An Outline of Social Psychology

Chapter 4: The Anthropic Background of Cultural Behavior

Jacob Robert Kantor

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Cultural reactions are deeply rooted in a particular human soil, to which we will refer as the anthropic background of cultural conduct. Cultural responses are therefore definitely influenced in their existence and specific character by the social situations in which they occur. When I perform a linguistic response many anthropic factors constitute the components of the circumstance along with the operation of my biological apparatus and sound making functions. Particular words must be used with certain intonation, stress, and word order. Similarly, all conventional behavior, whether manners, thoughts, religious or artistic practices, or general attitudes toward life, show the result of living in a particular social milieu.

Accordingly, just as the understanding of the biological nature of the psychological organism gives the psychologist an insight into the animal details of psychological adaptations, so the study of distinctly human phenomena contributes to the comprehension of cultural behavior.

In all probability there is even a closer connection between social psychology and anthropic phenomena than exists between general psychology and biological facts. For as we have already seen, biological factors only slightly condition responses of any sort and provide comparatively few stimuli. Great quantities of the person's behavior, on the other hand, are directly derived from his particular civilization. Not only are cultural responses developed in the reactional biography

( 102) of an individual, as is the case with personal, non-social responses, but they also are intimately involved with the life of groups. Moreover, in the many forms of cultural backgrounds we find sources for the great variety of types and instances of social behavior.

For purposes of understanding cultural conduct it is necessary therefore to investigate its anthropic conditions.[1] But the plot thickens. Psychological behavior cannot be connected merely with ethnic or national groups, but also with the events connected with various sets of persons. Within a single national or ethnic unit there are thousands of psychological collectivities. Now the problem arises how is this study to be achieved. For obviously the phenomena of psychological collectivities is an inexhaustible subject. Each psychological group is the locus for a multiplex series of constantly changing circumstances.

Students of social psychology must therefore compensate for their inability to study minute psychological collectivities by acquainting themselves with the general facts of sociology and anthropology. This is of course a legitimate procedure since the data of psychological collectivities as the background of cultural behavior are themselves set in a matrix of anthropological phenomena. In consequence, an acquaintance with anthropological facts enables us to become familiar with the sources and conditions of social behavior. The present chapter and the next are devoted to a survey of anthropic data.


Each set of human individuals possesses a unique civilization. Included in the aggregate of these collectivities are all

( 103) human organisms. Every human individual, accordingly, participates in a cultural system. There is no such thing then as a savage or barbarian, howsoever his anthropic system may differ from our own or any other taken as a standard. Hence every human community constitutes a unit of civilization, whether it be large or small, a sovereign or dominated group, and irrespective of whether its domiciliary location on the earth's surface be the frozen extremes of the globe, the torrid regions of its equator, or intermediate temperate regions.

It would be an interminable task to list all the civilizational components of any one cultural system. But it is quite possible to enumerate a series of classes of the civilizational factors of all human groups, no matter how diversified they may be in detail. Every such civilization or anthropic system we may assert includes among its variegated complexity, (a) actions of all sorts, (b) human events and circumstances, (c) organizations of personal, domestic and political relations, as well as (d) objects, and (e) processes.

(a) Of the behavior phases of anthropic systems we may set apart for illustrative enumeration, first, personal reactions. According to our civilizational units we believe certain things, we prefer others, we make choice and taste responses, we think, sew, hunt, swim, as well as perform innumerable varieties of artistic and industrial manipulation. Secondly, we perform touch interpersonal behavior, such as conversation, sex conduct, buying, selling, and the infinity of activities involving the mutual interaction of persons. Finally, we include all the public responses of worshipping, hunting, dancing, and the general gamut of ritualistic performances connected with religious, agricultural, fraternal, political and other administrative group functions.

(b) Events and circumstances likewise constitute prominent features of anthropic phenomena. Celebrations of every variety, the glorification of the tribe or group deity, jubilation over military victories, the setting aside of holy or sacred

( 104) days for the performance of various rites, religious worship, planting, initiations, etc., are all specific components of every cultural system. Every human group counts among its civilizational resources certain time periods and intervals as unique human events and circumstances. From the psychological standpoint these occurrences function as stimuli for concerted actions of the groups' personnel, precisely as non-human happenings do.

(c) So numerous and so involved are the human interrelationships existing in every collectivity that they challenge our capacity to isolate them all. For illustrative purposes, however, we may start with a single individual and consider his various connections with others. Thus we have first the family descent associations with all their manifold ramifications, relations of persons to father, mother, brother, sister and to the brothers and sisters of the parents, etc. Next we may mention the sib organization, involving lines of blood relationship. Further interconnections are created by marriage relations which connect each of the persons concerned with the families or sibs of the other. Standing apart from these more personal organizations are the innumerable interconnections of individuals designed for private and public enterprise, the associations of hunters, traders, artists, teachers, healers, warriors, etc. In completing our examples we can only hint at all the obvious group relations, such as political, legal, and administrative organizations with their various implied hierarchies.

 (d) Out of the exhaustless array of objects found in every group we may isolate classes according to the life conditions of the individuals concerned. In every human collectivity are sheltering objects of various types. Whether the community uses houses, tents, or igloos, fairly adequate provision is always made for sheltering purposes. This feature extends to clothing and other articles necessary for personal protection. Ethnologists and explorers have always noted how admirably human

(105) organisms are able to adapt themselves to the rigors of temperature even when the civilizational character of the group is exceedingly simple or poor. So far as food conditions are concerned, every set of individuals has its plants and animals, cultivated or uncultivated, with objects (pottery, basketry) appropriate for their preparation and preservation for nutritive purposes. With respect to the most elementary animal needs there is no human organism that does not live on a plane of existence infinitely above that of an infrahuman animal. This point need not be emphasized when we consider transportational activities. For here the cultural facts are obvious. Corresponding with the needs of human organisms every group has its canoes, wagons, sleds, and other means of transportation.

Universal features of every human group are tools of all sorts adapted to the purposes of its members. Diverse implements are necessary for manufacture, hunting, and for creating art objects, etc. The universality of civilization is further illustrated by the presence in every civilizational unit of property of some sort. Listed among the human possessions of all communities are art objects and creations used for personal decoration, ritualistic and initiatory performances, or possibly for mere appreciation and enjoyment. To mention any of these objects is to demonstrate that no human group lives upon the level of bare maintenance, but that all possess objects signifying diversities of human interest and the desire for luxuries.

