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This volume is a collection of the most important essays written by Franz Boas on the science of anthropology. "Franz Boas is the father of American anthropology and one of the founders of the field of modern anthropology. The book, Race, Language, and Culture, is a collection of some of his most important essays."-- David Schneider, University of Chicago "An exceptional book. Exceptional because it brings into one volume sixty-two papers written by the most influential figure in American anthropology. . . . Exceptional in that it exhibits the wide range of interests and scientific exactness which made it possible for one man to exert such a profound influence on the growing science of anthropology. . . . This is a volume every student of anthropology will wish to possess; it will also have a wide distribution among other students of the social sciences, and all interested in the problems of race."-- Fay-Cooper Cole, American Anthropologist
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Race, Language, and Culture
Anthropology, the science of man, is often held to be a subject that may satisfy our curiosity regarding the early history of mankind, but of no immediate bearing upon problems that confront us. This view has always seemed to me erroneous. Growing up in our own civilization we know little how we ourselves are conditioned by it, how our bodies, our language, our modes of thinking and acting are determined by limits imposed upon us by our environment. Knowledge of the life processes and behavior of man under conditions of life fundamentally different from our own can help us to obtain a freer view of our own lives and of our life problems. The dynamics of life have always been of greater interest to me than the description of conditions, although I recognize that the latter must form the indispensable material on which to base our conclusions.
My endeavors have largely been directed by this point of view. In the following pages I have collected such of my writings as, I hope, will prove the validity of my point of view.
The material presented here is not intended to show a chronological development. The plan is rather to throw light on the problems treated. General discussions are followed by reports on special investigations on the results of which general viewpoints are based.
On the whole I have left the statements as they first appeared. Only in the discussion of the problems of stability of races and of growth which extend over many years, has scattered material been combined. In these the mathematical problems have been omitted and diagrams have been substituted for numerical tables. Here and there reviews and controversies have been included where they seemed relevant and of importance for the clearer statement of theories.
The terms “race” and “racial” are throughout used in the sense that they mean the assembly of genetic lines represented in a population.
It is natural that the earlier papers do not include data available at the present time. I have not made any changes by introducing new material because it seemed to me that the fundamental theoretical treatment of problems is still valid. In a few cases footnotes in regard to new investigations or criticisms of the subject matter have been added.
I have included two very early general papers at the end of the book because they indicate the general attitude underlying my later work.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Alexander Lesser whose help and advice in the selection of material has been of greatest value.
November 29, 1939
RACE AND PROGRESS (1931)
MODERN POPULATIONS OF AMERICA (1915)
REPORT ON AN ANTHROPOMETRIC INVESTIGATION OF THE POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES (1922)
CHANGES IN BODILY FORM OF DESCENDANTS OF IMMIGRANTS (1910-1913)
NEW EVIDENCE IN REGARD TO THE INSTABILITY OF HUMAN TYPES (1916)
INFLUENCE OF HEREDITY AND ENVIRONMENT UPON GROWTH (1913)
THE TEMPO OF GROWTH OF FRATERNITIES (1935).
CONDITIONS CONTROLLING THE TEMPO OF DEVELOPMENT AND DECAY (1935)
REMARKS ON THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDY OF CHILDREN (1912)
GROWTH (1892-1939, revised and condensed)
STATISTICAL STUDY OF ANTHROPOMETRY (1902)
THE HALF-BLOOD INDIAN (1894)
REVIEW OF DR. PAUL EHRENREICH, “ANTHROPOLOGISCHE STUDIEN UEBER DIE UREINWOHNER BRASILIENS” (1897)
REVIEW OF WILLIAM Z. RIPLEY, “THE RACES OF EUROPE” (1899)
REVIEW OF ROLAND B. DIXON, “THE RACIAL HISTORY OF MAN” (1923)
SOME RECENT CRITICISM OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY (1899)
THE RELATIONS BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY (1936)
THE ANALYSIS OF ANTHROPOMETRICAL SERIES (1913)
THE MEASUREMENT OF DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VARIABLE QUANTITIES (1922)
RACE AND CHARACTER (1932)
INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AMERICAN LINGUISTICS (1917)
THE CLASSIFICATION OF AMERICAN LANGUAGES (1920)
CLASSIFICATION OF AMERICAN INDIAN LANGUAGES (1929)
SOME TRAITS OF THE DAKOTA LANGUAGE (1937)
METAPHORICAL EXPRESSION IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE KWAKIUTL INDIANS (1929)
THE AIMS OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH (1932)
SOME PROBLEMS OF METHODOLOGY IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES (1930)
THE LIMITATIONS OF THE COMPARATIVE METHOD OF ANTHROPOLOGY (1896)
THE METHODS OF ETHNOLOGY (1920)
EVOLUTION OR DIFFUSION (1924)
REVIEW OF GRAEBNER, “METHODE DER ETHNOLOGIE” (1911)
HISTORY AND SCIENCE IN ANTHROPOLOGY: A REPLY (1936)
THE ETHNOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ESOTERIC DOCTRINES (1902)
THE ORIGIN OF TOTEMISM (1910)
THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN RACE (1911)
ETHNOLOGICAL PROBLEMS IN CANADA (1910)
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN NORTH-WEST AMERICA AND NORTH-EAST ASIA (1933)
THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE KWAKIUTL (1920)
THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE TRIBES OF THE NORTH PACIFIC COAST (1924)
THE GROWTH OF THE SECRET SOCIETIES OF THE KWAKIUTL (1896)
THE RELATIONSHIP SYSTEM OF THE VANDAU (1922)
THE DEVELOPMENT OF FOLK-TALES AND MYTHS (1916)
INTRODUCTION TO JAMES TEIT, “THE TRADITIONS OF THE THOMPSON INDIANS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA” (1898)
THE GROWTH OF INDIAN MYTHOLOGIES (1895)
DISSEMINATION OF TALES AMONG THE NATIVES OF NORTH AMERICA (1891)
REVIEW OF G. W. LOCHER, “THE SERPENT IN KWAKIUTL RELIGION: A STUDY IN PRIMITIVE CULTURE” (1933)
MYTHOLOGY AND FOLK-TALES OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS (1914)
STYLISTIC ASPECTS OF PRIMITIVE LITERATURE (1925)
THE FOLK-LORE OF THE ESKIMO (1904)
ROMANCE FOLK-LORE AMONG AMERICAN INDIANS (1925)
SOME PROBLEMS IN NORTH AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY (1902)
ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS IN THE VALLEY OF MEXICO BY THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, 1911-12 (1912)
REPRESENTATIVE ART OF PRIMITIVE PEOPLE (1916)
REVIEW OF MACCURDY, “STUDY OF CHIRIQUIAN ANTIQUITIES” (1911)
THE DECORATIVE ART OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS (1903)
DECORATIVE DESIGNS OF ALASKAN NEEDLECASES: A STUDY IN THE HISTORY OF CONVENTIONAL DESIGNS, BASED ON MATERIALS IN THE U. S. NATIONAL MUSEUM (1908)
THE RELATIONSHIPS OF THE ESKIMO OF EAST GREENLAND (1909)
THE IDEA OF THE FUTURE LIFE AMONG PRIMITIVE TRIBES (1922)
THE CONCEPT OF SOUL AMONG THE VANDAU (1920)
RELIGIOUS TERMINOLOGY OF THE KWAKIUTL (1927)
ADVANCES IN METHODS OF TEACHING (1898)
THE AIMS OF ETHNOLOGY (1888)
THE STUDY OF GEOGRAPHY (1887)
CHANGES IN BODILY FORM OF DESCENDANTS OF IMMIGRANTS
Cephalic index of immigrants and their descendants
Changes of head measurements during period of growth
Excess of stature over average stature for families of various sizes
Cephalic index of individuals born in Europe who immigrated in certain years compared with that of American-born descendants of mothers who immigrated in corresponding years
Width of face of adult Bohemian males born in Europe who immigrated in certain years, compared with that of American-born descendants of mothers who immigrated in corresponding years
Width of face of Bohemians and their descendants
Relation between stature and maturity for foreign-born and American-born boys
Color of hair of foreign-born and American-born Hebrews, showing the increase of pigmentation with increasing age
THE TEMPO OF GROWTH OF FRATERNITIES
Annual growth of brothers and sisters, tall, medium-sized and short, at the selected ages of 7, 9, 11, and 13 years. Continuous observations. Hebrew Orphan Asylum
Annual growth of brothers and sisters, tall, medium-sized and short, at the selected ages of 7, 9, 11, and 13 years. Continuous observations. Horace Mann School
