The Savage Hits Back

The Savage Hits Back

The Savage Hits Back

The Savage Hits Back

Excerpt

Anthropology is the science of the sense of humour. It can be thus defined without too much pretension or facetiousness. For to see ourselves as others see us is but the reverse and the counterpart of the gift to see others as they really are and as they want to be. And this is the métier of the anthropologist. He has to break down the barriers of race and of cultural diversity; he has to find the human being in the savage; he has to discover the primitive in the highly sophisticated Westerner of to-day, and, perhaps, to see that the animal, and the divine as well, are to be found everywhere in man.

We are learning by the growing wisdom of the theoretician and by its complete dissociation from political affairs that the dividing line between savage and civilized is by no means easy to draw. Where can we find cruder magic than in the political propaganda of to-day? What type of witch- hunting or witch trial will not appear decent and reasonable in comparison with some of the forms of persecution of racial minorities in Central Europe? Cannibalism shocks us terribly. Yet I remember talking to an old cannibal who from missionary and administrator had heard news of the Great War raging then in Europe. What he was most curious to know was how we Europeans managed to eat such enormous quantities of human flesh, as the casualties of a battle seemed to imply. When I told him indignantly that Europeans do not eat their slain foes, he looked at me with real horror and asked me what sort of barbarians we were to kill without any real object. In such incidents as these the anthropologist learns to appreciate that Socratic wisdom can be best reached by sympathetic insight into the lives and view-points of others.

If anthropology be defined as the art and craft in the sense of humour, then the present book is one of the first contributions to real anthropology-- first in rank and first in priority of time. In it Professor Lips works out one of the most fruitful approaches to anthropology. He inquires into the vision of white humanity as held by the native. The book is perhaps the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.