Animism; or. Thought currents of primitive peoples - PDF by George William Gilmore

Animism; or. Thought currents of primitive peoples 


The result of recent historical studies, whether on anthropological, sociological, archaeological, or religious lines, has brought into an ever-clearer vision of the substratum of all civilizations that stage of culture from which this book takes its title.

 One consequence is the general recognition of animism as a life factor, the power of which is not yet exhausted, the study of which fascinates because of its almost infinite variety and its persistent force. The words "animism," "animistic," have come to fall ever so lightly from tongue and pen and meet us at every turn. 

Yet what animism is few who use the term adequately realize? Though Sir E. B. Tylor in his imperishable monograph on Primitive Culture exhibited many of its phenomena and blocked out the main lines of investigation over forty years ago, comparatively few understand its significance or are acquainted with its manifestations even yet.

 Fewer still comprehend the doings and beliefs as actual or realize the state of mind — operations of perception and reason — of those whose acts and beliefs we call animistic. There seemed to be room, then, for a small volume which should exhibit the phenomena and the related and inferred beliefs of this complex stage in a simple manner, with sufficiently numerous citations to illustrate clearly, yet without the overlay of too abundant references. 

The references here given have been drawn almost entirely from very recent and authoritative sources gathered in the writer's own reading, easily accessible in the current of books on travel now pouring from the press. Most of the volumes to which reference has been made in this discussion belong to the twentieth century. Moreover, these sources are primary. 

Recourse has seldom been having even to so valuable a coUedlion of fads as Eraser's quite exhaustive Golden Bough in its third edition. The facts there adduced were employed by the talented author for quite another end than the present writer's, and this might easily have led to confusion. 

What value knowledge of the features of this agglomerate of ads and beliefs has become evident when it is remembered that over half the population of the globe is animistic in its main features of faith and action, that a large part of humanity entertains beliefs only- one remove away from this and regards as fundamental a philosophy of life grounded in animistic thought, and that at least three basal tenets of Christianity itself are common to Christians and animists. Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, the larger part of the population of India, the North Asiatic tribes, Oceanicans, Africans, and American Indians are, or were recent, animists.

No stage of culture, no great religion, has ever been able to disown some of the commonest heirlooms left by primitive modes of thinking. From the standpoints, both of culture and of religion animism may be described (not defined) as the taproot which sinks deepest in racial human experience and continues its cellular and fibrous structure in the tree trunk of modern conviction. It is not less important than the surface roots of accrued beliefs that branch out on all sides, drawing wide-sourced sustenance, while the taproot penetrates the subsoil of man's most intimate soul-substance.


I. The Animistic Stage of Culture The Case Stated i
II. The Discovery of the Soul . . 17
III. The Soul's Nature 35
IV. The External or Separable Soul 49
V. Parity of Being 59
VI. Belief in "Free Spirits" ... 95
VII. "Free Spirits" — Their Constitution and  Activities 103
VIII. Logical Consequences of Parity of Being 117
IX. Death not Always Regarded as Inevitable 133
X. The Continued Existence of the Soul 145
XI. Modifications of the Idea of Continuance 153
XII. Condition of the Discarnate Soul 163
XIII. The Home of the Soul . . . 181
XIV. Descensus Averni 195
XV. Worship 201
XVI. Residua of Animism 219
XVII. Literature to which Reference is Made in this Volume. 229
Index 243

the book details :
  • Author: George William Gilmore
  • Publication date:1919
  • Company:Boston: Marshall Jones company

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