Pierre Charron

1541-1603. French Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian. Born in Paris, he studied at the Sorbonne, Orléans, and Bourges, and was called to the Paris bar. He became a priest and won a great reputation for pulpit oratory, serving as preacher in ordinary to the queen of Navarre. He was also theological adviser to several dioceses, and canon of Bordeaux. He wrote Les Discours Chrêtiens in 1589. Les Trois Vérités followed in 1593, an apologetic work attacking Calvinism. His most important work, however, was De la Sagesse (1601), which was strongly influenced by his close friend Montaigne. In the context of a generally skeptical view of religion, it declares that outside of revelation man cannot be sufficiently certain of religious and moral truth and, as a skeptic, should live as conveniently as he can on the basis of what society allows. The book contributed to the separation of ethics from religion and the growth of free-thought and Deism. He was bitterly attacked and vigorously defended within the church. His ultimate intentions remain equally puzzling today.