Full text of "Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION LANGUAGE, ART, AND CUSTOM BY EDWARD B. TYLOR, D.C.L., LL. PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, language, art, and custom. by: Tylor, Edward Burnett, Sir. BY EDWARD B. TYLOR, D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S.. PROFESSOR OF ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD. AUTHOR OF " RFSEARCHES INTO THE.
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Primitive culture by Edward B. Tylor, Edward Burnett Tylor; 27 editions; First published in ; Subjects: Animism, Civilization, Mythology. Cambridge Core - Sociology: General Interest - Primitive Culture - by Edward Burnett Tylor. Volume 2. Edward Burnett Tylor. Publisher: . PDF; Export citation. Cambridge Core - Sociology: General Interest - Primitive Culture - by Edward Burnett Tylor. Volume 1. Edward Burnett Tylor. Publisher: . PDF; Export citation.
One of the most prominent consequences of this logic was the familiar practice in Victorian museums of displaying together all objects of one type from around the world, arranged to illustrate the intrinsic cultural evolution of a musical instrument, bowls, or spears, for example. The progression from savage to civilized did not occur evenly or at the same pace in every society, but the distinct stages were always the same, much as the growth of the individual from infant to adolescent to adult takes a similar form in different places.
The association this analogy created between primitives and children was roundly rejected in anthropology at the turn of the century, but in the meantime it created a sense that Victorians were confronting their infant selves in what they regarded as primitive societies.
In this sense, the science of anthropology was not just about the study of other, largely colonized people; it was also about the connection between modern life in Europe and its own earlier stages, and this meant that anthropology had much to teach the British about their own society. Such aspects of modern life, he argues, are survivals from mythology or rituals that served a purpose in the past but had lost their meaning over time, even as the practice itself continued.
To Tylor, the most apparently insignificant aspects of Victorian life were critical to anthropology. Reuniting survivals with their lost meaning was the key to understanding the true nature of the primitive mind.
Ultimately, understanding the perceptions and working of that primitive mind was the object of anthropology. His central premise was the doctrine of psychic unity: the belief that all humans are governed by the same mental and psychological processes and that, faced with similar circumstances, all will respond similarly.
The principal of psychic unity explained the appearance of identical myths and artifacts in widely disparate societies. The defining trait of the primitive mind was its inability to think abstractly. For the same reason, primitives were unable to group similar objects into abstract categories—all trees, or rocks, or flowers, for example.
Instead, the primitive saw only individual trees, without understanding categories like a forest, because of their abstract nature. This was above all a concrete world, one in which each object had a unique identity or personality that could not be replaced by any other. Primitives were thus immersed in a world of singular objects. At the same time they were unable to comprehend events, like thunder, in a logical fashion, because they lacked the power to construct abstract natural laws.
Instead, primitives projected their emotions onto the world around them as a means of explaining natural events. In response to the threat posed by thunder, for example, the primitive invents an angry supernatural being to explain it.
Like Comte, Tylor held that the progress of culture was a slow replacement of this magical thinking with the power of reason.
He produced a narrative of human evolution that begins with a global supernaturalism in the savage stage. Supernaturalism coexists with the development of language, laws, and institutions in the barbaric stage. This is not a rational utopia, by any means.
Magical thinking persists in the present; the primitive tendency to imagine objects as having a life of their own exists even within the most civilized gentleman, who might think in a moment of frustration that a broken watch was inhabited by an evil spirit. Tylor did not imagine modern culture in idealist terms, but, ever the Victorian, he did view it as fundamentally better than that of primitive culture.
In the present edition the form of page has been slightly altered, for convenience of re-issue at once in England and America. The matter, however, remains substantially the same. A few passages have been amplified or altered for greater clearness, and on some points additional or improved evidence has been put in. Among the anthropologists whose published reviews or private communications have enabled me to correct or strengthen various points, I will only mention by name Professor Felix Liebrecht, of Liege, Mr.
Markham, Professor Calderwood, Mr. Ralston, and Mr. Sebastian Evans. It may have struck some readers as an omission, that in a work on civilisation insisting so strenuously on a theory of development or evolution, mention should scarcely have been made of Mr. Darwin and Mr. Herbert Spencer, whose influence on the whole course of modern thought on such subjects should not be left without formal recognition.
