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Animal Reason in the 18th Century between Philosophy and Natural History: Hume, Condillac, Buffon, and Le Roy

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Dario de Queiroz Galvão Neto
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Pedro Paulo Garrido Pimenta; Clara Carnicero de Castro; Claire Crignon; Claire Etchegaray; Laurent Jaffro
Advisor: Pedro Paulo Garrido Pimenta

This PhD dissertation examines the notion of animal reason in the eighteenth century. I argue that this notion plays a central role in the works of Hume and Condillac, and it is further developed in Buffon\'s and Le Roy\'s writings. In contrast to the Cartesian animalmachine doctrine, Hume and Condillac argue that animals are endowed with rationality as well as human beings. Animal reason is not only integrated into their philosophical systems, but it also becomes the model from which all possible rationality can be conceived. I will first show how the discovery of the epistemological function of the animal represents a decisive moment in the critiques of tradition carried out by Hume and Condillac. I shall then analyse how Buffon and Le Roy replace abstract and purely conceptual considerations with observations of the concrete lives of animals. Their readers are indeed confronted with accounts of beaver dams, assemblies preceding bird migration, strategies employed by deer and hares to avoid the hunter\'s traps, and more. The notion of animal reason arising from philosophy thus takes on new vigour: inspired by both Buffon\'s naturalist texts and Condillac\'s sensualism, Le Roy does not deny animals the ability for articulated language or the capacity to transmit knowledge between different generations. In the works of these four authors, it is possible to understand the genesis of an ethological thinking that is fundamental for defining human reason in the 18th century. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 18/03829-0 - Vivacity, pleasure and habit: the constitution of the subjectivity in David Hume
Grantee:Dario de Queiroz Galvão Neto
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate