#Philosophy Cafe: Dr Matthew Sharpe presents ‘Michel de Montaigne—this is your life!’ 27 Mar

March Philosophy Café
Dr Matthew Sharpe, Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University presents: ‘Michel de Montaigne—this is your life!’
Wednesday 27 March from 7-9pm at The Barking Dog hotel, 126 Pakington Street, Geelong West.

On Wednesday 27 March from 7-9pm at The Barking Dog hotel, Dr Matthew Sharpe, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University, will present ‘Michel de Montaigne—this is your life!’.

Between 1872, the year of the Saint Bartholemew’s day massacre in Paris, and his death, Michel de Montaigne worked upon a single work, his famous Essais. When greeted by King Henry the IVth, this arguably greatest of French monarchs is supposed to have exclaimed: ‘I know your book’, to which Montaigne replied: ‘then, sire, you know me’. What are these essays, so loved and revered to this day? And who was Montaigne? What did he think philosophy was about, and why write it in a book with no seeming centre but only parts, ranging from matters most high and sublime to the most mundane things in the world (‘Of Smells’, ‘Of the Custom of Wearing Clothes’, ‘Of Names’, ‘How we cry and laugh for the same thing’, ‘Of Thumbs’, ‘Of pedantry’, ‘Of Sleep’...). Perhaps this famous quote from the last essay ‘Of Experience’, added with a third book in 1589, will give us a start:

The pretty inscription wherewith the Athenians honoured the entry of Pompey into their city is conformable to my sense: ‘By so much thou art a god, as thou confessest thee a man’. ’Tis an absolute and, as it were, a divine perfection, for a man to know how loyally to enjoy his being. We seek other conditions, by reason we do not understand the use of our own; and go out of ourselves, because we know not how there to reside. ’Tis to little purpose to go upon stilts, for, when upon stilts, we must yet walk with our legs; and when seated upon the most elevated throne in the world, we are but seated upon our rump. The fairest lives, in my opinion, are those which regularly accommodate themselves to the common and human model without miracle, without extravagance.

But, then, Montaigne would counsel us, we should also wait—and learn—to see.

Matthew Sharpe is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University. His ongoing research interests include political philosophy, psychoanalysis and critical theory, epistemology, and conservative and reactionary political thought. He is the author of Slavoj Žižek: A Little Piece of the Real (Ashgate, 2005), the c-author with Geoff Boucher of Žižek and Politics (Edinburgh UP, 2010) and The Times Will Suit Them: Postmodern Conservatism in Australia (Allen & Unwin 2008), and the c-author with Jo Faulkner of Understanding Psychoanalysis (Acumen 2008).

Philosophy Café is held on the last Wednesday of each month (February to November) at The Barking Dog hotel, 126 Pakington St, Geelong West.

Entry is free and includes a glass of wine and nibbles.

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