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THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK - BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS 
ATLANTA - SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
OF CANADA, LIMITED 

TORONTO 



THE MIND 

of 

PRIMITIVE MAN 



FRANZ BOAS 



REVISED EDITION 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 



REVISED EDITION COPYRIGHTED, 1938, 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



All rights reserved no part of this book may be re- 
produced in any form without permission in writing 
from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes 
to quote brief passages in connection with a review 
written for inclusion in magazine or newspaper. 



Printed in the United States of America. 

Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1938. 

Fourth Printing October, 1944. 



First edition copyrighted and published, 1911, 

by The Macmillan Company. 
Copyright renewed 1930 by Franz Boas. 



PREFACE 

Since 1911, when the first edition of The Mind of Primi- 
tive Man was published much work has been done in all 
the branches of science that have to be considered in the 
problem with which the book deals. The study of heredity 
has made important strides and has helped to clear up 
the concept of race. The influence of environment upon 
bodily form and behavior has been the subject of many 
investigations and the mental attitudes of " primitive" 
man have been studied from new points of view. For this 
reason a large part of the book had to be rewritten and 
rearranged. 

The first statement of some of the conclusions reached 
in the book were made in an address delivered by the 
author as vice-president of the Section of Anthropology 
of the American Association for the Advancement of 
Science, in 1895. Ever since that time the subject has re- 
mained one of his chief interests. The result of his studies 
has been an ever-increasing certainty of his conclusions. 
There is no fundamental difference in the ways of think- 
ing of primitive and civilized man. A close connection 
between race and personality has never been established. 
The concept of* racial type as commonly used even in 
scientific literature is misleading and requires a logical as 
well as a biological redefinition. While it would seem that 
a great number of American students of biology, psychol- 
ogy and anthropology concur with these views, popular 
prejudice, based on earlier scientific and popular tradition, 
has certainly not diminished, for race prejudice is still an 



vi PREFACE 



important factor in our life. Still worse is the subjection 
of science to ignorant prejudice in countries controlled by 
dictators. Such control has extended particularly to books 
dealing with the subject matter of race and culture. Since 
nothing is permitted to be printed that runs counter to the 
ignorant whims and prejudices of the governing clique, 
there can be no trustworthy science. When a publisher 
whose pride used to be the number and value of his scien- 
tific books announces in his calendar a book trying to 
show that race mixture is not harmful, withdraws the 
same book after a dictator comes into power, when great 
cyclopedias are rewritten according to prescribed tenets, 
when scientists either do not dare or are not allowed to 
publish results contradicting the prescribed doctrines, 
when others, in order to advance their own material in- 
terests or blinded by uncontrolled emotion follow blindly 
the prescribed road no confidence can be placed in their 
statements. The suppression of intellectual freedom rings 
the death knell of science. 

FRANZ BOAS 
NEW YORK 

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 
January, 1938 



CONTENTS 



1. INTRODUCTION 3 

Double meaning of primitiveness, 3. The White 
race having achieved the highest civilization said 
to represent the highest physical type, 4. Does 
cultural achievement depend upon hereditary apti- 
tude alone? 6. Many races contributed to the or- 
igin of civilization, 7. Early civilization in Amer- 
ica, 8. Interpretation of rapidity of development, 
8. Decline of primitive cultures, 11. Spread of 
civilization, 13. Summary, 15. The problem, 17. 

2. HISTORICAL REVIEW 19 

Boulainvilliers and Gobineau, 19. Klemm, 20. 
Carus, 21. Morton, 22. Nott and Gliddon, 23. 
Houston Stewart Chamberlain, 24. Madison 
Grant, 25. Palaeontologist, 26. Stoddard, 26. 
von Eickstedt, 27. Influence of contact of races 
and of modern biology, 29. Ethnologists, 32. 

3. THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES . 35 

The meaning of types, 35. The meaning of vari- 
ability, 37. The analysis of populations as com- 
posed of different elements, 41. Determination of 
differences between traits, 42. -^-Regular distribu- 
tion of many variable phenomena, 42. Measure- 
ments of degree of variability, 44. ^Description 
of differences between types, 47. 

4. THE HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS OF 

HUMAN RACES ^ 52 

Racial heredity, 52. Forms common to several 
racial types, 53. Genetic differences of forms ap- 
parently identical, 53,-^aws of heredity, 54.-^In- 
breeding, 55. Variability of family lines and of 



viii CONTENTS 



fraternities, 60. Race a complex of distinct genetic 
lines, 63. Relations between family line and fra- 
ternal variabilities, 64. Differences between human 
races and races of domesticated animals, 68.-^lm- 
possibility of constructing original "pure types," 70. 
Rate at which individual and social characters de- 
velop, 71. 

5. THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES ^ . 74 

Morphological development of man, 74. Domes- 
tication, 76. Influence of environment upon or- 
ganisms, 85. Human races living under different 
conditions, 86. A ^Modification of form due to en- 
vironment, 88. Growth, 91. Identical twins, 95. 
Influence of selection, 97. 

5. THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 99 
Parallel development, 99. Distribution of "higher " 
and "lower" traits among races, 101. Significance 
of such traits, 102. Size and structure of brain in 
various races, 103. The principal races of man, 
106. Europeans, Australians, Pygmy types, 109. 
Relations between Mongolid and European, 110. 
Areas of specialization of races, 112. 

7. PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL 

FUNCTIONS OF RACES 116 

Variability of functions, 116. Variability of tempo 
of development, 117. Tempo of development of 
different races in the same environment and of the 
same race in different types of environment, 120. 
Mental tests, 121. Motor habits, 123. Frequency 
of crime, 126. Mental diseases, 126. Pronuncia- 
tion, 127. Studies of personality, 127. Behavior 
of identical twins, 128. Ethnological observations 
regarding personality, 129. Inhibition, 131. Im- 
providence, 133. Lack of concentration, 134. 
Prelogical thought, 135. Lack of originality, 135. 
Relation of genetic and cultural conditioning of be- 
havior, 137. Effect of continued civilization, 139. 
Lack of proof of change in faculties, 140. Relapse 



CONTENTS ix 



of individuals into primitive life, 142. Influence of 
early life, 143. Distribution of mental traits in 
different races, 143. 

8. RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE ... 145 

Relations between type, language and culture, 145. 
-^Classification from the three points of view ir- 
reconcilable, 146. Permanence of type and change 
of language, 147. Permanence of language and 
change of type, 148.- Js 4 ) ermanence of type and lan- 
guage and change of culture, 150.~^Hypothesis of 
original correlation between type, language and cul- 
ture, 152. Lack of time relation between the three 
features, 154.-^The evaluation of languages and cul- 
tures, 157. 

9. EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 159 

Definition of culture, 159. Animal habits compared 
with human culture, 160. Culture in palaeolithic 
times, 164. Traits common to all cultures, 165. 
Isolated parallelisms, 166. Similarities due to his- 
torical causes, 168. Old World and New World, 
169. Simple and complex cultures, 172. Advance 
of rational explanations, 173. 

10. THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE . . 175 

^Explanations by analogy, 175. Evolutionary the- 
ory, 177. Examples, 177.- s =4)evelopment of agri- 
culture and of domestication of animals, 179.-^De- 
velopment of the family, 182. Customs do not 
always develop in the same way, 183. Different 
customs developing from a single source, 184. 
Convergent evolution, 185. Lack of comparabil- 
ity of data, 186,-^nfluence of geographical en- 
vironment, 189.-^Economic determinism, 193. 
Rastian's elementary ideas, 193. Culture as deter- 
mined by race, 195. 

11. THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN AND THE 

PROGRESS OF CULTURE 197 

Definition of primitiveness, 197. Progress of tech- 
nique, 199. Progress in intellectual work, 202. 



CONTENTS 



Participation in cultural achievements, 203. Social 
organization, 206. Characteristics of languages of 
primitive tribes, 207. Fundamental characteristics 
of primitive thought and language, 208. The cate- 
gories of language, 209. Attributes, 212. Gram- 
matical forms, 213. Abstract terms, 216. Nu- 
merals, 218. The influence of language upon 
thought, 219.- : 4mportance of tradition, 220. 
Gradual enlargement of the social unit, 223. 

12. THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIM- 
ITIVES 226 

Interrelations between various aspects of primitive 
life, 226. Subconscious character of automatic ac- 
tions and their emotional tone, 227. Taboo, 230. 
The incest group, 231. The effect of propaganda, 
233. Examples of automatic reactions, 234. Ef- 
fects of education, 237. Customs based on irra- 
tional processes, 237. Secondary explanations, 238. 
Association of ideas through similar emotional 
values, 240. Ritual, 240. Nature myths, 241. 
Art, 242. Varying associations of widely distrib- 
uted traits, 244. Substitution of causal explana- 
tions for emotional associations, 248. 

13- THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 253 
Modern race theories, 253. Critique of the concept 
of race, 254. Intermingling of European types, 255. 
Attempts to describe culture as determined by 
race, 259. Population of the United States, 266. 
Eugenics, 267. The Negro problem in the United 
States, 268. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 273 



THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 



1. INTRODUCTION 

A survey of our globe shows the continents inhabited 
by a great diversity of peoples different in appearance, 
different in language and in cultural life. The Europeans 
and their descendants on other continents are united by 
similarity of bodily build, and their civilization sets them 
off sharply against all the people of different appearance. 
The Chinese, the native New Zealander, the African Negro, 
the American Indian present not only distinctive bodily 
features, but each possesses also his own peculiar mode of 
life. Each human type seems to have its own inventions, 
its own customs and beliefs, and it is very generally as- 
sumed that race and culture must be intimately associated, 
that racial descent determines cultural life. 

Owing to this impression the term " primitive " has a 
double meaning. It applies to both bodily form and cul- 
ture. We are accustomed to speak both of primitive races 
and primitive cultures as though the two were necessarily 
related. We believe not only in a close association be- 
tween race and culture; we are also ready to claim superi- 
ority of our own race over all others. The sources of this 
attitude spring from our every-day experiences. Bodily 
form has an aesthetic value. The dark color, the flat and 
wide nose, the thick lips and prominent mouth of the 
Negro; the slanting eye and prominent cheekbones of the 
East Asiatic do not conform to those ideals of human 
beauty to which we of West European traditions are ac- 
customed. The racial isolation of Europe and the social 
segregation of races in America have favored the rise of 

3 



4 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

the so-called " instinctive " aversion to foreign types, 
founded to a great extent on the feeling of a fundamental 
distinctiveness of form of our own race. It is the same 
feeling that creates an " instinctive " aversion to abnormal 
or ugly types in our own midst, or to habits that do not 
conform to our sense of propriety. Furthermore such 
strange types as are members of our society occupy, very 
generally, inferior positions and do not mingle to any great 
extent with members of our own race. In their native 
land their cultural life is not as rich in intellectual achieve- 
ment as our own. Hence the inference that strangeness of 
type and low intelligence go hand in hand. In this way 
our attitude becomes intelligible, but we also recognize 
that it is not based on scientific insight but on simple 
emotional reactions and social conditions. Our aversions 
and judgments are not, by any means, primarily rational 
in character. 

Nevertheless, we like to support our emotional attitude 
toward the so-called inferior races by reasoning. The su- 
periority of our inventions, the extent of our scientific 
knowledge, the complexity of our social institutions, our 
attempts to promote the welfare of all members of the 
social body, create the impression that we, the civilized 
people, have advanced far beyond the stages on which 
other groups linger, and the assumption has arisen of an 
innate superiority of the European nations and of their 
descendants. The basis of our reasoning is obvious: the 
higher a civilization, the higher must be the aptitude for 
civilization; and as aptitude presumably depends upon the 
perfection of the mechanism of body and mind, we infer 
that the White race represents the highest type. The tacit 
assumption is made that achievement depends solely, or 
at least primarily, upon innate racial ability. Since the in- 
tellectual development of the White race is the highest, it 



INTRODUCTION 



is assumed that its intellectuality is supreme and that its 
mind has the most subtle organization. 

The conviction that European nations possess the high- 
est aptitude supports our impressions regarding the signif- 
icance of differences in type between the European race 
and those of other continents, or even of differences be- 
tween various European types. Unwittingly we pursue 
a line of thought like this: since the aptitude of the Eu- 
ropean is the highest, his physical and mental type is also 
highest, and every deviation from the White type neces- 
sarily represents a lower feature. 

This unproved assumption underlies our judgments of 
races, for other conditions being equal, a race is commonly 
described as the lower, the more fundamentally it differs 
from our own. We interpret as proof of a lower mentality 
anatomical peculiarities found in primitive man which re- 
semble traits occurring in lower forms of the zoological 
series; and we are troubled by the observation that some 
of the "lower " traits do not occur in primitive man, but 
are rather found in the European race. 

The subject and form of all such discussions show that 
the idea is rooted in the minds of investigators that we 
should expect to find in the White race the highest type 
of man. 

Social conditions are often treated from the same point 
of view. We value our individual freedom, our code of 
ethics, our free art so highly that they seem to mark an 
advancement to which no other race can lay claim. 

The judgment of the mental status of a people is gener- 
ally guided by the difference between its social status and 
our own, and the greater the difference between their in- 
tellectual, emotional and moral processes and those which 
are found in our civilization, the harsher our judgment. It 
is only when a Tacitus deploring the degeneration of his 



THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 



time finds the virtues of his ancestors among foreign tribes 
that their example is held up to the gaze of his fellow- 
citizens; but the people of imperial Rome probably had 
only a pitying smile for the dreamer who clung to the an- 
tiquated ideals of the past. 

In order to understand clearly the relations between 
race and civilization, the two unproved assumptions to 
which I have referred must be subjected to a searching 
analysis. We must investigate how far we are justified in 
assuming achievement to be primarily due to exceptional 
aptitude, and how far we are justified in assuming the 
European type or, taking the notion in its extreme form, 
the Northwest European type to represent the highest 
development of mankind. It will be advantageous to con- 
sider these popular beliefs before making the attempt to 
clear up the relations between culture and race and to 
describe the form and growth of culture. 

It might be said, that, although achievement is not 
necessarily a measure of aptitude, it seems admissible to 
judge the one by the other. Have not most races had the 
same chances for development? Why, then, did the White 
race alone develop a civilization which is sweeping the 
whole world, and compared with which all other civiliza- 
tions appear as feeble beginnings cut short in early child- 
hood, or arrested and petrified at an early stage of develop- 
ment? Is it not, to say the least, probable that the race 
which attained the highest stage of civilization was the 
most gifted one, and that those races which have remained 
at the bottom of the scale were not capable of rising to 
higher levels? 

A brief consideration of the general outlines of the his- 
tory of civilization will give us an answer to these ques- 
tions. Let our minds go back a few thousand years, until 
we reach the time when the civilizations of eastern and 



INTRODUCTION 



western Asia were in their infancy. The first great advances 
appear. The art of writing is invented. As time passes, 
the bloom of civilization bursts forth now here, now there. 
A people that at one time represented the highest type of 
culture sinks back into obscurity, while others take its 
place. At the dawn of history we see civilization cling to 
certain districts, taken up now by one people, now by 
another. Often, in the numerous conflicts of these times 
the more civilized people are vanquished. The conqueror 
learns the arts of life from the conquered and carries on 
their work. Thus the centers of civilization are shifting to 
and fro over a limited area, and progress is slow and halt- 
ing. At this period the ancestors of the races that are 
today among the most highly civilized were in no way 
superior to primitive man as we find him now in regions 
that have not come into contact with modern civilization. 

Was the civilization attained by these ancient people 
of such a character as to allow us to claim for them a genius 
superior to that of any other race? 

First of all, we must bear in mind that none of these 
civilizations was the product of the genius of a single 
people. Ideas and inventions were carried from one to the 
other; and, although intercommunication was slow, each 
people which participated in the ancient development con- 
tributed its share to the general progress. Proofs without 
number have been forthcoming which show that ideas 
have been disseminated as long as people have come into 
contact with one another. Neither race nor language limit 
their diffusion. Hostility and timid exclusiveness against 
neighbors are unable to hinder their flow from tribe to tribe 
and they filter through distances that are measured by 
thousands of miles. Since many races have worked to- 
gether in the development of the ancient civilizations, we 
must bow to the genius of all, whatever group of mankind 



8 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

they may represent, North African, West Asiatic, Euro- 
pean, East Indian or East Asiatic. 

We may now ask, did no other races develop a culture 
of equal value? It would seem that the civilizations of an- 
cient Peru and of Central America may well be compared 
with the ancient civilizations of the Old World. In both 
we find a high stage of political organization, division of 
labor and an elaborate ecclesiastical hierarchy. Great 
architectural works were undertaken, requiring the co- 
operation of many individuals. Plants were cultivated 
and animals domesticated; the art of writing had been in- 
vented. The inventions and knowledge of the peoples of 
the Old World seem to have been somewhat more numer- 
ous and extended than those of the races of the New World, 
but there can be no doubt that the general status of their 
civilization measured by their inventions and knowledge 
was nearly equally high. 1 This will suffice for our consid- 
eration. 

What, then, is the difference between the civilization of 
the Old World and that of the New World? It is essentially 
a difference in time. The one reached a certain stage three 
thousand or four thousand years sooner than the other. 

Although much stress has been laid upon the greater 
rapidity of development of the races of the Old World, it 
is not by any means conclusive proof of exceptional ability. 
It may be adequately conceived as due to the laws of 
chance. When two bodies run through the same course 
with variable rapidity, sometimes quickly, sometimes 
slowly, their relative position will be the more likely to show 
accidental differences, the longer the course they run. If 
their speed is constantly accelerating, as has been the case 
in the rapidity of cultural development, the distance be- 

1 A general presentation of these data will be found in Buschan and 
MacCurdy. 



INTRODUCTION 



tween these bodies, due to chance only, will be still wider 
than it would be if the rate were uniform. Thus two groups 
of infants a few months old will be much alike in their 
physiological and psychical development; youths of equal 
age will differ much more; and among old men of equal 
age, one group will be in full possession of their powers, 
the other on the decline; due mainly to the acceleration 
or retardation of their development, which is, to a great 
extent determined by causes that are not inherent in their 
bodily structure, but largely due to their modes of life. 
The difference in period of development does not always 
signify that the hereditary structure of the retarded in- 
dividuals is inferior to that of the others. 

Applying the same reasoning to the history of mankind 
we may say that the difference of a few thousand years is 
insignificant as compared to the age of the human race. 
The time required to develop the existing races is a matter 
of conjecture, but we may be sure that it is long. We also 
know that man existed in the Eastern Hemisphere at a 
time that can be measured by geological standards only, 
and that he reached America not later than the beginning 
of the present geological period, perhaps a little earlier. 
The age of the human race must be measured by a span 
of time exceeding considerably one hundred thousand 
years (Penck). As the initial point of cultural development 
we must assume the remotest times in which we find traces 
of man. What does it mean, then, if one group of mankind 
reached a certain stage of cultural development at the age 
of one hundred thousand years and another at the age of 
one hundred and four thousand years? Would not the life 
history of the people, and the vicissitudes of their history, 
be fully sufficient to explain a delay of this character, with- 
out necessitating the assumption of a difference in their 
aptitude to social development? Such retardation would 



10 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

be significant only if it could be shown that it occurs regu- 
larly and at all times in one race, while in other races 
greater rapidity of development is the rule. 

If the achievements of a people were a measure of their 
aptitude, this method of estimating innate ability would 
hold good not only for our time but would be applicable 
under all conditions. The Egyptians of 2000 or 3000 B.C. 
might have applied the argument in their judgment of the 
people of northwestern Europe who lived in the Stone Age, 
had no architecture and a very primitive agriculture. They 
were " backward people " like many so-called primitive 
people of our time. These were our ancestors, and the 
judgment of the ancient Egyptians would now have to be 
reversed. Precisely in the same way must the customary 
estimate of the Japanese of one hundred years ago be 
reversed on account of their adoption of the economic, 
industrial and scientific methods of the western world. 
The claim that achievement and aptitude go hand in hand 
is not convincing. It must be subjected to an exhaustive 
analysis. 

At present practically all the members of the White 
race participate to a greater or lesser degree in their ad- 
vancement, while in none of the other races has such civi- 
lization as has been attained at one time or another been 
able to reach all the constituent tribes or peoples. This 
does not necessarily mean that all the members of the 
White race had the power of developing with equal rapidity 
the germs of civilization. Civilization, originated by a 
few members of the race, gave a stimulus to the neighbor- 
ing tribes who, without this help, would have required a 
much longer time to reach the high level which they now 
occupy. We do observe a remarkable power of assimila- 
tion, which has not manifested itself to an equal degree in 
any other race. 



INTRODUCTION 11 



Thus the problem presents itself of discovering the 
reason why the tribes of ancient Europe readily assimilated 
the civilization that was offered to them, while at present we 
see primitive people- dwindle and become degraded before 
its onslaught instead of being elevated by it. Is not this a 
proof of a higher organization of the inhabitants of Europe? 

I believe the reasons for the present rapid decline of 
primitive culture are not far to seek, and do not neces- 
sarily lie in a greater ability of the races of Europe and 
Asia. First of all, in appearance, these people were more 
alike to civilized man of their times than the races of 
Africa, Australia and America to the European invaders 
of later periods. When an individual had been assimilated 
in culture, he merged readily in the mass of the population 
and his descendants soon forgot their foreign ancestry. 
Not so in our times. A member of a foreign race always 
remains an outsider on account of his personal appearance. 
The Negro, no matter how completely he may have 
adopted what is best in our civilization is too often looked 
down upon as a member of an inferior race. The physical 
contrast in bodily appearance is a fundamental difficulty 
for the rise of primitive people. In early times in Europe, 
it was possible for colonial society to grow by accretion 
from among the more primitive natives. Similar conditions 
are still prevalent in many parts of Latin America. 

Furthermore, the diseases which nowadays ravage the 
inhabitants of territories newly opened to the Whites were 
not so devastating. On account of the permanent con- 
tiguity of the people of the Old World who were always in 
contact with one another, they were subject to the same 
kinds of contagion. The invasion of America and Poly- 
nesia, on the other hand, was accompanied by the intro- 
duction of new diseases among the natives of these coun- 
tries. The suffering and devastation wrought by epidemics 



12 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

which followed the discovery are too well known to be 
described in full. In all cases in which a material reduction 
in numbers occurs in a thinly settled area, the economic 
life as well as the social structure is almost completely 
destroyed, and with these the menial vigor and power of 
resistance decays. 

At the time when Mediterranean civilization had made 
important strides forward, the tribes of northern Europe 
had profited to a considerable extent by their achieve- 
ments. Although still sparsely settled, the tribal units were 
large as compared to the small bands encountered in many 
parts of America, in Australia or on the small islands of 
Polynesia. We may observe that populous communities 
of extensive areas have withstood the inroads of European 
colonization. The outstanding examples are Mexico and 
the Andean highlands where the Indian population has 
recovered from the impact of European immigration. The 
small North American tribes and those of eastern South 
America have succumbed. The Negro race also seems 
capable of surviving the shock. 

Furthermore, the economic stresses brought about by 
the conflict between modern inventions and native in- 
dustries are far more fundamental than those produced 
by contact between the industries of the ancients and 
those of less advanced people. Our methods of manufac- 
ture have reached such perfection that the industries of 
the primitive people of our times are being exterminated 
by the cheapness and plentiful supply of the products im- 
ported by the White trader; for the primitive tradesman 
is entirely unable to compete with the power of production 
of our machines, while in olden times there was only 
rivalry between the hand-products of the native and of the 
foreigner. When a day's work suffices for obtaining effi- 
cient tools or fabrics from the trader, while the manufac- 



INTRODUCTION 13 



ture of the corresponding implements or materials by the 
native himself would have required weeks, it is but natural 
that the slower and more laborious process should be 
given up speedily. In some regions, and particularly in 
America and in parts of Siberia, the primitive tribes are 
swamped by the numbers of the immigrating race, which 
is crowding them so rapidly out of their own haunts that 
no time for gradual assimilation is given. In olden times 
there was certainly no such vast inequality in numbers as 
we observe in many areas at the present time. 

We conclude from these considerations that in ancient 
Europe the assimilation of the more primitive tribes to 
those of advanced economic, industrial and intellectual 
achievement was comparatively easy; while primitive 
tribes of our times have to contend against almost insur- 
mountable difficulties inherent in the vast contrast be- 
tween their own condition of life and our civilization. It 
does not necessarily follow from these observations that 
the ancient Europeans were more gifted than other races 
which have not been exposed to the influences of civiliza- 
tions until more recent times (Gerland; Ratzel). 

This conclusion may be corroborated by other facts. In 
the Middle Ages the civilization of the Arabs and Arabized 
Berbers had reached a stage which was undoubtedly su- 
perior to that of many European nations of that period. 
Both civilizations had sprung largely from the same 
sources, and must be considered branches of one tree. 
The people who were the carriers of Arab civilization in 
the Sudan were by no means of the same descent as the 
Europeans, but nobody will dispute the high merits of 
their culture. It is of interest to see in what manner they 
influenced the Negro races of Africa. At an early time, 
principally between the second half of the eighth and the 
eleventh centuries of our ra, northwestern Africa was in- 



14 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

vaded by Hamitic tribes, and Mohammedanism spread 
rapidly through the Sahara and the western Sudan. We 
see that since that time large empires were formed, and 
disappeared again in struggles with neighboring States, 
and that a relatively high degree of culture was attained. 
The invaders intermarried with the natives; and the mixed 
races, some of which are almost purely Negro, have risen 
high above the level of other African Negroes. The history 
of Bornu is perhaps one of the best examples of this kind. 
Barth and Nachtigal (1) have made us acquainted with 
the past of this State, which has played a most important 
part in the eventful history of North Africa. 

Why, then, have the Mohammedans been able to exert 
a deep influence upon these tribes, and to raise them to 
nearly the same standard which they had attained, while 
in most parts of Africa the Whites have not been capable 
of assimilating Negro culture to an equal degree? Evi- 
dently on account of the different method of introduction 
of culture. While the relations between the Mohammedans 
and the natives were similar to those of the ancients and 
the tribes of Europe, the Whites send only the products of 
their manufactures and a few of their representatives into 
the Negro country. A real amalgamation between the 
more highly educated Whites and the Negroes has never 
taken place. The amalgamation of the Negroes by the 
Mohammedans is facilitated particularly by the institu- 
tion of polygamy, the conquerors taking native wives, and 
raising their children as members of their own family. 

The spread of Chinese civilization in eastern Asia may 
be likened to that of the ancient civilization in Europe. 
Colonization and amalgamation of kindred tribes and in 
some cases extermination of rebellious subjects, with sub- 
sequent colonization have led to a remarkable uniformity 
of culture over a large area. 



INTRODUCTION 15 



When, finally, we consider the inferior position held by 
the Negro race of the United States, where the Negro lives 
in the closest contact with modern civilization, we must not 
forget that the antagonism between the races is as strong 
as ever and that the inferiority of the Negro race is dog- 
matically assumed (Ovington). This is a formidable ob- 
stacle to the Negro's advance and progress, even though 
schools and universities are open to him. We might rather 
wonder how much, against heavy odds, has been accom- 
plished in a short period. It is hardly possible to predict 
what would be the achievements of the Negro if he were 
able to live with the Whites on absolutely equal terms. 

Our conclusion drawn from the foregoing considerations 
is the following: Several races have developed a civiliza- 
tion of a type similar to the one from which our own has 
sprung, and a number of favorable conditions have facili- 
tated its rapid spread in Europe. Among these, similar 
physical appearance, contiguity of habitat and moderate 
difference in modes of manufacture were the most potent. 
When, later on, Europeans bgan to spread over other 
continents, the races with which they came into contact 
were not equally favorably situated. Striking differences 
of racial types, the preceding isolation which caused devas- 
tating epidemics in the newly discovered countries, and 
the greater advance in technical processes made assimi- 
lation much more difficult. The rapid dissemination of 
Europeans over the whole world destroyed all promising 
beginnings which had arisen in various regions. Thus no 
race except that of eastern Asia was given a chance to 
develop independently. The spread of the European race 
cut short the growth of the existing germs without regard 
to the mental aptitude of the people among whom it was 
developing. 

On the other hand, we have seen that no great weight 



16 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

can be attributed to the earlier rise of civilization in the 
Old World, which is satisfactorily explained as due to 
chance. In short, historical events appear to have been 
much more potent in leading races to civilization than 
their innate faculty, and it follows that achievements of 
races do not without further proof warrant the assumption 
that one race is more highly gifted than another. 

After having thus found an answer to our first problem, 
we turn to the second one: In how far are we justified in 
considering those anatomical traits in regard to which 
foreign races differ from the White race as marks of in- 
feriority? In one respect the answer to this question is 
easier than that to the former. We have recognized that 
achievement alone is no satisfactory proof of an unusual 
mental ability of the White race. It follows from this, 
that anatomical differences between the White race and 
others can be interpreted as meaning superiority of the 
former, inferiority of the latter, only if a relation between 
anatomical form and mentality can be proved to exist. 

Too many investigations relating to mental character- 
istics of races are based on the logical fallacy of first as- 
suming that the European represents the highest racial 
type and then interpreting every deviation from the Eu- 
ropean type as a sign of lower mentality. When the for- 
mation of the jaws of the Negroes is thus interpreted 
without proof of a biological connection between the forms 
of the jaw and the functioning of the nervous system an 
error is committed that might be paralleled by a Chinaman 
who would describe Europeans as hairy monsters whose 
hirsute body is a proof of a lower status. This is emotional, 
not scientific reasoning. 

The question that must be answered is: In how far do 
anatomical traits determine mental activities? By anal- 
ogy we associate lower mental traits with theromorphic, 



INTRODUCTION 17 



brutelike features. In our naive, every-day parlance, 
brutish features and brutality are closely connected. We 
must distinguish here, however, between the anatomical 
characteristics of which we have been speaking and the 
muscular development of the face, trunk and limbs due to 
habits of life. The hand, which is never employed in ac- 
tivities requiring those refined adjustments which are 
characteristic of psychologically complex actions, will lack 
the modeling brought about by the development of each 
muscle. The face, the muscles of which have not responded 
to the innervations accompanying deep thought and re- 
fined sentiment will lack in individuality and expressive- 
ness. The neck that has supported heavy loads, and has 
not responded to the varied requirements of delicate 
changes of position of head and body, will appear massive 
and clumsy. These physiognomic differences must not 
mislead us in our interpretations. We are also inclined to 
draw inferences in regard to mentality from a receding 
forehead, a heavy jaw, large and heavy teeth, perhaps 
even from an inordinate length of arms or an unusual de- 
velopment of hairiness. A careful consideration of the 
relation of such traits to mental activities will be required, 
before we can assume as proven their significance. 

It appears that neither cultural achievement nor outer 
appearance is a safe basis on which to judge the mental 
aptitude of races. Added to this is the one-sided evalua- 
tion of our own racial type and of our modern civilization 
without any close inquiry into the mental processes of 
primitive races and cultures which may easily lead to er- 
roneous conclusions. 

The object of our inquiry is therefore an attempt to 
clear up the racial and cultural problems involved in these 
questions. Our globe is inhabited by many races, and a 
great diversity of cultural forms exists. The term " primi- 



18 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

live " should not be applied indiscriminately to bodily 
build and to culture as though both belonged together by 
necessity. It is rather one of the fundamental questions 
to be investigated whether the cultural character of a race 
is determined by its physical characteristics. The term race 
itself should be clearly understood before this question can 
be answered. If a close relation between race and culture 
should be shown to exist it would be necessary to study 
for each racial group separately the interaction between 
bodily build and mental and social life. If it should be 
proved not to exist, it will be permissible to treat mankind 
as a whole and to study cultural types regardless of race. 
We shall thus have to investigate primitiveness from 
two angles. First of all we shall have to inquire whether 
certain bodily characteristics of races exist that doom them 
to a permanent mental and social inferiority. After we 
have cleared up this point we shall have to discuss the 
traits of the mental and social life of those people whom 
we call primitive from a cultural point of view, and see in 
how far they coincide with racial groups and describe 
those features that distinguish their lives from those of 
civilized nations. 



2. HISTORICAL REVIEW 

The problem of the relations between race and culture 
has engaged the attention of many investigators. Only 
few have attacked it impartially and critically. Judgment 
has been influenced too often by racial, national and class 
prejudice. 

The theory that racial descent determines the character 
or ability of a people or of a social class has been held for 
a long time. Linne, in his description of racial types, as- 
cribes to each mental characteristics. The whole theory 
of a privileged aristocracy is based on the assumption of a 
close correlation between individual excellence and descent 
from a noble line. Until the end of the eighteenth century 
the organization of European society favored the assump- 
tion of a close correlation between descent and culture. 
When Boulainvilliers in 1727 studied the political history 
of France he concluded that the old aristocracy was de- 
scended from the Franks and the bulk of the population 
from the Celtic population, and inferred that the Franks 
must have had a superior mental endowment. Among 
more recent writers John Beddoe refers to the mental 
characteristics of the various types of Scotland and Eng- 
land, and A. Ploetz ascribes mental characteristics to the 
various races. 

Gobineau developed these ideas with stronger emphasis 
upon the permanence of physical form and mental func- 
tions of all races. His essential viewpoints appear in the 
following statements: " 1. Wild tribes of the present have 
always been in this condition, no matter with what higher 

19 



20 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

cultural forms they may have come into contact, and will 
always remain in this condition; 2. the wild tribes can 
continue to exist in a civilized mode of life only if the 
people who created this mode of life are a nobler branch 
of the same race; 3. the same conditions are necessary 
when two civilizations influence each other strongly, bor- 
row from each other, and create a new civilization com- 
posed of the elements of their own; two civilizations can 
never be mixed; 4. civilizations originating in races en- 
tirely foreign to each other can form only superficial con- 
tacts, they can never penetrate each other and will always 
be mutually exclusive." On the basis of the identification 
of historical and racial data, Gobineau develops his idea 
of the paramount excellence of the Northwest European. 
His work may be considered the first systematic develop- 
ment of this thought. It has exerted a remarkably strong 
influence. 

Klemm's (1843) division of mankind into an active or 
" male " and a passive or " female " half is based on cul- 
tural considerations. He decribes the activities of the 
European as those of the active half and says l that their 
mental characteristics are strong will power, desire for 
mastery, independence, freedom; activity, restlessness, 
longing for expansion and travel; progress in every direc- 
tion; an instinctive inclination for investigation and test- 
ing, stubborn resistance and doubt. Persians, Arabs, 
Greeks, Romans, the Germanic peoples, and also Turks, 
Tartars, Tcherkess, the Inca of Peru and Polynesians 2 
belong to this group. His description of the body form of 
the passive half of mankind is based very largely on gen- 
eral impressions derived from the appearance of the Mon- 
golids. 3 He acknowledges that there are differences be- 
tween Mongols, Negroes, Papuans, Malays and American 

1 Vol. I, p. 197. 2 Vol. IV, p. 451. 3 Vol. I, p. 198. 



HISTORICAL REVIEW 21 

Indians, but he emphasizes as unifying characters, the 
dark pigmentation, the form of the skull, and most im- 
portant of all " the passivity of the mind." According to 
his theory the passive half of mankind had spread at an 
early time over the whole globe and is represented by the 
conservative part of the populations of Europe. The active 
race developed in the Himalayas, gradually spread over 
the whole world and became the dominant race wherever 
they went. He assumes that many of the most important 
inventions were made by the passive race, but that they did 
not progress beyond a certain point. He sees as the moving 
power in the life of man the struggle for a union between 
the active and passive races that will represent mankind 
completely, and the aim of which is civilization. Klemm's 
opinions were accepted by Wuttke. 

Carl Gustav Carus (1849) recognizes that Klemm's di- 
vision is essentially a cultural one. His own views which 
he first expressed in his System of Physiology (1838) are 
based on speculation. He believes that the conditions of 
our planet must be reflected in all living forms. The 
planet has day and night, dawn and dusk, and so there are 
some animals active, and plants blooming in daylight, 
others at night, still others at dawn or dusk. So it must 
be with man, and for this reason there can be only four 
races, a day race, a night race, a dawn race and a dusk 
race. These are, respectively, Europeans and West Asi- 
atics, Negroes, Mongols, American Indians. After having 
found these groups he claims, following Morton, that the 
size of the brain of the day race is great, of the night race 
small, and those of the dawn and dusk races intermediate. 
He also interprets the facial form of the Negro as being 
similar to that of animals. The remaining argument is 
derived from what at his time seemed to be the cultural 
conditions of the human races. Among the different races 



22 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

he gives prominence to the Hindu, the creator of truth, 
the Egyptian, the creator of beauty, and the Jew, the 
creator of human love. The duty of mankind is to de- 
velop in each race to the fullest extent its own inborn 
characters. 

Among early American writers Samuel G. Morton based 
his conclusions upon a careful investigation of racial types. 
His general views were largely influenced by the interest 
in the question of polygenism or monogenism, which 
dominated the minds at that period. He reached the con- 
clusion that there must have been a multiple origin of 
human races, and claimed that the distinguishing charac- 
teristics of races were intimately associated with their 
physical build. He says: "[The Caucasian race] is dis- 
tinguished by the facility with which it attains the highest 
intellectual development. ... In their intellectual char- 
acteristics the Mongols are ingenious, imitative and highly 
susceptible to cultivation. . . . The Malay is active and 
ingenious and possesses all the habits of a migratory, pre- 
dacious and maritime people. ... In their mental char- 
acteristics the Americans are averse to cultivation, slow, 
cruel, boisterous, revengeful and fond of war, and entirely 
destitute of maritime adventure. ... In disposition the 
Negro is joyful, flexible and indolent, while the many 
groups that constitute this race possess a singular diversity 
of character of which the far extreme is the lowest strain of 
humanity." 

Referring to particular groups he says, "The mental 
faculties of the Eskimo from infancy to old age, present a 
continued childhood; they reach a certain limit and expand 
no further"; and of the Australians; "It is not probable 
that this people as a body are capable of any other than 
their slight degree of civilization." His point of view 
appears clearly in the footnote added to this remark: 



HISTORICAL REVIEW 23 

"This moving picture is derived from the great majority 
of observers of Australian life. The reader may consult 
Dawson's 'Australia' for some different views, which, 
however, appear to be biased by a genuine and active 
spirit of benevolence." In the appendix to Morton's work, 
George Combe, the phrenologist, discusses the relation 
between the form of the head and character, and dwells 
particularly on the fact that the brain of the European is 
the largest and that of the Negro the smallest, inferring 
from this a corresponding intellectual status. There is no 
discussion of the contradiction between this statement and 
the data given in Morton's work, according to which the 
advanced people of America have smaller heads than the 
so-called barbarous tribes. 

Morton was followed by a number of writers whose 
views were colored by their endeavor to defend slavery as 
an institution. To them the problem of polygeny and 
monogeny was important particularly because the distinct 
origin and the permanence of type of the Negro seemed to 
justify his enslavement. The most important writings of 
this group are those of J. C. Nott and George R. Gliddon. 
Nott in his introduction to Types of Mankind says: "The 
grand problem, more particularly interesting to all readers, 
is that which involves the common origin of races; for upon 
the latter deduction hang not only certain religious dog- 
mas, but the more practical question of the equality and 
perfectibility of races we say 'more practical question,' 
because, while Almighty Power, on the one hand, is not 
responsible to Man for the distinct origin of human races, 
these, on the other, are accountable to Him for the manner 
in which their delegated power is used towards each other. 

"Whether an original diversity of races be admitted or 
not, the permanence of existing physical types will not be 
questioned by any Archaeologist or Naturalist of the 



24 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

present day. Nor, by such competent arbitrators, can the 
consequent permanence of moral and intellectual peculiar- 
ities of types be denied. The intellectual man is insepa- 
rable from the physical man; and the nature of the one 
cannot be altered without a corresponding change in the 
other." In another place he says, "To one who has lived 
among American Indians, it is in vain to talk of civilizing 
them. You might as well attempt to change the nature of 
the buffalo." 

A line of argument similar to that of Gobineau was taken 
up by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. His influence seems 
also more due to the fact that he presented in an attractive 
form current views, than to his scientific accuracy and 
penetrating thought. He says (2) : "Why should we enter 
into lengthy scientific inquiries to determine whether there 
are different races and whether racial descent is of value, 
how this is possible, etc.? We turn the tables and say: 
it is evident that there are racial differences; it is a fact of 
immediate experience that the genealogy of a race is of 
decisive importance; all you have to do is to investigate 
how these differences came about and why they are there. 
You must not deny the facts to protect your ignorance. 
. . . Whoever travels the short distance from Calais to 
Dover feels as though he had reached a new planet such 
is the difference between the French and English notwith- 
standing the many ties that unite them. At the same time 
the observer may see by this example the value of the 
purer inbreeding. By its insular position England is prac- 
tically isolated, and there has been reared the race which 
at the moment is undeniably the strongest in Europe." 
He formulates his principles as follows: " It is a fundamen- 
tal law that the development of a great civilization requires 
first of all excellent stock; next inbreeding with proper 
selection and finally an old mixture of different but closely 



HISTORICAL REVIEW 25 

related lines of great excellence, which, however, must be 
followed by a period of isolation." He derived these state- 
ments from the experience of husbandry, transferring its 
rules to human societies. He tries to support this procedure 
by historical examples that, to his mind seem to sustain 
his views. He ascribes degeneration particularly to con- 
tinued mingling of heterogeneous elements. 

Chamberlain's (1) lack of scientific method is made 
clear by his statement in a letter to Cosima Wagner in 
which he acknowledges to have used a diplomatic trick 
(einen diplomatischen Schachzug) to prove his point 
(22nd of May, 1899). 

The influence of Gobineau and Chamberlain and of the 
current race prejudices are also reflected in the writings of 
Madison Grant. 

His book is a dithyrambic praise of the blond, blue-eyed 
long-headed White and his achievements and he prophesies 
all the ills that will befall mankind because of the presence 
of Negroes and dark-eyed races. The entire argument is 
based on the dogmatic assumption that wherever a people 
exhibits eminent cultural characteristics these must be due 
to a leaven of Nordic blood. As an example may be quoted 
the following: "To what extent the Nordic race entered 
into the blood and civilization of Rome it is not difficult 
to say. The traditions of the Eternal City, its organiza- 
tion of law, its military efficiency as well as Roman ideals 
of family life, loyalty and truth, point clearly to a Nordic 
rather than to a Mediterranean origin." In this passage, 
as throughout his writings, the main thesis is assumed as 
proven, and is then applied to "explain" cultural phe- 
nomena, and biological facts are juggled to suit the fancies 
of the author. In some places he stresses head-form as 
fundamental, in others as irrelevant. Stature is sometimes 
given great importance as a dominant hereditary feature; 



26 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

later it is claimed to be the first trait likely to vanish in 
cases of mixture. Notwithstanding the slight importance 
assigned to environmental influences, he claims that the 
native American population by the middle of the nine- 
teenth century was rapidly becoming a distinct type, and 
was on the point of developing physical peculiarities of 
its own. 

Unfortunately biologists, who in their own sciences en- 
joy a well-earned reputation, permit themselves to follow 
the lead of uncritical race enthusiasts. An eminent palae- 
ontologist states his own position in the New York Times, 
April 8, 1924. 

"The Northern races as is well known to anthropolo- 
gists, include all those peoples which originally occupied 
the western plateau of Asia and traversed northern 
Europe, certainly as early as 12,000 B.C. In the country 
which they occupied the conditions of life were hard, the 
struggle for existence severe, and this gave rise to their 
principal virtues, as well as to their faults, to their fighting 
qualities and to their love of strong drink. Increasing 
beyond the power of their own country to support them, 
they invaded the countries to the south, not only as con- 
querors but as contributors of strong moral and intellectual 
elements to more or less decadent civilizations. Through 
the Nordic tide which flowed into Italy came the ancestors 
of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Titian. . . . 
Columbus from his portraits and from busts, authentic or 
no/, was clearly of Nordic ancestry." 

Lothrop Stoddard writes: " Every race is the result of 
ages of development which involve specialized capacities 
which make the race what it is and make it capable of 
creative achievement. These specialized capacities (which 
are particularly marked in the superior races, being rela- 
tively recent developments) are highly unstable. They are 



HISTORICAL REVIEW 27 

what the biologists call 'recessive' characteristics. Hence, 
when a highly specialized stock interbreeds with a different 
stock the new, less stable specialized characteristics are 
bred out, the variation, no matter how great its potential 
value to human progress, being irretrievably lost. This 
occurs even in the mating of two superior stocks if these 
stocks are widely dissimilar in character; the valuable 
specializations of both breeds cancel out and the mixed 
offspring tends strongly to revert to generalized medi- 
ocrity." Further on the author says that "civilization is 
the body and race the soul," and that civilization is "the 
result of the creative urge of the superior germ plasm." 
This is playing with biological and cultural terms, not 
science. 

E. von Eickstedt has made an attempt to establish the 
foundations of a race psychology. Notwithstanding his 
claims to a strictly logical argumentation his reasoning 
seems to be based on the same fallacy as all the others. 
He is influenced by the modern Gestalt-psychology and 
considers that "we see the evident fact of a race-psycho- 
logical element" that consequently it must have a struc- 
ture and that bodily build and mental behavior of races 
must be considered a unit. From an aesthetic, pictorial 
point of view this is true enough, as in a landscape topo- 
graphic form, plant life, animal life and human culture 
belong to the picture, although a structural unity in the 
sense of causal relations cannot be given. Soil and climate 
favor certain forms of life, but they do not determine what 
plants, animals and forms of culture exist. A scientific 
study of the totality of phenomena should never lead to an 
omission of the study of causality. The presence of a num- 
ber of traits in a picture is not necessarily due to their 
causal relation. Correlations may be fortuitous, not causal. 
The proof of causal relation is indispensable. Differences 



28 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

in mental traits of races must be proved, not assumed, to 
be biologically determined and external influences must 
be proved, not assumed, to exist. Only if the exact proof 
can be given that individual behavior depends upon bodily 
build, and that what may be true of the individual is also 
true of the racial group, or if the relative importance of 
heredity and environment in individual and racial be- 
havior is determined is it possible to look at them as a 
totality, except from an aesthetic and emotional point of 
view. Von Eickstedt is aware of the "extraordinary plas- 
ticity of the dispositions given by heredity," but they do 
not find a place in his discussion. 

I shall not attempt to follow in detail the historical de- 
velopment of modern theories which claim that racial 
descent determines the mental and cultural qualities of 
the individual. It is however, worth while to consider the 
conditions that favored their growth. At present the belief 
that race determines mental behavior and culture rests on 
strong emotional values. Race is considered as a unifying 
link between individuals and a call for race allegiance. A 
new group concept is replacing that of nationality, or is 
being added to it, just as in earlier times the concept of 
nationality replaced that of group allegiance to the feudal 
lord, and the religious bond holding together all Christian- 
ity a tie still potent in Islam. Its sentimental effect is 
analogous to the class consciousness of the modern com- 
munist, or that of the nobleman who still believes in the 
physical and mental superiority of the nobility. Groupings 
of this kind are ever present. The only problem is why the 
biological grouping has come to be of such importance at 
the present time, and whether it has any justification. 1 

1 A historical presentation of race theories has been given by Theophile 
Simar: Etude Critique sur la Fondation de la Doctrine des Races, Brussels, 
1922. The presentation, however, misses much of its force because a 



HISTORICAL REVIEW 29 

It seems likely that the development of modern trade 
and travel brought the existence of foreign races to the 
notice of wide circles that in earlier times had no personal 
knowledge of distinct types of man. The superior power 
that the European owes to his inventions and that enables 
him to subject and exploit foreign peoples, even peoples of 
high culture, gives emphasis to the feeling of European 
superiority. It is worth noting that before the officially 
fomented drive against Jews in Germany and the tradi- 
tional anti-Jewish feeling in Poland and Russia the feeling 
used to be nowhere more intense than among the English 
who first came into close contact with foreign races, and 
that it developed at an early time in America where the 
presence of a large Negro population kept alive a constant 
awareness of racial differences. However, other causes 
must have contributed to such popular feeling because the 
same attitude is not developed as strongly among the 
Spaniards, Portuguese and French although it is not en- 
tirely absent. The modern French pose of equality of all 
races is presumably dictated more by political reasons, 
such as the need of soldiers, than by an actual absence of 
all feeling of race differences. The attitude of the Parisian 
is fundamentally different from that of the colonial admin- 
istration. 

The permeation of our whole thinking by biological 
viewpoints is probably a much more important element in 
the development of the opinion that culture is determined 
by descent. 

The development of physiological psychology which 

Catholic and anti-German point of view dominate the whole book. The 
author misinterprets the views of all those authors who dwell upon the dif- 
ference in the "genius of cultures," as defending the theory of hereditary de- 
termination. This appears particularly in his discussion of Herder and of 
the whole Romantic school. See also Jacques Burzon, Race, A Sludy of 
Modern Superstition, New York, 1937. 



30 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

necessarily treats of organic determinants of mental func- 
tions, has left its impress upon modern psychology, and 
has led to a comparative neglect of the influence of the 
experience of an individual upon his behavior. In recent 
years the behavioristic and Freudian schools have turned 
away from this one-sided attitude, and a more critical view 
is also held by many psychologists of other schools. Never- 
theless, in many quarters the popular view still prevails 
that all psychological tests reveal an organically determined 
mentality. It is believed therefore that innate intelligence, 
emotional character and volition may be determined by 
psychological tests. This is essentially a biologically ori- 
ented psychology. 

The current methods of biology give added strength to 
these views. At present no subject attracts wider atten- 
tion of both scientists and general public, than the phe- 
nomena of heredity. A vast amount of material has been 
accumulated that proves how thoroughly the bodily form 
of the individual is determined by his ancestry. The suc- 
cesses of breeders of plants and animals who raise varieties 
that fulfill certain demands made upon them suggest that 
by similar methods national physique and mentality might 
be improved, that inferior strains might be eliminated and 
superior ones increased in number. The importance of 
heredity has been expressed in the formula, " Nature not 
nurture," meaning that whatever man is or does depends 
upon his heredity, not upon his bringing up. Through the 
influence of Francis Galton (2, 3) arid his followers the 
attention of the scientist and the public has been called to 
these questions. To this has been added the study of the 
hereditary character of pathological conditions and of the 
general constitution of the body. 

The combined influence of physiological psychology and of 
biology seems to have strengthened the view that the mental 



HISTORICAL REVIEW 31 

and cultural functions of individuals are determined by 
heredity and that environmental conditions are negligible. 
A constitutional determination of mentality is assumed 
which brings it about that a person of a certain type will 
behave in a way corresponding to his habitus and that, 
therefore, the composition of a population will determine 
its mental behavior. Added to this is the assumption that 
the hereditary character of mental traits has been proved, 
or that it must exist because all heredity is controlled by 
Mendelian l laws. Since these involve the permanence of 
existing traits in the population, we must expect that the 
same mental traits will reappear constantly. Only on this 
basis can Eugen Fischer (1) say that he considers it proved 
by many observations that the human races and their 
crosses are distinct in their hereditary mental characteris- 
tics. " It is, however, only a question of the fuller or a more 
restricted development, of a quantitative increase or de- 
crease in intensity of mental qualities common to all hu- 
man groups (and distinct from those of animals), the 
combination of which results in varied forms. A clear 
understanding of the origin of these forms is made still more 
difficult by the influence of the history of the people (i.e., 
by environmental conditions) which as in the individual, 
may develop the innate qualities in the most varied ways." 
And in another place, 2 " To a great extent the form of men- 
tal life as we meet it in various social groups, is determined 
by environment. Historical events and conditions of na- 
ture further or impede the development of innate charac- 
teristics. Nevertheless, we may certainly claim that there 
are racially hereditary differences. Certain traits of the 
mind of the Mongol, the Negro, the Melanesian and of 
other races are different from our own and differ among 
themselves." 

1 See p. 54. * Fischer 2: p. 512. 



32 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The most serious studies made in this direction refer to 
the interrelation between individual constitution and men- 
tal life rather than to the hereditary characteristics of 
mental traits of races. 

The differences in cultural life have also been approached 
from an entirely different point of view. We shall not 
dwell on the ideas of the rationalists of the eighteenth 
century, who, with Rousseau, believed that there existed 
a happy, simple, natural life. We are rather concerned 
with the views of those who saw and felt clearly the in- 
dividuality of each type of cultural life, but who inter- 
preted it not as an expression of innate mental qualities 
but as a result of varied external conditions acting upon 
general human characteristics. The understanding of the 
character of foreign cultures is much more definite among 
all members of this group. Herder who had a marvelous 
aptitude for entering into the spirit of foreign forms of 
thought and who saw clearly the value of the manifold 
ways of thinking and feeling among the different peoples 
of the world, believed that natural environment was the 
cause of the existing biological and cultural differentiation. 
The geographical point of view was stressed by Karl Hitter 
who studied the influence of environment upon the life of 
man. He believed that even continental areas could im- 
pose their geographical character upon their inhabitants. 

The fundamental point of view of this group has been 
expressed by Theodor Waitz. He says: " We assert, more- 
over, in opposition to the usual theory, that the degree of 
civilization of a people, or of an individual, is exclusively 
the product of his mental capacity; that his capacities, 
which designate merely the magnitude of his performances, 
depend on the degree of cultivation which he has reached." 

Since that time ethnologists in their studies of culture 
have concentrated their attention upon the differences in 



HISTORICAL REVIEW 33 

cultural status and have disregarded racial elements com- 
pletely. The similarity of fundamental customs and beliefs 
the world over, without regard to race and environment, is 
so general that race appeared to them as irrelevant. The 
works of Herbert Spencer, E. B. Tylor, Adolf Bastian, 
Lewis Morgan, Sir James George Frazer, and among the 
more recent ones, those of Durkheim, Levy-Bruhl, to 
mention only a few, notwithstanding material differences 
in point of view, reflect this attitude. We do not find in 
their writings any mention of racial differences. On the 
contrary, it is only the difference between culturally prim- 
itive man and civilized man that is relevant. The psycho- 
logical basis of cultural traits is identical among all races, 
and similar forms develop among all of them. The customs 
of the South African Negro or of the Australian are analo- 
gous and comparable to those of the American Indian, and 
the customs of our European predecessors find their paral- 
lels among the most diverse peoples. The whole problem 
of the development of culture is therefore reduced to the 
study of psychological and social conditions which are com- 
mon to mankind as a whole, and to the effects of historical 
happenings and of natural and cultural environment. This 
disregard of races appears also in Wundt's general Folk 
Psychology, and Sumner's Science of Society, and in most of 
the modern sociological discussions. To those who seek to 
establish an evolution of culture, parallel to organic evolu- 
tion, the varying forms fall into an orderly array no matter 
what the bodily form of the carriers of the culture. The 
sociologist who tries to establish valid laws of cultural de- 
velopment assumes that their manifestations are the same 
the world over. The psychologist finds the same form of 
thinking and feeling in all races that are on similar levels of 
culture. 
It may be granted that the ethnologist is not sufficiently 



34 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

interested in the problem of the relation between bodily 
build and cultural form, because his attention is directed 
to the similarities of culture the world over which justify 
the assumption of a fundamental sameness of the human 
mind regardless of race; but this does not signify that finer 
differences may not exist that go by unnoticed on account 
of general similarities. 

The problem remains whether there is a more or less 
intimate relation between the bodily structure of racial 
groups and their cultural life. 



3. THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES 

Before attempting an analysis of the relation between 
race and culture we must obtain a clear conception of what 
we mean by the terms race and culture. 

The anatomist who studies the form of the human body 
is interested, first of all, in those characteristics which are 
common to mankind as a whole, and general anatomical 
descriptions deal with the organs of the body primarily as 
though no individual differences existed. At the same time 
we know that this is merely a convenient generalization, 
that in reality 110 two individuals have an identical form. 

More penetrating study shows also that certain groups 
of mankind are somewhat alike among themselves and 
differ more or less strikingly from other groups. These 
differences are sometimes quite considerable and appear 
even in external characteristics. The European has wavy 
or straight hair, is slightly pigmented, has a narrow face, 
thin lips and a narrow, high nose. The Negro has frizzly 
hair, dark skin, dark brown eyes, thick lips and a wide, flat 
nose. The differences between the two groups stand out so 
clearly that, when comparing the two races, we disregard 
those peculiarities that distinguish various groups of Euro- 
peans and of Negroes. The European who visits Central 
Africa sees at once the distinguishing traits of the Negro. 

Similar impressions are created even when the differ- 
ences are not quite so striking. When Caesar's legions en- 
countered the German followers of Ariovistus they were 
impressed by their blue eyes and blond hair and by other 
pronounced features that were rare among Romans, al- 

35 



36 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

though not entirely unknown to them. This contrast be- 
tween the two groups must have created an impression of 
racial distinction. 

In the same way a Swede from the interior provinces 
who at home has comparatively speaking few opportuni- 
ties of seeing people with dark eyes and black hair will be 
impressed by this feature, while the Scotchman, who is 
thoroughly familiar with black hair and dark eyes may 
not consider it a particularly distinguishing characteristic. 
Furthermore, to the Swede who is accustomed to see blue 
eyes, blond hair, tall bodies and long heads, the people of 
northern Germany will appear partly similar to the Swed- 
ish type, partly distinct; while to the North German it 
will rather seem that in the northern country the distribu- 
tion of individual forms is different from that prevailing at 
home. In Sweden the light, tall, blond individuals with 
whose appearance the German is quite familiar, are more 
numerous than in his home country, the darker ones are 
rarer. 

According to our familiarity with the bodily forms found 
in various localities, we are apt to establish these as definite 
concepts according to which we classify the great variety 
of human types. We pursue the same process in the classi- 
fication of our general experiences, which always depends 
upon the character of our previous impressions, and only 
to a lesser extent upon objective characteristics. The naive 
classification of human types does not represent a group- 
ing according to biological principles, but is based on sub- 
jective attitudes. 

Nevertheless there is a tendency to give biological reality 
to classifications arrived at quite irrationally and depend- 
ent upon previous individual experiences. Thus it hap- 
pens that we claim mixed descent for a population that 
contains a number of types which have been conceptual- 



THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES 37 

ized. This is the case, for instance, in southeastern Norway 
where an unusually large number of brunettes live. By 
the same procedure it has been claimed that the Pueblo 
Indian population consists of Pueblo, Navaho and Ute 
types. In these cases a composite descent is possible, but 
it cannot be proved satisfactorily by the identification of 
individuals with types abstracted from previous observa- 
tions in other localities. 

We must bear in mind that groups impressing us as a 
conglomerate of different conceptualized types may actu- 
ally be of common descent, and that others appearing to 
us as representatives of one type may include groups of 
distinct origin. 

A race must not be identified with a subjectively es- 
tablished type but must be conceived as a biological unit, 
as a population derived from a common ancestry and by 
virtue of its descent endowed with definite biological char- 
acteristics. To a certain extent these may be unstable, 
because subject to a multitude of outer influences, for the 
biological character of the genealogical group finds ex- 
pression in the way in which the body is shaped under 
varying conditions of life. 

The difficulties that we find in defining races is due to 
the variability of local forms. The similarities of forms in- 
habiting contiguous areas make it necessary to define 
clearly what we mean when we speak of racial character- 
istics and of differences between races. 

This problem confronts us in the study of man just in 
the same way as we encounter it in the study of animals 
and plants. It is easy to describe what distinguishes a lion 
from a mouse. It is almost as easy to give a satisfactory 
description that enables us to distinguish the type of the 
Swede from the type of the Central African Negro. It is, 
however, difficult to give a satisfactory description that 



38 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

will set off a Swede against a North German, or a lion of 
North Africa against a lion from Rhodesia. The reason is 
clear. Not all Swedes are alike, and some cannot be dis- 
tinguished from North Germans, and the same is true of 
lions of different localities. The variability of each group 
is considerable, and if we want to know what a Swede is 
we must know all the different forms that may be found 
among the descendants of a group of "pure" Swedes. 

Among the Swedes of our present period some are tall, 
some short; the hair is blond or dark, straight or wavy; the 
eyes vary from brown to blue; the complexion is light or 
dark; the face more or less delicate. So it is with the 
Negroes: The degree of darkness of skin; the amount of 
projection of the teeth; the flatness of the nose; the frizzli- 
ness of the hair all these traits show a considerable de- 
gree of variability. When we compare these two distinct 
types they appear to us fundamentally different notwith- 
standing their variability. Certain human types are thus 
sharply set off from others, as the Negro by his frizzly hair 
from the straight-haired Mongol; the Armenian by his 
narrow nose from the flat-nosed Negro; the Australian by 
his pigmentation from the rosy-hued Scandinavian. On 
the other hand, when we compare contiguous groups, like 
the Swedes and North Germans, or the Negroes of the 
Cameroons with those of the Upper Congo, we find essen- 
tially the same range of individual forms, but each occur- 
ring with a different frequency in each area. Those forms 
which are frequent in one district may be more or less rare 
in the other. 

It is a characteristic feature of all living beings that in- 
dividuals descended from the same ancestors are not iden- 
tical, but differ among themselves more or less, not only 
in outer form but also in details of structure and in chem- 
ical characteristics. Brothers and sisters are not alike in 



THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RAGES 39 

bodily form; the chemical composition of the blood may be 
quite different. 

W. Johannsen studied the descendants of self-fertilized 
beans. Since all had an identical ancestry we might be in- 
clined to suppose that they all would be alike. All the 
beans he measured were descendants of a single bean raised 
in 1900 and belonged to the third generation which was 
raised in 1903. The length of these beans varied from 10 
to 17 mm. 1 The distribution of sizes in per cent of their 
frequency is interesting. 

Length in mm. 10-11 11-12 12-13 13-14 14-15 15-16 16-17 
0.4 1.4 4.7 21.3 45.2 25.2 1.8 

The reason for these variations is easily understood. 
There are so many uncontrollable conditions that influ- 
ence the development of the organism that even with iden- 
tical ancestry the same form and size cannot always be 
expected. If we could control all the conditions beginning 
with the formation of the sex cells and following through 
fertilization and growth, and if we could make all of these 
uniform, then we should, of course, expect the same result 
in every case. 

We are dealing here with the fundamental difference 
between a constant and a variable phenomenon which 
must be clearly held in mind if we want to understand the 
meaning of the term " race." 

Wherever we are in a position to control a phenomenon 
completely we can also give a complete definition. To give 
an example: A cubic centimeter of pure water at its great- 
est density may be considered as completely defined. Its 
size, composition and density are known and we suppose 
that there is nothing to prevent our preparing a cubic cen- 
timeter of pure water at greatest density whenever we 

1 Johannsen, p. 174. 



40 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

might wish to do so, and since it is completely defined, 
since nothing remains uncertain in regard to its character, 
we expect the same results when we study its characteris- 
tics. The weight of this quantity of pure water at greatest 
density is expected to be the same every single time it is 
weighed at the same place, and in case it should not be the 
same we should suppose that an error had been made, in 
regard to the size, purity or density. If we are less accu- 
rate in our definition and ask simply for the characteristics 
of one cubic centimeter of water, there will be uncontrolled 
conditions of temperature and purity that bring it about 
that the water will not behave always in just the same way ; 
and the more numerous the uncontrolled conditions the 
more variable may be the behavior of the samples. How- 
ever, the water will not behave like mercury or oil, and 
therefore within certain limits we may still define its char- 
acteristics that are determined because we are dealing with 
more or less pure water. We may say that the sample that 
we are studying is a representative of a class of objects 
that have certain characteristics in common but which 
differ among themselves in minor respects. These differ- 
ences will be the greater the more uncontrolled conditions 
are present. 

Exactly the same conditions prevail in every incom- 
pletely defined phenomenon. The samples are not always 
the same. A study of the frequency of occurrences of each 
particular form belonging to the class shows that they are 
distributed in a regular way characteristic of the class. A 
different distribution indicates that we are dealing with 
another set of circumstances, with another class. An 
accurate description of any variable phenomenon must 
therefore consist in an enumeration of the frequency dis- 
tribution of the characteristics of the individuals that com- 
pose the class. 



THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES 41 

To give only one example: The temperature of a given 
date at noon in New York is never the same in successive 
years. Still if we note the temperature of that particular 
day year after year we find that the same temperatures 
occur with definite frequency, and the "distribution of these 
frequencies characterizes the temperature of the day 
selected. 

It is just the same with animal forms. It does not matter 
whether we believe the cause of variation to be due to vary- 
ing combinations of genetic elements or to accidental con- 
ditions of other kinds, it is certain that a very large num- 
ber of uncontrolled and uncontrollable elements influence 
development and that the general class characteristics will 
appear modified in one way or another in each individual. 
The description of the class requires an enumeration of the 
frequency of each form and we cannot expect sameness of 
form in all the individuals composing the group. 

Let us suppose now that we are familiar with two dis- 
tinct individual human forms that have impressed them- 
selves forcibly upon our rninds, perhaps one tall and long- 
headed, the other short and round-headed. We now become 
familiar with a variable type in which individuals of both 
types occur. Then we shall be inclined to claim that we 
find a type composed of two races. We forget that we 
are perhaps dealing with a type that may vary so much 
that both forms which stand out as distinct in our minds 
occur here. Before concluding that we are actually dealing 
with two distinct types we ought to prove that the an- 
cestral forms do not vary in such a way that both forms 
might have developed from the same single uniform an- 
cestry. In other words, in a cautious study of racial char- 
acteristics we must begin with a description of local forms 
as they appear to us. We must describe the frequency of 
the various forms that occur in each local or social unit. 



42 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

After this has been done we may ask ourselves whether the 
variations are due to varying internal organic conditions dr 
whether we are dealing with a mixed population in which 
genetically distinct types occur. In some cases a careful 
analysis of the interrelations of measurements makes it 
possible to answer this question (Boas 4). 

The preliminary work, namely the description of types, 
must therefore be an enumeration of the frequencies of 
individuals of distinctive forms. 

In a study of racial distributions it will be necessary 
first of all to determine whether the groups investigated 
are identical or not. Our previous consideration shows that 
sameness of two racial groups can be claimed only if the 
frequency distribution of forms is identical. If the relative 
frequency of the same form is not the same in the two 
series, then there must be certain unknown causes which 
differentiate the two groups that we are comparing. If we 
find that among 6687 young Italians born in Sardinia 
3.9% and among 5328 born in Udine 8.2% have a stature 
of 167 cm. we must conclude that the two populations are 
not identical. Conversely we may say that if two popula- 
tions agree in the frequency distribution of numerous 
forms, that they are probably identical. This conclusion 
is not quite as binding as the one from which we conclude 
diversity, because two populations may have the same dis- 
tribution without being identical, and because other traits, 
not examined, may show differences in distribution. 

It would be very difficult to describe accurately popula- 
tions in the manner here indicated if the frequency dis- 
tributions in each group followed different laws. It has, 
however, been shown that in a great many cases the type 
of frequency distribution is very much alike. Even a cur- 
sory examination of forms shows that extreme aberrant 
types are rare and that the mass of the population is fairly 



THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES 43 

uniform. Extremely tall and extremely short persons are 
not common, while an average stature occurs frequently. 
Thus among the Scotch statures around 172 cm. are nu- 
merous; 20% of all Scotchmen have statures between 171 
and 173 cm. Only 1% are shorter than 159 cm. and only 
1% are taller than 187 cm. Among Sicilians 28% measured 
between 164 and 168 cm. and only 1.2% were shorter than 
152 cm. and 5% taller than 180 cm. 1 The massing around 
the middle in each group is one of the causes that gives us 
a strong impression of a type in those cases in which we are 
dealing with measurements. When we isolate a striking 
form such as a Roman nose or an upturned nose, or strik- 
ing hair-colors such as blond or black, or blue and brown 
eye-colors, these forms may not prevail, but nevertheless 
we find ourselves inclined to classify the frequent inter- 
mediate forms and colors with the extremes that have 
been conceptualized in our minds. 

The empirical study of frequency distributions has 
shown that we can predict with reasonable accuracy the 
frequency of any form, provided we know certain easily 
determined values. 

The general type of distribution is shown in Fig. 1, in 
which points on the horizontal line represent the numerical 




FIG. 1 

values of an observation stature, weight or any other 
metrical value while the vertical distances between the 

1 Boas 6: p. 356; pp. 274-276. 



44 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

horizontal line and the curve represent the frequency of 
that observation to which the vertical distance belongs. 
The curve representing the distribution of variables will 
be the more contracted laterally and the higher in the mid- 
dle the more uniform the series, and conversely, the more 
expanded laterally and the flatter in the middle, the more 
variable the series. In Fig. 2 two such curves are repre- 




FIG. 2 

sented which show two overlapping phenomena. It will be 
noticed that those observations that are in the area com- 
mon to both curves may belong to either group. 

A series is the more variable the more frequently 
strongly deviating types occur. If we determine therefore, 
the average type and the range of varying forms, we have 
a measure of the most frequent type and of the degree of 
its variability. An example will illustrate what is meant. 

The frequencies of statures on the facing page were ob- 
served among 3975 boys 6% years old and 2518 boys 14^ 
years old. 

This table shows that in a given population boys 14^ 
years of age are more variable than boys 6^ years of age, 
and we may express this by figures. We determine the 
average for each group by adding all the statures and di- 
viding by the number of observations. These give 

Statures of boys 6^ years old, average: 111.78 
Statures of boys 14J^ years old, average: 152.14 



STATURES OP BOYS 



BOYS 6>^ YEARS 


BOYS 143^ YEARS 


Stature in 
Centimeters 


Frequency 


Stature in 
Centimeters 


Frequency 




(Per Cent) 




(Per Cent) 


95- 96.9 


0.1 


121-122.9 


0.1 


97- 98.9 


0.4 


123-124.9 


0.1 


99-100.9 


0.7 


125-126.9 


0.1 






127-128.9 


0.2 






129-130.9 


0.2 


101-102.9 


2.2 


131-132.9 


0.4 


103-104.9 


4.9 


133-134,9 


0.8 


105-106.9 


9.0 


135-136.9 


1.2 


107-108.9 


12.2 


137-138.9 


2.5 


109-110.9 


15.5 


139-140.9 


3.6 


111-112.9 


15.8 


141-142.9 


5.2 


113-114.9 


13.5 


143-144.9 


5.6 


115-116.9 


10.9 


145-146.9 


8.0 


117-118.9 


6.9 


147-148.9 


9.1 


119-120.9 


4.1 


149-150.9 


10.0 


121-122.9 


2.2 


151-152.9 


8,2 


123-124.9 


0.9 


153-154.9 


8.8 


125-126.9 


0.3 


155-156.9 


8.3 


127-128.9 


0.3 


157-158.8 


6.2 


129-130.9 


0.1 


159-160.9 


5.7 






161-162.9 


4.7 






163-164.9 


3.7 






165-166.9 


2.4 






167-168.9 


1.5 






169-170.9 


1.4 






171-172.9 


0.9 






173-174.9 


0.5 






175-176.9 


0.2 






177-178.9 


0.2 






179-180.9 


0.1 






173 


0.2 



45 



46 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Then we arrange all the individuals in order and mark 
the limits of those representing the middle half of our 
series. This is done easily by counting off one fourth of the 
number of individuals from each end. The limits for the 
6/^2 Y ear old boys are 108.2 and 115.0 cm., so that the mid- 
dle half is contained in a span of 6.8 cm. For the 14J^ year 
old boys the corresponding limits are 146.2 and 158.0 cm., 
so that the middle half is contained in a span of 11.8 cm. 

Experience has shown that the distribution of fre- 
quencies is in most cases fairly symmetrical around the 
average, so that one half of the distance in which the mid- 
dle half of the whole series is contained represents the 
range of deviations around the average that constitute the 
middle half of the series. We might thus describe the 6^ 
year old boys as having a stature of 111.8 db 3.4 cm., 
those 14J^ years old as having a stature of 152.1 5.9 cm. 

It follows from these remarks that an adequate descrip- 
tion of a racial type may be given in many cases as the 
average form of all the individuals observed and the 
measure of their variability, as just defined. There are 
some cases in which this description is not adequate, but 
in a great many casec it is practicable. 

When we want to compare two racial types we must 
compare both their averages and variabilities and, unless 
both values are the same for the two groups, they cannot 
be considered as representatives of the same type. 

We recognize now that the current method by which a 
people is described as tall, blond, with elongated heads is 
not adequate, but that besides describing the prevalent 
type its variability must be given. 

The degree of variability in regard to various physical 
traits and in different populations is far from uniform. 
Most of the European types, for instance, are remarkable 
for their high variability. The same is true of the Polyne- 



THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES 47 

sians and of some Negro tribes. On the other hand, people 
like the European Hebrews, and even more so, the single 
tribes of North American Indians, are, comparatively 
speaking, characterized by much greater uniformity. The 
amount of variability differs considerably with regard to 
different physical features. It is, for instance, obvious 
that the hair-color and hair-form of North Europeans is 
much more variable than the hair-color and hair-form of 
the Chinese. In Europe the colors vary from flaxen to 
black, with a considerable number of individuals with red 
hair, and the form varies from straight to high degrees of 
waviness. Among the Chinese, on the other hand, we do 
not find equal variations in the darkness of color, since 
blondes and curly-haired individuals are absent. Similar 
observations may be made in regard to stature, head-form 
or any other feature of the body that can be expressed by 
measurements. 

The concept of a type develops in our minds from gen- 
eral impressions. If the majority of a people are tall, long- 
headed, of light complexion, with narrow faces and 
straight noses we construct this combination of features 
as a type. We may perhaps consider as typical that half 
of the population whose traits are the most frequent and 
that lie near the most frequent value. Supposing that the 
features under consideration are mutually independent, 
one half of the population will have one of the typical 
traits ; one half of these, that is one quarter, will have two 
combined traits; one half of these, that is one eighth, will 
have three of the typical traits combined, so that when ten 
such traits are counted only one in 1024 individuals will 
combine all the typical traits. The type is not an individ- 
ual but an abstraction. 

So far we have dealt merely with the description of 
a single racial type. Let us next examine how we are 



48 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

to proceed when we wish to compare different local types. 

We have seen that it happens often that among distinct 
racial types the same individual forms may occur, that, 
for instance, a German selected at random may be appar- 
ently identical with a native of Sweden. This condition 
prevails in all extended land areas, in Europe as well as in 
Africa, Asia and America. If the differences were like those 
between Central Africans and Swedes, so that not a single 
form were common to the two groups, our problem would 
be simple; the difference would be obvious and could be 
expressed with precision. It might be measured and ex- 
pressed by the difference between the most frequent forms. 
For instance, if the general average of the skin color of 
Swedes and that of Negroes were expressed quantitatively, 
the difference would be so great that the minor differences 
that occur in Sweden and in Africa might be disregarded 
and we should be in a position to measure the actual dif- 
ferences between the two groups. However, as soon as the 
two variables have a certain number of forms in common, 
difficulties arise. How are we to express the difference be- 
tween these two series? If each individual of one series 
could be matched with a corresponding individual of the 
other one, the two series would be identical. 

The larger the number of individuals that can be 
matched, the greater will be the similarity between the 
two series. A glance at Fig. 2 shows that the individuals in 
the area common to both curves are common to both popu- 
lations. The lower their number the more unlike will be 
the two populations. 

These considerations show that a grouping of human 
types according only to the difference between their aver- 
age values is not admissible. Nevertheless most of the 
classifications of European types that have been attempted 
are based on this method. Certain subjectively striking 



THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES 49 

forms have been selected and have been called racial types, 
or a nomenclature has been introduced to distinguish by 
brief designations various groups in the wide span of vari- 
able forms. In the course of time these names have been 
treated as though they were significant biological types. 
Particularly the head-form has been so used. The ratio of 
the greatest breadth of the head expressed in per cents of 
the length of the head, (i.e., the distance from a point just 
over the nose to the most prominent point on the back of 
the head) is called the cephalic index, or length-breadth 
index. Individuals having an index of less than 75 are 
called long-headed or dolichocephalic, those with an in- 
dex from 75 to 80, mesocephalic, those with an index 
over 80, short-headed, round-headed or brachycephalic. 
Sometimes the limits are drawn somewhat differently. It 
is clear that when we speak of a dolichocephalic race, we 
divide the local grouping on an arbitrary basis. We may, 
perhaps, with due caution, say that a group is dolichoce- 
phalic if we mean that the average type falls in the dolicho- 
cephalic division, but we must remember that many mem- 
bers of the group will belong to the other divisions, because 
the type itself is variable. It would also not be admissible 
to claim that two groups are racially different because one 
happens to fall inside of the limits of what we call dolicho- 
cephalic, the others outside. Most classifications are based 
on the segregation of local groups according to average 
form. Head-form, stature, pigmentation, hair-form and 
other characteristics, such as the form of the face and nose, 
are being so used. No attempt has been made to show that 
these traits are morphologically of importance, and the 
limits of the various groups are arbitrarily chosen. The 
classifications have a descriptive value, but without further 
proof no biological significance. 
Roland B. Dixdn (3) classifies the individuals composing 



50 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

each local group according to divisions based on the nu- 
merical values of head-form, face-form and nasal form, and 
he assumes that the combinations of the various divisions 
of these three elements represent fundamental types. Here 
also any shift in the arbitrarily chosen limits will give us a 
different kind of fundamental racial grouping. The arti- 
ficiality of this method is apparent. No proof has been 
given or can be given that the selected groupings corre- 
spond to realities, that, for instance, a long-headed, long- 
faced, narrow-nosed group represents in any sense a pure 
racial stock. 

The same error is committed when the long-headed, 
blond individuals in Europe are arbitrarily set off as a sepa- 
rate racial group as is so often done at the present time. 

The attempts to classify man according to constitutional 
types are subject to the same criticism. This classification 
has been developed essentially by medical men. Their 
experience has led them to recognize a more or less intimate 
interdependence between bodily form and pathological 
conditions so that in many cases body form may be of diag- 
nostic value. Since these judgments are based on impres- 
sions, they are conceptualizations of constitutional forms 
of the same kind as conceptualizations of local types. The 
basis of this classification is the partial dependence of path- 
ological conditions upon bodily form. When expressed 
in exact metrical terms, constitutional types are found 
to be variables similar to those previously discussed 
(Kretschmer). 

The difficulties with which we are confronted are evi- 
dently based largely upon the vagueness of the concept of 
difference between variables. We have seen that the differ- 
ence of averages does not express the difference between 
two series; that our judgment of difference will rather de- 
pend upon the number of individuals that are common to 



THE COMPOSITION OF HUMAN RACES 51 

the two distinct series, upon the degree of overlapping of 
the curves representing the frequencies of forms in the 
series that are being compared. 

The whole problem becomes clearer, if instead of the 
term difference, we use the term dissimilarity. The degree 
of similarity or dissimilarity may, perhaps, best be ex- 
pressed by the number of individuals that are common to 
the various types that are being compared. 

An ideal solution of the statistical problem of race classi- 
fication would require the establishment of those extreme 
local forms that do not show any kind of overlapping and 
that could therefore be differentiated with absolute cer- 
tainty. The Europeans, Negroes of Africa and Melane- 
sians, Bushmen, Northern Mongolids, the various Malay 
groups, Australians and Australoid types of southern Asia, 
and perhaps some groups of American Indians would be 
such racial types. It would then be necessary to establish 
the position of intervening groups by a study of their simi- 
larities to the extreme types. For instance, the people of 
North Africa would have to be compared with the Euro- 
pean and Negro types, the people of India with the Euro- 
pean, Southern Mongolid, Northern Mongolid and Aus- 
tralian types, and so forth. It would however be an error 
to assume offhand on the basis of this statistical classifi- 
cation that the extreme types that we have isolated are the 
oldest and purest types from which all the others have been 
derived by intermixture, because they may just as well be 
new varieties that have developed owing to long continued 
isolation and to the hereditary establishment of chance 
variations. 

A purely statistical treatment cannot solve the problem 
of the biological relation of races, but it is necessary to 
bear the statistical considerations in mind when we at- 
tempt a biological study. 



4. THE HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 
OF HUMAN RACES 

We shall now reexamine from a biological point of view 
the characteristics of individuals composing a race. 

The character of a race is determined primarily by 
heredity. In loose, every-day parlance we mean by hered- 
ity that the offspring repeats the form of the progenitors 
without material change, that the characteristics of a 
series of generations will always remain the same. Ob- 
viously this is not quite exact, because the descendants of 
the same couple will not be identical in form, neither when 
compared with their parents nor among themselves. When 
we consider a racial group as a whole we assume that, un- 
less conditions change, heredity will bring it about that in 
successive generations the same frequency distribution of 
forms is found, or to use the terms which we discussed 
before, that the class, its variability and its average will 
remain constant. This thought is clearly in our minds 
when we discuss the distribution of racial types. We 
assume these to be constant and to continue in the same 
way generation after generation unless disturbances of 
population or perhaps changes in external conditions bring 
about changes in bodily form. 

We might speak in this sense of "racial heredity" when 
the racial traits are so pronounced that they characterize 
all members of the race. To use the same example that we 
used before: blondness, fair complexion, blue or light eyes 
may be said to be hereditary characteristics of the Swedish 
race, and black, frizzly hair, dark skin and dark eyes of the 

52 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 53 

African. The child of a Swedish couple will never be an 
African. When, however, the Swedes are compared with 
North Germans, or even with Italians, more or less 
numerous cases are found in which the racial traits 
overlap, so that a clear distinction cannot be made. The 
child of a Swedish couple may look like some North 
German, or even like some Italian. The term "racial 
heredity" is no longer applicable so far as it signifies 
a determination of the bodily form of every individual of 
the face. 

There are many traits in regard to which remote races 
are so similar that such overlapping occurs. The size of 
the brain, stature, weight and size and form of various 
internal organs are of this character, so that in regard to 
none of these can we speak of racial heredity as determin- 
ing these traits so that the individual by them may be 
recognized as a member of the race. 

It is all important to note that whenever such over- 
lapping exists, a person of a given form who belongs to one 
population is not biologically, or better genetically, iden- 
tical with another person who has the same characteristics 
but who belongs to another population. 

To give an example: From a study of the bodily form of 
a considerable number of families we find that Sicilian 
couples whose head index lies between 79.5 and 82.5 for 
both parents, and who have an average index of 80.6 have 
children whose average index is 79.3, that is 1.3 units 
under the value of their parents. Bohemian couples whose 
head index lies within the same limits, and who have 
an average index of 81.0 have children whose average 
index is 83.0, or 2 units over that of their parents. This 
shows that from a genetic point of view the individuals 
of the same head index in these two groups are not 
identical. 



54 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Similar conditions prevail in regard to other bodily 
features. In other words, individuals of the same bodily 
form that belong to two different populations are geneti- 
cally not identical. Biologists have been led to the same 
conclusions. Lotry in a careful analysis of the meaning 
of "species," emphasizes the importance of constitutional 
identity against apparent gross morphological identity. 
Constitutional identity can be discovered only by inbreed- 
ing and crossing and it is often found that forms appar- 
ently alike breed in different ways. It follows from these 
observations that we must describe each population as a 
whole, that we must not separate arbitrarily a group of a 
certain bodily appearance from the rest. The error of 
identifying individuals of the same bodily appearance but 
belonging to different populations as members of the same 
race is made altogether too frequently, even by careful 
investigators. 

During the past twenty-five years numerous studies of 
heredity, or as it is now generally called, genetics, have 
been made and their result may be formulated as follows: 
If the number of offspring of a single pair is infinitely 
large, then the frequency distribution of forms in the off- 
spring of this pair would be definitely determined by the 
organic characteristics of the parents, provided there is no 
disturbance by external conditions. The forms of fre- 
quency distribution vary a great deal, but for each pair 
they are absolutely fixed as long as external conditions in- 
fluencing bodily form remain the same. This is the most 
generalized expression of the Mendelian law of inheritance. 
It is difficult to give exact proof of these conditions in man 
as well as in those animal species in which the number of 
offspring is small, but the observations among lower ani- 
mals and plants and the agreement of the observed condi- 
tions in man with those found in lower forms are conclu- 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 55 

sive. While we cannot say what the specific characteristics 
of any one individual may be, the group as a whole will 
always behave in the same way. 

It follows from these observations that in a strictly bio- 
logical study we must study the genetic lines constituting 
a race before we can gain an insight into the character of 
the race as a whole. 

In higher animals the offspring is always the resultant 
of the union of two individuals and we do not know a 
single population of animals or man in which the uniting 
male and female would represent identical lines of descent. 
Even in matings of animals of the same litter of brothers 
and sisters the structure of the sex cells is not the same. 
The family lines in every population, no matter how uni- 
form its descent, are unequal. 

The importance of these considerations will become 
clearer when we consider the constitution of populations 
in greater detail. 

In a large population which is as little stable in its 
habitat as that of modern Europe and modern America, 
the number of ancestors of a single person increases very 
rapidly, the number of parents being two; of grandparents, 
four; of great-grandparents, eight; the theoretical number 
of ancestors twenty generations back would be over a 
million, or, more accurately, 1,048,576. Twenty genera- 
tions represent, according to the rate of increase of modern 
times, about seven hundred years; according to the rate 
of increase of earlier times, about four hundred years as a 
minimum. These figures would apply to the series of gen- 
erations represented by first-born males; for the first-born 
females the respective numbers would be about five hun- 
dred years and three hundred and fifty years. If we con- 
sider, however, the actual descent of families, including 
individuals later born, we might perhaps assume that 



56 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

twenty generations in Europe would represent from eight 
hundred to nine hundred years, and among primitive peo- 
ples perhaps only little less, since in former times the dif- 
ferences between the rapidity of successive generations in 
Europe and among primitive peoples was not very great. 
This makes it obvious that it is entirely impossible that as 
great a number of ancestors as the theory requires can 
have contributed to the development of the individuals of 
the present generation. The reason for this is plain. Owing 
to intermarriages between the same families, large num- 
bers of ancestors will be duplicated in different paternal 
and maternal lines; and in this way the real ancestry of 
each individual appears to be much more complex than the 
purely arithmetical treatment would suggest. The cal- 
culation for the ancestor table of the former German Em- 
peror, for instance, is instructive. According to 0. Lorenz, 
the numbers of his ancestors in successive generations 
were as follows: 

r>^^ ^ r THEORETICAL ACTUAL 

GENERATION NUMBER NUMBER 

I 2 2 

II 4 4 

III 8 8 

IV 16 14 

V 32 24 

VI 64 44 

VII 128 74 

VIII 256 116* 

IX 512 177* 

X 1024 256* 

XI 2048 342* 

XII 4096 533* 

* These generations are not completely known. The values here given are the 
maximum values which would be found provided the unknown individuals had 
had no "loss of ancestors." 

A series of forty royal families gives the following averages: 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 57 

GENERATION AVERAGE NUMBER 

1 2.00 

II 4.00 

III 7.75 

IV 13.88 

V 23.70 

VI 40.53 

When we compare these conditions in the unstable popu- 
lation of the densely populated parts of modem Europe 
and of America with the conditions among primitive tribes, 
it becomes at once apparent that the total number of an- 
cestors of each individual in small communities must be 
much less than the number of ancestors in the modern 
states just referred to. A characteristic example is pre- 
sented by the Eskimo of Smith Sound in North Greenland. 
From all we know, it seems extremely unlikely that this 
community ever consisted of more than a few hundred in- 
dividuals. The mode of life of Eskimo communities sug- 
gests that originally it consisted of a very few families 
only. The community has been cut off from the outer 
world for very long periods; and while there may have been 
accessions of new individuals from outside a few times 
every century, on the whole it has remained isolated. 
It is therefore obvious that the ancestry of this group 
cannot contain anything like the million of people re- 
quired by the theory, but that all the individuals must 
be interrelated through their immediate and remote 
ancestry. 

In a community of this type, the members of which have 
never numbered more than about two hundred, the an- 
cestors of every single individual from the eighth genera- 
tion back must have been largely the same, in varying 
combinations, because the eighth generation would re- 
quire theoretically two hundred and fifty-six individuals 



58 



THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 



a greater number than are actually found in the com- 
munity. Therefore the occurrence of any individual who 
has not a good many near and remote ancestors in com- 
mon with the whole rest of the community is highly im- 
probable, if not impossible. 

We have tried to determine the loss of ancestors for the 
South African Bastards, descendants of Hottentots and 
Boers. Using the genealogical tables collected by Eugen 
Fischer (3) , the following numbers were found : 



No. OF ANCESTORS OF VARIOUS FAMILIES 





Family I 


Family II 


Family III 


I 


2 


2 


2 


II 


4 


4 


4 


Ill 


8 


8 


8 


IV 


14.1 


14.3 


16 


v. 


20.1 


19.7 


32 


VI 


32.0 















These numbers are similar to those found among the 
royal houses of Europe. 

A somewhat clearer picture is obtained when we deter- 
mine the number of ascendants, and consider each indi- 
vidual as a member of a fraternity embracing a certain 
number of children who continue to propagate at the same 
rate. For a large, mobile population we might furthermore 
assume that the mates of the succeeding generations are 
in no way related among themselves or to the members 
of the family line under consideration. Under these con- 
ditions the ancestry of any one individual will be that 
fraction of the number of ancestors which is obtained by 
dividing the total number of his ancestors by the number 
of members of his generation. When, for instance, a couple 
have two children the average number of parents for each 
will be 1. When these children marry and have each two 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 



59 



children, the total number of individuals in the first gen- 
eration will be six, because the two children of the orig- 
inal couple have the same parents. The four grand- 
children of the original couple will have therefore six 
grandparents or 1.5 for each. In this way the following 
ancestral series is obtained for ancestors in direct line of 
descent. 

The apparent contradiction of these values for in- 
stance that four grandchildren have six grandparents 
lies in the fact that two of these grandchildren are at the 
same time direct descendants of another family. The 
collateral relations are expanding rapidly. A rough ap- 
proximation of these values has been given by Jankow- 
sky. 1 It must be remembered that the actual conditions 
will depend largely on the mobility of the population. 
Whenever the population is sedentary and relatively small 
groups are in permanent contact a high degree of inbreed- 
ing with segregation of local groups will result, while in a 
freely moving large population the rate at which inbreed- 
ing develops will be much slower. 



NUMBER OF ANCESTORS FOR FAMILIES OF 





2 Children 


3 Children 


b Children 


5 Children 


I 


1 


67 


50 


40 


II 


1 50 


89 


62 


48 


Ill 


275 


1 63 


1 16 


90 


IV 


5 38 


3 21 


229 


178 


v 


1069 


640 


457 


355 


VI 


21 34 


1280 


9 14 


7 11 


VII 


4267 


2560 


1829 


1422 


VIII 


85 34 


51 20 


36 57 


2844 


IX 


170 64 


10240 


73 14 


5688 


x 


341.33 


20480 


14628 


11378 













1 Jankowsky, W., Die Blutsverwandschaft im Volk und in der Fcunilie, 
Stuttgart (1934), pp. 119 ff. 



60 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Both inbreeding and continued intermixture bring it 
about that when the process has been carried on for a long 
time all the family lines will be very much alike, while in 
a population of mixed descent or without inbreeding the 
family lines will be quite distinct. It may, therefore, hap- 
pen that the bodily forms in two populations are distrib- 
uted in the same way, if only individuals are considered, 
and still the biological composition of the two series may 
be quite different. In the one we may have family lines 
quite distinct among themselves, while all the brothers 
and sisters in each family are much alike; in the other we 
may have family lines very much alike, while brothers and 
sisters may vary very much among themselves. 

The effect of inbreeding has been tested with animals. 
Experiments (King) with rats in which brothers and sisters 
were mated for 25 successive generations show that the 
fraternal variability decreases gradually. It seems likely 
that this would indicate both a decrease in variability of 
family lines and in fraternal variability, but the data do 
not allow us to distinguish between these two features. 

Only a few populations and very few traits have been 
examined from these points of view. The material so far 
collected indicates that the differences between the family 
lines constituting a population are the less, the more stable 
the population and the longer inbreeding without selection 
has continued. When the progenitors of these family lines 
are of distinct bodily form the brothers and sisters in each 
family are liable to be unlike; if the progenitors are alike 
in form, then both family lines and fraternities (that is 
brothers and sisters of each family) will be alike. 

The following data relating to the variability of the 
value of the breadth of head expressed in per cents of the 
length of the head illustrate the conditions that are found 
in various local groups. 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 



61 



STANDARD VARIABILITY 1 OF HEAD INDEX 





I 
TOTAL 


II 

FRATERNAL 


III 
FAMILY LINES 


RATIO OF 

II AND III 


Armenians 


3.88 


3.20 


2.20 


1.46 


Chippewa Indians .... 
Central Italians .... 


3.76 
3.62 


3.32 

2.72 


1.77 
2.39 


1.88 
1.14 


N. Y. Negro-White . . . 
Bohemians 
Scotch 


3.51 
3.53 
3.43 


2.93 
2.61 
2.66 


1.85 
2.37 
2.17 


1.58 
1.10 
1.21 


Missisauga . . . 


3.43 


3.10 


1.47 


2.11 


East European Jews . . . 
Worcester, Mass 1 . . ... 


3.40 
3.34 


2.52 
2.36 


2.29 
2.36 


1.10 
1.00 


Dutch 


3.05 


2.33 


1.95 


1.20 


Bastards, South Africa . . 
Blue Ridge Mountain 
Whites 


2.82 
2.80 


2.52 
2.09 


1.26 
1.85 


2.00 
1.13 













This means that among the Armenians whose head in- 
dex is on the average 85.6, 68% of the families have an 
index between 83.4 and 87.8, while the remaining 32% 
have index values outside of these limits. It also means 
that 68% of the brothers and sisters have a head index 
varying between 3.20 units below and 3.20 units above 
the family mean, while the remainder are outside of these 
limits. And so with the other values. 

The figures for the Bastards are interesting. The Bas- 
tards are a people of Hottentot and Dutch descent who 

1 Variability is a measure indicating the degree of scattering of forms as 
illustrated on p. 46 of this chapter. On account of technical reasons which 
do not need to be described here it is determined as the value obtained by 
squaring all the deviations from the average, taking the average of their 
sum and determining the square root of this average. Inside the limits of 
the average plus and minus this deviation about 68% of the whole series 
are found. Inside the limits of twice this value about 95% of the whole 
series are found. This mean square variation is called the standard variation. 
The probable variation described on p. 46 is about equal to 0.67 of the 
standard deviation. 



62 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

have largely intermarried among themselves for the last 
century. Notwithstanding their mixed descent the family 
lines are much alike, while brothers and sisters show con- 
siderable variations. The conditions among the Chippewa 
Indians of Canada and particularly among the Missi- 
sauga, a local branch of the Chippewa, are quite similar. 
They are an old inbred mixed population of Indian, French 
and Irish descent. Among the American Negroes we find 
also greater uniformity of family lines because they also 
represent an old mixture of White and Negro. 

The meaning of these figures may be more fully illus- 
trated by the following consideration. In the Missisauga 
population 16% of the families have an index of more than 
1.47 units under the average and another 16% of more 
than 1.47 units over the average. 

Since the fraternal variability is 3.10, or more than 
twice the variability of the family lines there will be a con- 




fr - Variability of fraternities 
ge = Variability of family lines 

FIG. 3 

siderable overlapping among these two groups. (Fig. 3.) Ac- 
cording to statistical constants about 32% of the lower 
group will have values over, and the same percentage of 
the upper group will have values under the general average, 
so that about 32% of each of the 16%, or about 10% of 
the extremes of the population will have the same forms. 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 63 

In Worcester on the other hand only 16% of the two ex- 
tremes will overlap so that only 5% of the two extremes 
will overlap. 

This is still clearer when the extremes selected are farther 
removed from the average. We might consider the group 
of Missisauga that are more than 2.2 units removed from 
the average. There are 6.7% of the whole series below and 
6.7% above these points. Then, according to statistical 
constants about 24% of each of these groups or 3.2% of the 
whole population will overlap. For the Worcester popula- 
tion only 6.7% of each of the extreme groups will overlap 
so that less than 1% will be common to the two series. 1 

It is well to bear this in mind, for authors like Fritz Lenz 
minimize the significance of genetic differences within the 
race. 

It should be remembered that this discussion refers to 
a single trait only. If the traits studied are more numerous 
the heterogeneity of the families must become still more 
apparent. 

We conclude from this that in most populations family 
lines differ so much that distinctive lines will always be 
found. By contrast with this it is impossible to find anal- 
ogous radical distinctions between whole populations of 
contiguous areas. 

While, therefore, an exact biological definition of a race 
cannot be given, we can define family lines with much 
greater precision, and therefore the race must be defined 
as a complex of family lines. The origin and character of 
the family lines determine the character of the race. 

The results of our consideration are quite in accord with 
recent views of what constitutes a species of animals or of 
plants. Johannsen's dissolution of the species, or as he 

1 As a matter of fact these numbers are too high, because those farther 
removed from the average will have much less overlapping. 



64 THET MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

calls it, the phenotype, into a series of genotypes is com- 
parable to our analysis of a race. Johannsen was dealing 
primarily with self-fertilized beans. In this case the phe- 
nomenon is naturally much clearer than it can be in cases 
in which self-fertilization is impossible and where crossing 
of lines constantly occurs. The view here expressed agrees 
also with that of 0. F. Cook who recognized only the in- 
dividual and its descendants in the species. He also con- 
siders the species a complex of distinct lines. 

The more gradual the transition between local types, 
the more necessary it is to bear this point clearly in mind. 

We may call a population heterogeneous in which the 
family lines are very different because a single family line 
will not be representative of the whole population. The 
less the variability of family lines, the more will any one 
family be a good representative of the whole population. 
In this sense populations with a low variability of family 
lines may be called homogeneous. It may well be that in 
such a case the ancestry is quite diverse, as among the 
South African Bastards, the descendants of Dutch and 
Hottentot, and still the families may be so much alike that 
each represents fairly and adequately the general type of 
the whole population. 

The laws of heredity bring it about that absolute homo- 
geneity will never be found, no matter how much inbreed- 
ing has occurred. Until more extended investigations of 
this question have been carried out we cannot tell what 
the limit of homogeneity in a population may be. 

Even without detailed information it is easy to see that 
the degree of heterogeneity must vary greatly. The in- 
habitants of a small stable European village in which the 
land has been held for centuries by the same families must 
have a high degree of homogeneity. The same must be the 
case in small isolated tribes. 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 65 

Large cities represent the reverse conditions. Owing to 
the conflux of people of distinct ancestry the family lines 
will be quite varied. The character of the fraternities 
and the variability of family lines will undergo constant 
changes as the integration of the population proceeds until 
finally a new stable condition is established, provided that 
no new accession of foreign lines occurs, a condition that 
in city life is never realized. 

The composition of a race may also be looked at from 
another angle. When we compare two quite distinct types, 
all the individuals of each type appear to us alike and 
different from the other type. On the other hand, when 
two types overlap the individual differences will become 
more striking and the degree of mutual similarity among 
the members of each type will not seem so great. When 
we compare one Negro family with one White family, the 
minor differences between the brothers and sisters in each 
of these families seem irrelevant. When we compare, on 
the other hand, two families that are very much alike, the 
individual differences will seem much more important, and 
correspondingly the family resemblances between brothers 
and sisters will appear slight. In a single family, not com- 
pared with any other family, brothers and sisters are 
simply different. They have only individually different 
degrees of similarity. Also, when we have a number of 
identical families, all the individuals will be different and 
there will be no family resemblances. This does not in- 
terfere with the fact that the fraternal variability in the 
families may be great or small. 

