Defoe and the Nature of Man by Maximillian E. Novak

By Maximillian E. Novak

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From the Hardcover version.

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Around Selkirk's life two myths have arisen which seem to have little factual basis. concerned Steele's statement that Selkirk ', . wailed his return to the world, which could not The first frequently be . . with all its Trans, Clements Markham (1869), I. 44. The Journal of Richard Norwood, ed. Wesley Craven and Walter Hayward (1945), p. 54. For a modern study of isolation see A. L. Singh and Robert Zingg, Wolf Children and Feral Man (1942), pp. 247-9. , iii. 322. THE STATE OF NATURE 33 enjoyments, restore him to the tranquillity of his solitude'.

Seems more appropriate to a follower of Shaftesbury than to a champion of the English Dissenters. With these examples in mind and with the realization that Defoe's position on the subject of primitivism was becoming increasingly paradoxical, the ideas contained in Robert Journal should not seem at made suggestions Dmry's extraordinary. Following the in various authentic accounts of the natives of all Madagascar, Defoe remarked that ... as the Natives have no Knowledge of the Curse on Adam and his Posterity; so One would be tempted to think, as well for this Reason as from their Colour, that they are not of his Race, or that the Curse never reach' d them; for they can get their Living without the Sweat of their Brows, or at least without that which we commonly under stand by it; which is hard Labour- 2 But although 'tempted' to think of Defoe quickly reverses this human evil will Madagascar as a paradise, Utopian picture by showing how destroy the abundance of nature by wars and cruelty.

Montesquieu's brief view of natural man in his Spirit fears, of the Laws was approximately the same as Pufendorf J s : Man in a state of nature would have the faculty of knowing, before he had acquired any knowledge. Plain it is that his first ideas would not be of a speculative nature; he would think of the preservation of his being, before he would investigate its origin. Such a man would feel nothing in himself at first but impotency and weakness; his fears and apprehensions would be excessive; as appears from in stances (were there any necessity of proving it) of savages found in forests, trembling at the motion of a leaf, and flying from every shadow.

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