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-Y -r 'D A.N

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Cambridge University Press 1993 CONTENTS

First published 1993

Printed in Great Britain at the University Press. Cambridge

A cataloaue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library ofConaress cataloauina in publication data

Preface paaeix
Malinowski, Bronislaw, 1884-1942.
[Selections. English. 1993] Acknowledaements xiii
The early writings o f Bronislaw Malinowski I edited by Robert]. Note on the text XV
Thornton and Peter Skalnk: translated by Ludwik Krzyianowski.
p. em.
Translated from Polish. Introduction: Malinowski 's reading, writing, 1904-1914
Includes bibliographical references and index. On Malinowski's writings from 1904 to 1914
ISBN O 521 38300 5 Nietzsche, Mach and Frazer, and their relationship in
I. Malinowski, Bronislaw, 1884-1942. 2. Ethnology. I. Thornton,
Robert]. li. Skalnk, Peter, 1945- . 111. Title. Malinowski's work 3
GN21.M2SA25 1993 Malinowski's personal and intellectua1 development 9
305.8'0092-dc20 91-'14488 CIP
The Nietzsche essay: a charter for a theory of myth 16
The dissertation 'On the economy of thought' 26
'Religion and magic': observations on Frazer's
The Golden Bouah 38
The methodological critique of Frazer's Totemism and
ISBN 0521 38300 5 hardback
Exoaamy, the review in Lud 42
Gender and power in Australian society: 'Tribal
ma1e associations in Australia' 49
'The economic aspects of the intichiuma
ceremonies' 51
Durkheim's dichotomy disputed 57
The essay on 'The relation of primitive beliefs to the
..,."' St''\~
~,.-~..._--....,..._.....:; ..-~},..
'~ \!$flk_1
,.,;,' 33 forms of social organization'
The essay on 'The sociology of the family', a review of

~- l24.od- .. G, AlvJ the literature -~ 61

l~s o'? CJI( Jjfp_~JfJD
o6r2 5., --- ":. ~..{) Malinowski's writings, 1904-1914 ,
l. Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche's The

Birth o f Traaedy ( 1904/5)
On the principie of the economy of thought

(1906) 89
3. Religion and magic: The Golden Bouah ( 1910) 117
vi i

4. Totemism and exogamy (1911-1913) 123

5. Tribal male associations in Austra1ia ( 1912) 201
6. The economic aspects of the intichiuma
ceremonies (1912) 209 PREFACE
7. The relationship of primitive beliefs to the forms
of social organization (1913) 229
8. A fundamental problem of religious sociology ( 1914) 243
9. Sociology of the family (1913-14) 247

Notes 269
References 297 Nearly fifty years after his death, the work and ideas of Bronislaw
Index 313 Malinowski continue to be central to the discipline of
anthropology. Bom and educated in Po1and, his world-wide
impact was so great during his lifetime that he has come to be
thought of as one of the founders of modem, twentieth-century
anthropology, and especially of British socia l anthropology. The
careers of his many students continued to define social
anthropology throughout the English-speaking world into the
1970s. Today, interest in his work has had a significant revival,
especially in England, America and in his native Poland.
As recent commentators have begun to point out (e.g. Gellner
1985a; Buchowsky 1986; Kubica 1986), Malinowski's approach to
myth, history, nationalism and ethnicity was rooted in a specifi-
cally Polish experience of history. His ideas are relevam today
especially in Poland, Africa and in Melanesia and Mexico
beca use the problems with which he concerned himself continue
to exercise the best minds, and surface frequently in political and
economic affairs. His constant attention to methodological mat-
ters speaks to today's similar concerns in ali o f the social sciences.
Recent readers and critics of Malinowski have explored his style
and the rhetorical methods he used in order to represent so vividly
the world of the Trobriand Islanders (Clifford 1986; Geertz 1988;
Thornton 1987), while others have commented with insight (but
with considerable speculation) on his philosophical foundations
(for example Leach 1957; Strenski 1982; Paluch 1981 b). In the
essays presented here, however, Malinowski's specific intellectual
debts can be traced for the first time to Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst
Mach andjames George Frazer, especially, but also to others such
as Friedrich Herbart, Richard Avenarius, Edvard Westermarck,
Karl Bcher and Emile Durkheim among many others. An under-
standing of these !ines of influence permits us to understand more

viii ix
Preface Preface
clearly Malinowski 's attraction, and bis original approach to the began work on the preparation of Malinowski's early writings in
ideas of pragmatism, positivism, Freudianism, and other main 1976, immediately after his escape from Czechoslovakia to Hol-
currents of twentieth-century thought. land. While affiliated with the University of Leiden during the
One 'main current' of the twentieth century that is con- years 1977-81, Skalnk compiled a file of Malinowski's writings
spicuous for its absence in Malinowski's work is Marxism. These that were not accessible to the English-speaking world. The New
essays help to explain Malinowski's implicit rejection (by ignor- York based Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, run
ing it entirely) of Marxism, since his deepest foundations include by Malinowski 's former student, Professor Feliks Gross, provided a
the work of Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius against whom V. travei grant from the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York which
I. Lenin inveighed so vehemently. Indeed, Malinowski's work enabled Skalnk to study some of the Malinowski papers held in
was reviled until recently by the leaders of ethnology in the Com- the archival department of the Stirling Library of Yale University
munist world (Ol'derroge and Potekhin 1953), and was not taught at New Haven (where Malinowski lived for three years until his
for the most part in Poland, his homeland, or other Eastem death on 16 May 1942). In 1983, the translation of most of the
European universities until very recently. texts from Polish and German into English was completed by the
1nterest in Malinowski, however, had been sparked in his late Professor Ludwik Krzyianowski, then editor of The Polish
native Poland at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, where Review. Additional archival research was undertaken in London
one of Malinowski's former pupils, Professor Andrzej Waligrski, in the ma in Malinowski archives at the British Library of Politi cal
used the relatively liberal atmosphere of Poland within the Com- and Economic Sciences (Skalnk 1982).
munist bloc to initiate a retum to Malinowski by publishing a After joining the department of anthropology at the University
Polish translation of Argonauts of the Western Pacific together of Cape Town in 1983, Skalnk began to work with Robert
with a long evaluative introduction (Waligrski 1967; Waligrski Thornton who had a special interest in the history of
1973). Ewa Borowska has contributed research on Malinowski's anthropology. Thornton's training in the natural as well as the
Polish background (Borowska 1971; Borowska 1976). In the last social sciences helped him to understand both Malinowski the
decade, a group of young Polish anthropologists have re-evalu-- scientist and Malinowski the anthropologist. A grant for the
ated Malinowski's life and work from the Polish point ofview (A. study of methodology in anthropology from the Human Sciences
Flis 1983, 1984; A. Flis and Paluch 1984; Kempny 1979; Kubica- Research Council of South Africa allowed the editors time and
Klyszcz 1982; Paluch 1976; 1981a; 198lb; Sredniawa 1981; assistance to correct and edit the texts. Careful readings and
Swiderski 1984). A Polish 'Collected Works' (Dziela) of discussions of these essays revealed that they ali assume a know-
Malinowski is being compiled and published under the general ledge of late-nineteenth-century science and philosophy in
editorship of Andrzej Paluch. At least six volumes have appeared Central Europe. Though such knowledge was widely shared
since 1980 (Malinowski 198o-). Since Waligrski's death, the among Malinowski's colleagues and teachers in Cracow, Leipzig
Polish group published The Social Anthropology of Bronislaw and Vienna, it became clear that a lengthy introduction and
Malinowski (M. Flis and Paluch 1985), a collection of evaluative considerable bibliographical research were necessary to make
essays on Malinowski. Members of the group organized and these essays accessible to the contemporary audience, a nd to
participated in the Cracow Malinowski Centenary Conference enable further research into Malinowski's intellectual heritage.
(Ellen 1985; Ellen et al. 1988; Gellner 1985a; Kubica and Mucha Malinowski championed a method (field-work) and a theoreti-
1985). cal orientation (functionalism), and while this style of thought
This book, however, has developed alonga different trajectory. has now succumbed to criticism and changing times, his ideas
It is the result of the intersection of the editors' interests in were broader than the epithets suggest, and his roots in European
Malinowski and in the history of anthropology. In 1975, Peter philosophy and history are deeper than most people seem to
Skalnk visited Cracow where Malinowski was bom, grew up and realize. By presenting Malinowski's early writings, completed
studied, and there gained access to Borowska 's research. Skalnk during the decade immediately before he began his field-work in
X vi

Papua New Guinea, the editors hope that the depth and nature of
his intellectua1 roots will become visib1e. These writings on philo-
sophy, methodology, religion, totemism and other ethnological
problems provide a context for his later, mature work. Through ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
these writings, too, the connection between modem social and
cultural anthropology and some of the main streams of European
science, philosophy and social thought are revealed in a new

Robert Thornton and

Peter Ska1nk Financiai assistance during the long course of this book's develop-
ment has been provided by the Kociuszko Foundation of the
Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, and the Human
Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Robert Thornton had
support from the John O. and Catherine T. MacArthur Founda-
tion while he was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in
Princeton New jersey in 1989 and 1990. We are grateful for this
We would a1so like to thank Julia Segar, our research assistant
at the University of Cape Town, who assisted in editing the text
and in searching for full bibliographical references to works that
Malinowski referred to or cited in these writings. Lorna
Weisbecker, the departmental secretary. typed most of the text
in to the word processor and Maria Jakubowska and Sue Robinson,
both of Cape Town, helped in the search for various Polish
reference publications and with additional translations from
Polish in to English. Professor Adam Kuper deserves special thanks
for encouraging Peter Ska1nk with the project after his arrival in
Holland. Mrs Helena Wayne, Malinowski's youngest daughter,
asssted the effort tremendously with early encouragement, and
with her careful reading of the biographical section of the
introduction. Professor jzef Burszta of Poznan University, and
Professor Andrzej Paluch of jagiellonian University, Cracow,
helped to gather the documents. Our thanks go to them, and to
many others of our colleagues who have helped in many small ways.

For permission to reproduce a number of essays in the volume, we

would like to thank:
jzefa Stuart, Wanda Shortall and Helena Wayne, the
daughters of Bronislaw Malinowski, for 'Totemism and
xii xiii

exogamy'; 'Tribal male associations in Australia', and 'Rela-

tions of primitive beliefs to the forms of social organization'.
Stirling Library, Yale University, Manuscripts and Archives, for
two manuscripts in the Bronislaw Malinowski Papers: 'Notes in NOTE ON TH E TEXT
Polish on Nietzsche: the birth of tragedy', and 'Notes in Polish
on religion and magic in The Golden Bouah by Frazer'.
The British Library of Poltica! and Economic Science for 'On
the principie of economy and thought'.
The British Association for the Advancement of Science for 'A
fundamental problem o f religious sociology'.
Malinowski's notes were very brief and sketchy with respect to
sources. The editors have filled out the details of the sources and
supplied notes that will make them accessible to English-speaking
readers. However, the full text of Malinowski's notes has been
preserved only where it is substantive or relates to matters other
than reference details.

xiv XV
1904- 1914
Robert Thomton with Peter Skalnk

This volume makes available for the first time to an English-

speaking audience Bronistaw Malinowski's earliest, formative
writings. With this volume, most of Bronistaw Malinowski's
previously unpublished or otherwise inaccessible writings have
now been published or reissued. 1 Severa! recent publications have
brought to light manuscripts from the beginning and the end of
his career (Malinowski 1988; Malinowski and de la Fuente 1982),
and other efforts have given us much more insight into the rich-
ness and detai1 of his ethnographic theory and practice. There has
been increasing interest in Malinowski in Poland, the country of
his birth and education, and Polish scholars have contributed
important new studies on Malinowski 's intellectual roots in
Europe (Ellen et al. 1988; A. Flis 1983, 1984; A. Fls and Paluch
1984; M. Flis and Paluch 1985; Kempny 1979; Kubica and Mucha
1985; Pa1uch 1981a; Sredniawa 1981; Strenski 1981), and we now
possessa better understanding of the historical and social context
in which he carne of age as an anthropologist, a scholar, and a
'good European' (Clifford 1986; Geertz 1967; 1988; Gellner 1987J
Stocking 1986; Strathern 1987; Thornton 1985).


In the light of this, readers of this volume are entitled to ask what
value is there now in publishing Malinowski's very earliest work,
most of it written before he went 'in to the field'. Conventionally
- by a convention that Malinowsk himself invented, and that
cornmentators h ave adhered to since - Malinowski 's genius lies in
his ethnographic work in the field, and in his authorial effort to
relate this to the major currents of thought in the period during
which he wrote his major works, that is, the period from 1920 to
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction
1942 when he died suddenly and prematurely (Firth et al. 1957). la ter essays, while often relying on Frazer for thematic definition,
Ofwhat use, then, is this excursion into his writing before he was move quickly to become penetrating conceptual explorations of
'initiated' as an anthropologist by this rite de passaae which has the meanings of terms like 'magic', 'totemism', 'economy', and
become, after him, the sine qua non of twentieth-century 'belief, and result in significant 're-valuations' (as Nietzsche
anthropology? urged) of these terms for a new anthropological practice.
Severa! answers to this question emerge from these texts. First, Malinowski's correspondence from the period immediately
the questions that defined Malinowski fieldwork emerge clearly after going to the London School of Economics shows that he
during the period of his most intense theoretical investigations wanted to make translations of these works as soon as possible.
before leaving Europe. These essays are more pieces in several The eventual decision not to translate then, must be seen as
complex puzzles about the European confrontation with the deliberate. There are several likely reasons for this. His criticism
'Savage', about self-knowledge and the constructions of selves of Frazer was written before Frazer had befriended him and his
and others, about the adequacy of European philosophy and wife. Malinowski may have thought that publication of the
social science, and many other issues that extend far beyond the sweeping criticisms of Frazer's theories would jeopardize his
field of anthropology alone (Rapport 1990:7). In reading them we
must keep in mind Malinowski's dictum, repeated throughout his
career. Malinowski probably also realized that his unusual
central European scholarship was a valuable intellectual asset
published work, that for the social sciences, theory creates facts, not easily available to English-speakers, especially if it could be
-r not facts theories. They expose the route by which Malinowski used to foster the image ofthe prophet with a mysterious source of
carne to the 'theories' which defined the 'facts' he collected, for new ideas with which to revolutionalize a discipline. Indeed, his
these facts, in tum, have defined part of the subject matter for research on heroic legend and myth, and his reading of Nietzsche,
anthropology since then, just as the methods have helped to may well have pushed him in this direction of 'self-fashioning'
shape the practice of anthropology and the body of knowledge and myth-making. Finally, it is also possible that once he went to
that it has created. R. G. Collingwood said that 'a body of know- Australia, there was simply no time to do the translation, and by
ledge consists not of "propositions", "statements" or "judg- the time he retumed it was too late since the writing deriving
ments" . . . but of these together with the questions they are from the fieldwork certainly claimed higher priority. All these
meant to answer' (Collingwood 1939, in Stocking 1968:5). These factors are likely to have contributed to the decision not to
early texts then give us the questions that the ethnographic cor- translate. The result, however, has been to foster speculation
pus on the Trobriand Islanders, among his other works, was about his intellectual roots.
meant to answer.
Secondly, the essays collected here have a clear and consistem
relationship to one another: they map a trajectory of
Malinowski's thinking. This train of thought goes from Nietzs-
che's philosophy, through Mach's empirio-criticism and psycho- Nietzsche's relevance to Malinowski had been unknown until the
physics and Frazer's provocative errors and culminates in 1904 manuscript was discovered by Skalnk among Malinowski 's
Malinowski's project for modem anthropology. papers at Yale University. The essay introduces an entirely new
Finally, these essays are challenging and valuable in their own dimension to Malinowski's thought. Andrzej Flis, who provides
right. They address issues which continue to be crucial to the the most thorough treatment ofMalinowski's philosophical back-
human sciences: relativism, epistemology, the nature of religion, ground until now, was obviously unaware of this aspect. '[W]hat
economy, gender, and labour. Although Malinowski's lengthy a deep gulf separated Mach's programme from the "metaphys-
review of Frazer's Totemism and Exoaamy may appear today to ( ical" explanation applied in Coral Gardens orA Scientific Theory
be ancient history conceming problems long since 'solved', we l (JE Culture!' (Flis 1988:125). We can see here, however, that
may read it now as an example of bis criticai methodology. The Malinowski's essay on Nietzsche's The Birth of Traaedy is
2 3
Malinowski's early writinas In troduction

