Darwin sought to not only produce a new scientific truth, but also to put an end to polygenism, the current scientific discourse on human origins that gave tacit and at times explicit support for slavery: ‘... when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death.’ (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 235)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Simia to Homo: from C. F. Hoppe's Anthropomorpha -1760

Christianus Emmanuel Hoppius (Christian Emanuel Hoppe)
Dissertatio Academica in qua Anthropomorpha, Consens. Experient. Facult. Medic. in Reg. Academ Upsallensi, Præside viro noblilissimo atque experientissimo Dn. Doct. Carolo Linnæo....  Upsala, 1760.

Hoppe’s dissertation was directed, as the title indicates, by Linnaeus.  It is known that working with Linnaeus was at times a matter of the student simply taking down Linnaeus’s lecture to him.  Hoppe’s dissertation goes much further into the non-human primates, especially the Apes or Anthropmorpha and suggests, based upon morphology and behavior, their close relation to humans.  Note how the there is a progression in the classification.  Moreover, in the illustration, the Amthropomorpha take on increasingly human features as we move from the Pygmaeus to the Troglodyta.
 As for me, I am still uncertain, by what characteristic mark the troglodytes can be distinguished from man, according to the principles of natural history.  For there are so many things so alike in these kinds of apes and man, such as the structure of the almost bare body, the face, the ears, mouth, teeth, hands, breasts; and also in the food, imitation and gesticulations in those species which walk upright and are properly called Anthropomorpha, that it is very difficult to find marks sufficient to divide the genus. (p.15-16)
 From the text, The order is reversed in the illustration.

SIMIA ecaudata ferruginea, capite lacertisque pilis reversis.  Homo Sylvestris. Edw. av. 5. p.6. t. 213. (p.7)
(lit.) A Monkey with rusty hairy legs, head with hair his arms reverse. 

SIMIA ecaudata subtus nuda abdomine gibboso. Syst. Nat. 10. p. 25. n.1. (p.8)
(lit.) Crooked Monkey with hairy legs under bare abdomen 

HOMO caudatus vulgo dictus.  Syst. Nat. 10. p. 24. (p.9)
(lit.) A Man commonly called with long tail. 

HOMO noturnus.  Syst. Nat. 10. p. 24. (p.11)
(lit.) A Man of the night.

Simia quam similis turpissima bestia nobis.  Ennius.
The Ape - how like us is the ugly beast.
(Hoppe's concluding note.)