This simple consideration shows that fraternal simi- 
larity depends entirely upon the composition of the popu- 
lation. In a very heterogeneous population fraternal re- 
semblances will be great. In a homogeneous population 
they will be small. The same may be said of the similarity 



66 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

between parents and children. It will appear to us the 
greater, the greater the heterogeneity of the population, 
while in a comparatively homogeneous population it will 
practically disappear, because in every family the same 
type will be represented. When Francis Galton (3) 
studied this phenomenon he laid great stress upon the 
degree of similarity between brothers and sisters and 
parents and children, which he expressed by the so-called 
coefficient of regression. He determined this in the fol- 
lowing way: When fathers or mothers in a given popu- 
lation differ by a certain amount from the general average 
of the population, then the children will differ from the 
general population by a certain fraction of this amount; 
and if one individual differs by a certain amount from the 
average of the population his or her brothers or sisters will 
differ on the average from the average of the population 
by a certain fraction of this amount. 

For the populations referred to on page 61 and for the 
average deviations of the head index of brothers and sisters 
the following values of these fractions have been found: 

Worcester, Mass 0.50 

Bohemians 0.45 

East European Jews 0.45 

Blue Ridge Whites 0.44 

Central Italians 0.44 

Dutch 0.41 

Scotch 0.40 

Armenians 0.30 

N. Y. Negro-White 0.28 

Chippewa Indians 0.21 

Bastards, South Africa 0.20 

Missisauga 0.18 

For instance, if in Worcester, Massachusetts, an indi- 
vidual has a head index 4 units above the average, then 
his brothers and sisters would have on the average an in- 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 67 

dex of 4 X 0.5 or 2 units above the average; while among 
the Missisauga the brothers and sisters would have on the 
average a head index of only 4 X 0.18 or 0.72 above the 
average. 

The differences in these values are due to the varying 
degrees of heterogeneity of the population. The most 
homogeneous series have the lowest correlations. The 
arrangement according to variability of family lines (I) 
and the ratio between family line and fraternal variability 
(II) is as follows: 

i ii 

Bastards 1.26 Missisauga 2.11 

Missisauga 1.47 Bastards 2.00 

Chippewa 1.77 Chippewa 1.88 

N. Y. Negro-White . . . 1.85 N. Y. Negro-White .... 1.58 

Blue Ridge Whites . . . 1.85 Armenians 1.46 

Dutch 1.95 Scotch 1.21 

Scotch 2.17 Dutch 1.20 

Armenians 2.20 Blue Ridge Whites .... 1.13 

East European Jews . . . 2.29 Central Italians 1.14 

Worcester, Mass 2.36 East European Jews . . . 1.10 

Bohemians 2.37 Bohemians 1.10 

Central Italians 2.39 Worcester, Mass 1.00 

The agreement between these columns shows that in the 
selected series the ratio of variability of fraternities meas- 
ured by the variability of family lines is the greater the 
more uniform the family lines. 

We must recur once more to the discussion of family 
lines. 

We assumed in the previous considerations that all the 
families in a population will have the same fraternal varia- 
bility. Since the descent of the family lines is not uniform 
this is not likely and the values given before must be con- 
sidered approximations to the actual conditions. 

It can be shown that within the same population the 



68 



THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 



variability of fraternities increases with the difference 
between the parents. An investigation of a considerable 
number of families shows that the variability of the head 
index within a population increases with the difference of 
head index between parents (Boas 5). 



DIFFERENCE OF 
HEAD INDEX 
BETWEEN PARENTS 


FRATERNAL 
VARIABILITY, 
NEW YORK 


CASES 


FRATERNAL 
VARIABILITY, 

H OLLAND 


CASES 


0-2.9 units 


6.8 


1102 


5.3 


627 


3-5.9 


6.7 


736 


5.9 


473 


6-8.9 


8.3 


317 


5.4 


182 


9 and more 


13.0 


108 


8.5 


66 



Felix von Luschan (1) has found a similar phenomenon 
in the mixed population of southern Asia Minor where a 
round-headed people of central Asia Minor has inter- 
mingled for thousands of years with the long-headed 
people of the coast of Syria. Here also we find a consider- 
able increase in the variability of the mixed population as 
compared with the degree of variability found in more 
homogeneous populations. 

The distribution of head-forms in Italy also illustrates 
this point. In central Italy where the short-headed North 
Italians and the long-headed South Italians have inter- 
married, the variability of head-form is high. 

These phenomena are expressions of the various forms 
of Mendelian inheritance to which we referred before 
(p. 54), to the tendency of individuals of mixed descent to 
revert in definite numerical ratios in regard to various 
bodily features to the types from which they are descended. 

Human races are often compared with modern races of 
domesticated animals. There is, however, a fundamental 
difference. Breeds of domesticated animals are raised by 
careful selection, and the Mendelian splitting up of families 
is eliminated by breeding only those individuals that breed 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 69 

true. The variation in a breed of domesticated animals is, 
therefore, very slight, the more so the more carefully all 
mixed types are eliminated. In this manner strikingly 
differentiated races have been developed. Nothing of the 
kind has happened in man* On the contrary, even where 
the attempt has been made to prevent intermarriage be- 
tween different stocks it has never been successful. Social 
barriers break down and gradually the two types of the 
population intermingle. This is true even in such rigid 
caste systems as those of India. It was true of patricians 
and plebeians in Rome and notwithstanding the recrudes- 
cence of forcible prevention of intermarriage in Germany 
the history of mankind will not be reversed. 

More or less specialized local types develop only when 
small groups are isolated and the small number of ancestors 
show peculiarities. The smaller the ancestral group, the 
greater will be the probability that the local group will 
appear more or less distinct from the type of the general 
population from which they sprang. When we find, for in- 
stance, that in North America a very marked type belongs 
to the Arctic coast of the continent, and that another type 
is found in the Mackenzie Basin, still others in well-de- 
fined localities on the Pacific Coast, the Mississippi Basin, 
the Southeast, along the Rio Grande and in Mexico, it 
seems possible to ascribe their origin to the increase of 
small isolated groups. Some other instances of the occur- 
rence of peculiar forms in local communities may be ex- 
plained in this manner. Examples are the unusual fre- 
quency of the as Incae (the division of the occipital bone 
by a transversal suture) in Peru and the Pueblos (Mat- 
thews 1), the great frequency of the torus palatinus (a ridge 
along the middle line of the palate) among the Lapps and 
along the eastern shores of the Baltic (Lissauer). 

Another phenomenon may be pointed out here which is 



70 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

still little investigated, but which deserves careful atten- 
tion. We have seen that in stable communities in sparsely 
settled countries the relationship between members of a 
group will be quite close, and that this relationship will 
necessarily affect the type and its variability. In course of 
time two areas whose populations have thus developed 
may be thrown into contact, and numerous intermarriages 
may occur. It will be seen at once that although the dif- 
ferences between the two types may be apparently only 
slight, a complete disturbance in the forms of heredity will 
result, because a great number of individuals of distinct 
ancestry are thrown together. To give an example the 
South Italians and the Spaniards represent two types not 
very distinct in physical features, but separated for cen- 
turies. The small village communities of Italy, as well as 
those of Spain, have all the characteristics of communities 
in which endogamic marriages have been continued for a 
long period. In the Argentine Republic these two types 
come into contact and intermarry frequently. We have 
no observations on the result of this mixture upon physi- 
cal characteristics, but it has been noted that the distribu- 
tion of male and female births is quite different from that 
prevailing in families in which both parents are either 
Spanish or Italian (Pearl 3). It is also conceivable that 
this may be one of the elements bringing about the change 
of type of urban populations when compared to rural 
populations in Europe, and that it may have been active 
in the change of type observed among the descendants of 
European immigrants in America. 

All attempts to reconstruct the component elements of a 
population of mixed ancestry are destined to fail. Suppos- 
ing, for instance, that we did not know a White race and a 
Negro race, but only Mulattoes. Could we reconstruct a 
White race and a Negro race? If we knew the laws of in- 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 71 

heritance of each individual trait, their interrelations and 
the changes that may occur owing to mixture; if further- 
more we knew what the influences of environment and 
selection had been, this might seem possible; but these 
intricate mechanisms are very imperfectly known, and 
the task would be like that of a person who is to solve a 
single equation with many unknown quantities and with 
hardly any guide in the selection of quantities that would 
fulfill the conditions of the original equation. 

This is even more true in types that are akin like those 
of Europe and the Near East, whose bodily features are so 
little divergent that individuals cannot be assigned with 
certainty to one group or another. All we know is that each 
group consists of many divergent family lines. The re- 
construction of original "pure" family lines from which 
the modern population is derived cannot be made. Statis- 
tical solutions without number can be given, but their 
biological interpretation would require an exhaustive 
knowledge of the conditions controlling the effects of mix- 
tures of distinct family lines. 

We are not able to predict, even statistically, much less 
individually, what the result of the intermingling of two 
races will be. Much less are we able to reverse the process 
and determine the types from which a population may 
have sprung. 

We have so far discussed racial types as shown in the 
adult. We have to consider the way in which hereditary 
characteristics find expression in the development of the 
individual. Specific racial characteristics that is, traits 
the individual variation of which is small as compared to 
the racial differences are generally established very early 
in life. A. Schultz has shown that the characteristic fea- 
tures of the Negro and White are noticeable in fetal life. 
The more pronounced the difference between two types, 



72 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

the earlier it is established. During this time the differen- 
tiation of racial types is more marked than individual dif- 
ferentiation. In the course of growth both racial and 
individual character become more and more emphasized 
and this process continues throughout life. For this reason 
the characteristics of local types are often most distinct in 
adult males who have a longer and more intense period of 
development than females. They are least marked in 
children. The most generalized racial types will be found 
among children, the most specialized types among adult 
males. This may be illustrated by an analysis of the form 
of the nose of Indian, Chinese and White children, which 
is much more alike than it is in adults. The bridge of the 
nose is low, its elevation over the face slight, the upper 
eyelid often has an inner fold which gives an apparent 
slanting position to the eye. This is found particularly in 
Mongolids and Indians but also quite frequently in White 
children. It disappears with the increased elevation of the 
nose over the plane of the face. The proportions of limbs 
and body of young children of these three races are not 
very different. 

Accompanying the differentiation of types we find also 
a differentiation of individual characteristics. After a cer- 
tain age has been reached the rate of individual differen- 
tiation exceeds that of racial differentiation. Racial char- 
acteristics that have not become established before this 
time do not develop in later life. The age at which marked 
progress in individualization occurs is not the same for all 
traits. Pigmentation is established shortly after birth. 
Head-form is established at the age of one or two years. 
The most typical development of the nose occurs during 
adolescence. 

We may express this in another way. The most gen- 
eralized types are found in the youngest individuals. The 



HEREDITARY CHARACTERISTICS 73 

process of specialization occurs during childhood and the 
greatest degree of specialization is found among adult men. 
The affinities between distantly related racial groups may 
therefore be discovered most easily by a comparison of 
fetal forms and of young children. It is hardly possible 
at the present time to make definite statements in regard 
to this matter because too little is known about the ana- 
tomical forms of the young in Australians, Bushmen, 
Negritos or American Indians, and these belong to the 
most important groups whose position is to be determined. 
It seems likely that the various groups have each a 
characteristic rate of development for various bodily 
traits. It is uncertain whether in such cases environmental 
conditions play an important role or whether we are deal- 
ing with hereditary traits. A comparison of Jewish and 
non- Jewish children attending different schools shows that 
young Jewish children grow first more rapidly than non- 
Jewish children, while later on the rate of growth of the 
latter is greater than that of the Jewish children. Under 
equal social conditions no such difference appeared. The 
order of eruption of permanent teeth among South African 
Negroes and American Whites is not the same. The ob- 
served differences between these groups are much smaller 
than those found in family lines in which there are clear evi- 
dences of hereditary tendencies in regard to size as well 
as to tempo of development. 



5. THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 

The development of the races of man cannot be fully un- 
derstood as long as we consider the bodily form as absolutely 
stable. We must investigate the genesis of the various types. 

While it is not our object to discuss and describe in de- 
tail the probable development of the human races, a few 
general considerations cannot be omitted. 

The mammalian fauna of the late tertiary differs funda- 
mentally from that of modern times. Very few forms of 
that period, for instance beaver and marmot, survive. In 
most genera important changes of form have taken place 
in the span of time that has since elapsed. The modifica- 
tions which have occurred in all the higher forms of mam- 
mals make it very improbable that man should have ex- 
isted at this time, and up to the present no remains have 
been found that would suggest his presence. On the con- 
trary, the few oldest specimens from the early quaternary 
like the Javanese skeleton of Pithecanthropus erectus, the 
Pekin skeletons, and the quaternary jaw found at Heidel- 
berg, are decidedly distinct from the present forms of man. 
Towards the latter part of the quaternary true human 
types appear, particularly the Neanderthal man so 
called from the Neander Valley in Germany where the 
first skeleton of this type was found. It is still decidedly 
different from living races of man. We may discover a 
single Neanderthaloid feature in a single individual here 
and there more frequently in some races than in others 
but no races of the Neanderthal type survive. 1 

1 M. Boule does not agree with this. 

74 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 75 

It seems that even at this early period mankind was 
not uniform, for forms found at Piltdown in England and 
in the Grimaldi caves near Mentone represent distinct 
types. 

Forms closely associated with modern man appear in 
the period immediately following the disappearance of 
Neanderthal man. The palaeontological data, fragmen- 
tary as they are, show a change of forms beginning with 
the oldest known prehuman and human remains. We can- 
not show by palaeontological evidence how the modern 
types developed, but we are able to prove that the most 
ancient types differed from those of our time, and ceased 
to exist. 

A gradual change in human types is also indicated in 
the morphological forms of living man. To quote the 
words of Wiedersheim : 

" In the course of his phylogenetic development the body 
of Man has undergone a series of modifications which still 
in part find expression in his ontogeny. There are indica- 
tions that changes in his organization are still continuing, 
and that the Man of the future will be different from the 
Man of to-day." The best illustrations of these changes are 
found in the forms of organs which are undergoing reduc- 
tion. Thus we may observe that in modern man the little 
toe is often two-jointed, a phenomenon presumably due to 
lack of functional use. The teeth also show a tendency to 
gradual reduction, especially in the variable size of the 
molars and of the upper outer incisors. A similar reduc- 
tion may be observed at the lower end of the thorax, where 
the development of ribs and sternum shows great varia- 
tions. 

The significance of these phenomena lies in the fact 
that in the evolutionary series the abnormal occurrences, 
which are found in different races in varying frequency, 



76 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

appear as new developments, which, if they should be- 
come normal, would increase the differentiation between 
man and the lower forms. The actual proof of increasing 
frequency of these features, and of their becoming per- 
manent characteristics, has not been given, but seems 
plausible. 

This inference is strongly supported by the occurrence 
of rudimentary, functionless organs, and by the temporary 
appearance of lower features during ontogenetic develop- 
ment. 

Besides these progressive variations, there are others 
that recall forms occurring among the higher mammals 
and which from this point of view may be called regressive. 
The specifically human forms have come to be fairly well 
stabilized, while the older forms occur rarely. Many traits 
of the skeleton and muscular system belong to this class. 
They have been observed in all races of mankind, but with 
unequal frequency. Some of them are determined by 
physiological causes and should not be considered as fixed 
hereditary traits, but from a purely morphological point 
of view they may be interpreted as indications of the line 
along which the human type has developed. 

There is another point of view that must be borne in 
mind if we want to gain a clear understanding of the sig- 
nificance of racial types. Man is not a wild form, but must 
be compared to the domesticated animals. He is a self- 
domesticated being. 

It is quite a number of years since Fritsch, in his studies 
of the anthropology of South Africa, pointed out that a 
peculiar difference exists in the form of the body of the 
Bushman and the Hottentot as compared to that of Euro- 
peans, in that the former exhibit slenderer forms of the 
bones, that the bone is very solid in its structure; while in 
the European the skeleton appears heavier, but of more 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 77 

open structure. Similar differences may be observed in a 
comparison between the skeletons of wild and those of 
domesticated animals; and this observation led him to the 
conclusion that the Bushmen are in their physical habitus 
to a certain extent like wild animals, while the Europeans 
resemble in their structure domesticated animals. 

This point of view namely, that the human race in its 
civilized forms must be compared, not with the forms of 
wild animals, but rather with those of domesticated ones 
seems to me a very important one; arid a somewhat de- 
tailed study of the conditions in which various races are 
found suggests that at the present time, and all over the 
world, even among the most primitive types of man, 
changes incident to domestication have taken place. 

There are three different types of changes due to domes- 
tication which must be clearly distinguished. The bodies 
of domesticated animals undergo considerable transforma- 
tions, owing to the change in nutrition and use of the 
body; secondly, selection, and lastly, crossing, have played 
an important part in the development of races of domesti- 
cated animals. 

Some changes of the first class are due to a more regular 
and more ample nutrition; others to a new diet imposed 
by man; still others to the different manner in which the 
muscular and the nervous systems are put into use. These 
changes are not quite the same among carnivorous and 
among herbivorous animals. The dog and the cat, for in- 
stance, are fairly regularly fed when they are found in 
domestication; but the food given to them differs in char- 
acter from the food which the wild dog and cat eat. Even 
among people whose diet consists almost entirely of meat, 
dogs are generally fed boiled meat, or rather the boiled, 
less nutritious parts of animals; while among other tribes 
which utilize to a great extent vegetable food, dogs are 



78 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

often fed mush and other vegetable material. The same is 
true of our cats, whose diet is not by any means entirely 
a meat diet. The exertions which wild carnivorous animals 
undergo to obtain food are incomparably greater than 
those of the corresponding domesticated forms; and for 
this reason the muscular system and the central nervous 
system may have undergone considerable changes. 

The muscular exertions of herbivorous animals, as far 
as they are fed on pastures, are not so materially changed. 
The grazing habits of cattle and sheep in domestication 
are about the same as the grazing habits of wild animals 
of the same class; but the rapid movements and the watch- 
fulness required for protecting the herd against animals of 
prey have completely disappeared. Stable-fed animals live 
under highly artificial conditions, and material changes of 
diet occur in them. 

Changes due to these causes may be observed in the 
oldest types of domesticated animals, such as are found in 
the neolithic villages of Europe, in which native European 
species appear in domesticated form (Keller; Studer). They 
may also be observed in the dogs of the various continents, 
which differ markedly from the wild species from which 
they are derived. Even the Eskimo dog, which is a de- 
scendant of the gray wolf and still interbreeds with the 
wolf, differs in bodily form from the wild animal (Beck- 
mann). Modifications may also be observed in slightly 
domesticated animals, like the Chukchee reindeer, which 
differs in type from the wild reindeer of the same area. 1 
I think it very unlikely, judging from our knowledge of 
the methods of domestication practised by tribes like the 
Eskimo and Chukchee, that any material amount of arti- 
ficial selection has contributed to the modifications of 
form found in these races of primitive domesticated ani- 

1 Bogoras, pp. 73 et seq.; compare with Allen. 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 79 

mals. Their uniformity is still fairly well marked, but 
they have assumed traits different from the wild species, 
even though they still interbreed with the wild forms. 
Admixture of blood of wild reindeer is favored by the 
Chukchee. 

A certain kind of selection may occur in early forms of 
domestication by preventing or encouraging mating and 
by interference with the bringing up of young animals. 
Wherever castration is practised, where milk is used, where 
young animals are slaughtered and taken away from their 
mothers and given to other animals highly artificial con- 
ditions prevail. Although these do not lead to any kind 
of conscious selection of forms they disturb the natural 
composition of the herd and may lead to bodily modifi- 
cations. 

A more marked differentiation of domesticated forms 
does not seem to occur until man begins to select and to 
isolate, more or less consciously, particular breeds. Op- 
portunity for such isolation has been the greater, the older 
the domestication of any particular species. We find, 
therefore, that the number of distinct breeds have come 
to be greatest in those animals which have been under 
domestication for the longest periods. 

The number of varieties of domesticated species has 
also been increased by unintentional or intentional cross- 
ing of different species, from which are derived many 
breeds whose ancestry it is often difficult to unravel. 

In the development of the races of man, change of mode 
of life and crossing have been most strongly active. The 
condition of the tribes of man the world over is such, that 
there are none whose mode of nutrition is strictly analo- 
gous to that of wild animals, and a consideration of early 
human culture shows that similar conditions have pre- 
vailed for a long period. In all those cases in which man 



80 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

practises agriculture, when he is the owner of herds of 
domesticated animals which are used for food, the food- 
supply has become regular, and is obtained by an applica- 
tion of the muscular system in highly specialized directions. 
Examples of this condition are, for instance, the Central 
African Negroes, who have their gardens near their vil- 
lages, the cultivation of the gardens being essentially the 
work of the women, while the men are engaged in various 
specialized industrial pursuits. Neither is the manner of 
the use of the body which is applied by wild animals for 
protection against enemies found among these tribes. In 
combat muscular strength alone is not decisive, but excel- 
lence of weapons and strategy count as much as mere 
strength and agility. The conditions among the American 
agricultural Indians of the Mississippi Valley or of those 
of the South American forests are similar in character. 

As an example of a pastoral people among whom con- 
siderable regularity in nutrition obtains, we might mention 
the reindeer-breeders of Siberia or the cattle-breeders of 
Africa. 

We know, of course, that among all these people, periods 
of starvation occur, due to a failure of the crops or to 
epidemics in the herds; but the normal condition is one of 
fairly regular and ample food-supply. 

The conditions among fishing tribes are not very differ- 
ent; owing to methods of storing provisions, and to the 
superabundance of food-supply obtained in one season and 
sufficient to last for the rest of the year, the nutrition of 
these people is also fairly regular. Here also, the kind of 
muscular exertion required for obtaining food is special- 
ized, and differs from that required from the simple pur- 
suit of game. 

Associated with these conditions are also the character- 
istic selections of food-stuffs by different tribes, such as 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 81 

the exclusive meat diet of some tribes most pronounced 
among the Eskimo and the exclusive vegetable diet of 
others well developed, for instance, in southern Asia. 
Both of these have, in all probability, a far-reaching effect 
upon the bodily form of these races. 

All these differences are of minor importance when com- 
pared to the effect of the artificial change of food-stuffs 
by means of fire. The art of cookery is universal. By its 
means the character of the food and with it the demands 
made upon the digestive organs are materially changed. 
The invention of fire dates back to very early times. Re- 
mains of hearths have been found in palaeolithic strata, 
which according to conservative estimates date back 50,000 
years. The use of fire and the application of methods of 
leeching have enabled man to utilize vegetable products 
that otherwise would be harmful (Ida Hahn). The potato, 
the California acorn, the casava, the Australian Cycas 
and perhaps the wild oats are examples. 

We may say with justice that one of the most funda- 
mental conditions of domestication set in when fire was 
first applied to the preparation of food. 

Besides the use of fire, artificial means of protection 
against climate and enemies are important features in the 
process of domestication because they modify essentially 
the conditions of propagation and the course of individual 
development. Under protecting influences the chances of 
survival of varying forms and hence the composition of the 
population may be materially altered. Tools and the use 
of clothing as protection against the climate are the most 
important inventions of this kind. The use of tools goes 
back to very great antiquity. In fact, the earliest presence 
of man is known only from the occurrence of stone imple- 
ments and must be assigned to the early part of the glacial 
period. To the earliest stone tools undoubtedly made by 



82 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

the hand of man may be ascribed an age of at least 150,000 
years. Evidence of the use of clothing occurs also in 
palaeolithic times, at about the same time that evidence 
of the use of fire is available. 

We conclude that the time of domestication of man 
must have begun with the early quaternary, and that it 
became intensive with the discovery of the use of fire. 

The second group of causes which is most potent in de- 
veloping distinct races of domesticated animals namely, 
conscious selection has probably never been very active 
in the races of man. We do not know of a single case in 
which it can be shown that intermarriage between dis- 
tinct types of the same descent was prohibited; and what- 
ever selection there may have been in the development of 
primitive society seems to have been rather that type of 
natural selection which encourages the mating of like with 
like, or such intricate selection as is due to the social laws 
of intermarriage, which prevented or encouraged inter- 
marriages of relatives of certain grades, and often also of 
members of different generations. Thus among certain 
tribes it is customary for children of a man to marry 
those of his sister, while the children of brothers and the 
children of sisters are not allowed to intermarry. Similar 
restrictions are found in great number, and may possibly 
have had a certain selective effect, although their opera- 
tion can hardly be assumed to have had very marked re- 
sults upon the form of the human body. Customs that 
prescribe the killing of twins or of children showing abnor- 
malities of form or color may also have had a slight selec- 
tive influence. 

In some cases social laws have had the indirect effect 
of perpetuating distinctions between separate parts of a 
population, or at least of retarding their complete amal- 
gamation. This is the case where laws of endogamy relate 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 83 

to groups of distinct descent, and may be observed, for 
instance, among the castes of Bengal, where the low castes 
are of the characteristic South Indian type, while the 
highest castes preserve the type of the tribes of north- 
western India (Risley and Gait). The numerous inter- 
mediate castes show, however, that the laws of endogamy, 
even where they are as stringent as those of India, cannot 
prevent blood-mixture. Whether or not in extreme cases 
endogamy in small groups, as among the ancient Egyp- 
tians, has led to the development of well-defined types, is 
a question that cannot be answered, but it is certain that 
none of these types, when found in a large population, have 
survived. 

The third element of domestication has been very im- 
portant in the development of the races of man. Crossings 
between distinct types are so markedly common in the 
history of primitive people, and so markedly rare in the 
history of wild animals, that in this case the analogy be- 
tween domesticated animals and man becomes very clear. 
Cases of hybrid forms of higher wild animals are rare 
almost everywhere; while domesticated animals have been 
crossed and recrossed without end. Crossings between the 
most distinct types of man are also of common occurrence. 
As an instance, we might mention the intermarriages be- 
tween the Kami tic tribes of the Sahara and the Negro 
tribes of the Sudan (Nachtigal 2) ; the mixtures between 
the Negritos and Malay, which are of such common occur- 
rence in the Malay Peninsula (Martin, pp. 1011-1012) 
and which are probably to a great extent a cause of the 
peculiar distribution of types in the whole Malay Archi- 
pelago; the mixtures which have taken place in Fiji; that of 
the Ainu and Japanese in the northern part of Japan; of 
European and Mongol in eastern Europe; not to speak of 
the more recent mixtures between European and other 



84 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

races which were incident to the gradual distribution of 
the Europeans over the whole world. 

The distinguishing traits of human races are in many 
cases analogous to those by which domesticated animals 
are characterized. 1 Melanism, that is a strong increase 
of pigment, and leucism, that is marked loss of pigment, 
belong here. The black bear, the black panther and the 
mole have black coat color, but on the whole black hair is 
not common in wild mammals. Individuals with black 
hair are found in various species. Black mice, rabbits, roes, 
giraffes, tigers, ermines have been observed. 

Even rarer is blond hair and the general scarcity of pig- 
ment that finds expression in the light color of the skin 
and in blue eyes. This loss, however, is found in many 
domesticated strains, particularly in pigs and horses. The 
great variation in the size of the face belongs to the same 
class. The shortening of the face as in certain breeds of 
sheep, pigs, horses and dogs, and its lengthening in other 
breeds compare well with the excessive forms found in the 
Whites on the one hand, and the Negroes on the other. 
Frizzly hair is not characteristic of wild animals, but simi- 
lar forms are found in domestication. The hair of the 
poodle dog is somewhat similar in form to that of the 
Negro. The excessive length of the hair of the head may 
also well have developed owing to conditions of domesti- 
cation. Wild animals with such excessive hair length are 

l The importance of considering races as domesticated forms has been 
emphasized by Johannes Ranke. He compared the pigmentation of domes- 
ticated animals and of man. Eduard Hahn (1896) recognized the simi- 
larities in the conditions of life of man and of domesticated animals. I 
have called attention to the cultural and anatomical conditions in 1910. 
B. Klatt (1912) pointed out changes in the form of the skull and Frie- 
denthal studied the conditions of hair and skin. The pigmentation of the 
eye was investigated by Hauschild in 1909. The forms of the human 
body as expressions of domestication have been fully discussed by Eugen 
Fischer. 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 85 

unknown, but lengthening of the mane is found in the 
domesticated horse, and of body hair in cats and dogs. 
Great variation in stature is also characteristic of domes- 
ticated animals as against wild forms. 

Important functional changes are also common to man 
and to domesticated animals. The periodicity of sexual 
functioning has been lost in man and in a number of domes- 
ticated animals. The milk secreting glands which in wild 
animals develop periodically have become permanent in 
some of our domesticated animals and in man. It seems 
also that anomalies of sexual behavior such as homosex- 
uality are characteristic of domesticated animals and of all 
races of man. 

The process of human domestication can be studied in 
its results only. The direct influence of environment may 
be investigated experimentally and statistically. 

An examination of organisms, plants and animals shows 
that in many cases the form will vary according to en- 
vironmental influences. This is particularly evident in 
plants. Plants that grow habitually in the plains when 
transported to high altitudes assume the form of Alpine 
plants. Due to the strong insolation and the cool nights 
their leaves become small and their stems are shortened. 
Conversely, Alpine plants transplanted to the plains de- 
velop larger leaves and their stems are elongated (Haber- 
landt). The Ranunculus growing in water has much re- 
duced leaves, while those parts growing in the air have a 
continuous surface. Plants growing in arid soil have thick 
impermeable outer epidermis walls; they excrete wax and 
have deeply imbedded stomata. These traits are often 
lost when they are cultivated in moisture. 

0. F. Cook expresses similar observations as follows: 
"Zoologists speculate on such questions as whether the 
eggs of Vancouver woodpeckers, if transferred to Arizona, 



86 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

would hatch Arizona woodpeckers, or whether the trans- 
ferred individuals would gain Arizona characters in a few 
generations. What the woodpeckers might or might not 
do depends on the amount of organic elasticity which they 
may happen to possess, but the experiment is unnecessary 
for answering the general question, since plants show a 
high development of these powers of prompt adjustment 
to diverse conditions. It is not even necessary that the 
eggs be hatched in Arizona. Many plants, as already 
noted, can adjust themselves to such changes at any stage 
of their existence, and are regularly accustomed to do so. 
They are both fish and flesh. In water they have the form, 
structure and functions of other strictly aquatic species; 
on land they are equally ready to behave as terrestrial 
species." 

All this shows that a species should be defined by de- 
scribing the range of its variations in each kind of environ- 
ment in which it may occur. In other words, its form is 
determined by environmental causes. The species is not 
to be conceived as absolutely stable or as subject to acci- 
dental variations, but as determined in definite ways by 
conditions of life. 

The general impression prevails that among the higher 
mammals this variability is so slight that it may be neg- 
lected, and that particularly in man lines of the same de- 
scent are stable. Still, there are a number of observations 
which show that bodily form is dependent upon outer con- 
ditions. Hans Przibram has investigated the influence 
of body temperature upon the length of the tail of rats and 
found, when the body temperature is made to rise by 
transplanting the rats from an artificial cool climate to a 
warm one, that the proportional length of the tail of rats 
living and born in the warmer climate increases. 

Members of the same race live under quite different 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 87 

climatic and social conditions. The European is spread 
over the whole world. He lives in the Arctic and in the 
tropics, in deserts and in humid countries, in high altitudes 
and on low plains. In regard to mode of life we may con- 
trast the professional, the sedentary, the laborer, the 
aviator and the miner. Some Europeans live in a way 
not so very different from that of simpler people, for the 
mode of life of the agricultural Indians of North America 
at the time of Columbus, or that of some agricultural 
Negro tribes, is, so far as nutrition and occupation are 
concerned, quite similar to theirs. Also some of the fisher- 
men on the coast of Europe may well be compared, in 
their mode of life, with the fishermen of America or Asia. 
More direct comparisons may be made among the people 
of eastern Asia, where we may contrast the cultured 
Chinese and primitive Amur River tribes, the northern 
Japanese and the Ainu, the civilized Malay and the moun- 
tain tribes of Sumatra or the Philippines. Similar com- 
parisons are possible for the Negro race when we contrast 
the small educated class of Negroes in America and the 
African tribesmen; and for the American race when we 
compare the educated Indians, particularly of Spanish 
America, and the tribes of the prairies and of the virgin 
forests. 

It is obvious that in all these cases we are comparing 
groups of the same descent, but living in distinct geo- 
graphic, economic, social and other environmental con- 
ditions. If we find differences among them, they can 
only be due, directly or indirectly, to environment. Thus 
the fundamental problem presents itself, in how far are 
human types stable, in how far variable under the influ- 
ences of environment? 

It is difficult to take up this inquiry on the basis of a 
direct comparison between primitive and civilized types 



88 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

belonging to the same races, partly because material is 
hard to obtain, partly because the homogeneity of the race 
is often open to doubt; but it is at once apparent that in- 
quiries into the variability of human types living under 
the effect of different types of environment will help us to 
gain an insight into the question at issue, so that we are 
led to a more general discussion of the problem of the 
stability or variability of the form of the human body. 

The general tendency of anthropological inquiry has 
been to assume the permanence of the anatomical charac- 
teristics of the present races, beginning with the European 
races of the early neolithic times. Kollmann, the most 
pronounced advocate of this theory, claims that the oldest 
remains of man found in the neolithic deposits of Europe 
represent types which are still found unchanged among 
the modern civilized population of the continent. He has 
tried to identify all the varieties found in the neolithic pre- 
historic population with those living at the present time. 

All studies of the distribution of head-forms and of other 
anthropometric traits have shown uniformity over consider- 
able continuous areas and through long periods; and the 
natural inference has been that heredity controls anthropo- 
metric forms, and that these are therefore stable (Deniker). 

Not all the features of the human body can be con- 
sidered as equally stable. Even if head-form and other pro- 
portions should be determined entirely by heredity, it is 
easily seen that weight depends upon the more or less 
favorable conditions of nutrition. More than that, the 
whole bulk of the body is partially determined by the con- 
ditions prevailing during the period of growth. 

This has been shown by the general increase in stature 
in Europe which has occurred since the middle of the past 
century. It has been proved most clearly by a compari- 
son of the measurements of Harvard students with those 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 



89 



of their own fathers who had attended the college. The 
difference in favor of the younger generation for those who 
may be considered to have completed their growth is about 
4 cm. (Bowles). For native-born Jews in the city of New 
York those measured in 1909 show throughout smaller 
measurements than those measured in 1937 (Boas 18). 
The difference is manifest in both adults and children of 
corresponding ages. The following table shows the average 
increase in per cent of the measurement of 1909: 



Stature . . . . 
Length of Head 
Width of Head . 
Width of Face . 



MALE 

6.5 
2.3 
1.3 
3.8 



FEMALE 
2.6 
1.6 
1.2 
2.4 



While the increase in total stature is greater than that 
of the head measurements, both the present and the Har- 
vard series of measurements of various parts of the trunk 
and limbs show that there is an increase in all dimensions 
which does not depend solely upon the indirect influence 
of the increase in bulk. It is an expression of the varying 
reaction of the body to changes in environment. 

The starvation period of Central Europe due to the 
blockade and its criminal extension during the period of 
wrangling over the spoils of the war shows the effect of in- 
sufficient nutrition upon the development of the body. 
Apprentices in Vienna, measured in 1919 and 1921 had the 
following measures (Lebzelter) : 



AGES 


STATURE 


WEIGHT KGM. 




1919 


1921 


1919 


1921 


14-15 


151.8 


154.6 


40.9 


44.3 


15-16 


155.3 


158.7 


42.7 


45.5 


16-17 


160.5 


162.6 


47.5 


50.1 


17-18 


165.3 


163.3 


51.3 


53.6 



90 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The differences between well-to-do and poor are also 
striking. Many observations have shown that the size of 
the body depends upon the economic condition of the 
parent. Bowditch's studies of the growth of school chil- 
dren in Boston and many others have proved this point. 
Hebrew children in New York attending private schools 
exceed those in an orphan asylum by from 6 to 7 cm. 
(Boas 16); Negro children in public schools exceed those 
in an orphan asylum by similar amounts (Boas 18). The 
findings by Gould proved that natives of every country 
enlisted in the West and measured during the War of the 
Rebellion were taller than those enlisted in the East. 

The changes in the bulk of the body are necessarily 
related to changes in proportions. Setting aside the pre- 
natal development, we find that at the time of birth 
some parts of the body are so fully developed that they 
are not far removed from their final size, while others are 
quite undeveloped. Thus the skull is, comparatively 
speaking, large at the time of birth, grows rapidly for a 
short time, but very soon approaches its full size, and then 
continues to grow very slowly. The limbs, on the other 
hand, grow rapidly for many years. Other organs do not 
begin their rapid development until much later in life. 
Thus it happens that retarding or accelerating influences 
acting upon the body at different periods of growth may 
have quite different results. After the head has nearly 
completed its growth, retarding influences may still influ- 
ence the length of the limbs. The face, which grows 
rapidly for a longer period than the cranium, can be influ- 
enced later than the latter. In short, the influence of en- 
vironment may be the more marked, the less developed 
the organ that is subject to it. 

Changes in final form may also be determined by occu- 
pation. A study of the form of the hand by Buzina and 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 91 

Lebzelter showed that the ratio of width to length dif- 
fers considerably for various occupations. The ratio was 
found for 

Blacksmiths 46.9 

Locksmiths 46.3 

Bricklayers 46.4 

Compositors 43.3 

Postal clerks 43.8 

The decrease in this ratio is largely due to a decrease in 
the width of the hand. 

The whole trend of these studies of growth thus empha- 
sizes the importance of the effect of rate of development 
upon the final form of the body. Illness in early childhood, 
malnutrition, lack of sunshine, fresh air and physical 
exercise, are so many retarding causes, which bring it 
about that the growing individual of a certain age is in 
its physiological development younger than the healthy, 
well-nourished one, who has plenty of fresh air, and puts 
his muscular system to good use. Retardation or accelera- 
tion has, however, the effect of modifying the later course 
of development; so that the final stage will be the more 
favorable, the less the retarding causes. 

These facts relating to growth are of fundamental im- 
portance for a correct interpretation of the oft-discussed 
phenomena of early arrest of growth. Among members 
of the same race a prolonged period of growth due to 
unfavorable environment goes hand in hand with unfavor- 
able development, while an abbreviated period of growth 
due to favorable environment results in larger dimen- 
sions of all physical measurements. It follows, that, in 
judging the physiological value of arrest of growth, the 
mere fact that growth ceases in one race at an earlier time 
than in another cannot be considered as significant in it- 



92 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

self without observations on the conditions determining 
the rapidity of growth. 

So far, the question still remains open, in how far there 
may be changes in the types of man that cannot be ex- 
plained by acceleration or retardation of growth. 

An attempt has been made by Rieger to explain differ- 
ences in head-form as due to the effect of physiological and 
mechanical conditions, and Engel emphasizes the effect of 
pressure of the muscles upon the forms of the head. Wai- 
cher and Nystrom try to explain different head-forms by 
the consideration of the position of the infant in the cra- 
dle. They believe that position on the back produces 
round heads; position on the side, long heads. It would 
seem, however, that the difference of head-form in large 
areas of Europe, in which infants are treated in the same 
manner, are too great to make this explanation acceptable. 

A number of observations have been made which dem- 
onstrate conclusively a difference between urban and rural 
types. These observations were first made by Ammon who 
showed that the urban population in Baden differs from the 
rural population in head-form, stature and pigmentation. 
He considered this as due to selective migration, assuming 
a relation between the attractions of city life and head- 
form. His observation is in accord with observations made 
by Livi (p. 87) in the cities of Italy, which show also a 
difference when compared to the surrounding country. 

An explanation, given by Livi, seems to account ade- 
quately for the difference between city and country popu- 
lation, without necessitating the assumption of any con- 
siderable effect of natural selection which presupposes an 
improbable correlation between choice of domicile, or 
between mortality and fertility on the one hand, and traits 
like head-form and pigmentation on the other. The change 
of type in cities, so far as it has been observed, is of such 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 93 

character, that the city type always shows great resem- 
blance to the average type of the whole large district in 
which it is located. If the local rural population is markedly 
short-headed and the general type of a larger area from 
which the city population is drawn more long-headed, then 
the city population will be more long-headed, and vice versa. 

A more careful investigation of the city population 
shows that this explanation is not adequate. If the move- 
ment towards the city from distant parts of the country 
were the cause of the changes of type we should expect to 
find the city dwellers much more heterogeneous than the 
rural population. This is not by any means the case; the 
difference in variability between city and country is very 
slight. The population of Rome presents an excellent 
example of this kind. If it were assumed that the Romans 
who have drifted to the city for thousands of years from 
all parts of the Mediterranean and southern Europe had 
retained the bodily form of their ancestors, and if their 
descendants still survived we should expect a very high 
degree of variability. As a matter of fact, the variability is 
almost the same as that found in the surrounding country. 

Up to quite recent times no evidence of actual changes 
of type was available, except the observations by Ammon 
and those by Livi on the physical characteristics of rural 
and urban populations to which I have just referred, and 
some others on the influence of altitude upon physical form. 

A direct influence of environment upon the bodily form 
of man has been found in the case of American-born de- 
scendants of immigrants from Europe, 1 and in that of 
Japanese born in Hawaii (Shapiro). The traits of de- 
scendants of immigrants examined were head-measure- 
ments, stature, weight and hair-color. Among these, only 
stature and weight are closely related to the rate of growth, 

1 Boas 6, Guthe, Hirsch. 



94 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

while head-measurements and hair-color are only slightly 
subjected to these influences. Differences in hair-color and 
head-development do not belong to the group of measure- 
ments which depend in their final values upon the physio- 
logical conditions during the period of growth. From all 
we know, they are primarily dependent upon heredity. 

The American-born descendants differ in head-form 
from their parents. The differences develop in early child- 
hood, and persist throughout life. The head index of the 
foreign-born is practically the same, no matter how old the 
individual at the time of immigration. This might be ex- 
pected when the immigrants are adult or nearly mature; 
but even children who come here when one year or a few 
years old develop the head index characteristic of the 
foreign-born. For Hebrews this index ranges around 83, 
that of American-born changes suddenly. The value 
drops to about 82 for those born immediately after the 
immigration of their parents, and reaches 79 in the second 
generation; i.e., among the children of American-born 
children of immigrants. The effect of American environ- 
ment makes itself felt immediately, and increases slowly 
with the increase of time elapsed between the immigration 
of the parents and the birth of the child. Observations 
made in 1909 and 1937 give the same result. 

The conditions among the Sicilians and Neapolitans 
are quite similar to those observed among the Hebrews. 
The head index of the foreign-born remains throughout 
on almost the same level. Those born in America immedi- 
ately after the arrival of their parents show slight increase 
of the cephalic index. 

The Italian immigration is so recent, that individuals 
who were born many years after the arrival of their par- 
ents in America are very few in number, and no individ- 
uals of the second generation have been observed. For 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 95 

this reason it is hardly possible to decide whether the in- 
crease of the cephalic index continues with the length of 
time elapsed between the immigration of the parents and 
the birth of the child. 

The head-forms of Puerto Ricans suggest also instability 
of the form as expressed by the cephalic index. Adult 
men who had one parent born in Spain had an index of 
79.7. Native-born Puerto Ricans without or at least with 
very slight Negro intermixture had an index of 82.8, while 
those with Negro intermixture had an index of 80.8. Since 
American Negroes have an average index of 76.9, Mulat- 
toes of 77.2, there must be a local cause for the increase. 
It is not likely that enough Indian blood survives to bring 
about the shortening of the head. It seems most plausible 
that we have here also a change due to environmental 
causes. Observations made in Havana are not quite in 
agreement with those made in Puerto Rico (Boas 2). 
Georges Rouma found for White children an index of 
78.6, for Mulattoes 77.5, for Negroes 76.6. Perhaps a more 
numerous element of Spanish birth may account for the 
low index of the Whites. 

It would be erroneous to claim that all the distinct 
European types become the same in America, without 
mixture, solely by the action of the new environment. 
The available data show only the conditions prevailing in 
a few cities. The history of the British types in America, 
of the Dutch in the East Indies, of the Spaniards in South 
America, favors the assumption of a strictly limited plas- 
ticity. Our discussion should be based on this more con- 
servative basis unless an unexpectedly wide range of varia- 
bility of types can be proved. 

The effect of environment upon bodily form could best 
be determined if it were possible to study the bodily 
forms of individuals of identical genetic make-up who are 



96 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

living under different types of environment. This oppor- 
tunity is offered by identical twins, that is twins developed 
from a single ovum. Unfortunately the number of cases 
in which we know with certainty that twins are so devel- 
oped is small. Generally identity is inferred from their 
similarity, and their similarity is taken as a result of their 
identity. While it is likely that by this method the major- 
ity of identical twins may be found the logic of selection 
is unsatisfactory and results must be accepted as approx- 
imations. 

Von Verschuer showed that during the period of adoles- 
cence identical twins are more unlike than in early child- 
hood or as adults. This is an expression of that part of 
the variability in the tempo of growth which is due to 
external causes and which is observed in all studies of 
growth. A study of the head index of twins based on 
material collected by Dahlberg in Norway shows that the 
fraternal variability of head index of twins assumed to be 
identical is 1.5, while that of fraternal twins is 2.3. x 
The fairly large amount of variability of the identical 
twins must be ascribed in part to environmental causes, 
in part also to the probable inclusion of some non-identical 
pairs. How much external pathological causes may influ- 
ence development is evidenced by the development of 
one of identical twins who is deprived of proper opportu- 
nity of developing on account of his position in the womb. 
There is no reason to assume that with different outer 
conditions the diversity of identical twins might not be 
considerably increased. A detailed investigation of the 
bodily and mental development of identical twins reared 

1 These variabilities are determined by the same methods as those given 
on p. 61. They represent the variability that would be found if these were 
not two identical twins but an infinite number of identical brothers or sisters 
in each family. The values have been derived from the coefficient of cor- 
relation for the identical twins of Dahlberg's series. 



THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES 97 

apart by Newman shows that the physiological and psy- 
chological functioning is markedly subject to environ- 
mental influences. 

Selection is another possible cause for the change of 
type of a population. The extinction of tribes like the 
Tasmanians or of the California Indians brought about by 
an excessive death rate, including merciless persecution 
by settlers, and by a vanishing birth rate does not affect 
the surviving group. Within a group we must expect 
changes of type wherever there is a correlation between 
bodily form and birth rate, morbidity, mating and segre- 
gation. These correlations exist in all heterogeneous pop- 
ulations with social stratification. Family lines are never 
just the same. If the family lines are socially stratified, 
differences in birth rate, mortality or migration, which 
are socially determined, bring about shifts in the general 
type. Examples of such stratification are quite numerous. 
In countries like the United States with a strong hetero- 
geneous immigration in which the social status and location 
of the immigrant are largely determined by the country 
of his origin, such selective changes must occur. 

Even in heterogeneous populations selection can be- 
come effective only when heterogeneity of social strata is 
due to heredity. If it is determined by physiological 
causes such as differences in nutrition and occupation of 
the social groups, and not by hereditarily transmitted con- 
ditions, there will be no pronounced shift of type due to 
selection. This consideration is often neglected and for this 
reason many of the alleged facts are not significant. 

Selection acts primarily through social stratification. It 
is not immediately dependent upon bodily form. The 
effects of selection can be determined only by an exact 
examination in each socially homogeneous stratum of the 
survivors of a given type, compared with those who died, 



98 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

by a study of the relation of fecundity and of the tend- 
ency to migrate to bodily form. 

I know of hardly any example that proves beyond 
cavil the direct influence of selection in the sense that 
morbidity, fecundity, migration and selective mating have 
been proved to be solely dependent upon healthy bodily 
forms setting aside cases of persecution of a social stra- 
tum that has a hereditary frequency distribution of types 
different from that of the general population. 

It is also claimed that slightly pigmented individuals 
are more subject to malaria than those of darker coloring, 
and von Luschan (2) assumes a gradual elimination of the 
blond Kurds who migrate to the plains of Mesopotamia. 

The strong insolation of the tropics is unfavorable to 
the slightly pigmented Europeans, while the darker races 
are better protected. Conditions of this kind will bring 
about a gradual change in type in population exposed to 
them for a long period. 

There are other evidences of a relation between bodily 
form and the incidence of certain diseases which may 
have a slight influence upon the composition of a popula- 
tion. Modern investigations on constitution bear upon 
this point. It remains to be determined in how far these 
may have a far-reaching effect. 



6. THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION 
OF RACES 

So far we have discussed the composition of populations, 
the effect of heredity and the degree of instability of hu- 
man types. We have now to turn to a consideration of the 
significance of fundamentally different types. 

The whole problem of the relationship of races is in- 
volved in the question whether similar forms are always 
genetically related, or whether parallel development may 
have occurred here and there without genetic relationship. 
We have tried to demonstrate that man is a domesticated 
form. Bodily changes brought about by domestication 
have been observed in all kinds of animals. They are 
physiologically determined by the influence of domestica- 
tion upon the organism, and all the different species re- 
act to them in similar ways. It is, therefore, necessary to 
assume that those traits of the human body that are 
determined by domestication may have developed inde- 
pendently in various parts of the world, and that loss of 
pigmentation (leucism) and increase of pigmentation (mel- 
anism), curly or frizzly hair, high or low stature, smallness 
of the face, when they occur in regions far apart are not 
necessarily proof of community of origin. This view has 
also been taken by Eugen Fischer (2). 

The inference that may be drawn from the distribution of 
present domesticated forms is that the ancestors of man must 
have been of yellowish color, perhaps with slightly patterned 
hair, with moderately long heads, faces not so long and per- 
haps a little wider than those of the Europeans, with prob- 

99 



100 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

ably a lower nose, of smaller stature and with a large brain. 

Similar reactions to environmental causes are widely 
spread in the organic world. In plants the peculiar habitus 
of desert vegetation is not confined to a single family. 
The Cactus family of America and the Euphoriaceae of 
Africa are similar in their outer appearance. 

For examples of parallelism in animals I may quote 
Arthur W. Willey, "The most striking example of the 
three principles of divergence, convergence and parallel- 
ism, at one and the same time, is of course that which is 
afforded by the parallel series presented by the Marsupial 
Mammals or Metatheria, on the one hand, and the ordi- 
nary Placental Mammals or Eutheria, on the other. . . . 
[Similar parallelisms are found .when] comparing the se- 
ries of Insectivora and Rodentia, the spiny armature of 
the hedgehogs approximating to that of the porcupines, 
the arboreal habit of tree-shrews (Typaiidae) to that of 
squirrels (Sciuridae), the terrestrial, nocturnal and semi- 
domesticated habit of land-shrews to that of mice and 
rats, while the aquatic habit and the parachute flight are 
also met within both orders. The musk-shrew, Crocidura 
murina, is very rat-like in general deportment, although 
its eyes are small and its dentition that of Insectivora. 