approximately three-quarters the length ofhis dissertation, and is logical, historical, anthropological and philosophical literature
almost as densely and as passionately a rgued. It is unlikely that available in the first decade of this century. These texts represent
Malinowski read only this one work by Nietzsche during his many one careful reader's response to texts of his time, a response
philosophy courses. In any case it is clear that Nietzsche's which has been among the most intellectually productive of this
influence is the 'missing link' between Mach's positivism or century.
philosophical pragmatism and Myth in Primitive Psycholoay Malinowski's early essays. then, deal primarily with three
(1926a), Crime and Custom in Savaae Society (1926b), Coral influential thinkers: Nietzsche, Mach, and Frazer. Nietzsche's
Gardens (1935, especially volume 2, 'The language of magic and essay The Birth of Traaedy and Malinowski's response to it sug-
gardening'), and Freedom and Civilization (1944b). Except for gest that this, and not Frazer, may well have been the criticai
brief references in his diary and in his most obscure publications 'turning point' in Malinowski's decision to direct his career into
(Malinowski 1937: 133--68; 1962) which seem to draw on this early the science of society. Nietzsche raised for Malinowski as the
essay (while not acknowledging influence), Malinowski did not problem of how science (Wissenschaft) is possible. Mach raised
mention Nietzsche. the question of knowledge (Erkenntnis) and error (Irrtum) as the
The writings collected in this volume, then, reveal that problem of the techniques and process for doing science.
Malinowski's most important ideas were embedded in a rich Together, these insights clarified the fundamental problems and
European intellectual tradition which he absorbed and partially conventions of European science for Malinowski so that when he
transformed. Probably because he consciously sought to proclaim did encounter Frazer he was intellectually prepared to leap
himself a prophet of a new anthropology, Malinowski did not beyond the limitations of Frazer's theories by means of an
adequately acknowledge these roots in his own English-language extremely powerful set of intellectual methods. Frazer's simpl
writings. While Malinowski acknowledged the influence of the istic notion of a straightforward evolution from 'magic' to 'reli-
anthropologists Frazer, Westermarck, and Seligman, and the Ger- gion' to 'science', his lack of rigour, his genial credibility in the
man economist Bcher, the nature and direction of this influence face of ethnographic reports by amateurs of ali kinds and his
is never clear from the few brief footnotes that Malinowski tolerance for multiple and contradictory conclusions in his own
included. These essays offer some surprising insights into the way writing were ali attacked and rejected, but the substantive ques-
he used the source materiais we already know about. For exam- tions that Frazer asked still remained. Nietzsche and Mach, on
ple, while he praised Frazer in English ( 1925; 1944), in his work the other hand, contributed few substantive problems and would
published in Polish he made it clear that Frazer was important not have been sufficient without the data that Frazer provided.
mainly because of the clarity of his errors and as an undigested It would not be an exaggeration to say that Malinowski's
archive of ethnological information, most of it also methodologi anthropology grows out of his application of a unique synthesis of
cally flawed. What Malinowski learned from Frazer was how not the thought of Mach and Nietzsche to Frazer's ethnological proj-
\ n.~'\. to do anthropoloay. but this is only clear in his Polish writing, ects. Frazer's ill-conceived problems are not solved, but rather
written long before he rea lized that he would require Frazer's 'dissolved' along with the contemporary intellectual ground
patronage. which made them seem like valid problems. Malinowski ruptures
Many will be surprised to learn of the much more important the boundaries of Frazer's specific discourse to ask 'Does Totem-
influence of Friedrich Nietzsche and Ernst Mach. Again, while ism exist at all?' 'Is "magic" not in fact a practice or technique
something is known about Mach's influence on Malinowski, we rather than an intellectual category?' 'Can we retrieve the "orig
have not had the source material which would allow us to ins" of a belief or of a part of culture- and what, after ali, do we
explore the nature of this influence. Nietzsche, too, is mentioned mean by "belief', "a part of culture", or "origins'T The con-
by Malinowski in his diary, but the depth and importance of his crete result of this transcendence is a series of detailed ethno-
influence has not yet been explored. 2 Finally, these documents graphic studies, methodological treatises and philosophical
reveal the extent of Malinowski's acquaintance with the socio- statements that rejected an ethnological discourse and founded a
4 5
Malinowski's early writinos Introdu ction
truly anthropological discourse around concepts of myth as it is the only possible grounds for truth certainly saved
cha rter, the function of cultural wholes, reciprocity in social Malinowsk('fi'm the consuming and destructive nihilism of
relations, the nature of value, the fiction of kinship, the prag- Nietzsche. ~-~lieved that it was the human experience of
matics of language use, and many other powerful new ideas and the world, ~~orld as such (an sich) nor the transcendent
problems. Idea, that provided both the possibility of knowledge and the
Malinowski's inquiry into Nietzsche's 'abhorrence of the grounds for its evaluation. Mach's world was a fully human one
"beyond" [jenseits]' is more than a pragmatist's critique of because there was no other. Its mastery was achieved locally, not
metaphysics. The use that Nietzsche made of the concepts of cosmically, and the standards for its measure - and thus for the ...f-
myth and function gave new direction to Malinowski, and Nietzs- measure of truth- were the daily activities of people in their own
che's role in Malinowski's formulation of his version of function- characteristic environments, 'forros of life', and in terms of their
alism remains relevant since the theoretical adequacy of own histories. For Mach as for Malinowski, this pragmatic and
'functionalism' still remains at issue (cf. Gellner 1986; 1987). human perspective on the world provided the scope of science
Malinowski began to apply aspects of Nietzsche's insights and simply beca use 'there is no cognitive alterna tive to science ... no
methods drawn especially from The Birth of Traaedy ( 1872) and cosmic perspective to provide a greater scope' (Cohen 1970: 132).
the Genealoay of Morais ( 1887) right from the beginning, and the Mach believed, then, that because all know1edge is achieved and '1
themes of myth, morality, sexuality, punishment, the nature of evaluated through sensation all measurement is, therefore, re1a:,_J
power and order in the midst of apparent chaos, the nature and tive to other measurements and not absolute. Thus, for example,
power of knowledge, and the relationship between words and the Mach number, a ratio of the velocity of a body to the variable
things are traceable from his first publications in English to his density of the medi um in which it travels is used today instead of
last. And Malinowski's wilful effort to impose his own stamp on a more direct measurement of speed (such as kmlh) for supersonic
anthropology while declaring that its erstwhile 'gods' were if not aircraft. By contrast, Nietzsche's relativism (more correctly
dead then at least in their twilight suggests a Zarathustra in the termed 'perspectivism') states that knowledge is obtained and
London School of Economics more than an Argonaut or even a eva1uated relative to the power or will of persons with specific
Zeno from Cracow (cf. Gellner 1987). attitudes or interests. Thus it is Mach's relativism rather than

Apart from Frazer, the other major animus in the essays Nietzsche's 'perspectvism' that provides a foundation for
included here s Ernst Mach (1838-1916). Ernst Mach s known Malinowski's exquisitely nuanced ethnography of local contexts
today as the leading exponent of positivism and monism in late and his balanced or 'weak' relativism. 6
nineteenth-century Europe, as well as for his many scientific In fact, Mach's relativism can be said to have failed in hs own
achievements in the physics of heat, fluid-dynamic systems and major field, physics, since most people now agree, as Mach him-
mechanics, and in psycho-physics (the name given then to the self never could, that atoms and their parts really exist in nature
study of the physiology of perception). His gesture towards a and are not merely the convenient and provisional fictions of the
aeneral relativistic theory of know/edoe inspired significant human mind. The failure (or success) of relativsm is not yet so
advances in the fields of physics, biology, history, philosophy of clear in social science. Today the nature of a socio1ogical and
science, psychology and anthropology. 3 Indeed, Mach himself cultural 'reality' - whether social concepts and practices are fic-
made significant forays in to ali of these fields, giving his name to tions coerced by power, imposed by history, implicit in human
'Mach bands' in the field of perceptual psychology among other nature, immanent in Nature or, by contrast, really Real- is still a
contributions in diverse fields.~ matter of intense debate. Mach's precepts - as these are nter-
Malinowski did not adopt the radical monism of Mach himself, preted and applied by Malinowski - contribute to a debate that is
nor agree fully with Mach's claim to find in positivism the route still fresh and urgent.
to certa in knowledge (though not necessarily to truth). 5 Never- Finally, j ames Frazer's influence on anthropology has been
theless, Mach's view that the world and our human experience of declared a dead letter many times before, not the least by
6 7
Malinowski's early writinas lntroduction
MalinowskF and by Frazer's most recent biographer (Ackerman
1987). Nevertheless, the issues that Frazer raised are still very MALINOWSKI "S PERSONAL ANO INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT
much with us (Thornton 1988), and Malinowski's critique of A full biography of Malinowski is yet to be written. Fifty years
Frazer's methods and results yields some surprising and far-reach- after his death, Malinowski remains a deus ex machina of
ing results. Nietzsche and Mach emerge in these documents as the anthropology for the strnpl~ reas9n tbat .h is ~roo"t; ar~-unknWn. -f
sparks that ignited Malinowski's intellectual tire, but Frazer is his Bibliographies of works on Malinowski today contaii1 oveTIOO
fuel and ore, and out of the criticai intensity which Malinowski titles and interest in him has grown rapidly. Fortunately, new
focusses on his ethnology emerge much light as well as the facts are also emerging which are starting to modify some of the
complex alloy of methods, data and ideas that is modem commonly held stereotypes of Malinowski (M. Flis and Paluch
anthropology. Malinowski continued to rework the intellectual 1985; Kubica-Klyszcz 1982; Martinek 1981; Paluch 1981a; Skalnk
product of his 'Polish period' in the forges of Australia, Mailu, 1982; Stocking 1983; Thornton 1985; Young 1984).
The Trobriands, Africa, Mexico and Europe to produce master- Malinowski grew up and became a scholar in the intellectual
pieces of anthropology. Since these works are read with profit environment of Cracow in the Polish-speaking Austrian province
today, we can only benefit from understanding the intellectual of Galicia. He used the Polish language until his departure for
matrix out of which they were crystallized. Australia and New Guinea in june 1914. His intimate fieldwork
Mach, Nietzsche and Frazer ranged broadly and boldly over the diary (Malinowski 1967), as is well-known, was also written in
intellectual disciplines of philosophy, science, and the humani- Polish and refers often to his Polish background. The cultural
ties, but, except for Frazer, their influence on anthropology has values and conceptual apparatus that he acquired during the first
scarcely been known, let alone acknowledged. The empty places thirty years o f his life- the greater part- could not fail to exercise
in Malinowski's intellectua1 gallery are a1so surprising. Nowhere a powerful influence over the remaining twenty-eight years of
is Karl Marx even so much as mentioned, although the socialist Malinowski, the man and the anthropologist.
writers Friedrich Engels and August Bebe! receive notice. Max Bronislaw Kasper-8 Malinowski was born in Cracow on 7 April
Weber was perhaps too near a contemporary, and too little 1884, the only child of Lucjan Feliks jan Malinowski and jzefa,
published to have attracted Malinowski's attention during this ne L~cka. The Malinowski family belonged to the Polish gentry,
time, but Weber, Georg Simmel, and other German social theor- zemianstwo, and had its own coat of arms, but the family had
ists, with the obvious exception ofNietzsche, are not mentioned. long since lost any wealth or land that might once have belonged
Malinowski was clearly fully aware of the work of Durkheim and to it. In later life, when established as an anthropologist,
bis students Hubert, Mauss and van Gennep, among others. Malinowski would remind people of his 'nobility' with a mixture
Nevertheless, except to direct some attacks on the uncritical of vanity and humour (see H. Kuper 1978:5). Malinowski's father
gullibility of Durkheim that led him to found elaborate theories and mother, married in Warsaw in 1883, were both established,
on the limited and sometimes doubtful Central Australian eth- well-educated and urbanized. Malinowski's mother, jzefa
nography of Spencer and Gillen, Malinowski does not develop (1848-1918), was probably financially better endowed than her
further any of their ideas. These early essays and notes, of course, husband since her father, Leopold L~cki, ha~b~en_counsellor to
do not show that Malinowski was not aware ofMarx, Weber, and the General Attomey of the Kingdom of PolancLand later S..t-._te
Simmel, but only that he did not write about them at length. On CounseU.or and member of the Senate. Malinowski's father was
the other hand, the threads that lead from Mach, Nietzsche and an eminent philologist and folklorist who was involved in the
Frazer are clearly discernible throughout the writing collected establishment of the Cracow school of Slavonic folklore studies.
here, and beyond, into the broad weave of twentieth-century Like so many Poles ofhis time, the senior Malinowski was caught
anthropology through Malinowski's contribution to it. between Germany and Russia, attending universities of both of
these occupying powers. His PhD was obtained from the Univer-
sity of Leipzig in 1872, where his son was to proceed in order to
8 9
Malinowski's early writinas