(e) Collective life is impossible without methods and processes for carrying on the functions of individuals and the group as a whole. Certain processes must be evolved for the preparation and preservation of things. Techniques must be developed for hunting, manufacturing, drawing and painting. Every collectivity is constantly concerned with special means of making objects necessary for the immediate maintenance of the individuals or for the production of ornaments

( 106) and decorations. No human group is without inventions. A somewhat different type of universal cultural process are the methods and procedures of administering the affairs of a community, carrying on war and other relations with neighborly or hostile groups, and punishing and rewarding individuals within the group itself for their commendable or disesteemed actions.

It is probably quite proper to infer from the universal distribution of human traits and activities that all groups of individuals as organisms are much alike. Wherever human animals exist in their communal togetherness they develop civilizational adaptations to the natural surroundings that we have mentioned. No human community exists without language, art, science, religion, and play, irrespective of how the men in the groups may differ in size, shape, color, or other specific biological character. It is a common observation too that men of distinctly different biological traits share the same civilizational elements, while communities having similar biological traits differ in their anthropic circumstances. Whether light and dark men belong to similar or diverse types of civilization depends directly upon the life conditions and previous histories of the groups in question. In all cases, however, we may be sure that the cultural or civilizational differences between communities of men are greater and more significant than their biological variation.

What perspectival results may the psychologist glean from the universality of civilization? Unfortunately the psychological implications of this fact have not always been correctly interpreted. That all human individuals are equally members of civilized communities has been construed to signify that human organisms come into the world endowed with positive psychic powers or properties which cause them inevitably to develop and acquire qualities of civilization. Obviously such a conception does considerable violence to the nature of psychological phenomena; for this viewpoint regards psycholog-

( 107) -ical facts as forces inherent in the animal organism. This doctrine we have already examined in our chapter on biological phenomena insofar as the proponents of this idea connect their inevitable psychic processes with the biological make-up of the individual. Those who adhere to this view, we have seen, regard the common psychic processes of the organism as inheritable qualities. Such is the conception propagated in the ethnological literature and symbolized by the term psychic unity of man.

For our part what the universality of civilization really means for psychology is that every individual born into a group is inevitably in contact with certain stimuli objects, processes, and actions. Thus the organism acquires reaction systems corresponding to these stimuli objects. As we have seen it must be admitted that an organism has a certain possibility for being stimulated and for acquiring these reaction systems since it belongs to a species existing at a particular point on the evolutionary scale. But as we have sufficiently pointed out, this biological status may only be regarded as a source of psychological possibilities after the person has actually acquired civilizational traits.

Indeed the possibility of developing cultural conduct has its roots just as much in the civilization of a group as in the biological organism. We may regard both sources of possibility A:; a series of events and conditions, which taken together are components of a more inclusive event, namely the actual acquisition by the individual of specific forms of behavior. .

Rightly to understand a psychological phenomenon, one must be strictly on guard not to neglect observation of details. Notice that in each instance of behavior acquisition the individual acquires some exceedingly specific form of reaction system. His behavior traits are absolutely particularized facts, specific language responses, custom reactions, etc. Furthermore, unless the specifications of contact of the individual with his surroundings occurred he would not have any

( 108) behavior and would not be a part of the civilizational collectivity. When we overlook these specificities of contact and their importance for the existence of mentality we invariably translate them into spurious potencies. From a strictly scientific standpoint the fact that civilization is universal provides us only with a single factor in the development of mentality.

The omnipresence of culture, however, may be regarded as an important basis for the cultural nature of man, just as we may look upon the facts of man's animal species as a factor in his original nature. Each refers to actual conditions contributing to the existence of some concrete psychological fact. Mentality is the historical product of all of the conditions mentioned, and is not a preexisting entity. We cannot adopt here the mediaeval conception of the existence of essences regardless of actual natural circumstances. Such a metaphysical attitude invariably misconstrues all the facts of complex human phenomena and falsifies the whole science of psychology.

The observed cultural similarity of men must be accounted for by the fact that they all belong to the same animal species and that they are invariably born into cultural situations which have developed through long series of anthropic conditions, probably with a common primordial origin. The barest objective approach to psychological facts overwhelmingly convinces us that there cannot be anything like psychic unity. Only in the sense that no one has any mentality before he develops it, do all have the same mentality. When we consider the positive circumstances of human individuals we learn that there are no two human individuals alike. For no two persons can pass through the same reactional histories.


Granting that all human communities are alike as units of civilization we must regard this fact as insignificant as com-

( 109) -pared with the differences between those civilizations. For it is rather the minute divergences in acts and modes of life that are important. When we take cultural phenomena at large we can only categorize and label certain types of activities and things, but we do not gain any information concerning their actual nature. To say that every community of human beings possesses a language is to tell us nothing about its phonology, vocabulary, grammar, etc. In addition to these essentials, it is necessary to point out how each feature of the language of the community has arisen out of, and functions in a particular set of human circumstances. The phenomena of civilization, then, are the particular things existing in a given community and not mere generalized facts represented by a broad category of some sort.[2]

The need to emphasize the specifications of cultural data is forced upon us when we notice that anthropic phenomena with similar descriptions and names have opposing and incommensurable characteristics. A family organization of one group may be considered a lack of domestic association in another. What are describable as similar customs may be violently in opposition in their humanistic function. Social and economic administration in some community may be regarded as an absence of administration in another.

Furthermore, there is always a discrepancy between the statistical description of an anthropic element and the actual objects or happenings referred to. A wide gap always separates a grammarian's survey of language from actual speech I behavior summed up. For the student of psychology it is especially important to pay due regard to the particularities of an anthropic system, since it is only the most intimate :anthropic facts that concern him and which can throw light upon his problems. The psychologist, therefore, must connect the behavior features of a cultural system with actual re

(110) -sponses of persons, while the material objects and processes he regards as stimuli in some form.

When we stress the singularities of the cultural data found in every human community, and study each anthropic element as a natural phenomenon existing in mutual interconnection with other facts, we must conclude that there are no two human groups alike, although they may have many elements in common.

 Now we face the necessity of discovering some principle by means of which to handle such similarities and dissimilarities conceptually. A pragmatic principle of considerable service here is the degree of connection of the anthropic elements with sheer human ecological conditions. We may express the principle in the following manner. Anthropic objects and traits are similar precisely in the degree in which they are involved with the actual maintenance of individuals and the group as a whole. The necessity to eat, protect oneself, and to reproduce puts limitations upon the things and acts of certain groups. So far as food is concerned objects must be edible and digestible. Garments must be protective and durable. Here we have limitations put upon the cultural conditions of groups.

Insofar as the elementary requirements of biological adaptations are involved we may assume, then, that the civilizational features of various collectivities will be constant. Without doubt the greatest similarities of anthropic phenomena are found in elementary cultural behavior rather than in objects. In other words, anthropic elements resemble each other the most when they involve the operation of the organism itself for elementary purposes. Somewhat less similar are the anthropic elements when the ecological adjustments permit acts to be performed through the extension of one's own organism, as in the use of contrivances, for example. When fire is used in the preparation of food a much wider range of food culture is possible. When shelters are built instead of merely con-

( 111) - cealing oneself, striking variations are introduced in civilization.

