in the UK
The Metaphysics of Apes traces the discovery and interpretation of the human-like great apes and the ape-like earliest ancestors of present-day humans. It shows how, from the days of Linnaeus to recent research, the sacred and taboo-ridden animal-human boundary was time and again challenged and adjusted. The unique dignity of humans, a central idea and value in the West, was, and to some extent still is, centrally on the minds of taxonomists, ethnologists, primatologists, and archaeologists. It has guided their research to a considerable extent. The basic presupposition was that humans are not entirely part of nature but, as symbolizing minds and as moral persons, transcend nature. This 2005 book was the first to offer an anthropological analysis of the burgeoning anthropological disciplines in terms of their own cultural taboos and philosophical preconceptions.
Cambridge University Press
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