" Parallel evolution accompanied by convergence is the 
expression of analogous formations in two or more animals 
belonging to different subdivisions, which may have ac- 
quired a similar differentiation of outward appearance or 
internal organization independently along different lines 
of descent, the points in which they resemble each other 
giving no indication of genetic affinity nor even of bi- 
onomical association." 

Considering racial forms from a purely morphological 
point of view, it is noteworthy that those traits in which 
man is most strongly differentiated from the animals do 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 101 

not occur with consistency in any one race, but that each 
is eminently human from a different point of view. In all 
these features the gap between man and animal is a wide 
one, and the variations between the races are slight as 
compared with it. Thus we find, that, in comparison with 
the skull, the face of the Negro is larger than that of the 
American Indian, whose face is, in turn, larger than that 
of the White. The lower portion of the Negro face has 
larger dimensions. The alveolar arch is pushed forward, 
and thus gains an appearance which reminds us of the 
higher apes. There is no denying that this feature is a 
most constegnt character of the black races, and that it 
represents a type slightly nearer the animal than the Euro- 
pean type. The same may be said of the broadness and 
flatness of the noses of the Negro and partly of the Mongol. 

If we accept the general theories of Klaatsch, Stratz 
and Schoetensack, who consider the Australian as the 
oldest and most generalized type of man, we might also 
call attention to the slenderness of the vertebrae, the 
undeveloped curvature of the vertebral column, to which 
Cunningham first called attention, and the traits of the 
foot, which recall the needs of an animal living in trees, 
and whose feet had to serve the purpose of climbing from 
branch to branch. 

In interpreting these observations, it must be strongly 
emphasized that the races which we are accustomed to 
call higher races are not by any means and in all re- 
spects farthest removed from the animal. The European 
and the Mongol have the largest brains; the European 
has a small face and a high nose all features farther 
removed from the probable animal ancestor of man than 
the corresponding features of other races. On the other 
hand, the European shares lower characteristics with the 
Australian, both retaining in the strongest degree the 



102 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

hairiness of the animal ancestor, while the specifically 
human development of the red lip is most marked in the 
Negro. The proportions of the limbs of the Negro are 
also more distinct from the corresponding proportions in 
the higher apes than are those of the European. 

When we interpret these data in the light of modern 
biological concepts, we may say that the specifically hu- 
man features appear with varying intensity in various 
races, and that the divergence from the animal ancestor 
has developed in varying directions. It has been inferred 
from structural differences such as those here referred to 
that races exhibiting lower characteristics must be men- 
tally inferior. This inference is analogous to the one that 
ascribes lower morphological traits to criminals and other 
socially maladjusted classes. In the latter case we fail to 
find any careful comparison with the non-criminal or 
socially adjusted brothers and sisters of these groups, the 
only means by which the claim for morphological inferior- 
ity could be substantiated. 

From a strictly scientific point of view, all these infer- 
ences seem to be open to the most serious doubt. Only a 
few investigations have been made in relation to these 
problems, but their results have been entirely negative. 
Most important among them is the elaborate attempt 
made by Karl Pearson to investigate the relationship of 
intelligence to size and shape of the head. His conclusions 
are so significant that I will repeat them here: "The onus 
of proof that other measurements and more subtle psy- 
chological observations would lead to more definite re- 
sults may now, I think, be left to those who a priori re- 
gard such an association as probable. Personally, the 
result of the present inquiry has convinced me that there 
is little relationship between the external physical and the 
psychical character in man." I think all the investigations 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 103 

that have been made up to the present time compel us to 
assume that the characteristics of the osseous, muscular, 
visceral or circulatory system have practically no direct 
relation to the mental ability of man (Manouvrier 1). 

We will now turn to the important subject of the size 
of the brain, which seems to be the one anatomical feature 
which bears directly upon the question at issue. It seems 
plausible that the greater the central nervous system, the 
higher the faculty of the race, and the greater its aptitude 
to mental achievements. Let us review the known facts. 
Two methods are open for ascertaining the size of the 
central nervous system the determination of the weight 
of the brain and that of the capacity of the cranial cavity. 
The first of these methods is the one which promises the 
most accurate results. Naturally, the number of Euro- 
peans whose brain-weights have been taken is much larger 
than that of individuals of other races. There are, how- 
ever, sufficient data available to establish beyond a doubt 
the fact that the brain-weight of the Whites is larger 
than that of most other races, particularly larger than 
that of the Negroes. The investigations of cranial capac- 
ities are quite in accord with these results. According to 
Topinard the capacity of the skull of males of the neolithic 
period in Europe is about 1560 cc. (44 cases) ; that of mod- 
ern Europeans is the same (347 cases) ; of the Mongolid 
race, 1510 cc. (68 cases); of African Negroes, 1 1405 cc. 
(83 cases) ; and of Negroes of the Pacific Ocean, 1460 cc. 
(46 cases)* Here we have, therefore, a decided difference in 
favor of the White race. 

In interpreting these facts, we must ask, Does the 

1 The value for African Negroes is here very small. Another series 
quoted by Topinard (p. 622), consisting of 100 skulls of each group, gives 
the following averages: Parisians, 1551 cc.; Auvergnats, 1585 cc.; African 
Negroes, 1477 cc.; New Caledonians, 1488 cc. (a misprint in Topinard's 
book makes this appear as 1588 cc.). 



104 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

increase in the size of the brain prove an increase in fac- 
ulty? This would seem highly probable, and facts may be 
adduced which speak in favor of this assumption. First 
among these is the relatively large size of the brain among 
the higher animals, and the still larger size in man. 
Furthermore, Manouvrier (2) has measured the capacity 
of the skulls of thirty-five eminent men. He found that 
they averaged 1665 cc. as compared to 1560 cc. general 
average, which was derived from 110 individuals. On the 
other hand, he found that the cranial capacity of forty- 
five murderers was 1580 cc., also superior to the general 
average. The same result has been obtained through 
weighings of brains of eminent men. The brains of thirty- 
four of these showed an average increase of 93 grams over 
the average brain-weight of 1357 grams. Another fact 
which may be adduced in favor of the theory that greater 
brains are accompanied by higher faculty is that the 
heads of the best English students are larger than those 
of the average class of students (Galton 2). The force of 
the arguments furnished by these observations must, how- 
ever, not be overestimated. 

First of all, the brains of not all eminent men are 
unusually large. On the contrary, a few unusually small 
brains have been found in the series. Furthermore, most 
of the brain- weights constituting the general series are 
obtained in anatomical institutes; and the individuals who 
find their way there are poorly developed, on account of 
malnutrition and of life under unfavorable circumstances, 
while the eminent men represent a much better nourished 
class. As poor nourishment reduces the weight and size 
of the whole body, it will also reduce the size and weight 
of the brain. It is not certain, therefore, that the observed 
difference is entirely due to the higher ability of the emi- 
nent men. This may also explain the larger size of the 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RAGES 105 

brains of the professional classes as compared to those of 
unskilled laborers (Ferraira). 

Notwithstanding these restrictions, the increase of the 
size of the brain in the higher animals, and the lack of 
development in microcephalic individuals, are fundamen- 
tal facts which make it more than probable that increased 
size of the brain accompanies increased faculty, although 
the relation is not quite as immediate as is often assumed. 

The reason for a lack of close correlation between brain- 
weight and mental faculties is not far to seek. The func- 
tioning of the brain depends upon the nerve cells and fibers, 
which do not constitute, by any means, the whole mass of 
the brain. A brain with many cells and complex connec- 
tions between the cells may contain less connective tissue 
than another one of simpler nervous structure. In other 
words, if there is a close relation between form and ability, 
it must be looked for rather in the morphological traits of 
the brain than in its size. A correlation exists between size 
of brain and number of cells and fibers, but the correlation 
is weak (Donaldson; Pearl 2). A summary of the present 
state of our knowledge given by G. Levin (1937) is quite 
in accord with the earlier statements showing that "in- 
feriority signs have no justification to be regarded as 
such." They occur in the brains of all races and both in 
the brains of eminent men and in those of people of ordi- 
nary intelligence. Furthermore the functioning of the 
same brain depends upon its blood supply. If it is inade- 
quate the brain does not function properly. 

Notwithstanding the numerous attempts that have been 
made to find structural differences between the brains of 
different races of man that could be directly interpreted in 
psychological terms, no conclusive results of any kind 
have been attained. The status of our knowledge has 
been well summed up by Franklin P. Mall. He holds, 



106 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

that, on account of the great variability of the individuals 
constituting each race, racial differences are exceedingly 
difficult to discover, and that up to the present time none 
have been found that will endure serious criticism. 

Among the populations of the globe we find three types 
represented by the greatest numbers: the Mongolid, the 
European and the Negro. A brief consideration of recent 
history shows, however, that these conditions are quite 
modern. The great density of population of Europe has 
developed during the last few thousand years. Even at 
Caesar's time the population of northern Europe must 
have been very sparse. According to estimate the popula- 
tion of Gaul may have been 450, that of Germany 250 per 
square mile (Hoops), and the population of eastern Europe 
may have been even sparser. The great increase in pop- 
ulation in the Mediterranean area occurred at an earlier 
period, but the whole process cannot have extended over 
more than a few thousand years. The same is true of 
China and India. Great density of population is every- 
where a recent phenomenon. It is dependent upon the 
increase of food brought about by the invention of inten- 
sive agriculture under favorable climatic and cultural 
conditions. When these conditions become less favorable 
the density of population may decrease again, as in North 
Africa and in Persia. We shall show later on, that agricul- 
ture is a late development in human history, and that at 
an early time man lived by gathering food and hunting 
animals. Under these conditions the density of population 
is necessarily restricted by the size of the habitat of a 
people and by its productivity. On the whole in similar 
climates there will be the same maximum number who 
can live on the produce of a given area, and this number 
must always be small, being limited by the food supply 
available in unfavorable years. We may conclude, there- 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 107 

fore, that in early times the number of individuals con- 
tained in each race was roughly proportional to the area 
inhabited by it, with due allowance, however, for unusual 
productivity or unusual sterility of the habitats. 

European migrations to other continents did not begin 
until late. In the fifteenth century the European race 
had not set foot in America, Australia and South Africa. 
It was strictly confined to the Mediterranean area, that is, 
Europe, North Africa and parts of western Asia. At an 
earlier time it extended eastward as far as Turkestan. 
The great spread of the people of Mongolid features is 
also in part recent, at least so far as absolute numbers 
are concerned. The geographical extension of the race 
occurred particularly in the southeast where the Malay 
developed the art of navigation and settled on the islands 
of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There is also proof of 
the invasion of southern Asia by Mongolid people who 
came from Central Asia. 

On the other hand the area of the Negro race seems 
to have been encroached upon by late migrations. At 
present setting aside the forcible transplantation of the 
Negro to America we find Negroes practically all over 
Africa south of the Sahara. Negroid people are, however, 
found also in isolated spots along the southern border of 
the Asiatic continent. The largest body lives in New 
Guinea and on the chains of islands stretching from New 
Guinea eastward and southeastward. Other smaller groups 
are found on the Philippine Islands, in the interior of the 
Malay Peninsula and on the Andaman Islands in the 
Gulf of Bengal. Since we know that recent extended 
migrations of West Asiatic and Central Asiatic peoples 
into these territories have occurred, it seems plausible, 
that the Negro territory in southern Asia may have been 
much wider in earlier times. Proof of this theory can 



108 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

only be given by archaeological evidence which, up to the 
present time, is not available. 

These considerations show conclusively that the relative 
numbers of the races must have changed enormously in 
the course of time and that races which are at present 
quite insignificant as to numbers may have formed in 
earlier times a considerable part of the human species. 

In a biological consideration of races the total number 
of individuals is irrelevant. The only question of impor- 
tance is that of the degree of morphological differentiation. 

Mongolids and Negroes represent the two most sharply 
contrasted forms of the human species: pigmentation, 
form of hair, form of face and nose, proportions of the 
body, all are characteristically distinct. The skin of the 
Negro is dark, that of the Mongolid light, the hair of the 
former frizzly and flattened in section, that of the latter 
straight and rounded in section; the nose of the former is 
flat, that of the latter much higher; the teeth of the Negro 
project, those of the Mongolid are vertical. Even in this 
case it would not be right to claim that there are not in- 
dividuals who in regard to some of their characteristics 
differ so much from their own group that they are in all 
traits absolutely distinct from the other one, but in their 
pronounced forms the two groups form a decided, sharp 
contrast. It is interesting to note that the geographical 
distribution of these two racial types represent two well- 
defined areas. The Mongolid type as defined before is 
found in eastern Asia and in both Americas; the Negroid 
type occupies Africa and isolated spots on the northern 
and northeastern coast of the Indian Ocean. Considering 
eastern Asia and America as borderlands of the Pacific 
Ocean, Africa a borderland of the Indian Ocean, and as- 
suming that the Negroes at one time occupied the whole 
of southern Asia, we may say that these two large racial 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 109 

groups at one time occupied the bulk of the habitable 
lands, and that the one may be defined as the race of the 
Indian Ocean, the other as that of the Pacific Ocean. 

There are, however, a few principal types that are not 
readily brought under this single scheme. These are the 
Europeans, the Australians, including presumably ancient 
inhabitants of India, and the pygmy Negro types. In 
pigmentation the Europeans form an even stronger con- 
trast to the Negroes than do the Mongolids, but in other 
features they take a somewhat intermediate position; the 
form of the hair, the proportions of the body, the form of 
the eye and cheeks are not so different from the Negro 
form as those commonly found among the Mongolids. The 
Australians on the other hand exhibit a number of rather 
primitive features that set them off sharply from other 
races, and make us incline to the belief that they represent 
a type, differentiated at an early period, that may have 
been crowded back by the more successful races into re- 
mote corners of the world. 

The pygmy Negro types are represented in an extreme 
form by the South African Bushmen, a people of diminu- 
tive stature, of light yellowish skin, with extremely flat 
nose and face, and an exaggerated frizzliness of hair. 
Their general habitus is decidedly that of the Negro. They 
must be affiliated with this race, of which they form, how- 
ever, a separate division. The present distribution of the 
pygmy tribes in Africa is rather irregular. They were 
found until recently, in a large body in South Africa. 
Sporadic tribes whose characteristics are, however, more 
Negroid, occur in many parts of Africa; in the southern 
bend of the Congo, in the region northwest of the Congo 
not far from the west coast, and in the territories that give 
rise to the White Nile. 

Pygmy people are also found on the Andaman Islands, 



110 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

the Malay Peninsula, on the Philippine Islands and in 
New Guinea. So far as Africa is concerned, there is fairly 
good evidence showing that the pygmy tribes had a much 
wider distribution at an earlier time. There has been a 
very general movement southward of the Negro tribes 
that occupy Central Africa at the present time, and this 
may have resulted in the breaking up of the more ancient 
population. The final answer to this question will be given 
by archaeological research that may disclose the remains 
of the easily recognized South African type in districts 
now occupied by tall Negroes. The question is not so 
clear in regard to the pygmy tribes of southeastern Asia 
whose relation to the tall Negro type is more obscure. 

The Europeans, so far as our knowledge goes, have 
always been restricted to a relatively small area. Outside 
of northern Europe, northwestern Asia and small parts of 
northwestern Africa blond and blue-eyed types have never 
been found to constitute entire, or almost entire popula- 
tions. Since nothing indicates that the type is a partic- 
ularly primitive one, since it rather shows highly special- 
ized features, its origin must be sought in or near Europe. 

In order to understand the position of the type, we may 
turn our attention to special variations that occur in 
the Mongolid races. Although the typical Mongolid has 
black, straight hair, dark eyes, a heavy face, moderately 
wide and not very high nose, many variations occur. There 
is a marked tendency in many regions for the color of the 
skin to be quite light. Generally we see the natives well 
tanned, but there are cases in which the whiteness of the 
protected skin vies with that of the European. I have seen 
among the Haida of British Columbia women who bear no 
evidence of European admixture, who have on the contrary 
intensely developed Indian features, but who have white 
skin, brownish red hair and light brown eyes. It is difficult 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 111 

to give absolute proof of the absence of European admix- 
ture, but the high value that is placed traditionally upon 
a light complexion and brown hair are proof that these 
must have been known to the Indians for a long time. 
Light complexions prevail also among the Indian tribes of 
the upper Mississippi River. On the other hand there are 
cases of increased pigmentation, as among the Yuma 
Indians of southern California, who are so dark, that in 
many cases the color of the skin might be matched with 
that of light Negroes. Considering all the local varieties 
that occur we might say that the European pigmentation 
represents an extreme variant of the relative lack of pig- 
ment which is characteristic of Mongolid types. 

Similar conditions prevail in regard to color and form of 
hair. While I do not know of any case of blond hair among 
Mongolid types, reddish brown hair is certainly common. 
Even in adults brownish hair is locally not very rare. 
Wavy hair occurs also locally. There is a decided tendency 
in many groups to develop large, highly elevated noses. 
The narrow, gracefully cut nose of the Eskimo, the heavy 
aquiline nose of the Indian of the Plains may be contrasted 
with the low snub-nose of the Indian of Puget Sound. 
Elevated noses are, however, also not uncommon among 
South Siberian tribes. In this sense the European nose is 
quite in line with the variants that are found in the Mon- 
golid race. The same may be said in regard to the width 
of face. While in the most characteristic Mongolid type 
it is large, there are many cases in which the cheekbones 
slant backward and we obtain the impression of a narrow 
face. Hand in hand with this and with the increased ele- 
vation of the nose goes the attenuation of another Mon- 
golid characteristic, the peculiar eye that may be observed 
in almost every young Chinaman and in most Japanese. 
The narrowness of the face is nowhere as great as among 



112 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

some modern northwest European types, and narrowness 
and elevation of nose is nowhere as great as among a people 
like the Armenians, but these types are merely exaggerated 
cases of a tendency that may be observed sporadically in 
many regions. 

The tendency of the Mongolid race, to vary in the di- 
rection of types represented by the Europeans, is Also ex- 
pressed in the features of a number of aberrant local types. 
Thus the similarity between East Europeans and the Ainu 
of northern Japan has been pointed out, and on account 
of physiognomic similarity, relationship between Indone- 
sian types and Europeans has been assumed. 

It is quite suggestive that among local variants of 
Negroes we do not find any such approach to European 
forms. Pigmentation, hair, nose and face vary consider- 
ably, but it would be difficult to find a case of a pure 
Negro population which represents a variant that strik- 
ingly approaches European forms. Where an increased 
elevation of the nose is found, as in East Africa, there is 
also strong suspicion of West Asiatic admixture. 

On account of these considerations the European seems 
to us most likely as a recent specialization of the Mon- 
golid race. 

It is necessary to revert here once more to some general 
geographic considerations. The land-mass of the world 
stretches continuously from the wide valley formed by 
the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans around the Pacific and 
Indian Oceans. We might say that in modern geological 
times the whole land-mass forms the borderland of the 
Pacific and Indian Oceans, so that the Old World turns 
its back upon the New World on the shores of the Atlantic 
Ocean. Any intercourse that existed must have been along 
the shores of the Pacific Ocean. There was no means of 
bridging the gap that separates the Atlantic coasts of 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 113 

Europe and Africa from those of America. Even if we 
adopt Wegener's theory of the drifting apart of the con- 
tinents, there is no possibility of its occurrence at a time 
when man was present. 

In Tertiary times these conditions were different, and if 
man had existed in Europe at that period, he might have 
migrated to America by way of the northern bridge con- 
necting America and Europe by way of Iceland. Although 
no Tertiary human remains have been found in Europe, it 
has been claimed that certain flint objects that show split 
surfaces at their ends are proof of the existence at least of 
a forerunner of man in Tertiary times in Europe. Since the 
American race and the Mongolid race of Asia are funda- 
mentally alike, and since it is extremely unlikely that 
man originated in America, we are compelled to assume 
that he reached America either by way of Asia, or in Ter- 
tiary times from Europe. It is barely conceivable that the 
ancestor of the Mongolid race might have lived in Europe 
and reached America in this way, but there is no evidence, 
beyond its possibility, that would support such a hypoth- 
esis. On the contrary the similarity between American 
and Asiatic Mongolids is so great that we must assume a 
very close and recent relationship between the two. It is, 
therefore, most probable that the area of specialization 
in which the Mongolid form developed was somewhere in 
Asia, and that the race reached America over the land- 
bridge leading from Asia to America. If this is true, then 
the peopling of America must have occurred at a late 
period. We have no evidence that would support the view 
that races identical with the modern ones lived before the 
last interglacial period. Man must then have come to the 
American continent at a time when the present races had 
been established and when intercourse between the two 
continents was possible. During the glacial periods the 



114 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

northwestern part of our continent was covered with ice. 
Therefore the arrival of man in America will have to be 
assumed not later than one of the last interglacial periods. 

There is another possibility, however. It is conceivable 
that man may have reached America at an earlier time, 
but then we should have to assume that the development 
of the Mongolid type occurred in America and that the 
present occupation of Asia by this race represents a back- 
ward current. From a palaeontological and geological 
point of view this is quite conceivable, but neither view 
can at present be substantiated by facts. The prob- 
lem will be decided when the earliest forms of man in 
northern Asia and in America become better known. 

As the area of specialization of the Mongolid race must 
be looked for somewhere around the Pacific Ocean, so the 
development of the Negro type must be assumed to be in 
the neighborhood of the Indian Ocean, since all the variants 
of this type are located in that region and, excepting the 
Grimaldi skeleton, there is no indication of Negroid char- 
acters outside of it. 

If our views are correct, then the Europeans would rep- 
resent a new specialized form derived from the Mongolid 
race, the Negro and the pygmy Negro, two types, of which 
the light pygmy may be more ancient than the tall Negro. 

The problem of the position of the Australian race is 
different. If it were not for the fact that the race presents 
many apparently very ancient characteristics which are 
found in the form of the skull as well as in the vertebral 
column and the extremities, we might consider it to stand 
in a relation to the Negro type somewhat of the same kind 
as the relation of the European to the Mongolid, for there 
are many traits that both races have in common. Pigmen- 
tation, form of nose and size of brain-case show character- 
istics that set off both groups definitely from the Mongolid 



THE MORPHOLOGICAL POSITION OF RACES 115 

groups. The frizzliness of the Negro's hair might be con- 
sidered as a variant of the curliness of the hair of the 
Australian. The special characteristics of the Australian 
are, however, of such a character that they must have be- 
longed to a very ancient type of man, and the Australian 
would therefore represent the older type, the Negro the 
newer one. If this is the case, we should expect to find 
Australian forms widely distributed in southern Asia. 
As a matter of fact there are points of similarity between 
the ancient native population of India and the Australians, 
and our problem will be cleared up when we obtain data 
on the osseous remains of the prehistoric races of the whole 
area bordering on the Indian Ocean. 



7. PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL 
FUNCTIONS OF RACES 

In the preceding pages we have described the anatomical 
characteristics of races. We shall next consider their 
physiological and psychological functions as determined 
by bodily form. 

Function depends upon the structure and chemical con- 
stitution of the body and its organs, but not in such a way 
that it is rigidly determined by them. On the contrary, 
the same body functions differently at different times. 
Our pulse, breathing, the action of our digestive organs, 
nerves and muscles are not the same at all times. The 
muscles are capable of doing more work when rested than 
when fatigued, and even after an equal amount of rest 
they will not respond every time in exactly the same way. 
The heart beat changes according to conditions. The re- 
action to visual or other impressions is not always equally 
rapid. So it is with all organs. While the anatomical 
characteristics of the body are fairly stable within rather 
long time limits, its functions are variable. 

Some anatomical elements of the body and their chemi- 
cal composition share this variability, but the grosser 
morphological traits may be considered as stable as com- 
pared to the functions. 

What is true of the physiological activity of the body 
is even more true of mental functions. It would seem that 
the more complex these are the more variable they will 
be. Emotional behavior, intellectual activities, energy of 
the will are all subject to constant fluctuations. Some- 

116 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 117 

times we can accomplish tasks that are at other times, 
without apparent reason, beyond our powers. Now we 
are subject to emotional impressions that at other times 
do not move us. At one time action is realized easily, at 
other times with difficulty. 

While the variability of anatomical form in a race is 
due solely to two sources, that of family lines and that of 
fraternities, we have here an added element, namely, the 
variability of the individual. For this reason the vari- 
ability of functions in a racial group is greater than the 
variability of anatomical form, and an analysis of the vari- 
ability of a population requires a separation of three ele- 
ments: of individual, fraternal and family line variabil- 
ities. 

Still, there are certain physiological phenomena that 
have no individual variability because they occur only 
once in life. All of these are expressions of certain events 
in the physiological history of the individual such as 
birth, eruption of teeth, menarchy, death. For these the 
fraternal variability and that of family lines can be de- 
termined. 

The variability of the age at which these events occur 
increases rapidly with increasing age. In early life indi- 
viduals of the same age are about on the same stage of 
physiological development. As time goes on the lag of 
some and the acceleration of others become considerable. 
Using the method of expressing variability described be- 
fore, we find the range of variability of the period of 
gestation to be measured by not more than by a few 
days; that of the eruption of the first teeth by two 
months, that of the permanent teeth by more than a 
year. The time of sexual maturity varies by as much 
as a year and a half, and death by old age by more than 
a decade. 



118 



THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 



The following table gives a review of these data: 



AGE AND VARIABILITY (YEAR) 





MALES 


BOTH SEXES 


FEMALES 




Years 


Years 


Years 


Pregnancy (Boas and Wissler 
14) 




0.0 db 0.04 




First tooth 




0.6 0.21 




First molar 




1.6 db 0.31 




Three or more first molars 
erupted (Boas 16, p. 441) . . 
Permanent canine, premolar 1 
or 2 erupting ... ... 


7.0 0.9 
9.5 1.0 




7.7 

9.8 db 1.1 


Second molar erupting . . . 
Three or more second molars 
erupted 


11.5 =fc 1.1 
12.7 =fc 1.4 




11.8 rb 1.1 

12.9 d= 1.3 


Completion of ossification of 
hand (Hellman 2) . . 






13.8 0.8 


Appearance of pubic hair 
(Crampton) 


13.4 1.5 






Full development of pubic hair 
(Boas 6, pp. 509-525) . . . 
Full development of pubic hair 
(Crampton) 


14.6 =b 1.7 
14.5 1.3 






Puberty (New York City) . . 
Menopause 






13.3 db 1.6 
44.5 db 5.3 


Death due to arterial diseases 




62.5 db 13.2 





It would be an error to assume that the rate of develop- 
ment of the body proceeds as a unit. The conditions deter- 
mining the eruption of the teeth, the period of adolescence, 
the changes of the skeleton and of the vascular system are 
not the same. 

It is particularly noticeable that the eruption of the 
teeth follows laws quite different from those controlling 
the length of bones. In regard to the latter, girls are always 
physiologically more mature than boys. In regard to the 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 119 

teeth the boys are, if anything, more advanced than the 
girls. Still, a certain amount of correlation exists. Thus 
children in a socially fairly uniform group, who erupt their 
permanent teeth early are also tall, 1 while those who have 
a late development of permanent teeth are short; children 
who mature early are taller and heavier than those lagging 
behind. 

The rapidity of physiological development is determined 
by the biological organization of the body, for children 
who in their early ages are advanced in their physiological 
development run through the whole period of development 
quickly. It is not yet known whether the general tempo of 
the physiological life cycle continues throughout life, but 
it seems probable, for those who show early signs of senility 
die on the average earlier of diseases inherent in old age, 
than those among whom signs of senile degenerations ap- 
pear at a later age (Bernstein). 

Furthermore the tempo of the life cycle is evidently 
determined by heredity, for brothers and sisters have a 
similar tempo. This has been shown by a study of brothers 
and sisters living in an orphan asylum under the same 
conditions, so that it cannot be due to the influence of a 
different kind of environment for each family (Boas 17). 
This also agrees with the observation that some families 
are remarkably short lived while many members of others 
live to a remarkably old age (Bell, Pearl 1). 

In our discussion of anatomical forms (p. 61) it was 
found that the variability of family lines is less than the 
fraternal variability, at most equal to it. It would seem 
that in physiological traits, insofar as they occur in a 
uniform environment, the same is the case. For example, 
the variability of the time of menarchy is 1.2 years in 
New York City. The variability of sisters is 0.93, that 

1 Hellman 1, Spier, Boas 16. 



120 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

of family lines 0.76. The variability of sisters is, there- 
fore, 1.2 times that of family lines. 

The preceding observations hold good only when we 
compare groups that live in identical environment. Since 
physiological functions are markedly influenced by outer 
conditions different racial groups behave in the same way 
when exposed to the same environment. Thus, life in 
high altitudes requires certain typical changes. Schneider 
summarizes these as follows: " Oxygen-want may cause 
trouble in the body which is very soon followed by com- 
pensating actions that ultimately, if residence is to be 
maintained, lead to acclimatization. . . . The ability to 
compensate for the low oxygen tensions of high altitudes 
varies with the individual, and the adjustments may be 
more rapid at one time than at another. The adjustment 
consists of increased respiration, chemical alteration of the 
blood and an increase of haemoglobin." 

Observations on the maturity of girls give similar re- 
sults. In New York City the average age of menarchy 
and its variability is practically identical for North Euro- 
pean, Jewish and Negro girls (Boas 18) while considerable 
differences exist for country and city (Ploss). Girls in a 
well-administered orphan asylum in New York do not 
differ from those found in a school attended by children 
of well-to-do parents. 

The tempo of development has become somewhat 
quicker during the last forty years. On the average the 
acceleration in New York City for the beginning of pu- 
berty of girls in orphan asylums amounts to six months a 
decade (Boas 18). Bolk has observed similar acceleration 
in Holland. 

Differences in social groups are also found in the de- 
velopment of teeth. The permanent incisors of poor chil- 
dren develop later than those of well-to-do children while 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 121 

their premolars develop considerably earlier (Hellman 1), 
presumably because early loss of milk-teeth by caries 
stimulates the development of the permanent teeth. 

Physiological functions like heart beat, breathing, 
blood pressure, metabolism which show constant changes 
according to the condition of the subject are comparable 
only when greatest care is taken to make conditions sta- 
ble. This is generally done by establishing a basal measure 
which is assumed to be constant when the subject is abso- 
lutely rested and remains at rest. The assumption that 
this value is stable is hardly borne out by the facts, 
although the variations are much smaller than they are un- 
der other partially controlled conditions (Lewis). Data 
that allow us to distinguish between individual, fraternal 
and family line variability are all but non-existent. 

Psychological data excepting the simplest phenomena of 
physiological psychology cannot be discussed from the 
point of view of the individual, for in all of them the vary- 
ing cultural environment plays an important role. It is 
not negligible in such matters as the development of the 
senses. When a child is kept swathed and tied to a cradle 
board for more than a year his sense experience is limited 
in many ways and it does not develop like another one who 
from earliest childhood on can move limbs and head freely. 
Infants kept in an orphan asylum with the best of medical 
care but so that all of the same age are in charge of a busy 
nurse do not hear human speech and do not learn to talk 
until they are thrown together with older children. 

Tests of intelligence, emotions, personality are expres- 
sions of both innate characteristics and experience based 
on the social life of the groups to which the subject be- 
longs. This is expressed clearly in Klineberg's tests of the 
intelligence of Negro children in a number of American 
cities. New arrivals from rural districts who were not 



122 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

adjusted to city life gave very poor results. Those who had 
lived in the city for a number of years showed that they 
became adjusted to the demands of city life and of the city- 
planned tests. The intelligence test showed a constant 
improvement. The longer time had elapsed since immi- 
gration into the city the better was the performance of 
the group. The improvement cannot be explained by a 
selective process which brought better material to the 
city in earlier years because the same phenomenon is found 
in analogous tests made at different times. The southern 
rural Negroes tested in the World War compared in the 
same way with city Negroes. Brigham's observations on 
Italians who had lived in the United States for five, ten, 
fifteen and more years and whose intelligence tests showed 
results the better the longer they had lived here are also 
reducible to a better adjustment. In this case the lin- 
guistic difficulties of the new arrivals and the gradual ac- 
quisition of English must have been an additional cause 
of the gradual improvement, much more so than among 
the southern Negro whose dialect and limited vocabulary 
must also be counted as a handicap. 

Another test made by Klineberg is instructive. He 
tested Indian and White girls in regard to their ability to 
reproduce patterns such as are made in bead embroidery 
by Indian women. The results showed a clear dependence 
upon familiarity with the subject, not with its technique 
because the industry was obsolete in the group. The 
Indian girls did better than the White girls. 

It follows from these and similar observations that reac- 
tions due to innate intelligence if we admit such a term 
which embraces a multitude of elements differ enor- 
mously according to the social experience of the group and 
show, at least in the case of city Negroes, that with a 
similar social experience Whites and Negroes behave in 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 123 

similar ways, that race is entirely subordinate to cultural 
setting. 

Another observation made by Klineberg is relevant. 
Intelligence tests as well as city life drive for speed, while 
rural life allows a more leisurely tempo of action. His 
observations showed for Whites, Negroes and Indians 
speed and inaccuracy for citified groups, less speed and 
greater accuracy for rural groups. 

We conclude from these observations that in all psycho- 
logical observations we are confronted with influences 
partly organic, partly cultural. If we are to draw any 
inference in regard to the organic element, the cultural 
phase must be excluded. Variability in response may be 
tested for an individual by observing him under varying 
conditions, in repose and excitement, in joy and sadness, 
after a severe shock and when in mental equilibrium, in 
health and in sickness. 

For races or populations a study of parts of the same 
people living under different conditions and a comparison 
of parents and their children brought up in new surround- 
ings will give reliable material. For all of these observa- 
tions are available. 

Motor habits are one of the simpler manifestations of 
life that may be studied. We do not know much about the 
motor habits of different peoples, but enough has been 
observed to indicate that decided local variations exist. 
Rest positions are one indication of such habits. The 
Chinese, Melanesians and some Africans sleep resting their 
necks on a narrow support, a position almost insupportable 
to us; most primitive people sit squatting; the Eskimo and 
many Indians sit on their heels. The handles of tools indi- 
cate the manifold ways in which movements are per- 
formed. The Indian draws his knife toward his body, the 
American White whittles away from his body. A careful 



124 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

study of arrow release shows a variety of methods spread 
over continental areas (Morse, Kroeber 1). 

Ida Frischeisen-Kohler has tried to show that every 
person has a stable rhythm that is most agreeable to his 
ear. While this may be true to a certain extent investiga- 
tions by Dr. John Foley, Jr., show that both the most 
acceptable rhythm and the most natural way of tapping 
depend in part on outer circumstances, such as noisy or 
quiet environment, partly on habitual occupation. Typ- 
ists have rapid rhythms, others who are attuned to slow 
movements have slower rhythms. He also found that the 
rate of walking depends upon social environment. Rural 
people walk slowly and deliberately ; the rate of the steps 
is rapid in large cities. The Mexican peasant carrying loads 
on his back trots, the woman accustomed to carry water jars 
on her head walks in upright posture with a steady gait. 

The posture of groups of unassimilated immigrants has 
a local color. The Italian walks and stands erect with 
shoulders raised and thrown somewhat backward. The 
Jew stands slouching, knees slightly bent, shoulders 
drooping and head thrown slightly forward. Among the 
Americanized descendants of these immigrants the pos- 
ture changes. Those who live among Americans adopt 
their erect posture. 

Posture and gesture have been carefully examined by 
David Efron and Stuyvesant Van Veen. The American 
uses emphatic, didactic and descriptive gestures much 
more than is usually believed. His gestures differ from 
those of the immigrant Italian and Jew. Both these groups 
are largely composed of poor people who have the habits 
of the European groups from which they come. The Ital- 
ian has an elaborate set of symbolic gestures of definite 
meaning: "to eat" is indicated by the closed fingers touch- 
ing the mouth; hunger by the right hand held flat hori- 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 125 

zontally striking the right side of the body. Thumb and 
first finger held against the teeth and moved down rapidly 
expresses anger. The first two fingers laid side by side 
mean "husband and wife" or "together"; the fingers of 
both hands lightly closed, both hands held in contact and 
then parted and joined again repeatedly "what do you 
want? " The first and little finger stretched out, the others 
closed and the hand held down means "evil eye"; shaking 
one's necktie " I am not a fool." 

The number of these symbolic gestures is very large 
and many go back to antiquity. The Jew has very few 
symbolic gestures. The movements rather follow his lines 
of thought inward and outward, right and left. He ac- 
companies the movements of the hands with others of 
head and shoulders. The forms of movement in the two 
groups are also different. The Italian moves his arms 
from his shoulders with a wide sweep, raising them high 
over his head and reaching out in all directions. The 
movements are even. The Jew holds the elbows close to 
the side of the body and gesticulates with forearm and 
fingers. His movements are jerky and run in much more 
complicated lines than those of the Italian. Henri Neuville 
and L. F. Clauss maintain that position and movement 
belong to the characteristic traits of race. Dr. Efron's 
investigations disprove this view, for gesture changes with 
great ease. It is a common observation that Americans 
who have lived for some time in Mexico use Mexican ges- 
tures. Dr. Efron observed a Scotch student who had grown 
up in a Jewish environment and used Jewish gestures, and 
an Englishman brought up in Italy, married to a Jewess 
and living in a circle of Jewish friends who had developed 
mixed Jewish and Italian gestures. The Mayor of New 
York, La Guardia, speaking English to Americans uses 
American, speaking to Italians in Italian, Italian gestures. 



126 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The observations on the descendants of immigrants are 
convincing. The study of the groups of Italians and Jews 
living among native Americans shows that their gesture 
habits which they or their parents brought over from 
Europe disappear and that ultimately a complete assimi- 
lation to American habits results. 

We conclude from this that motor habits of groups of 
people are culturally determined and not due to heredity. 

This conclusion is supported by evidences of art. Every 
period has its own favorite posture. Thus the spread-leg 
position was for a while the heroic position and gave way 
to others. 

We have followed the process of assimilation by other 
methods. Each country has its peculiar distribution of 
crime. While the crime frequency among immigrants is 
not the same as that of the home country it differs 
markedly from that of native Americans. In all European 
countries crimes against property are much rarer than 
those found in the population of New York State. Since 
crimes are committed with varying frequency according 
to age groups it was necessary to reduce all rates to a 
standard age distribution. A study of this subject for the 
New York City population conducted by Dr. Elliott Stof- 
flet shows that in the second generation, that is among 
descendants of immigrants, the rates of crimes approach 
or exceed those of the native Americans. It has been 
known for a long time that the rates of crimes differ mate- 
rially according to occupation, and change of occupation 
is undoubtedly one of the causes of rapid change. The 
difference between the generations has been proved for 
Italians, Germans and Irish. 

Mental diseases also indicate that a change in social 
conditions influences their incidence. The subject is more 
difficult than others because according to American immi- 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 127 

gration laws those affected by mental diseases are not 
admitted to the country. Nevertheless the number of 
those who develop mental diseases is large. An investiga- 
tion made by Dr. Bruno Klopfer embracing Italians, 
Germans and Irish shows that on the whole the second 
generation has an incidence more similar to that of native 
Americans than the immigrants themselves. In this case 
also comparability had to be attained by reducing the fre- 
quency to that of a standard population. 

Language presents a somewhat complex but instructive 
example showing that anatomical differences between in- 
dividuals are leveled out in their functioning owing to the 
stress of uniform cultural conditions. In any given com- 
munity the anatomical forms of the articulating organs 
vary strongly. The mouth may be small or large, lips thin 
or thick, the palate high or low, the teeth may vary in 
position and size, the tongue in shape. Nevertheless, the 
articulation of the bulk of the population will depend 
essentially upon the traditional form of speech in the dis- 
trict. In a neighboring district the same varieties of ana- 
tomical form will occur, but a different mode of articula- 
tion will be found. Individuals differ in timbre of sound 
and in minor peculiarities which may or may not be ana- 
tomically determined, but these variations do not deter- 
mine the essential character of sound production. 

The very fact that language does not depend upon race 
and that in the literature of many nations the masters of 
style were not to the manor born Dumas and Pushkin 
are good examples prove the independence of cultural 
style and language. 

It would be highly desirable to supplement these re- 
marks with the results of investigations showing how far 
personality is influenced by social conditions. Unfortu- 
nately the methods of studying personality are highly 



128 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

unsatisfactory, partly because the features to be investi- 
gated lack in clarity. A study by Leopold Macari of immi- 
grant Italians, all natives of one village, and their descend- 
ants in America indicates a wide breach between the 
personalities of the two generations which corroborates the 
results of our studies of crime and mental diseases. 
Another study made by Dr. Harriet Fjeld on the person- 
alities of children in different types of schools also shows 
marked differences in the manifestations of personality. 
Miss Weill studied children of the same families, taking 
into account the intimate family situation. Her observa- 
tions give the same results. The difficulty of the inquiry 
lies in the necessity of studying personality in its manifes- 
tations. If it could be shown that in a socially perfectly 
homogeneous population individuals of different types 
react in different ways to the same circumstances the 
problem might be solved. It is doubtful whether these 
conditions can ever be attained. 

Identical twins reared apart under somewhat different 
environment were studied by H. H. Newman. He ob- 
served that the difference in environment had a decided 
influence on the mental behavior of such pairs. A. N. 
Mirenova subjected the one of a number of pairs of identi- 
cal twins to training, the other not. This resulted in a 
decided difference in reactions to corresponding tests. 
She says: "The observations show that marked alterations 
took place in the whole behavior and in the general de- 
velopment of the trained twins. They became more active, 
more independent, and more disciplined. The intellectual 
level of the trained twins also rose in comparison with the 
controls. Some of the characters appeared to develop due 
to the direct influence of training, while others probably 
developed through the organization of the processes of 
training." 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 129 

Ethnological material does not favor the view that 
different human types have distinct personalities, else we 
should not find a change like that of the warlike Indian 
of early times and his degraded descendant whose fate 
was sealed when his tribal life was broken up. Equally 
convincing are the differences in cultural behavior of 
groups that are biologically near kin, like the New Mexi- 
can sedentary Pueblo and the nomadic Navajo, or the 
behavior of those Mexican Indian villagers that are 
completely hispanized. History presents equally cogent 
arguments. The Scandinavians of the Bronze Age are un- 
doubtedly the ancestors of the modern Scandinavians, 
still how great are the differences in their cultural behavior. 
Their early works of art arid warlike activities contrasted 
with their modern intellectual achievements are indica- 
tions of a changing structure of personality. The boister- 
ous joy of life of Elizabethan England and the prudery of 
the Victorian age; the transition from the rationalism of 
the end of the eighteenth century to the romanticism of 
the beginning of the nineteenth century are other striking 
examples of the change of the personality of a people 
within a short time, not to speak of the accelerated change 
that is going on under our very eyes. 

Our consideration of both the anatomical form and the 
functions of the body, including mental and social activi- 
ties, do not give any support to the view that the habits of 
life and cultural activities are to any considerable extent 
determined by racial descent. Families occur of pro- 
nounced characteristics, partly due to heredity, partly to 
cultural opportunity, but a large population, no matter 
how uniform in apparent type, will not reflect an innate 
personality. The personality so far as it is possible to 
speak of the personality of a culture will depend upon 
outer conditions that sway the fate of the people, upon its 



130 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

history, upon powerful individuals that arise from time 
to time, upon foreign influences. 

The emotional drive to see the life of a people in its 
whole setting, including nature and bodily build, supported 
by the modern insistence of recognizing a structural unity 
of concomitant phenomena, has led to a complete neglect 
of the question of the kind and degree of their interrela- 
tion and to the unproved opinion that not only in indi- 
viduals, not only in hereditary lines, but in whole popula- 
tions bodily build determines cultural personality. The 
existence of a unity of bodily build in even the most ho- 
mogeneous population known to us can be disproved and 
the existence of a cultural personality embracing a whole 
"race" is at best a poetic fiction. 

During the last decade careful studies of the life histories 
of individuals belonging to different races and cultures 
have been assembled. These prove that the generaliza- 
tions in which speculative students used to indulge are no 
longer tenable. Still, it is necessary to discuss some of the 
views regarding the psychology of primitive people that 
are widely held and according to which there are striking 
differences between the mental processes of culturally 
primitive tribes and civilized man. We might be tempted 
to interpret these as racially determined because at the 
present time no primitive tribes belong to the White 
race. If, on the other hand we can show that the 
mental processes among primitives and civilized are 
essentially the same, the view cannot be maintained 
that the present races of man stand on different stages 
of the evolutionary series and that civilized man has at- 
tained a higher place in mental organization than prim- 
itive man. 

I will select a few only among the mental character- 
istics of primitive man which will illustrate our point 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 131 

inhibition of impulses, power of attention, logical think- 
ing and originality. 

We will first discuss in how far primitive man is capable 
of inhibiting impulses. 1 

It is an impression obtained by many travellers, and 
also based upon experiences gained in our own country, 
that primitive man of all races, and the less educated of 
our own race, have in common a lack of control of emotions, 
that they give way more readily to an impulse than civilized 
man and the highly educated. This impression is based 
largely on the neglect to consider the occasions on which var- 
ious forms of society demand a strong control of impulses. 

Most of the proofs for this alleged peculiarity are 
based on the fickleness and uncertainty of the disposition 
of primitive man, and on the strength of his passions 
aroused by seemingly trifling causes. Too often the 
traveller or student measures fickleness by the importance 
he himself attributes to the actions or purposes in which 
they do not persevere, and he weighs the impulse for out- 
bursts of passion by his own standard. To give an ex- 
ample: A traveller desirous of reaching his goal as soon 
as possible engages men to start on a journey at a certain 
time. To him time is exceedingly valuable. But what is 
time to primitive man who does not feel the compulsion 
of completing a definite work at a definite time? While 
the traveller is fuming and raging over the delay, his men 
keep up their merry chatter and laughter, and cannot be 
induced to exert themselves except to please their master. 
Would not they be right in stigmatizing many a traveller 
for his impulsiveness and lack of control when irritated 
by a trifling cause like loss of time? Instead of this, the 
traveller complains of the fickleness of the natives, who 
quickly lose interest in the objects which he has at heart. 

1 Spencer, I, pp. 55 et seq. 



132 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The proper way to compare the fickleness of the tribes- 
man and that of the White is to compare their behavior 
in undertakings which each from his own standpoint 
considers as important. More generally speaking, when 
we want to give a true estimate of the power of primitive 
man to control impulses, we must not compare the con- 
trol required on certain occasions among ourselves with 
the control exerted by him on the same occasions. If, 
for instance, our social etiquette forbids the expression of 
feelings of personal discomfort and of anxiety, we must 
remember that personal etiquette among primitives may 
not require such inhibition. We must rather look for 
those occasions on which inhibition is required by the 
customs of primitive man. Such are, for instance, the 
numerous cases of taboo that is, of prohibitions of the 
use of certain foods, or of the performance of certain 
kinds of work which sometimes require a considerable 
amount of self-control. When an Eskimo community is 
on the point of starvation, and their religious beliefs 
forbid them to make use of the seals that are basking on 
the ice, the amount of self-control of the people who 
follow the demands of custom rather than satisfy their 
hunger is certainly very great. Other examples that 
suggest themselves are the perseverance of primitive man 
in the manufacture of his utensils and weapons; his readi- 
ness to undergo privations and hardships which promise 
to fulfill his desires as the Indian youth's willingness to 
fast in the mountains, awaiting the appearance of his 
guardian spirit; or his bravery and endurance exhibited in 
order to gain admittance to the ranks of the men of his 
tribe; or, again, the often-described power of endurance 
exhibited by Indian captives who undergo torture at the 
hands of their enemies. 

It has also been claimed that lack of control is exhibited 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 133 

by primitive man in his outbursts of passion occasioned 
by slight provocations. In this case also the difference in 
attitude of civilized man and of primitive man disappears 
if we give due weight to the social conditions under which 
the individual lives. We have ample proof that his pas- 
sions are just as much controlled as ours, only in different 
directions. The numerous customs and restrictions reg- 
ulating the relations of the sexes may serve as an ex- 
ample. The difference in impulsiveness in a given sit- 
uation may be fully explained by the different weight 
of the motives involved. Perseverance and control of 
impulses are demanded of primitive man as well as of 
civilized man, but on different occasions. If they are 
not demanded as often, the cause must be looked for, 
not in the inherent inability to produce them, but in 
the social structure which does not demand them to the 
same extent. 

Spencer mentions as a particular case of this lack of 
control the improvidence of primitive man. It would be 
more proper to say, instead of improvidence, optimism. 
"Why should I not be as successful tomorrow as I was 
today?" is the underlying feeling of primitive man. This 
feeling is no less powerful in civilized man. What builds 
up business activity but the belief in the stability of 
existing conditions? Why do the poor not hesitate to 
found families without being able to lay in store before- 
hand? Starvation among most primitive people is an 
exceptional case, the same as financial crises in civilized 
society; for times of need, such as occur regularly, provi- 
sion is always made. The social status of most members 
of our society is more stable, so far as the acquiring of the 
barest necessities of life is concerned, so that exceptional 
conditions do not prevail often; but nobody would main- 
tain that the majority of civilized men are always pre- 



134 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

pared to meet emergencies. The economic depression of 
1929 and the following years has shown how ill prepared 
a large part of our population is to meet an emergency of 
such magnitude. We may recognize a difference in the 
degree of improvidence caused by the difference of social 
form, but not a specific difference between lower and 
higher types of man* 

Related to the lack of power of inhibition is another 
trait which has been ascribed to primitive man of all 
races his inability of concentration when any demand is 
made upon the more complex faculties of the intellect. 
An example will make clear the error committed in this 
assumption. In his description of the natives of the 
west coast of Vancouver Island, Sproat says, "The na- 
tive mind, to an educated man, seems generally to be 
asleep. ... On his attention being fully aroused, he 
often shows much quickness in reply and ingenuity in 
argument. But a short conversation wearies him, partic- 
ularly if questions are asked that require efforts of thought 
or memory on his part. The mind of the savage then 
appears to rock to and fro out of mere weakness." Spencer, 
who quotes this passage, adds a number of others cor- 
roborating this point. I happen to know through personal 
contact the tribes mentioned by Sproat. The questions 
put by the traveller seem mostly trifling to the Indian, 
and he naturally soon tires of a conversation carried on 
in a foreign language, and one in which he finds nothing 
to interest him. As a matter of fact, the interest of these 
natives can easily be raised to a high pitch, and I have 
often been the one who was wearied out first. Neither 
does the management of their intricate system of ex- 
change prove mental inertness in matters which concern 
them. Without mnemonic aids to speak of, they plan the 
systematic distribution of their property in such a man- 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 135 

ner as to increase their wealth and social position. These 
plans require great foresight and constant application. 

