Addressing the age-old question of human perfectibility in Daniel Defoe's Mere Nature Delineated: or, a Body without a Soul

Title: Addressing the age-old question of human perfectibility in Daniel Defoe's Mere Nature Delineated: or, a Body without a Soul
Author: Culea, Mihaela
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2013, vol. 39, iss. 1, pp. [199]-209
Extent
[199]-209
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
License: Not specified license
 

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Abstract(s)
This article discusses the concern with the improvement or perfectibility of human nature in eighteenth-century English society and the necessity of its encouragement considering the prevalence of human degeneration at different levels: intellectual, moral, social, political or cultural. After a brief presentation of the philosophical and literary background of the perfectibility debates, we look into Daniel Defoe's literary representation of human improvement and degeneration in his Mere Nature Delineated: or, a Body without a Soul (1726). Defoe's pamphlet had its roots in a real case of human imperfection or degradation, namely in Peter the Wild Boy's story, which gave him the opportunity to criticize his contemporaries' vices and failures.