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Darwin-L Message Log 2:141 (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.


<2:141>From LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU  Thu Oct 28 17:27:51 1993

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 17:27:51 -0500
From: "JOHN LANGDON"  <LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: caveman

I appreciate your comments, but I still wonder whether there are any real
connections.

> 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).

Is this any more a connection than that both used the same word, one that
stands out because it is rarely used at present? In calling aboriginal man a
troglodyte, he was merely observing cave-dwelling. I don't know the context
here. Was Spencer influenced by cultural stereotypes or by archaeological
excavation?

> 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.

I can cite a more lengthy exploration of this problem:

Richard Nash, "Science and Literature as Culture Studies: The Case of Tyson's
Pygmie." In JH Langdon and ME McGann, eds., The Natural History of Paradigms.
University of Indianapolis Press. 1993 (in press but due out within a few
days).

Nash explicitly examines the intersection of popular fascination with wildmen
and freaks and the construction of formal science (e.g. the Royal Academy,
Linnaean classification) in the problem of identifying and classifying the
orangutan. But is there carry over in the sense of shaping images of human
evolution in the 19th century?

JOHN H. LANGDON      email LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY    FAX  (317) 788-3569
UNIVERSITY OF INDIANAPOLIS   PHONE (317) 788-3447
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46227

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