The origin of man and his superstitions - Carveth Read- PDF ebook

The origin of man and his superstitions

The origin of man and his superstitions
The origin of man and his superstitions



The volume now published explains in its first part a hypothesis that the human race has descended from some ape-like stock by a series of changes which began and, until recently, were maintained by the practice of hunting in the pack for animal food, instead of being content with the fruits and other nutritious products of the tropical forest.

The hypothesis occurred to me many years ago and was first published (in brief) in The Metaphysics of Nature (1805), Chap. XIII., and again in Natural and Social Morals (1909); but all it implied did not become clear until, in lecturing on Comparative Psychology, there was forced upon me the necessity of effecting an intelligible transition from the animal to the human mind, and of not being satisfied to say year after year that hands and brains were plainly so useful that they must have been developed by Natural Selection. 

Then one day the requisite ideas came to light; and an outline of the hypothesis was read at the Meeting of the British Association (Section H) at Birmingham in 1913, and printed in Man, November 1914. The Council of the Anthropological Institute has kindly consented to my using the substance of that article in the first chapter here following. The article in Man dealt chiefly with the physical changes that our race has undergone. 

The correlative mental changes were explained in the British Journal of Psychology in an article which supplies the basis of the second chapter of this book. The hunting pack, then, was the first form of human society; and in lecturing on Ethnopsychology two questions especially interested me : (1) Under what mental conditions did the change take place from the organisation of the hunting pack (when this weakened) to the settled life of the tribe or group?

and (2) Why is the human mind everywhere befogged with ideas of Magic and Animism? They seemed at kist to have the same answer: these superstitions were useful and (apparently) even necessary in giving to elders enough prestige to preserve tradition and custom when the leader of the hunt was no longer conspicuous in authority. 



some contents of the book:


CHAPTER I 
The Differentiation of Man from the Anthropoids 1
§ I. The Hypothesis. — That Man was differentiated from the anthropoid stock by becoming a hunter; perhaps in the Ohgocene period ........ 1-3
§ 2.  the Hypothesis Explains. — World-wide range; why the earliest known men were hunters; the erect gait; specialisation of hands; reduction of arms; and of teeth and jaws; modification of skull; social co-operation; rudiments of speech; intelligence; control of fire ..... 4-13
§ 3. Minor and Secondary Consequences. — Alimentary canal; loss of a seasonal marriage; naked skin; cannibalism; division into races; Nordic sub-race ...... 13-21
§ i. Prey and Competitors. — Climate and landscape in Oligocene and Miocene; animals, herbivorous; anthropoids and their stature in late Oligocene; carnivorous contemporaries . . 21-8
§ 5. Conclusion. — Summary ....... 28-9


CHAPTER II
On the Differentiation of the Human from the Anthropoid MIND ........ 30
§ 1. Heredity, Adaptation, Accommodation ..... 30-31 § 2. The Original Stock and the Conditions of Differentiation. — Mind of the higher apes is the best clue to that of the original stock. Conditions of differentiation: the hunting life; geographical diffusion; social life; imaginations concerning Magic and Animism ........ 31-5
§ 3. Primal Society. — Forms of gregariousness amongst Mammalia; the hunting-pack most likely origins of human society. Other conjectures ........ 35-40
§ 4. Psychology of the Hunting-pack. — Interest in the chase and in killing; gregariousness; various modes of sympathy; aggressiveness; claim to territory; recognition of leaders, submission to the pack, emulation, precedency; strategy and persistence; struggle to share the prey; intelligence. The different mentality of the herbivorous herd ..... 40-49
§ 5. The Wolf-type of Man was established by Natural Selection. — Keith's hypothesis as to epoch of differentiation. The slow progress of culture; full adaptation to hunting life before Neolithic culture ........ 49

CHAPTER V
 Animism ......... 145
§ 1. What is Animism? — Hyperphysical and psychological Animism.
Not all savages think that every man has a separable soul. 145-7
§ 2. Psychological Animism. — That everything is animated not a universal or primitive illusion. Animatism. Causes of the treatment of some inanimate things as living or sentient 147-53
§ 3. The Ghost Theory. — Originated chiefly by dreams; which are
regarded as objective experience ..... 153-7
§ 4. Extension of the Ghost Theory to Animals. — Influence of shadows and reflections. Generally, only things individually interesting have ghosts. Examples ..... 157-60
§ 5. Ghosts and Soul-stuff. — Separated spirits need bodies and food,
that is, soul-stuff. Abstract ideas of " spirit," " force," etc. . 161-4
§ 6. Ghosts and Spirits. — Ghosts were first imagined, and other spirits on their model. Some spirits, formerly ghosts, now declared not to have been; others never incarnate .... 1G4-9
§ 7. How Ghosts and Spirits are imagined. — Have the same attributes, and not at first immaterial; confused with the corpse. Various conceptions. A number of souls to each body. External souls ........ 169-73
§ 8. Origin and Destiny of Souls. — Reincarnation — Transmigration- Liable to the second death. Place of the departed. Importance of next life resembling the present ..... 174-7
§ 9. The Treatment of Ghosts. — Results partly from fear, partly from affection. Funerary rites — extravagance and economy. The simplicity of ghosts. Inconsistent behaviour toward them 178—82
§ 10. Evolution and Dissolution of Animism. — Popular and priestly
Animism. Different emotions excited by ghosts and by gods 182-6


CHAPTER IX
TOTEMISM 293
1. Meaning and Scope of Totemism. — Frazer's definitions. The
Clan -Totem, and observances connected with it . . . 293-6
§ 2. Of the Origin of Totemism. — Totemism is not universal. Totemic names are sometimes recent, generally ancient. Totemism has not had the psychological necessity of Magic and Animism. Originates with the names of individuals or of groups ? . 296-9
§ 3. The Conceptional Hypothesis of Frazer. — Belief in Totems derived from the fancies of women as to cause of pregnancy. Criticisms 299-304
§ 4. Lang's Hypothesis — Names of animals or plants given to groups probably by other groups. Circumstances of origin having been forgotten, explanatory myths are invented with corresponding observances. Comments . . . 304-7
§ 5. Totemism and Marriage. — E.xogamy, Totemism and Marriage
Classes. Westermarck's hypothesis as to Exogamy. 307-11
§ 6. The Clansman and his Totem — perhaps believed to have the
same soul ........ 312-14
§ 7. Totemism and Magic. — Magical properties of names. Trans- formation. Penalties on breach of observances. Control of Totems 314-19
§ 8. Totemism and Animism. — Totems in Australia give warnings; are sometimes invoked in aid; the Wollunqua. Fusion of Totem with the spirit of heroin Fiji; in Polynesia. Propitiation of guardian spirits, "elder brothers," species-gods in North and South America. Zoolatry in Africa; in Egypt . . 319-26


the book details :
  • Author: Carveth Read
  • Publication date:1920
  • Company: Cambridge, University Press

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