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curious reader will find Aristotle's error repeated in a work in the
Apocrypha, The Wisdom of Solomon (vii. 2). The modern knowledge
of the physiology and anatomy of pregnancy disposes completely of
any idea of a "blood-tie" or of "common blood" in its literal sense.
Such blood is not "thicker than water/5 On the contrary, it is as
tenuous as a ghost. It is non-existent. It is a phantasm of the
But quite apart from this venerable misconception, and the wide-
spread misunderstandings that arise from it, it is evident that the
actual physical kinship, which is frequently claimed as "race feeling,"
must be fictitious. In many cases it is, in fact, demonstrably false
even in the very simple and lowly forms of social organization. To
speak of "kinship" or "common blood" for the populations of our
great complex modern social systems is to talk mere nonsense.
We may take a familiar example of a lowly social organization from
the Scottish clans. These, in theory, were local aggregates of families
connected by kinship and each bound thereby to their chief. As an
historical fact, however, these local units included settlers who came
from other clans. This mixture of relationships would naturally, in
time of crisis, entail a divided allegiance. Such a danger was over-
come by the enforced adoption of the clan name. Thus when the
MacGregors became a broken clan and the use of the name was for-
bidden, its members averted the evil consequences of their outlawry
by adhesion to other clans. Thus Rob Roy, the famous outlaw and
chief of the Gregors, adopted his mother's name of Campbell, and so
became an adherent of the Duke of Argyll.
- Similarly in Ireland there was a system of wholesale inclusion of
entire classes of strangers or slaves with their descendants into the clan
or into its minor division, the sept. Those so adopted regularly and
as a matter of course took the tribal name. In the exceedingly ancient
"Brehon Laws," which go back at least to the eighth century, there
are regulations for the adoption of new families into the clan and even
for the amalgamation of clans. Kinship, or rather what was treated
as kinship, could thus actually be acquired. It could even be bought.
A number of legends of early Greece and Rome tell of similar clan
fusions. Adoption into the tribe thus constantly becomes a fictitious
blood-tie, and among many peoples of lower culture the cere-
mony of adoption is accompanied by actual physical interchange of
blood. Many analogies in more advanced cultural units suggest
If a Scottish or Irish clan is of "mixed blood," what likelihood is
there of purity of descent among the millions that make up the