Change in percentile position of individuals starting at 15 years with the percentile grades of 27 and 73 respectively. U. S. Naval Cadets
Amount of total growth from 16 years to adult of males of various statures
Average amount of growth of tall and short children. Worcester, Massachusetts
Variability of social and national groups as observed and as expected, if only chance determined the variability
Correlation of measurements during period of growth. Worcester, Massachusetts
Variability of stature of boys and girls having the same periods of maximum growth, compared with variability of total series. Horace Mann School
Length and width of head of boys and girls
Growth curves of boys and girls for those having maximum rate of growth at the same time. Horace Mann School
Annual increments for boys who have the same periods of maximum rate of growth. Annual intervals to be read from apex of each curve. Horace Mann School
Annual increments for girls who have the same periods of maximum rate of growth. Annual intervals to be read from apex of each curve. Horace Mann School
Growth curves of girls who have the same stature at 10 years and the same period of maximum rate of growth. Horace Mann School
Growth curves of girls who have the same stature at 17 years and the same periods of maximum rate of growth. Horace Mann School
Growth of boys in the Newark Academy with the same period of maximum rate of growth
Decrease of stature with increasing age
Difference between average stature in centimeters, of a number of total series (regardless of year of birth) and of subgroups of individuals born in quinquennial intervals. All ages combined
Growth curves for Hebrew boys and girls
Weights of Hebrew infants in an orphan asylum compared with the weights of infants of the general American population
Statures of children admitted to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum before and after 1918
Difference between average statures in centimeters of children of all ages at time of admission to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, and statures after from 1-9 years of residence
Comparison of growth curves of boys of the same stature at 12 years of age in Newark Academy and in the College of the City of New York. The curves show the amount of growth from 12 years on for boys of statures from 130-150 cm. in 5 cm. groups
Growth of Non-Hebrew and Hebrew children in Horace Mann School
Annual increments for Negro girls having maximum rates of growth at various periods
Annual increments of Negro and White girls
Comparative growth curves of girls
THE HALF-BLOOD INDIAN
Number of children of Indian women and half-blood women
Statures of Indians and of half-bloods
Growth of Indian and half-blood children
Breadth of face of Indians, half-bloods, and Whites
Breadth of face, Sioux
Breadth of face, eastern Ojibwas
Breadth of face of Indian, half-blood and White children
Height of face, Sioux
Breadth of nose, Sioux
Breadth of nose, eastern Ojibwas
Length of head, eastern Ojibwas
THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE KWAKIUTL
Genealogy illustrating intermarriages
Genealogy illustrating endogamous marriages
Transfer of position through marriage
RELATIONSHIP SYSTEM OF THE VANDAU
Relationship system of the Vandau; terms used by man
Relationship system of the Vandau; terms used by woman
THE DECORATIVE ART OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS
Shaman’s coat. Eskimo, Iglulik
Man’s costume. Eskimo, Aivilik
Shaman’s coat. Gold
Decorated fish skin coat. Gold
Ceremonial shield and belt for ordinary wear. Huichol. After Lumholtz
Parfleches. Left, Arapaho; right, Shoshone
Embroidered design. Arapaho
Embroidered skin bag. Arapaho
Pueblo patterns. From specimens in the U. S. National Museum
Quail-tip designs on California and Oregon baskets
Tlingit baskets. After Emmons
DECORATIVE DESIGNS OF ALASKAN NEEDLECASES
} Alaskan needlecases
Ivory attachment to line, west coast of Hudson Bay; Creaser, Iglulik; Design of needlecase, King William Land
Tattooings from the west coast of Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait
Needlecases from Frozen Strait and Pond’s Bay
Needlecases from Smith Sound, and Rawlings Bay, west coast of Smith Sound
} Alaskan needlecases
Needlecases and Alaskan awl
THE RELATIONSHIPS OF THE ESKIMOS OF EAST GREENLAND
Needlecases, east Greenland
Permit me to call your attention to the scientific aspects of a problem that has been for a long time agitating our country and which, on account of its social and economic implications, has given rise to strong emotional reactions and has led to varied types of legislation. I refer to the problems due to the intermingling of racial types.
