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With the development of new technologies and in the context of colonialism and imperialism, early modern Europeans became less isolated. As they came into contact with other societies, they elaborated new philosophical and scientific ideas to investigate and explain social and cultural differences. This applies equally as much to the nonhuman societies they encountered.

Consideration of ideas about apes, those nonhuman animals closest to ourselves, presents a suggestive beginning for investigations of ideas about other types of nonhuman animals.

Thinking About Apes in Early Modern Europe

The term ape includes bonobos, chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas, humans, and orangutans. In Africa and Asia, various human societies living near nonhuman apes developed practical knowledge and culturally specific ideas about them, but these animals were unknown to Europeans until the early modern period. Although a few early Greek...

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Correspondence to John Sorenson .

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Sorenson, J. (2019). Apes. In: Jalobeanu, D., Wolfe, C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences. Springer, Cham.

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