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the_launching_of_cultural_determinism

MAIN PAGE: DEREK FREEMAN: MARGARET MEAD AND SAMOA

The Launching of Cultural Determinism

When Francis Galton died in 1911, the eugenics movement, which he had founded, was in a flourishing state. This was especially so in the United States, where as Raymond Pearl observed, eugenics had by 1911 risen to a position „certainly very respectable,“ and was by the following year „ 'catching on' to an extraordinary degree, with radical and conservative alike.“ Indeed, with the guidance of genetics, eugenics gave promise, so Pearl thought, of some day becoming the crowning one of all the biological sciences. In a similar vein Karl Pearson, who by the terms of Galton's will had become the Foundation Professor of Eugenics at the University of London, was proclaiming that the science of eugenics„ formed „the coping-stone to the science of life' and supplied the groundwork for future national progress. In this atmosphere of certitude and high-flown enthusiasm the First International Eugenics Congress was held in London in July 1912.1

One of those who had, under the direct influence of Galton / and Pearson, become enamored of hereditarian ideas was Cyril Burt, then a lecturer in experimental psychology in the University of Liverpool. In 1912 Burt published a paper in which he avowed the belief, which in later life he was to support with quite unprincipled eristic fervor, that „mental inheritance … moulds the character of individuals“ and „rules the destiny of nations.“ It was against this very doctrine that Boas had been struggling since 1894, and that Margaret Mead, beginning in 1928 with the publication of Coming of Age in Samoa, was, as a leading Boasian, to fight with the „whole battery“ at her command. By the second decade of the twentieth century, then, the nature-nurture controversy, in which two fervently held half-truths contended vainly for outright mastery, was about to enter upon the most active phase of its existence.2

Prominent among the American delegation to the Eugenics Congress was Charles Davenport, who by this time had been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and was recognized as the leader in the study of eugenics in the United States. Absolute in his conviction that the only hope for „the real betterment of the human race“ lay in „better matings,“ Davenport, on his return to Long Island, with financial support from John D. Rockefeller and others, extended the activities of the Eugenics Record Office with the explicit objective of securing the preponderance of „America's most effective blood lines“ and the restricting of the „defective and delinquent.“ Davenport was a fervent Mendelian whose thinking was based on the assumption that human nature was constituted entirely of traits that were „discrete, unit characters determined by pairs of distinct immutable factors,“ the one dominant over the other. The research to which the Eugenics Record Office under Davenport's direction gave principal attention was the inheritance of particular traits. From about 1912 onward Davenport's research activity in this field was assiduous, and especially into those traits which, following Galton, he believed to be determinants of social behavior. Working with family histories collected by the Eugenics Record Office, he produced, with immense seriousness and apparent certitude, lists of behavioral traits that were, he pronounced, genetically determined. In a paper presented in 1914, for example, he listed a tendency to tantrums and violent eroticism as dominant traits, depressions with impulsions to suicide X as recessive, and dipsomania and nomadism as sex-linked characters. In his analysis of the heredity of naval officers, he identified an inborn love of the sea as a trait almost certainly caused (as it was males and not females who ran away to sea) by a sex-linked recessive factor. In another study, insincerity, stinginess, seclusiveness, and untruthfulness were among negative traits said to be inherited as unit characters.3

In these conclusions Davenport was, in the eyes of the ardent eugenicists of the time, giving substance in the most specific and scientific way to Galton's fundamental assumption that „mental qualities are inherited in the same way as bodily characteristics.“ Equally, Davenport's conclusions gave potent support to their conviction that nature was more important than nurture, which, as Karl Pearson reemphasized in 1915, was the very basis of Galton's lifework. Indeed, Davenport's application of Mendelian principles to all aspects of human character went beyond Galton's extreme view of „the vastly preponderat-j ing effects of nature over nurture“ to a doctrine of absolute bio– logical determinism. As Charles Rosenberg has documented, in Davenport's view criminals, prostitutes, tramps, and other „defective“ individuals lacked the gene or genes the appearance of which „through mutation in man's distant past had allowed him to control his more primitive asocial instincts and thus develop civilization.“ The criminal was a criminal, the prostitute a prostitute, because their genetic makeup had not provided them with the neurological or physiological means for circumventing their brutish urges. Similarly, feeblemindedness resulted from the persistence of primitive genes, and was, Davenport declared, not a reversion but a direct inheritance, an „uninterrupted transmission from our animal ancestry.“ For Davenport then, as Rosenberg has pointed out, „social and physical evolution were one“ and „cultural change merely reflected underlying physical developments.“4

During th6se same years, largely because of Davenport's activities, there was a rapid growth in the general popularity of eugenics and an associated upsurge in racial theory and sentiment, which in Henry Fairfield Osborn's opinion was in strong accord with the true spirit of the eugenics movement. There was talk of a eugenics millennium, and Helen Baker, whose Race Improvement or Eugenics appeared in 1912, assured her readers that American eugenicists would never rest until the American race became „the fittest on earth.“ In these popular writings there was (as an onlooker remarked in 1914) „a fervour of moral enthusiasm,“ and the eugenics movement in the United States came to resemble the crusade for race improve- ^ ment of which Galton had dreamed a decade or so before. By 1914 forty-four U.S. colleges, including Harvard and Cornell, the Universities of California and Chicago, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were offering lectures or courses about eugenics. G. H. Parker, of Harvard, in the influential journal Science pointed in 1915 to „the elimination of the strikingly defective members of society“ as „a reasonable and a humane possibility,“ and advocated enforced sterilization. A number of states adopted such policies. In 1915 a translation of the Count de Gobineau's The Inequality of Human Races was published in New York, and in the following year appeared Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race, in which, as M. H. Haller has shown, „eugenics and racism united in a scientific doctrine of an elite about to be swamped by the incompetence ^ of those whose inheritance placed them among the enemies of civilization.“ In Grant's opinion, democracy was „not favourable to the preservation of superior strains“ and the only solution was „a thorough campaign of eugenics.“ In halls and Chautauqua tents throughout America, itinerant lecturers were, in Margaret Mead's words, „insisting raucously that 'you can't change human nature,'“ and proclaiming their faith in race betterment through the science of eugenics, which as Davenport had remarked in an earlier lecture was all that could save the people from „perdition.“5

By 1916 the situation for those opposed to these fanatical developments had become insufferable, and in that year both Boas and his former student Robert Lowie launched incisive attacks on the eugenics movement. In an article in The New Republic on Alfred Russel Wallace, the discoverer, with Darwin, of natural selection, Lowie warmly commended Wallace's distrust of eugenics and his pointed deprecation of „the meddlesome interference of an arrogant scientific priestcraft“ in human affairs. That Wallace should have taken this attitude is understandable, for as early as 1864 (when Galton was formulating the extreme hereditarian doctrines that gave rise to the eugenics movement), Wallace had questioned the extent to which natural selection applied to the later stages of human evolution. He had pointed out that man had long been able to modify his life by „putting himself into certain conditions, instead of leaving nature to select those conditions for him.“ Wallace was thus the first biologist (of the epoch that began in 1859) to draw attention to the crucial significance of exogenetic processes in human evolution. In 1916 he was eagerly claimed as an ally by Lowie, who concluded his article with the barbed comment that the „half-baked biologists“ who dabble in social reform and „their still less amiable little brothers, the practical eugenists with their legislative tinkerings“ might well pay heed to the social philosophy and noble spirit of that great evolutionary biologist, A. R. Wallace.6

Boas' condemnation of eugenics in the November 1916 issue of The Scientific Monthly was more direct and substantial. The doctrines of the apostles of eugenics, Boas lamented, had taken hold of the public mind to such an extent that eugenic measures had found a place in the statute books of a number of states and there was disapproval of marriages thought bound to produce unhealthy offspring. While it was the first duty of the eugenicist to determine empirically and without bias what features were hereditary and what not, this they had conspicuously failed to do. Instead, their battle-cry „nature not nurture“ had been raised to the rank of a dogma, and environmental conditions had been ignored.

The eugenicist's policy of eliminating the unfit, and of the deliberate selection of superior strains, rested on the overestimation of conventional standards, and was, to Boas' mind, intolerable. Eugenics, he warned with remarkable prescience, was not a panacea that would cure human ills, but rather a dangerous sword that might well turn its edge against those who relied on its strength. This expedient of eliminating „the unfit“ would soon reach a terrible culmination in National Socialist Germany, beginning with Hitler's decreeing of a Eugenic Sterilization Law in 1933.

