Methods in Social Anthropology


    IN opening his lecture in memory of Thomas Henry Huxley, Prof. Westermarck said that it was calculated in a peculiar way to call to his mind the first steps he ventured to take in social anthropology nearly fifty years ago, when, being concerned with the origin of marriage, and thinking with other scholars of the time that primitive man lived in a state of promiscuity, he became acquainted with the doctrine of organic evolution and drew the conclusion that the social habits of the anthropoids might throw some light on those of primitive man. It is now to be regarded as amply proved that among many of the apes the social unit is the family, and it may be concluded that the factors which necessitated marital and paternal relations among the apes also presumably operated among our earliest human or half-human ancestors. He went on to point out, however, that apart from its role in the production of instincts, the principle of natural selection does not render us much help in our search for social origins.

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    Methods in Social Anthropology. Nature 138, 808–809 (1936).

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