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Darwin-L Message Log 2:139 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<2:139>From RICHARDS@UCBEH.SAN.UC.EDU  Thu Oct 28 16:27:08 1993

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 16:57:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Bob Richardson, University of Cincinnati" <RICHARDS@UCBEH.SAN.UC.EDU>
Subject: Re: caveman
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Both the question of the origin of "caveman," and of the connection, if any,
with "wild men" have been raised.

There are certainly suggestions of cavemen, and a connection with primitive
forms from many sources.  For example, W. Waterman writes in 1555, "The
Troglodites myne them selves caves in the ground, wherein to dwell."  Two
centuries later, the connection is still present in Herbert Spencer, who speaks
of "Aboriginal man, of troglodyte or kindred habits" (1873).

The references seem clearly to be suggestive of something human, or nearly so.
T. H. Huxley reports that one of Linnaeus' students includes "Troglodyta
Bontii" and "Lucifer Aldrovandi" as among the "Anthropomorpha," or what Huxley
glosses as "man-like apes."  Even if the suggestion is meant to be that the
first is an anthropoid ape in the genus Troglodytes (which seems
anachronistic), these had an ambiguous status in the 17th Century.  In fact,
Linnaeus reclassified the latter as a species of Homo.

In Schaaffhausen's description of the Neanderthal (from 1857 or 1858), we see
the following as among his conclusions, "That these remarkable human remains
belonged to a period antecedent to the time of the Celts and Germans, and were
in all probability derived from one of the wild races of North-western Europe,
spoken of by Latin writers" (cited in Huxley's _Man's Place in Nature_).  Even
in _Dr. Jekyll_, we read, "God bless me, the man seems hardly human.  Something
Troglodytic...".

The connections are loose, but not non-existent.

Robert C. Richardson
Richards@UCBEH.San.UC.edu

"a Troglodyte in metaphysics ... not properly acquainted with such writers as
Descartes or Hobbes" (Rogers, 1854).

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