The orangutans had a particularly important role in Monboddo’s arguments, for in arguing that orangutans were human, and that humanity was independant of the use of language, he presented the state of nature as very much extant.
Orangutangs are somwhat thin on the ground in Scotland, yet the philosophical argument outlined above can be found within the traditional stories of rural society.
The subjects found within traditional narrative also appear to have considerable historical depth and legal associations. The location and space they occupy is distinctly pre-modern.
Its not an argument confind to a distant elite in the late 17th century, lost in the dust of old books.
It lived within and animated the descriptive language of fireside performers of all social classes.
Its a state of nature in which the supernatural fully occupies its outer edges, and its within these margins that the creatures, which embody these ideas and concepts are to be found.
A.V. Garrett, Animal Rights and Souls in the Eighteenth Century