Animal Languages in Eighteenth-Century German Philosophy and Science

Abstract

This paper analyzes debates on animal language in eighteenth-century German philosophy and science. Adopting a history of ideas approach, I explain how the study of animal language became tied to the investigation into the origin and development of language towards the end of the eighteenth century. I argue that for large parts of the eighteenth century, the question of the existence of animal languages was studied within the context of the philosophical question of whether animals possess reason. In Germany, the debate concerning animal reason was influenced by Christian Wolff and was taken up by diverse thinkers such as Winkler, Meier, and Reimarus. I argue that in the second half of the eighteenth century the study of animal language became more loosely related to the question of whether animals possess reason: animal language was studied not only in light of the debate on animal reason but also because it sheds light on the nature of animals, on the differences and similarities between animals and humans, and on the origin and development of language. This systematic study of animal language coincided with the rise of linguistics, anthropology, and biology as independent sciences.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,879

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-03-10

Downloads
13 (#776,298)

6 months
8 (#90,198)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

Meier, Reimarus and Kant on Animal Minds.Jacob Browning - 2021 - Kantian Review 26 (2):185-208.
A Blooming and Buzzing Confusion: Buffon, Reimarus, and Kant on Animal Cognition.Hein van den Berg - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 72:1-9.
Theoretical Virtues in Eighteenth-Century Debates on Animal Cognition.Hein van den Berg - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (3):1-35.
Descartes on Animals.Peter Harrison - 1992 - Philosophical Quarterly 42 (167):219-227.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Meier, Reimarus and Kant on Animal Minds.Jacob Browning - 2021 - Kantian Review 26 (2):185-208.
Theoretical Virtues in Eighteenth-Century Debates on Animal Cognition.Hein van den Berg - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (3):1-35.
When the Grass Sings: Poetic Reason and Animal Writing.Isabel Balza - 2019 - Environmental Values 28 (4):471-488.
A Blooming and Buzzing Confusion: Buffon, Reimarus, and Kant on Animal Cognition.Hein van den Berg - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 72:1-9.
Defending Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2001 - University of Illinois Press.