Jump to Navigation

How A Man Differs From A Dog

Print this article   Email this article
Erica Fudge considers what it meant to be described as an animal in the 16th and 17th centuries, and what divided humans from the rest of creation.

In 1621, writing under the pseudonym ‘Democritus Junior’, the Oxford clergyman and author Robert Burton (1577-1640) produced what is perhaps the most famous early modern exploration of self, The Anatomy of Melancholy. At the centre of Burton’s discourse is a Renaissance commonplace: ‘Nosce teipsum’ – know thyself. But Burton’s call for self-knowledge comes in a particular form. Men, he writes,

... are sufficiently informed in all other worldly businesses as to make a good bargain, buy, and sell, to keep & make choice of good Hawk, Hound, Horse, etc. but for such matters as concern the knowledge of themselves, they are wholly ignorant and careless, they know not what this Body and Soul are, how combined, of what parts and faculties they consist, or how a Man differs from a Dog.


 This article is available to History Today online subscribers only. If you are a subscriber, please log in.

Please choose one of these options to access this article:

Call our Subscriptions department on +44 (0)20 3219 7813 for more information.

If you are logged in but still cannot access the article, please contact us



About Us | Contact Us | Advertising | Subscriptions | Newsletter | RSS Feeds | Ebooks | Podcast | Submitting an Article
Copyright 2012 History Today Ltd. All rights reserved.