In contrast to the eugenicist, declared Boas, the anthropologist was convinced that many different anatomical forms could be adapted to the same social functions; further, because of the observed fact that the most diverse types of man could adapt themselves to the same forms of life, it had to be assumed (unless the contrary could be proved) that „all complex activities are socially determined.“ Indeed, Boas asserted, „in the great mass of a healthy population, the social stimulus is infinitely more potent than the biological mechanism.“ This was an anthropological doctrine wholly antithetical to that of Davenport and the more extreme of his fellow eugenicists. To say, as did Boas, that the anthropologist and biologist were „at odds“ was to understate the situation: they were implacably opposed, with no prospect of reconciliation between their markedly divergent anthropological doctrines.7

Boas' strong feelings about the „apostles of eugenics“ were shared by another of his students, Alfred Kroeber. Eugenics, Kroeber declared in the American Anthropologist in 1917, was a fallacy, a mirage, like the philosophers' stone, and a dangerous snare. Galton was, Kroeber conceded, one of the most truly imaginative intellects produced by England, and his close collaborator Pearson possessed one of the keenest minds of his generation; yet together with their followers they had been beguiled by a simple fallacy, set in an envelope of enticing complications. If social phenomena were only organic, then eugenics was right, but if the social was something more than the organic, then eugenics was an outright error, at the childlikeness of which the future would surely smile.8

Kroeber has confessed that „almost as a boy“ he had a strong intuition that „all search for 'origins' is vain.“ This belief he carried with him when, in 1896, he began his studies with Boas, and it was given great prominence in his first major anthropological study. In 1901 Kroeber asserted that any search for origins in anthropology could lead to „nothing but false re-suits.“ The phenomena studied by anthropologists, he declared, had no origin; all arts and all institutions were as old as man; every word was as old as speech; culture was „beginningless.“9

This odd intuition from his boyhood remained basic to Kroeber's subsequent anthropological thought. In 1910 he dwelt on the differences between man and the highest animals, among whom there was, he asserted (incorrectly, as we now know), „nothing homologous to the rudest culture or civilization,“ and he gave it as his opinion that the members of the human species were „apparently exempt from the operation of the laws of biological evolution.“ Kroeber, then, had not the slightest difficulty in accepting Boas' affirmation of the independence of cultural achievement from race. From 1900 onward Boas had stressed the importance of making a clear distinction between culture and biology, and by 1911, in his statement that culture was „not an expression of innate mental qualities“ but „a result of varied external conditions acting upon general human characteristics,“ had adumbrated the central tenet of what was to become, during the next decade, the ruling dogma of American anthropology. As the struggle against hereditarian ideologies intensified from 1916 onward, it was Boas' students Kroeber and Lowie who gave this tenet its definitive form by pressing to its logical limit Boas' emphasis on the independence of culture.10

Kroeber, from 1914 onward, made adroit use of dissension within biology. During the first twenty years of the century, evolutionary studies and theories were in a state of chaos and confusion. Until 1915, when T. H. Morgan and his associates established chromosome theory, genetics was torn by a feud between the Mendelians and the biometricians; and there was talk (as A. R. Wallace lamented) of Darwinism being played out. Again, there was a marked recrudescence of belief in the inheritance of acquired characters. In 1914, addresses by Hugo De Vries (in Brussels) and William Bateson (in Melbourne and Sydney) extolling Mendelism and highly critical of Darwinian theory, were republished in Science. In his paper „Inheritance by Magic,“ on which he was working at the time of August Weismann's death in November 1914, Kroeber wryly remarked that some Mendelians seemed to think that the greatest accomplishment of their science had been „the superseding of Darwinism.“ He went on to observe that although Weismann, in the 1880s, had proved Lamarckian doctrine to be „absolutely hollow,“ biology was still very much of two minds about the inheritance of acquired characters. This, Kroeber argued, was because the majority of biologists failed to recognize that in addition to the evolution of organic life there was, in the case of man, a quite distinct „nonorganic process of evolution,“ which depended not on the inheritance of acquired characters but on the social transmission and accumulation of knowledge. If biologists did not admit this crucial distinction and persisted in fallaciously asserting that the social was organic, the „scientists of the social“ would in the end, Kroeber prophesied, „revolt violently,“ and „attain their own separateness by force.“11

As these sentiments indicate, Kroeber, like other social scientists of the day, felt keenly oppressed by biological determinism, both Galtonian and Lamarckian. Early in 1915 he published an anthropological confession of faith (as Lowie called it) proclaiming the autonomy of culture in eighteen professions. * „In poignant sentences,“ as Lowie later reported, „Kroeber outlined the sole end of ethnology as the study of culture regardless of organic phenomena.“ Biology, he asserted, had nothing whatsoever to do with human history, which „involved the absolute conditioning of historical events by other cultural events.“ There was thus, according to Kroeber, a total separation between history and biology, and his eighteen professions were primarily directed to the elimination of any kind of continuity or interaction between biological and cultural processes. The physical environment, he stipulated, was not a factor shaping or explaining culture, nor was man's biological nature of any possible relevance.12

After the propounding of his eighteen professions, Kroeber spent 1915 on sabbatical leave in Europe, and returned to the United States early in 1916. In his absence he was charged by H. K. Haeberlin (in the American Anthropologist) with having committed, in his eighteen professions, the „cardinal sin of arbitrary elimination,“ but there were others who were attracted to his transilient ideas, and, as Lowie (who at this time was less decided than Kroeber) reported, eminent sociologists and ethnologists were tending to accept that sociological data were sui generis. Yet Kroeber himself was haunted, in 1916, by a major doubt. As in earlier years, it was an anxiety that the inheritance of acquired characters might, after all, turn out to be true. Everything hinged, Kroeber realized, on the rejection of Lamarckian doctrine by both biologists and anthropologists and the establishment of the nonorganic nature of cultural processes.13

At this time Kroeber began referring to the nonorganic, or social, as the „superorganic.“ The crux of the matter, he declared in April 1916, lay in the question of whether or not there was anything superorganic. Although the very possibility of the superorganic was widely denied, there were those, he intimated, who had already recognized its existence. That this recognition was not more general among anthropologists was, he declared, „a reproach and a cloud“ on the so-called enlightenment of the day. For Kroeber, by 1916, anthropological enlightenment was only to be had by initiation into the „scope and nature of the superorganic.“ „If there is nothing beyond the organic,“ he adjured his colleagues, „let us quit our false and vain business and turn biologists … but if there is a superorganic phase, it behooves us not merely to rest supine within our knowledge, but to press this great truth at every opening and every turn.“14

In the article on which he was working in November 1914, Kroeber had strongly urged that biologists should bury the already dead doctrine of Lamarckian inheritance and admit the nonorganic nature of cultural processes. If this were done it would be possible, he said, for biology and anthropology to join hands in alliance across the gulf that separated them. Kroeber had fully grasped that the rejection of Lamarckian doctrine was an essential precondition for the scientific study of culture. However, there were still within biology many who remained > undecided about the inheritance of acquired characters. For these individuals Lamarckian doctrine was by no means defunct and Kroeber's appeal for an alliance between anthropology and biology fell on stony ground. Indeed, even a decade later in 1925, the conclusion that Lamarckism was „a possible but unproved factor in evolution,“ represented, in the view of G. H. Parker, professor of zoology at Harvard, „the opinion of the majority of modern biologists.“15

In 1914 and the immediately following years, biologists were too preoccupied with developments within their own discipline to give any attention to the problem that seemed so important to Kroeber. In 1914, in the addresses of Bateson and De Vries, the onslaught on Darwinism reached a peak, and the following year the Mendelians made what was immediately recognized to be an epoch-making discovery, namely the discovery that certain inherited characters were „transmitted from one generation to the next by being associated with small bodies called chromosomes contained in the germ cells.“ Later in 191S Thomas H. Morgan and his colleagues published The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity, in which their chromosome theory was fully explicated. Morgan felt justified in venturing the opinion that the problem of heredity had been solved. In 1916 the journal Genetics was founded, with Morgan and nine other eminent geneticists (including William Castle, Davenport, and Pearl) on its editorial board, all of them proponents, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, of the eugenics movement, in which there had been an accompanying upsurge of interest.

With these developments, as E. G. Conklin noted in 1916, heredity became the central problem of biology, which was burgeoning as never before. Biologists, particularly in the United States, were buoyantly confident in their science and in no mood to respond to Kroeber's proposed delimitation of spheres of inquiry. There was to be no joining of hands in alliance. Instead, by about the end of 1916, the leaders of the anthropological profession in the United States were so overshadowed by the spectacular advances of their hereditarian opponents as to feel that their only viable course was to escape forever from the toils of biological determinism by proclaiming the complete independence of cultural anthropology.17

Kroeber and Lowie, who by this time had emerged as the intellectual leaders of the „irreverently skeptical“ younger generation of cultural anthropologists, were very much in the mood to assert their independence. They believed they were pitted against alien and engulfing forces. Their battles, wrote Kroeber in 1917, were against an ever re-arising brood of dragons of superstition; while according to Lowie a monistic ogre was abroad, ever casting about for new victims. They were engaged, declared Lowie, in a life and death struggle for the sovereignty of cultural anthropology, and this longed-for sovereignty could only be gained by (as Kroeber later put it) a „proclamation of independence from the dominance of the biological explanation of sociocultural phenomena.“ The goal was no longer a coming to terms with biology, as it had been a year or so earlier, but the assuming of a theoretical position in which biology and cultural anthropology would be totally separated, once and for all.18

