Albertus’s “Pygmies”

Friday, January 5, 2018: 1:30 PM
Columbia 7 (Washington Hilton)
Felipe Fernández-Armesto, University of Notre Dame
This paper contributes to the study of the long history of how humans in sundered communities re-establish their ability to recognize each other as fellow-humans. Medieval taxonomy confronted encounters with unfamiliar groups against a background of insecurely transmitted notions of similitudines and interstitial beings known only to tradition or imagination. I focus on Albertus Magnus's curious (and, I shall argue, hitherto misunderstood) pages on what he called “pygmaei” and suggest how his observations contributed to shifting the limits of the human moral community.
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