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Home page > Publications > Grandes éditions > Buffon, Œuvres complètes, tome VIII

Buffon, Œuvres complètes, tome VIII

Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière avec la description du Cabinet du Roi (1760)







Text prepared, introduced and annotated by Stéphane Schmitt with the collaboration of Cédric Crémière, Paris, Honoré Champion, 2007




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In this eighth volume of the Natural History, General and Particular, dated 1760, Buffon and Daubenton finished treating wild animals of France: hedgehog, shrew, taupe, bats, loir, lérot, muscardin and surmulot.
Then, following the plan announced in 1749, they began to approach foreign species. However, the transition does not take place suddenly, and a group of animals of uncertain or intermediate geographical status make the transition gradual: thus, the guinea pig, animal imported from the New World but became common in Europe; The marmot and the bear, who live on the mountainous margins of the kingdom; And the beaver, which is present in France but whose complex societies flourish only in the great wilderness of North America. The volume ends with three unquestionably exotic species: the raccoon, the coati and the agouti.

Buffon, as he has done since the beginning of the history of quadrupeds, seizes every opportunity he can to break the monotony of descriptions and tackle more general scientific or philosophical questions. The "deformity" of the bat, for example, allows it to reaffirm its criticism of final causes and Linnaean classifications, based on a small number of criteria and totally inapplicable in the present case. In the same way, the article on the beaver offers reflection on the nature of intelligence and animal societies, that is to say, beyond, on the singularity of man.



Stéphane Schmitt is director of research at CNRS (SPHERE, UMR 7219, Paris). His research focuses on the history of the life sciences of the eighteenth to the twentieth century, particularly on the development of anatomy and embryology in connection with the development of theories of evolution.

Cédric Crémière, heritage curator and director of the Museum of Natural History of Le Havre, is particularly interested in the history of anatomy and collections.



:: Champion
:: Collection "Age des Lumières", n° série : 0074
:: 640 pages
:: Mars 2014, Paris
:: ISBN : 9782745326157