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Der Affe und die Sprachverweigerung

Ein sozialkritisches Motiv zwischen Ethnographie und Philosophie

Morenz, Ludwig

Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Bd. 51 (2009), Iss. 0: S. 210–217

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Morenz, Ludwig


This essay deals with an ethnographic-historical motive of apes conceptionalised to be competent of language but refrained from actualizing their potential in order not to pressed to (slave-)labor. This idea was coined in the 17th century and transmitted in various contexts for three centuries. The mental image of apescompetent in language can be understood as a variation of the popular motive of bon sauvage transformed into the world of the animals. This evocative imagewas generated within the discourse on language, labor and social hierarchies. Looking at the history of the motive we can detect various significant variations.Furthermore this article sheds some light on the usage of ethnographical anecdotes in philosophical and literary texts.


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Ludwig D. Morenz: Der Affe und die Sprachverweigerung. Ein sozialkritisches Motiv zwischen Ethnographie und Philosophie 209