study Vlkerpsycholoaie under t.;~hel:~nd Volkswirt-

the so-called absolutorium which enabled him to write exams
schaft with Karl Bcher, in 1908-~
and defend his thesis in 1906.
Malinowski's father joined the Cracow academia after 1867
when Galicia became autonomous within Austria. The Jagiel- Cracow at the time of Malinowski's youth
lonian University, founded 1364, had then gained the right to The Jagiellonian University was one of the oldest universities in
teach in Polish only. Lucjan Malinowski became professor of Europe. The city of Krakw (Cracow) was the centre of the old
Slavonic philology in 1877, seven years before Bronislaw's birth. Polish state, and was filled with a rchitectural monuments such as
He studied the compara tive philo1ogy of the Slavic languages and the gothic Collegium Maius (the seat of the university) and the
concentrated on the dialects and ethnography of Silesia. Lucjan renaissance Sukienice building on the main city square. The
Malinowski died of a heart attack in 1898 whenhis son was only castle Wawel, the nerve of the then defunct Polish Com-
fourteen years o1d (Borowska 1971 :3-4). monwealth, dominated the city.
,. Bronislaw Malinowski, affectionately calledcfu"onio or Brone]s The nearby resort of Zakopane in the Tatra mountain was
by his family and friends, was considered to be a sickly ch1 ld and becoming fashionable among a group of young intellectuals.
suffered from visual and respiratory problems. In 1901, an opera- Malinowski and his friends used to spend their holidays there. It
tion on his eyes caused his studies to be interrupted (Flis was a gateway to the romantic folk cu1ture of the Gora1y (High-
1985:249). Both parents helped Bronio with his school work while
landers), pastoralists of the Tatra mountains. The Goraly, with
he was not able to attend, and when his father died in 1898, the
their distinctive costumes and traditions, were the first 'natives'
burden fell on his mother. Bronio was by that time a student of that Malinowski encountered, and much la ter he referred to them
the jan Sobieski III Imperial and Royal Gymnasium, the best as the 'semi-savage Carpathian mountaineers' (Malinowski
grammar schoo1 in Galicia, but he on1y attended classes during
1962:169) .
the year 1899- 1900. Among his teachers wasjan Bystron a former
Officially, Poland did not exist at the time of Malinowski's
pupil of Lucjan Malinowski, who was known as an outstanding
youth. In 1794 it had been divided between Russia, Prussia and
ethnographer and dialectologist. During the other eight years, he
Austria, and the last outpost of independence, the Republic of
was tutored by his mother and others. As a grammar school
Cracow, was annexed by Austria in 1846 and incorporated into
udent Malinowski completed eight years of Latin and six years
the so-called Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, which was part
f Greek in addition to the modem languages, German, French,
of the Austrian Empire. Poland had become 'a figment of the
nglish and Italian.
imagination'. The Polish literary and anistie movement, Mloda
When Bronio's vision and general state of health deteriorated, a
Polska, 'Young Poland', helped to preserve and to celebrate a
friend of Bronio's late father, Dr Dobrski, offered some financiai
national culture which had no autonomous political territory.
assistance which enabled mother and son to go to Biskra in
Young Poland expressed in a Polish idiom and context the
Algeria, where Bronio's vision and health improved. He returned
modernist currents in Western and Central European religion,
to Cracow for his final school exams, and passed them with great
poetry, painting, theatre and drama. The streets of old Cracow
success in 1902 (Borowska 1971 :5; Dubowski 1984). On 6th
were home to studen~ and other young and talented people. A
October, 1902, Malinowski entered the Jagiellonian University
literary review called Zycie (Life) and an artistic society, Sztuka
with a special stipend he received as the son of a university pro-
(Art), were founded in Cracow at that time. During the last year
fessor. He matriculated in the Faculty of Philosophy. In 1905, he
of Malinowki's studies at the Jagiellonian University the
received the Potocki Foundation stipend for Polish noblemen
Cyaaneria, ('Bohemians') gathered in ]ama Michalikowa
worth 315 Austrian crowns per year and in 1906 he also received
('Michalik's Cave') and ata cabaret called Zielony Balonik, 'The
600 Austrian crowns from the Barczewski Foundation (Kubica-
Little Green Balloon'. These places and their bohemian patrons,
Klyszcz 1985:264). He studied for only four years before reaching

Malinowski's early writinos In troduction

Malinowski's friends among them, soon acquired a reputation for Or especially:

decadence and excess among the established citizens of Cracow The duke [as punishment) for some unheard of crimes he committed in
(Segel 1960: 75-80) oMost of Bronislaw's friends, who were artists the lanes of Whitechapel with a couple of 1ords, was sentenced to depor-
rather than students, were associated with the Young Poland tation to New Guinea, where he wrote a work (The Golden Boush of
movement, though Malinowski himself seems not to have been Pleasure - Edgar, Duke of Nevermore, Cambridge University Press) - so
directly involvedo His closest friend, Stanislaw (Stas) Ignacy Wit- outstanding1y describing the perversions of these seemingly savage
kiewicz, who later used the pen-name 'Witkacy' (1885-1939), people, who are called contemptuously the Papuans, that he returned
was in the avant aarde of the movement as a writer, playwright, after a coup1e of years to England as a Member of the British Association
poet and painter and photographero His other friends included for the Advancement of Science and Fellow of The Royal Societyo His
~eon Chwistek, Tadeusz Boy Zelenski, Tadeusz Szymberski, jerzy further 1ife was on1y a series of wi1d, spurious triumphso (Witkiewicz
Zulawski ai).d his wife Kazimiera, who were writers and poets and 1978: cfo Micinska 1967) 13
Zygmunt Zulawski, brother of jerzy, who was a socialist
""; poli ticiano University studies
Bronio, Stas and Leon Chwistek engaged in philosophical
debates, wrote verses, plays, intimate diaries9 and, very import- Malinowski's reading list, the 'Index Lectionum' 11 shows that his
antly, imaginary scientific essayso 10 The intensity of this intellec- studies concentrated at first on physical science and .mathe-
tual cameraderie ma de some o f the young men 's parents anxiouso matics, and )ater on philosophy and psychologyo Mathematics
Stas's father, Stanislaw Witkiewicz, wrote severa! letters to his courses included analytical geometry, calculus and logic, while
son in which he expressed dissatisfaction with the close friend- physical science courses covered elementary chemistry and
ship between his son and Malinowski who he thought was fickle, physics, with special courses in heat, electricity and magnetism,
self-centred and cynical (Witkiewicz 1969:28G-2, 571) o waves and light, with severallabs and theory courseso The essay
Malinowski la ter called this his 'Nietzsche period', 11 and it on Nietzsche, published in this volume, was written during one of
certainly seems to have caused anxiety among his teachers and severa! courses on Nietzsche's philosophy taught by the Roman
the parents of his friendso Clearly, the relationship between Catholic priest, Father Pawlickio Courses on 'theory of heat',
Malinowski and Witkacy was often unbalanced since Stas was 'theoretical mechanics', 'theory of electrons', 'dynamics of
more dependent on Bronio than Bronio was on himo This electrons', 'atomic physics' and 'criticai positivism' would have
dependency is documented in Witkacy's letters for Malinowski drawn heavily on the work of Emst Mach, and probably also
and Malinowski's replies during the years 1937-8 (Witkiewicz Richard Avenariuso Study of pedagogy, psychology, ethics, social
1981) o They corresponded fitfully throughout their liveso Wit- policy, Slavic ethnology and philosophy of the state would have
kiewicz wrote a highly biographical novel, 622 Downfalls of introduced him to the sociologicalliteratures on the family, reli-
Bunao. Or a Demonic Woman 12 that portrays the life of Cracow gion, work, and kinship that he drew on in other writings during
bohemians, the heroes being Bungo (= Witkacy), Baron Brummel the period 1904 to 19140 We must remember, too, that he was
(= Chwistek), Edgar, Duke of Nevermore (= Malinowski) and reading physical sciences during the time that physics was being
Tymbeusz (= Szymberski) o In some passages the text was revolutionized in the laboratories of Central Europe in ways that
adjusted after 1920 when Malinowski and other protagonists would change the world for evero In such an environment, a
~ecame well-known (this was confirmed by Witkacy himself; see fusion of Nietzsche and Mach is perhaps less surprising than it
Zulawski 1978:236) o In any case Bungo and Nevermore are pic- might otherwise have beeno
tured by the author as fln-de-siecle aestheteso For example: In April, 1906, Malinowski travelled with his mother to
Nevermore 1it up a cigar and looked around the roomo His haircut was Florence, Pisa and Rome, before returning to Poland in order to sit
short, cut by a barber's mechanical shears; he asserted that with that two examinations, the so-called rioorosa in October, 19060 He
frisure he impressed women, especially in southern countries (1978:64) o wrote two examination papers, one in philosophy and one in
12 l3
Malinowski's early writings Introduction

physics. He attained summa cum Jaude in botb. Injuly, under tbe standard' (Ellen et al. 1988:204). He received the Barczewski
supervision of Father Pawlicki he completed bis Doctor of Philo- stipend for training as a university teacher and studied in London
sophy dissertation, 'On tbe Principie of the Economy of Thought' for almost four years, returning frequently to Poland to see his
(Flis 1985:248). It was seventy-five hand-written pages long. mother. During this time he wrote severa! book reviews in Polisb,
Immediately after the examinations, and without waiting for his including the review of Frazer's Totemism and Exogamy,
graduation, Malinowski and his mother left for tbe Canary published here, and bis book in Polish, Wierzenia pierwotne i
Islands in bopes that Malinowski's bealth would improve there. formy ustroju spoleczneao (Primitive Beliefs and Forros of Social
Malinowski wrote to Pawlicki from Santa Cruz de la Palma on 7 Structure) which was published in 1915, but not translated into
january 1907: English. 15
In London, Malinowski studied at the London Scboo1 of Econ-
I h ave given myself totally to the health resort routine: first of ali, I eat a omics, and, besides his Polish works on Frazer and on religion,
lot and sleep besides; I bathe in the sea and in the sun. Ali day long I sit
published another work in Eng1ish, The Family among the
on the seashore; in a word, I am peaceful, happy and idle. (Ellen et al.,
Australian Aborigines (1913). Based entirely on library researcb,
1988:203; M. Flis and Paluch 1985:260)
it was praised by Marrett and Radcliffe-Brown, and is still in
In 1907, while Malinowski was still in tbe Canary Islands, he print. This book exemplifies Malinowski's early sociological -J-
wrote to tbe Emperor Franz josef I of Austro-Hungary to request method. In it Malinowski examines the role that the social I
tbat he graduate sub auspiciis Imperatoris, 'Under Imperial institution of the family plays in maintaining social order. It
\ Auspices', the highest possible honour for a young academic at entirely neglects evolutionist reconstructions and bistory but
that time: does not explicitly reject these approaches. During this period,
As the son of a university professor, involved early in the sphere of too, Malinowski also wrote severa! lectures and occasional
science despite sickness and unhappy fate which at the age of 14 years articles in Polish, English and German, severa! of wbich the
brought the death of my father, this humble subject has continued his present volume makes available in English for the first time. He
studies unabatingly and now nurtures the hope that the love of Your also contributed a number of reviews to different journals.
Imperial and Royal Majesty will provide him with the best impetus for By the time Malinowski left for Australia with Witkiewicz as
further work in the service of science. (Fiis 1988: 196) bis photographer and draughtsman on an expedition to New
The request was granted. After retuming to Poland, Guinea, he was already known in Britain througb bis teaching
Malinowski received his PhD degree 'witb great pomp, to the and publications. He closed this period with the paper, 'A
sound of an orcbestra and flourish of trumpets at 12 o'clock on 7 fundamental problem of religious sociology' which he presented,
November 1908 in tbe University Aula Collegium Novum' (F1is while en route to New Guinea, at the 1914 meeting of the Britisb
1988: 199). Association for the Advancement of Science whicb was held in
After receiving tbe ~eett>fa~alinowski went to Leipzig Australia. The news ofthe outbreak ofwar in Europe reached him
where he stud~ed witbi1helm Wu~, tbe fatber of tbe Vlker while be and Witkiewicz were in Australia. The war caused the
psycholo~e-:-aP~~oach, and the then-famous economist Kar1 break between him and Witkiewicz who left Malinowski in New
1)\ Bcher. ~ deep interest in primitive economics inspired Guinea in order to fight for Russia. In his diary, Malinowski
Malinowski's own interest in this a rea tbat cu1minated in his first described the rupture as 'Nietzsche breaking wth Wagner'.
ethnographic monograph, Argonauts of the Western 'Pacitic Malinowski, an Austrian subject, did not fight in the war. The
( 1922). While in Leipzig, h e wrote to his teacher Pawlicki that he field work and the war cut Malinowski off from Poland and from
had no interest in becoming a grammar schoo1 teacher, as his mother who died in 1918 while Malinowski was working in
Pawlicki had proposed. He wanted to improve his qualifications the Trobriand Islands for the second time. When he returned to
and wrote to say 'Iam very keen on going to England for at least a Europe in 1920, he was married to Elsie Masson, a British woman
year, for tbere it seems to me, cu1ture has reached its higbest wbo had been bom and raised in Australia. Though Malinowski
14 15
~~== ~ ~~c~-~~==z=-------------

Malinowski's early writinas In troductOI:J

obtained a Polish passport in Melbourne, and considered return- had drawn was known in England, the sophistication of his eth-
ing to Poland with his wife, his attachment to British nographic writing appeared as if out of nowhere. Its style,
anthropology drew him to London, while the prospect of a career moreover, convincingly presented what seemed to be a nearly
in a Poland impoverished by war did not attract him. By combin- transparent window that looked out on coral gardens and canoe-
ing his continental philosophical knowledge with innovative and dotted oceans. As Clifford Geertz has said, Malinowski was a
long-term fieldwork in New Guinea, Malinowski created an convincing ' 1-witness' because he convinced us that he was an
approach to anthropology that soon drew students from authentic T, and that he was genuinely 'there'Y
throughout the Commonwealth. Malinowski's career as one of The early essay on Nietzsche allows us to situate Malinowski's
the founders of British social anthropology had begun. work much more firmly in the philosophical and intellectual
tradition of which it is a part, and, in so doing, to understand
better the nature of the window he gave us. This perspective on
his intellectual development is also a significant contribution to
The Birth of Traaedy was Nietzsche's first published work, and our general understanding of the rise of functionalism and of the
reflects the youthful enthusiasm of the young philologist and clas- significance of social anthropology in the social sciences and
sics scholar. lt points the way towards themes and obsessions that humanities in this century. 18 It demonstrates an important
Nietzsche took up later, especially in the Genealoay of Morais linkage between Malinowski 's version of anthropology and other
(Berkowitz 1987:74). Similarly, Bronislaw Malinowski's essay on modernist movements in the twentieth century.
Nietzsche's The Birch of Traaedy is the earliest of Malinowski 's Malinowski read Nietzsche critically. He rejected, with careful
scholarly writings. 1t opens a door on ideas that directed his consideration, many ofNietzsche's views, but he took from him a
research for the rest of his life. new and fertile concept of myth, and a particular approach to .-i-
history. For while Nietzsche's essay is a sort of myth about texts,
it is also a text about myth. What challenges us in an attempt to
The texts: Malinowski and Nietzsche clarify Malinowski's understanding, however, is the forward
This essay was probably written for a University course on 'The trajectory of these ideas in to Malinowski 's fieldwork and the
philosophy ofNietzsche', taught by Professor Pawlicki, during the direct social confrontation between Malinowski and the natives
year 1904/5. Though Malinowski never published or referred to of Australia, Mailu and Kiriwina, with Nietzsche tucked
this essay, he kept it among his papers and took it with him to somewhere in a comer of his mind.
America. 16 It provides an important key to our understanding of
the sources and motives for his theoretical and ethnographic The structure of the essay
opus. Malinowski's text should not be confused with works by
Nietzsche scholars. His is an essay by a twenty-year-old PhD The essay is divided into tive numbered parts. The first part
student that reveals a search for his own distinctive way to defines 'metaphysics', and presents a critique of Schopenhauer's
become either a great scholar or an artist. There was little orno (and, thus Nietzsche's) approach to metaphysics. The second
secondary literature on which he could rely, so his encounter part introduces Malinowski's concept of myth, and declares
with Nietzsche's text is unmediated by other criticai assessments. Nietzsche's The Birth of Traaedy to be a myth about myth: This
-\- \ It shows that the roots of Malinowski's influential theory of book', he wrote, 'is itself- as a form of creativity, a conception of
'myth as charter', and his supposed theoretical a-historicism lie thought - a myth'. The third partis especially interesting today,
in his efforts to understand Nietzsche's revolutionary approach to since it is here that he develops a 'functional' reading of Nietzs-
Classical tragedy and mythology. These ideas echo everywhere in che's main criticai categories, and develops some ideas about how
his ethnographic writing, essays and personal correspondence. art, myth and metaphysics are related. A fourth section praises
Since very little of the intellectual work on which Malinowski Nietzsche's skill as an 'artist', but notes that the enduring part of
16 17
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction

Nietzsche's work is not his artistry but ratber his having raised Malinowski puts it, the Universal Will must submit to the condi-J
the question o f the nature of tragedy in relation to ' thought', li fe tions of time, space and causality and thus becomes fragmented
and art. The fifth section then introduces Malinowski's main into individuais. This fragmentation is the essential and inescap-
argument concerning the psychological function of art, and the able Tragedy of the world, and is the source of all evil.
relationship of thought (science) to tragedy (myth). There is Malinowski's inspiration for this criticism of Nietzsche comes
finally - though Malinowski does not mark it off explicitly in his from two sources.Bof ali, the belief that 'objective reality'
own text - a conclusion in which Malinowski discusses some of can never be penetrated by human consciousness, but only des-
the chief practical implications of his reading of Nietzsche for cribed and conceptualized, is one of the tenets of~ Mac;:hYs
further research. empiricism. 19 The ethnologist, Robert Lowie, charactenzed this
position as the assertion of the autonomy of psychology with
regard to physics (Lowie 1947:65). La ter in the essay, Malinowski
Metaphysics specifically applies 'emprica! criticisms' to Nietzsche's argu-
Malinowski begins with a criticism of Nietzsche's dependence on ment, and, while he is unlikely to have readjames, he had almost
" certainly read Mach's major early works by the time he wrote
the metaphysics of Schopenhauer. He asserts that the entire edi-
fice o f Nietzsche's essay stands o r falls on the validity of Schopen- this essay. More problematic, however, is bis assertion that
hauer's metaphysics. metaphysics is simply an anthropomorphism ofthe world. Similar
Malinowski understood metaphysics as the effort to anthro- arguments were being used by Auguste Comte in bis initial for-
pomorphize the world of objective reality. He argued that Ger- mulation of the doctrine of positivism and later taken up by
man metaphysics in general, and Nietzsche's metaphysics in The ]ames Frazer, Wilhelm Wundt and Adolf Bastian. All of them,
Birth of Traaedy in particular, is an attempt to 'subjectivize' or however, used this notion to characterize primitive religion, not
'humanize' the objective world of things. Thus, while 'from a European metaphysics. Malinowski was bold enough, however,
purely scientific point of view', metaphysics does possess 'a to apply it to Nietzsche. La ter in the essay, he explicitly compares
system of exact and pure concepts', the philosophical goal of the Catholic Mass to primitive religious ritual, so the reflexive use
metaphysical inquiry cannot be achieved. This is because no sim- of ethnographic arguments in this way was clearly a challenging
pie anthropomorphism of the world can ever make the 'world of criticai strategy for him.
reality simply human'. The ultimate reality of tbe objective Malinowski clairns that Nietzsche simply takes over this
world is 'forever closed' to the world of tbought and emotions. metaphysics, and translates Will as 'Dionysos' and the
Nevertheless, Malinowski claims, metaphysics is a universal 'principium individuationis' as 'Apollo', and so constructs a story
'symptom of the human soul' because humans have a need to from this. Nietzsche's story, however, is no longer 'metaphysical
understand their environment in human terms, and this implies transcendentalism' in the conventional European Philosophical
that they must antbropomorphize it. Thus, concepts of the sense, but amounts to a search for aesthetic values. Malinowski
Christian God, Hegel's Geist, Leibniz's monads, Schopenhauer's believes that Nietzsche is now no longer concerned with
'Will', among others, are all attempts to understand the world as 'ultimate reality' - that is, with traditional metaphysics - but
if it were human. Since the world is not human, tbey fail to rather with 'man's attitude towards the world'. This insight
achieve real knowledge. recurs again in these early essays when Malinowski suddenly f'
Malinowski gives a brief summary of Schopenhauer's doctrine understands 'Totemism' notas a false analytic logic of categories
ofWill. In brief, the Will is the 'universal absolute', what we find but as 'a certain attitude towards the environment'.
t-+ behind tbe 'mere appearance' of the world. The 'ego' of the
human individual is a fragment of the universal Will. In effect,
The relationship between man and the world, Malinowski calls
'life'. So, while the interaction of the Universal Will and univer-
the relation 'Will isto Universe as soul is to body' applies. But in sal reality generates evil, the interaction ofpure thought and pure
arder to realize itself in the world, to 'assume its body', as emotion generates metaphysics, and the interaction of man and
18 19
Malinowski's early writinBs
Socratic Philosopby and Atbenian architecture from its 'origins'
tbe world in living, generates valueo Malinowski believes that in irrationality and immoral social chaoso Tbe modem problems
myth and dogma (one 'living', the other 'fossilized') are attempts which Nietzscbe claimed bad 'spoiled' his book, were for most
to deal witb the problem of evil. Tbis introduction of tbe concept Germans ofhis day essentially the same: how to explain, and thus
- ofvalue gave Malinowski a theoretical basis for tbe incorporation justify, the emergence of the nation state- wbich many believed
of a tbeory of mytb and meaning in to a general tbeory of buman to be the modem embodiment of rationality and culture - in the
endeavour whicb includes, among other aspects, tbe economic midst of violence, batred, economic collapse and religious
activities as well as tbe expressive and artistic activities of social doubto 21 Since Nietzscbe originally wrote the book while serving
\ groupso as a medicai orderly amidst tbe battles of tbe Franco-Prussian
War in 187G-l, it is not surprising that these questions should be
Myth mergedo Even for a classical pbilologist of Nietzscbe's standing,
'tbe Greek problem' could not be separated from 'tbe modem
Malinowski goes on to claim that art, metapbysics, and myth are problems' while the fighting still continuedo
'genetically related' o This means tbat tbey sbare a common Of course, Nietzscbe's fusion of the Greek problem with the
tbread ofmotivation, rather tban a common origino All are predi- modem problem had far-reacbing consequenceso By linking the
cated on tbe existence of inescapable dicbotomies that are 'problem' of the decline of the Greek Golden age witb what he
cbaracteristic of tbe structure of tbe buman mind itself, and all believed was the decline o r decadence of Germany, be showed the
permit jumps between different kinds or orders ofrealityo In otber way in which deep roots of virulent nationalism could suck
words, tbey are all essential functions of the buman rnindo
---+ Tbese statements make it clear that Malinowski bas already
sustenance from classical and anthropological schola rshipo
Nevertheless, his metbodological innovation in The Birth of Tra-
taken myth out of tbe 'past' and begun to consider it as a func- Bedy distinguishes it from virtually a li other social pbilosophy of
tional elementof tbe presento Altbougb bebas not yet formula ted bis dayo Nietzscbe did not attempt to account for tbe antinomies
the 'functional' link between myth and social organization that of enlightened rationality and 'barbaric' irrationality in terrns of
is the crucial element of the 'mytb as cbarter' idea, he no longer 'class' (elite Athenians vso tbe demos, 'people') or evolution
considers it as in any way original or primordial. At tbe same (more vso less evolved consciousness), or in terrns of ethnic
time, tbis passage suggests additional reasons wby Malinowski's dominance or national conquest ('cultural diffusionism', con-
rbetorical commitment to empiricism was never entirely realized quest of primitive autochthons by powerful barbarians) o Instead,
in bis etbnograpby (Tbornton 1985:7- 14) o At tbis stage, at least, The Birth of Tra9edy attempted to show that both tbe creative/
be recognized the inadequacy of roere empiricism to provide barbaric spirit of Dionysus and formalism and control of Apollo
answers to tbe questions that humans inevitably ask about constituted two aspects of a common culture - a wbole which
themselveso contained them botbo This achievement was possible only with a
The evidence of bis essay on Nietzscbe, of course, disproves bis new concept: the idea tbat mytb was somehow both constitutive
.JiaiJn. to bave learned 'functional co-relation between mytb and of tbe present and derived from tbe pasto
1- ritual in tbe field' 20 Even as he was creating bis image as pre-

