The History of Human Marriage - Vol. 1

By Edward Westermarck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
A CRITICISM OF THE HYPOTHESIS OF PROMISCUITY: MASCULINE JEALOUSY

DARWIN remarks that from what we know of the jealousy of all male quadrupeds, armed, as many of them are, with special weapons for battling with their rivals, promiscuous intercourse is utterly unlikely to prevail in a state of nature. "Therefore," he continues, "looking far enough back in the stream of time, and judging from the social habits of man as he now exists, the most probable view is that he originally lived in small communities, each with a single wife, or if powerful with several, whom he jealously guarded against all other men." Yet it seemed certain to Darwin, from the lines of evidence afforded by Morgan, McLennan, and Lubbock, that almost promiscuous intercourse at a later time was extremely common throughout the world; 1 and a similar view is held by some other writers. 2

If the facts adduced as evidence of former promiscuity really had proved that it was general at some stage of human development, we should, of course, be compelled to admit that jealousy on the part of the men could have been no

____________________
1
Darwin, Descent of Man, ii. 394sq. Already before Darwin, Virey argued ( De la femme, p. 148) that promiscuity would have caused perpetual fighting between the men.
2
Le Bon, L'homme et les sociétés, ii. 289sq. Kautsky, "'Die Entstehung der Ehe,'" in Kosmos, xii. 262.

-299-

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