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Bad manners at the anatomist's table : Edward Tyson and the naturalisation of truth

Fudge, Erica (2000) Bad manners at the anatomist's table : Edward Tyson and the naturalisation of truth. In: The political subject: essays on the self from art, politics and science. Lawrence & Wishart, London, pp. 14-30. ISBN 978-0853159148

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Abstract

In the early modern period one of the most conventional vehicles for illustrating and teaching the cultural ideals of the human world was the animal.2 In beast fables, legends and emblem books, the animal was used to exemplify moral „truths‟. As an illustration of the application of logic, what better story than that of Chrysippus‟ dog, who, by deduction, followed the correct path; or of true loyalty, what better exemplar than Odysseus‟ hound, Argus, who died on the reappearance of his loved and lost owner? From another point of view, what better way to depict the unnaturalness of cunning than through the story of the fox who feigned death to gain easy access to his prey; or to represent the dangers of parental over-protectiveness than through the narrative of the ape who loved her babe so much she hugged it to death?3 Whether as emblems of good behaviour or of bad, the animal asked human readers to reassess their own actions.