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BOUGEANT, G.H.

Amusement philosophique sur le langage des bestes.   Paris: Chez Gissez, 1739.

12mo. [2], 157, [3] pp. Contemporary mottled calf. $400.00

First edition. This curious work was written in response to the century-old controversy of whether animals have souls, and, since language was taken as the definitive sign of reason, of whether they have language. Bougeant (1690-1743), a Jesuit, concludes that the only solution which would not threaten religion was to grant souls to animals but to consider these the souls of demons inhabiting animal bodies as punishment. Apparently his irony was not greatly appreciated by his Jesuit order, who mandated a prison term.


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