If we wish to reach a reasonable attitude, it is necessary to separate clearly the biological and psychological aspects from the social and economic implications of this problem. Furthermore, the social motivation of what is happening must be looked at not from the narrow point of view of our present conditions but from a wider angle.
The facts with which we are dealing are diverse. The plantation system of the South brought to our shores a large Negro population. Considerable mixture between White masters and slave women occurred during the period of slavery, so that the number of pure Negroes was dwindling continually and the colored population gradually became lighter. A certain amount of intermingling between White and Indian took place, but in the United States and Canada this has never occurred to such a degree that it became an important social phenomenon. In Mexico and many parts of Central and South America it is the most typical case of race contact and race mixture. With the development of immigration the people of eastern and southern Europe were attracted to our country and form now an important part of our population. They differ in type somewhat among themselves, although the racial contrasts are much less than those between Indians or Negroes and Whites. Through Mexican and West Indian immigration another group has come into our country, partly of South European, partly of mixed Negro and mixed Indian descent. To all these must be added the East Asiatic groups, Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos, who play a particularly important rôle on the Pacific Coast.
The first point in regard to which we need clarification refers to the significance of the term race. In common parlance when we speak of a race we mean a group of people that have certain bodily and perhaps also mental characteristics in common. The Whites, with their light skin, straight or wavy hair and high nose, are a race set off clearly from the Negroes with their dark skin, frizzly hair and flat nose. In regard to these traits the two races are fundamentally distinct. Not quite so definite is the distinction between East Asiatics and European types, because transitional forms do occur among normal White individuals, such as flat faces, straight black hair and eye forms resembling the East Asiatic types; and conversely European-like traits are found among East Asiatics. For Negro and White we may speak of hereditary racial traits so far as these radically distinct features are concerned. For Whites and East Asiatics the difference is not quite so absolute, because a few individuals may be found in each race for whom the racial traits do not hold good, so that in a strict sense we cannot speak of absolutely valid hereditary racial traits.
This condition prevails to a much more marked extent among the different, so-called races of Europe. We are accustomed to speak of a Scandinavian as tall, blond and blue-eyed, of a South Italian as short, swarthy and dark-eyed; of a Bohemian as middle-sized, with brown or gray eyes and wide face and straight hair. We are apt to construct ideal local types which are based on our everyday experience, abstracted from a combination of forms that are most frequently seen in a given locality, and we forget that there are numerous individuals for whom this description does not hold true. It would be a rash undertaking to determine the locality in which a person is born solely from his bodily characteristics. In many cases we may be helped in such a determination by manners of wearing the hair, peculiar mannerisms of motion, and by dress, but these are not to be mistaken for essential hereditary traits. In populations of various parts of Europe many individuals may be found that may as well belong to one part of the continent as to another. There is no truth in the contention so often made that two Englishmen are more alike in bodily form than, let us say, an Englishman and a German. A greater number of forms may be duplicated in the narrower area, but similar forms may be found in all parts of the continent. There is an overlapping of bodily form between the local groups. It is not justifiable to assume that the individuals that do not fit into the ideal local type which we construct from general impressions are foreign elements in the population, that their presence is always due to intermixture with alien types. It is a fundamental characteristic of all local populations that the individuals differ among themselves, and a closer study shows that this is true of animals as well as of men. It is, therefore, not quite proper to speak in these cases of traits that are hereditary in the racial type as a whole, because too many of them occur also in other racial types. Hereditary racial traits should be shared by the whole population so that it is set off against others.
The matter is quite different when individuals are studied as members of their own family lines. Racial heredity implies that there must be a unity of descent, that there must have existed at one time a small number of ancestors of definite bodily form, from whom the present population has descended. It is quite impossible to reconstruct this ancestry through the study of a modern population, but the study of families extending over several generations is often possible. Whenever this study has been undertaken we find that the family lines represented in a single population differ very much among themselves. In isolated communities where the same families have intermarried for generations the differences are less than in larger communities. We may say that every racial group consists of a great many family lines which are distinct in bodily form. Some of these family lines are duplicated in neighboring territories and the more duplication exists the less is it possible to speak of fundamental racial characteristics. These conditions are so manifest in Europe that all we can do is to study the frequency of occurrence of various family lines all over the continent. The differences between the family lines belonging to each larger area are much greater than the differences between the populations as a whole.
Although it is not necessary to consider the great differences in type that occur in a population as due to mixture of different types, it is easy to see that intermingling has played an important part in the history of modern populations. Let us recall to our minds the migrations that occurred in early times in Europe, when the Kelts of Western Europe swept over Italy and eastward to Asia Minor; when the Teutonic tribes migrated from the Black Sea westward into Italy, Spain and even into North Africa; when the Slav expanded northeastward over Russia, and southward into the Balkan Peninsula; when the Moors held a large part of Spain, when Roman and Greek slaves disappeared in the general population, and when Roman colonization affected a large part of the Mediterranean area. It is interesting to note that Spain’s greatness followed the period of greatest race mixture, that its decline set in when the population became stable and immigration stopped. This might give us pause when we speak about the dangers of the intermingling of European types. What is happening in America now is the repetition on a larger scale and in a shorter time of what happened in Europe during the centuries when the people of northern Europe were not yet firmly attached to the soil.
The actual occurrence of intermingling leads us to consider what the biological effect of intermixture of different types may be. Much light has been shed on this question through the intensive study of the phenomena of heredity. It is true we are hampered in the study of heredity in man by the impossibility of experimentation, but much can be learned from observation and through the application of studies of heredity in animals and plants. One fact stands out clearly. When two individuals are mated and there is a very large number of offspring and when furthermore there is no disturbing environmental factor, then the distribution of different forms in the offspring is determined by the genetic characteristics of the parents. What may happen after thousands of generations have passed does not concern us here.
Our previous remarks regarding the characteristics of local types show that matings between individuals essentially different in genetic type must occur in even the most homogeneous population. If it could be shown, as is sometimes claimed, that the progeny of individuals of decidedly distinct proportions of the body would be what has been called disharmonic in character, this would occur with considerable frequency in every population, for we do find individuals, let us say, with large jaws and large teeth and those with small jaws and small teeth. If it is assumed that in the later offspring these conditions might result in a combination of small jaws and large teeth a disharmony would develop. We do not know that this actually occurs. It merely illustrates the line of reasoning. In matings between various European groups these conditions would not be materially changed, although greater differences between parents would be more frequent than in a homogeneous population.
The essential question to be answered is whether we have any evidence that would indicate that matings between individuals of different descent and different type would result in a progeny less vigorous than that of their ancestors. We have not had any opportunity to observe any degeneracy in man as clearly due to this cause. The high nobility of all parts of Europe can be shown to be of very mixed origin. French, German and Italian urban populations are derived from all the distinct European types. It would be difficult to show that any degeneracy that may exist among them is due to an evil effect of intermating. Biological degeneracy is found rather in small districts of intense inbreeding. Here again it is not so much a question of type, but of the presence of pathological conditions in the family strains, for we know of many perfectly healthy and vigorous intensely inbred communities. We find these among the Eskimos and also among many primitive tribes among whom cousin marriages are prescribed by custom.
These remarks do not touch upon the problem of the effect of intermarriages upon bodily form, health and vigor of crosses between races that are biologically more distinct than the types of Europe. It is not quite easy to give absolutely conclusive evidence in regard to this question. Judging merely on the basis of anatomical features and health conditions of mixed populations there does not seem to be any reason to assume unfavorable results, either in the first or in later generations of offspring. The mixed descendants of Europeans and American Indians are taller and more fertile than the pureblood Indians. They are even taller than either parental race. The mixed blood Dutch and Hottentot of South Africa and the Malay mixed bloods of the Island of Kisar are in type intermediate between the two races, and do not exhibit any traits of degeneracy. The populations of the Sudan, mixtures of Mediterranean and Negro types, have always been characterized by great vigor. There is also little doubt that in eastern Russia a considerable infusion of Asiatic blood has occurred. The biological observations on our North American mulattoes do not convince us that there is any deleterious effect of race mixture so far as it is evident in anatomical form and function.
