Montaigne On Sympathy

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“Montaigne’s general point is clear: that we have an inbuilt propensity for sympathy and understanding, but that proximity matters. And whilst some could see this as a depressing limit on the jurisdiction of our moral sympathies, we can also see it as something on which to build.”

Recent neurological findings back up Montaigne’s thesis that proximity is a deciding factor in sympathy.

And further: “Montaigne is no political theorist, but rather a man who wishes to remind us of a fragile but significant fact: that the preservation of our moral awareness relies on the preservation of the nearness between us – something that no number of emails or tweets can ever properly replace.”


Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →