Crime and Custom in Savage Society

Crime and Custom in Savage Society

Crime and Custom in Savage Society

Crime and Custom in Savage Society

Excerpt

Anthropology is still to most laymen and to many specialists mainly an object of antiquarian interest. Savagery is still synonymous with absurd, cruel, and eccentric customs, with quaint superstitions and revolting practices. Sexual licence, infanticide, head-hunting, couvade, cannibalism and what not, have made anthropology attractive reading to many, a subject of curiosity rather than of serious scholarship to others. There are, however, certain aspects of anthropology which are of a genuine scientific character, in that they do not lead us beyond empirical fact into realms of uncontrollable conjecture, in that they widen our knowledge of human nature, and are capable of a direct practical application. I mean such a subject, for example, as primitive economics, important for our knowledge of man's economic disposition and of value to those who wish to develop the resources of tropical countries, employ indigenous labour and trade with the natives. Or again, a subject such as the comparative study of the mental processes of savages, a line of research which has already proved fertile to psychology and might be made useful to those engaged in educating or morally improving the native. Last, but . . .

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