It is also necessary to remember that in varying environment human forms are not absolutely stable, and many of the anatomical traits of the body are subject to a limited amount of change according to climate and conditions of life. We have definite evidence showing changes of bodily size. The stature in European populations has increased materially since the middle of the nineteenth century. War and starvation have left their effects upon the children growing up in the second decade of our century. Proportions of the body change with occupation. The forms of the hand of the laborer and that of the musician reflect their occupations. The changes in head form that have been observed are analogous to those observed in animals under varying conditions of life, among lions born in captivity or among rats fed with different types of diet. The extent to which geographical and social environment may change bodily form is not known, but the influences of outer conditions have to be taken into consideration when comparing different human types.
Selective processes are also at work in changing the character of a population. Differential birth-rate, mortality and migration may bring about changes in the hereditary composition of a group. The range of such changes is limited by the range of variation within the original population. The importance of selection upon the character of a population is easily overestimated. It is true enough that certain defects are transmitted by heredity, but it cannot be proved that a whole population degenerates physically by the numerical increase of degenerates. These always include the physically unfit, and others, the victims of circumstances. The economic depression of our days shows clearly how easily perfectly competent individuals may be brought into conditions of abject poverty and under stresses that only the most vigorous minds can withstand successfully. Equally unjustified is the opinion that war, the struggle between national groups, is a selective process which is necessary to keep mankind on the onward march. Sir Arthur Keith, only a week ago, in his rectoral address at the University of Aberdeen is reported to have said that “Nature keeps her human orchard healthy by pruning and war is her pruning hook.” I do not see how such a statement can be justified in any way. War eliminates the physically strong, war increases all the devastating scourges of mankind such as tuberculosis and genital diseases, war weakens the growing generation. History shows that energetic action of masses may be released not only by war but also by other forces. We may not share the fervor or believe in the stimulating ideals; the important point is to observe that they may arouse the same kind of energy that is released in war. Such a stimulus was the abandonment to religion in the middle ages, such is the abandonment of modern Russian youths to their ideal.
So far we have discussed the effects of heredity, environment and selection upon bodily form. We are not so much concerned with the form of the body as with its functions, for in the life of a nation the activities of the individual count rather than his appearance. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a very definite association between the biological make-up of the individual and the physiological and psychological functioning of his body. The claim that only social and other environmental conditions determine the reactions of the individual disregards the most elementary observations, like differences in heart beat, basal metabolism or gland development; and mental differences in their relation to extreme anatomical disturbances of the nervous system. There are organic reasons why individuals differ in their mental behavior.
But to acknowledge this fact does not mean that all differences of behavior can be adequately explained on a purely anatomical basis. When the human body has reached maturity, its form remains fairly stable until the changes due to increasing age set in. Under normal conditions the form and the chemical constitution of the adult body remain almost stable for a number of years. Not so with bodily functions. The conditions of life vary considerably. Our heart beat is different in sleep and in waking. It depends upon the work we are doing, the altitude in which we live, and upon many other factors. It may, therefore, well be that the same individual under different conditions will show quite different reactions. It is the same with other bodily functions. The action of our digestive tract depends upon the quality and quantity of the food we consume. In short, the physiological reactions of the body are markedly adjusted to conditions of life. Owing to this many individuals of different organic structure when exposed to the same environmental conditions will assume a certain degree of similarity of reaction.