Kroeber's main pretext for the independence on which his heart was set was the concept of the superorganic, which he had developed from his eighteen professions of 1915. Using this uncompromising notion, he proceeded to dissociate cultural phenomena from every conceivable connection with biology. Individual capacity was wholly eliminated; heredity, he declared, maintained not one particle of civilization; between the organic and the superorganic, which were the outcomes of wholly disparate evolutions, there was an utter divergence—a difference that was absolute.19

This divergence had been created, Kroeber asserted, by a profound alteration in the course of human evolution: culture was „not a link in any chain, not a step in any path, but a leap to another plane.“ Kroeber had derived this notion from the theory of the Dutch botanist De Vries that species had originated by sudden leaps, or saltations. Kroeber's consuming objective was the complete separation of cultural anthropology from biology, and the notion that the superorganic had originated in a sudden leap, or saltation, springing fully formed from the organic as did Pallas Athena from the brow of Zeus, was immensely appealing. Undeterred by the lack of empirical evidence, Kroeber predicated his whole case on this convenient supposition. The superorganic, he announced, was without antecedents in the beginning of the organic, from which it was entirely separate and which it transcended utterly. Then, on the basis of this wholly unsubstantiated supposition, convinced that he was standing „at the threshold of glimpsing vague, grand forces of predestination,“ Kroeber instigated an intellectual schism, proclaiming that between cultural anthropology and biology there was an abyss, an „eternal chasm“ that could not be bridged.20

Kroeber's revelation of this unbridgeable chasm was at once accepted by Lowie. In this book Culture and Ethnology, which appeared later in 1917, Lowie gave vigorous support to Kroeber's claims by declaring culture to be „a thing sui generis“ and by propounding, in oracular fashion, the formula omnis cultura ex cultura. It was the contention of both Kroeber and Lowie, as The New International Year Book for 1917 reported, that the domain of culture constituted a distinct sphere of investigation, and from this contention the complete autonomy of cultural anthropology necessarily followed. By this drastic maneuver Kroeber and Lowie, as they had threatened in 1916, had attained „their own separateness by force.“ Their triumphant success in their „life and death struggle“ with „the universalist monster“ of deterministic biology was celebrated by Lowie in an article in The New Republic in November 1917. Ethnology, he recorded with great glee, had, with Gargantuan precocity and lusty kicks, won a victory over this cradle-snatching monster, and would soon gain its rightful place in the sun.21

As Lowie's metaphors indicate, the struggle in which he and Kroeber had been involved was essentially political and ideological. Their mission had been to throw off, at any cost, the oppressive intellectual dominance of the extreme hereditarian doctrines which, since the advent of eugenics in 1901, had been impinging ever more forcefully on the young science of anthropology. That these doctrines were indeed extreme, extending, as in the case of Davenport, to an absolute biological determinism, there can be no doubt. In this predicament Kroeber and Lowie were impelled, with momentous consequences for anthropology, to devise a doctrine quite as extreme as that of their hereditarian opponents. It was expressed in the formula omnis cultura ex cultura, which, in asserting that cultural phenomena can be only in terms of other cultural phenomena, was

un^rstooa o y ce of an unbridgeable chasm between

pleated on the e } and so inex0rably involved

uS determinism. The absolute nature of this T v cultural determinism was promptly confirmed by ^S^rWhile culture permeated the lives of the ind, ,1 nf fl society, it was, he declared, utterly uncon-

Zhad a causality entMy of ^

°^nhis insistence that the cultural was „in its very essence non-individual,“ Kroeber was arguing in the same way as had

Durkheim in 1894 in his Les regies de la methode sociology

when propounding the doctrine that society is a thing in itself“ (which was, through its adoption by A. R. RadchfTe-Brown and others to become the ruling assumption of British social anthropology). In adopting this extreme stance Kroeber went beyond the views of Boas and some of his other followers. Edward Sapir in July 1917, thought that Kroeber's desire to take a sharply defined position had led him into dogmatism, shaky metaphysics, and a point of view „amounting practically to abstractionist fetishism“; it required, said Sapir, a „social determinism amounting to a religion to deny to individuals all directive power, all culture-moulding influence.“ Nonetheless, despite these misgivings, Sapir (as he told Lowie at the time) sympathized on the whole with the spirit of Kroeber's „superorganic.“ Other Boasians responded similarly. Kroeber and Lowie, it was realized, had gone beyond the limits of the more muted cultural determinism that Boas, citing Waitz, had begun advocating in 1894: yet Kroeber's assertion of the existence of an absolute difference between the superorganic and the organic varied in but slight degree from Boas' pronouncement of November 1916 that „the social stimulus is infinitely more potent than the biological mechanism.“ And so, despite some differences of opinion, the Boasians, with the total exclusion of biology from the purview of cultural anthropology, had by about the end of 1917 fully established their independence. The breach with biology—at least in theory—was complete.

Several historians of the development of anthropological ideas have applied the term „paradigm“ to the general doctrine of cultural determinism as it crystallized in 1917. In Kroeber's own opinion, the conceptualizing of culture as „wholly nonorganic“ involved „almost as fundamental a shifting of mental and emotional point of view“ as „when the Copernican doctrine challenged the prior conviction of the world.“ However exaggerated this opinion may have been, it is evident that a fundamental change was indeed involved, and if the term paradigm is understood in T. S. Kuhn's modified sense of „disciplinary matrix“ its use is clearly warranted. It should be noted, however, that, in its insistence on the existence of an unbridgeable chasm between biology and cultural anthropology, this paradigm was also very much an ideology. It was, indeed, essentially a system of belief, which, in claiming to represent, something like revealed truth, required the suppression of whatever did not conform with its central dogma. And it was to such suppression, as we shall see, that the principal conclusion of Mead's Samoan researches was directed.24

While it was primarily Kroeber and Lowie who precipitated the disjunction of cultural anthropology from biology and so made way for the unqualified acceptance of cultural determinism, this doctrine, it is important to note, had stemmed directly from Boas' preoccupations from the outset of his anthropological career. In his address of 1900 on „The Mind of Primitive Man,“ Boas explicitly argued for the recognition of culture as a construct to which the laws of biology did not apply, and from that time onward his presiding genius shaped the course that culminated in the momentous schism of 1917. In the struggle for the independence of cultural anthropology, in which Boas took the lead with his sweeping denunciation of the assumptions of Galtonian eugenics and his talk of a parting of the ways, Kroeber and Lowie were acting as the loyal, if somewhat over-zealous, lieutenants of their revered teacher. Ruth Bunzel, another of his students, has argued that the first two decades of the twentieth century should be known as the Age of Boas, so completely did this „giant“ dominate the field, and Alexander Lesser has described Boas as „the builder and architect of modern anthropology.“ I shall, then, refer to the explanation of human behavior in purely cultural terms as the Boasian para-: digm. In the 1920s and 1930s this paradigm rapidly assumed a position of commanding importance in American anthropology. Since those years anthropology in the United States and elsewhere has become greatly diversified. However, while there have always been individuals whose views have radically diverged from those of Boas and his followers, the notion that human behavior can be explained in purely cultural terms has remained widely influential.25

With the emergence of this new paradigm the independence of cultural anthropology was swiftly attained, but at an endur-ingly crippling intellectual cost, for it was an independence that had been won not by any reasoned resolution of the age-old nature-nurture problem but instead by the stark stratagem of arbitrarily excluding „nature“ from any kind of consideration whatsoever.

At this recherche maneuver the „universalist monster“ of deterministic biology suffered no sudden weakening or loss of will. Indeed, early in 1918, a number of biologically oriented activists in the United States, many of whom had strongly supported the eugenics movement from the days of its inception, joined forces for „the promotion of study of racial anthropology, and of the origin, migration, physical and mental characters, crossing and evolution of human races, living and extinct.“ This organization, the founding of which had been initiated by Madison Grant and C. B. Davenport, was pointedly named the Galton Society, and Davenport became its chairman. Accepting evolution by natural selection and Galton's principle of „the like inheritance of mental and physical characters,“ the members of this new anthropological society were at rooted variance with the notion that human behavior could be explained in exclusively cultural terms.26

The contending schools of thought of which Boas and Davenport had been the principal spokesmen since 1911 had, during the years 1914 to 1918, become more implacably opposed than ever. The radical controversy over the relative importance of

nature and nurture-Kroeber's „eternal chasm“ notwithstanding—was to persist, with increasing intensity, into the third decade of the twentieth century, and to spur Boas into devising Margaret Mead's Samoan researches. 


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the_launching_of_cultural_determinism.txt · Poslední úprava: 2024/05/29 19:40 autor: 127.0.0.1