ABSTRACT

In the nascent British penal colony of Port Jackson, it might be assumed that the Nicolas Baudin expedition had found the ideal situation for addressing one of its most vital tasks: gathering ethnographical data to advance understandings of the nature of Man. In order to elucidate the attitude manifested at Port Jackson this chapter contextualizes it more specifically in the end of Enlightenment era when French concepts of human nature were inextricably bound to Revolutionary social and political change. While Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory of the good savage endured, in the rapidly changing ideological climate it was challenged by a more scientific approach to the study of Man. In fact, the voyagers' faith in the good savage philosophy endured well into their encounters in Tasmania almost eight months later. On the whole, the sojourn at Port Jackson complicated the Baudin voyagers beliefs about human nature.