Civilizational facts may be conceived as arranged upon a graduated scale. The lower limits naturally are rooted deeply in the biological characteristics of organisms and the environmental circumstances surrounding them. The upper ranges of our hypothetical scale belong more to the process of distinctly human life.

Now as we have already suggested no human life is so poor, even in the most primitive communities, that the activities of the individuals are exclusively or perhaps even primarily concerned with elementary maintenance activities. For example, among human beings there is no such thing as sheer biological reproduction, or bare metabolic functions. Accordingly we have the basis for the development of all types of complex actions and objects which naturally are very dissimilar in different anthropic units. We may safely assert that in general the anthropic traits and elements not rooted in the biological factors of individuals greatly outweigh those bound up with maintenance phenomena. It is an indubitable fact that when the individual first comes into contact with stimuli in his human environment, the greatest number by far are cultural conditions rather than purely natural phenomena.

An important factor in the increasing dissimilarity of cultural phenomena, even on a primitive level, is the almost inevitable evolutionary development found in human situations. The term evolutionary development stands for a progressive growth of objects and techniques through the manipulations of individuals. For instance, once a technique of fishing is introduced, observations of particular happenings involved in the fishing process suggest modes of transforming the present technique. It is inconceivable that persons using some tool will not observe its deficiencies under certain circumstances, such that the possibility immediately exists for its improvement. This advancement we may regard as a changed

(112) status of a cultural element. Similarly the multiplication of the uses of an object or tool stimulate its further modification. No civilizational unit fails to present us with a constant series of such developmental circumstances. Each object or situation therefore turns out to be an adequate stimulus for exciting transformative reactions resulting in its variation. Thus a different level of human circumstances is initiated.

Ordinarily we should not expect conditions to be the same in different human centers. Accordingly anthropic elements diverge just in proportion as conditions vary from group to group. One of the greatest influences upon the similarities of life conditions of human groups is the complexity of the civilization of the community. Many of the great diversities between the anthropic phenomena of some groups, such as the so-called high types of European cultures, merely represent massive accumulations and refinements of the types of cultural elements found in simpler civilizational units. According to this conception, we may if we like, regard the incident of a European lighting a gas range with a match as a similar fact to that of some native Australian kindling a fire to cook his meat. That is, fire-making may be considered as a universal cultural trait with an infinity of variational degrees.

On the whole, human groups live under very different types of natural surroundings. Flora and fauna are variously distributed over the earth's surface. Thus the types of food, the techniques connected with food getting and preparation, methods of transportation, soil cultivation, etc., are all dissimilar. Geographic conditions are different on various parts of the earth; certain collectivities are larger and smaller. These facts, howsoever elementary they are taken to be, afford us a sufficient basis for the differences between cultural developments and the existence of diverse anthropic units.

The facts of similarity and dissimilarity among anthropic elements suggest several implications of a psychological type.

( 113) For example, one may attempt to account for dissimilarities on the basis of unique variations in the mental capacities of individuals of different groups. But notice that there may be exceedingly little in common between individuals from even the most closely related cultural units. Within the same cultural unit we find that some individuals have more widely diversified psychological equipment than do certain individuals belonging to entirely different communities. Here we have a problem of individual psychological development, which may always occur within a cultural system when we take anthropic phenomena as actual specific facts. When we consider the individual as having a definite place in a concrete human community we discover a definite interaction between persons and the cultural systems in which they live. On the one hand, individuals may contribute to the modification of the cultural elements, while on the other, the person may not be developed up to the standard of his group. In the latter case some person may not have acquired reactions as other persons in the group have. Thus they will be different. To conceive of a culture as the result of an innate mentality of its members means to assume a mentality over and above the specific psychological phenomena of persons. So far as the historical development of an anthropic unit is concerned, we have no option but to consider the mentality of the personnel of a group and the objects of that cultural system as concomitant historical developments.

Taking psychological phenomena to be concrete responses t o stimuli we have made plain that the persons of each anthropic unit are stimulated to build up reactional equipments as determined by their contacts with group stimuli objects. Ilence the similarities and dissimilarities of the different psychological individuals comport with the similarities and dissimilarities of their respective cultural groups. The same thing may be said for the comparative complexity of the individuals of different collectivities. In general, the psychological prop-

( 115) - erties of group members represent accumulative acquisitions of specific responses which have developed concomitantly with the changing cultural and general life conditions of their group.


The resemblances of and differences between anthropic traits give rise to a number of problems concerning the distribution of cultural phenomena. It is a commonplace that analogous practices and objects are distributed over a large number of communities, while certain unique elements are restricted to one or a few groups.[2] But the fact that ethnic groups living very close together have widely different ceremonials, tools, or other cultural elements immediately arrests attention. On the other hand, we meet with a distinct challenge when we endeavor to account for very similar activities and objects among groups distantly removed from each other. Why should cultural groups diverse in complexity and character of civilization share certain traits of action or material civilizational objects?

In general we may discuss the problems of cultural distribution under two heads. In the first place, we have (a) the primary distribution of civilization. This involves a distribution and interrelation of anthropic elements which imply a complete ethnic homogeneity of human individuals. Then there are (b) the secondary phenomena of anthropic distribution. Here the universality of civilization is demonstrated by the heterogeneity of anthropic factors rather than by a detailed uniformity.

Primary Cultural Distribution.—We probably do not

(115) overstep the boundaries of fact when we regard certain anthropic elements as originally having been universally distributed among all human animals. Here we are really assuming that the primordial development of these cultural elements took place when the groups now so widely distributed over the earth's surface, were living closer together, and had not yet migrated and established themselves in such widely different geographical areas. It is perhaps not beyond the range of fact that in the earliest stages of cultural development there was only one group. In other words, it is a speculative possibility that the earliest origin of human organisms and their behavior took place in some particular geographic locality. It was at the hypothetical point of origin of human organisms that the general types of cultural phenomena were engendered. It is not too much to suppose that the primordial dissemination of culture is an identical fact with the rise of the human organism from his infrahuman background. Naturally we must conceive of this process as a very gradual and time-consuming series of events, but the coming of man is the same fact as the first making of fire, the preparation of food, the developing of language, the deliberate choosing of mates, and origination of customs. With the migration of individuals from the common seat of origin, anthropic elements in the form of activities and objects, became different if they persisted, or else they disappeared entirely.

