Contrées sans culture: ‘Nature’ Across the Anthropological Rift

by Lucia Folena

This paper attempts to highlight the difference between the “humanist” – late-medieval and early-modern – idea of nature as applied to both human individuals and the putative original condition of human communities, and the “anthropological” one, inaugurated in the mid-17th century, among others, by Hobbes’ Leviathan. Far from constituting a term in a binary opposition whose antonymic component would be variously identifiable as civilization, culture, evolution, development, and so forth, the humanist concept largely incorporated its later contraries: abiding by the dictates of nature amounted to acquiring and exercising those behavioural, moral and social skills which made collective existence happy and peaceful.

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