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This page intentionally left blank Nature and Nurture: Children Without Human Parenting 1 o N A S U M M E R day, at the time when hay was being harvested near the now German town of Hameln, Jurgen Meyer, who had been working the fields, met "a naked, brownish, black-haired creature, who was running up and down, and was about the size of a boy of twelve years old.
It uttered no human sound, but was happily enticed [into the town] by its astonished discoverer showing it two apples in his hand, and entrapped within the Bridge-gate. There it was at first received by a mob of street boys, but was very soon afterwards placed for sate custody in the Hospital of the Holy Ghost, by order of the Burgomaster [Mayor] Severin.
Peter, the name given by the street gangs to the boy, showed few signs of socialization or civility. When made comfortable in the hospital more of a youth hostel, it would seem, than a place for the illhe tried to leave in any way possible, sometimes by door and sometimes by window.
Always alert and suspicious, he sat on his haunches or waited on all-fours, as would a four-footed animal. Seemingly unused to beds, he rolled back and forth on the straw pallet provided. He did not care for cooked foods but readily ate raw vegetables and grass.
He captured birds, dismembered them, and ate the pieces. He showed approval of foodstuffs by beating his chest with his fists. When fitted with shoes, he learned to wear them but preferred not to do so.
He liked having a cap put on his head and enjoyed tossing it in the water to see it "swim. His senses of hearing and smell were said to be sharp. He appeared to enjoy music. Some thought Peter to be a true feral 2 man, a human being raised not by other human beings but by the natural state provided by the wild.
Yet he was untouched by human contact, human demands, and human forms of socialization Figure 1. Peter's stay in the hospital was brief. Arbuthnot and, seemingly, both Pope and Swift.
It was hoped that Peter might provide evidence as to the composition of the human mind as it exists uncontaminated by society, for Peter came into human society from the forest, perhaps having been raised by wild animals.
The man told me that he showed great fear of flogging, and when he threatened him with the rod, the boy behaved much more moderately, so that within three days he was much easier to handle, and that it sufficed to merely show him the rod in order to make him obey. Nevertheless, no one can deny that a wild nature is so deeply rooted in him that he always tries to run away.
He lived with a clothmaker, to whom he is said to have become more attached than to any other person. By October offifteen months after his enticement into human society, he was sent to Hanover and then to London in February of as a "guest" of the royal house of Hanover, a family recently anointed as the ruling family of the United Kingdom.
We can only guess at their purpose in acquiring him, but the official explanation was a wish to offer Peter for scientific examination. Peter provided a seemingly unusual opportunity for his fellow human beings to examine the effects of socialization as separate from what humankind knows and does by nature.
The determination of what we know by nature as contrasted with what we can learn by experience or by being taught is, after all, the root question of education, socialization, and some aspects of religious and philosophic thought.
It was a question raised during the Enlightenment, and it ought to remain a significant psychological question in our own age. People have given themselves all the trouble to teach him how to talk: But he has until today hardly learned enough to ask in English for the most necessary things.
His hearing is good, but his pronunciation is more like babbling than like distinctive speech. He does not know how to answer any question, and his memory is not as good as an animal's instinct. In conclusion, his nature lacks humanness and there is no hope that he will ever learn anything.
As he grew older he became more moderate in his eating, since in the first year of his captivity he took enough for two men. He relished a glass of brandy, he liked the fire, but showed all of his life the most perfect indifference for money, and what proves, above all, the more than brutish and invincible stupidity of Peter, just as complete an indifference for the other sex.
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Tafel, another professor, [writes Zingg when analyzing the case with the advantage of modern insight]. The decision to teach Peter to talk was so practical and therefore obvious that we might overlook its subtlety.
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