On the whole it is much easier to find decided differences between races in bodily form than in function. It cannot be claimed that the body in all races functions in an identical way, but that kind of overlapping which we observed in form is even more pronounced in function. It is quite impossible to say that, because some physical function, let us say the heart beat, has a certain measure, the individual must be White or Negro—for the same rates are found in both races. A certain basal metabolism does not show that a person is a Japanese or a White, although the averages of all the individuals in the races compared may exhibit differences. Furthermore, the particular function is so markedly modified by the demands made upon the organism that these will make the reactions of the racial groups living under the same conditions markedly alike. Every organ is capable of adjustment to a fairly wide range of conditions, and thus the conditions will determine to a great extent the kind of reaction.
What is true of physiological function is equally true of mental function. There exists an enormous amount of literature dealing with mental characteristics of races. The blond North-Europeans, South Italians, Jews, Negroes, Indians, Chinese have been described as though their mental characteristics were biologically determined. It is true, each population has a certain character that is expressed in its behavior, so that there is a geographical distribution of types of behavior. At the same time we have a geographical distribution of anatomical types, and as a result we find that a selected population can be described as having a certain anatomical type and a certain kind of behavior. This, however, does not justify us in claiming that the anatomical type determines behavior. A great error is committed when we allow ourselves to draw this inference. First of all it would be necessary to prove that the correlation between bodily form and behavior is absolute, that it is valid not only for the selected spot, but for the whole population of the given type, and, conversely, that the same behavior does not occur when the types of bodily build differ. Secondly, it would have to be shown that there is an inner relation between the two phenomena.
I might illustrate this by an example taken from an entirely different field. A particular country has a specific climate and particular geological formation. In the same country is found a certain flora. Nevertheless, the character of soil and climate does not explain the composition of the flora, except in so far as it depends upon these two factors. Its composition depends upon the whole historical evolution of plant forms all over the world. The single fact of an agreement of distribution does not prove a genetic relation between the two sets of observations. Negroes in Africa have long limbs and a certain kind of mental behavior. It does not follow that the long limbs are in any way the cause of their mental behavior. The very point to be proved is assumed as proved in this kind of argumentation.
A scientific solution of this problem requires a different line of approach. Mental activities are functions of the organism. We have seen that physiological functions of the same organism may vary greatly under varying conditions. Is the case of mental reactions different? While the study of cretins and of men of genius shows that biological differences exist which limit the type of individual behavior, this has little bearing upon the masses constituting a population in which great varieties of bodily structure prevail. We have seen that the same physiological functions occur in different races with varying frequency, but that no essential qualitative differences can be established. The question must be asked whether the same conditions prevail in mental life.
If it were possible to subject two populations of different type to the same outer conditions the answer would not be difficult. The obstacle in our way lies in the impossibility of establishing sameness of conditions. Investigators differ fundamentally in their opinion in regard to the question of what constitutes sameness of conditions, and our attention must be directed, therefore, to this question.
If we could show how people of exactly the same biological composition react in different types of environment, much might be gained. It seems to me that the data of history create a strong presumption in favor of material changes of mental behavior among peoples of the same genetic composition. The free and easy English of Elizabethan times contrast forcibly with the prudish Mid-Victorian; the Norse Viking and the modern Norwegian do not impress us as the same; the stern Roman republican and his dissolute descendant of imperial times present striking contrasts.
But we need more tangible evidence. At least in so far as intelligent reaction to simple problems of everyday life is concerned, we may bring forward a considerable amount of experimental evidence that deals with this problem. We do not need to assume that our modern intelligence tests give us a clue to absolutely biologically determined intelligence—whatever that may mean—they certainly do tell us how individuals react to simple, more or less unfamiliar, situations. At a first glance it would seem that very important racial differences are found. I refer to the many comparative tests of the intelligence of individuals of various European types and of Europeans and Negroes. North Europeans tested in our country were found as a whole decidedly superior to South Europeans, Europeans as a whole to Negroes. The question arises, what does this mean? If there is a real difference determined by race, we should find the same kind of difference between these racial types wherever they live. Professor Garth has recently collected the available evidence and reaches the conclusion that it is not possible to prove a difference due to genetic factors, that rather all the available observations may be easily explained as due to differences in social environment. It seems to me the most convincing proof of the correctness of this view has been given by Dr. Klineberg, who examined the various outstanding European types in urban and rural communities in Europe. He found that there is everywhere a marked contrast between rural and
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