What on the surface appears as a paradox is the fact that the evolution and distribution of anthropic elements are best exemplified by the behavior phases of culture. That comparatively ephemeral behavior events should be the carriers And evolutional bases of culture is not so strange after all, since it is always the behavior of the human organism which Is in question. It is entirely probable that since the primordial I beginnings of authentic human animals, they have persisted practically as they originally were. Behavior events then

( 116) through their conduct function can serve as the transmitters of behavior elements of civilization, provided only that the stimuli objects for their occurrence are available. Actions, as performances of perduring biological organisms stand a much better chance of continuing in existence with infinite changes, of course, than mere objects.

All the more plausible appears the suggested role of behavior as the continuator of culture when we recall that the actions of individuals become formalized in the shape of products. Our talking becomes language, our ways of acting develop into customs. And our fears, beliefs and aspirations take the form of myths and legends. These products have not only a continuous existence of their own, but also serve as stimuli for other members of the group to acquire similar reaction systems. When these stimuli functions descend down through generations, the place of conduct as a distributor of anthropic elements must be regarded as secure.

With objects, especially those not involving a great deal of behavior in their development, conditions are quite different. For depending as much as they do upon environing factors they could not survive throughout the infinite vicissitudes of men and come to take their places in the organization and circumstances of the present day.[3] The survival and general distribution of component objects can be measured in terms of the balance of natural raw material and reactional transformation. Thus language, customs, and other things consisting of behavior products, have greater chances of survival and distribution than cooking utensils, clothing, etc., even when the raw materials are not extremely perishable. In the event that the raw materials lack durability, it is hardly cogent to bring them into this situation. Similarly, techniques

( 117) are for the most part not persistent insofar as they provide means of handling very specific things. When the techniques are general they are more behavioristic than environmental and can be thus carried over more easily.

Probably the greatest value as bearers of culture attaches to actions when they are dispersed and diffused by the migration of the persons who perform the behavior. Among the best culture carriers are those actions describable as techniques that are more the person's movements and gestures than the manipulation of objects. Languages and ceremonials constitute such techniques. It was through such migrational diffusion that the Aryan ancestors of the Indo-European language became dispersed as so many filial ramifications and the Latin tongue became diffused as the Romance languages.

It is in the manner that we have just outlined that we regard language, attitudes toward the unknown and incomprehensible, sexual practices, and other actions as genuine descendants and distributions of primordial anthropic elements. Through such processes of distribution may we not account for the universality of these traits and their greater or lesser similarities among different groups? Concrete language behavior, religious and sexual conduct of our own day, as they exist among an indefinite number of groups and in all their manifoldness and multiplexity are the diffused descendants of the anthropic elements developed among the early ancestors of the individuals of the present groups. The primary type of culture dispersal begins at some primordial source and moves in a series of lateral directions in space while it proceeds forward in time.

A fundamental principle involved in the original distribution of anthropic elements in space and time is that cultural factors are closely related to elementary life conditions. An excellent illustration is found in the case of sex behavior. Here the activities involve the functions of the person's stable and perduring biological organism. Furthermore, the stimuli

( 118) are located in other persons with whom there is incessant association, as well as in one's own physiological needs. Thus the possibility is ever present for a continuation of conduct throughout the modifications which time and changing surroundings make necessary.

Closely related types of perseverant cultural traits are those connected with food responses. These likewise involve the organism's physiological processes. The stimuli too are in part located in the organism itself. But here are included manipulations of things which are somewhat removed from the reacting individual. For the food objects are not only variable in their qualities, covering a fairly large range of things, but they are transformed in the course of being prepared. Accordingly, while food responses are inevitable features of all human situations they are more subject to change when they are diffused. Here environmental circumstances make variations possible because of differences in the geographic distribution of flora and fauna.

Our illustrative activities plainly belong to the cruder and simpler processes of living. There are other more subtle and complex actions which exemplify the same principle of cultural distribution. Certain forms of subtle behavior we may regard as practically inevitable once they are engendered, because of the unvarying presence of stimuli thereto. Examples in the large are classifiable as religious conduct, fears, magical practices, prejudices, ideals, and so on. These complex activities though connected with a fairly constant type of stimuli are still subject to considerable modification. Being somewhat removed from the most intimate maintenance conditions they are more subject to environmental influences. But however much they may change through their distribution they always display their historical descent throughout all their peregrinations in space and time.

Secondary Cultural Distribution.—Let us now turn to an examination of the less archaic and even contemporary types

(119) of cultural distribution. First, we will consider the extreme differences in cultural elements found in communities that are very closely located. Within a very narrow radius in central Europe we discover differences in language, custom, religion, tradition, dress and other anthropic elements. Take such a community as the Swiss people. So small a geographic and national unit richly exemplifies the variations in the types of civilization mentioned. For another illustration we may turn to a more primitive anthropic situation. Lowie writes,[4] "in northern Arizona the Hopi Indians occupying three eminences not more than eight miles distant from one another have no perfect uniformity of industrial knowledge. Pottery, which flourishes on the eastern Mesa, is wholly unknown as an art, though constantly used in its specimens by the people of the central Mesa; a certain type of basketry plaque is made only at Oraibi village; another type is manufactured exclusively on the central Mesa. Conditions more ideal a priori for a transfer of knowledge than among the practically homogeneous neighboring Hopi groups could not be conceived. Nevertheless, it has not taken place."

A very similar situation is found with respect to intellectual and knowledge phenomena in closely related communities. A common example is the wide divergence in knowledge and interpretation of the same facts by Oxford and Cambridge scholars respectively. Perhaps a still more noticeable circumstance is the marked disparity in philosophical attitudes of groups in the same university.

The striking fact about not taking over cultural elements from neighbors is that the use of certain tools and instruments, the employment of particular techniques, or the adoption of available ideas, customs, and fashions, may not only be necessary for the well being or progress of the non-progressing group but in many instances they would decidedly fit in with

( 120) other cultural elements of that collectivity. For instance, among the more primitive anthropic units it seems a grave ineptitude for the Chukchees not to adopt the snowhouse building complex from the neighboring Eskimos instead of burdening themselves with the ill-adapted hide tent, or for the Eskimos not to adopt from the Chuckchees the reindeer as a transportational element.