eminent etbnograpber, it is clear that tbe ideas of Scbopenhauer

This reognition (orms_the._basis for 1'0alinowski 's first-level
evaluation of The Birth ofTrqaedx.: Malinowski first defiriesmyth
and Nietzscbe were still with Malinowski ten years later in New s a 'category of reference to tbe historical past', but be opposes
Guineao Indeed, it could be argued, tbe functional relationsbip
mytb to 'pure history', wbicb concerns itselfwitb tbe reconstruc-
between mytb and ritual had already been implicitly recognized
tion of facts, on tbe one band, and 'scientific bistory (sociology)'
by Nietzscbeo which seeks 'laws o f bistorical becomings' o Myth, for Malinowski
Nietzscbe recognized that Greek culture, especially Greek
at this stage of bis tbinking, is cha racterized as 'the embodiment
myth, was profoundly immoral, chaotic, barbaric and violento
ofideals', 'images of tbe pasto o odrawn from another dimension',
The 'Greek problem', then, was to explain the achievement of
Malinowski's early writinas
ways. While metaphysics is concemed with the relationship
'the artistc complement' of dogma, but above all it acts to between thought and emotions and between appearances and
'entwine the present in a set of norms and subordinates the reality, myth is concemed with the relationship between the past
present to itself ethically'. This defmition of myth does not apply and the present. These words prefigure the definition of myth that
only to the Greeks. He applied it also to all those who posed the he gave, for example in 'Myth in primitive psychology' where
'problem of the Greeks': Winckelmann, Goethe and, above all, myth is described as
Nietzsche. a statement of primeval reality which still lives in the present-day life
Malinowski thus extends the concept of myth into a general and as a justification by precedent, supplies a retrospective pattem of
anthropological concept or category. In other words, in asserting moral values, sociological order, and magical belief.
that there can be modem (or contemporary) myths about myth, [Myth] is . . . neither a mere narrative, nor a form of science, nor a
he is extending the concept beyond the status of a descriptive branch of art or history, nor an explanatory tale. It fulfils a function sui
category applying to primitive thought alone. It becomes instead seneris closely connected with the nature of tradition, and the con-
a theoretical concept capable of generating new research and tinuity of culture, with the relation between age and youth, and with
the human attitude towards the past. (Malinowski 1926a: 147)
Malinowski argues that Nietzsche's use of the imaaes of
ancient Greece created a mythical 'paradise', a 'bright island', But, since myth 'ethically' subordinates the past to the present,
which he employed in the same way that the Ancient mythol- it results in the denial of history, and the denial of time. As he
ogists employed Mount Olympus. The 'myth' of Hellas is the chief further wrote:
myth of modem Europe, just as the myth of Olympus was the Myth is therefore an indispensable ingredient of all culture. lt is . . .
chief myth of the Ancient Greeks. Malinowski, unlike Nietzsche, constantly regenerated; every historical change creates its mythology,
universalizes the concept ofmyth. lt becomes a universal mode of which is, however, but indirectly related to historical fact. Myth is a
constant by-product of living faith, which demands precedent; of moral
knowing. No longer just a type of knowledge, a 'geme' among
rule, which requires sanction. (Malinowski 1926a:l47)
other gemes, myth is now understood as something altogether
different, and always present. Malinowski's yse of this new concept of mxffils...reflexive. He
Myth, conceived as a mode of knowing ('a forro of apprehen- uses it not to ponder the problem of the Greeks, but rather to ask
sion'), became for Malinowski - and after him, for the discipline why this problem should be posed at all, and why it should be
of anthropology- a central tenet of the anthropological method. posed as such. The Birth of Traaedy, then, is an extreme forro of
According to this view, myth has a 'function', a role in sociallife. 'the cult of Hellas'. What Malinowski has already perceived as
Myth provides an explanation of what is in terms of what was, Nietzsche's slide away from philosophical metaphysics into aes-
but more than this it 'transforms the directness of the emotional' thetic justification - in Nietzsche's words, 'that the existence
into another dimension where the immediacy of pain and suffer- of the world is justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon'
ing are schematized and consequently dulled. Malinowski uses (Nietzsche 1968(1886) :22, sect. 5) - is what we would expect
the example of the Christian myth of Christ's suffering, but myth to do. 'Aside from searching for the lost paradise',
asserts that the mythical process, though not the content, 'would Malinowski writes, myth 'consists in seeing a justification for the
be analogous everywhere'. It is this, in fact, which h e attempts moral order of the world in the past'. Nietzsche's work, then,
to prove in his essay 'Tribal male associations in Australia' seems more like myth than philosophy to Malinowski. This recog-
(1912; reprinted in this volume), and in his first Trobriand nition seems to release him from the spell of Nietzsche's rhetoric,
text, 'Baloma : the spirits of the dead in the Trobriand Islands' and he begins, in the next section ofthe essay, to demolish Nietzs-
(Malinowski 1916). che's fundamental conceptual distinction between the 'Apol-
Myth, he argues is 'a concept of reality', andas such provides lonian' form-giving interpretive tendency and the Dionysian
an intellectual method that is similar to metaphysics, genetically 'creative chaos'.
related to it, though different from metaphysics in significant
Malinowski's early writings
myth in the context of its appropriate culture. Nietzsche's
analysis in terms of a 'dialectic' between the 'self' as individual
A plan of research and the Universal Will is uninformative, Malinowski argues, pre-
Malinowski concludes his analysis of Nietzsche's essay and cisely because it tells us nothing about how tragedy functions.
thought with an apology. He recognizes that his own criticism What is important is 'how we are able to listen to these things, to
has dealt primarily with Nietzsche's 'metaphysics', and, as such, quietly submit to these impressions and not leave shattered'. The
can not be submitted to any rigorous proof. More importantly, it answer, he suggests, depends on the context of Greek drama,
does not suggest a 'positive' approach to research on matters especially the rhetorical, almost magical power of its words
which are clearly fundamental. The role of metaphysical analysis which 'imposes a completely different apprehension of affairs' on
is that it provides a direction for a programme ofresearch, some of its participants and audience.
which may be also metaphysical. while other parts are empirical.
He then suggests four areas of empirical study that would shed Nietzsche's power?
light on the 'problem of tragedy'.
First, a study of the 'forms of myth' and their influence on Although Malinowski 's essay on Nietzsche does not provide a
creativity would shed light on the forms o f thought that we do not complete plan of his future development as an anthropologist, it
yet understand. One aspect of this, and the second point of his reveals the extent to which his anthropology was oriented
projected research program, would be a study of dramatic art both towards profound metaphysical questions which helped to shape
as word andas mimetics. Significantly, he notes that a study of his approach to the pragmatic theories of function and economy
mimetics would have to include a notion of 'the image of the for which he is noted. The link with Nietzsche's philosophy,
body and of groups of people', the role of masking and of masks in revealed here, is particularly important since it allows insight
social dramas, the role of 'decoration' and, in the case of Greek into Malinowski's concepts of art and myth, and permits us to
j, tragedy, the role of the highly schematized scenery against which construct a few links between his thought and important aspects
the tragic drama was enacted. These suggestions might well have of modernism.
inspired Malinowski's own treatment ofmagical spells and incan- One important point yet remains: how is it possible that a
tations in his astonishingly complete corpus inscriptionum agri- young Polish student of philosophy was so criticai of Nietzsche?
culturae quiriviniensis in Coral Gardens (Malinowski 1935:75- How could he look Nietzsche in the face and say 'it means
210), and can be seen as a foreshadowing of the work of, for nothing to me'? Connor Cruise O'Brien has pointed out that
instance, Victor Turner on dramas, or of Erving Goffman and despite the efforts ofthe 'gentle Nietzscheans' (especially Walter
others on the 'mimetics' of personal and institutional space. Kaufmann) to sanitize him, Nietzsche was fiercely anti-Semitic,
What is significant here, however, is not its prescience, but rather anti-Christian, violent in his style and sympathies. There is a
that the ideas come from Malinowski's struggle to understand sinister paradox in the fact that Nietzsche's intellectual magnet-
Nietzsche and tragedy rather than from a commitment to the ism drew not only the best minds of this century but also the
positivism of Mach and Avenarius. Nazis within its field. 'Freud feared Nietzsche', O'Brien says, for
The third point on Malinowski's research agenda concerns the Freud would only admit to having read Nietzsche, never to hav-
presence of 'myth' in all dramatic art, including modem art. He ing been influenced by him (O'Brien 1972:63). Malinowski never
suggests that 'it could be demonstrated empirically (i.e., referred to Nietzsche except in his private diary which he never
positively)' that myth is present in, for example, Ibsen's plays. intended to publish. Was he too afraid? Could he resist it when
Although it is not clear what he intends by his use of 'empirical' even Freud had quailed?
or 'positive' in this context, the assertion indicates that he felt Certainly, one ofNietzsche's most powerful attractions was the
the methods of empiricism could be applied to serious questions of sense of moral freedom that he gave to his readers. Malinowski,
art, myth and metaphysics. One way to do this, it seems- and this however, acquired this sense of freedom from two other sources:
is the fourth point of his 'positive research' plan - is to situate 25
Introduction 15.SEW'! 0 612 5-l.f
Malinowski's early writinas
ology' (1967:291; entry dated 17-24 July 1918). But while it is not
from Ernst Mach and the empirio-critical school ofthought which surprising that his previous education should inform his on-going
pervaded his intellectual home, the Philosophy Department of projects, it is worthwhile considering how and to what extent
Jagiellonian University in Cracow, and from the Young Poland different parts of it influenced his major theoretical and ethno-
modernist movement. As a Catholic, even though a non-practis- graphic contributions.
ing one, he did not have to face the loss of faith4i1 texts that, for
European post-Protestants like Nietzsche, accompanied the loss of
faith in God. The ground of Machian empiricism did not spin out The araument of the dissertation
from under him as the ground of religion-justified-by-text had Overall, the argument of the dissertation is quite simple,
done for Nietzsche and his readers. He did not need to look down although the details of the argument are often complex and con-
with nausea into the void of nihilism, but rather up to the infinite densed. The main argument is concerned with the possibilities
possibilities of science whose chief goal was, according to Mach, and limits of the notion of an 'economy of thought' as this was
nothing but description -literally, science as the making of texts. put forward by Richard Avenarius and Ernst Mach. Using ideas
To describe reality better, and more efficiently, more economi- from mathematics, psychology and philosophy, Malinowski
cally, and more transparently than it had been described before advances a criticism of the positivist principie that thought can
was to do better science. And science justified itself. Functional- be judged to be more or less 'efficient' of its 'resources', and thus,
ism, then, was Malinowski's cure for Nietzsche's nausea. The more or less economical. He concludes that empiricism is a
early positivist epistemology 'served to separate the world of necessary but, by itself, insufficient basis for social science.
science from the mists of moral judgments' (Strong 1988:295). His The effort to establish fully objective and absolute grounds for
functionalism turned, in fact, on a method, not a theory. The believing that Western science is, indeed, superior to all other
method consisted in using one's whole personallife as a scientific forms of thought had long been a central concern in European
instrument that, like any good scientific instrument, permitted us philosophy. This Eurocentric 'universalism' is clearly also a
to discover patterns and connections we had not seen before. This powerful motive for Malinowski. Mach rests his case for science
method does not posit a Transcendent Idea, nor does it despair of in the demonstration that, within the practice of science in
losing touch with all value, even as it revalues old values in the European institutions, it is the most 'economical' theory which is
field. For, as longas there are lives to be lived, there are descrip- judged to be true. 23 Malinowski sought to extend this proof to
tions to be written, 'windows on the world' that we can, at least, science seen more generally as a practical social activity. In this
look at, and sometimes- perhaps!- even look through. broader anthropological inquiry he sought to include all of
humanity since all human thought-about-the-world could be cal-
led 'science' under this definition of the term. Returning again to
the theme near the end of his life, Malinowski wrote that 'the
lI The doctoral dissertation is of interest to us today mainly beca use scientific attitude is as old as culture, and .. . the minimum
it demonstrates Malinowski's philosophical acumen and reveals definition of science is derived from any pragmatic performance'
the roots of his methodological innovations and his attitude to (1944:10). This is what led Malinowski from Mach to Frazer, just
'science'. Allusions to Mach and Nietzsche in the diaries h e kept as it led Mach, too, to ethnology (see Lowie 1947).
i. while in the field from 1914/15 and 1917/18 show that he continued Malinowski's subsequent engagement with Frazer 's work and
to be affected by the ideas first expressed in the dissertation while his attraction to the anthropological field work may, at first, seem
in the field. At one moment he marvels at how distant Poland and distant from the philosophica1 concerns expressed in the disser-
'preparations for the doctorate' seem to him in Mailu (1967:63; tation, but the two sets of research problems intersect in the
entry dated 13 January 1914), but he admits how often in his question of whether 'the scientific method' is universally valid.
thoughts he 'went back to my school days in Cracow' while Frazer, a classicist, approached this problem through a compara-
,--~....~ .... - .....-- . -~-$ ~,
thinking about the 'critique of history' and the 'nature of soci-
27 d ~~ ~~
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction
tive examination of a large proportion of the ethnographic and 1898:238-9), and considered ethnology to be a compara tive
classical texts availableo Frazer found in this material evidence science par excellenceo
that the efforts of humans to understand the world around them Through hls work on the history of thermodynamics and
and to give explanations for phenomena could be grouped into a mechanics, Mach developed a widely influential general philo-
relatively few modes ofthought, and that these gradually evolved sophy of science, later called 'neo-positivism'o Mach believed
from magical explanations through religious or theological that the world of mind was essentially independem from the
explanations toward the eventual emergence of true scienceo world of nature, and that science consisted in the construction of
Frazer never engaged the question of what 'true science' might theories about natureo For Mach, theories were constructs or tic-
be, but identified it roughly with success in the practical and tions of mind: they remained part of mind, not part of physical
intellectual 'mastery of nature' o Implicit in Frazer's understand- reality, and implied nothing about the 'real' nature of the physi-
ing of 'science' was the observation that it worked and that it was cal world independent of theories about ito Science was based
responsible for the political and economic ascendancy of England exclusively on the ability of thought to organize and account for
and Europe in the worldo the experience of the senses, and this implied that we could
literally assert nothing beyond what could be directly
experiencedo Mach's notorious rejection of the belief that the
Mach's positivism and the 'tictions' of theory atomic theory of Max Planck and Niels Bohr implied that atoms
really existed, is an example of thiso Since, in Mach's time, there
Where Frazer harnessed a sweeping comparative study to the task was no way to interact experimentally with atoms, Mach con-
of providing science with a warrant for truth, Ernst Mach, a tinued to deny the real existence of atoms, insisting that theories
physicist and historiao of science, confronted the question which relied on an atomic conception of nature were successful
directlyo His detailed study of the history of ideas about the only because they permitted an economical representation of
nature of heat provided the basis for a clear statement of nature, not because atoms really existedo Mach's conception of
philosophical and methodological principies of scienceo Mach science, therefore, was 'relativist'o His work was acknowledged as
could claim to show precisely how science worked from inside the such by the American Pragmatists, William ]ames and john
scientist's mind, and within the social and material practices of Dewey (1925:143)o 2i The same view led Max Planck to attack
his circle of colleagueso He showed that the history of Mach's ideas with some vigouro He declared, certainly with some
thermodynamics demonstrated the way in which scientific ideas justice, that
gradually 'evolved' toward a more and more precise description of
the relationship between the emprica! world of 'sense When [Nicholas Copernicus and johannes Kepler,] gave their ideas to
impressions' of heat and the real (but unknowable) nature of science o o osurely economical points of view were the very last thing to
steer these men in their struggle against traditional opinions and
heat itselfo This evolution was through more and more precise dominating authority!
measurement of changes in temperature under controlled physi-
cal conditions and led to precise descriptions of physical For physicists like Planck, physics worked not because it pro-
phenomenao Mach was not so much concerned to develop an vided an 'economical' tiction of the world, but because it pro-
accurate history of ideas, however, as he was to correct the des- vided a true picture of the world (Frank 1970:220; Planck 1909) o
criptions that his science gave by means of the methods of history Since neither Mach nor Malinowski spelled out the nature of
and criticism (Bluh 1970) o La ter in life, Mach began to pursue his the mind's energy which is supposedly economized, the way in
theory of science in a way similar to Frazer's, seeking compara- which Malinowski understands, or perhaps misunderstands
tive evidence in ethnology and history for a more complete justifi- Mach's physiological 'functionalism' is therefore not at ali clearo
cation of science (Lowie 1947) o Indeed, Mach called comparison Noting that Mach wrote soon after Darwin had revolutionized
'the most powerful inner vital element of science' (Mach biological thought, Malinowski reads Darwin into Mach, claim-
28 29
Malinowski's early writinos Introduction
ing that Mach had a 'predominantly biological conception of the his experience of the tropics is deeply informed by Nietzsche and
world'. Darwin 's fundamental concepts o f 'the theory of descent, Mach, who blend in an idiosyncratic synthesis. Elsewhere, in a
the struggle for survival, adaptation, and evolution' are men- meditation on mood and his sense of the exotic, he comments
tioned in this regard as playing an important role in Mach's that 'exoticism breaks through lightly, through the veil of
reasoning. Indeed, Mach did pay homage to Darwin in his Inaug- familiar things'. Reflecting his reading of Herbart on the accom-
ural Address as Rector of the University of Prague in 1883 (Mach modation of the mental structures of the 'apperceptive mass', he
1898:214-35), 25 but he did not express there the simple biologism notes that the 'vegetation in moonlight' creates a mood with an
that Malinowski attributes to him in the dissertation. Although a 'exoticism strong enough to spoil normal apperception, but too
biological conception of mind and thought is suggested in the weak to create a new category ofmood'. This account refers back
dissertation, as in the essay on Nietzsche, the 'biology' or physio- directly to the 'economy of thought', but in the field it is exoti-
logy of thought that Malinowski might have in mind is a wished- cism itself which struggles to be accommodated by the economy
for physiology of mental functions, probably something resem- of his own mind.
bling what Freud, Nietzsche and others hoped for but could not
realize in their own work. Mach, too, looked forward to a physio-
logy of the mind that would ' really reveal to usou r inner man' by
The discovery of 'function'
making clear the chemical and physical basis for sensations, The argument in the dissertation hinges on the term 'function',
language, concept formation and muscular activity. 'Physiology', but in the first part of the dissertation Malinowski seeks to use the
Mach believed, 'will reveal to us the true real elements of the word in a strictly mathematical sense (Flis 1988: 124). While this
world' even though he admitted that the methods and concepts word, as used in the dissertation, does not carry the dynamic or
for doing so 'cannot be foreseen at the outset of the work' (Mach physiological connotations that Malinowski later gave to the
1898:212-15). Malinowski seems to have adopted this belief. term function in anthropology, it does contribute a sophisticated
Indeed, this is not surprising in the light of the astonishingly rapid concept of an abstract analytical space conceived as a set of
growth of physiology in Vienna, Prague and other centres of relations among elements of sets, or as a set of relations among
physical and psychological experimentation in the old Habsburg parts. Malinowski's work in mathematics is apparent. His use of a
Empire. Entries in Malinowski's diary illustrate a biologization of mathematical argument in criticizing Herbart's and Avenarius'
the philosophical terms that come, surprisingly, from his readings psychology suggests that a generalization of mathematical con-
of both Nietzsche and Mach. For instance, as he ponders the cepts may have played a significam role in his imagination of the
sources and origins of his frequent depressions and fits of loneli- geometry of social relationships.
ness, he speculates that his 'loss of subjectivism and deprivation Malinowski begins with a statement of the substantive theory
of the will' is caused by 'blood flowing away from the brain' ofthe 'economy of thought' in the work ofRichard Avenarius and
(1967:33). Feeling that he has lost his (Nietzschean) Wille, he Emst Mach. This theory, in its simplest forro, is that correct
assimilates this to Mach's radical empiricism of sense impressions thought and especially scientific thought is uniquely efficient or
and adds that 'living only by the five senses and the body 'economical', that is, it is the best possible solution to the prob-
(through impressions) causes direct merging with surroundings' lem of allocating scarce mental resources to the apprehension of
(1967:33). He describes the sensation of feeling that 'the rattling an infinitely complex world. Malinowski first of all differentiates
of the ship's engine was myself ... it was I who was bumping between Avenarius and Mach. Avenarius' psychological theory
against the waves and cutting through them' (1967:34). The sen- refers to a mechanical model of consciousness based on Friedrich
suous merging of the self with the uni verse that Nietzsche associ- Herbart's notion of the 'apperceptive mass'. The 'economy' of
ated with the destruction of the principium individuationis in the concem to Avenarius, then, was the efficiency of the cognitive
Dionysian orgy finds here a physiological interpretation in mechanism. Mach's 'economy of thought', by contrast, is a
Malinowski's appropriation ofMach's radical empiricism. 26 Thus, theory of science, or more precisely, a theory of the relationship
30 31
Malinowski's early writinas
purpose of science is in fact social, not objective, and that in
between the empirical practices of scientists, their cognition, and simply assuming the transparency of purpose in science, Mach
the world as such. necessarily renders impossible any proof based on the supposed
Using the mathematical notion of the 'function', that is, a rule 'efficiency' of science as a description of the world. 'What is of
of a continuous mapping of the elements of one set onto another concern to us', Malinowski writes, 'is science taken socially, as a
set, Malinowski introduces the idea of a maximum and minimum phenomenon of collective life, not as a facet in the psychology of
of the function. In calculus, this is the point at which first deriva- the individual mind'. At this juncture Malinowski's argument
tive of the function is equal to zero, or where the direction of the becomes an attempt to provide a warrant for the universal
graph of the function changes sign. He then argues that any validity of the scientific method. Malinowski argues that scien-
notion of 'economy' must include a notion of efficiency, that is, tific laws can be justified objectively, 'without employing any
the function (in the mathematical sense) which specifies the psychological data in a manner totally equivalent to any defini-
relationship between inputs and outputs of the system must have tion of a physical value'. But it is only by introducing the notion
a solution. Malinowski then attempts to show that any fully of human purpose, Malinowski argues, that we can evaluate the
determinate system (such as an isolated machine) cannot be des- efficiency of science. In this way, science provides its own war-
cribed in the language of 'economy' since this would imply choi- rant since scientific laws are tools for specific goals, and can be
ces based on the criterion of maxima and mnima of the function. evaluated in a way that is analogous to the evaluation of the
Fully determined systems, however, cannot be described in terms effectiveness of an ordinary tool. And, he goes on to say, 'The
of inputs and outputs since they are, by definition, isolated. Using attitude of the Whiteman to bis less civilized, colored fellow men
these results, he shows that Avenarius' notion ofthe mind, which illustrates this point sadly and significantly'. Thus, while this
is essentially mechanical and therefore determinate and isolated, objective efficiency of science certainly justifies science, and gives
is not consistent with the notion of economy. Avenarius is there- us a clear warrant for believing in the truth of its findings and
fore mistaken in attempting to apply the notion of 'economic' results, this argument only makes sense if we understand the
efficiency as a criterion with which to judge the effectiveness of purpose of science ('the mastery of nature'), and adopt a particu-
mind. Avenarius' psychology cannot provide an adequate lar point of view, that of the European.
account of how choices are made between competing ideas or Thus, Mach's notion of economy ofthouaht is not absolute, but
theories, nor can it account for change, and is therefore is only meaningful relative to the purposes and viewpoints of
sterile. particular persons. This result leaves considerable room for a
Mach's theory of science, however, is consistent with the metaphysics of purpose. For this reason, Malinowski concludes
mathematical notion of economy because it describes cri teria for that Mach's postivism 'in no way prejudices the question of
choosing among the relative efficiencies of competing theories of whether metaphysical methods can be applied to philosophy',
the world. Science can be correctly described as an economy of and that empiricism alone can never provide a complete founda-
thought because it involves choices based on the descriptive effi- tion for philosophy. We can see the results of this reasoning quite
ciency of the theoretical apparatus. Mach's theory is therefore to clearly in the introductory pages of his Araonauts of the Western
be preferred because it is consistent with the mathematical Pacific. Referring to an inadequate and erroneous literature on
notion of function, and beca use it can be subjected, in principie, economic anthropology, Malinowski seeks to explode the notion
to empirical verification. of the Primitive Economic Man who pursues self interest 'directly
and with the minimum of effort':
The purposes of science Even one well established instance should show how preposterous is this
assumption . . . The primitive Trobriander furnishes us with such an
Nevertheless, Malinowski points out that Mach assumed that the
instance. He works prompted by motives of a highly complex social and
purpose of science is objectively determinable. Here Malinowski's traditional nature and towards aims which are certainly not drected
criticism is far reaching and profound, for he argues that the
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction

towards the satisfaction of present wants, or to the direct achievement of were as cautious and as criticai as his approach to Frazer and
utilitarian purposes. Thus work is not carried out on the principie of the Freud. This criticai spirit, together with a willingness to suspend
least effort. (1922:60)
judgement of the many theoretjca1 systems to which he exposed
his mind, is no doubt responsible for his extraordinary and cre-
ative insight. In accepting Mach's belief that 'theory creates
Science, art, emotion facts', 27 his openness to many theoretical perspectives led him to
As a side issue, never developed, but only sketched in the disser- collect and to observe a great many facts.
tation, Malinowski also asserts that science and art are fully
distinct and separa te endeavours, and that the world of emotions The trajectory of ideas into the field
and of cognition are isolated from one another. This is a firm tenet
of both the pragmatism of William ]ames and the positivism of Apart from the detailed philosophical critique of the arguments
Ernst Mach. This reference to art and science is probably also put forward by Avenarius and Mach and, indirectly, by Herbart,
linked to the essay on Nietzsche in which the isolation of art from Malinowski 's dissertation also reveals severa} other key themes
science is developed more fully, but it also points to Malinowski's which continued to direct his thought. There are at least three of
deeper anxiety about metaphysics seen in the traumas and these: first, an attack on the temptation to reify abstract entities
delights of his deep friendship with Witkiewicz. 'Witkacy' was and to anthropomorphize them; second, an epistemo1ogica1 and
not only a critic of Mach's positivism (Flis 1988: 124) but was, for metaphysical concern with the nature of scientific truth as
Malinowski, the embodiment of the ideal artist. The divorce of opposed to belief; and third, an ontological concern with the
art and science was also the barrier that separated them as friends 'closedness' of mental, physical or social systerns, and with the
implications of this for a theory of change.
(cf. Kubica 1988:92-3, 102).
In the first paragraph of the thesis, Malinowski remarks that First, an attack on reification provides one of the hidden
'metaphysics' is under attack but concludes that metaphysics has motives for the dissertation. This hostility to reification and
value. He remains ambivalent about the promise of empiricism, 'humanization' of the abstract or ideological realm manifested
positivism, and the monistic world-view that accompanied itself particulariy clearly in Malinowski's strict and consistent
Mach's ideas. In fact, most of the dissertation is a study of the refusa1 to accept the hypothesis ofthe supra-individual conscious-
limits and weaknesses of the empiricism and positivism of ness or species-mind of the 'horde' in Freud's Totem and Taboo
Avenarius and Mach. This seems at first sight to contradict our (1925), or in Durkheim's and Rivers' belief in primitive commu-
general notions of Malinowski as eminently empirical, one who nism (Malinowski 1935:Il,235-40; Stocking 1986:12). This con-
made his most important discoveries in the field. Indeed, his cern occurs over and over again in his work, from the eariy
scholarly reputation rests firmly today on his clear formulation of rejection of the undifferentiated society of Australian aboriginal
empirical principies for ethnographic field work in the introduc- societies (1912; 1913) through his demonstration of individuated
tory chapters of Araonauts and other works, and on his own poiitics in the main Trobriand monographs (1922:60.116-20;
thoroughness in achieving the scientific goals he set for himself 1926:15-20; 1935:1,319-20). As eariy as 1917 he made a note in his
through his ethnographic writing. In fact, his brilliant empirical diary to write further on the reification and anthropomorphism
results on the Trobriand Islands may well be his most lasting and associated with the competing nationalism of his day:
important contribution to anthropology (Sztompka 1988). Thursday, 11.15.... Theory of conscious national action. A responsible
Severa! writers have already also suggested that Mach's 'second collective action of a state. Theory of what I to1d Elsie during our 1st
positivism' (that is, as distinct from Comte's 'first positivism'; Flis conversation, that it is meaninaless to speak of 'England', 'Germany' as
1988; Paluch 1981b) or 'neo-positivism' (Stocking 1986:15) were countries that 'wanted' something, 'miscalculated', etc. Write down this
profoundly important to him. While this is certainly true, his theory for E.R.M.! (1967:116; emphasis in original)
approach to Ernst Mach's empiricism, positivism and monism
34 35
Malinowski's early writinas
simply replaces the metaphysics of Cartesian dualism with the
Beyond positivism metaphysics of a Darwinian biology and evolutionism.
Malinowski's approach to these questions is clearly skeptical,
Observations like this were clearly stimulated not by positivism, and certainly provocative, but it is also more than this. Many
but by a more sweeping concern with metaphysics. But what did commentators have remarked on the complexity ofMalinowski's
'metaphysics' mean to Malinowski? At its worst, Malinowski thought. Here, that complexity amounts to a lingering affection
understood metaphysics to be an attempt to anthropomorphize for a metapbysics tbat contradicts a professed adberence to
the abstract structures of society, culture and the physical world. rigorous monism. Malinowski places tbe entire dissertatiqn
At best, however, metaphysics signified the philosophical aware- between an opening question, 'Does metaphysics bave a rigbt to
ness of the profound contradictions and 'imponderabilia' of life. exist?' and bis answer to that question, a qualified 'Yes'. By
He committed himself to the study of the latter, but the former invoking Nietzscbe in tbe formulation of his thesis on Macbian
was the basis for his far-seeing rejection of nationalisms of all positivism, Malinowski creates the logical tension that drives th~
kind (Malinowski l935:II,238; Malinowski l944b; Skalnk 1986). essay, and by asserting the viability of metaphysics at tk;.. end of
When Malinowski was a student of philosophy of science at the essay he carries the tension forward into his subsequent work.
Jagiellonian University, his principal teachers Pawlicki and Altbough he assents to Mach's methodology, it appears that
Straszewski were all committed followers of the positivism of Nietzsche is far from dead. It seems likely that his awareness of
Mach and the Vienna Circle. A defence of metaphysics, then, the inescapable necessity for metaphysics, or for some pbilosophi-
would have been provocative. Nevertheless he began both major cal positions which could not ultimately be justified empirically
essays from this period with what are essentially covert state- promoted Malinowski's sensitivity to cultural ambiguity and
ments that a defence of metaphysical principies is possible. Of deptb.
course, Malinowski did not in the end defend metaphysics. or In the dissertation, he distinguishes between substantive
even attempt to defend versions of 'metaphysics' such as Car- metaphysics and the la bel 'metaphysics'. Merely by drawing this
tesian Dualism, Catholic or Protestant Transcendentalisms or distinction in the first paragraph of the dissertation, however, he
Kantian Idealism. He does, however, suggest in both essays that bas already anticipated bis conclusions tbat 'we do not yet have
some sort of 'metaphysics' is universal and that any particular an emprica! basis for a philosopbical world-view'. just as the
metaphysics will reflect its social and historical milieu. In the label is not the contents, the rejection of 'metapbysics' does not
dissertation, Malinowski searches for the logical flaws in make it go away. His conclusion seems to mean, tben, that empi-
Avenarius' and Mach's account of science, and having found ricism alone cannot provide the answers to the fundamental ques-
flaws, deplores the 'absolutism. the dogmatism' with which tions of human life. For tbis, as be indicates in tbe 'Introduction'
'monism is presently used as a touchstone'. This statement is to Araonauts, only a complex and nuanced description of life as it
similar to Malinowski's claim, made in his essay on Nietzsche, is lived, togetber with its contradictions and inherent ambigui-
that metaphysics is 'a symptom of certain structures of human ties, can begin to provide data that will make an answer possible.
soul', namely the inescapable desire to humanize or While ethnograpby will not as yet give us an answer to his ques-
anthropomorphize the 'cold indifferent world of appearances'. In tion about the necessity for 'metaphysics', Malinowski's disser-
the essay on Nietzsche, Malinowski writes much more exten- tation reveals tbe roots of Malinowski's 'functionalism' in whicb
sively on the nature of this 'desire', but concludes, both in his be sought to bring tbe metaphysics of transcendent knowledge of
dissertation 'On the principie of the economy of thought' and in magic, language, economic value, power, 'totem', sexuality,
his essay on Nietzsche's The Birth of Traaedy that there is fertility and so on, into some sort of rapport witb tbe emprica!
ultimately no escape from 'metaphysics'. Even philosophical knowledge of canoe navigation, gardening, excbange of real
monism, although adamant in its rejection of metaphysics never goods, and reproduction. Witbout tbe dedication to empiricism,
succeeds in breaking away from its own metaphysics of unity. At Malinowski's rich data and detailed description would never
best, the monism of Avenarius, Mach, Cornelius and Petzoldt
Malinowski's early writinas
associationist psycbologies failed to account for cbange in
bave materialized, but witbout tbe interest in 'metapbysics' and psycbological states, and tbat tbey postulated an isolated mental
a belief tbat some important questions still remained after the 'macbine', tbe so-called apperceptive mass, wbicb could not be
empirical data were collected, Malinowski's contribution to empirically demonstratedo His criticism of Frazer's psycbology
anthropology would bave remained as mundane as tbe rest of tbe implicit in tbe 'principies of magic' bas a number of parallels
empirical etbnology tbat already filled librarieso with his criticism of Avenariuso
Finally, tbe dissertaiion raises tbe important question of Frazer claimed tbat magic and science were similar in tbat
determinism and free willo Avenarius' assumptions presuppose a magic involved a mode of reasoning about tbe material world
closed system, but Mach's did not. In drawing tbis distinction, tbat was not different in kind or quality from tbat of scienceo Botb
Malinowski rejects Avenarius' system because tbe model it science and magic were practical logics wbicb proceeded from
presents is unable to accommodate cbangeo Ironically, the criti- different assumptions, and consequently reacbed separa te conclu-
cism directed at Avenarius in the dissertation- that his 'economy sionso In this respect botb magic and science were fundamentally
of thought' is isolated and tberefore no economy at all - is tbe different from religion wbicb posited a transcendent world of
same one be directs at bis own 'intensive study of a limited area' unseen forces and beingso For Frazer, magic could be confused
when be is forced to confront tbe facts of cultural 'contact' and witb religion, but it remained magic in so far as it dealt witb tbe
cbange in Africa (Malinowski 1929a; 1945:14-15, 18ff) o Tbe 'con- material worldo It differed from science primarily because its
tact situation', not merely tbe island culture or society is 'an premises were erroneous and its conclusions tberefore mistaken,
integrated whole' ( 1945: 14) oBut despi te bis efforts, bis attempt to wbile science reasoned from correct premises to reacb correct
address tbe problem of culture cbange remained tbe weakest of conclusionso
Malinowski's accomplishmentso In reacbing tbis position Malinowski probably relied on Macb's
principled distinction between the domain of sense impressions,
ORELIGION AND MAGIC': OBSERVATIONS ON FRAZER'S THE tbe exclusive domain of science, and tbe world of emotions, tbat
is, all otber buman bebaviour about wbicb science bad essen-
tially notbing to sayo Acceptance of tbis dicbotomy implies, for
Malinowski's observations on Frazer's The Golden Bouah are Malinowski, that the difference between science and magic can-
briefo Tbougb undated, they probably precede the long critica! not be simply a difference offalse versus true assumptions, but is a
essay on Frazer's Totemism and Exoaamyo Like the later, longer genuine difference of 'content' o His understanding of tbe nature
criticism, this brief noteis higbly criticai of Frazer's findingso lt is of tbis difference, and tbe basis of bis rejection of Frazer's views,
significant, however, primarily because Malinowski expresses reflects the positivist dicbotomy between tbe reality of tbe world
here for the first time some ideas about magic tbat he developed given by sense impressions - wbicb is tbus accessible to science
la ter, especially in Coral Gardens and Their Maaic ( 1935) o and able to be manipulated by it- and tbe world of the emotionso
Magic, tberefore, is unlike science primarily beca use its soais and
From Mach to Prazer: the first approach methods relate to tbe social world of emotionso