Recently the question has been much discussed whether 
the processes of logical thought of primitive man and of 
civilized man are the same. Levy-Bruhl has developed the 
thesis that culturally primitive man thinks prelogically, 
that he is unable to isolate a phenomenon as such, that 
there is rather a "participation" in the whole mass of 
subjective and objective experience which prevents a clear 
distinction between logically unrelated subjects. This 
conclusion is reached not from a study of individual be- 
havior, but from the traditional beliefs and customs of 
primitive people. It is believed to explain the identifica- 
tion of man and animal, the principles of magic and the 
beliefs in the efficacy of ceremonies. It would seem that 
if we disregard the thinking of the individual in our society 
and pay attention only to current beliefs that we should 
reach the conclusion that the same attitudes prevail among 
ourselves that are characteristic of primitive man. The 
mass of material accumulated in the collections of modern 
superstitions l proves this point and it would be an error 
to suppose that these beliefs are confined to the unedu- 
cated. Material collected among American college stu- 
dents (Tozzer) shows that such belief may persist as an 
emotionally charged tradition among those enjoying the 
best of intellectual training. Their existence does not set 
off the mental processes of primitive man from those of 
civilized man. 

Lack of originality has often been adduced as the 
primary reason why certain races cannot rise to higher 
levels of culture. It is said that the conservatism of 
primitive man is so strong, that the individual never 
deviates from the traditional customs and beliefs (Spen- 

v l Von Negelein, and Handworterbuch des deutschen Aberglaabens. 



136 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

cer). Malinowski and others have shown that conflicts 
between the tribal standard and individual behavior are 
not by any means absent. The disbeliever has his place 
in actual life and in folk tale. 

Aside of this, originality is by no means lacking in the 
life of primitive people. Prophets appear among newly 
converted tribes as well as among pagan tribes, and intro- 
duce new dogmas. These may often be traced to the influ- 
ence of the ideas of neighboring tribes, but they are 
modified by the individuality of the person, and grafted 
upon the current beliefs of the people. It is well known 
that myths and beliefs have been disseminated, and un- 
dergo changes in the process of dissemination (Boas 8). 
The increasing complexity of esoteric doctrines intrusted 
to the care of a priesthood suggests that this has often 
been accomplished by the independent thought of individ- 
uals. I believe one of the best examples of such independ- 
ent thought is furnished by the history of the ghost-dance 
(Mooney) and peyote ceremonies (Wagner, Petrullo) in 
North America. The doctrines of the ghost-dance prophets 
were new, but based on the ideas of their own people, 
their neighbors and the teachings of missionaries. The 
notion of future life of an Indian tribe of Vancouver 
Island has undergone a change in this manner, insofar 
as the idea of the return of the dead in children of their 
own family has arisen. The same independent attitude 
may be observed in the replies of the Nicaraguan Indians 
to the questions regarding their religion that were put to 
them by Bobadilla, and which were reported by Oviedo. 

The mental attitude of individuals who thus develop 
the beliefs of a tribe is exactly like that of the civilized 
philosopher. The student of the history of philosophy is 
well aware how strongly the mind of the greatest genius is 
influenced by the current thought of his time. This has 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 137 

been well expressed by a German writer (Lehmann), who 
says, "The character of a system of philosophy is, just 
like that of any other literary work, determined first of 
all by the personality of its originator. Every true phi- 
losophy reflects the life of the philosopher, as well as every 
true poem that of the poet. Secondly, it bears the general 
marks of the period to which it belongs; and the more 
powerful the ideas which it proclaims, the more strongly 
it will be permeated by the currents of thought which 
fluctuate in the life of the period. Thirdly, it is influenced 
by the particular bent of philosophical thought of the 
period." 

If such is the case among the greatest minds of all 
times, why should we wonder that the thinker in primitive 
society is strongly influenced by the current thought of 
his time? Unconscious and conscious imitation are factors 
influencing civilized society, not less than primitive soci- 
ety as has been shown by G. Tarde, who has proved that 
primitive man, and civilized man as well, imitates not 
such actions only as are useful and for the imitation of 
which logical causes may be given, but also others for 
the adoption or preservation of which no logical reason 
can be assigned. 

I think these considerations illustrate that the differ- 
ences between civilized man and primitive man are in 
many cases more apparent than real; that the social 
conditions, on account of their peculiar characteristics, 
easily convey the impression that the mind of primitive 
man acts in a way quite different from ours, while in 
reality the fundamental traits of the mind are the same. 

This does not mean that the mental reactions of differ- 
ent populations when observed under absolutely equal 
conditions might not show differences. Since individuals, 
according to their bodily constitution react differently, 



138_ THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

and since members of a family line are constitutionally 
similar, it seems likely that in individuals and family lines 
differences in mental reactions exist. However, every 
large population is composed of a great many constitu- 
tionally different family lines. Therefore any such differ- 
ences would be greatly attenuated and find expression 
only in a different frequency distribution of qualities. 
Added to this is the extreme sensitiveness of mental 
reactions to cultural conditions, so that the greatest cau- 
tion must be observed in trying to eliminate differences of 
social status. The failure to appreciate such differences in 
the colored population of Jamaica has misled Davenport 
and Steggerda. It also makes the observations of Porteus 
on Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Puerto Ricans as 
well as his comparison of Australians and Africans of 
doubtful value. If the same care were taken in the 
assessment of the bringing up of the subjects tested, in 
their social background, their interests and their inhibi- 
tions as in the manipulation of artificial tests we should 
be willing to accept the results with greater assurance. 
As the evidence stands today it cannot be claimed that 
any considerable differences in fundamental mental traits 
have been proven. 

After we have thus found that the alleged specific 
differences between civilized and primitive man, so far as 
they are inferred from complex psychic responses, can be 
reduced to the same fundamental psychical forms, we 
have the right to decline as unprofitable a discussion of 
the hereditary mental traits of various branches of the 
White race. Much has been said of the hereditary char- 
acteristics of the Jews, of the Gypsies, of the French and 
Irish. Setting aside the inadequacy of such descriptions 
in which the diversity existing in each group is glossed 
over according to the subjective emphasis given to various 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 139 

aspects of cultural life I do not see that the external and 
social causes which have moulded the character of mem- 
bers of these people have ever been eliminated satisfac- 
torily; and, moreover, I do not see how this can be accom- 
plished. A number of external factors that influence body 
and mind may easily be named climate, nutrition, oc- 
cupation but as soon as we enter into a consideration of 
social factors and mental conditions, we are unable to 
tell definitely what is cause and what is effect. 

An apparently excellent discussion of external influences 
upon the character of a people has been given by A. Wer- 
nich in his description of the character of the Japanese. 
He finds some of their peculiarities caused by the lack of 
vigor of the muscular and alimentary systems, which in 
their turn are due to improper nutrition; while he rec- 
ognizes as hereditary other physiological traits which 
influence the mind. And still, how weak appear his conclu- 
sions, in view of the modern economic, political and sci- 
entific development of Japan which has adopted to the 
fullest extent all the best and worst traits of western 
civilization. 

Effects of malnutrition continued through many gen- 
erations might be expected to affect the mental life of the 
Bushmen and the Lapps (Virchow); and still, after the 
experience just quoted, we may well hesitate before we 
express any definite conclusions. 

One additional point of our inquiry into the organic basis 
of mental activity remains to be investigated; namely, the 
question: Has the organic basis for the faculty of man been 
improved by civilization, and particularly may that of 
primitive races be improved by this agency? We must 
consider both the anatomical and the psychological as- 
pects of this question. We have seen that civilization 
causes anatomical changes of the same description as 



140 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

those accompanying the domestication of animals. It is 
likely that changes of mental character go hand in hand 
with them. The observed anatomical changes are, how- 
ever, limited to this, group of phenomena. We cannot 
prove that any progressive changes of the human organ- 
ism have taken place; and no advance in the size or 
complexity of the structure of the central nervous system, 
caused by the cumulative effects of civilization, has been 
discovered. 

The difficulty of proving a progress in mental endow- 
ment is still greater. The effect of civilization upon 
the mind has been much overestimated. The psychical 
changes which were the immediate consequence of the 
early domestication may have been considerable. It is 
doubtful whether outside of these any progressive changes, 
such as are transmitted by heredity, have taken place. 
The number of generations subjected to the influence of 
western civilization seems altogether too small. For large 
portions of Europe we cannot assume more than forty or 
fifty generations; and even this number is considerably 
too high, inasmuch as in the Middle Ages the bulk of the 
population lived on very low stages of civilization. 

Besides this, the recent tendency of human multiplica- 
tion is such, that the most highly cultured families tend 
to disappear, while others which have been less subjected 
to the influences regulating the life of the most cultured 
class take their place. It is much less likely that advance 
is hereditary than that it is transmitted by means of 
education. 

We should be clear in our minds regarding the difference 
between the phenomena of culture themselves and the 
abstract concepts of qualities of the human mind that 
are deduced from cultural data but that have no cultural 
meaning if conceived as absolute, as existing outside of a 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 141 

culture. The assumption that at some time the mental 
qualities of man existed in vacua is untenable, for all our 
knowledge of man is derived from his behavior under 
given cultural conditions. We may say that the nervous 
condition of an individual tends to make him stable or 
unstable, slow to act or of rapid decision, but we can infer 
this only through his reaction to given cultural conditions. 
The way in which these characteristics manifest themselves 
depends upon the culture in which the individuals live. 

The existence of a mind absolutely independent of con- 
ditions of life is unthinkable. Experimental psychology, 
in its earlier stages was sterile because it operated with 
the theory of the existence of an absolute mind, not sub- 
ject to the environmental setting in which it lives. 

The situation in morphology is analogous. The strict 
definition of a morphological type demands a statement 
of the variety of forms that an organism may take under 
varying conditions, for a morphological type without en- 
vironmental conditions is non-existent and unthinkable. 
In higher animals we posit it because the variations 
brought about by environment are small as compared to 
the fundamental, stable characteristics. In contrast to 
this the physiological and psychological characteristics 
of the higher animals and particularly of man, are highly 
variable and can be stated only in relation to environ- 
mental, including physical and cultural conditions. The 
traits of personality belong to this class and have meaning 
only when expressed as reactions of the individual to 
varying types of environment, of which the existing cul- 
ture is the most important. 

Some of the abstractions derived from the behavior of 
man the world over are basic in all forms of culture. Most 
important are two: human intelligence that is the ability 
to form conclusions from premises and the desire to seek 



142 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

for causal relations and the ever present tendency to 
value thought and action according to the ideas of good 
and bad, beautiful and ugly, individual freedom or social 
subordination. It would be a difficult undertaking to prove 
an increase in intelligence, or an increase of the ability to 
evaluate experiences. A candid study of the inventions, 
observations and evaluations of man in the most diverse 
forms of culture gives us no basis for the claim that there 
has been any development of these qualities. We only find 
an expression of the application of these faculties to more 
or less highly individualized cultures. 

To prove the cumulative effect of civilization through 
transmission, much weight is generally laid upon the re- 
lapse into primitive conditions of educated individuals 
belonging to primitive races. Such cases are interpreted 
as proofs of the inability of the child of a lower race to 
adapt itself to our high civilization, even if the best 
advantages are given to it. It is true that a number of 
such instances are on record. Among these are Darwin's 
Fuegian, who lived in England for a few years and returned 
to his home, where he fell back into the ways of his prim- 
itive countrymen; and the West Australian girl who was 
married to a White man, but suddenly fled to the bush 
after killing her husband, and resumed life with the na- 
tives. Not one of these cases has been described with 
sufficient detail. The social and mental conditions of the 
individual have never been subjected to a searching 
analysis. I should judge that even in extreme cases, not- 
withstanding their better education, their social position 
was always one of isolation, while the ties of consanguinity 
formed a connecting link with their uncivilized brethren. 
The power with which society holds us and does not give 
us a chance to step out of its limits cannot have acted as 
strongly upon them as upon us. 



FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY 143 

The station obtained by many Negroes in our civiliza- 
tion has just as much weight as the few cases of relapse 
which have been collected with much care and diligence. 
I should place side by side with them those White men 
who live alone among native tribes, and who sink almost 
invariably to a semi-barbarous position, and the members 
of well-to-do families who prefer unbounded freedom to 
the fetters of society, and flee to the wilderness, where 
many lead a life in no way superior to that of primitive 
man. 

In the study of the behavior of members of foreign 
races educated in European society, we should also bear in 
mind the influence of habits of thought, feeling and action 
acquired in early childhood, and of which no recollection 
is retained. It is largely due to Sigmund Freud (1) that 
we understand the importance of these forgotten inci- 
dents which remain a living force throughout life the 
more potent, the more thoroughly they are forgotten. 
Owing to their lasting influences many of the habits of 
thought and traits of personality which we are all too 
ready to interpret as due to heredity are acquired under 
the influence of the environment in which the child spends 
the first few years of its life. All observations on the force 
of habit and the intensity of resistance to changes of habit 
are in favor of this theory. 

Our brief consideration of some of the mental activities 
of man in civilized and in primitive society has led us to 
the conclusion that the functions of the human mind are 
common to the whole of humanity. According to our 
present method of considering biological and psychological 
phenomena, we must assume that these have developed 
from previous lower conditions, and that at one time there 
must have been races and tribes in which the properties 
here described were not at all, or only slightly, developed; 



144 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

but it is also true that among the present races of man, 
no matter how primitive they may be in comparison with 
ourselves, these faculties are highly developed. 

The average faculty of the White race is found to the 
same degree in a large proportion of individuals of all other 
races, and, although it is possible that some of these races 
may not produce as large a proportion of great men as our 
own race, there is no reason to suppose that they are un- 
able to reach the level of civilization represented by the 
bulk of our own people. 

It is likely that the distribution of the traits here dis- 
cussed is not the same in all populations. Particularly in 
small, inbred groups certain traits may be rather promi- 
nent. It may be admitted that in exceptional cases where 
a population almost coincides with a family line innate 
differences may come to be important as among the 
elite in the best times of Athens but the overwhelming 
importance of outer, cultural conditions is, as we have 
seen, so great, and the quantitative racial differences be- 
tween large populations are so slight in comparison that 
none of the claims for substantial differences between 
races seem to be scientifically sound. 



8. RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE 

The discussions of the preceding chapters have shown 
that bodily form cannot be considered as absolutely stable 
and that physiological, mental and social functions are 
highly variable, being dependent upon external conditions, 
so that an intimate relation between race and culture does 
not seem plausible. 

It remains to investigate this problem from another 
angle, by means of an inquiry which would show whether 
types, languages and cultures are so intimately con- 
nected that each human race is characterized by a 
certain combination of physical type, language and 
culture. 

It is obvious, that, if this correlation should exist in a 
strict sense, attempts to classify mankind from any one 
of the three points of view would necessarily lead to the 
same results; in other words, each point of view could be 
used independently or in combination with the others to 
study the relations between the different groups of man- 
kind. As a matter of fact, attempts of this kind have often 
been made. A number of classifications of the races of man 
are based wholly on anatomical characteristics, yet often 
combined with geographical considerations; others are 
based on the discussion of a combination of anatomical 
and cultural traits which are considered as characteristic 
of certain groups of mankind ; while still others are based 
primarily on the study of the languages spoken by people 
representing a certain anatomical type. 

The attempts that have thus been made have led to en- 

145 



146 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

tirely different results. 1 Blumenbach, one of the first sci- 
entists who attempted to classify mankind, distinguished 
five races the Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Ameri- 
can and Malay. It is fairly clear that this classification is 
based as much on geographical as on anatomical considera- 
tions, although the description of each race is primarily an 
anatomical one. Cuvier distinguished three races the 
white, yellow and black. Huxley proceeded more strictly 
on a biological basis. He combined part of the Mongolian 
and American races of Blumenbach into one, assigned part 
of the South Asiatic peoples to the Australian type, and 
subdivided the European race into a dark and a light 
division. The numerical preponderance of the European 
types evidently led him to make finer distinctions in this 
race, which he divided into the xanthochroic or blond, and 
melanochroic or dark races. It would be easy to make 
subdivisions of equal value in other races. Still clearer is 
the influence of cultural points of view in a classification 
like that of Klemm who distinguished the active and pas- 
sive races according to the cultural achievements of the 
various types of man. 

The most typical attempt to classify mankind from a 
consideration of both anatomical and linguistic points of 
view is that of Friedrich Miiller, who takes as the basis of 
his primary divisions the form of hair, while all the minor 
divisions are based on linguistic considerations. 

These and numerous other classifications that have been 
proposed show clearly a condition of utter confusion and 
contradiction; and we are led to the conclusion that type, 
language and type of culture are not closely and perma- 
nently connected. 

Historical and ethnographical considerations prove the 
correctness of this view. 

1 For a history of these attempts see Topinard, pp. 1-147. 



RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE 147 

At the present period we may observe many cases in 
which a complete change of language and culture takes 
place without a corresponding change in physical type. 
This is true, for instance, among the North American 
Negroes, a people by descent largely African; in culture 
and language, however, essentially European. While it is 
true that certain survivals of African culture and language 
are found among our American Negroes, the culture of 
the majority is essentially that of the uneducated classes 
of the people among whom they live, and their language 
is on the whole identical with that of their neighbors 
English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, according to the 
prevalent language in various parts of the continent. It 
might be objected that the transportation of the African 
race to America was an artificial one, and that in earlier 
times extended migrations and transplantations of this 
kind did not occur. 

The history of medieval Europe, however, demonstrates 
that extended changes in language and culture have taken 
place many times without corresponding changes in blood. 

Recent investigations of the physical types of Europe 
have shown with great clearness that the distribution of 
types has remained the same for a long period. Without 
considering details, it may be said that an Alpine type can 
easily be distinguished from a North European type on 
the one hand, and a South European type on the other 
(Ripley, Deniker). The Alpine type appears fairly uni- 
form over a large territory, no matter what language may 
be spoken and what national culture may prevail in the 
particular district. The Central European Frenchmen, 
Germans, Italians and Slavs are so nearly of the same 
type, that we may safely assume a considerable degree of 
blood-relationship, notwithstanding their linguistic differ- 
ences. 



148 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Instances of similar kind, in which we find permanence 
of blood with far-reaching modifications of language and 
culture, are found in other parts of the world. As an ex- 
ample may be mentioned the Veddah of Ceylon, a people 
fundamentally different in type from the neighboring 
Singhalese, whose language they seem to have adopted, 
and from whom they have also evidently borrowed a 
number of cultural traits (Sarasin, Seligmann). Still 
other examples are the Japanese of the northern part of 
Japan, who are undoubtedly, to a considerable extent, 
Ainu in blood (Balz, Ten Kate); and the Yukaghir of 
Siberia, who, while retaining to a great extent the old 
blood, have been assimilated in culture and language by 
the neighboring Tungus (Jochelson 2). 

While it is therefore evident that in many cases a people, 
without undergoing a considerable change in type by mix- 
ture, has changed completely its language and culture, 
still other cases may be adduced in which it can be shown 
that a people has retained its language while undergoing 
material changes in blood and culture, or in both. As an 
example of this may be mentioned the Magyar of Europe, 
who have retained their language, but have become mixed 
with people speaking Indo-European languages, and who 
have, to all intents and purposes, adopted European culture. 

Similar conditions must have prevailed among the Atha- 
pascans, one of the great linguistic families of North 
America. The great body of people speaking languages 
belonging to this group live in the northwestern part of 
America between Alaska and Hudson Bay, while other 
dialects are spoken by small tribes in California, and still 
others by a large body of people in Arizona and New 
Mexico. 1 The relationship between all these dialects is so 

1 See map in Handbook of American Indians (Bulletin 30 of the Bureau 
of American Ethnology), part i (1907). 



RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE 149 

close that they must be considered as branches of one 
large group, and it must be assumed that all of them have 
sprung from a language once spoken over a continuous 
area. At the present time the people speaking these 
languages differ fundamentally in type, the inhabitants 
of the Mackenzie River region being quite different from 
the tribes of California, and these, again, differing from 
the tribes of New Mexico (Boas 15, 19). The forms of 
culture in these different regions are also quite distinct: 
the culture of the California Athapascans resembles that 
of other Calif ornian tribes, while the culture of the Atha- 
pascans of New Mexico and Arizona is influenced by that 
of other peoples of that area. 1 It seems plausible that 
branches of this stock migrated from one part of this large 
area to another, where they intermingled with the neigh- 
boring people, and thus changed their physical character- 
istics, while they retained their speech. Without historical 
evidence, this process cannot, of course, be proved. 

These two phenomena retention of type with change 
of language, and retention of language with change of 
type apparently opposed to each other often go hand 
in hand. An example is the distribution of Arabs along 
the north coast of Africa. On the whole, the Arab element 
has retained its language; but at the same time intermar- 
riages with the native races were common, so that the 
descendants of the Arabs have retained their old language 
and have changed their type. On the other hand, the na- 
tives have to a certain extent given up their own languages, 
but have continued to intermarry among themselves, 
and have thus preserved their type. So far as any change 
of this kind is connected with intermixture, both types of 
changes must always occur at the same time, and will be 
classed as a change of type or a change of language, as our at- 

1 Goddard, Reichard, Morice, Matthews 2. 



150 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

tention is directed to the one people or the other, or, in some 
cases, as the one or the other change is more pronounced. 
Cases of complete assimilation without any mixture of the 
people involved seem to be rare, if not entirely absent. 

Cases of permanence of type and language and of change 
of culture are much more numerous. As a matter of fact, 
the whole historical development of Europe, from prehis- 
toric times on, is one endless series of examples of this 
process, which seems to be much easier, since assimilation 
of cultures occurs everywhere without actual blood-mix- 
ture, as an effect of imitation. Proof of diffusion of cul- 
tural elements may be found everywhere. Neither differ- 
ences of race nor of language are effectual barriers for 
their spread. In North America, California offers a good 
example of this kind ; for here many languages are spoken, 
and there is a certain degree of differentiation of type, 
but at the same time a considerable uniformity of culture 
prevails (Kroeber 2, 3). Another case in point is the 
coast of New Guinea, where, notwithstanding strong local 
differentiations, a fairly characteristic type of culture pre- 
vails, which goes hand in hand with a strong differentia- 
tion of languages. Among more highly civilized peoples, 
the whole area which is under the influence of Chinese 
culture might be given as an example. 

The culture of Africa shows that racial differences are 
no hindrance to diffusion. The cattle breeding of Asia has 
modified the cultural life of a large part of Africa. The 
political and juridical forms of the Negro are to a great 
extent the counterpart of those of feudal Europe. It 
would be vain to attempt an understanding of African in- 
stitutions without bearing in mind their intimate associa- 
tion with neighboring continents. In the extreme southern 
part of Africa the Bushmen and Bantu represent two people 
differing in type and language. Nevertheless the sounds of 



RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE 151 

the language of the Southern Bantu show a similarity to the 
sounds of the Bushman languages that is not repeated in any 
other part of the continent. It consists in the occurrence 
of sounds which are produced by forcibly sucking in air in- 
stead of expelling it. Very weak sounds of this kind occur 
in other parts of the continent and may be an indication of 
an ancient speech habit which existed at one time over a 
wider area; but the particular occurrence among the 
Southern Bantu can be due only to a recent assimilation. 

These considerations show that, at least at the present 
time, anatomical type, language and culture have not 
necessarily the same fates; that a people may remain con- 
stant in type and language, and change in culture; that it 
may remain constant in type, but change in language; or 
that it may remain constant in language, and change in 
type and culture. It is obvious, therefore, that attempts 
to classify mankind, based on the present distribution of 
type, language and culture, must lead to different results, 
according to the point of view taken; that a classification 
based primarily on type alone will lead to a system which 
represents more or less accurately the blood-relationships 
of the people; but these do not need to coincide with their 
cultural relationships. In the same way classifications 
based on language and culture do not need to coincide 
with a biological classification. 

If this be true, then a problem like the Aryan problem 
does not exist, because it relates to the history of the 
Aryan languages; and the assumption that a certain def- 
inite people whose members have always been related by 
blood must have been the carriers of this language through- 
out history; and the other assumption, that a certain 
cultural type must have always belonged to peoples speak- 
ing Aryan languages are purely arbitrary ones, and not 
in accord with the observed facts. 



152 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Nevertheless it must be granted that in a theoretical 
consideration of the history of the types of mankind, of 
languages and of cultures, we are led back to the assump- 
tion of early conditions, during which each type was much 
more isolated from the rest of mankind than it is at the 
present time. For this reason the culture and the language 
belonging to a single type must have been much more 
sharply separated from those of other types than we find 
them to be at the present period. Such a condition has 
nowhere been observed; but the knowledge of historical 
developments almost compels us to assume its existence 
at a very early period in the development of mankind. If 
this be true, the question would arise, whether an isolated 
group at an early period was necessarily characterized by 
a single type, a single language and a single culture, or 
whether in such a group different types, different languages 
and different cultures may have been represented. 

The historical development of mankind would afford a 
simpler and clearer picture if we were justified in the belief 
that in primitive communities the three phenomena had 
been intimately associated. No proof, however, of such an 
assumption can be given. On the contrary, the present 
distribution of languages, as compared with the distribu- 
tion of types, makes it plausible that even at the earliest 
times within the biological units more than one language 
and more than one culture were represented. I believe it 
may safely be said that all over the world the biological unit 
disregarding minute local differences is much larger 
than the linguistic one; in other words, that groups of men 
who are so closely related in bodily appearance that we 
must consider them as representatives of the same variety 
of mankind, embrace a much larger number of individuals 
than the number of men speaking languages which we 
know to be genetically related. Examples of this kind may 



RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE 153 

be given from many parts of the world. Thus, the European 
race including under this term roughly all those individ- 
uals who are without hesitation classed by us as members 
of the White race would include peoples speaking Indo- 
European, Basque, Semitic and Ural- Altaic languages. West 
African Negroes would represent individuals of a certain 
Negro type, but speaking the most diverse languages; and 
the same would be true, among Asiatic types, of Siberians; 
among American types, of part of the Calif ornian Indians. 

So far as our historical evidence goes, there is no reason 
to believe that the number of languages which according 
to their form and content cannot now be traced back to a 
common mother tongue has at any time been less than it 
is now. All our evidence rather goes to show that the 
number of apparently unrelated languages was much 
greater in earlier times than at present. We have so far 
no means of determining whether a still earlier condition 
existed in which the languages that appear as distinct 
were related in some way. On the other hand, the number 
of types that have presumably become extinct seems to 
be rather small, so that there is no reason to suppose that 
at any time there should have been a nearer correspondence 
between the number of distinct linguistic and anatomical 
types; and we are thus led to the conclusion that presum- 
ably at an early time small isolated groups of people of 
similar type existed, each of which may have possessed a 
language and culture of its own. 

Incidentally we may remark here, that, from this point 
of view, the great diversity of languages found in many 
remote mountain areas should not be explained as the re- 
sult of a gradual pressing-back of remnants of tribes into 
inaccessible districts, but appears rather as a survival of an 
earlier general condition of mankind, when every con- 
tinent was inhabited by small groups of people speaking 



154 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

distinct languages. The present conditions would have 
developed through the gradual extinction of many of 
the old stocks and their absorption or extinction by others, 
which thus came to occupy a more extended territory. 

However this may be, the probabilities are decidedly 
against the theory that originally each language and cul- 
ture was confined to a single type, or that each type and 
culture was confined to one language; in short, that there 
has been at any time a close correlation between these 
three phenomena. 

If type, language and culture were by origin closely re- 
lated it would follow that these three traits developed ap- 
proximately at the same period and conjointly. This does 
not seem by any means plausible. The fundamental types 
of man which are represented in the Negroid and in the 
Mongolid race must have been differentiated long before 
the formation of those forms of speech that are now rec- 
ognized in the linguistic families of the world. I think that 
even the differentiation of the more important subdivisions 
of the great races antedates the formation of the recogniz- 
able linguistic families. At any rate, the biological differ- 
entiation and the formation of speech were, at this early 
period, subject to the same causes that are acting upon 
them now, and our whole experience shows that these 
causes may bring about great changes in language much 
more rapidly than in the human body. In this considera- 
tion lies the principal reason for the theory of lack of cor- 
relation of type and language, even during the period of 
formation of types and of linguistic families. 1 

If language is independent of race this is even more true 

1 This must not be understood to mean that every primitive language is 
in a constant state of rapid modification. There are many evidences of a 
great permanence of languages. When, however, owing to certain outer or 
inner causes, changes set in, they are apt to bring about a thorough modifi- 
cation of the form of speech. 



RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE 155 

of culture. In other words, when a group of a certain 
racial type migrated over an extended area before their 
language had attained a form that we are able to recognize 
as a single linguistic family, and before their culture had 
taken forms traces of which we may still recognize among 
their modem descendants, it will be impossible to discover 
a relation between type, language and culture, even if it 
had existed at an early time. 

It is quite possible that people of a common type ex- 
panded over a large area and that their language during 
this process became so thoroughly modified in each lo- 
cality that the relationship of the modern forms, or rather 
their common descent from a common tongue, can no 
longer be discovered. In the same way their culture may 
have developed in different ways quite independently of 
their ancient culture, or at least in such ways that genetic 
relations to the primitive form, if they existed, can no 
longer be ascertained. 

If we accept these conclusions and avoid the hypoth- 
esis of an original close association between type, lan- 
guage and culture it follows that every attempt to classify 
mankind from more than one of these points of view must 
lead to contradictions. 

It should be borne in mind that the vague term "cul- 
ture" as used here is not a unit which signifies that all 
aspects of culture must have had the same historical fates. 
The points of view which we applied to language may 
also be applied to the various aspects of culture. There is 
no reason that would compel us to believe that technical 
inventions, social organization, art and religion develop 
in precisely the same way or are organically and indis- 
solubly connected. As an example illustrating their in- 
dependence we may mention the Maritime Chukchee and 
the Eskimo who have a similar, almost identical material 



156 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

culture, but differ in their religious life; or the various 
Indian tribes of the western Plains; or those Bantu tribes 
whose economic lives are alike but who differ in social 
structure. Lack of cohesion appears most clearly in at- 
tempts to chart cultural traits, as Ankermann, Frobenius 
and Wieschoff have done for Africa, and Erland Norden- 
skiold (2) for South America. Notwithstanding the ap- 
pearance of connected areas the discontinuities of distri- 
bution are one of the striking features of these maps. 
Limits of distribution do not agree, neither in reference 
to the distribution of types and languages, nor to that of 
other cultural phenomena such as social organization, re- 
ligious ideas, style of art, etc. Each of these has its own 
area of distribution. 

Not even language can be treated as a unit, for its 
phonetic, grammatical and lexicographic materials are not 
indissolubly connected, for by assimilation different lan- 
guages may become alike in some features. The history 
of phonetics and lexicography are not necessarily tied up 
with the history of grammar. 

The so-called "culture areas" are conveniences for the 
treatment of generalized traits of culture, generally based 
on sameness of geographic and economic conditions and 
on similarities of material culture. If culture areas were 
based on language, religion or social organization they 
would differ materially from those generally accepted. 

Applying this consideration to the history of the peoples 
speaking Aryan languages we conclude that this language 
has not necessarily arisen among one of the types of men 
who nowadays speak Aryan languages; that none of them 
may be considered a pure, unmixed descendant of the 
original people that spoke the ancestral Aryan language; 
and that furthermore the original type may have developed 
other languages beside the Aryan. 



RACE, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE 157 

It may be asked whether the cultural achievements of 
races may be arranged in a progressive series, some races 
having produced inferior values while others have created 
nobler ones. If a progression of culture could be established 
and if, at the same time, it could be shown that the simpler 
forms always occur in some races, higher ones in others, 
it might be possible to conclude that there are differences 
in racial ability. It is easily shown that the most varied 
cultural forms appear in most races. In America the high 
civilizations of Peru and Mexico may be compared with 
the primitive tribes of Tierra del Fuego or with those of 
northern Canada. In Asia Chinese, Japanese and the 
primitive Yukaghir; in Africa the Negroes of the Sudan 
and the hunters of the primeval forests are found side by 
side. Only in Australia no higher forms of culture are 
found, and our own modern civilization had nothing alike 
to it among other races until the most recent time when 
Japan and China participate in many of our most valued 
activities, as in earlier times we have taken on many of 
their achievements. 

The errors underlying all conclusions based on the 
achievements of various races have been dwelt on before 
(p. 6). It should be emphasized again that we can never 
be sure whether the mental character of a primitive tribe 
is the cause of its low culture so that under favorable con- 
ditions it could not attain a more advanced cultural life, 
or whether its mental character is the effect of its low 
culture and would change with advancing culture. It is 
all but impossible to find material for answering this 
question, except for the peoples of eastern Asia, because 
nowadays no large populations of alien races are placed 
in a position in which they are socially and politically 
equal to Whites and enjoy the same opportunities for in- 
tellectual, economic and social development. The chasm 



158 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

between our society and theirs is the wider the greater 
the contrast in outer appearance. For this reason we may 
not expect the same kind of mental development in these 
groups. 

The considerations which in the beginning of our dis- 
cussion led us to the conclusion that in modern times 
primitive tribes have no opportunity to develop their in- 
nate abilities, prevents us from forming any opinion in 
regard to their racial hereditary faculty. 

In order to answer this question we need a clearer under- 
standing of the historical development of culture. This 
subject will be dealt with in the following chapters. 



9. EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 

Culture may be defined as the totality of the mental 
and physical reactions and activities that characterize the 
behavior of the individuals composing a social group col- 
lectively and individually in relation to their natural en- 
vironment, to other groups, to members of the group itself 
and of each individual to himself. It also includes the 
products of these activities and their role in the life of the 
groups. The mere enumeration of these various aspects 
of life, however, does not constitute culture. It is more, for 
its elements are not independent, they have a structure. 

The activities enumerated here are not by any means 
the sole property of man, for the life of animals is also 
regulated by their relations to nature, to other animals 
and by the interrelation of the individuals composing the 
same species or social group. 

It has been customary to describe culture in order as 
material culture, social relations, art and religion. Ethical 
attitudes and rational activities have generally been 
treated slightly, and language has seldom been included in 
the description of culture. Under the first of these head- 
ings the gathering, preserving and preparation of food, 
shelter and clothing, processes and products of manu- 
facture, methods of locomotion are described. Rational 
knowledge is generally included as part of this subject. 
Under social relations the general economic conditions, 
property rights, relation to foreign tribes in war and peace, 
the position of the individual in the tribe, the organization 
of the tribe, forms of communication, sexual and other in- 

159 



160 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

dividual relations are discussed. Decorative, pictorial and 
plastic art, song, narrative and dance are the subject 
matter of art ; the attitudes and activities centering around 
everything that is considered as sacred or outside of the 
sphere of ordinary human acts, that of religion. Here are 
generally also included customary behavior, referring to 
what is considered as good, bad, proper or improper and 
other fundamental ethical concepts. 

Many phenomena of material culture and social rela- 
tions are common to man and animals (Alverdes). Each 
species of animals has its own method of food quest. The 
method of hunting of the wolf is different from that of the 
lion; the food and food-gathering of the squirrel differs 
from that of the woodchuck. Some animals like the ant- 
lion and spider build traps to catch game. Still others 
prey upon other creatures and appropriate the food col- 
lected by them. Jaeger gulls rob other gulls or fishing 
birds of their fish. Vultures live on the offal left by animals 
of prey. Many rodents are accustomed to lay by stores of 
provisions for the winter; insects, like bees, even prepare 
food for the next generation. 

The reactions to climate are quite different in various 
groups. The bear hibernates in winter, some birds migrate 
to warmer climes, others endure the harshness of the cold 
weather. 

Many kinds of animals make homes for themselves for 
their own protection and that of their young. Antelopes 
make lairs and apes live in temporary nests. Even the 
fundamental achievement of man, the invention of arti- 
ficially made objects that serve their purpose, is not en- 
tirely absent in the animal world. The nests of some birds 
are made with greater art than the homes of some primi- 
tive people. They are woven and plastered with great skill. 
Insects and spiders make elaborate structures in which 



EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 161 

they live. One species of ants even prepares suitable soil 
in their hills for raising fungi and keep the beds scrupu- 
lously clean. According to W. Kohler's (1) experiments the 
apes use tools. They will break off a suitable stick for 
reaching a desired object that is too far away to be taken 
by the hand. He even saw chimpanzees putting hollow 
sticks together in order to obtain a tool of appropriate 
length. These are, however, probably the only cases in 
which .animals prepare tools, not instinctively, but to 
serve a single, specific purpose. 

Parallels to the social habits of man are also found in 
the animal world. The herd or pack of gregarious animals 
forms a firmly knit unit hostile to strangers even of the 
same species. A pack of dogs will not allow a foreign dog 
in their midst. He is accepted, if at all, only after long 
continued fights. Penguins of the same rookery will not 
allow others with whom they are not acquainted, to tres- 
pass on their nesting place. Ants of one hill including foreign 
species that live in symbiosis, keep together but attack all 
foreigners that try to encroach upon their territory. 

In societies of apes and poultry there is a distinct order 
of rank, the strongest "personalities" being recognized as 
superiors by the weaker ones. Among insects the assign- 
ment of social duties is connected with bodily form, each 
class having its own anatomical characteristic. The vari- 
ous classes of workers of the leaf-cutting ants are ana- 
tomically distinct. Among higher animals, social duties 
belong to the leader of the herd, male or female, to scouts 
or watchers. Some animals live in more or less permanent 
monogamy, as some birds, others in herds in which the 
male leader has his harem, still others live in short lived 
temporary unions. Sometimes both male and female look 
after the young, in other cases the female or the male 
alone has to take care of them. 



162 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The feeling of ownership manifests itself particularly 
during the period of reproduction. The stickleback drives 
other fish and snails away from the region in which he has 
built his nest; many birds do not permit any other indi- 
viduals of the same species to visit the district they in- 
habit. Ducks defend their particular pond against in- 
truders. Other animals "own" permanent territories 
throughout the year; monkeys stay in a definite district 
to which others are not admitted. The same is true of 
eagles and hawks. Animals that lay by provisions, as 
some species of woodpeckers, squirrels and woodchucks, 
own and defend their stores. 

Animals living in a social group also have their friend- 
ships and enmities, their forceful leaders and weaklings, 
and their social relations are of the same general kind as 
those found in human society. 

The distribution of habits among animals shows that 
these must be, comparatively speaking, recent acquisitions, 
for many instances are known of closely allied species 
whose modes of life differ in important respects. We find 
solitary wasps and those living in elaborately organized 
colonies. Related species of ants differ fundamentally in 
their habits. Some birds are gregarious and nest in col- 
onies, while closely related species are solitary. The mi- 
grations of birds over definite routes can be understood 
only as a result of a long historical process and can in no 
way be explained as due to their anatomical structure. 

The changes in habits seem to be dependent upon the 
mode of life of untold generations. It is not necessary for 
us to discuss here the question how such habits may have 
come to be fixed by heredity. The facts indicate that 
habits may modify structure as in the case of bees who 
develop a queen by proper treatment of an egg or a larva, 
or in those ants that have different bodily forms for indi- 



EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 163 

viduals performing distinct social functions. The distribu- 
tion of these phenomena among related forms suggests an 
instability of habits much greater than that of bodily form. 
It may also be an indication that comparatively slight 
changes in structure may modify the mode of life. There 
is, however, no indication that certain types of structure 
determine definite habits. Their distribution seems quite 
erratic. 

We do not designate the activities of animals as culture, 
no matter whether they are purposive, or whether they are 
organically determined or learned. We rather speak of 
" mode of life " or " habits " of animals. There may be some 
justification in using the term culture for activities that 
are acquired by tradition, still it would be stretching the 
meaning of the term too far if we should apply it to the 
song of the bird or to any other acquired activity of ani- 
mals. If, according to Kohler (2), chimpanzees like to 
adorn themselves and may even intentionally perform 
certain rhythmic movements, a kind of "dance," the term 
may seem more applicable. It is difficult to draw a sharp 
line between "mode of life" and "culture." 

If we were to define culture by observing behavior alone 
there is little in the fundamental elements of human be- 
havior that has not some kind of parallel in the animal 
world. 

Peculiar to man is the great variability of behavior in 
regard to his relations to nature and to his fellow men. 
While among animals the behavior of the whole species is 
stereotyped, or as we say, instinctive, not learned, and only 
to a very slight extent variable and dependent on local 
tradition, human behavior is not stereotyped in the same 
sense, and cannot be called instinctive. It depends on local 
tradition and is learned. Furthermore, so far as we can 
understand the actions of animals, there is no retrospec- 



164 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

live reasoning in regard to their actions. They are pur- 
poseful insofar as they are adapted to certain requirements, 
and insofar as many animals may profit by experience, 
but the whole problem of causality and the question 
why certain things happen, are foreign to the animals 
and common to all mankind. In other words, human cul- 
ture is differentiated from animal life by the power of 
reasoning, and, connected with it, by the use of language. 
Peculiar to man is also the evaluation of actions from 
ethical and aesthetic viewpoints. 

An examination of the oldest remains of man gives the 
impression of an objective parallelism with animal be- 
havior. Setting aside the doubtful eoliths of the end of the 
Tertiary since they show no definite shaping, but are 
merely provided with sharp edges suitable for cutting arid 
slashing that may have been formed by use we find 
definitely shaped tools in the Quaternary. These are brit- 
tle stones knocked into rough shapes by the blow of a 
heavier, tough stone. The strata in which these stones 
are found represent a period of several thousand years. 
No change in the form of the implements occurs from the 
earlier to the later part of this period. Generation after 
generation performed the same activities. We do not 
know whether their activities that left no remains may 
have changed during this time. We do not know whether 
man of this period had organized language and the concept 
of causal relations. Considering only the material that is 
actually in hand, the activities of man throughout this 
period might have been as permanent as those of animals. 
The bodily form also was still prehuman and differed from 
that of any of the present human races. It would be an 
adequate statement of the observed facts if we should 
claim that man of this period had developed an organic 
tendency to supplement the use of hands and teeth by the 



EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 165 

use of objects to which he gave somewhat serviceable form, 
and that the form he used was learned by imitation. 

Oswald Menghin shows that in this early period the 
industries of mankind did not follow the same pattern 
everywhere, but it is impossible to determine whether 
such differentiation had anything to do with the distribu- 
tion of races. 

In later times we are able to study not only the frag- 
mentary archaeological remains, the only indications of 
the cultural life of past ages, but we become acquainted 
also with the languages, customs and thoughts of people. 

From these times on we find not only emotion, intellect 
and will power of man alike everywhere, but also similar- 
ities in thought and action among the most diverse peo- 
ples. These similarities are so detailed and far reaching, so 
utterly independent of race and language that Bastian was 
led to speak of the appalling monotony of the fundamental 
ideas of mankind all over the globe. 

The art of producing fire by friction, the boiling of food, 
the knowledge of tools like knife, scraper and drill illustrate 
the universality of certain inventions. 

Elementary features of grammatical structure are com- 
mon to all languages. The distinctions between speaker, 
person addressed and person spoken of; and concepts of 
space, time and form are universal. 

So is belief in the supernatural. Animals and the active 
forms of nature are seen in anthropomorphic form and 
endowed with superhuman powers. Other objects are 
seen as possessing .beneficent or malevolent qualities. 
Magic power is ever present. 

The belief in a multiplicity of worlds, one or more 
spanned over us, others stretching under us, the central 
one the home of man is generally held. The idea of a soul 
of man in varied forms is universal, and a home of the de- 



166 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

parted souls is commonly located in the west and may be 
reached after a dangerous journey. 

Tylor, Spencer, Frazer, Bastian, Andree (1), Post and 
many others have collected instances of such similarities 
in vast numbers and relating to many subjects so that it is 
unnecessary to give further details. 

Special curious analogies occur in regions far apart. 
Examples are the foretelling of the future from cracks in 
the shoulder blades of an animal (Andree 2, Speck) ; the 
occurrence of the Phaeton legend in Greece and Northwest 
America (Boas 12) ; the bleeding of animals by the use of 
a small bow and arrow (Heger); the use of a strap for 
throwing lances in ancient Rome (the pilum) and on the 
Admiralty Islands; the development of an elaborate as- 
trology in the Old World and the New; the invention of 
the zero in Yucatan and India; that of the blowgun in 
America and Malaysia; the similarity of basketry tech- 
nique and design in Africa and America (Dixon 1); the 
balance in pre-Spanish Peru (Nordenskiold 1, Joyce) and 
in the Old World, the use of the bull roarer to frighten 
away the profane from sacred ceremonies in Australia and 
South America. 

Certain parallelisms in linguistic form may also be ob- 
served. Here belong the use of sounds by drawing in the 
breath in West Africa and in California (Dixon 2, Uldall) ; 
the use of musical pitch for differentiating the meaning of 
words in Africa, eastern Asia and in many parts of Amer- 
ica; the distribution of masculine, feminine and neuter in 
Indo-European languages and on Columbia River in North 
America; the use of duplication or reduplication for ex- 
pressing repetition and other concepts in some languages 
of America and in Polynesia; the sharp distinction of 
movement toward the speaker and away from the 
speaker. 



EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 167 

The common cause for these similarities in the behavior 
of man may be explained by two theories. Similar phenom- 
ena may occur because they are historically related or 
they may arise independently on account of the sameness 
of the mental structure of man. The frequency with which 
analogous forms develop independently in plants and ani- 
mals (see pp. 99 et seq.) indicates that there is nothing 
improbable in the independent origin of similar ideas among 
the most diverse human groups. 

Historical relations may be of two kinds. They may 
be earlier inventions and ideas which represent early cul- 
tural achievements belonging to a period previous to the 
general dispersion of mankind or they may be due to later 
happenings. 

Universal distribution of cultural achievements sug- 
gests the possibility of great antiquity. This theory should 
be applied only to features that occur the world over and 
the great antiquity of which can be proved by archaeologi- 
cal or other more indirect evidence. A number of ethnolog- 
ical traits fulfill these conditions. The use of fire, of drill- 
ing, cutting, sawing, work in stone belong to this early 
age, and have been the heritage of which each people built 
up its own individual type of culture (Weule, Ratzel 2). 
The occurrence of the dog as a domesticated animal in 
practically all parts of the world may be of equal antiquity. 
It seems plausible that the living-together of man and dog 
developed in the earliest period of human history, before 
the races of northern Asia and America separated from 
those of southeastern Asia. The introduction of the dingo 
(the native dog) into Australia seems to be most easily 
explained when we assume that it accompanied man to 
that remote continent. 

Language is also a trait common to all mankind, and 
one that must have its roots in earliest times. 



168 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The activities of the higher apes favor the assumption 
that certain arts may have belonged to man before his 
dispersion. Their habit of making nests, that is, habita- 
tions, the use of sticks and stones, point in this direction. 

All this makes it plausible that certain cultural achieve- 
ments date back to the origin of mankind. 

We have also clear evidence of the dissemination of 
cultural elements from tribe to tribe, from people to peo- 
ple and from continent to continent. These can be proved 
to have existed from the earliest times on. An instance of 
the rapidity with which cultural achievements are trans- 
mitted is presented by the modern history of some culti- 
vated plants. Tobacco and cassava were introduced into 
Africa after the discovery of America, and it took little 
time for these plants to spread over the whole continent; 
so that at present they enter so deeply into the whole cul- 
ture of the Negro, that nobody would suspect their foreign 
origin. 1 In the same way the use of the banana has per- 
vaded almost the whole of South America (Von den 
Steinen). The history of Indian-corn is another example 
of the incredible rapidity with which a useful cultural 
acquisition may spread over the whole world. It is men- 
tioned as known in Europe in 1539, and, according to 
Laufer (2), had reached China by way of Tibet between 
1540 and 1570. 2 

It is easy to show that similar conditions prevailed in 
earlier times. Victor Hehn's investigations as well as 
archaeological evidence show the gradual and continuous 
increase of the number of domesticated animals and culti- 
vated plants, due to their importation from Asia. The 

1 E. Hahn 2: pp. 464, 465; de Candolle. 

2 Regarding the introduction of tobacco into eastern Asia, J. Rein 
states that it was known in the most southern part of Japan during the 
last half of the sixteenth century and that it was known in Nagasaki in 1607. 



EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 169 

same process was going on in prehistoric times. The 
spread of the Asiatic horse, which was first used as a 
draught animal, later on for riding, that of cattle over 
Africa and Europe, the development of European grains 
many of which are derived from wild Asiatic forms, may 
serve as illustrations. The area over which these addi- 
tions to the stock of human culture were extended is very 
large. We see most of them travel westward until they 
reach the Atlantic coast, and eastward to the shores of the 
Pacific Ocean. They also penetrated the African con- 
tinent. It may be that the use of milk was disseminated 
in a similar way; for when the people of the world enter 
into our historic knowledge, we find milk used all over 
Europe, Africa and the western part of Asia. 