Among ourselves it seems preposterous not to expect philosophers of a community which has originated, participated in, and contributed to the development of science and rigid control of phenomena, to give up commerce with the supernatural and what they themselves define as the unknowable. Nevertheless, in the most enlightened communities philosophers still occupy themselves with absolutes and ultimates, while scientists are not immune to religious and magical superstitions. Pride themselves as they may upon their rationality and scientific achievements as civilizational communities the soi disant most enlightened European groups possess no fewer superstitions and intellectual deficiencies, in proportion to population and cultural opportunities, than the most illesteemed community separated from them in the greatest geographical extremes. Despite all favoring circumstances, enlightened economic, sexual or political organizations are not to be found among many complex anthropic units. Our most complexly civilized communities, whether international or social, do not take over from each other cultural elements that perhaps they most need to have.[5]

Such discrepancies in the distribution of cultural elements among closely related groups may involve only the presence or absence of a single or few cultural traits or objects. Or the differences in the neighboring civilizations may be char-

( 121) -acterized by a general divergence in cultural circumstances. "The latter situation is illustrated by the nations of Europe. Even a casual study of particular cultural elements convinces us of the striking differences between the French and German civilizations, or between the English and the Russian.

The particular distribution and interrelation of cultural factors among closely related groups depend upon various onditions. Prominent among these circumstances is the political or administrative organization of neighboring groups. "Tribal or national control of opportunities, as manifested in I tariff boundaries, is an effective determiner of just what traits will be distributed. Neighboring ethnic units have a powerful influence exerted upon them by transportation and commercial I ties connecting them with other groups. Ethnic position is a similar determiner. When a group borders upon two other communities, each with diverse customs and anthropic objects, the general tendencies of adopting or borrowing between the bordering units are weakened or strengthened for particular elements. Frequently, historical circumstances pull different nations apart culturally despite their apparent commonness of economic, military and other interests. Of no mean importance as determiners of cultural distribution are psychological factors of various sorts. The latter are especially noticeable in the distribution of ideas among groups within national or even trade union or university borders. All of these determiners in their cooperative influence upon the diffusion of anthropic elements combine to make culture or civilization into a closed system of objective happenings.

Next let us consider the distribution of similar anthropic elements among groups widely removed geographically. A surprising and even baffling instance is the custom called Couvade which was practised among groups so widely separated as the Basque peasants, the Caribs of Guiana and the Indians of Brazil. According to this tradition the male parent of a newly born child goes to bed and observes various dietary

(122) and other taboos while the female parent proceeds with her customary activities. Ethnological literature offers us numerous instances of similar stories and legends found in communities far removed from each other. For instance the primitive tale of "The Mink and the Sun" is regarded as a version of the Greek story of "Phaeton and Phoebus Apollo."[6]

Other examples of literary distribution are the stories of the "Magic Flight,"[7] and creations and legends[8] of floods and other cataclysmic happenings. An anthropic behavior trait of equally extended distribution, is the mother-in-law taboo found in such widely separated collectivities as the Zulus of South Africa, the Australians and the Crow Indians of North America. In like manner, the employment of tobacco and certain vegetable products, totemism, the use of the horse and other animals, constitute widely distributed cultural factors.

In order to account for such distribution, ethnologists have engendered the conception of a psychic unity of the participating individuals or communities. It is assumed that human mentality is uniform and everywhere the same; so that at different times and places it is to be expected that certain manifestations of mind should appear in the form of these widely distributed cultural elements. Now such a doctrine immediately provokes a number of denials. In the first place it wrongly assumes that complex cultural phenomena can be explained on a psychological and even a "psychic" basis. In the second place, this theory presupposes that anthropic phenomena may be regarded as the products of psychical processes. Here again we have a serious error of interpretation. We have frequently pointed out that no complex human phenomenon is exclusively based upon psychological condi-

( 123) -tions. Once more we must urge the methodological requirement of not explaining a complex phenomenon in terms of one unit of the whole.

What the anthropologist calls the phenomenon of marginal areas illustrates an instructive series of distributive facts. Between any two divergent but communicating civilizations are always found collectivities which participate in the cultural phenomena of both limiting cultures. In those communities living between the divergent groups we discover a compound set of civilizational objects derivable from both of the neighboring collectivities. When the flanking cultural systems are close together, the intervening cultural phenomena may be very evenly divided as to their derivation from the neighboring cultures, or may successfully supplant each other.[9] Furthermore, when the middle community is farther removed from one than from the other we may expect a gradual reduction in the number of anthropic elements passing from the cultural community more distantly separated in space. The anthropic elements supplied by the more closely connected cultural unit will of course outweigh in number the cultural factors derived from the more remote neighbor. It is obvious that these distributional events involve only very particular articles, tools, customs, etc. Furthermore, it is probably true that there is always a reciprocal movement between different communities. The ethnic group we call the marginal one in turn radiates ethnic factors in the same directions from which it received cultural elements. That is, it serves as a relay point for anthropic elements migrating 'from one of the flanking groups to another.

A distributional phenomenon which strongly stresses the close interrelationship of even widely separated collectivities is observable in the process of anthropic migration. Whether

( 124) human culture originated in one place or several, in either case there must have been tremendous movements of anthropic elements in order that culture should be so widespread. Remarkable also is the cultural transmission or diffusion of anthropic elements over smaller or larger geographic areas which make for a commonness or at least a connection between many otherwise very different anthropic systems. An example of such migration of cultural factors is the origin of the alphabet among the Phoenicians and its spread from community to community through the Greek and Roman domains to all those groups who use it today. A somewhat slighter example is the migration of the building arch, and week from community to community. Equally instructive is the anthropic migration attributed to the "Tar Baby" story which was supposed to have originated in Spain and Portugal and to have then moved to Africa, and from there to America with the negroes or directly to Mexico and the Philippines. The same type of migration of cultural elements or complexes is contained in the record of the dog and horse cultures presumed to have originated in Asia and transplanted across the greatest distances. The comparatively recent migrations of Indian maize and tobacco to Europe and elsewhere definitely shows the interrelations of the most distantly located human collectivities.

When, as in the case of tobacco and maize, we can clearly trace out comparatively simple ethnological transmissions, we may regard them as continuous diffusions, while migration involving transplantation and settlement in a place for long periods we may call discontinuous migration. So far as general historical processes are concerned the distribution treated of here is mediated through contact of communities and the carrying of the anthropic elements by individuals passing from one group to another.[10] In the latter case the specialized be-

( 125) -havioristic agency of transmission fits in and is motivated by many other conditions of an economic, military, or general social type. In the contacts of collectivities the non-beha.vioristic factors operate primarily. In working out some detailed migrational process we are instructed concerning the relative potencies of behavioristic and non-behavioristic factors and the generally intimate operation of anthropic phenomena.

The student of psychology exploring the anthropological perspective must never lose sight of the fact that all distributional phenomena center around the activities of individuals. It is the behavior of persons in carrying things from place to place during trading, wandering, fighting, etc., which brings about the movement of materials. The original existence of cultural elements depends upon the interests and inventive manipulations of persons. For the preservation of anthropic factors we must assume that persons cling to the civilizational situations of their tribe, nation, family or clan. Knowledge of what other groups have originated or borrowed depends too upon the discoveries of persons. When things are borrowed from a neighboring group it is because persons esteem them as more attractive, more useful or more easily appropriated. Or their adoption may make one an honored or admired member of one's group. Such a meagre beginning of an appropriation of a neighboring cultural element may become the source of a general civilizational movement in a particular direction.

