the Direction of the Mind, in Cottingham, Stootboff, op. cit., p. 11.
Montaigne, op.cit. (11:12,634).
Dupr, op. cit., p. 112 and 117.
See Stephen Gaukroger, Descartes, An Intellectual Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1995). Gaukroger tells us that Descartes made only one reference to his childhood in all his
work (including his correspondence) and that even in that reference he was wrong about the
date of his mother's death.
Taylor, op. cit., p. 182.
Stephen Toulmin Cosmopolis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 70.
(Toulmin offers an interesting analysis of the move from sixteenth-century openness and
scepticism as typified by Montaigne to seventeenth-century dogmatism and certainty.)
Dupr, op.cit, p. 115.
Descartes, Discourse on Method, in Cottingham, op. cit., p. 125.


Wu-Wei est susceptible d'inciter ses dtracteurs rvaluer leurs attentes, et se rendre compte
qu'elles sont inappropries.

Ian DONALDSON: Nietzsche and the Democratic Order of Things

It is a commonplace that Nietzsche was not a democrat; yet many contemporary interpreters focus
on the value of his various claims to current arguments in philosophy and political theory which
seek to enhance our notions of freedom and equality. In this paper I will explore the tensions that
arise where Nietzsche's most consistent thoughts on extra-moral subjectivity are appropriated for
use within a modern political context. The purpose of this paper is to establish the
incompatibility of Nietzsche's most consistent philosophical and psychological claims with the
demands of a moral (universal) system of values on which our modern liberal societies depend. In
an effort to argue against several of these authors I will rely on Gilles Deleuze's interpretation of
Nietzsche as well as a comparison of Nietzsche to Hobbes, as Hobbes is representative of certain
founding principles of modern political thought.

Nietzsche et l'ordre dmocratique du monde

Il est bien connu que Nietzsche n'tait pas dmocrate, pourtant plusieurs commentateurs
contemporains insistent sur l'utilisation possible de ses revendications l'appui de thses
philosophiques et politiques actuelles dont le but est de renforcer les notions de libert et d'galit.
Nous nous attacherons ici mettre jour les tensions qui apparaissent lorsque l'on s'approprie les
penses de Nietzsche sur la subjectivit extra-morale dans un contexte politique moderne. Nous
entendons tablir l'incompatibilit entre les revendications nietzschennes les mieux tablies
dans le domaine de la philosophie et de la psychologie, et les exigences du systme moral
(universel) de valeurs dont dpendent nos socits librales modernes. Notre effort de rfutation de
certains de ces commentateurs nous amnera nous appuyer sur l'interprtation de Nietzsche de
Gilles Deleuze, ainsi que sur une comparaison entre Nietzsche et Hobbes, celui-ci tant
reprsentatif de certains des principes fondateurs de la pense politique moderne.

Carol COI.MER: The Self in Montaigne and Descartes

While many commentators see Montaigne's intense examination of the self as a prelude to
Cartesian subjectivity, this paper argues that the move from the Montaignian self to the Cartesian
subject (which was, in effect, a move from intersubjectivity to subjectivity) was not a smooth
transition but, instead, a rupture; that Descartes' 'tabula rasa' could not flow out of Montaigne's
'web of belief;' and that Montaigne's doubt could never lead to the cogito. With respect to the last
point, the paper emphasizes the dichotomy of doubt vs. certainty which underlines the split
between Montaigne and Descartes.

Le moi chez Montaigne et Descartes

Tandis que nombre de commentateurs considre l'examen intensif fait par Montaigne de son "moi"
comme un prlude l'avnement de la subjectivit cartsienne, nous entendons montrer ici que le
passage du moi montanien au je cartsien - qui, en fait, a t une rduction de l'intersubjectivit la
subjectivit - n'a pas t une transition en douceur, mais bien plutt, une rupture ; que la tabula
rasa de Descartes ne pouvait pas driver du rseau de croyances de Montaigne ; et que le doute
montanien ne pouvait aucunement mener au cogito. Considrant ce dernier point, nous mettons en
relief la dichotomie entre doute et certitude qui rend compte de la diffrence irrductible entre
Montaigne et Descartes.