This absence of particular reference is accounted for by the present work, arranged on its own lines, coming scarcely into contact of detail with the previous works of these eminent philosophers. An objection made by several critics as to the accumulation of evidence in these volumes leads me to remark, with sincere gratification, that this objection has in fact been balanced by solid advantage.
The plan of collecting wide and minute evidence, so that readers may have actually before them the means of judging the theory put forward, has been justified by the reception of the book, even in circles to whose views many of its arguments are strongly adverse, and that in matters of the first importance. Writers of most various philosophical and theological schools now admit that the ethnological facts are real, and vital, and have to be accounted for.
It is not too much to say that a perceptible movement of public opinion has here justified the belief that the English mind, not readily swayed by rhetoric, moves freely under the pressure of facts. September, This is practically the question of the universality of religion, which for so many centuries has been affirmed and denied, with a confidence in striking contrast to the imperfect evidence on which both affirmation and denial have been based.
Ethnographers, if looking to a theory of development to explain civilisation, and regarding its successive stages as arising one from another, would receive with peculiar interest accounts of tribes devoid of all religion.
Here, they would naturally say, are men who have no religion because their forefathers had none, men who represent a pre-religious condition of the human race, out of which in the course of time religious conditions have arisen. It does not, however, seem advisable to start from this ground in an investigation of religious development. Though the theoretical niche is ready and convenient, the actual statue to fill it is not forthcoming.
By requiring in this definition the belief in a supreme deity or of judgment after death, the adoration of idols or the practice of sacrifice, or other partially-diffused doctrines or rites, no doubt many tribes may be excluded from the category of religious.
But such narrow definition has the fault of identifying religion rather with particular developments than with the deeper motive which underlies them. It seems best to fall back at once on this essential source, and simply to claim, as a minimum definition of Religion, the belief in Spiritual Beings.
If this standard be applied to the descriptions of low races as to religion, the following results will appear.
It cannot be positively asserted that every existing tribe recognises the belief in spiritual beings, for the native condition of a considerable number is obscure in this respect, and from the rapid change or extinction they are undergoing, may ever remain so.
It would be yet more unwarranted to set down every tribe mentioned in history, or known to us by the discovery of antiquarian relics, as necessarily having passed the defined minimum of religion. Greater still would be the unwisdom of declaring such a rudimentary belief natural or instinctive in all human tribes of all times; for no evidence [ Harper v.
It is desirable, however, to take our basis of enquiry in observation rather than from speculation. Here, so far as I can judge from the immense mass of accessible evidence, we have to admit that the belief in spiritual beings appears among all low races with whom we have attained to thoroughly intimate acquaintance ; whereas the assertion of absence of such belief must apply either to ancient tribes, or to more or less imperfectly described modern ones.
The exact bearing of this state of things on the problem of the origin of religion may be thus briefly stated. His notes on the beliefs and practices of the people he encountered were the basis of his work Anahuac: Or Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern , published after his return to England.
Tylor continued to study the customs and beliefs of tribal communities, both existing and prehistoric based on archaeological finds. He published his second work, Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization, in Following this came his most influential work, Primitive Culture This was important not only for its thorough study of human civilisation and contributions to the emergent field of anthropology, but for its undeniable influence on a handful of young scholars, such as J.
Frazer , who were to become Tylor's disciples and contribute greatly to the scientific study of anthropology in later years. Tylor was appointed Keeper of the University Museum at Oxford in , and, as well as serving as a lecturer, held the title of the first "Reader in Anthropology" from to In he was appointed the first Professor of Anthropology at Oxford University.
He was involved in the early history of the Pitt Rivers Museum , although to a debatable extent. Herbert Spencer , a contemporary of Darwin, applied the term to the universe, including philosophy and what Tylor would later call culture.
A given apparent parallelism thus had at least two explanations: the instances descend from an evolutionary ancestor, or they are alike because one diffused into the culture from elsewhere.
The Classical British Evolutionary School, primarily at Oxford University, divided society into two evolutionary stages, savagery and civilization, based on the archaeology of John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury.
By the time of his death, Lubbock's archaeology had been updated. The American School, beginning with Lewis Henry Morgan ,  was likewise superseded, both being replaced by the Neoevolutionist School, beginning with V. Gordon Childe. It brought the archaeology up-to-date and tended to omit the intervening society names, such as savagery; for example, Neolithic is both a tool tradition and a form of society.