The primacy of the personalistic influence, however, merely overshadows but does not preclude the operation of other conditions. Among the prominent influences of an impersonal type is the fact of systematization of cultural elements. The question how much individuals can do in the way of modifying a cultural system by introducing new anthropic elements depends upon how well the new factors fit in with the older features of the cultural system. In other words, the newer elements must be assimilable to the religious, economic, social,

( 126) associational and other factors of the older system. Naturally the degree of assimilation varies with the likenesses between newer and older elements. For instance the clashing of religious practices is a greater preventative of assimilation than a conflict between an economic and a religious factor. Naturally, assimilation or systematization of anthropic factors always has a wide latitude. Since no cultural system is a simple phenomenon there is room in it for many kinds of anthropic complexes. Especially is this true for non-primitive cultural systems, although to a smaller degree this proposition holds good for primitive civilizations also. There is never any dearth of possibilities for explaining the specific facts of cultural distribution.


An invariable feature of all cultural systems is the progressive severance of the units of ethnic organization into minuter levels. Here we have a divisional process, which unlike the distributional phenomena discussed in our last section, is not primarily connected with things, actions and techniques, but involves predominantly the division of the personnel of an ethnic unit. Of course when the group is divided into smaller units there is a correlated distribution of cultural objects or complexes, especially when the personnel is divided along functional lines. But in this case cultural elements are dispersed within a single community and not among various anthropic systems.

The cleavage groups may be regarded as originating in two ways. The first is the breaking up of the total anthropic unit into subdivisions. Every group of individuals is divided and subdivided into smaller moieties, with the result that there is a spread and specialization of the functions and statuses of the persons constituting the anthropic unit. Accordingly each human organization comprises smaller divisions of individuals

(127) along numerous cleavage lines. Even among primitive groups there are sex divisions, age groups, ranks and castes, military organizations, occupational groups, exclusive fraternal societies, etc. In part we include here particular family and sib organizations, for these constitute genuine cleavages among the individuals of a group. Family organizations form specialized units within more inclusive collectivities.

 The second form of cleavage arises from the voluntary adhesion of particular individuals to make subgroups within the larger unit. Here the connections between individuals introduce a diremption of the collectivities. Among such organizations are marriage associations and a great variety of voluntary groupings of persons for fraternal, commercial, exploration and other purposes. A very interesting example of social cleavage among primitive groups is the diminutive association of as few as two non-blood related individuals in a permanent union of mutual support and comradeship as well as the infinite segregations of persons in complex civilizations. Ethnologists [11] point out the existence of connecting ties separating off a few individuals from the rest of the primitive groups because they share some "supernatural" experience, such as seeing visions, a type of association which has much in common with religious sects or reform organizations of complex collectivities.

It is to be expected of course that among the more intricate anthropic organizations the greater number of activities and more intense specializations of conduct result in an inordinate multiplication of divisions and subdivisions of social units. This leads us to the consideration of another aspect of ethnic sectionalization, namely, the bifurcation of the personnel of an anthropic unit into functional and status divisions. The former is a divarication based upon the individual's function in the group and the latter a division founded upon his value

( 128) or acquired status. We must hasten to add that while among the larger and more complex collectivities the distribution between status and functional cleavages are more marked they are not lacking in simpler societies. On the whole, however, it is safe to say that probably simpler groups show an emphasis of functional cleavage. Persons are divided more on the basis of their activities, the rulers from the ruled, the men from the women, the warriors from those engaged in pacific pursuits, the initiated from the uninitiated, the counselors from the young and inexperienced, etc. While, as we have said, there is an extreme intensification of functional specialization among more complex groups, the difference between them and simpler societies is perhaps symbolized more by the great preponderance of status and caste divisions among more intricate collectivities. For example, political and property differences between persons in the complex group constitute large sources of stratification. Also the great prevalence of educational and industrial civilizations make place for many status levels.

So prominent are the status levels in complex societies, that they may be said to divide the ethnic unit into moieties. To illustrate, a certain complex linguistic-national group may be stratified into a series of economic-social levels such as the conventional lower, middle, and upper classes. But perhaps each is just as definitely segregated from any other because of corresponding difference in education, manners, morals, etc. In these latter circumstances there is more resemblance between the upper and lower levels than is found between the middle level and either of the other two. This is because the upper and lower levels find in their respective circumstances greater opportunities for variation from the middle group. It is notorious, for example, that in the matter of sexual irregularity there is greater similarity between the upper and lower classes than is found when we compare either of the other two with the conservative middle class group.

( 129) On the whole, of course, the transfusion of cultural elements provides mixtures of subgroups and boundary crossings of various sorts. The social strata, of which there are really great numbers and not ever just three, intermingle for specific purposes. For example, the professional units of the three or more strata may be very close together. Or the business men may be associated for commercial purposes in a very inclusive group but in no other respects.

As compared with simpler collectivities the functional divisions in complex society are very striking. The exigencies of industrial and commercial life result in a very involved distribution of work among various specialized groups. Similarly, the professional, artistic, and ecclesiastic exigencies of complex society provide the necessity for innumerable stratifications of persons among unit anthropic organizations. These moieties and subdivisions may be regarded as beaded upon a horizontal thread dividing off clergymen from business men, physicians from lawyers, teachers from laborers, etc. Each of these groups as we have said above, may also be stratified upon the status basis. Then in addition, they may be further separated hierarchially. Instances are the military, academic, and ecclesiastical hierarchies found in the horizontal moiety divisions.

To cast even this brief glance over the phenomena of group sundering affords the student of psychology considerable information concerning the correlated psychological facts. We find that in any complex civilizational unit there are certain activities which are exclusively present in the members of particular moieties. Salient here is the distinction between file intellectual capacities of members of the different strata and functional hierarchy units. Individuals belonging to these different subdivisions of the complex anthropic system may be just as different from each other as persons belonging respectively to primitive and complex civilizations. For instance, some of them may have excellent intellectual orienta-

( 130) - tions with respect to human and non-human phenomena, while others by comparison stand close to a lower animal level. Similarly, in every complex society individuals belonging to the different cultural moieties are divided from each other on the basis of variations in intelligence. Such individuals also differ from each other with respect to other features of their personality equipment, for instance in their tastes, desires, prejudices, use of language, ideals and temperamental qualities.

