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Democracy, Culture, CatholicismVoices from Four Continents$
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Michael J. Schuck and John Crowley-Buck

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823267309

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823267309.001.0001

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Montaigne, Julian, and “Others”: The Quest for Peaceful Coexistence in Public Space

Montaigne, Julian, and “Others”: The Quest for Peaceful Coexistence in Public Space

(p.71) Montaigne, Julian, and “Others”: The Quest for Peaceful Coexistence in Public Space
Democracy, Culture, Catholicism

David M. Posner

Fordham University Press

Michel de Montaigne’s treatment of fourth-century Roman emperor Julian in De la liberté de conscience offers a fascinating lesson in church-state relations and Montaigne’s relationship with himself. In both, the lesson concerns treatment of the Other. Though deemed ‘the apostate’ by early Christians for disestablishing Christianity as the religion of the Roman empire, Julian adopted public toleration of all religions—a pragmatic approach toward public order Montaigne considers praiseworthy in contrast to the violent way Europeans were dealing with the ‘Other’ (Protestant and Catholic) during the Wars of Religion. A distinction needed to be made, as Julian did, between one’s private religious convictions and one’s public duty to tolerate religious difference for the sake of social peace. As a descendent of Spanish Jews, Montaigne was aware of the analogous distinction between the ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ man. Posner claims that it is easy to imagine Montaigne himself in the position of Emperor Julian: conforming to the state religion for the sake of order, while remaining internally Other.

Keywords:   church and state, freedom of conscience, Julian the Apostate (Emperor), Michel de Montaigne, public order, the Other, religious toleration, Wars of Religion

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