Group Mind: A Sketch of the Principles of Collective Psychology, with Some Attempt to Apply Them to the Interpretation of National Life and Character:

By William McDougall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
Racial Changes During the Historic Period

22

WE have found reason to believe that national character, as expressed in the collective mental life of any people, is only to be understood and explained when we take into account the native or racial mental qualities of the people; and we have seen reason to think that these racial qualities were in the main formed in the prehistoric or race-making period; we have noted some of the principal attempts to throw light on the prehistoric moulding of races. But these racial qualities, although very persistent, are not unalterable. We must, therefore, consider whether, and in what ways, the racial mental qualities of a people may have been changed during the nation-making or historic period. What are the factors which determine such changes? What is their influence on the destiny of nations?

The most diverse opinions are still held in regard to the question of the extent and nature of changes of innate mental qualities of peoples during the historic period, the period during which a people, or a branch of a people, attains political unity and becomes a nation.

There is no doubt that the moulding power of physical environment tends to become greatly diminished during this more settled period of the life of a people, and that, in so far as changes take place, they are determined principally by racial substitutions and by social selections within a people, rather than by the mere struggle for

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