The facts of human organization offer us a significant apercu concerning the use of psychological principles as explanatory factors in the field of anthropology. In observing the multiplication of moieties within a particular group we see how the exigencies of living provide circumstances which make them both possible and necessary. For example, it is inevitable that different life conditions will result in a fractionalization of a unit into psychologically diverse individuals. The kind of work itself brings about particular attitudes and capacities in the individuals concerned. Conversely, belonging to some functional or status moiety prevents one from acquiring activities excluded from the circumstances of the specific anthropic unit in question. Cultural circumstances then account satisfactorily for the variations in mentality.

And yet it has always been customary to suppose that the segregation of persons into moieties must be explained upon the basis of variously existing psychological or psychic factors. For example, ethnologists account for the fact, that among primitive groups men congregate in associations while women do not join in societies or at least not in the same degree, by supposing an innately slighter gregariousness as a trait of female mentality. In this particular instance it happens that there is no fact to explain, since other ethnologists can easily show that as a matter of fact there are female associations of various sorts, as well as a mixing of men and women in the same social and religious organizations. In every case it is found that not only do psychic factors never

( 131) explain anything but they are always found in inveterate concomitance with the neglect or denial of facts. Indeed they are usually founded upon illegitimate generalizations. An instance or type of occurrence is made into a universal manifestation of a principle or process. An equally reprehensible interpretation is to explain the fact that both men and women collect in societies because both forms of the human species have a gregarious instinct or impulse which manifests itself in such organizations of persons. In the type of phenomena represented by specialization and compartition we notice, however, the operation of numerous empirical conditioning factors of both actual psychological and non-psychological types.

It is true of course as we have seen that individuals may join in the formation of specific groups because of various common interests or abilities. Through the possession of certain psychological qualities, persons may achieve a status or functional level in a given society. But this fact never obliges us to assume any inherent psychic perfection or lack of perfection. Without doubt these various psychological qualities or traits are acquired through various concrete human circumstances. Later such traits may be stimuli for associating together on the basis of tradition, industrial, commercial or military circumstances.

That no innate mentality may be assumed as the cause of one's occupying a position in an upper stratum, appears clear from the fact that many of those so favorably situated in society really have no such qualities. A king may be a puppet, a scholar or scientist may only be such by unearned repute. Furthermore, even when individuals are mentally equal to their position they may have required the influence of others to reach their level in the group. Observe, too, the fact that individuals attain to a genuinely high psychological level through various opportunities that they find. For instance they come into possession of certain property which they are

( 132) able to increase and to put to such use as to establish themselves on a particular social, aesthetic and intellectual level. Such circumstances may originally involve skills, good health, strength, bravery, the backing of friends, the suppression of the "voice of conscience," persistent application, social accidents, and favorable opportunities, but not any superior mentality. Later, however, the person's new social level may be a decided factor in his acquiring superior mental characteristics.


Nothing is constant but change. So runs a popular scientific generalization, to which may be added the specification that the rate of change follows an upward trend from physical to biological and psychological phenomena. Anthropic phenomena, prominently comprising psychological facts, are strikingly characterized by modifications and metamorphoses. So constantly and subtle are the changes taking place in communities that it is exceedingly difficult to discover definite principles of transformation. Moreover, these alterations are so complex that cultural elements are most frequently describable as undergoing a number of variational processes at the same time. We shall attempt, however, to indicate under a series of categories some of the most outstanding methods of transforming civilization.

Evolution.—Some phases of given cultures certainly, and in all probabilities some complete systems of culture, may be said to evolve, sometimes with extreme slowness and at other periods with noticeable celerity. As most striking among such evolutions we quote the expansion and variation of industrial techniques and circumstances which have occurred in the Western European civilization upon the initiation and development of machinery. Turning our attention to the tools and methods of transportation we must regard as nothing short of remarkable the changes observed in this domain. From the oar

(133) propelled boat to the sail boat and steamer, is a line of evolution as notable as it is progressive. Similarly, the development of railways, their equipment and manipulation represent a distinct growth. These evolutions coincide directly, of course, with the invention and use of the steam principle. Our modern machine age is fairly replete with illustrations of such cultural evolution. Now while our examples are all specific in the form of particular techniques, objects, and their uses, they represent the fact of a progressive series of modifications occurring in large blocks of anthropic phenomena. In our various industrial civilizations the development of comforts and luxuries, founded upon the use and dispersion of mechanical appliances, are systematized and spread throughout whole ranges of certain levels in a given community. Since we are dealing here with objects of material culture the possibilities for the diffusion of such elements are extremely large.

While the most telling examples of cultural evolution are found in the domain of mechanical inventions, no feature of cultural life exists without such evolutional change. Social organization, the administration of justice, methods of trade, military tactics, and practically every other element of human association are subject to evolutionary alteration. But these more material elements of culture need not develop pari passu with the more subtle human forms of anthropic phenomena. The development of intellect, taste, appreciation of beauty, intelligence, and other behavioristic modes of culture, in many cases show wider divergence than, for example, the phenomena of group organization. Especially is this true in newer civilizational communities.

Many evolutional changes constitute genuine transformations in the direction of perfection, greater utility, or aesthetic value. Tools, pottery, and art objects may be evolved until they are infinitely better than they originally were. This is obviously the case with every new invention which reaches a degree of technical perfection after its principles are first

( 134) utilized. Or possibly the changes amount merely to improvement from the standpoint of an immediate adaptation. That is to say, the cultural element becomes better fitted for an immediate purpose of the community. While the criteria for behavior, and especially for such subtle performances as concepts, beliefs, etc., are not easy to determine, there is probably no bar to progressive evolution here.

Cultural evolution of another distinct type constitutes merely a more intensive distribution and occurrence of some cultural element. For instance, freedom and privilege are spread throughout a larger range than their previous existence. The same kind of anthropic growth characterizes the spread of tools, techniques, grains, animals, and the uses of all these elements. Through the same principle also, cultural phenomena are evolved that are regarded as harmful, deleterious, or are merely disapproved of. For instance, the scorn of beauty and ideas, the spread of militarism, superstition, intolerance, etc.

Such an evolutionary process, applying as it does to definite occurrences under very specific circumstances, cannot in any sense be confused with the general evolution of culture. Ethnologists of an earlier day have developed the theory that an evolutionary process exists within the human domain, constituting a continuation of biological evolution. The early English anthropologists especially, fired with the enthusiasm of the biological evolutionists, erroneously regarded the various races of men as successive stages in an evolutionary scale continuing the development whereby man was evolved from the lower animals. In accordance with this conception, cultural facts, were falsely considered as stages in a unilinear development on the basis of the principles of uniformity, gradual development, and progress. The study of anthropic phenomena in their concrete specificities, however, is clearly convincing that there is no such universal principle as a

( 135) unilinear evolution of anthropic objects and processes.[12] This theory is obviously founded upon a faulty analogical conception rather than upon the facts of culture.

