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The Anthropological Argument: The Rediscovery Of Ancient Skepticism In Modern Thought

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Chapter Summary

Modern thought has traditionally been understood as the result of deep transformations that occurred in Europe in consequence of a process beginning with Renaissance Humanism and continuing with the Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. The natives of Brazil provided Michel de Montaigne with a way of criticizing French society of his time, which appeared as absurd and as incomprehensible to them as theirs appeared to the Europeans. The arguments of the ancient skeptics were taken up again and reformulated in the light of this new context. In this chapter, the author proposes to focus on a particular issue, and named "the anthropological argument," referring to the discussion about how the native people of the New World should be considered. A famous debate took place at Valladolid, at that time one of the capital cities of the recently unified Spain, from 1550 to 1551.

Keywords: ancient skeptics; anthropological argument; Michel de Montaigne; Valladolid debate



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