Perhaps the best proof of transmission is contained in 
the folk-lore of the tribes of the world. Nothing seems to 
travel as readily as fanciful tales. We know of certain 
complex tales, which cannot possibly have been invented 
twice, that are told by the Berbers in Morocco, by the 
Italians, the Russians, in the jungles of India, in the high- 
lands of Tibet, on the tundras of Siberia, on the prairies of 
North America and in Greenland; so that perhaps the only 
parts of the world not reached by them are South Africa, 
Australia, Polynesia and South America. The examples 
of such transmission are quite numerous, and we begin to 
see that the early interrelation of the races of man was 
almost world-wide. 

It follows from this observation that the culture of any 
given tribe, no matter how primitive it may be, can be 
fully explained only when we take into consideration its 
inner growth as well as the effects of its relations to the 
cultures of its near and distant neighbors. Two enor- 
mously large areas of extended diffusion may be traced. 
Our brief remarks on the distribution of cultivated plants 



170 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

and domesticated animals prove the existence of interrela- 
tions between Europe, Asia and North Africa, from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Other cultural traits cor- 
roborate this conclusion. The gradual spread of bronze 
from Central Asia westward and eastward, all over Europe 
and over China; the area in which the wheel is used; where 
agriculture with plough and with the help of domesticated 
animals is practiced, show the same type of distribution 
(Ed. Hahn 1). We may also recognize other characteristic 
traits in this area. Oath and ordeal are highly developed 
in Europe, Africa and Asia excepting the northeastern 
part of Siberia, while in America they are little known 
(Laasch). Other common features of the cultural types of 
the Old World appear also most clearly by contrast with 
conditions in America. One of these is the importance of 
formal judicial procedure and elaborate administrative 
organization in the Old World, and their weak develop- 
ment among those tribes of North and South America, 
who, in their general cultural development, might well be 
compared with the African Negroes. In the domain of 
folk-lore the riddle, the proverb and the moralizing fable 
are characteristic of an enormous part of the Old World, 
while they are lacking in northeastern Siberia and rare in 
America. In all these features, Europe, a large part of 
Africa, and Asia except its extreme northeastern part, and 
the Malay Archipelago, form a unit. 

In a similar manner we may trace certain very general 
traits over a large part of aboriginal America. Most con- 
vincing among these is the use of Indian-corn as the foun- 
dation of American agriculture. Its home was in the high- 
lands of Mexico, but at an early time its use spread over 
the continental bridge to South America as far as the 
Argentine and northeastward almost to the line where 
climatic conditions prevent its cultivation. A similar im- 



EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 171 

pression is given by the distribution of pottery which 
occurs in all parts of the double continent excepting its 
extreme northwestern and southern marginal areas; l and 
by the peculiar forms of American decorative art which 
flourished in South America, Central America, Mexico 
and the southwest of the United States. Notwithstanding 
the individuality of each region they have a certain degree 
of stylistic similarity strong enough to induce some stu- 
dents to look for a direct relation between the ancient cul- 
tures of the Argentine and New Mexico. It would seem 
that the regions of advanced cultures in Mexico, Central 
America and Peru played a role not unlike that of Central 
Asia, insofar as on an ancient common American cultural 
basis new traits developed which influenced the whole 
continent. 

The interpretation of cultural phenomena which occur 
sporadically in regions far apart offers serious difficulties. 
Some authors are inclined to consider these also as sur- 
vivals of a very early period when there was still a common 
home of the people who have these traits in common. Or 
they assume that on account of historical events the cus- 
toms have been lost in intervening areas. Without some 
more solid background than that so far given these the- 
ories must be used with utmost caution, for if we admit 
in our argument the loss of one feature here, another there, 
or a loss of whole complexes of features the door would be 
open to the most fanciful conclusions. When phenomena 
of sporadic occurrence are to be referred back to great 
antiquity it would be necessary first of all to prove that 
they do survive in various cultures unchanged through 
exceedingly long periods. If they are changeable the 
sameness cannot be explained by great antiquity. This 
objection may be raised to most of the arguments for an 

1 There is an intrusion of pottery in Arctic Alaska and adjoining territories. 



172 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

early historic connection between customs and inventions 
that occur sporadically in regions as far apart as South 
America, Australia and South Africa. 

In many cases it is quite impossible to give incon- 
trovertible arguments which would prove that these cus- 
toms are not due to parallel and independent development 
rather than to community of origin: in some cases the de- 
cision of this question may be found through the results 
of prehistoric archaeology. 

It is often assumed that because modern cultures are 
complex, those of culturally poorer groups simpler, that 
the chronological sequence of all cultural history has led 
from the simple to the complex. It is obvious that the 
history of industrial development is almost throughout 
that of increasing complexity. On the other hand, human 
activities that do not depend upon reasoning do not show 
a similar type of evolution. 

It is perhaps easiest to make this clear by the example 
of language, which in many respects is one of the most im- 
portant evidences of the history of human development. 
Many primitive languages are complex. Minute differ- 
ences in point of view are given expression by means of 
grammatical forms; and the grammatical categories of 
Latin, and still more so those of modern English, seem 
crude when compared to the complexity of psychological 
or logical forms which primitive languages recognize, but 
which in our speech are disregarded. On the whole, the 
development of languages seems to be such, that the nicer 
distinctions are eliminated, and that it begins with com- 
plex and ends with simpler forms, although it must be 
acknowledged that opposite tendencies are not by any 
means absent (for examples see for instance Boas 10). 

Similar observations may be made on the art of primi- 
tive man. In music as well as in decorative design we find 



EARLY CULTURAL TRAITS 173 

a complex rhythmic structure which is unequaled in the 
popular art of our day. In music, particularly, this com- 
plexity is so great, that the art of a skilled virtuoso is taxed 
in the attempt to imitate it (Stumpf). On the other hand, 
the scope of intervals, the melodic and harmonic structure 
show an ever-increasing complexity. 

The system of social obligations determined by the 
status of an individual in the group of consanguineal and 
affinal relatives is often exceedingly complex. The behav- 
ior of brothers and sisters, uncles and nephews, parents-in- 
law and children-in-law is often circumscribed by minute 
rules which do not exist in modern civilization. There is a 
general loss in the variety of obligations of individuals to 
society insofar as these are regulated by status. 

The development of religion also is not by any means 
that from simple to complex forms. The lack of system in 
religious behavior of primitive man subjects him to a mass 
of disconnected, apparently arbitrary rules and regula- 
tions. Dogma as well as religious activities are manifold 
and often without apparent coherence. When one clear 
and dominating idea controls religious life the aspect of 
religion becomes clearer and simpler and may lead to a 
religion without dogma and ritual. The opposite tendency 
of a systematic religion taking on complex ritual forms is 
also common. 

In a similar way the observation that in modern cul- 
tures greater logical or psychological consistency may be 
observed has led to the conclusion that the degree of logi- 
cal or psychological cohesion has a chronological value so 
that the historical sequence can be reconstructed from a 
logical or psychological analysis of the ideas of primitive 
tribes. The development of the anthropomorphic view of 
nature and of mythology has been reconstructed on this 
basis by Spencer and Tylor. In reality the course of his- 



174 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

tory may have been quite different. It is easily seen that 
the concepts involved represented by such terms as the 
supernatural, soul, sin existed long before a corresponding 
clearly defined concept developed. An analysis of their 
complex content could not give us a history of the develop- 
ment of their meaning. If we can determine that the su- 
pernatural includes the ideas of wonderful qualities of 
objects and the other of anthropomorphic but superhuman 
faculties this does not show that the one aspect is neces- 
sarily older than the other. Furthermore the sources from 
which these vague concepts develop are manifold and 
cannot be explained as a logical conclusion based on a sin- 
gle set of experiences. When once the idea of animism and 
anthropomorphism has developed, the transfer of social 
experiences into the anthropomorphic world must occur 
and it can have no other form than that of the society 
with which man is familiar. When a condition, like sick- 
ness or hunger is conceived as an object that may be 
present or absent and leads an independent existence, 
while others are conceived as attributes, confused lines of 
thought must develop in which the one group will be af- 
fected by the particular views held regarding objects, the 
other by those regarding attributes, but no chronological 
sequence is involved. 



10. THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 

Ever since the time when the study of human cultures 
was recognized as a problem, attempts have been made to 
interpret it as a unit phenomenon even before anything 
like a fair amount of material had been collected. Society 
was considered as an organism, and its various functions 
were explained in the same way as the organs of the body. 
Under the influences of Darwinism its changing forms were 
viewed as the evolution of an organism, the driving force of 
its development being rational thought. The mental activ- 
ities of primitive man have been compared to those of 
children and vice versa, so that the development of the 
child's mind has been looked at as a recapitulation of the 
development of the mind of mankind. The child's mind, 
it is believed, can thus explain to us the primitive mind. 
In recent times primitive mind is being compared with the 
minds of mentally unsound, as though the mental activ- 
ities of perfectly normal people of foreign cultures could 
be explained by the mentally affected of our own culture. 

Rather recent are attempts to understand primitive 
culture as a phenomenon that requires painstaking analy- 
sis before a generally valid theory is accepted. 

Only a few of the points of view just referred to are rele- 
vant to our problem. Suggested analogy with an organism 
will not help us to clear up the behavior of primitive man. 
The analogy with the mental life of the child is difficult to 
apply because the culture of child life in Europe and the 
life of the adult in primitive society are not comparable. 
We ought at least to compare the adult primitive with the 

175 



176 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

child in his own culture. Children of all races undoubtedly 
exhibit analogies of development dependent upon the 
development of the body, and differences according to the 
demands made by their gradual initiation into the culture 
in which they live. The only question could be whether 
one culture tends to develop qualities which another one 
neglects. 

The comparison of forms of psychoses and primitive life 
seems still more unfortunate. The manifestation of mental 
disturbances must necessarily depend upon the culture in 
which people live and it must be of great value to the 
psychiatrist to study the expression of forms of psychoses 
in different cultures, but an attempt to parallel forms of 
healthy primitive life and those of disturbances in our 
civilization is not based on any tangible analogy. The 
megalomaniac boasting and acting of the Northwest Coast 
Indians does not make them act like a megalomaniac in- 
sane, but their culture probably gives a particular form to 
that type of insanity. Particularly Freud's (2) comparison 
of primitive culture and the psychoanalytic interpreta- 
tions of European behavior seem to lack a scientific back- 
ground. They appear to me as fancies in which neither the 
aspect of primitive life nor that of civilized life is sustained 
by tangible evidence. The attempt to conceive every men- 
tal state or performance as determined by discover- 
able causes confuses the concepts of causality and pre- 
dictability. Of course, every event has a cause, but the 
causes do not hang together so that they represent a single 
thread. Innumerable accidental causes intervene which 
cannot be predicted and which also can not be recon- 
structed as determining the course of the past. 

We must pay more detailed attention to the attempts 
to see cultural life developing from primitive forms to 
modern civilization, either as a single evolutional line or 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 177 

in a small number of separate lines. The question may be 
asked whether without regard to race, time and space, 
we may recognize a series of stages of culture which repre- 
sent for the whole of humanity an historical sequence, so 
that certain ones may be identified as types belonging to 
an early period, others as recent. 

The investigations of Tylor, Bachofen, Morgan and 
Spencer fixed the attention upon the data of anthropology 
as illustrating the gradual development and rise of civiliza- 
tion. The development of this side of anthropology was 
stimulated by the work of Darwin and his successors, and 
the underlying ideas can be understood only as an appli- 
cation to mental phenomena of the theory of biological 
evolution. The conception that the manifestations of 
ethnic life represent a time series, which from simple be- 
ginnings has progressed in a single line to the complex 
type of modern civilization, has been the underlying 
thought of this aspect of anthropological science. 

The arguments in support of this theory are based on 
the similarities of types of culture found in distinct races 
the world over, and on the occurrence of peculiar customs 
in our own civilization, which can be understood only as 
survivals of older customs that had a deeper significance at 
an earlier time, and which are still found in full vigor 
among primitive people. 1 

An excellent example of the general theory of evolution 
of civilization is found in the theory of the development of 
agriculture and of the domestication of animals as out- 
lined by Otis T. Mason, W J McGee and Eduard Hahn 
(1, 2). They point out how, in the earliest beginnings of 
social life, animals, plants and man lived together in a 
common environment and how the conditions of life 
brought it about that certain plants multiplied in the 

1 Tylor, I, p. 16. 



'178 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

neighborhood of the human camp to the exclusion of 
others, and certain animals were suffered as camp follow- 
ers. Through this condition of mutual sufferance and 
promotion of mutual interests, if I may use this term, a 
closer association between plants, animals, and man de- 
veloped, which ultimately led to the beginnings of agricul- 
ture and to the actual domestication of animals. 

The development of art has been reconstructed by sim- 
ilar methods. Since the earliest traces of art represent 
animals and other objects and geometric forms follow, it 
has been inferred that all geometrical motives have de- 
veloped from representative designs. 

In a similar way religion has been inferred to be the re- 
sult of speculation in regard to nature. 

The essential method has been to bring the observed 
phenomena into order according to imputed principles and 
to interpret this as a chronological order. 

We must try to understand more clearly what the the- 
ory of a unilinear cultural development implies. It means 
that different groups of mankind started at a very early 
time from a general condition of lack of culture; and, ow- 
ing to the unity of the human mind and the consequent 
similar response to outer and inner stimuli, developed 
everywhere approximately along the same lines, making 
similar inventions and developing similar customs and 
beliefs. It also involves a correlation between industrial 
and social development, and therefore a definite sequence 
of inventions as well as of forms of organization and 
belief. 

In the absence of historical data in regard to the earliest 
history of primitive man the world over, we have only 
three sources of historical proof for this assumption the 
evidence contained in the earliest history of the civilized 
people of the Old World, survivals in modern civilization 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 179 

and archaeology. The last-named is the only method by 
means of which we can approach the problem in regard to 
people that have no history. 

While it is certainly true that analogues can be found 
between the types of culture represented by primitive 
people and those conditions which prevailed among the 
ancestors of the present civilized peoples at the dawn of 
history, and that these analogues are supported by the 
evidence furnished by survivals, the evidence of archaeol- 
ogy does not support the complete generalization. The 
theory of parallel development, if it is to have any signifi- 
cance, would require that among all branches of mankind 
the steps of invention should have followed, at least ap- 
proximately, in the same order, and that no important 
gaps should be found. The facts, so far as known at the 
present time, are entirely contrary to this view. 

The example of the development of agriculture and 
herding will illustrate some of the objections that may be 
raised against the general theory. Under the simple con- 
ditions of primitive life the food supply of the family is 
procured by both sexes. The women collect plants and 
animals that are stationary or that cannot move about 
rapidly such as larvae and worms. This must be due to 
the hindrance imposed upon them by childbearing and the 
care of young children. The men obtain the fleet game, 
birds and fish. They hunt and fish. The attempt to sys- 
tematize the life forms of primitive people induces us to 
place those who gather food and hunt at the beginning of 
the scale. Next will be placed others who are farther ad- 
vanced in the technical means of obtaining a livelihood, 
or who have attained a closer connection with the vege- 
table world by developing property rights in regard to 
plants growing near their place of abode. These relations 
all center around the life of women and her occupation 



180 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

with plants and we reach, without any serious gap, the 
condition of earliest agriculture. The psychological rea- 
son for accepting this arrangement as having a chrono- 
logical value, lies in the conviction of the continuity of 
technical advance and on the other important fact that we 
are dealing right along with the occupations of the same 
part of the population, namely, the women. The chrono- 
logical interpretation is supported by the observation that 
the beginnings of agriculture are generally supported by 
the gathering of wild plants; that while gathering of plants 
occurs without agriculture, the opposite condition is un- 
known. 

The activities of men related primarily to animals. The 
transition from hunting to herding cannot be shown as 
easily as that from the gathering of plants to agriculture. 
Still it is at least plausible that the domestication of ani- 
mals which are almost exclusively gregarious animals 
is based on the relation of the hunter to the wild herd. As 
soon as the hunter began to obtain his food supply from 
the same herd and prevented its being scattered by killing 
the animals that pursued it, conditions developed similar 
to those found among the Chukchee and Koryak in Si- 
beria. Since in this case also the same part of the popula- 
tion, namely the men, were concerned in the relation be- 
tween man and animal a continued development is 
possible. 

These considerations are supported by archaeological 
evidence. If our views are correct, the cultivated plants 
must have originated from the wild plants with which man 
was familiar. This transition has been shown for native 
European plants. According to our theory we should ex- 
pect frequent crossings between wild and domesticated 
forms. This has been made plausible for early European 
forms. In domesticated animals similar conditions may 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 181 

still be observed in the reindeer of Siberia and the dog of 
the Eskimo. 

With this we are led to a question of fundamental im- 
portance for the theory of a unilinear evolution: What is 
the chronological relation between agriculture and herd- 
ing? When we approach this question from a psycholog- 
ical viewpoint the difficulty arises that we are no longer 
dealing with one single type of occupation carried on by 
the same group, but that we have two occupations, dis- 
tinct in technique and carried on by distinct groups. The 
activities leading to the domestication of animals have 
nothing in common with those leading to the cultivation 
of plants. There is no bond that makes plausible a con- 
nection between the chronological development of these 
two occupations. It is missing because the persons in- 
volved are not the same and because the occupations are 
quite distinct. From a psychological point of view there is 
nothing that would help us to establish a time sequence for 
agriculture and herding. 

I think this example illustrates one of the principal 
doubts that must be raised against a systematic, all- 
embracing application of a theory of evolution of culture. 
The steps of development must relate to an aspect of cul- 
ture in which the same group of people are involved and in 
which the same kind of activity persists. A constant rela- 
tion between loosely connected or entirely disconnected 
aspects of culture is improbable when the differences be- 
tween the activities are great and different groups of indi- 
viduals participate in the activities involved. In all these 
cases chronological data must be based on other sources. 

Safe conclusions can be based only on archaeological 
evidence. Besides this, certain conditions among prim- 
itives may serve as guides. If it can be shown that certain 
industries occur exclusively in connection with other sim- 



182 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

pier ones and the latter alone, the former never without 
the simpler ones, it seems likely that the simple type of 
work is the earlier. If this should not occur with absolute 
regularity, still with sufficient frequency, we might speak 
of recognizable tendencies of development. 

Geographical distribution may also serve as a help, for 
wherever there is a continuous distribution of industry it 
is possible, although not necessary, that the one most 
widely spread is the oldest. It is doubtful whether this argu- 
ment can be applied outside of the domain of technique. 

The more distinct the various phenomena the less they 
are correlated, so that finally notwithstanding the tend- 
ency to historical development in single phases of culture 
no harmonious scheme for the whole of culture that would 
be valid everywhere is found (Thomas). 

Thus it does not seem to be certain that every people in 
an advanced stage of civilization must have passed through 
all the stages of development, which we may gather by an 
investigation of all the types of culture which occur all 
over the world. 

Similar objections may be raised against the general 
validity of the theory of the development of the family. 
It has been claimed that the organization of the family 
began with irregular and shifting relations between the 
sexes, that later on mother and children formed the family 
unit which remained attached to that of the mother's 
parents, brothers and sisters and that only much later 
developed a form in which the father was the head of the 
family which was attached to his parents, brothers and 
sisters. If the evolution of culture had proceeded in a 
single line the simplest forms of the family would be asso- 
ciated with the simplest types of culture. This is not the 
case, for a comparative study discloses the most irregular 
distribution. Some very primitive tribes, like the Eskimo 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 183 

and the Indian tribes of the northwest plateaus of North 
America, count relationship bilaterally, through father 
and mother; other tribes with highly developed culture 
recognize the maternal line alone, while still others whose 
economic and industrial life is of a simpler type, recognize 
the paternal line (Swanton). The data are contradictory 
and do not permit us to conclude that economic life and 
family organization are intimately related in regard to 
their inner form. 

Theoretical considerations suggest that customs do not 
by any means necessarily develop in one way only. The 
relation between incest and totemism may serve as an 
example. Incest groups vary according to the prevalent 
system of relationship and associated ideas. Frequently 
the incest group is believed to stand in intimate relation 
to some animal, plant or other object, its totem. In other 
cases there is no such relation. In anthropological theory 
totemism has been described as an early stage of society 
from which later forms have been developed. The con- 
cept of incest is so universal that it must either have 
belonged to man before his dispersion or it must have de- 
veloped independently in a very early period. Wherever 
an incest group exists a development is possible in two di- 
rections. The group while increasing in number may re- 
main a whole, or it may break up in a number of separate 
groups. A conceptual unity of the group must exist, other- 
wise subgroups will lose consciousness of their earlier rela- 
tionship when they are separated from other subgroups. 
The conceptualization may be brought about by naming 
the whole group, by common, recognizable customs or 
functions, or by a terminology of relationship which will 
differentiate members from non-members. Such a termi- 
nology may include very large numbers of individuals, 
because by reference to some known intermediary even 



184 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

distant members may be identified. It follows from this 
that when no conceptualization of unity exists totemism 
of the whole group cannot develop. The only form that is 
favorable to it is the one in which a group is characterized 
by a name or by common customs. 

If, as is illustrated by this example, different customs 
may develop from a single source we have not the right to 
assume that every people that has reached a high stage of 
development must have passed through all the stages 
found among tribes of primitive culture. 

A still more serious objection is based on another ob- 
servation. The validity of the general sameness of the 
evolution of mankind is based on the assumption that the 
same cultural features must always have developed from 
the same, single causes, and that a logical or psychological 
sequence of steps represents also a chronological sequence. 1 
We have pointed out that in special fields, when the iden- 
tical social groups carry on certain occupations uninter- 
ruptedly there may be a reason for upholding this theory. 
Not so when these conditions are not given. Thus the 
inference that maternal institutions precede paternal ones, 
to which I referred before, is based on the generalization 
that because in a number of cases paternal families have 
developed from maternal ones, therefore all paternal fam- 
ilies have developed in the same way. There is no proof 
showing that the history of family organization is con- 
trolled by a single set of specific conditions, that the man's 
or the woman's family or any other group exerted a con- 
trolling influence, nor that there is any inherent reason 
that one type must have preceded the other one. We may, 
therefore, just as well conclude that paternal families have 
in some cases arisen from maternal institutions, in other 
cases in other ways. 

1 See pp. 174, 178. 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 185 

In the same way it is inferred that because many con- 
ceptions of the future life have evidently developed from 
dreams and hallucinations, all notions of this character have 
had the same origin. This is true only if it can be shown 
that no other causes could possibly lead to the same ideas. 

To give another example. It has been claimed that 
among the Indians of Arizona, pottery developed from 
basketry, and it has been inferred that all pottery must 
therefore be later in the cultural development of mankind 
than basketry. Evidently this conclusion cannot be de- 
fended, for pottery may develop in other ways. 

As a matter of fact, quite a number of cases can be given 
in which convergent evolution, beginning from distinct 
beginnings, has led to the same results. I have referred 
before to the instance of primitive art, and have mentioned 
the theory that geometrical form develops from realistic 
representations, which lead through symbolic convention- 
alism to purely aesthetic motives. If this were true a great 
diversity of objects might in this way have given rise to 
the same decorative motives, so that the surviving motive 
would not have had the same realistic origin; but more im- 
portant than this, geometrical motives of the same type 
have developed from the tendency of the artist to play 
with his technique as the virtuoso plays on his instrument; 
that the expert basket-weaver, by varying the arrange- 
ment of her weave, was led to the development of geo- 
metrical designs of the same form as those that were de- 
veloped in other places from realistic representations. We 
may even go a step farther and recognize that geometrical 
forms developed from the technique suggested animal 
forms, and were modified so as to assume realistic forms; 
so that in the case of decorative art the same forms may 
just as well stand at the beginning of a series of develop- 
ment as at the end (Boas 13). 



186 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

A serious objection to the reasoning of those who try 
to establish lines of evolution of cultures lies in the fre- 
quent lack of comparability of the data with which we are 
dealing. Attention is directed essentially to the similarity 
of ethnic phenomena, while the individual variations are 
disregarded. As soon as we turn our attention to these we 
notice that the sameness of ethnic phenomena is more su- 
perficial than essential, more apparent than real. The un- 
expected similarities have attracted our attention to such 
an extent that we have disregarded differences. In the 
study of the physical traits of distinct social groups, the 
reverse mental attitude manifests itself. The similarity of 
the main features of the human form being self-evident, our 
attention is directed to the minute differences of structure. 

Instances of such lack of comparability can easily be 
given. When we speak of life after death as one of the ideas 
which develop in human society as a psychological neces- 
sity, we are dealing with a most complex group of data. 
One people believes that the soul continues to exist in the 
form that the person had at the time of death, without any 
possibility of change; another one that the soul will be 
reborn at a later time as a child of the same family; 
a third one that the souls will enter the bodies of ani- 
mals; and still others that the shadows continue our 
human pursuits, waiting to be led back to our world in a 
distant future. The emotional and rationalistic elements 
which enter into these various concepts are entirely dis- 
tinct; and we perceive that the various forms of the idea 
of a future life have come into existence by psychological 
processes that are not at all comparable. In one case the 
similarities between children and their deceased relatives, 
in other cases the memory of the deceased as he lived dur- 
ing the last days of his life, in still other cases the longing 
for the beloved child or parent, and again the fear of 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 187 

death may all have contributed to the development of 
the idea of life after death, the one here, the other there. 

Another instance will corroborate this point of view. 
We have already referred to "totemism" the form of a 
society in which certain social groups consider themselves 
as related in some way to a certain species of animals or to 
a class of objects. This is the generally accepted definition 
of " totemism"; but I am convinced that in this form the 
phenomenon is not a single problem, but embraces the 
most diverse psychological elements. In some cases the 
people believe themselves to be descendants of the animal 
whose protection they enjoy. In others an animal or some 
other object has appeared to an ancestor of the social 
group and promised to become his protector, and the 
friendship between the animal and the ancestor was then 
transmitted to his descendants. In still other cases a cer- 
tain social group in a tribe is believed to have the power of 
securing by magical means and with great ease a certain 
kind of animal or of increasing its numbers, and a super- 
natural relation is established in this way. It will be recog- 
nized that here again the anthropological phenomena 
which are in outward appearances alike are, psycholog- 
ically speaking, entirely distinct, and that consequently 
psychological laws covering all of them cannot be deduced 
from them (Goldenweiser). 

Another example may not be amiss. In a general review 
of moral standards we observe that with increasing civi- 
lization a gradual change in the valuation of actions takes 
place. Among primitive man, human life has little value, 
and is sacrificed on the slightest provocation. The social 
group among whose members altruistic obligations are 
binding is small; and outside of the group any action that 
may result in personal gain is not only permitted, but 
approved. From this starting-point on we find an ever- 



188 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

increasing valuation of human life and an extension of the 
size of the group among whose members altruistic obliga- 
tions are binding. The modern relations of nations show 
that this evolution has not yet reached its final stage. It 
might seem, therefore, that a study of the social conscience 
in relation to crimes like murder might be of psychological 
value, and lead to important results, clearing up the ori- 
gin of ethical values. From an ethnological point of view 
murder cannot be considered as a single phenomenon. 
Unity is established by introducing our juridical concept of 
murder. As an act murder must be considered as the 
result of a situation in which the usual respect for human 
life is superseded by stronger motives. It can be con- 
sidered as a unit only in regard to the reaction of society 
to murder which is expressed in the permission of revenge, 
the payment of compensation or punishment. The person 
who slays an enemy in revenge for wrongs done, a youth 
who kills his father before he gets decrepit in order to 
enable him to continue a vigorous life in the world to come, 
a father who kills his child as a sacrifice for the welfare of 
his people, act from such entirely different motives, that 
psychologically a comparison of their actions does not 
seem permissible. It would seem much more proper to 
compare the murder of an enemy in revenge with destruc- 
tion of his property for the same purpose; or to compare 
the sacrifice of a child on behalf of the tribe with any other 
action performed on account of strong altruistic motives, 
than to base our comparison on the common concept of 
murder (Westermarck). 

These few data may suffice to show that the same ethnic 
phenomenon may develop from different sources; and we 
may infer that the simpler the observed fact, the more 
likely it is that it may have developed from one source 
here, from another thero. 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 189 

When we base our study on these observations, it ap- 
pears that serious objections may be made against the 
assumption of the occurrence of a general sequence of 
cultural stages among all the races of man; that rather we 
recognize both a tendency of diverse customs and beliefs 
to converge towards similar forms, and a development of 
customs in divergent directions. In order to interpret cor- 
rectly these similarities in form, it is necessary to investi- 
gate their historical development; and only when the 
historical development in different areas is the same, will 
it be admissible to consider the phenomena in question as 
equivalent. From this point of view the facts of cultural 
contact assume a new importance (see p. 169). 

Culture has also been interpreted in other ways. Geog- 
raphers try to explain forms of culture as a necessary re- 
sult of geographical environment. 

It is not difficult to illustrate the important influence of 
geographical environment. The whole economic life of 
man is limited by the resources of the country in which 
he lives. The location of villages and their size depends 
upon the available food-supply; communication upon 
available trails or waterways. Environmental influences 
are evident in the territorial limits of tribes and peoples; 
seasonal changes of food-supply may condition seasonal 
migrations. The variety of habitations used by tribes of 
different areas demonstrate its influence. The snow house 
of the Eskimo, the bark wigwam of the Indian, the cave 
dwelling of the tribes of the desert, may serve as illustra- 
tions of the way in which in accordance with the available 
materials protection against exposure is attained. Scarcity 
of food may condition a nomadic life, and the necessity of 
carrying household goods on the back favors the use of 
skin receptacles and baskets as substitutes for pottery. 



190 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The special forms of utensils may be modified by geo- 
graphic conditions. Thus the complex bow of the Eskimo 
which is related to Asiatic forms takes a peculiar form 
owing to the lack of long, elastic material for bow staves. 
Even in the more complex forms of the mental life, the 
influence of environment may be found; as in nature 
myths explaining the activity of volcanoes or the presence 
of curious land forms, or in beliefs and customs relating 
to the local characterization of the seasons. 

However, geographical conditions have only the power 
to modify culture. By themselves they are not creative. 
This is clearest wherever the nature of the country limits 
the development of culture. A tribe, living without foreign 
trade in a given environment is limited to the resources 
of his home country. The Eskimo has no vegetable food 
supplies to speak of; the Polynesian who lives on an atoll 
has no stone and no skins of large mammals; the people of 
the desert have no rivers furnishing fish or offering means 
of travel. These self-eyident limitations are often of great 
importance. 

It is another question whether external conditions are 
the immediate cause of new inventions. We can under- 
stand that a fertile soil will induce an agricultural people 
whose numbers are increasing rapidly to improve its 
technique of agriculture, but not, how it could be the 
cause of the invention of agriculture. However rich in ore 
a country may be, it does not create techniques of handling 
metals; however rich in animals that might be domesti- 
cated, it will not lead to the development of herding if the 
people are entirely unfamiliar with the uses of domesti- 
cated animals. 

If we should claim that geographical environment is the 
sole determinant that acts upon the mind assumed to be 
the same in all races of mankind, we should be necessarily 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 191 

led to the conclusion that the same environment will pro- 
duce the same cultural results everywhere. 

This is obviously not true, for often the forms of cul- 
tures of peoples living in the same kind of environment 
show marked differences. I do not need to illustrate this 
by comparing the American settler with the North Amer- 
ican Indian, or the successive races of people that have 
settled in England, and have developed from the Stone 
Age to the modern English. It may, however, be desirable 
to show that among primitive tribes, geographical en- 
vironment alone does not by any means determine the 
type of culture. Proof of this may be found in the mode 
of life of the hunting and fishing Eskimo and the reindeer- 
breeding Chukchee (Bogoras, Boas 3); the African pas- 
toral Hottentot and the hunting Bushmen in their older, 
wider distribution (Schultze) ; the Negrito and the Malay 
of southeastern Asia (Martin). 

Environment always acts upon a preexisting culture, 
not on an hypothetical cultureless group. Therefore it is 
important only insofar as it limits or favors activities. It 
may even be shown that ancient customs, that may have 
been in harmony with a certain type of environment, tend 
to survive under new conditions, where they are of dis- 
advantage rather than of advantage to the people. An 
example of this kind, taken from our own civilization, is 
our failure to utilize unfamiliar kinds of food that may be 
found in newly settled countries. Another example is pre- 
sented by the reindeer-breeding Chukchee, who carry 
about in their nomadic life a tent of most complicated 
structure, which corresponds in its type to the older per- 
manent house of the coast dwellers, and contrasts in the 
most marked way with the simplicity and light weight of 
the Eskimo tent. 1 Even among the Eskimo, who have so 

1 Bogoras, pp. 177 et seq.; Boas 3: p. 551. 



192 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

marvelously well succeeded in adapting themselves to 
their geographical environment, customs like the taboo on 
the promiscuous use of caribou and seal prevent the 
fullest use of the opportunities offered by the country. 

Thus it would seem that environment has an important 
eifect upon the customs and beliefs of man, but only 
insofar as it helps to determine the special forms of cus- 
toms and beliefs. These are, however, based primarily on 
cultural conditions, which in themselves are due to other 
causes. 

At this point the students of anthropo-geography who 
attempt to explain the whole cultural development on the 
basis of geographical environmental conditions are wont 
to claim that these causes themselves are founded on 
earlier conditions, in which they have originated under 
the stress of environment. This claim is inadmissible be- 
cause the investigation of every single cultural feature 
demonstrates that the influence of environment brings 
about a certain degree of adjustment between environ- 
ment and social life, but that a complete explanation of 
the prevailing conditions, based on the action of environ- 
ment alone, is never possible. We must remember, that, 
no matter how great an influence we may ascribe to en- 
vironment, that influence can become active only by being 
exerted upon the mind; so that the characteristics of the 
mind must enter into the resultant forms of social activity. 
It is just as little conceivable that mental life can be ex- 
plained satisfactorily by environment alone, as that en- 
vironment can be explained by the influence of the people 
upon nature, which, as we all know, has brought about 
changes of watercourses, the destruction of forests and 
changes of fauna. In other words, it seems entirely arbi- 
trary to disregard the part that psychical or social ele- 
ments play in determining the forms of activities and 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 193 

beliefs which occur with great frequency all over the 
world. 

The theory of economic determinism of culture is no 
more adequate than that of geographic determinism. It is 
more attractive because economic life is an integral part 
of culture and intimately connected with all its phases, 
while geographical conditions always remain an external 
element. Still, there is no reason to call all other phases of 
culture a superstructure on an economic basis, for eco- 
nomic conditions always act on a preexisting culture and 
are themselves dependent upon other aspects of culture. 
It is no more justifiable to say that social structure is 
determined by economic forms than to claim the reverse, 
for a preexisting social structure will influence economic 
conditions and vice versa, and no people has ever been 
observed that has no social structure and that is not sub- 
ject to economic conditions. The claim that economic 
stresses preceded every other manifestation of cultural 
life and exerted their influences on a group without any 
cultural traits cannot be maintained. Cultural life is al- 
ways economically conditioned and economics are always 
culturally conditioned. 

The similarity of cultural elements regardless of race, 
environment and economic conditions may also be ex- 
plained as a result of parallel development based on the 
similarity of the psychic structure of man the world over. 

Bastian 1 recognizes the great importance of geograph- 
ical environment in modifying the analogous ethnic phe- 
nomena, but does not ascribe to them creative power. To 
him the sameness of the forms of thought found in regions 
wide apart suggested the existence of certain definite 
types of thought, no matter in what surroundings man 

1 See Achelis, pp. 189 et seq. 



194 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

may live, and what may be his social relations. These 
fundamental forms of thought, "that develop with iron 
necessity wherever man lives," were called by him "ele- 
mentary ideas." He denies that it is possible to discover 
the ultimate sources of inventions, ideas, customs and 
beliefs, which are of universal occurrence. They may have 
arisen from a variety of sources, they may be indigenous, 
they may be imported, but they are there. The human 
mind is so formed that it evolves them spontaneously, or 
accepts them whenever they are offered to it. The number 
of elementary ideas is limited. In primitive thought as 
well as in the speculations of philosophers the same ideas 
appear again and again in the special form given to them 
by the environment in which they find expression as 
* ' folk-ideas ' ' ( Volkergedanken) . 

The elementary ideas appear to him as metaphysical 
entities. No further thought can possibly unravel their 
origin, because we ourselves are compelled to think in the 
forms of these same elementary ideas. 

In many cases a clear enunciation of the elementary 
idea gives us the psychological reason for its existence. To 
exemplify: The mere statement that primitive man con- 
siders the animals as gifted with all the qualities of man 
shows that the analogy between many of the qualities of 
animals and human qualities has led to the view that all 
the qualities of animals are human. The fact that the 
land of shadows is so often placed in the west suggests its 
localization at the place where the sun and the stars 
vanish. In other cases the causes are not so self-evident; 
for example, in the widespread customs of restrictions of 
marriage which have puzzled many investigators. The 
difficulty of this problem is proved by the multitude of 
hypotheses that have been invented to explain it in all its 
varied phases. 



THE INTERPRETATIONS OF CULTURE 195 

There is no reason why we should accept Bastian's 
renunciation. The dynamic forces that mould social life 
are the same now as those that moulded life thousands of 
years ago. We can follow the intellectual and emotional 
drives that actuate man at present and that shape his 
actions and thoughts. The application of these principles 
will clear up many of our problems. 

Our previous considerations enable us also to evaluate 
the claim that the biological character of a race determines 
its culture. Let us admit for the moment that the genetic 
make-up of an individual determines his behavior. The 
actions of his glands, his basal metabolism and so on are 
elements that find expression in his personality. Person- 
ality in this sense means the biologically determined emo- 
tional, volitional and intellectual characteristics which 
determine the way in which an individual reacts to the 
culture in which he lives. The biological constitution does 
not make the culture. It influences the reactions of the in- 
dividual to the culture. As little as geographical environ- 
ment or economic conditions create a culture, just as little 
does the biological character of a race create a culture of 
a definite type. Experience has shown that members of 
most races placed in a certain culture can participate in it. 
In America men like Juarez, President of Mexico, or the 
highly educated Indians in North and South America are 
examples. In Asia the modern history of Japan and China; 
in America the successes of educated Negroes as scientists, 
physicians, lawyers, economists are ample proof showing 
that the racial position of an individual does not hinder 
his participation in modern civilization. Culture is rather 
the result of innumerable interacting factors and there is 
no evidence that the differences between human races, 
particularly not between the members of the White race 



196 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

have any directive influence upon the course of develop- 
ment of culture. Individual types, ever since the glacial 
period, have always found an existing culture to which 
they reacted. 

The range of individual differences that occur within a 
race has never been investigated in a satisfactory manner. 
We have shown that the variability of bodily form of in- 
dividuals composing each race is great. We cannot yet 
give exact data regarding the variability of fundamental 
physiological traits, much less of more intangible features 
such as physiologically determined personality, but even 
qualitative observation shows that the variability in each 
racial unit is great. The almost insurmountable diffi- 
culty lies in the fact that physiological and psychologi- 
cal processes and particularly personality cannot be re- 
duced to an absolute standard that is free of environmental 
elements. It is, therefore, gratuitous to claim that a race 
has a definite personality. We have seen that on account 
of the variability of individuals composing a race, differ- 
ences between larger groups of slightly varying human 
types are much smaller than the differences between the 
individuals composing each group, so that any considerable 
influence of the biologically determined distribution of 
personalities upon the form of culture seems very unlikely. 
No proof has ever been given that a sufficiently large series 
of normal individuals of an identical social environment 
but representing different European types, perhaps the 
one group, blond, tall, longheaded, with large nose; the 
other darker, shorter, roundheaded, with smaller noses 
will behave differently. The opposite, that people of the 
same type like the Germans in Bohemia and the Czechs 
behave quite differently is much more easily given. The 
change of personality of the proud Indian of pre- White 
times to bis degenerate offspring is another glaring example. 



11. THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN AND 
THE PROGRESS OF CULTURE 

We have seen that the attempts to reconstruct the his- 
tory of culture by means of the application of the prin- 
ciple that the simple precedes the complex and through 
the logical or psychological analysis of the data of culture 
are misleading so far as particular cultural phenomena 
are concerned. Nevertheless the increasing intellectual 
achievements as expressed in thought, in inventions, in 
devices for gaining greater security of existence and in re- 
lief from the ever-pressing necessity of obtaining food and 
shelter, bring about differentiations in the activities of the 
community that give to life a more varied, richer tone. 
In this sense we may accept the term " advance of culture." 
It corresponds to common, e very-day usage. 

It might seem that by this definition we have also found 
that of primitiveness. Primitive are those people whose 
activities are little diversified, whose forms of life are 
simple and uniform, and the contents and form of whose 
culture are meager and intellectually inconsistent. Their 
inventions, social order, intellectual and emotional life 
should all be poorly developed. This would be acceptable 
if there were a close interrelation between all these aspects 
of ethnic life; but these relations are varied. There are 
people, like the Australians, whose material culture is quite 
poor, but who have a highly complex social organization. 
Others, like the Indians of California, produce excellent 
technical and artistic work, but show no correspond- 
ing complexity in other aspects of their lives. Further- 

197 



198 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

more this measure attains a different meaning when a 
large population is divided into social strata. Thus the 
differences between the cultural status of the poor rural 
population of many parts of Europe and America and 
even more so of the lowest strata of the proletariate on 
the one hand and the active minds representative of mod- 
ern culture on the other, is excessive. Greater lack of cul- 
tural values than that found in the inner life of some strata 
of our modern population is hardly found anywhere. How- 
ever these strata are not independent units like the tribes 
that lack a multiplicity of inventions, for they utilize the 
cultural achievements made by the people as a whole. This 
apparent contrast between the cultural independence of 
primitive tribes, and the dependence of social strata upon 
the whole culture complex is merely the extreme form of 
mutual dependence of social units. 

Our discussion of the dissemination of cultural values 
has shown that there is no people that is entirely untouched 
by foreign influences, but that every one of them has 
taken over from its neighbors and assimilated inventions 
and ideas. There are also cases in which the achievements 
of neighbors are not assimilated but taken over unaltered. 
In all these cases an economic and social dependence of 
the tribe develops. Examples of this kind may be found 
particularly in India. The hunting Veddah of Ceylon are 
certainly a tribe. Nevertheless their occupations depend 
upon the steel tools which they obtain from their skillful 
neighbors, and their language and much of their religion is 
borrowed bodily. The economic dependence of the Toda 
is still more striking. They devote themselves entirely to 
the care of their herds of buffaloes and obtain all the other 
necessities of life from their neighbors in exchange for 
milk products. In another way this dependence is found, 
at least temporarily, in warlike states that live on robbery, 



MIND AND PROGRESS 199 

subject their neighbors and appropriate the products of 
their labors. In fact wherever a lively exchange of prod- 
ucts of different countries occurs there is more or less 
economic and cultural interdependence. 

The assignment of the culture of a people to primi- 
tiveness in the sense of poverty in cultural achievements 
requires the answer to three questions: first, how is 
poverty expressed in various aspects of culture; second, 
may the people as a whole be considered a unit in re- 
gard to its cultural possessions; third, what is the re- 
lation of the various aspects of culture, are all liable to 
be equally poorly developed or may some be advanced, 
others not. 

These questions are most easily answered in regard to 
technical skill, for every new technical invention is an ad- 
dition to earlier achievements. The cases in which a new 
invention taken up and developed by a people suppresses 
an earlier valuable technique as the metal technique 
supplanted the stone technique are rather rare. They 
consist almost regularly of a substitution of a technique 
more adequate for a desired purpose for a less adequate 
one. Therefore it would not be difficult to classify cultures 
in regard to their wealth of inventions if there were any 
regularity in the order of their occurrences. We have seen 
that this is not the case. Should we rank a pastoral people 
as richer in inventions than an agricultural tribe? Are 
the poor tribes of the Okhotsk Sea less primitive than the 
artistic Northwest Americans because they have pottery? 
Is the ancient Mexican more primitive than a poor Negro 
tribe that happens to possess the art of smelting iron? 
Such a rigid, absolute valuation of cultures according to 
the series of inventions possessed by each does not agree 
with our judgment. We have seen already that these in- 
ventions do not represent a sequence in time. 



200 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Evidently the inventions alone do not determine our 
judgment. We value a culture the higher the less the 
effort required for obtaining the necessities of life and the 
greater the technical achievements that do not serve the 
indispensable daily needs. The cultural objects served by 
the new invention will also influence our judgments. Not- 
withstanding the exceptional technical skill and ingenuity 
of the Eskimo we do not value their culture highly, be- 
cause all their skill and energy is needed in the daily pur- 
suit of game and in procuring protection against the 
rigor of the climate. There is little room for the play 
with technique for other purposes. The conditions among 
Bushmen, Australians and Veddahs are similar to those 
of the Eskimo. We value the cultures of the Californian 
Indians a little more highly because they have fairly ample 
leisure which they employ for perfecting the technique of 
objects that are not absolutely indispensable. The more 
varied the play with techniques that furnish the amenities 
of life the higher we estimate a culture. Wherever spin- 
ning, weaving, basketry, carving in wood or bone, artistic 
stone work, architecture, pottery, metal work occur we do 
not doubt that an advance over the simplest primitive 
conditions has been made. Our judgment will not be in- 
fluenced by the choice of the food, on which the people 
subsist, whether land animals, fish or vegetable products. 

The gifts of nature are not often obtained in sufficient 
quantities and with such ease that opportunity is given 
for play. No perfection of his tools enables the hunter to 
gain without much labor the food-supply necessary for his 
own support and that of his family, and where the necessi- 
ties of life, on account of the rigor of the climate or the 
scarcity of game require his undivided attention there is 
no time for the playful development of technique. Only 
in regions in which food is plentiful and obtained with 



MIND AND PROGRESS 201 

little effort do we find a rich development of playful tech- 
nique. Regions so favored are parts of the tropics with 
their wealth of vegetable products, and those rivers and 
parts of the sea that swarm with fish. In these regions the 
art of preserving food frees man and gives him leisure for 
playful activities. In other regions a plentiful supply of 
food is secured only when man increases the natural food 
supply artificially, by herding or agriculture. This is the 
reason why these inventions are intimately associated with 
a general advance in culture. 

Another point should be considered. We may assume 
that all the earliest technical advances of man were not 
the result of planned inventions but that small accidental 
discoveries enriched his technical inventory. Only later 
these discoveries were recognized as new useful devices. 
Although planned invention played an inconspicuous part 
in early times, the discoveries were made by individuals. 
Therefore it is likely that additions to previous devices 
occurred the more rapidly the more individuals partici- 
pated in the particular occupation. We are inclined to see 
in this one of the principal causes of accelerated cultural 
change among populous groups that share the same oc- 
cupations. 

Owing to the limitations set by a parsimonious nature 
the increase in numbers of a hunting tribe remains within 
well-defined bounds. Only where a plentiful supply of 
food is always at hand can a population increase rapidly. 
An abundant supply of fish may offer such opportunity; 
herding will increase the amount of food-supply, but a large 
population occupying a continuous area and basing their 
sustenance on the same kind of occupation is made pos- 
sible solely by agriculture. For this reason agriculture is 
the basis of all more advanced technical culture (Carr- 
Saunders). 



202 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

From these considerations two further consequences 
may be drawn. 

Evidently the requirements for intellectual work are 
quite similar to those for technical inventions. There is 
no opportunity for intellectual work as long as all the 
time is taken up by the needs of the moment. Here also 
the culture will be valued the more highly the more fully 
the people gain time and the more energetically they apply 
themselves to intellectual pursuits. Intellectual activity 
is expressed in part in the advances of technique, but 
more so in the retrospective play with the inner and outer 
experiences of life. We can establish an objective measure 
of the advance of culture in this respect also, for we rec- 
ognize that the continued thoughtful elaboration of the 
treasure of human experience according to rational forms 
will result in an increase of knowledge. Here also prog- 
ress will be the more rapid the more time is devoted to 
it. The necessary intellectual work leads partly to the 
elimination of error and partly to a systematization of 
experience. Both, new approaches to truth, and a more 
systematic development of knowledge represent a gain. 
The extent and character of knowledge may be taken in 
this sense as a means of cultural progress. 

Another element of culture is closely related to the ad- 
vance of playful technique. Skill of technique is a funda- 
mental requirement for the development of art. Decora- 
tive art does not exist when people lack the fullest control 
of their technique and time to play with it. We may infer 
from this that the same conditions that are important for 
the development of technique control that of art, and 
that with the variety of technical skills the variety of art 
forms will increase. 

Before turning to other domains of mental activity we 
may summarize the results of our inquiry by the statement 



MIND AND PROGRESS 203 

that in technique, intellectual pursuits and in decorative 
art definite, objective criteria for the evaluation of cultures 
exist, and that advances in these fields are closely interre- 
lated because they are dependent upon the general advance 
of technical skill and insight. 

The second question which we proposed to investigate 
relates to the extent to which the cultural achievements of 
a people are shared by all its members. In the poorest 
cultures, in which the whole energy of every individual is 
required for the acquisition of the barest needs of life, so 
much so that the obtaining of food and shelter forms the 
principal content of every activity, thought and emotion 
of e very-day life; and in which no division of labor has 
developed, the uniformity of the habits of life will be the 
greater the more one-sided the methods of obtaining food. 
The Eskimo has to hunt sea mammals in winter, land" 
animals in summer and the thoughts of everyone center 
around this occupation. This uniformity is not a necessary 
consequence of the geographic environment of the Es- 
kimo, for even under these simple conditions a division of 
labor is possible. Thus the Chukchee who live under simi- 
lar climatic conditions are divided in two economic groups 
that are somewhat dependent upon each other, the one de- 
voted to reindeer breeding, the other to the hunting of sea 
mammals. Thus also among hunting people one person 
devotes himself preferably to the pursuit of one kind of 
animals, another to that of another one. The mode of life 
of hunters is not favorable to the formation of individu- 
alized groups; but one division exists here also as elsewhere, 
that of man and woman. The man is hunter or fisherman; 
the woman collects plants and. animals that do not run 
away. She does the housework and takes care of the young 
children. The whole course of life is filled by these oc- 
cupations as long as there is no time for playful technique. 



