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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE MODERN WORLD
occasionally in political and propagandist literature. A Foreign Secre-
tary recently blundered into using it. In Germany the idea of an
"Aryan" race received no more scientific support than in England.
Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who
made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily
spread, fostered by special conditions.
Max Muller himself was later convinced by scientific friends of the
enormity of his error and he did his very best to make amends. Thus
in 1888 he wrote:
I have declared again and again that if I say Aryas, I mean
neither blood nor bones, nor hair, nor skull; I mean simply those
who speak an Aryan language. . . . When I speak of them I commit
myself to no anatomical characteristics. The blue-eyed and fair-
haired Scandinavians may have been conquerors or conquered.
They may have adopted the language of their darker lords or
vice-versa. ... To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race,
Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist
who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic
grammar.1
Max Miiller frequently repeated his protest, but alas! "the evil
that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.5'
Who does not wish to have had noble ancestors? The belief in an
" Aryan" race had become accepted by philologists, who knew nothing
of science—and the word was freely used by writers who claimed to
treat of science though they had no technical training and no clear
idea of the biological meaning to be attached to the word "race-."
The influence of the untenable idea of an "Aryan race" vitiates all
German writings on anthropology which are now allowed to appear.
If the term "Aryan" is given a racial meaning at all, it should be
applied to that tribal unit, whatever it was, that first spoke a language
distinguishable as Aryan, Of the physical characters of that hypo-
thetical unit it is the simple truth to say that we know nothing what-
ever. As regards the locality where this language was first spoken,
the only tolerably certain statement that can be made is that it was
somewhere in Asia and was not in Europe. It is thus absurd to
distinguish between "non-Aryans" and "Europeans."
There is no need to trace in detail the history of the Aryan con-
troversy. It will be enough to say that while the Germans claimed
that these mythical Aryans were tall, fair, and long-headed—the
hypothetical ancestors of hypothetical early Teutons—the French
1 Max Muller, Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas 9 London, 1888, p,, 120.
260