W102 |Montaigne, and Acceptance: Reading Michel de Montaigne for Wisdom About Living (and Aging) |
Tom Gerety

Wednesdays 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. | Six Sessions; 4/3, 4/10, 4/17, 4/24, 5/1, 5/8
In-person at BCC with two sessions on Zoom
Limit: 16

Michel de Montaigne was the crotchety, elegant French nobleman who invented the modern 'essay' (a 'try' or attempt in French).  

For those of us old enough to know that human life will always seem short, he is a philosopher we should hold dear. Born to wealth near Bordeauxin 1533, he lived not quite 60 years, many of them spent in a tower on his family estate. He wrote a witty and opinionated prose about such wildly random things as cannibalism, thumbs, sex - and mortality.  

Above all, Montaigne was accepting, of the bitter with the sweet, the pleasurable and the painful, the beautiful and the wretched, life and death.  

This will be a small, mostly in person seminar---sometimes zoomed because of instructor travel. We will take up a handful of Montaigne's best essays, and try a few of our own. Modest amounts of reading and some writing will be needed for good discussions: this is not a set of lectures!  

His opinions can be madcap. Often, though, he offers delightful ideas in charming sentences that live on in every French lycée. I invite you to read him with me in translation (or in French if you can) and to weigh his wisdom and follies - as well as our own.

Tom Gerety studied law and philosophy at Yale. He was a law school dean and then president of Trinity and Amherst Colleges. He retired as Collegiate Professor of Law and Humanities at NYU where he had also served as executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice. He is the author of a book of essays, The Freshman Who Hated Socrates.


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