Devolution.—A series of definite processes of anthropic changes may be subsumed under the general caption of devolution. In particular communities we find that cultural elements in the form of organizations, objects of all sorts, ideas and techniques of every variety display a true degeneration from a higher to a lower type. Such a process may go on to the point that the specific art, practice, custom, ritualistic or other cultural complex may disappear entirely. History of human phenomena illustrates copiously the retrogression and disappearance of necessary and useful techniques, along with civilizational elements of all types. Communities may also be deprived of cultural elements without any visible deterioration. Through the vicissitudes of group life such anthropic elements fall into disuse and drop out of the cultural scheme.

The numerous lost arts are to be equally deplored for their utilitarian importance as for their artistic value. In many cases this sort of degeneration and extinction of culture is connected with the interrelationship between different groups. The conquering of one group by another without a combination of the two cultures may result in the loss of cultural elements which existed and flourished in the conquering or conquered group. Language, laws, and customs in great profusion are thus historically recorded as disappearing from the cultural scene. In particular communities the degeneration of arts and techniques proceed because of the establishment of some form of influencing cultural elements. Thus in European cultural systems most of the handicraft techniques have

(136) fallen into disuse and dropped away through the dominance of machine culture.

Obviously the retrogression and disappearance of cultural elements do not always affect objects that are useful or important or that result in any deficiency in a cultural system. We are merely referring to the actual process by which changes take place in cultural groups or in the anthropic scheme as a whole. Necessarily some of the disappearances of cultural objects may be to the distinct advantage of particular communities. In fact many cultural elements are deliberately destroyed by individuals or groups acting in concert.[13]

Divergence.—This type of change, unlike the others already considered involves a comparison of related anthropic materials located in the same or different cultural systems. Within any particular anthropic unit we find that objects and traits of culture diverge more and more from each other until they become different elements. For instance, various groups borrow cultural elements from each other, so that a set of particular cultural traits common to the exchanging groups becomes increasingly alike, while deviating from the other non-shared cultural elements. A typical example of divergence is found in practically, all of the Eastern European communities in which many scientific ideas and techniques develop more and more alike in the different communities, whereas language, art, and industrial processes remain unique for each group in question. Consider the differences in language, art and industry, say in the British and Russian national anthropic units, as compared with the intellectual and scientific civilization of the same groups. An imposing example is the civilization divergence in Japan occasioned by its taking over European military and industrial cultural ele

(137) - ments, while at the same time retaining its own religion, customs, and manners.

Similar cultural divarications are exemplified by the increasing differences in cultural elements which were originally the same. This sort of distributional divergence is well shown by the varying characteristics taken on by the German and English branches of the Germanic languages, or by the discrepancies developing within the American and English branches of the English language.

Confluence.—When a certain civilizational element becomes established in a community, many or all of the other cultural features take on characteristics influenced by the new factor. This phenomenon we call the confluence of cultural elements. A striking example is the tendency of various American cultural elements to become homogeneous through the influence of pioneering traits.

A similar situation is found in the changes in thought and manners of communities that have fallen into the machine type of industrialism. The attitudes of people, customs, fashions, and other cultural phenomena take on characteristics of standardization and uniformity, qualities of the machine industrialism mentioned. Veblen [14] has given us a vivid picture of how the workers under the regime of the machine industry are induced to build specific kinds of reaction systems; so that on the whole "there results a standardization of the workman's intellectual life in terms of mechanical processes, which is more unmitigated and precise, the more comprehensive and consummate the industrial process in which he plays a part." If we insist on recognizing the invariable mutuality oŁ psychological and non-psychological human facts we find many excellent suggestions in the processes of confluence to illuminate the facts concerning particular types of mental development.


Unqualified Change.—Numerous elements are constantly modified and changed but without any direction or characterizing goal. Activities and their products merely become different from time to time. Typical of such changes in cultural elements are the ordinary variations in language, customs, manners, fashions, and religious behavior. Probably the inability to point out any characterizing feature of the change is owing to the fact that such cultural elements may vary widely between limits without visibly affecting the cultural or psychological life of the individuals involved. Perhaps the changes are owing to some requirements of momentary adjustment, but leave no immediate impression upon the anthropic system or its parts. In other words, they do not symbolize any anthropic trend. But we may be sure, however, that these alterations in cultural factors are not without influence upon the collectivity in which they are found. Doubtless in happenings of this type lie concealed those subtly working circumstances that condition anthropic phenomena and which baffle us in providing an interpretation. These invisible effectors of cultural phenomena constitute the ore, from which if we knew how, we could extract many precious metals of explanation for changes in language, ideas, ceremonials, manners, etc.


  1. Throughout these anthropic background chapters we alternate between the terms anthropic and cultural. It is to be hoped that the latter term which refers to the phenomena of cultural anthropology, will not be confused with the term cultural when it stands for cultural (psychological) responses.
  2. By ethnologists, referred to as cultural traits that do not travel. An example is the Chilkat blanket of the Alaskan coast. Cf. Wissler, Man and Culture, 1923.
  3. For purposes of distribution among contemporary societies an entirely different condition prevails. For this type of situation, objects constitute the best forms of distributional elements. But here perhaps we must exclude the migration of peoples.
  4. Culture and Ethnology, 1917, p. 10.
  5. The distributional problem at this point connects with the general phenomenon of human progress. It is well known that no inevitability exists at all that a most valuable invention or new idea will be adopted and propagated. Conversely, the positive suppression and discouragement of inventions or even patents are no unusual features of a civilization.
  6. Cf. Tozzer, Social Origins and Social Continuities, 1925, p. 25 f.
  7. Boas, "Mythology and Folk-tales of North American Indians" in Anthropology in North America.
  8. Cf. Kroeber and Waterman, Source Book in Anthropology, 1920, p. 516 ff.
  9. As in the case of French and German languages replacing each other in Swiss villages.
  10. E.g. the Spaniard bringing the horse to the Western Hemisphere.
  11. Cf. Lowie, Primitive Society, 1920.
  12. For a criticism of the universal evolutionary theory see the work of Boas, The Mind of Primitive Man, 1911, and that of his students, especially Goldenweiser, "Early Civilization," 1922, and "Cultural Anthropology," in the History and Prospects of the Social Sciences, 1925, hereafter to be referred to as C.A.
  13. For a study of anthropic devolution cf., Freeman, Social Decay and Degeneration, 1921; and Veblen, Theory of Business Enterprise, 1904.
  14. The Theory of Business Enterprise, 1904.

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