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The Study of Man1


A CHANGE has been creeping over our science. Twelve years ago anthropologists were devoting their energies to the tracing out of the evolution of customs and material culture, assuming that, where similarities were found in different parts of the world, they were due to independent origins. It was assumed that the workings of the human mind were everywhere similar, and that, given similar conditions, similar customs would originate. The evolution of civilisation was looked upon as a single line of advance, conditioned by the unalterable nature of the human mind, and that barbarian and savage cultures were but forms of arrested development, and indicated very closely past stages of civilised communities.


  1. 1

    From the presidential address delivered to Section H (Anthropology) of the British Association at Hull on September 7.

  2. 2

    Rivers, W. H. R., "History and Ethnology," History, v. 65–7, London (1920).

  3. 3

    Rivers, W. H. R., "The Ethnological Analysis of Culture," Report of Brit. Assoc, 1911, 490–2.

  4. 4

    Karl Pearson: Address to the Anthropological Section, Brit. Assoc, Report, 1920, 140–1.

  5. 5

    Marett, R. R., "Anthropology," p. 1.

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