First of all, Malinowski links Frazer's principies of magic ('conta-

giou' and 'sympathy') to the principies of Herbartian psychology Science, maaic and society
wbich he had attacked in bis doctoral dissertationo Frazer's Tbe conclusions that be draws in tbis early essay are significant
principies of magic are labelled 'fundamental psycbological because tbey mark a clear break from Frazer's intellectualist
phenomena of the association of ideas' o This comparison allows approacb, and lead Malinowski to begin to formula te a new prag-
Malinowski to draw a number of conclusions about their useful- matic oneo Considered as forros of tbougbt, Malinowski claims
nesso He had criticized and rejected Avenarius' psycbology on tbe bere, magic and science are completely distincto Considered as
grounds tbat its assumption of the principies of Herbart's
Malinowski's early writinas Introducion
'human activity based on experience', however, Malinowski chapter of Araona uts of the Western Pacific, 'is, briefly, to grasp
believes that magic and science are 'equivalent'. In coming to the n ative's point of view, his relation to life', that is, to discover
this conclusion, Malinowski comes extremely dose to a con- 'what concems him most intimately ... the hold which life has
sideration of the pragmatic approach developed much later by on him' ( 1922:25). Or, in another discussion of how he discovered
Ludwig Wittgenstein who, in similar remarks on Frazer's Golden Kiriwinan concepts of land tenure, published as part of Coral
Bouah in 1933, argues tha t magic is simply a way of 'doing magic' Gardens and Their Maaic, Malinowski says that the virtue of
and consists in nothing else than that it is done in tha t way leaming the native language is precisely that it allows one to ask
(Zengotita 1989). While science restricts its findings in terms of and answer these questions: 'it enables us better to understand,
'laws' that are more or less empirical and defines its goa1s in terms firstly what the natives talk about among themselves ... and
of its findings, Malinowski believes that magic restricts its find- secondly, their integral behavior'; (1935:326) or, in other words,
ings by rules of tradition and cult, and defines its goals in terms of 'to give full consideration to the native point of view and the
passion and desire. Thus, Malinowski does not distinguish details of na tive usage' ( 1935:340). Other examples of his putting
between magic and science on the basis of their 'content' but these precepts in to action can, of course, be found throughout his
rather in terms of rules which govem their use in social context scattered methodological chapters and prefaces in most of his
and which limit their scope and use. Magic can be distinguished ethnographic works.
from science on the basis of how it is used and to what ends, and
the means and goals of m agic or science can only be decided in
The approach to praamatics in the critique ofThe Golden Bouah
terms of social context.
His remarks, expressed first in this essay, on Frazer's failure to
justas we cannot determine whether the metaphysical system of a given
understand that the pragmatics of a situa tion far overwhelm the
individual and the social ethic based upon it is subjective or not by
taking only the context of beliefs into consideration, in the same way we intellectual component are similarly reflected in his ethnography.
cannot draw a boundary line between science and magic taking only He comments in these early notes that ' there can be no talk of
their content into consideration. laws of similarity and continuity which result from one's ideas',
but only consideration of 'practical goals' and 'knowledge from
Thus, while Frazer believed tha t magic and science were psycho- experience'. This position is also reflected abundantly in his eth-
logically similar, but sociologically distinct, Malinowski con- nography, as for instance, in A raonauts, where he declares that
cludes that they differ psychologically whi1e they are similar in '[t]hough we cannot ask a n ative about abstract, general rules,
social practice. Indeed, far from seeing similarities between we can always enquire how a given case would be treated'
magic and science, Malinowski eventually saw modem advertis- (1922:12).
ing and politics, especially propaganda and the politics of The other items on which Malinowski comments in these notes
nationalism, communism and fascism as kinds of modem magic reflect developments of these points. Frazer's account of blood or
(1935:11,238). Frazer 's errar consisted in his focus on the psycho- placentas as abstractly 'symbolic', for instance, is nonsensical to
logical 'content' of science and magic, and his failure to consider Malinowski who sees their meaning as a consequence o f the emo-
either their use in context, or their emprica} forms. tions they evoke in the social con texts in which wounds a re given
Using this pragmatic principie, then, Malinowski is able to and received, or c hildren a re bom.
propose two questions which can be answered empirically: 'Does Finally, in a last brief remark, Malinowski poses the question of
the given individual possess a system of beliefs or not?' a nd 'In whether and to what extent ritual and magic 'possess economic
what relationship does this system of beliefs stand in relation to fea tures', and to what extent they 'possess cha racteristics of a
the society in which the individual lives?' Posing and answering religious cult'. These are the questions that motiva te his search-
these two questions is essential to Malinowski's fieldwork ing critique of Durkheim's and Frazer's interpretations of
methods. The goal of ethnography, Malinowski said in the first Australian ritual, first encountered in bis review of Frazer's
40 41
Malinowski's early writings Introduction

Totemism and Exogamy, and in his essay, also included in this a consequence of this failure, Malinowski contends that Frazer's
volume, 'On the Economic Aspects of Intichiuma Ceremonies'. descriptions are frequently subordinated to his broadly sketched
These are also among the principal motivating questions of Coral evolutionist theories and a priori reasoning. Furthermore, Frazer
Gardens and Their Magic. fails to make a principled distinction in his work between facts
and theores. Accordingly, Frazer's attempts to organize his data
nto developmental series fail because the data are not suffi-
ciently rich to support Frazer's detaled speculation, and as a
consequence, spurious 'stages' are ntroduced where the empri-
Malinowski's criticai review of Frazer's Totemism and Exogamy ca! data are lacking.
was originally published in three parts in the Polish joumal Lud A related criticism points to Frazer's uncritical equation of
between 1911 and 1913. He had already read and commented legend and history. Malinowski distinguishes these categories in
briefly upon Frazer's The Golden Bough. He also brought to his the same way that the German Bblica! critic David Strauss had
reading of Frazer not only the criticai methods of Mach and done with respect to 'real myth', 'historical myth' (or 'legend')
Nietzsche, but also, by 1911, a considerable knowledge of other and 'history' in the Biblical accounts of the life of Jesus, 28 and
European sources such as Wundt and Bcher from his studies in finds Frazer's failure to do so partly responsible for other major
Leipzig. Thus, although he notes the heuristic value of Frazer's theoretical failures. Among other things, this errar is exemplified
work, and the v alue to scholarship of bringing all of the material by Frazer's distinction between religion and magic as a distinc-
together in severa! volumes, Malinowski's criticism of Frazer is tion between a cult of the heroic individual (for example, in the
severe. Malinowski challenges Frazer's assumptions, theories and Torres Straits island societies) in contrast to the mythic and
his treatment of the data; in short, he finds Frazer's science generalized 'ancestors' such as the alcheringa of the Australian
entirely flawed. Many of these criticisms were la ter expressed in aboriginal peoples. While Frazer sees the cult of 'heroes' in the
his lectures at the London School of Economics, but it is well Torres Straits as a form of 'religion', albeit of a 'transitional type',
known that in print he only praised Frazer. and the Australian cult of ancestors as 'magic', Malinowski uses
Faulty data can only be remedied with more and better data, so Frazer's own data to show that this distinction is superficial.
Malinowski draws on the work of the German ethnologist Moreover, the general weakness of the data itself, Malinowski
Strehlow on the Arunta, and uses this material as a corrective to argues, weakens whatever a priori grounds there might be for
the errors of Spencer, Gillen, Fison and Howitt's work on the distinguishing between two radically different 'leveis' of intel-
Australian aboriginal tribes. Frazer was apparently unaware of lect. In parallel with the approach of Emile Durkheim and his
Strehlow's work, and Malinowski uses it to good advantage to students in the Anne Sociologique school, who understood reli-
show that the ethnography on which Frazer relied was often gion as a social cult of sacred things, Malinowski argues that the
incomplete. Australian rites are more like 'religion' than are those of the
Malinowski also argues that Frazer had misconceived the Torres Straits.
savage mind and slates Frazer for his tendency to assume that the Frazer's intellectualist distinctions between religion and magic
savages were 'calculating utilitarians'. In this he seems to have does not permit a theory of social change, Malinowski argues,
drawn on Nietzsche's attack on the English utilitarians in his unless the notion of conscious social reform by members of savage
first and second essays published in his The Genealogy of societies is taken seriously. Frazer's theories fal to describe
Morais (Nietzsche 1968(1887)). Malinowski contends that the actual social mechanisms or practices by which the intellectual
Australians possessed myths, not 'interests' and a calculus of processes and devaluations that he attributes to individuais could
utility, and that this difference is crucial. Malinowski also draws be realized in observable social change. 'The deeper we delve into
on Mach's principies of scientific inquiry in taking Frazer to task the nature of sociological facts', Malinowski writes, 'the more
for his failure to state his assumptions and hypotheses clearly. As clearly we see that there is no direct and obvious continuity of
42 43
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction
development between the individual and the social phenom- and beliefs of the Australians in terms of their 'economy'. In
enon'. Since Frazer fails to provide a plausible way in which the traditional terms, such as those adopted by Frazer and Durkheim,
individual's psychology of totemic classification is linked to the the Australians lacked an 'economy'. Indeed, for both Frazer and
supposed emergence of exogamy in society, bis efforts are futile. Durkheim, this is precisely what makes them seem to be exemp-
Malinowski, following Mach, insists that theories must consist lars of the primitive. Both loca te their evolutionary 'zero-point'30
in the description of practical mechanisms or processes which can at the 'cultural levei' of the Australian aborgines, and, as
be shown, through emprica! description, to result in change. Malinowski points out, their theoretical edifices stand on the
Moreover, Malinowski already argues in this early critique that assumption that these people are the simplest, most 'elementary'
Frazer's evolutionism cannot be supported on data which are forros of human social, cultural and intellectual life.
largely contemporary. On these grounds, Frazer 's categories and Malinowski, by contrast, points out that their belief in totem-
stages do not qualify as theories at all. Malinowski does not reject ism is not 'elementary' or 'prirnitive' tmt is itself predicated on
the value of the historical or evolutionist enterprise itself, but two other relatively sophisticated beliefs: first, that in lieu of the
comments instead on Frazer's failure to articuJate valid theories knowledge of physiological patemity children are believed to be
with respect to these concems. the reincarnation of 'spirit children' - what Strehlow calls
Seen in these terms, then, even the comparative project Kinderkeime - and second, that reproduction of the totemic spe-
declared by the title of Frazer's work, Totem ism and Exoaamy, cies depends on the practice and efficacy of magic. Since the
must be unproductive since Frazer nowhere attempts to number of spirits ready to implant themselves in the wombs of
demonstrate the independence or comparability of his variables, Australian women is limited, and since the magic required, in
'totemism' and 'exogamy'. Indeed, with respect to the Australian Australian terrns, for the reproduction of both humans and
materiais that provide the core of Frazer's data, Malinowski animais requires the utilization and allocation of scarce resources
points out that while the Central Australian clans are the owners of labour and materiais, totemism itself amounts to a 'magical
of totems, it is 'marriage classes', not clans, that are exogamous. economy'. Thus Malinowski asserts that whiie the Austraiian
This is not the case, however, in Northem Australia or the Torres Intichiuma ceremonies are clearly a part of magic they are aiso
Straits where, whiJe clans are exogamous, onJy the Australian 'economic'. He concludes the first section of bis review by noting
clans have totems. This awareness of the principies of that ali 'collective and purposeful work is organized in
independence of variables is unusual among ethnologists of this [Australian] society by religious-magical ideas'. He developed
time, 29 and comes almost certainly from Malinowski's acquain- this idea much further in an essay for the Westermarck Festschrift
tance with Karl Pearson's The Grammar of Science (1897). cited 'The economic aspects of the Intichiuma ceremonies' (l912a),
in his dissertation, in which the methods of rigorous statistical appearing in this volume and, in more general terms, much !ater
comparison were first set forth in a comprehensive manner. in Coral Gardens (1935).
Thus, Malinowski's criticisms of Frazer's Totemism and
Exoaamy draw on a wide range of methodological as well as
An approach to 'reliaion'
substantive sources. But this essay is more than just critique. Like
the essays on Nietzsche and the dissertation on Mach and positiv- Moving in another theoretical direction, he argues, for tbe first
ism, Malinowski also uses the material to formula te a number of time here that the famiiy, not the borde, clan, band or other large
research questions, and proposals for further empirical inquiry. social unit, is the stable and elementary form of social organiza-
tion. He developed tbis point further in bis essay 'Sociology of tbe
farnily' (1913-14) published originally in German, and translated
Totemism and primitive economy and republished in this volume, and in The Family Amona the
Among the most significam of these problems, especially in light Australian Aboriaines (l913a). He also begins to elabora te the
of Malinowski's subsequent work, is his attempt to see the rituais idea that totemism is not so mucb a belief or an intellectual
44 45
Malinowski's early writinos lntroduction
system as it is a form of social organization, and that it may differ ted to the dogmas of the cult and that possess supernatural sanctions as
in the role it plays in different societies. Thus, he points out that well as social ones. 31
while 'Australian totemism is a formof social organization ... in
the Banks Islands totemism exists exclusively in its religious This definition is similar to Durkheim's famous definition of
aspect'. Also, while in both the Australian and Banks Islands religion in his Elementary Forms of the Reliaious Life. Durk-
societies, according to Bishop Codrington, among the Melan- heim's work was published in 1912, in the same year that the
esians, totemism is based 'not ... on the belief that the animal is second part of Malinowski's review of Frazer appeared. He
embodied in the man, but rather the other way round, on the reviewed Durkheim's work the following year (1913b). It is
conviction that the human sou! passes into the animal or plant'. unlikely that Malinowski had access to Durkheim's book whHe
Frazer, he argues, confuses these different kinds of toternism. writing this essay. He does, however, mention that he has relied
Elsewhere in his review, Malinowski points out that of the types on the work of Emile Durkheim, Mareei Mauss, Arnold van Gen-
of things selected as totemic objects or species, very few of these nep and Henri Hubert that was published in the Anne Sociolo-
are related to the female domains of child-birth or child-care, Bique in volumes 11 to VIII, published between 1897 and 1909.
household implements, cooking utensils or digging sticks used for Unlike Frazer's, these definitions focus attention on 'social,
gathering vegetable foods. Thus, totemism is also implicated in objective facts' that are 'easily accessible to dose observation'. In
the sexual division of labour, a point he makes more strongly in these terrns, then, Australian totemism is not magic, as Frazer
'Tribal Male Associations in Australia' (1912b), in this volume. thought, but religion, as Durkheim thought. Malinowski clearly
Malinowski's critique of Frazer's understanding of magic differs with Durkheim over the role of evolutionist speculation
depends, similarly, on Malinowski's reorganization of the cate- but, like Durkheim, agrees that the difference between magic and
gories into which the data are sorted. Malinowski introduces religion was not primarily an evolutionary one but rather social
pragmatic criteria such as 'emotion' where Frazer considers only and practical. Magical practices, unlike religion, 'are not based
logic. Thus the resort to magic is driven, according to Malin- on social organization, are not compulsory, and are not joined
owski, by emotional factors at least as much as by the logic of into an organic whole with the cult and ethics'.
dogma. Failure to recognize this leads Frazer to inadequately The relative weights of the pragmatic and the sociaUcommunal
define magic or religion. Worse, Frazer's definitions of magic and aspects of magic and religion seem, however, to have remained
religion can not be empirically tested because they rely on the problematic to Malinowski. In Aroonauts, for instance, he
'inner psychology' of the native. ' It is extremely difficult', declared that 'although I started my field-work convinced that
Malinowski remarks with a footnote to Lvy-Bruhl's Les fonctions the theories ofreligion and magic expounded in the Golden Bough
mentales dans les socits infrieures (1910), 'to determine, even were inadequate, I was forced by all my observations in New
approximately, the inner attitude of even our own peasant with Guinea to come over to Frazer's position' (1922:73f). On the other
regard to the object of his cult ... and so there can be no talk of hand, in Cora/ Gardens and Their Maoic, he declared that
being able to get to the bottom of the most hidden, most compli- 'Durkheim's theory is itself a somewhat mystical act of faith'
cated subjective states of the savage'. Malinowski's critique of (1935:11,235). It seems clear, however, that the pragmatic
Frazer here is purely positivist. approach was applied to both, however inconsistently.
From this and other lines o f reasoning, Malinowski develops his
own rather clumsy definition of religion.
Exooamy and kinship, and orioins
We will call religion any collection of beliefs and practices referring to
supernatural powers and bound into an organic system, whicb are The third section of Malinowski's review focusses on his demoli-
expressed in social life by a series of acts of a cult which is systematic, tion of Frazer's theory of the origin of exogamy. The methods and
public, obligatory and based on tradition ... and which are also expres- results ofhis criticism are those which we have already discussed,
sed by a series of norrns of behaviour defined by tradition, closely connec- and it is the insights to which these criticisms lead him that are
46 47
Malinowski's early writinas Introdr.iction