204 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

As soon as opportunity is given for its development differ- 
entiations of occupation according to taste and ability 
develop. We find wood carvers, basket makers, weavers 
and potters. They may not devote themselves exclusively 
to one or the other occupation, but they will incline more 
or less in one direction or another. Then we find also 
thinkers and poets, for the play of ideas and words exerts 
its attractions at an early time; probably even at a period 
when there is not yet opportunity for a playful technique; 
for although hunting and domestic occupations leave no 
time for handiwork, the wandering or waiting hunter, and 
the mother, gathering her food-supply and tending the 
children have opportunity and leisure for the play of 
imagination and for brooding thought. 

Wherever a certain part of a people develops the mas- 
tery of a technique we find them to be creative artists. 
Where great skill is attained by man in a technique that 
he alone practices, he is the creative artist. Thus painting 
and wood carving on the Northwest coast of America are 
a man's art; while the beautiful pottery of the Pueblos 
and the basketweaving of California are woman's arts. 
The technique dominates artistic life to such an extent 
that on the Northwest coast woman seems to be void of 
imagination and vigor. In her weaving and embroidery 
she can only imitate the art of the men. On the other hand 
the man among the Pueblo and Calif ornians seems poorly 
endowed with artistic gifts. When both, men and women 
each have developed their own techniques to a high state 
of perfection, two separate styles of art may develop, as 
among the Tlingit of Alaska, among whom the women 
make technically perfect baskets ornamented by com- 
plex straightlined designs, while the men's art has devel- 
oped highly stylisized animal figures. It is sufficient to 
point out at this place that the progressive differentiation 



MIND AND PROGRESS 205 

of activities implies an enrichment of cultural activities. 

The differentiation may, however, also produce such 
one-sidedness in the occupations of some parts of the popu- 
lation that, considered alone, the separate classes are much 
poorer in culture than a people that has less differentiated 
activities. This is particularly true whenever in the course 
of economic development large parts of the population are 
reduced to the situation in which all their energy is re- 
quired for the attainment of their daily needs, or when 
their participation in the productive life becomes impos- 
sible, as in our modern civilization. AJthough in such a 
case the cultural productivity of the whole people may be 
of a high order, the psychological evaluation must take 
into consideration the poverty of culture of large masses. 

In the various aspects of culture so far considered 
greater or lesser achievement, and hence an objective meas- 
ure of evaluation is almost self-evident; but there are 
others in which the question as to what is poverty of 
culture cannot be answered so easily. We have pointed 
out before that knowledge alone does not constitute rich- 
ness of culture, but that the coordination of knowledge 
determines our judgment. However, the evaluation of in- 
tellectual coordination of experience, of ethical concepts, 
artistic form, religious feeling is so subjective in character 
that an increment of cultural values cannot readily be 
defined. 

Any evaluation of culture means that a point has been 
chosen towards which changes move and this point is the 
standard of our modern civilization. With the increase of 
experience and of systematized knowledge, changes occur 
which we call progress, although the fundamental ideas 
may not have undergone any change. The human code 
of ethics for the closed social group to which a person be- 
longs is everywhere the same: murder, theft, lying, rape 



206 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

are condemned. The difference lies rather in the extent 
of the social group towards which obligations are felt and 
the clearer discernment of human suffering; that is in an 
increase of knowledge. 

It is still more difficult to define progress in social organi- 
zation. The extreme individualist considers anarchy as his 
ideal, while others believe in voluntary regimentation. 
Control of the individual by society or subjection to lead- 
ership, individual freedom or the attainment of power by 
the group as a whole may be considered the ideal. Prog- 
ress can be defined only in regard to the special ideal that 
we have in mind, There is no absolute progress. During 
the development of modern civilization the rigidity of the 
status into which an individual is born, or into which he is 
brought voluntarily or by compulsion, has lost much of 
its force, although there is a recrudescence in modern 
Germany where the status of the Jew is determined not 
by personal qualities but by birth; or in Russia, Italy and 
Germany where the status of a person depends upon his 
party affiliations. In other countries it survives in the 
status of the citizen and in the marital status. In an ob- 
jective study of culture the concept of progress should be 
used with great caution (Boas 1). 

In an attempt to reconstruct the forms of thought of 
primitive man we have to try to follow back the history of 
ideas as far as may be. By a comparison of the earliest 
forms discoverable with the forms of modern thought we 
may gain an understanding of the characteristics of primi- 
tive thought. We should make clear to ourselves for how 
long a period mental life similar to our own may have ex- 
isted. There are two lines of approach to this problem: 
prehistory and language. In Egypt and western Asia 
highly developed cultures existed more than 7000 years 
ago. Prehistoric data prove that a long period of develop- 



MIND AND PROGRESS 207 

ment must have preceded their rise. This conclusion is 
corroborated by finds in other parts of the world. Agri- 
culture in Europe is very ancient and the cultural con- 
ditions accompanying it are quite analogous to those of 
modern tribes that have quite complex cultural patterns. 
Still earlier, at the end of the glacial period, the Madeleine 
Culture has a highly developed industry and art which may 
be compared with that of modern tribes of similar achieve- 
ment. It seems justifiable to assume that the cultural level 
of tribes so similar in their technical culture may have been 
alike also in other respects. We are, therefore, justified in 
assuming that 15,000 or 20,000 years ago the general 
cultural activities of man were not different from those 
found today. 

The multiplicity of linguistic forms and the slowness of 
the development of radical changes in the structure of 
language also lead to the conclusion that the mental life 
of man as expressed in language must be of great antiquity. 

On account of the permanence of the fundamental 
forms of languages which are preserved during long periods 
its study leads us far back into the early history of human 
thought. For this reason a brief description of some of the 
essential traits of human speech will be helpful. 

In every spoken language a fairly numerous, but definite 
number of articulations may be recognized by the group- 
ing of which linguistic expression is formed. A limited 
number of articulations and groups of articulations is in- 
dispensable for rapid speech. Each articulation corre- 
sponds to a sound, and a limited number of sounds is neces- 
sary for acoustic understanding. If in a language the 
number of articulations were unlimited the necessary ac- 
curacy of movements needed for rapid speech and the 
quick recognition of sound complexes would probably 
never develop. The limitation of the number of move- 



208 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

ments of articulation and their constant repetition also 
bring it about that these accurate adjustments become 
automatic, and that firm association between the articula- 
tion and the corresponding sound develops. 

It is a fundamental and common trait of articulate 
speech that the groups of sounds which are uttered serve 
to convey ideas, and each group of sounds has a fixed 
meaning. Languages differ not only in the character of 
their constituent phonetic elements and sound clusters, 
but also in the groups of ideas that find expression in fixed 
phonetic groups. 

The total number of possible combinations of phonetic 
elements is unlimited, but only a limited number are in 
actual use. This implies that the total number of ideas 
that are expressed by distinct phonetic groups is limited 
in number. We will call these phonetic groups "word- 
stems." 

Since the total range of personal experience which lan- 
guage serves to express is infinitely varied and its whole 
scope must be expressed by a limited number of word- 
stems, an extended classification of experiences must 
necessarily underlie all articulate speech. 

This coincides with a fundamental trait of human 
thought. In our actual experience no two sense-impres- 
sions or emotional states are identical. We classify them, 
according to their similarities, in wider or narrower groups, 
the limits of which may be determined from a variety of 
points of view. Notwithstanding their individual differ- 
ences, we recognize in our experiences common elements, 
and consider them as related or even as the same, provided 
they have a sufficient number of characteristic traits in 
common. Thus the limitation of the number of phonetic 
groups expressing distinct ideas is an expression of the 
psychological fact that many different individual expe- 



MIND AND PROGRESS 209 

riences appear to us as representatives of the same cate- 
gory of thought. 

This trait of human thought and speech may be com- 
pared to the limitation of the whole series of possible artic- 
ulating movements by selection of a limited number of 
habitual movements. If the whole mass of concepts, with 
all their variants, were expressed in language by entirely 
heterogeneous and unrelated sound-complexes or word- 
stems, a condition would arise in which closely related 
ideas would not show their relationship by the correspond- 
ing relationship of their sound-symbols, and an infinitely 
large number of distinct word-stems would be required 
for expression. If this were the case, the association be- 
tween an idea and its representative word-stem would not 
become sufficiently stable to be reproduced automatically 
without reflection at any given moment. In the same way as 
the automatic and rapid use of articulations has brought it 
about that a limited number of articulations only, each with 
limited variability, and a limited number of sound-clusters, 
have been selected from the infinitely large range of possible 
articulations and clusters of articulations, so the infinitely 
large number of ideas have been reduced by classification to 
a lesser number, which by constant use have established 
firm associations, and which can be used automatically. 

The behavior of primitive man and of the uneducated 
demonstrates that such linguistic classifications never rise 
into consciousness, and that consequently their origin 
must be sought, not in rational, but in automatic mental 
processes. 

In various cultures these classifications may be founded 
on fundamentally distinct principles. A knowledge of the 
categories under which in various cultures experience is 
classified will, therefore, help to an understanding of early 
psychological processes. 



210 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Differences of principles of classification are found in 
the domain of sensations. For instance: it has been ob- 
served that colors are classified in quite distinct groups 
according to their similarities, without any accompanying 
difference in the ability to distinguish shades of color. 
What we call green and blue is often combined under a 
term like "gall-color," or yellow and green are combined 
into one concept which may be named, "color of young 
leaves. " In course of time we have been adding names for 
additional hues which in earlier times, in part also now in 
daily life, are not distinguished. The importance of the 
fact that in speech and thought the word calls forth a 
different picture, according to the classification of green 
and yellow or green and blue as one group can hardly be 
exaggerated. 

In the domain of other senses differences of grouping 
occur. Thus salty and sweet, salty and bitter are some- 
times conceived each as one class; or the taste of rancid 
oil and sugar are classed together. 

Another example that illustrates the differences of 
principles of classification is given by the terminology of 
consanguinity and affinity. These are so different that it is 
hardly possible to translate the conceptual content of a term 
belonging to one system into that of another one. Thus 
one term may be used for the mother and all her sisters, or 
even for the mother and all her cousins of all grades so far 
as they are derived in the female line from the same female 
ancestor; or our term "brother" may be divided in another 
system into the groups of elder and younger brother. In 
this case also the classes cannot have been formed by in- 
tent, but they must either have arisen due to customs 
which combine or differentiate individuals or they may 
have helped to crystallize the social relation between the 
members of the consanguineous and affinal groups. 



MIND AND PROGRESS 211 

The groups of ideas expressed by specific word-stems 
show very material differences in different languages, and 
do not conform by any means to the same principles of 
classification. To take the example of "water." In Es- 
kimo, ''water" is only fresh water for drinking; sea-water 
is a different term and concept. 

As another example of the same kind, the words for 
"snow" in Eskimo may be given. Here we find one word 
expressing "snow on the ground"; another one, "falling 
snow"; a third one, "drifting snow"; a fourth one, "a 
snowdrift." 

In the same language the seal in different conditions is 
expressed by a variety of terms. One word is the general 
term for "seal"; another one signifies the "seal basking in 
the sun"; a third one, a "seal floating on a piece of ice"; 
not to mention the many names for the seals of different 
ages and for male and female. 

As an example of the manner in which terms that we 
express by independent words are grouped together under 
one concept, the Dakota language may be selected. The 
terms "to kick, to tie in bundles, to bite, to be near to, 
to pound," are all derived from the common element 
meaning " to be gripped," which holds them together, while 
we use distinct words for expressing the various ideas. 

It seems fairly evident that the selection of such simple 
terms must to a certain extent depend upon the chief 
interests of a people; and where it is necessary to distin- 
guish a certain phenomenon in many aspects, which in the 
life of the people play each an entirely independent role, 
many independent words may develop, while in other 
cases modifications of a single term may suffice. 

The differences in principles of classification which we 
have exemplified by means of a few nouns and verbs may 
be supported by observations that are not so closely related 



212 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

to linguistic phenomena. Thus certain concepts which 
we consider as attributes are sometimes conceived as in- 
dependent objects. The best known case of this kind is 
that of sickness. For us sickness is a condition of the body. 
Most primitive people and even members of our own so- 
ciety consider any sickness as an object that enters the 
body and that may be removed. This is illustrated by the 
many cases in which it is removed by sucking or manipu- 
lation, and by the belief that it may be thrown into an 
enemy, or imprisoned in a tree, thus preventing its return. 
Other conditions are sometimes treated in the same way: 
life, exhaustion, hunger and other states of the body are 
considered as objects that are in the body or may act 
upon it from the outside. Thus also the light of the sun is 
considered as a something that he may put on or lay aside. 

The linguistic forms alone would not be a strict proof 
for this conceptualization of attributes, for we also may 
say, that life leaves the body, or that a person has a head- 
ache. Although with us it is merely a form of speaking we 
know that the linguistic expression is alive among primi- 
tive people and finds expression in many ways in their 
beliefs and actions. 

The anthropomorphic interpretation of nature preva- 
lent among primitives may also be conceived as a type of 
classification of experience. It seems probable that the 
analogy between the ability to move of men and animals 
as well as of some inanimate objects, and their conflicts 
with the activities of men which could be interpreted as an 
expression of their will power led to it that all these phe- 
nomena were combined under one category. I believe that 
the origin of religious ideas founded on this concept is just 
as little founded on reasoning as that of linguistic cate- 
gories. While, however, the use of language is automatic, 
so that before the development of a science of language 



MIND AND PROGRESS 213 

the fundamental ideas never rise into consciousness, this 
happens frequently in the domain of religion and the sub- 
conscious beginning and its speculative development are 
always interwoven. 

On account of the differences in principles of classifica- 
tion every language, from the point of view of another 
language, may be arbitrary in its classifications; that what 
appears as a single simple idea in one language may be 
characterized by a series of distinct word-stems in another. 

We have seen before that some kind of classification of 
expression must be found in every language. This classifi- 
cation of ideas into groups, each of which is expressed by 
an independent word-stem, makes it necessary that con- 
cepts which are not readily rendered by a single stem 
should be expressed by combinations or by modifications 
of the elementary stems in accordance with the ultimate 
ideas to which the particular idea is reduced. 

This classification, and the necessity of expressing cer- 
tain experiences by means of other related ones which, 
by limiting one another, define the special idea to be ex- 
pressed entail the presence of certain formal elements 
which determine the relations of the single word-stems. 
If each idea could be expressed by a single word-stem, 
languages without form would be possible. Since, however, 
individual ideas must be expressed by being reduced to a 
number of wider concepts, the devices for expressing rela- 
tions become important elements in articulate speech; 
and it follows that all languages must contain formal 
elements, the number of which must be the greater, the 
less the number of elementary word-stems that define 
special ideas. In a language which commands a very large, 
fixed vocabulary, the number of formal elements may be- 
come quite small. 

These elements are not strictly limited to those express- 



214 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

ing the logical or psychological relations between words. 
In almost every language they include certain categories 
which must be expressed. Thus in European languages we 
cannot express any statement without defining its time 
relation. A man is, was or is going to be sick. A statement 
of this type without definition of time cannot be made in 
English. Only when we extend the meaning of the present 
over all time, as in the statement "iron is hard" do we in- 
clude all aspects of time in one form. By contrast to this 
we have many languages in which no stress is laid upon 
the difference between past and present, in which this 
distinction is not obligatory. Still others substitute the 
locative idea for the temporal and require that it is stated 
where an action takes place, near me, near you or near 
him, so that it is impossible according to the grammatical 
structure to make a statement indefinite as to place. 
Again others may require a statement of the source of 
knowledge, whether a statement is based on own experi- 
ence, on evidence or on hearsay. Such grammatical con- 
cepts as plurality, definiteness or indefiniteness (in the 
article) may be present or absent. To illustrate: the Eng- 
lish sentence "the man killed a deer" contains as obliga- 
tory categories "the" definite, "man" singular, "killed" 
past, "a" indefinite singular. A Kwakiutl Indian would 
have to say " the " definite, " man," singular location given, 
p.e. near me visible, "killed" indefinite time, definite or 
indefinite object, location given, p.e. absent invisible, 
"deer" singular or plural location given p.e. absent in- 
visible. He must also add the source of his information, 
whether by own experience or by hearsay and an indica- 
tion whether the man, the deer or the killing have been a 
previous subject of conversation or thought. 

The obligatory categories of expression set off languages 
sharply from one another. 



MIND AND PROGRESS 215 

A few categories that are not familiar to us in European 
languages may be mentioned. Most Indo-European lan- 
guages classify objects according to their sex and extend 
this principle to inanimate objects. Besides this there is a 
classification according to form which, however, is not ex- 
pressed by grammatical devices. A house stands, water 
runs, an insect sits, a country lies. In other languages the 
classification of objects according to form as long, flat, 
round, erect, moving is a principle of grammatical classifi- 
cation; or we may find classes such as animate and in- 
animate, female and non-female, member of tribe and 
alien. Often they are missing entirely. 

Similar conditions are found in the verb. Many lan- 
guages designate general classes of movement and desig- 
nate the direction by adverbial elements, like up, down, 
into, out of. In others these devices are missing and words 
like "to go in," and "to go out" must be expressed by 
separate stems. Examples in which the instrument of 
action is expressed by a grammatical device have been 
given before. The manner of movement as in a straight 
line, circular, zigzag may be expressed by subordinate 
elements, or the modifications of the verb contained in our 
conjunctions may be expressed by formal modes. 

Such ancient classifications continue to exist in modern 
languages and we have to think in their forms. The ques- 
tion should be asked therefore whether the form of the 
language may hinder clear thought. It has been claimed 
that the conciseness and clearness of thought of a people 
depend to a great extent upon their language. The ease 
with which in our modern European languages we express 
wide abstract ideas by a single term, and the facility with 
which wide generalizations are cast into the frame of a 
simple sentence, have been claimed to be one of the fun- 
damental conditions of the clearness of our concepts, the 



216 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

logical force of our thought, and the precision with which 
we eliminate in our thoughts irrelevant details. Appar- 
ently this view has much in its favor. When we compare 
modern English with some of those Indian languages 
which are most concrete in their formative expression, the 
contrast is striking. When we say, "The eye is the organ 
of sight," the Indian may not be able to form the expres- 
sion "the eye," but may have to define that the eye of a 
person or of an animal is meant. Neither may the Indian 
be able to generalize readily the abstract idea of an eye as 
the representative of the whole class of objects, but may 
have to specialize by an expression like "this eye here." 
Neither may he be able to express by a single term the idea 
of "organ," but may have to specify it by an expression 
like "instrument of seeing," so that the whole sentence 
might assume a form like "an indefinite person's eye is his 
means of seeing." Still it will be recognized that in this 
more specific form the general idea may be well expressed. 
It seems very questionable in how far the restriction of the 
use of certain grammatical forms can really be conceived 
as a hindrance to the formulation of generalized ideas. It 
seems much more likely that the lack of these forms is due 
to the lack of their need. Primitive man, when convers- 
ing with his fellow man, is not in the habit of discussing 
abstract ideas. His interests center around the occupa- 
tions of his daily life; and where philosophic problems are 
touched upon, they appear either in relation to definite 
individuals or in the more or less anthropomorphic forms 
of religious beliefs. Discourses on qualities without con- 
nection with the object to which the qualities belong, or of 
activities or states disconnected from the idea of the actor 
or the subject being in a certain state, will hardly occur in 
primitive speech. Thus the Indian will not speak of good- 
ness as such, although he may very well speak of the good- 



MIND AND PROGRESS 217 

ness of a person. He will not speak of a state of bliss apart 
from the person who is in such a state. He will not refer to 
the power of seeing without designating an individual who 
has such power. Thus it happens that in languages in 
which the idea of possession is expressed by elements sub- 
ordinated to nouns, all abstract terms appear always with 
possessive elements. It is, however, perfectly conceivable 
that an Indian trained in philosophic thought would pro- 
ceed to free the underlying nominal forms from the posses- 
sive elements, and thus reach abstract forms strictly cor- 
responding to the abstract forms of our modern languages. 
I have made this experiment in one of the languages of 
Vancouver Island, in which no abstract term ever occurs 
without its possessive elements. After some discussion, I 
found it perfectly easy to develop the idea of the abstract 
term in the mind of the Indian, who stated that the word 
without a possessive pronoun gives good sense, although it 
is not used idiomatically. I succeeded, for instance, in this 
manner, in isolating the terms for "love" and "pity," 
which ordinarily occur only in possessive forms, like 
"his love for him" or "my pity for you." That this view 
is correct, may also be observed in languages in which pos- 
sessive elements appear as independent forms. 

There is also evidence that other specializing elements, 
which are so characteristic of many Indian languages, may 
be dispensed with when, for one reason or another, it seems 
desirable to generalize a term. To use an example of a 
western language, 1 the idea "to be seated" is almost al- 
ways expressed with an inseparable suffix expressing the 
place in which a person is seated, as "seated on the floor of 
the house, on the ground, on the beach, on a pile of things," 
or "on a round thing," etc. When, however, for some rea- 
son, the idea of the state of sitting is to be emphasized, a 

1 The Kwakiutl of Vancouver Island. 



218 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

form may be used which expresses simply " being in a sit- 
ting posture." 1 In this case, also, the device for general- 
ized expression is present; but the opportunity for its 
application arises seldom, or perhaps never. I think what 
is true in these cases is true of the structure of every single 
language. The fact that generalized forms of expression 
are not used, does not prove inability to form them, but 
it merely proves that the mode of life of the people is such 
that they are not required; that they would, however, 
develop just as soon as needed. 

This point of view is also corroborated by a study of the 
numeral systems of primitive languages. As is well known, 
languages exist in which the numerals do not exceed three 
or four. It has been inferred from this that the people 
speaking these languages are not capable of forming the 
concept of higher numbers. I think this interpretation of 
the existing conditions is quite erroneous. People like the 
South American Indians (among whom these defective 
numeral systems are found), or like the Eskimo (whose 
old system of numbers probably did not exceed ten), are 
presumably not in need of higher numerical expressions, 
because there are not many objects that they have to 
count. On the other hand, just as soon as these same 
people find themselves in contact with civilization, and 
when they acquire standards of value that have to be 
counted, they adopt with perfect ease higher numerals 
from other languages, and develop a more or less perfect 
system of counting. This does not mean that every indi- 
vidual who in the course of his life has never made use of 
higher numerals would acquire more complex systems 
readily; but the tribe as a whole seems always to be ca- 
pable of adjusting itself to the needs of counting. It must 
be borne in mind that counting does not become necessary 

1 It has, however, the specific meaning "to sit in council.*' 



MIND AND PROGRESS 219 

until objects are considered in such generalized form that 
their individualities are entirely lost sight of. For this 
reason it is possible that even a person who owns a herd 
of domesticated animals may know them by name and by 
their characteristics, without ever desiring to count them. 
Members of a war expedition may be known by name, 
and may not be counted. In short, there is no proof that 
the lack of the use of numerals is in any way connected 
with the inability to form the concepts of higher numbers 
when needed. 

If we want to form a correct judgment of the influence 
that language exerts over thought, we ought to bear in 
mind that our European languages, as found at the present 
time, have been moulded to a great extent by the abstract 
thought of philosophers. Terms like "essence, substance, 
existence, idea, reality," many of which are now commonly 
used, are by origin artificial devices for expressing the 
results of abstract thought. In this way they would resem- 
ble the artificial, unidiomatic abstract terms that may be 
formed in primitive languages. 

Thus it would seem that the obstacles to generalized 
thought inherent in the form of a language are of minor 
importance only, and that presumably language alone 
would not prevent a people from advancing to more 
generalized forms of thinking, if the general state of their 
culture should require expression of such thought; that 
under these conditions, the language would be moulded 
by the cultural state. It does not seem likely, therefore, 
that there is any direct relation between the culture of a 
tribe and the language they speak, except insofar as the 
form of the language will be moulded by the state of cul- 
ture, but not insofar as a certain state of culture is condi- 
tioned by morphological traits of the language. 

Since the foundation of human thought lies in the rise 



220 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

into consciousness of the categories in which our experi- 
ence is classified, the principal difference between the 
mental processes of primitives and ourselves lies in the 
fact that we have succeeded by reasoning to develop from 
the crude, automatically developed categories a better 
system of the whole field of knowledge, a step which the 
primitives have not made. 

The first impression gained from a study of the beliefs 
of primitive man is, that while the perceptions of his 
senses are excellent, his power of logical interpretation 
seems to be deficient. I think it can be shown that the 
reason for this fact is not based on any fundamental pecu- 
liarity of the mind of primitive man, but lies, rather, in 
the character of the traditional ideas by means of which 
each new perception is interpreted; in other words, in the 
character of the traditional ideas with which each new 
perception associates itself determining the conclusions 
reached. 

In our own community a mass of observations and 
thoughts is transmitted to the child. These thoughts are 
the result of careful observation and speculation of our 
present and of past generations; but they are transmitted 
to most individuals as traditional matter, much the same 
as folk-lore. The child combines his own perceptions with 
this whole mass of traditional material, and interprets his 
observations by its means. It is a mistake to assume that 
the interpretation made by each civilized individual is 
a complete logical process. We associate a phenomenon 
with a number of known facts, the interpretations of 
which are assumed as known, and we are satisfied with 
the reduction of a new fact to these previously known 
facts. For instance, if the average individual hears of the 
explosion of a previously unknown chemical, he is satisfied 



MIND AND PROGRESS 221 

to reason that certain materials are known to have the 
property of exploding under proper conditions, and that 
consequently the unknown substance has the same qual- 
ity. On the whole, he would not argue still further, and 
really try to give a full explanation of the causes of the 
explosion. In the same way the lay public is inclined to 
seek in every new unknown epidemic for the micro-organ- 
ism that causes it, as in former times the cause was sought 
in miasmas and poisons. 

In science also the dominating idea determines the de- 
velopment of theories. Thus everything that exists, ani- 
mate or inanimate, had to be explained by the theory of 
survival of the fittest. 

The difference in the mode of thought of primitive man 
and that of civilized man seems to consist largely in the 
difference of character of the traditional material with 
which the new perception associates itself. The instruc- 
tion given to the child of primitive man is not based on 
centuries of experimentation, but consists of the crude 
experience of generations. When a new experience enters 
the mind of primitive man, the same process which we 
observe among civilized man brings about an entirely dif- 
ferent series of associations, and therefore results in a dif- 
ferent type of explanation. A sudden explosion will asso- 
ciate itself in his mind, perhaps, with tales which he has 
heard in regard to the mythical history of the world, and 
consequently will be accompanied by superstitious fear. 
The new, unknown epidemic may be explained by the be- 
lief in demons that persecute mankind; and the existing 
world may be explained as the result of transformations, 
or by objectivation of the thoughts of a creator. 

When we recognize that neither among civilized nor 
among primitive men the average individual carries to 
completion the attempt at causal explanation of phe- 



222 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

nomena, but only so far as to amalgamate it with other 
previous knowledge, we recognize that the result of the 
whole process depends entirely upon the character of the 
traditional material. Herein lies the immense importance 
of folk-lore in determining the mode of thought. Herein 
lies particularly the enormous influence of current philo- 
sophic opinion upon the masses of the people, and the in- 
fluence of the dominant scientific theory upon the char- 
acter of 'scientific work. 

It would be vain to try to understand the development 
of modern science without an intelligent understanding 
of modern philosophy ; it would be vain to try to under- 
stand the history of medieval science without a knowledge 
of medieval theology; and so it is vain to try to under- 
stand primitive science without an intelligent knowledge 
of primitive mythology. "Mythology," "theology" and 
"philosophy" are different terms for the same influences 
which shape the current of human thought, and which 
determine the character of the attempts of man to explain 
the phenomena of nature. To primitive man who has 
been taught to consider the heavenly orbs as animate 
beings; who sees in every animal a being more powerful 
than man; to whom the mountains, trees and stones are 
endowed with life or with special virtues explanations of 
phenomena will suggest themselves entirely different from 
those to which we are accustomed, since we still base our 
conclusions upon the existence of matter and force as 
bringing about the observed results. The confusion of the 
popular mind by the modern theories of relativity, of 
matter, of causality shows how profoundly we are influ- 
enced by ill understood theories. 

In scientific inquiries we should always be clear in our 
own minds of the fact that we always embody a number 
of hypotheses and theories in our explanations, and that 



MIND AND PROGRESS 223 

we do not carry the analysis of any given phenomenon to 
completion. If we were to do so, progress would hardly be 
possible, because every phenomenon would require an 
endless amount of time for thorough treatment. We are 
only too apt, however, to forget entirely the general, and 
for most of us purely traditional, theoretical basis which 
is the foundation of our reasoning, and to assume that the 
result of our reasoning is absolute truth. In this we com- 
mit the same error that is being committed, and has 
always been committed, by all the less educated, including 
members of primitive tribes. They are more easily satisfied 
than we are at the present time; but they also assume as 
true the traditional element which enters into their ex- 
planations, and therefore accept as absolute truth the 
conclusions based on it. It is evident that the fewer the 
number of traditional elements that enter into our reason- 
ing, and the clearer we endeavor to be in regard to the 
hypothetical part of our reasoning, the more logical will 
be our conclusions. There is an undoubted tendency in 
the advance of civilization to eliminate traditional ele- 
ments, and to gain a clearer and clearer insight into the 
hypothetical basis of our reasoning. It is therefore not 
surprising, that, in the history of civilization, reasoning 
becomes more and more logical, not because each indi- 
vidual carries out his thought in a more logical manner, 
but because the traditional material which is handed 
down to each individual has been thought out and worked 
out more thoroughly and more carefully. While in primi- 
tive civilization the traditional material is doubted and 
examined by only a very few individuals, the number of 
thinkers who try to free themselves from the fetters of 
tradition increases as civilization advances. 

An example illustrating this progress and at the same 
time the slowness of this progress is found in the relations 



224 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

between individuals belonging to different tribes. There are 
a number of primitive hordes to whom every stranger not a 
member of the horde is an enemy, and where it is right to 
damage the enemy to the best of one's power and ability, 
and if possible to kill him. Such behavior is founded 
largely on the solidarity of the horde, on the feeling that 
it is the duty of every member of the horde to destroy all 
possible enemies. Therefore every person not a member 
of the horde must be considered as belonging to a class 
entirely distinct from the members of the horde, and is 
treated accordingly. We can trace the gradual broadening 
of the feeling of fellowship during the advance of civiliza- 
tion. The feeling of fellowship in the horde expands to the 
feeling of unity of the tribe, to a recognition of bonds 
established by a neighborhood of habitat, and further on 
to the feeling of fellowship among members of nations. 
This seems to be the limit of the ethical concept of fellow- 
ship of man which we have reached at the present time. 
When we analyze the strong feeling of nationality which 
is so potent at the present time and which has superseded 
the local interests of lesser units, we recognize that it con- 
sists largely in the idea of the preeminence of that 
community whose member we happen to be in the pre- 
eminent value of its bodily build, its language, of its cus- 
toms and traditions, and in the belief that all external 
influences that threaten these traits are hostile and must 
be combated, not only for the justifiable purpose of pre- 
serving its peculiarities but even with the wish to impose 
them upon the rest of the world. The feeling of nation- 
ality as here expressed, and the feeling of solidarity of the 
horde, are of the same order, although modified by the 
gradual expansion of the idea of fellowship; but the ethical 
point of view which makes it justifiable at the present 
time to increase the well-being of one nation at the cost 



MIND AND PROGRESS 225 

of another, the tendency to value our own form of civiliza- 
tion as higher not as dearer to our hearts than that of 
the whole rest of mankind, are the same as those which 
prompt the actions of primitive man, who considers every 
stranger as an enemy, and who is not satisfied until the 
enemy is killed. It is somewhat difficult for us to recognize 
that the value which we attribute to our own civilization 
is due to the fact that we participate in this civilization, 
and that it has been controlling all our actions since the 
time of our birth ; but it is certainly conceivable that there 
may be other civilizations, based perhaps on different tra- 
ditions and on a different equilibrium of emotion and 
reason which are of no less value than ours, although it 
may be impossible for us to appreciate their values with- 
out having grown up under their influence. The general 
theory of valuation of human activities, as developed by 
anthropological research, teaches us a higher tolerance 
than the one we now profess. 



12. THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF 
PRIMITIVES 

After we have thus seen that a large number of tradi- 
tional elements enter into the reasoning of both primitive 
man and civilized man, we are better prepared to under- 
stand some of the more special typical differences in their 
ways of thinking. 

A trait of primitive life that early attracted the attention 
of investigators is the occurrence of close associations be- 
tween mental activities that appear to us as entirely 
disparate. In primitive life, religion and science; music, 
poetry and dance; myth and history; fashion and ethics 
appear inextricably interwoven. We may express this gen- 
eral observation also by saying that primitive man views 
every action not only as adapted to its main object, every 
thought related to its main end, as we should perceive 
them, but that he associates them with other ideas, often 
of a religious or at least of a symbolic nature. Thus he 
gives them a higher significance than they seem to us to 
deserve. Every taboo is an example of such associations of 
apparently trifling actions with ideas that are so sacred 
that a deviation from the customary mode of performance 
creates the strongest emotions of abhorrence. The inter- 
pretation of ornaments as charms, the symbolism of dec- 
orative art, are other examples of association of aspects 
of behavior that, on the whole, are foreign to our mode of 
thought. 

In order to make clear the point of view from which 
these phenomena seem to fall into an orderly array, we 

226 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 227 

will investigate whether all vestiges of similar forms of 
thought have disappeared from our civilization. 

In our intense life, which is devoted to activities requir- 
ing the full application of our reasoning powers and a re- 
pression of emotional life, we have become accustomed 
to a cold, matter-of-fact view of our actions, of the in- 
centives that lead to them, and of their consequences. It is 
not necessary, however, to go far afield to find minds open 
to different moods. If those among us who move in the 
midst of the current of our quickly pulsing life do not 
look beyond their rational motives and aims, others who 
stand by in quiet contemplation recognize in it the reflec- 
tion of an ideal world that they have built up in their own 
consciousness. To the artist the outer world is a symbol 
of the beauty he feels; to the fervent religious mind it is 
a symbol of the transcendental truth which gives form to 
his thought. Instrumental music that the one enjoys as a 
work of purely musical art calls forth in the mind of an- 
other a group of definite concepts that are connected with 
the musical themes and their treatment only by the similar- 
ity of the emotional states they evoke. In fact, the man- 
ner in which different individuals react to the same 
stimulus, the variety of associations elicited in their minds, 
are so self-evident that they hardly call for special remarks. 

Most important for the purpose of our investigation is 
the observation that all of us who live in the same society 
react to certain stimuli in the same way without being 
able to express the reasons for our actions. A good example 
of what I refer to are breaches of social etiquette. A mode 
of behavior that does not conform to the customary man- 
ners, but differs from them in a striking way, creates, on 
the whole, unpleasant emotions; and it requires a deter- 
mined effort on our part to make it clear to ourselves that 
such behavior does not conflict with moral standards. 



228 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Among those who are not trained in courageous and rigid 
thought, the confusion between traditional etiquette so- 
called good manners and moral conduct is habitual. In 
certain lines of conduct the association between tradi- 
tional etiquette and ethical feeling is so close, that even a 
vigorous thinker can hardly emancipate himself from it. 
This was true until very recent times, of acts that were 
considered breaches of modesty. The most cursory review 
of the history of costume shows that what was considered 
modest at one time has been immodest at other times. The 
custom of habitually covering parts of the body has at all 
times led to the strong feeling that exposure of such parts 
is immodest. This feeling of propriety is so erratic, that a 
costume that is appropriate on one occasion may be con- 
sidered opprobrious on other occasions; as, for instance, a 
low-cut evening dress in a street-car during business hours, 
or a modern bathing suit in a formal assembly. What kind 
of exposure is felt as immodest depends always upon 
fashion. It is quite evident that fashion is not dictated by 
modesty, but that the historical development of costume 
is determined by a variety of causes. Nevertheless fashions 
are typically associated with the feeling of modesty, so 
that an unwonted exposure excites the unpleasant feelings 
of impropriety. There is no conscious reasoning why the 
one form is proper, the other improper; but the feeling is 
aroused directly by the contrast with the customary. 
Many of us will feel instinctively the strong resistance 
that we should have to overcome, even in a different 
society, if required to perform an action that we are ac- 
customed to consider as immodest, and the feelings that 
would be excited in our minds if we were thrown into a 
society in which the standards of modesty differed from 
our own. 
Even setting aside modesty, we find a variety of reasons 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 229 

which make certain styles of dress appear improper. To 
appear in the fashion of our forefathers of two centuries 
ago would expose us to ridicule. To see a man wear a hat 
in company indoors nettles us: it is considered rude. To 
wear a hat in church or at a funeral would cause more 
vigorous resentment, on account of the greater emotional 
value of the feelings concerned. A certain tilt of the hat, 
although it may be very comfortable to the wearer, would 
stamp him at once as an uneducated brute. Novelties in 
costume opposed to current fashion may hurt our aesthetic 
feelings, no matter how bad the taste of the prevailing 
fashion may be. 

Another example will make clear what I mean. It will 
readily be recognized that most of our table manners are 
purely traditional, and cannot be given any adequate ex- 
planation. To smack one's lips is considered bad style, 
and may excite feelings of disgust; while among some 
Indian tribes it would be considered bad taste not to 
smack one's lips when invited to dinner, because it would 
suggest that the guest does not enjoy his meal. Both for 
the Indian and for ourselves the constant performance of 
these actions which constitute good table manners make 
it practically impossible to act otherwise. An attempt to 
act differently would not only be difficult on account of 
the lack of adjustment of muscular motions, but also on 
account of the strong emotional resistance that we should 
have to overcome. The emotional displeasure is also re- 
leased when we see others act contrary to custom. To 
eat with people having table manners different from our 
own excites feelings of displeasure which may rise to such 
an intensity as to cause qualmishness. Here, also, explana- 
tions are often given which are probably based solely on 
attempts to explain the existing manners, but which do 
not represent their historical development. We often hear 



230 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

that it is improper to eat with a knife because it might cut 
the mouth; but I doubt very much if this consideration 
has anything to do with the development of the custom, 
for the use of the fork is recent and the older type of sharp 
steel forks might as easily hurt the mouth as the blade of 
the knife. 

It may be well to exemplify the characteristics of our 
opposition to unwonted actions by a few additional ex- 
amples, which will help to clear up the mental processes 
that lead us to formulate the reasons for our conservatism. 

One of the cases in which the development of such al- 
leged reasons for behavior is best traced is that of the 
taboo. Although we ourselves have hardly any definite 
taboos, our failure to use certain animals for food might 
easily appear as such to an outsider. Supposing an in- 
dividual accustomed to eating dogs should inquire among 
us for the reason why we do not eat dogs, we could only 
reply that it is not customary; and he would be justified 
in saying that dogs are tabooed among us, just as much 
as we are justified in speaking of taboos among primitive 
people. If we were hard pressed for reasons, we should 
probably base our aversion to eating dogs or horses on the 
seeming impropriety of eating animals that live with us 
as our friends. On the other hand, we are not accustomed 
to eat larvae and we should probably decline to eat them 
from feelings of disgust. Cannibalism is so much abhorred 
that we find it difficult to convince ourselves that it belongs 
to the same class of aversions as those mentioned before. 
The fundamental concept of the sacredness of human life, 
and the fact that many animals will not eat others of the 
same species, set off cannibalism as a custom by itself, 
considered as one of the most horrible aberrations of 
human nature. In these three groups of aversions, disgust 
is probably the first feeling present in our minds, by which 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 231 

we react against the suggestion of partaking of these kinds 
of food. We account for our disgust by a variety of reasons, 
according to the groups of ideas with which the suggested 
act is associated in our minds. In one case there is no 
special association, and we are satisfied with the simple 
statement of disgust. In another the most important 
reason seems to be an emotional one, although we may 
feel inclined, when questioned regarding the reasons of our 
dislike, to bring forward also habits of the animals in 
question that seem to justify our aversion. In the third 
case the immorality of cannibalism would stand forth as 
the one sufficient reason. 

Other examples are the numerous customs that had 
originally a religious or semi-religious aspect, and which 
are continued and explained by more or less certain utili- 
tarian theories. Such are the customs relating to marriages 
in the incest group. While the extent of the incest group 
has undergone material changes, the abhorrence of mar- 
riages inside the existing group is the same as ever; but 
instead of religious laws, a utilitarian concept, the fear of 
unhealthy offspring owing to intermarriage of close rela- 
tives, is brought forward as the reason for our feelings. 
People affected with loathsome diseases were once shunned 
because they were believed to be stricken by God, while 
at present the same avoidance is due to the fear of conta- 
gion. The disuse into which profanity has fallen in English 
was first due to religious reaction, but has come to be 
simply a question of good manners. 

This emotional reaction is equally intense when points 
of view are involved that run counter to the opinions of 
the time. They are opposed most violently when the affec- 
tive value of the current ideas is great, when these are 
part and parcel of ourselves, and when the new ideas 
conflict with the fundamental attitudes that have been 



232 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

instilled in us since our earliest youth, or that have become 
identified with those aims to which we devote our lives. 
The violence of opposition to heresy as well as to new 
social and economic doctrines can be understood on this 
basis alone. The reasons given for opposition are in most 
cases rationalizations for an emotional resistance. 

It is important to note that in all the cases mentioned 
the rationalistic explanation of the opposition to a change 
is based on that group of concepts with which the excited 
emotions are intimately connected. In the case of costume, 
reasons are adduced why the new style is improper; in the 
case of heresy, proof is given that the new doctrine is an 
attack against eternal truth; and so with all the others. 

A close introspective analysis shows these reasons to be 
only attempts to interpret our feelings of displeasure; that 
our opposition is not by any means dictated by conscious 
reasoning, but primarily by the emotional effect of the 
new idea which creates a dissonance with the habitual. 

In all these cases the custom is obeyed so often and so 
regularly that the habitual act becomes automatic; that 
is to say, its performance is ordinarily not combined with 
any degree of consciousness. Consequently the emotional 
value of these actions is very slight. It is noteworthy, 
however, that the more automatic an action, the more 
difficult it is to perform the opposite action, that it re- 
quires a strong effort to do so, and that ordinarily the op- 
posite action is accompanied by marked feelings of dis- 
pleasure. It may also be observed that to see the unusual 
action performed by another person excites intense atten- 
tion, and causes feelings of displeasure. Thus it happens 
that when an infraction of the customary occurs, all the 
groups of ideas with which the action is associated are 
brought into consciousness. A dish of dog's meat would 
bring up all the ideas of companionship; a cannibal feast, 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 233 

all the social principles that have become our second na- 
ture. The more automatic any series of activities or a 
certain form of thought has become, the greater is the 
conscious effort required for breaking away from the old 
habit of acting and thinking, and the greater also the dis- 
pleasure, or at least the surprise, produced by an innova- 
tion. The antagonism against it is a reflex action accom- 
panied by emotions not due to conscious speculation. 
When we become conscious of this emotional reaction, we 
endeavor to interpret it by a process of reasoning. This 
reason must be based necessarily on the ideas which rise 
into consciousness as soon as a break in the established 
custom occurs; in other words, our rationalistic explanation 
will depend upon the character of the associated ideas. 

These tendencies are also the basis of the success of 
fanatics and of skillfully directed propaganda. The fanatic 
who plays on the emotions of the masses and supports his 
teachings by fictitious reasons, and the unscrupulous dema- 
gogue who arouses slumbering hatreds and designedly in- 
vents reasons that give to the gullible mass a plausible 
excuse to yield to the excited passions make use of the 
desire of man to give a rational excuse for actions that are 
fundamentally based on unreasoning emotion. Pope Ur- 
ban II succeeded in his appeal to religious devotion by 
the pretext that the sacred land was in the hands of the 
infidel, although the driving forces were largely political 
and economic. Peter the Hermit took up this issue as a 
fanatic and carried it all over Europe. In the World War 
propaganda based on alleged cruelties was used to inflame 
the people. Hitler and his entourage use race prejudice 
for the purpose of furthering their own purposes. He as 
well as Houston Stewart Chamberlain admit cynically 
that a distortion of truth, if it serves to bolster up their 
aims, is permissible. 



234 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

All these examples illustrate that even in our civiliza- 
tion popular thought is primarily directed by emotion, not 
by reason; and that the reasoning injected into emotionally 
determined behavior depends upon a variety of conditions 
and is, therefore, in course of time, variable. 

We will now turn to a consideration of analogous phe- 
nomena in primitive life. Here the dislike of anything 
deviating from the custom of the land is even more strongly 
marked than in our civilization. If it is not the custom to 
sleep in a house with feet turned towards the fire, a vio- 
lation of this custom is dreaded and avoided. If in a cer- 
tain society members of the same clan do not intermarry, 
the most deep-seated abhorrence against such unions will 
arise. It is not necessary to multiply examples, for it is a 
well-known fact that the more primitive a people, in the 
more varied ways it is bound by customs regulating the 
conduct of daily life in all its details. This does not imply 
that every individual adheres equally rigidly to every 
usage; characteristic is the multiplicity of habitual customs 
that control life. We are justified in concluding from our 
own experience, that as among ourselves, so among primi- 
tive tribes, the resistance to a deviation from firmly es- 
tablished customs is due to an emotional reaction, not to 
conscious reasoning. This does not preclude the possi- 
bility that the first special act, which became in course of 
time customary, may have been due to a conscious mental 
process; but it seems likely that many customs came into 
being without any conscious activity. Their development 
must have been of the same kind as that of the categories 
which are reflected in the morphology of languages, and 
which can never have been known to the speakers of these 
languages. For instance, Cunow's theory of the origin of 
Australian social systems is well conceivable, although not 
the only possible one. Some tribes are divided into four 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 235 

exogamic groups. The laws of exogamy demand that a 
member of the first group must marry a member of the 
second group, and a member of the third group one of the 
fourth group. Cunow explains these customs by showing 
that when custom provides that a man in a tribe that is 
divided into two exogamic units, and in which only mem- 
bers of the same generation are allowed to intermarry, 
conditions like those found in Australia will naturally de- 
velop, if each group has a name, and one set of names is 
used for the odd, and another set of names for the even 
generations. If we designate the two tribal divisions by 
the letters A and B, the generations by " odd " and 
" even," the names of the four divisions would be A odd, 
A even, B odd, B even; and in marriages in which is 
placed first the sex that determines the group to which the 
offspring belongs, we find that 

A odd must marry B odd, and his children are A even 
Bodd " " A odd, " " " " B even 
A even " " B even, " " " " A odd 
Beven " " A even, " " " " Bodd 

We may suppose that originally each generation kept 
by themselves, and therefore marriages between members 
of two succeeding generations were impossible, because 
only marriageable men and women of one generation came 
into contact. Later on, when the succeeding generations 
were not so diverse in age, and their social separation 
ceased, the custom had been established, and did not 
lapse with the changed conditions. 

There are a number of cases in which it is at least con- 
ceivable that the older customs of a people under a new 
surrounding, develop into taboos. I think, for instance, 
that it is not unlikely that the Eskimo taboo forbidding 
the use of caribou and of seal on the same day may be due 



236 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

to the alternating inland and coast life of the people. When 
they hunt inland, they have no seals, and consequently 
can eat only caribou. When they hunt on the coast, they 
have no caribou, and consequently can eat only seal. The 
simple fact that in one season only caribou can be eaten, 
and that in another season only seal can be eaten, may 
have led to a resistance to a change of this custom; so 
that from the fact that for a long period the two kinds of 
meat could not be eaten at the same time, the law devel- 
oped that the two kinds of meat must not be eaten at the 
same time. I think it is also likely that the fish taboo of 
some of our southwestern tribes may be due to the fact 
that the tribes lived for a long time in a region where no 
fish was available, and that the impossibility of obtaining 
fish developed into the custom of not eating fish. These 
hypothetical cases make it clear that the unconscious 
origin of customs is quite conceivable, although of course 
not necessary. However, it seems certain that even when 
there has been a conscious reasoning that led to the es- 
tablishment of a custom, it soon ceased to be so and in- 
stead we find a direct emotional resistance to an infraction 
of the custom. 

Other actions which are considered proper or improper 
are continued solely through the force of habit; and no 
reasons are assigned for their occurrence, although the re- 
action against an infringement of the custom may be strong. 
If among the Indians of Vancouver Island it is bad form 
for a young woman of nobility to open her mouth wide and 
to eat fast, a deviation from this custom would also be 
deeply felt, in this case as an impropriety which would 
seriously damage the social standing of the culprit. The 
same group of feelings are concerned when a member of 
the nobility, as in Europe, marries below his or her station. 
In other, more trifling cases, the overstepping of the bound- 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 237 

aries of custom merely exposes the offender to ridicule, on 
account of the impropriety of the act. All these cases be- 
long psychologically to the same group of emotional re- 
actions against breaks with established automatic habits. 

It might seem that in primitive society opportunity 
could hardly be given to bring into consciousness the 
strong emotional resistance against infractions of cus- 
toms, because they are on the whole rigidly adhered to. 
There is one feature of social life, however, that tends to 
keep the conservative attachment to customary actions 
before the minds of the people. This is the education of 
the young. The child in whom the habitual behavior of 
his surroundings has not yet developed will acquire much 
of it by unconscious imitation. In many cases, however, 
it will act in a way different from the customary manner, 
and will be corrected by its elders. Any one familiar with 
primitive life will know that the children are constantly 
exhorted to follow the example of their elders, and every 
collection of carefully recorded traditions contains numer- 
ous references to advice given by parents to children, im- 
pressing them with the duty to observe the customs of the 
tribe. The greater the emotional value of a custom, the 
stronger will be the desire to inculcate it in the minds of 
the young. Thus ample opportunity is given to bring the 
resistance against infractions into consciousness. 

These conditions exert a strong influence upon the de- 
velopment and conservation of customs; for, as soon as 
the breach of custom is raised into consciousness, occa- 
sions must arise when people, either led by children's 
questions or following their own bent to speculation, find 
themselves confronted with the fact that certain ideas 
exist for which they cannot give any explanation except 
that they are there. The desire to understand one's own 
feelings and actions, and to get a clear insight into the 



238 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

secrets of the world, manifests itself at a very early time, 
and it is therefore not surprising that man in all stages of 
culture begins to speculate on the motives of his own actions. 

