Amusement philosophique sur le Langage des Bestes.
by [BOUGEANT, Guillaume Hyacinthe].
2 p.l., 157,  pp. 12mo, fine polished speckled calf, spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. Paris: Gissey et al., 1739. [bound with]:[?BOUGEANT?]. Reflexions sur l'Ame des Bestes. En Forme d'Amusemens philosophiques. 6 p.l., 108 pp. 12mo. N.p. [Paris?]: 1740. First editions of these two early works on animal intelligence and communication. The first work was highly controversial and caused Bougeant (1690-1743), a Jesuit, to be exiled from Paris for a period of time. "In the early eighteenth century the Cartesian doctrine of the animal-machine was waning, and by 1730 most participants in the debate granted some measure of mentality to animals, although their reasons varied. The whole controversy was reduced to absurdity in 1739, when a Jesuit, Father Bougeant, wrote a very telling criticism of the Cartesian doctrine and the prevailing alternatives. He concluded that the only solution which would not threaten religion was to grant souls to animals but to consider these the souls of demons or fallen angels inhabiting animal bodies as a punishment. His position allowed him to concede reason and a true language to beasts and neatly to justify their suffering. His order rewarded his ironical wit by applying stern disciplinary measures."-Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The first work is divided into three parts: the understanding of animals, the necessity of a language between animals, and the language of animals. The second work, perhaps written by Bougeant, continues in the same vein. Very fine copies. ❧ I. Casey Wood, p. 251-"A curious and rare book (bestiary) on the comparative physiology and sociology of birds and other animals. The author was obliged (in an appended letter) to apologize to the Church for some statements offensive to ecclesiastic sensibilities." N.B.G., Vol. 6, cols. 907-08. W. Keith Percival, "An Eighteenth-Century View of Animal Communication" in Semiotica, Vol. 39, Issues 1-2 (1982), pp. 55-74. . (Inventory #: HillBibl-5443)
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