Advertisement

Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 301–313 | Cite as

Dealing with Diversity: On the Uses of Common Sense in Descartes and Montaigne

  • Darryl M. De Marzio
Article

Abstract

This essay attempts to retrieve the notion of ‘common sense’ within the writings of Descartes and Montaigne. I suggest that both writers represent distinct traditions in which the notion is employed. Descartes represents a modernist tradition in which common sense is understood to be a cognitive faculty, while Montaigne represents a humanist tradition in which common sense is understood as a political virtue. I also suggest that both writers work with the notion as a way of responding to diversity in the world. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the notion of common sense employed by Descartes and Montaigne emerges out of the scholastic tradition and the assertion that both writers are responding to the educational consequences of scholasticism. I also discuss how the reconstruction of Descartes in this paper can provide some ground for raising new questions about the Cartesian project and educational philosophy. Finally, I gesture toward the idea that the humanist tradition with its understanding of common sense as political virtue can provide benefit for contemporary responses to diversity.

Keywords

Descartes Montaigne Common sense Scholasticism Humanism Diversity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am indebted to the following colleagues for their invaluable comments and suggestions throughout the development of this paper: David T. Hansen, Teachers College, Columbia University; Dmitri Nikulin, New School for Social Research; and, Avi Mintz, University of Tulsa. I am also grateful to Gert Biesta and two anonymous reviewers for their critical and encouraging advice on how and where to make some much needed improvements to the manuscript. Finally, I wish to thank Anne De Marzio for her close reading of earlier drafts.

References

  1. Aquinas, T. (1948). Summa theologica. In A. C. Pegis (Ed.), Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. (1968). De anima. (D. W. Hamlyn, Trans). Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  3. Clarke, D. M. (1992). Descartes’ philosophy of science and the scientific revolution. In J. Cottingham (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Descartes (pp. 258–285). Cambridge: Cambridge University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. de Montaigne, M. (1991a). On schoolmasters’ learning. In M. A. Screech (Ed.), Michel de Montaigne: The complete essays (pp. 150–162). London: Penguin. Original work published in 1580.Google Scholar
  5. de Montaigne, M. (1991b). On presumption. In M. A. Screech (Ed.), Michel de Montaigne: The complete essays (pp. 718–752). London: Penguin. Original work published in 1580.Google Scholar
  6. de Montaigne, M. (1991c). On educating children. In M. A. Screech (Ed.), Michel de Montaigne: The complete essays (pp. 163–199). London: Penguin. Original work published in 1580.Google Scholar
  7. de Montaigne, M. (1991d). Ceremonial at the meeting of kings. In M. A. Screech (Ed.), Michel de Montaigne: The complete essays (pp. 50–51). London: Penguin. Original work published in 1580.Google Scholar
  8. de Montaigne, M. (1991e). On the cannibals. In M. A. Screech (Ed.), Michel de Montaigne: The complete essays (pp. 228–241). London: Penguin. Original work published in 1580.Google Scholar
  9. Descartes, R. (1985a). Rules for the direction of the mind. In J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, & D. Murdoch (Eds.), The philosophical writings of Descartes (Vol. I). Cambridge: Cambridge University. Originally published posthumously in 1684.Google Scholar
  10. Descartes, R. (1985b). Discourse on method. In J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, & D. Murdoch (Eds.), The philosophical writings of Descartes (Vol. I). Cambridge: Cambridge University. Original work published in 1637.Google Scholar
  11. Descartes, R. (1985c). The passions of the soul. In J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, & D. Murdoch (Eds.), The philosophical writings of Descartes (Vol. I). Cambridge: Cambridge University. Originally published in 1649.Google Scholar
  12. Descartes, R. (1986). Meditations on first philosophy. (J. Cottingham, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University. (Original work published in 1641).Google Scholar
  13. Descartes, R. (1991a). Letter to Mersenne: 28 January 1641. In J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch, & A. Kenny (Eds.), The philosophical writings of Descartes (Vol. III). Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  14. Descartes, R. (1991b). Letter to Mersenne: 20 November 1647. In J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch, & A. Kenny (Eds.), The philosophical writings of Descartes (Vol. III). Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  15. Descartes, R. (1998a). Discourse on method. In D. A. Cress (Ed.), Discourse on method and meditations on first philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett. Original work published in 1637.Google Scholar
  16. Descartes, R. (1998b). Original work published in 1641. In D. A. Cress (Ed.), Discourse on method and meditations on first philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  17. Descartes, R. (2003). Discourse on method and other writings. (D. M. Clarke, Trans.). London: Penguin. (Original work published in 1637).Google Scholar
  18. Dewey, J. (1997). How we think. Mineola, NY: Dover. Original work published in 1910.Google Scholar
  19. Gadamer, H. G. (1989). Truth and method. (J. Weinsheimer & D. G. Marshall, Trans.). New York: Continuum. (Original work published in 1960).Google Scholar
  20. Hadot, P. (1995). Philosophy as a way of life. In A. I. Davidson (Ed.), Philosophy as a way of life: spiritual exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Hallie, P. (1966). The scar of Montaigne. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University.Google Scholar
  22. Hansen, D. T. (2002). Well-formed, not well-filled: Montaigne and the paths of personhood. Educational Theory, 52(2), 127–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Popkin, R. H. (1979). The history of skepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza. Berkeley: University of California.Google Scholar
  24. Rosen, S. (1989). The ancients and moderns. New Haven: Yale University.Google Scholar
  25. Schiffman, Z. S. (1984). Montaigne and the rise of skepticism in early modern Europe: A reappraisal. Journal of the History of Ideas, 45(4), 499–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Toulmin, S. (1992). Cosmopolis. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Panuska College of Professional StudiesUniversity of ScrantonScrantonUSA

Personalised recommendations