Primitive Culture

Oct 30, 2013 by

primitive culturePrimitive Culture, Researches into the Development of mythology, philosophy, religion, language, art and custom by Edward Tyler was originally published in 1889.

A few lines from the introduction:

“In discussing problems so complex as those of the development of civilization, it is not enough to put forward theories accompanied by a few illustrative examples. The statement of the facts must form the staple of the argument, and the limit of needful detail is only reached when each group so displays its general law, that fresh cases come to range themselves in their proper niches as new instances of an already established rule.

Should it seem to any readers that my attempt to reach this limit sometimes leads to the heaping up of too cumbrous detail, I would point out that the theoretical novelty as well as the practical importance of many of the issues raised, make it most unadvisable to stint them of their full evidence. In the course of ten years chiefly spent in these researches, it has been my constant task to select the most instructive ethnological facts from the vast mass on record, and by lopping away unnecessary matter to reduce the data on each problem to what is indispensable for reasonable proof. E. B. T. March, 1871.”

and here is one chapter to give you an idea of the type of info contained in this book:

“THE DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURE. Stages of culture, industrial, intellectual, political, moral — Development of culture in great measure corresponds with transition from savage through barbaric to civilized life — Progression-theory — Degeneration-theory — Development-theory includes both, the one as primary, the oiher as secondary — Historical and traditional evidence not available as to low stages of culture — Historical evidence as to principles of Degeneration— Ethnological evidence as to rise and fall in culture, from comparison of different levels of culture in branches of the same race — Extent of historically recorded antiquity of civilization — Prehistoric Archeology extends the antiquity of man in low stages of civilization — Traces of Stone Age, corroborated by megalithic structures, lake-dwellings, shell-heaps, burial-places, etc., prove original low culture throughout the world.”

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