The Paradoxes of Orasius Tubero
La Mothe Le Vayer is one of those writers who were well-known and widely read in learned circles of their time, but who are now numbered among the great background names in the history of thought of their century. The reasons for his relative obscurity are not difficult to find. Many of his writings are pedagogical in nature, prepared for the instruction of the young Louis XIV and his brother, the Duc d’Anjou. Others are pieces of political propaganda written to justify the political alliances of Richelieu. In particular, Le Vayer had a penchant for the archaic genre of the ‘opuscule’, or ‘discours’ or ‘homilie académique’, that is, formal disquisitions on themes as disparate as eloquence, travel, dress, friendship, wealth and poverty, life and death, philosophy, etc. An informal variation of the genre is seen in his one hundred and fifty Petits Traités dealing with subjects as diverse as agriculture, superstitions, dreams, the court, food, funerals, the law, literature etc., all of which are treated in his quizzical and digressive manner. His essays and dialogues are pedantic in style and ponderous in their wit, lacking the refined irony of Erasmus and the charming self-depreciation of Montaigne. Of the innumerable subjects treated, the principal one is that of his beloved scepticism or epochē as he prefers to term it, to which he remained attached from the first page of his voluminous work to the last.
KeywordsChristian Faith Great Background Sceptical Attitude Intellectual Humility Political Propaganda
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