We have seen before, that there need not be a conscious 
motive for many of these, and for this reason the tendency 
develops to discover the motives that may determine our 
customary behavior. This is the reason why, in all stages 
of culture, customary actions are made the subject of 
secondary explanations that have nothing to do with their 
historical origin, but which are inferences based upon the 
general knowledge possessed by the people. The existence 
of such secondary interpretations of customary actions is 
one of the most important anthropological phenomena, 
hardly less common in our own than in more primitive 
society. It is a common observation that we desire or act 
first, and then try to justify our desires and our actions. 
When, on account of our early bringing-up, we act with a 
certain political party, most of us are not prompted by a 
clear conviction of the justice of the principles of our 
party, but we do so because we have been taught to re- 
spect it as the right party to which to belong. Then only 
do we justify our standpoint by trying to convince our- 
selves that these principles are the correct ones. Without 
reasoning of this kind, the stability and geographical dis- 
tribution of political parties as well as of church denom- 
inations would be entirely unintelligible. This view is 
corroborated by the mental agonies that accompany the 
freeing of the mind from traditional opinions that have a 
sentimental value. A candid examination of our own minds 
convinces us that the average man, in by far the majority 
of cases, does not determine his actions by reasoning, but 
that he first acts, and then justifies or explains his acts by 
such secondary considerations as are current among us. 

We have discussed here that class of actions in which a 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 239 

break with the customary brings into consciousness their 
emotional value and releases a strong resistance to change, 
secondarily explained by reasons that forbid a change. 
We have also seen that the traditional material with which 
man operates determines the particular type of explana- 
tory idea that associates itself with the emotional state of 
mind. Primitive man generally bases these explanations 
of his customs on concepts that are intimately related to 
his general views of the constitution of the world. Some 
mythological idea may be considered the basis of a custom 
or of the avoidance of certain actions, or the custom may 
be given a symbolic significance, or it may merely be con- 
nected with the fear of ill luck. Evidently this last class of 
explanations is identical with those of many superstitions 
that linger among us. 

The essential result of this inquiry is the conclusion that 
the origin of customs of primitive man must not be looked 
for in rational processes. Most investigators who have 
tried to clear up the history of customs and taboos express 
the view that their origin lies in speculations on the rela- 
tions between man and nature; that to primitive man the 
world is filled with objects of superhuman power and with 
agencies which may harm man at the slightest provoca- 
tion; that the careful treatment of such objects and at- 
tempts to avoid conflict with these powers dictate the 
innumerable superstitious regulations. The impression is 
given that the habits and opinions of primitive man have 
been formed by conscious reasoning. It seems evident, 
however, that this whole line of thought would remain 
consistent if it were assumed that the processes arise with- 
out conscious reasoning from the classification of sense 
experience. Even if so considered the important function 
played in their formation by emotional drives would fail 
to receive its proper weight. 



240 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

The theory needs extension, because it would seem that 
many customs and beliefs may have arisen without any 
kind of active participation of the mind, such as became 
established by the general conditions of life, and came into 
consciousness as soon as these conditions changed. I do 
not doubt at all that there are cases in which customs 
originated by more or less conscious reasoning; but I am 
just as certain that others originated without it, and that 
our theories should cover both points. 

The study of primitive life exhibits a large number of 
associations of a different type, which are not so easily 
explained. Certain patterns of associated ideas may be 
recognized in all types of culture. 

Somber colors and depressed feelings are closely con- 
nected in our minds, although not in those of peoples of 
foreign culture. Noise seems inappropriate in a place of 
sadness, although among primitive people the loud wail 
of the mourner is the natural expression of grief. Decora- 
tive art serves to please the eye, yet a design like the cross 
has retained its symbolic significance. 

On the whole, such associations between groups of ideas 
apparently unrelated are rare in civilized life. That they 
once existed is shown by historical evidence as well as by 
survivals in which the old ideas have perished, although 
the outer forms remain. In primitive culture these associa- 
tions occur in great numbers. In discussing them we may 
begin with examples that have their analogues in our own 
civilization, and which therefore are readily intelligible 
to us. 

The most extended domain of such customs is that of 
ritual. Accompanying important actions numerous stated 
ritual forms occur which have no relation to the action 
itself but are formally applied in many situations. For 
our present consideration their early meaning is irrelevant. 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 241 

Many are so old that their origin must be looked for in 
antiquity or even in prehistoric times. In our day the 
domain of ritual is restricted, but in primitive culture it 
pervades the whole life. Not a single action of any impor- 
tance can be performed that is not accompanied by pre- 
scribed rites of more or less elaborate form. It has been 
proved in many cases that rites are more stable than their 
explanations; that they symbolize different ideas among 
different people and at different times. The diversity of 
rites is so great, and their occurrence so universal, that 
here the greatest possible variety of associations is found. 

This point of view may be applied to many of the most 
fundamental traits of primitive life, the rise and history of 
which become more readily intelligible when considered as 
due to associations between heterogeneous thoughts and 
activities. 

In our modern society, except among the adherents of 
the still flourishing astrology, the consideration of cosmic 
phenomena is constantly associated with the efforts to give 
adequate explanations for them, based on the principle of 
causality. In primitive society the consideration of the 
same phenomena leads to a number of typical associations 
different from our own, but occurring with remarkable 
regularity among tribes of the most remote parts of the 
world. An excellent instance of this kind is the regular 
association of observations relating to cosmic phenomena 
with purely human happenings; in other words, the occur- 
rence of nature myths. The characteristic trait of nature 
myths is the association between the observed cosmic 
events and what might be called a novelistic plot based on 
the form of social life with which people are familiar. The 
plot as such might as well develop as a tale of human 
adventure. Its association with the heavenly bodies, the 
thunderstorm or the wind make it a nature myth. The 



242 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

distinction between folk-tale and nature myth lies in the 
association of the latter with cosmic phenomena. This 
association does not naturally develop in modern society. 
If it is still found every now and then, it is based on the 
survival of the traditional nature myth. In primitive 
society, on the other hand, it is found constantly. The 
investigation of the reason for this association is an attrac- 
tive problem, the solution of which can only in part be 
surmised. 

A number of other examples will demonstrate that the 
kind of association here referred to is quite common in 
primitive life. An excellent instance is furnished by cer- 
tain characteristics of primitive decorative art. With us 
almost the sole object of decorative art is aesthetic. We 
wish to beautify the objects that are decorated. We recog- 
nize a certain appropriateness of decorative motives in 
accordance with their emotional effect and the uses to 
which the decorated objects are to be piit. In primitive 
life the conditions are quite different. Extended investi- 
gations on decorative art in all continents have proved 
that very commonly the decorative design is readily given 
a symbolic significance. Among many primitive tribes 
some sort of explanation for the designs in use can be 
given. In some cases the symbolic significance may be 
exceedingly weak, perhaps merely a name, sometimes it is 
highly developed. The triangular and quadrangular de- 
signs of our Plains Indians, for instance, often convey 
symbolic meanings. They may be records of warlike 
deeds, they may be prayers, or they may in some way 
convey other ideas relating to the supernatural. It would 
almost seem that among many primitive tribes decorative 
art for its own sake does not exist. The only analogues in 
modern decorative art are such as the use of the flag, of 
the cross or of emblems of secret societies for decorative 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 243 

purposes; but their frequency is insignificant as compared 
to the general symbolic tendencies of primitive art. We 
have here another type of association characteristic of 
primitive society and quite different from that found 
among ourselves. Among primitive people the aesthetic 
motive is combined with the symbolic, while in modern 
life the aesthetic motive is either quite independent or 
associated with utilitarian ideas. Modern symbolic art 
seems ineffectual because in our culture we have no gen- 
erally recognized style of symbolism, and an individual 
symbolism remains unintelligible for everyone except its 
creator. 

On the North Pacific coast of America the animal de- 
sign, which is found in many other parts of the world, has 
associated itself firmly with the totemic idea, and has led 
to an unparalleled application of animal motives. This 
may also have helped to preserve the realistic character of 
this art (Boas 13). Among the Sioux the high valuation 
of military prowess, and the habit of exploiting deeds of 
war before the tribe, have been the causes that led the 
men to associate the decoration on their garments with 
events of war; so that among them a military symbolism 
has developed, while the women of the same tribe explain 
the same design in an entirely different manner (Wissler). 
In this last case we have no particular difficulty in fol- 
lowing the line of thought that leads to the association 
between forms of decoration and military ideas, although 
in general our mind requires a much more conscious effort 
than that of primitive man. The very fact of the wide- 
spread occurrence of decorative symbolism shows that 
this association must establish itself automatically and 
without conscious reasoning. 

The objection might be raised that what we have called 
associations are in reality survivals of much older units; 



244 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

that every nature myth was in its origin a tale attached 
to natural phenomena; that decorative art served the ex- 
pression of definite ideas; or that the imagination of primi- 
tive man saw natural phenomena in the form of human 
actions and human fate, and that the ancient representa- 
tive forms became symbolic in course of time. Since, ac- 
cording to our previous arguments we conclude that the 
mental activities of all primitives are essentially alike, it 
would follow that these tendencies can still be observed. 

Experience shows that such an original unity under- 
lying mythical tales or decorative art does not exist. 
There is no firm relation between the contents of a tale 
and the natural phenomenon which it represents. Neither 
is there such a relation between decorative form and its 
symbolism. 

This is brought out clearly by the study of the migra- 
tion of tales and of art styles. The symbolic character of 
decorative art does not hinder the spread of designs or of 
a whole style from one people to another. This has been 
the case, for instance, among the tribes of our North- 
western Plains, who have borrowed much of their art from 
their more southern neighbors; but they have not adopted 
at the same time its symbolical interpretations. They in- 
vented interpretations of their own. 

An example of this kind is the isosceles triangle from 
the base of which a number of short vertical lines descend. 
In the arid southwest this is interpreted as a cloud from 
which the desired rain descends; among the mobile tribes 
of the Plains it is a tent with its pegs holding down the 
tent cover; among others a mountain at the foot of which 
there are a number of springs; on the coast of Alaska it 
represents the foot of a bear with its claws. Similar exam- 
ples may be given from other regions, such as the spirals 
of Siberia which are reinterpreted as birds' heads 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 245 

by the Gilyak (Laufer 1), and as hoofs of horses by the 
Yakut (Jochelson 1). The engraved Y ornament of the 
Eskimo has been changed into a whale's tail by broaden- 
ing its base and arms, or into a flower by adding small 
circles at the points of the arms. 

I presume the explanation of borrowed patterns was 
the result of a process which began when the patterns were 
found pleasing and were imitated. According to the pre- 
vailing culture interests an interpretation was expected 
and found in accord with the type of thought of the tribe. 
In all these cases the pattern must be older than its inter- 
pretation. 

Primitive mythology offers a similar example. The same 
kind of tales are current over enormous areas, but the 
mythological use to which they are put is locally quite 
different. Thus an ordinary adventure relating to the 
exploits of some animal may sometimes be made use of to 
explain some of its particular characteristics, at other 
times it is made to account for the origin of certain cus- 
toms, or of constellations in the sky. T. T. Waterman has 
collected many data of this kind. The story of the woman 
who became the mother of a litter of dogs is a typical 
example. Among the Eskimo it explains the origin of the 
Europeans; in southern Alaska that of the Milky Way, 
the rainbow and of thunderstorms; on Vancouver Island 
that of a number of reefs, and among still others the origin 
of the tribe. In the interior of British Columbia it ac- 
counts for the origin of a taboo; farther north for the 
origin of Orion and for the characteristics of several kinds 
of animals; among the Blackfoot the origin of the dog 
society, and among the Arapaho why the dog is the friend 
of man. Examples of this kind may be found in great 
numbers. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind 
that the tale as such is older than its mythological signif- 



246 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

icance. The characteristic feature of the development of 
the nature myth is, first, that the tale has associated itself 
with attempts to explain cosmic conditions (this has been 
referred to before); and, secondly, that when primitive 
man became conscious of the cosmic problem, he ransacked 
the entire field of his knowledge until he happened to find 
something that could be fitted to the problem in question, 
giving an explanation satisfactory to his mind. While 
the classification of concepts, the types of association 
and the resistance to change of automatic acts developed 
unconsciously, the secondary explanations are due to 
conscious reasoning. 

I will give still another example of a form of association 
characteristic of primitive society. In modern society, 
social organization, including the grouping of families, is 
essentially based on blood-relationship and on the social 
functions performed by each individual. Except insofar 
as the Church concerns itself with birth, marriage and 
death, there is no connection between social organization 
and religious belief. These conditions are quite different 
in primitive society, where we find an inextricable associa- 
tion of ideas and customs relating to society and to reli- 
gion. As in art form tends to associate itself with ideas 
entirely foreign to it, so the social unit tends to associate 
itself with various impressions of nature, particularly with 
the divisions of the animal world. This form of association 
seems to me the fundamental trait of totemism as found 
among many American tribes, as well as in Australia, 
Melanesia and in Africa. I have mentioned before its 
characteristic trait, which consists in a peculiar connec- 
tion that is believed to exist between a certain class of 
objects, generally animals, and a certain social group, a 
relation valid for one group, but replaced in others by 
another one, different in content, but identical in form. 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 247 

Frequently the social group related to the same totem 
consists of real or supposed blood-relatives. On account 
of this marriage regulations are frequently involved in the 
customs and beliefs relating to totemism. Furthermore 
the relation of man to the related class of objects or ani- 
mals is often given a religious significance, so that to each 
group are ascribed certain supernatural powers or dis- 
abilities connected with their totem. That such feelings 
are not by any means improbable, or even rare, is suffi- 
ciently shown by a psychological analysis of the attitudes 
of the European high nobility, or by the national emo- 
tions in their pronounced form. It is not at all difficult to 
understand how an overbearing enthusiasm of self-appre- 
ciation of a community may become a powerful emotion 
or a passion, which, on account of the lack of rational ex- 
planation of the world, will tend to associate the members 
of the community with all that is good and powerful. 
Psychologically, therefore, we may compare totemism 
with those familiar forms of society in which certain social 
classes claim privileges by the grace of God, or where the 
patron saint of a community favors its members with his 
protection. Notwithstanding these analogous forms it is 
difficult for us to understand the wealth of forms of asso- 
ciations occurring in primitive society, for this type of 
thought has lost much of its force in our civilization. 

The way in which such associations arise is indicated, 
in part at least, by developments of modern art. The 
programmatic music of modern times is in sharp contrast 
to the music of the eighteenth century. The latter was a 
music of formal beauty. It existed essentially for the sake 
of music alone or of music and dance. The former asso- 
ciates the musical elements with elements taken from ex- 
periences entirely foreign to the domain of music. 

All these considerations indicate that the separation of 



248 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

these complex phenomena is not due to a disintegration 
of ancient units, that for instance art and symbolism, 
narrative and myth were by origin indissolubly united, 
that rather the various groups of ideas and activities 
always existed interconnected, but that their associations 
were in a constant state of flux. 

However these associations may have been brought 
about, there is no doubt that they do exist, and that, 
psychologically considered, they are of the same character 
as those previously discussed, and that the rationalizing 
mind of man soon lost the historic thread, and reinter- 
preted the established customs in conformity with the 
general trend of thought of his culture. We are therefore 
justified in concluding that these customs must also be 
studied by the historical method, because their present 
associations are not likely to be original, but rather 
secondary. 

It is perhaps venturesome to discuss at the present 
moment the origin of these types of association; yet it 
may be admissible to dwell on a few of the most gener- 
alized facts which seem to characterize primitive culture 
as compared to civilization. From our point of view, the 
striking features of primitive culture are the great num- 
ber of associations of entirely heterogeneous groups of 
phenomena, such as natural phenomena and emotional 
states, social groupings and religious concepts, decorative 
art and symbolic interpretation. These tend to disappear 
with the approach to our present civilization, although a 
careful analysis reveals the persistence of many, and the 
tendency of each automatic action to establish its own 
associations according to the mental situations in which 
it regularly occurs. One of the great changes that has 
taken place may perhaps best be expressed by saying that 
in primitive culture the impressions of the outer world are 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 249 

associated intimately with subjective impressions, which 
they call forth regularly, but which are determined largely 
by the social surroundings of the individual. Gradually 
it is recognized that these connections are more uncertain 
than others that remain the same for all mankind, and 
in all forms of social surroundings; and thus sets in the 
gradual elimination of one subjective association after 
another, which culminates in the scientific method of the 
present day. We may express this also by saying that 
when we have our attention directed to a certain concept 
which has a whole fringe of incident concepts related to it, 
we at once associate it with that group which is repre- 
sented by the category of causality. When the same con- 
cept appears in the mind of primitive man, it associates 
itself with those concepts related to it by emotional states. 

If this is true, then the associations of the primitive 
mind are heterogeneous, and ours homogeneous and con- 
sistent only from our own point of view. To the mind of 
primitive man, only his own associations can be rational. 
Ours must appear to him just as heterogeneous as his own 
to us, because the bond between the phenomena of the 
world, as it appears after the emotional associations have 
been eliminated by increasing knowledge, does not exist 
for him, while we can no longer feel the subjective asso- 
ciations that govern his mind. 

This peculiarity of association is also another expression 
of the conservatism of primitive culture and the change- 
ability of many features of our civilization. We tried to 
show that the resistance to change is largely due to emo- 
tional sources, and that in primitive culture emotional as- 
sociations are the prevailing type: hence resistance against 
the new. In our civilization, on the other hand, many 
actions are performed merely as means to a rational end. 
They do not enter sufficiently deeply into our minds to 



250 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

establish connections which would give them emotional 
values: hence our readiness to change. We recognize, 
however, that we cannot remodel, without serious emo- 
tional resistance, any of the fundamental lines of thought 
and action which are determined by our early education, 
and which form the subconscious basis of all our activities. 
This is evinced by the attitude of civilized communities 
towards religion, politics, art and the fundamental con- 
cepts of science. 

In the average individual among primitive tribes, rea- 
soning cannot overcome this emotional resistance, and it 
therefore requires a destruction of the existing emotional 
associations by more powerful means to bring about a 
change. This may be effected by some event which stirs 
up the mind of the people to its depths, or by economic 
and political changes against which resistance is impossible. 
In civilization there is a constant readiness to modify those 
activities that have no emotional value. This is true not 
only of activities designed to meet practical ends, but 
also of others that have lost their associations, and that 
have become subject to fashion. There remain, however, 
others which are retained with great tenacity, and which 
hold their own against reasoning, because their strength 
lies in their emotional values. The history of the progress 
of science yields example after example of the power of 
resistance belonging to old ideas, even after increasing 
knowledge of the world has undermined the ground on 
which they were erected. Their overthrow is not brought 
about until a new generation has arisen, to whom the old 
is no longer dear and near. 

Besides this, there are a thousand activities and modes 
of thought that constitute our daily life of which we are 
not conscious at all until we come into contact with other 
types of life, or until we are prevented from acting according 



THE EMOTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF PRIMITIVES 251 

to our custom that cannot in any way be claimed to be 
more reasonable than others, and to which, nevertheless, 
we cling. These, it would seem, are hardly less numerous in 
civilized than in primitive culture, because they constitute 
the whole series of well-established habits according to 
which the necessary actions of ordinary every-day life are 
performed, and which are learned less by instruction than 
by imitation. 

We may also express these conclusions in another form. 
While in logical processes we find a decided tendency with 
the development of civilization to eliminate traditional 
elements, no such marked decrease in the force of tradi- 
tional elements can be found in our activities. These are 
controlled by custom almost as much among ourselves as 
they are among primitive man. We have seen why this 
must be the case. The mental processes which enter into 
the development of judgments are based largely upon as- 
sociations with previous judgments. This process of as- 
sociation is the same among primitive as among civilized 
man, and the difference consists largely in the modification 
of the traditional material with which our new perceptions 
amalgamate. In the case of activities, the conditions are 
somewhat different. Here tradition manifests itself in an 
action performed by the individual. The more frequently 
this action is repeated, the more firmly it will become es- 
tablished, and the less will be the conscious equivalent ac- 
companying the action; so that customary actions which are 
of very frequent repetition become entirely subconscious. 
Hand in hand with this decrease of consciousness goes an in- 
crease in the emotional value of the omission of such activ- 
ities, and still more of the performance of actions contrary to 
custom. A greater will power is required to inhibit an action 
which has become well established; and combined with this 
effort of the will power are feelings of intense displeasure. 



252 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Thus an important change from primitive culture to 
civilization seems to consist in the gradual elimination of 
what might be called the emotional, socially determined 
associations of sense-impressions and of activities, for 
which intellectual associations are gradually substituted. 
This process is accompanied by a loss of conservatism 
which, however, does not extend over the field of habitual 
activities that do not come into consciousness, and only to 
a slight extent over those generalizations which are the 
foundation of all knowledge imparted in the course of 
education. 



13. THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN 
SOCIETY 

Until the first decade of our century the opinion that 
race determines culture had been, in Europe at least, 
rather a subject of speculation of amateur historians and 
sociologists than a foundation of public policy. Since that 
time it has spread among the masses. Slogans like " blood 
is thicker than water," are expressions of its new emotional 
appeal. The earlier concept of nationality has been given 
a new meaning by identifying nationality with racial 
unity and by assuming that national characteristics are 
due to racial descent. It is particularly interesting to note 
that in the anti-Semitic movement in Germany of the time 
of 1880 it was not the Jew as a member of an alien race 
who was subject to attack, but the Jew who was not as^ 
similated to German national life. The present policy of 
Germany is based on an entirely different foundation, for 
every person is supposed to have a definite, unalterable 
character according to his racial descent and this deter- 
mines his political and social status. The conditions are 
quite analogous to the status assigned to the Negro at an 
earlier period, when licentiousness, shiftless laziness, lack 
of initiative were considered as racially determined, un- 
escapable qualities of every Negro. It is a curious spectacle 
to see that serious scientists, wherever free to express them- 
selves, have on the whole been drifting away from the 
opinion that race determines mental status, excepting 
however those biologists who have no appreciation of so- 
cial factors because they are captivated by the apparent 
hereditary determinism of morphological forms, while 

253 



^254 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

among the uninformed public to which unfortunately a 
number of powerful European politicians belong, race prej- 
udice has been making and is still making unchecked 
progress. I believe it would be an error to assume that we 
are free of this tendency: if nothing else the restrictions 
imposed upon members of certain " races," abridging 
their right to own real estate, to tenancy in apartment 
houses, membership of clubs, to their right to visit hotels 
and summer resorts, to admission to schools and colleges 
shows at least that there is no abatement of old prejudices 
directed against Negroes, Jews, Russians, Armenians or 
whatever they may be. The excuse that these exclusions 
are compelled by economic considerations, or by the fear 
of driving away from schools or colleges other social groups 
is merely an acknowledgment of a widespread attitude. 

I may perhaps restate in briefest form the errors which 
underlie the theory that racial descent determines mental 
and social behavior. The term race, as applied to human 
types, is vague. It can have a biological significance only 
when a race represents a uniform, closely inbred group, in 
which all family lines are alike as in pure breeds of domes- 
ticated animals. These conditions are never realized in 
human types and impossible in large populations. In- 
vestigations of morphological traits show that the extreme 
genetic lines represented in a so-called pure population are 
so different, that if found in different localities they would 
be counted as separate races, while the middle forms are 
common to races inhabiting adjoining territories, except- 
ing the occurrence of small groups that may have been in- 
bred for centuries. If the defenders of race theories prove 
that a certain kind of behavior is hereditary and wish to 
explain in this way that it belongs to a racial type they 
would have to prove that the particular kind of behavior is 
characteristic of all the genetic lines composing the race, 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 255 

that considerable variations in the behavior of different 
genetic lines composing the race do not occur. This proof 
has never been given and all the known facts contradict 
the possibility of uniform behavior of all the individuals 
and genetic lines composing the race. 

Added to this is the failure to see that the many different 
constitutional types composing a race cannot be consid- 
ered as absolutely permanent, but that the physiological 
and psychological reactions of the body are in a constant 
state of flux according to the outer and inner circumstances 
in which the organism finds itself. 

Furthermore the varying reactions of the organism do 
not create a culture but react to a culture. On account of 
the difficulties involved in defining personality and sepa- 
rating the endogene and exogene elements that make up a 
personality it is difficult to measure the range of variation 
of biologically determined personalities within a race. The 
endogene elements can only be those determined by the 
structure and chemism of the body and these show a wide 
range of variation within each race. The claim that a race 
is in any way identical with a personality cannot be given. 

It is not difficult to show that a very general primitive 
attitude of mind is involved in the identification of the 
characteristics of an individual with the supposed typical 
characteristics of the group to which he belongs. It has 
always found expression in the prohibition of marriage 
between the members of different groups and the substitu- 
tion of an imputed biological difference in place of a socio- 
logical one. Examples are particularly the laws forbidding 
marriages between members of different religious denom- 
inations. 

The diversity of local types found in Europe is a result 
of the intermingling of the various earlier types that lived 
on the continent. Since we do not know the laws of inter- 



256 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

mixture it is impossible to reconstruct the early constit- 
uent purer types, if such ever existed (see p. 70). We may 
not assume on the basis of a low variability that a type 
is pure, for we know that some mixed types are remarkably 
uniform. This has been shown for American Mulattoes, 
Dakota Indians, and made probable for the city population 
of Italy. 1 It is also not certain in how far exogene elements 
may be partly determinants of local types or how social 
selection may have acted upon a heterogeneous population. 
In short we have no way of identifying a pure type. It 
must be remembered that although by inbreeding in a 
small local group the family lines may become alike, this 
is no proof of purity of type, because the ancestral forms 
themselves may be mixed. 

Setting aside these theoretical considerations we may 
ask what kind of evidence is available for the claim that 
there is any pure race in Europe or, for that matter, in 
any part of the world. European national types are cer- 
tainly not pure stocks. It is only necessary to look at a 
map illustrating the racial types of any European country 
like Italy, for instance to see that local divergence is 
the characteristic feature, uniformity of type the excep- 
tion. Thus Dr. Ridolfo Livi, in his fundamental inves- 
tigations on the anthropology of Italy, has shown that 
the types of the extreme north and those of the extreme 
south are quite distinct the former tall, short-headed, 
with a considerable sprinkling of blond and blue-eyed in- 
dividuals; the latter short, long-headed and remarkably 
dark. The transition from one type to the other is, on the 
whole, quite gradual; but, like isolated islands, distinct 
types occur here and there. The region of Lucca in Tus- 
cany, and the district of Naples, are examples of this kind, 
which may be explained as due to the survival of an older 

1 Herskovits, Sullivan, Boas 9, 11. 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 257 

stock, to the intrusion of new types, or to a peculiar in- 
fluence of environment. 

Historical evidence is quite in accord with the results 
derived from the investigation of the distribution of mod- 
ern types. In the earliest times we find on the peninsula of 
Italy groups of heterogeneous people, the linguistic rela- 
tionships of many of which have remained obscure up to 
the present time. From the earliest prehistoric times on, 
we see wave after wave of people invading Italy from the 
north. Very early Greeks settled in the greater part of 
southern Italy, and Phoenician influence was well estab- 
lished on the west coast of the peninsula. A lively inter- 
course existed between Italy and northern Africa. Slaves 
of Berber blood were imported, and have left their traces. 
Slave trade continued to bring new blood into the country 
until quite recent times, and Livi believes that he can 
trace the type of Crimean slaves who were introduced late 
in the Middle Ages in the region of Venice. In the course 
of the centuries, the migrations of Celtic and Teutonic 
tribes, the conquests of the Normans, the contact with 
Africa, have added their share to the mixture of people on 
the Italian peninsula. 

The fates of other parts of Europe were no less diver- 
sified. The Pyrenaean Peninsula, which during the last 
few centuries has been one of the most isolated parts of 
Europe, has had a most checkered history. The earliest in- 
habitants of whom we know were presumably related to 
the Basques of the Pyrenees. These were subjected to 
Oriental influences in the pre-Mycenaean period, to Punic 
conquest, to Celtic invasions, Roman colonization, Teu- 
tonic invasions, the Moorish conquest, and later on to the 
peculiar selective process that accompanied the driving- 
out of the Moors and the Jews. 

England was not exempt from the vicissitudes of this 



258 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

kind. It seems plausible that at a very early period the 
type which is now found principally in Wales and in some 
parts of Ireland occupied the greater portion of the islands. 
It was swamped by successive waves of Celtic, Roman, 
Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian migration. Thus we find 
change everywhere. 

The history of the migrations of the Goths, the invasions 
of the Huns, who in the short interval of one century moved 
their habitations from the borders of China into the very 
center of Europe, are proofs of the enormous changes in 
population that have taken place in early times. 

Slow colonization has also brought about fundamental 
changes in blood as well as in diffusion of languages and 
cultures. Perhaps the most striking recent example of this 
change is presented by the gradual Germanization of the 
region east of the Elbe River, where after the Teutonic 
migrations, people speaking Slavic languages had settled. 
The gradual absorption of Celtic communities and of the 
Basque, in ancient times the great Roman colonization, 
and later the Arab conquest of North Africa, are examples 
of similar processes. 

Intermixture in early times was not by any means con- 
fined to peoples which, although diverse in language and 
culture, were of fairly uniform type. On the contrary, the 
most diverse types of southern, northern, eastern and west- 
ern Europe, not to mention the elements which poured 
into Europe from Asia and Africa, have been participants 
in this long-continued intermixture. The Jews also have 
been proved by physical examination as well as by blood 
tests to be of highly mixed origin (Brutzkus). 

In Europe the belief in hereditary mental qualities of 
human types finds expression principally in the mutual 
evaluation of the cultural achievement of nations. In 
present-day Germany the hatred of the Government 



THE RAGE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 259 

against the Jew is a relapse into cruder forms of these be- 
liefs. 

Since we have not been able to establish organically 
determined differences in the mental faculties of different 
races, such as could claim any importance as compared with 
the differences found in the genetic lines composing each 
race; since furthermore, we have seen that the alleged 
specific differences between the cultures of different peoples 
must be reduced to mental qualities common to all man- 
kind, we may conclude that there is no need of entering 
into a discussion of alleged hereditary differences in men- 
tal characteristics of various branches of the White race. 
Much has been said and written on the hereditary char- 
acter of the Italian, German, Frenchman, Irish, Jew and 
Gypsy, but it seems to me that not the slightest success- 
ful attempt has been made to establish causes for the 
behavior of a people other than historical and social 
conditions; and I consider it unlikely that this can ever 
be done. An unbiased review of the facts shows that the 
belief in hereditary racial characteristics and the jealous 
care for purity of race is based on the assumption of non- 
existing conditions. Since a remote period there have 
been no pure races in Europe and it has never been proved 
that continued intermixture has brought about deteriora- 
tion. It would be just as easy to claim and to prove by 
equally valid or rather invalid evidence that peoples 
which have had no admixture of foreign blood lacked the 
stimulus for cultural progress and became decadent. The 
history of Spain, or, outside of Europe, that of the remote 
villages of Kentucky and Tennessee might be given as 
striking examples. 

The actual effects of racial mixture cannot be answered 
by general historical considerations. The adherents of the 
belief for it is nothing else that long-headed groups lose 



260 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

their bodily and mental preeminence by mixture with 
round heads, will never be satisfied with, a proof of the 
improbability and impossibility of proving their cherished 
beliefs, for the opposite view also cannot be proved by 
rigid methods. The real course of race mixture in Europe 
will never be known accurately. We do not know any- 
thing in regard to the relative number and composition of 
mixed and "pure" lines; nothing in regard to the history 
of the mixed familes. Evidently the question cannot be 
solved on the basis of historical data but requires the 
study of strictly controlled material showing the move- 
ments of population. With all this nothing in the known 
historical facts suggests that preservation of racial purity 
assures a high cultural development; else we should expect 
to find the highest state of culture in every small, secluded 
village community. 

In modern times extended mixtures between different 
nationalities, involving migration of large masses from 
one country to another are rare in Europe. They occur 
when the rapid rise of industry in a particular locality 
attracts labor. This was the origin of a large Polish com- 
munity in the industrial district of Westphalia. The pres- 
ent political terrorism directed against political opponents 
in Russia, Italy, Germany and other countries, and the 
throttling of the Jews in Germany have also led to migra- 
tions, but these are minor phenomena when compared 
with the oversea migration from Europe to America, South 
Africa and Australia. The development of the American 
nation through the amalgamation of diverse European na- 
tionalities, the presence of the Negro, Indian, Japanese and 
Chinese, and the whole ever-increasing heterogeneity of 
the component elements of our people, involve a number 
of problems to the solution of which our inquiries contrib- 
ute important data. 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 261 

Our previous considerations make clear the hypothetical 
character of many of the generally accepted assumptions, 
and indicate that not all of the questions involved can be 
answered at the present time with scientific accuracy. It 
is disappointing that we have to take this critical attitude, 
because the political question of dealing with all these 
groups of people is of great and immediate importance. 
However, it should be solved on the basis of scientific 
knowledge, not according to emotional clamor. Under 
present conditions, we seem to be called upon to formu- 
late definite answers to questions that require the most 
painstaking and unbiased investigation; and the more 
urgent the demand for final conclusions, the more needed 
is a critical examination of the phenomena and of the 
available methods of solution. 

Let us first recall to our minds the facts relating to the 
origins of our nation. When British immigrants first 
flocked to the Atlantic coast of North America, they 
found a continent inhabited by Indians. The population 
of the country was thin, and vanished rapidly before the 
influx of the more numerous Europeans. The settlement 
of the Dutch on the Hudson, of the Germans in Pennsyl- 
vania, not to speak of other nationalities, is familiar to 
all of us. We know that the foundations of our modern 
state were laid by Spaniards in the Southwest, by French 
in the Mississippi Basin and in the region of the Great 
Lakes, but that the British immigration far outnumbered 
that of other nationalities. In the composition of our 
people, the indigenous element has never played an im- 
portant role, except for short periods. In regions where the 
settlement progressed for a long time entirely by the im- 
migration of unmarried males of the White race, families 
of mixed blood have been of some importance during the 
period of gradual development, but they have never be- 



262 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

come sufficiently numerous in any populous part of the 
United States to be considered an important element in 
our population. Without any doubt, Indian blood flows 
in the veins of quite a number of our people, but the pro- 
portion is so insignificant that it may well be disregarded. 

Much more important has been the introduction of the 
Negro, whose numbers have increased many fold, so that 
they form now about one- tenth of our whole nation. 

More recent is the problem of the immigration of people 
representing all the nationalities of Europe, western Asia 
and northern Africa. While until late in the second half 
of the nineteenth century the immigrants consisted almost 
entirely of people of northwestern Europe, natives of 
Great Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Hol- 
land, Belgium and France, the composition of the immi- 
grant masses has changed completely since that time. 
Italians, the various Slavic peoples of Austria, Russia and 
the Balkan Peninsula, Hungarians, Roumanians, East 
European Hebrews, not to mention the numerous other 
nationalities, have arrived in ever-increasing numbers. 
For a certain length of time the immigration of Asiatic 
nations seemed likely to become of importance in the de- 
velopment of our country. There is no doubt that these 
people of eastern and southern Europe represent physical 
types distinct from the physical type of northwestern 
Europe; and it is clear, even to the most casual observer, 
that their present social standards differ fundamentally 
from our own. 

It is often claimed that the phenomenon of mixture 
presented in the United States is unique; that a similar 
intermixture has never occurred before in the world's his- 
tory; and that our nation is destined to become what 
some writers choose to term a "mongrel" nation in a sense 
that has never been equaled anywhere. 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 263 

The period of immigration may now be considered 
closed, for the present economic and political conditions 
have brought it about that, as compared to the total popu- 
lation, immigration is insignificant. 

The history of European migrations as outlined before 
shows that the modern transatlantic migration merely 
repeats in modern form the events of antiquity. The 
earlier migrations occurred at a period when the density of 
population was, comparatively speaking, small. The 
number of individuals concerned in the formation of the 
modern types of Great Britain were comparatively few as 
compared with the millions who have come together to 
form a new nation in the United States; and it is obvious 
that the process of amalgamation which takes place in 
communities that must be counted by millions differs 
in character from the process of amalgamation that takes 
place in communities that may be counted by thousands. 
Setting aside social barriers, which in early times as well 
as now undoubtedly tended to keep intermingling peoples 
separate, it would seem that in the more populous com- 
munities of modern times a greater permanence of the 
single combining elements might occur, owing to their 
larger numbers, which make the opportunities for segre- 
gation more favorable. 

Among the early, smaller communities the process of 
amalgamation must have been an exceedingly rapid one. 
After the social distinctions had once been obliterated, 
pure descendants of one of the component types must 
have decreased greatly in number, and the fourth genera- 
tion of a people consisting originally of distinct elements 
must have been almost homogeneous. 

We may dismiss the assumption of a process of mon- 
grelization in America different from anything that has 
taken place for thousands of years in Europe. Neither are 



264 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

we right in assuming that the phenomenon is one of a more 
rapid intermixture than the one prevailing in olden times. 
The difference is based essentially in the masses of indi- 
viduals concerned in the process. 

If we confine our consideration for the present to the 
intermixture of European types in America, it will be clear, 
from what has been said before, that the concern that is 
felt by many in regard to the continuance of racial purity 
of our nation is to a great extent imaginary. 

Two questions stand out prominently in the study of 
the physical characteristics of the immigrant population. 
The first is the question of the selection of immigrants 
and the influence of environment upon them. The second 
is the question of the effect of intermixture, 

We have been able to throw some light upon both of 
these. 

We found that both in regard to bodily form and mental 
behavior the immigrants are subject to the influence of 
their new environment. While the causes of bodily changes 
and their direction are still obscure, it has been shown that 
the mental and social behavior of the descendants of 
immigrants shows in all those features that have been 
investigated an assimilation to American standards. 

A number of data have also been obtained for a better 
understanding of race-mixture. Let us recall that one of 
the most powerful agents modifying human types is the 
breaking-up of the continuance of strains in small com- 
munities by a process, of rapid migration, which occurs 
both in Europe and in America, but with much greater 
rapidity in our country, because the heterogeneity of de- 
scent of the people is much greater than in modern Europe. 

What effect these processes may have upon the ultimate 
type and variability of the American people cannot be 
determined at the present time; but no evidence is avail- 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 265 

able that would allow us to expect a lower status of the 
developing new types of America. Much remains to be 
done in the study of this subject; and considering our 
lack of knowledge of the most elementary facts that de- 
termine the outcome of this process, I feel that it be- 
hooves us to be most cautious in our reasoning, and par- 
ticularly to refrain from all sensational formulations of the 
problem that are liable to add to the prevalent lack of 
calmness in its consideration; the more so, since the answer 
to these questions concerns the welfare of millions of 
people. 

The problem is one in regard to which speculation is as 
easy as accurate studies are difficult. Basing our argu- 
ments on ill-fitting analogies with the animal and plant 
world, we may speculate on the effects of intermixture 
upon the development of new types as though the mix- 
ture that is taking place in America were in any sense, 
except a sociological one, different from the mixtures that 
have taken place in Europe for thousands of years; look- 
ing for a general degradation, for reversion to remote an- 
cestral types, or towards the evolution of a new ideal 
type as fancy or personal inclination may impel us. We 
may enlarge on the danger of the impending submergence 
of the northwest European type, or glory in the prospect 
of its dominance over all others. Would it not be a safer 
course to investigate the truth or fallacy of each theory 
rather than excite the public mind by indulgence in the 
fancies of our speculations? That these are an important 
help in the attainment of truth, I do not deny; but they 
must not be promulgated before they have been subjected 
to a searching analysis, lest the credulous public mistake 
fancy for truth. 

If I am not in a position to predict what the effect of 
mixture of distinct types may be, I feel confident that 



266 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

this important problem may be solved if it is taken up 
with sufficient energy and on a sufficiently large scale. An 
investigation of the anthropological data of people of 
distinct types taking into consideration the similarities 
and dissimilarities of parents and children, the rapidity 
and final result of the physical and mental development of 
children, their vitality, the fertility of marriages of differ- 
ent types and in different social strata such an investiga- 
tion is bound to give us information which will allow us to 
answer these important questions definitely and conclu- 
sively. 

The final result of race-mixture will necessarily depend 
upon the fertility of the present native population and 
of the newer immigrants. It is natural that in large cities, 
where nationalities separate in various quarters, a great 
amount of cohesion should continue for some time; but it 
seems likely that intermarriages between descendants of 
foreign nationalities will increase rapidly in later genera- 
tions. Our experience with Americans born in New York 
whose grandparents immigrated into this country is, on 
the whole, that most social traces of their descent have 
disappeared, and that many do not even know to what 
nationalities their grandparents belonged. It might be 
expected particularly in Western communities where 
frequent changes of location are common that this 
would result in a rapid mixture of the descendants of 
various nationalities. This inquiry, which it is quite fea- 
sible to carry out in detail, seems indispensable for a clear 
understanding of the situation. 

During the last decade studies of the population prob- 
lem have made rapid strides. We refer merely to the care- 
ful analysis of population problems by Frank Lorimer and 
Frederick Osborn. As a result of the accumulating work 
it may be said that as long as the problems involved are 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 267 

conceived as racial problems in the usually accepted mean- 
ing of the term little progress will be made. The biological 
well-being of a nation is rather dependent upon the dis- 
tribution of hereditary constitutional types in social 
classes. These are not indissolubly connected with racial 
types. No such relation has ever been discovered that is 
not adequately accounted for by historical or sociological 
conditions, and all the traits of personality that have ever 
been investigated point invariably to a high degree of 
pliability of the representatives of a racial group, to a 
greater uniformity in a mixed group subjected to similar 
social stresses. 

At present the European nations and their descendants 
on other continents are deeply impressed by the fear of a 
threatening degeneration. Certainly, it is important to 
combat strictly hereditary pathological tendencies and to 
improve the health of the people by eugenic means as far 
as this is possible; but the complex conditions of modern 
life should receive proper consideration. Statistics show 
an increase of the socially weak, who become the wards 
of almshouses, institutions for the care of the insane, the 
imbecile, those afflicted by chronic diseases; and who fill 
our prisons and penitentiaries. We live in a period of a 
rapid increase in the differentiation of our population, 
that is of increasing variability. This would bring about 
an increase of the number of the weakest as well as of the 
strongest, without necessarily implying a lowering of the 
average. In many respects this seems to correspond to 
the actual conditions. The weak can be counted, because 
they are cared for by the State. The strong cannot be 
counted. Their presence is expressed in the greater in- 
tensity of our lives. 

The aim of eugenics, namely, the improvement of con- 
stitutional health, is highly commendable, but we are still 



268 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

far from seeing how it can be attained. Certainly not by 
the panacea of many eugenists, sterilization. The decrease 
in the frequency of hereditary diseases by the elimination 
of those actually affected is so slow that an effect will not 
be felt for many generations; and more important than 
this: we do not know how often the same conditions may 
arise as hereditary mutations and whether the unfavorable 
conditions under which large classes live do not result in 
such mutations. The theory that recessive hereditary dis- 
eases have sprung up once only is untenable on account 
of its implications. It would lead us to the conclusion 
that we are the offspring of a number of diseased popula- 
tions almost without a healthy ancestor. It is the most 
important and at the same time the most difficult task of 
our studies to find the conditions under which hereditary 
pathological conditions arise. 

The Negro problem as it presents itself in the United 
States is from a biological viewpoint not essentially differ- 
ent from those just discussed. We have found that no 
proof of an inferiority of the Negro type could be given, 
except that it seemed barely possible that perhaps the 
race would not produce quite so many men of highest 
genius as other races, while there was nothing at all that 
could be interpreted as suggesting any material difference 
in the mental capacity of the bulk of the Negro population 
as compared with the bulk of the White population. There 
will undoubtedly be endless numbers of men and women 
who will be able to outrun their White competitors, and who 
will do better than the defectives whom we permit to drag 
down and retard the healthy children of our public schools. 

Ethnological observation does not countenance the view 
that the traits observed among our poorest Negro popu- 
lation are in any sense racially determined. A survey of 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 269 

African tribes exhibits to our view cultural achievements 
of no mean order. To those unfamiliar with the products 
of native African art and industry, a walk through one of 
the large museums of Europe would be a revelation. Few 
of our American museums have made collections that 
exhibit this subject in any way worthily. The blacksmith, 
the wood carver, the weaver, the potter these all produce 
ware original in form, executed with great care, and ex- 
hibiting tjiat love of labor, and interest in the results of 
work, which are apparently so often lacking among the 
Negroes in our American surroundings. No less instruc- 
tive are the records of travelers, reporting the thrift of 
the native villages, of the extended trade of the country, 
and of its markets. The power of organization as illus- 
trated in the government of native states is of no mean 
order, and when wielded by men of great personality has 
led to the foundation of extended empires. All the different 
kinds of activities that we consider valuable in the citizens 
of our country may be found in aboriginal Africa. Neither 
is the wisdom of the philosopher absent. A perusal of any of 
the collections of African proverbs that have been published 
will demonstrate the homely practical philosophy of the 
Negro, which is often proof of sound feeling and judgment. 
It would be out of place to enlarge on this subject, be- 
cause the essential point that anthropology can contribute 
to the practical discussion of the adaptability of the Negro 
is a decision of the question how far the undesirable traits 
that are at present undoubtedly found in our Negro popu- 
lation are due to racial traits, and how far they are due to 
social surroundings for which we are responsible. To this 
question anthropology can give the decided answer that 
the traits of African culture as observed in the aboriginal 
home of the Negro are those of a healthy primitive people, 
with a considerable degree of personal initiative, with a 



270 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

talent for organization, with imaginative power, with 
technical skill and thrift. Neither is a warlike spirit absent 
in the race, as is proved by the mighty conquerors who over- 
threw states and founded new empires, and by the courage 
of the armies that follow the bidding of their leaders. 

It may be well to state here once more with some em- 
phasis that it would be erroneous to claim as proved that 
there are no differences in the mental make-up of the 
Negro race taken as a whole and of any other race taken as 
a whole, and that their activities should run in exactly the 
same lines. This would be a result of the varying frequency 
of personalities of various types. It may be that the bodily 
build of the Negro race taken as a whole tends to give a 
direction to its activities somewhat different from those 
of other races. An answer to this question cannot be given. 
There is, however, no evidence whatever that would stig- 
matize the Negro as of weaker build, or as subject to in- 
clinations and powers that are opposed to our social or- 
ganization. An unbiased estimate of the anthropological 
evidence so far brought forward does not permit us to 
countenance the belief in a racial inferiority which would un- 
fit an individual of the Negro race to take his part in modern 
civilization. We do not know of any demand made on the 
human body or mind in modern life that anatomical or eth- 
nological evidence would prove to be beyond his powers. 

The traits of the American Negro are adequately ex- 
plained on the basis of his history and social status. The 
tearing-away from the African soil and the consequent 
complete loss of the old standards of life, which were re- 
placed by the dependency of slavery and by all it entailed, 
followed by a period of disorganization and by a severe 
economic struggle against heavy odds, are sufficient to 
explain the inferiority of the status of the race, without 
falling back upon the theory of hereditary inferiority. 



THE RACE PROBLEM IN MODERN SOCIETY 271 

In short, there is every reason to believe that the Negro 
when given facility and opportunity, will be perfectly able 
to fulfill the duties of citizenship as well as his White 
neighbor. 

The anthropological discussion of the Negro problem 
requires also a word on the " race instinct " of the Whites, 
which plays a most important part in the practical aspect 
of the problem. Ultimately this phenomenon is a repeti- 
tion of the old instinct and fear of the connubium of pa- 
tricians and plebeians, of the European nobility and the 
common people or of the castes of India. The emotions 
and reasonings concerned are the same in every respect. 
In our case they relate particularly to the necessity of 
maintaining a distinct social status in order to avoid race- 
mixture. As in the other cases mentioned, the so-called 
instinct is not a physiological dislike. This is proved by 
the existence of our large Mulatto population, as well as 
by the more ready amalgamation of the Negro with Latin 
peoples. It is rather an expression of social conditions that 
are so deeply ingrained in us that they assume a strong 
emotional value; and this, I presume is meant when we 
call such feelings instinctive. The feeling certainly has 
nothing to do with the question of the vitality and ability 
of the Mulatto. 

Still the questions of race mixture and of the Negro's 
adaptability of our environment represent a number of 
important problems. 

I think we have reason to be ashamed to confess that 
the scientific study of these questions has never received 
the support either of our government or of any of our 
great scientific institutions; and it is hard to understand 
why we are so indifferent toward a question which is of 
paramount importance to the welfare of our nation. The 
investigations by Melville J. Herskovits on the American 



272 THE MIND OF PRIMITIVE MAN 

Negro are a valuable beginning; but we should know much 
more. Notwithstanding the oft-repeated assertions re- 
garding the hereditary inferiority of the Mulatto, we know 
hardly anything on this subject. If his vitality is lower than 
that of the full-blooded Negro, tlys may be as much due 
to social as to hereditary causes. Herskovits has pointed 
out that contrary to conditions during the time of slavery 
the tendency among Mulattoes is for a lighter man to 
marry a darker woman and that in consequence of this 
the colored population tends to become darker an un- 
desirable condition, if we believe that a decrease of strong 
contrasts in racial types is desirable because it helps to 
weaken class-consciousness. 

Our tendency to evaluate an individual according to 
the picture that we form of the class to which we assign 
him, although he may not feel any inner connection with 
that class, is a survival of primitive forms of thought. The 
characteristics of the members of the class are highly 
variable and the type that we construct from the most 
frequent characteristics supposed to belong to the class 
is never more than an abstraction hardly ever realized in 
a single individual, often not even a result of observation, 
but an often heard tradition that determines our judg- 
ment. 

Freedom of judgment can be attained only when we 
learn to estimate an individual according to his own ability 
and character. Then we shall find, if we were to select the 
best of mankind, that all races and all nationalities would 
be represented. Then we shall treasure and cultivate the 
variety of forms that human thought and activity has 
taken, and abhor, as leading to complete stagnation, all 
attempts to impress one pattern of thought upon whole 
nations or even upon the whole world. 



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