In his adaptation of Robinson Crusoe
, Campe sets out to examine the legitimacy of his contemporary social reality (in Europe in the broadest sense) by tracing its origin back to the most basic roots conceivable. The experimental character of his book is emphasised and—to an extent—explicitly introduced through the frame narrative which constitutes Campe’s most important addition to Defoe’s story: Here the emergence of the rules and routines are extensively mooted by the father (who relates Robinson’s story as a framed narrative) and his children who still have to internalise, grasp, and situate the moral rules around them and frequently offer divergent perspectives in the process. The frame narrative connects the moral “ontogeny” of the children to the “phylogenetics” of civilisation and suggests that both can be superimposed on one another. I will work with concepts that focus on the differentiation between “innate” moral characteristics and their social transformation on a cognitive, evolutionary level, from which Campe clearly deviates. However, his short-circuiting of the individual and the phylogeny leads to very similar specifications as laid out by, for instance, Moral Foundations Theory.
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