worth attending to further. Among these is the idea that while a purely chance fashion. The evolution of a thing, a custom, an organ is
exogamy, inasmuch as it refers to patterns of mate selection is thus by no means its prooressus toward a goal ... by the shortest route
'purely biological', totemism is 'artificially constructed by us'. In and by the smallest expenditure of force ... but a succession of more or
other words, while Frazer considers both totemism and exogamy less profound, more or less mutually independent processes of subduing.
(Nietzsche l968:(sect 13) 513-14)
to be parallel and comparable 'institutions', Malinowski dis-
tinguishes between one as 'biological' and the other as 'construc- Malinowski's attack on Frazer runs along similar !ines: the
ted'. In fact, Malinowski asserts that Frazer has no grounds for agnosticism conceming the explanatory power of 'origins', the re-
including all of the varied data he presents under the label interpretability of events and institutions, the 'functional'
'totemism'. Frazer's attempt to find a single common 'origin' for character of their 'adaptation' and integration into the social (or
this erroneously constructed category is therefore pointless. historical) whole, the multiple paths of 'evolution', and the
More specifically, it is Frazer's attempt to derive social institu- principie of 'least force'Y It has been said that part ofNietzsche's
tions as the 'logical consequences of ... belief that is erroneous. genius was the 'functionalizing of static concepts' (Stem 1983),
Malinowski insists that a social institution must be explained in and the same could be said of Malinowski. These concepts provi de
terms of the 'social conditions in which these institutions have the central conceptual core for Malinowski's analyses of the
developed'. In other words, he says that totemism must be Australian ethnographic material in 'Tribal male associations
explained 'genetically' not 'logically'. Frazer's explanation of among the Australian aborgines' (pp. 201-8, this volume), 'The
totemism in terms of its speculative origins 'does not provide the relation of primitive beliefs to forros of social organization' (pp.
genesis of totemic beliefs, even less does it provide the genesis of 229-42, in this volume) and 'A fundamental problem of religious
totemic social institutions; it only clarifies these beliefs and sheds sociology' (pp. 243-5, in this volume).
a certain amount of light on them'. This attack on the notion of origins is of far- reaching signifi-
Malinowski's treatment of Frazer's argument resonates cance, both for Malinowski's own empirical approach to anthro-
strongly with Nietzsche's treatment of the argument of the pological questions, but also to his notorious 'neglect' of history.
Utilitarians, especially with respect to 'origin' of punishment, in Unlike other writers at the time, all of whom debated the merits
Nietzsche's second essay in The Genealoay of Morais. While we of different hypothetical origins of the religious and social forros,
know that Malinowski read The Birth of Traaedy carefully, and Malinowski ridicules the very notion of origins itself. In this, he
that he and Witkiewicz discussed more of Nietzsche's writings in steps out of the bounds of the conventional discourse of origins.
great detail, we do not know for certain that he read The 'What is this concept of "origins"?', Malinowski asks dismis-
Genealoay of Morais. Nietzsche says sively. Frazer's discussion of 'origins' is not just inadequate in a
way that could be improved by better data or more rigour. The
the cause of the origin of a thing and its eventual utility ... lie worlds tlaw 'reaches deeper into the very essence of the author's think-
apart; whatever exists, having somehow come into being is again and ing'. Indeed, Malinowski sums up his critique by asking 'Does
again reinterpreted to new ends, taken over, transformed and redirected totemism exist at ali?'
by some power superior to it; all events in the organic world are a
subduing, a becoming master, and all subduing and becoming master
involves a fresh interpretation, and adaptation through which any GENDER AND POWER IN AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY: ' TRIBAL MALE
previous 'meaning' and 'purpose' are necessarily obscured .... But pur- ASSOCIATIONS IN AUSTRALIA'
poses and utilities are only signs that a will to power has become master
of something less powerful and imposed upon it the character of a func- This essay, published both in Polish and in a slightly faulty
tion and the entire history of a 'thing', an organ, a custom, can in this English in 1912, is a 'case study' of a particular feature of
way be a continuous sign-chain of ever new interpretations and adap Australian society, and is the earliest example of the application
tations whose causes do not even have to be related to one another but, of Malinowski's functionalism. It repeats the attack on the
on the contrary, in some cases succeed and altemate with one another in notion of origins. His rejection of evolutionism finds its strongest
48 49
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction
and most explicit expression here. The aim of the essay isto show myth as in any way original, primordial or elementary, and had
that one particular institution, that of secret tribal mal e associa- begun to understand it as both of the past and in the present; or,
tions in Australian society, functions to create and maintain as Malinowski expressed it in 1904/5, myth acts to 'entwine the
social power based on age-categories and gender, and that a present in a net of norms and subordinates the present to itself
mythical charter justifies these practices and beliefs. Malinowski ethically'. The myths which accompany the ma1e associations
moves decisively away from the earlier ethnological questions in Australia, he notes, do not attempt to give an origin for the
about the position of whole societies, tribes or peoples on the practices of initiation, gender power, and age hierarchy. They
scale of evolution, complexity or political maturity, and towards seek to show how but not why or when these practices were
a new concern with the relationships among institutions in a introduced. In other words, the myths are not at ali concerned
single functioning society. The attention to sexuality, social with 'origins' (implicitly: they are not like the semitic myths of
institutions, mythical justification, and functioning parts of origin), but rather with justification and functioning of con-
social wholes marks this essay as a forerunner of Malinowski's temporary institutions. Thus, these beliefs and practices are
distinctive style of ethnographic argument. understood by the Australians as that which makes them most
Malinowski briefly summarizes severa! features of Australian human, that which ushers them into 'the 1atest stages of human
kinship, economy and sexuality, mentioning mle homosexu- evolution' in their terms, since the circumcized and subincized
ali ty and the extensive privileges- among them, sexual privileges man is the 'only complete, fully developed man '. 36 But their terms
- of elder males; also the distinction between exogamous mar- are supp1ied by myth which is, in the terms of Malinowski's essay
riage classes and totemic clans, and the central role of initiation on Nietzsche, 'a concept of reality'Y Indeed, since the myth is
ceremonies. Eschewing the search for origins, he notes that while fully sufficient as a mode of knowledge, it constitutes a native
these may well be features o f 'early' association o f males, they are metaphysics. These rites then have the same claim to the status of
not necessarily the 'origins' of these associations. Instead, he 'reality' that the material world does. 'For the native', he con-
advanced a 'sociological' explanation. Noting carefully that 'the cludes, 'these rites are a material necessity, so strongly is the need
function or task that a given institution performs in society' of them impressed upon the minds by tradition'. 38
should not be confused with its 'aim as subjectively conceived by The importam notion that gender and power are culturally
society', Malinowski presents evidence that shows how these constructed through myth and socially instituted through con-
institutions act to exclude women from public life, to ensure crete practices of bodily mutilations and rituais is indeed a far
separation of age and gender classes, and to reinforce a strict reaching idea. Karl Pearson, Kraft-Ebbing, Havelock Ellis and
hierarchy that regu1ates access to goods and prestige. 33 These, Sigmund Freud had already published work which made similar
however, are the 'objective aim of these ceremonies, from a socio- claims, and which supported these with ethnographic and medi-
logical point of view', a view from which the natives themselves cal evidence (see Stocking 1986). With the exception of Pearson,
are excluded. 3" Malinowski does not cite these people in his own early writing,
though he may have read them. While perhaps not completely
Myth and aender original in 1912, these ideas were part of a new trend and anti-
cipate his The Sexual Life of Savaaes (Malinowski l929b).
From the native point of view, however, the moral values and
'educational importance' of the initiation rites and other
ceremonies of the Australian male associations are contained in
their myths. Malinowski's treatment ofmyth reflects with clarity Malinowski explores further the economic aspects of 'totemism'
and precision his approach to myth developed through his con- which began with his earlier reviews of Frazer's Totemism and
frontation with Nietzsche's The Birth of Traaedy. As we have Exoaamy and The Golden Bouah. He concluded the review of
a1ready seen, in that essay Malinowski had already ceased to see Totemism and Exoaamy with the implicit claim that totemism
50 51
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction

did not existas a definable institution or unit of analysis, and that treats 'economic evolution ... separately in regard to each ethno-
further research would be required to show in what, precisely, logical a rea and in the light of the special conditions pertaining in
those practices and beliefs that had been labelled 'totemism' each'. In taking this position, he shared much with Franz Boas
actually consist. In 'The relaon of prirnitive beliefs to the forros who took a similar direction in American ethnology from physics
of social organization' Malinowski put forward a pragmatic and to ethnology by way of historicism (Stocking I968: 142- 7, 157) but
functionalist theory of toternism as fundamentally practical and unlike Boas, Malinowski introduced many other theoretical
arising from an 'attitude to the environment', while in his manu- interests that moved him in the direction he eventually called
script remarks on The Golden Bouah he noted that totemism is 'Functionalism '.
both 'economy' and 'religion'. In 'The economic aspects of the The study of Volkswirtschaft or 'economic ethnology' was
intichiuma ceremonies', he deals in greater depth with the pre- widely studied in German universities at the end of the
cise way in which the Australian clans are 'integrated into the nineteenth century. Malinowski seems to have taken frorn
whole through their functions'. In developing these ideas further, Bcher, in particular, a definition of 'labour' that allowed him to
he draws most on the work of the economist and economic understand the activities o f the Australian a boriginals in broadly
historian Karl Bcher with whom he studied in Leipzig 1909 to comparative terms rather than in strictly evolutionist ones.
1910. Bcher pointed in particular to the temporal rhythm and period-
icity of labour in industrial society, and showed in his work how
the temporal division of the day and the discipline of time was at
Economic ethnoloay and historicism least as importam as the division of tasks that was called 'the
Karl Bcher taught economics at the University of Leipzig. He division of labour'.
was a minar leader of the 'Historical School' of econornics in late
nineteenth century Germany. joseph Schumpeter (1954) includes Problems with the 'division of labour' in primitive economies
Bcher among the members of the 'Younger' Historical School
who followed the 'Elders' Bruno, Hildebrand and Wilhelm Herbert Spencer, ]ames Frazer and Emile Durkheim understood
Roscher. Schumpeter places Max Weber and Sombart among the specialized, task-divided 'labour' as the characteristic forro of
'youngest' of this School which is characterized by attention to economic activity in the advanced Westem industrialized
local historical detail of, for example, the development of a nations. The 'division of labour' permitted tasks to be appor-
weaver's guild or of forros of peasant land tenure. They eschewed tioned among specialists. Ever since Adam Smith wrote about
Hegelian or Comtean grand theories or universal histories and how it was possible for a pin factory to multiply production many
inevitable historical stages, such as those of Karl Marx or Henry hundredfold by employing a specialized labour force in which
Thomas Buckle (Buckle 1857; Stocking 1988), and argued against each individual did only one task on many pins instead of
the existence of historicallaws. Their research work was essen- manufacturing one pin from start to finish, European industry
tially ethnographic, like that of Edward B. Tylor, Franz Boas, regarded the 'division of labour' as one of the central character-
Edvard Westermarck or C. G. and Brenda Seligman. Members of istics of their unique productive capacity. This principie, pro-
the 'Younger Historical School' attempted to place economic gressively refined and applied to every type of commodity during
behaviour in its broadest possible sociological context, and the course of the nineteenth century did indeed create wealth by
sought to examine ali aspects of economic behaviour in society, permitting the introduction of increasingly specialized
including the nature and sources of motivation (Schumpeter machinery and by permitting economies of scale. Socialists such
1954:806-14). as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and Comtean 'positivists' such
In this essay Malinowski declares his rejection of 'any universal as Emile Durkheim worried that this division of labour would
scheme of evolution, fulfilled in every case and among all the lead to progressive marginalization of the labour force, and that
races of mankind', and declares in favour of an approach that this would lead to a loss ofidentity, 'anomie', and 'alienation'. If
52 53
Malinowski's early writinas lntrodction

the dose attachment between the maker and the product that
craftsmanship provided was lost, then labouring people would The economy of totemism
indeed have nothing left to sell but their labour. This, Marx Malinowski had already argued that the intichiuma rituais in
argued, was already the case in Britain, where capitalism had which the Arunta 'increase' or fecunda te the natural species asso-
reached its apogee. But Utilitarians such as Herbert Spencer ciated with their totems, is not itself a basic 'datum' but a com-
hailed this 'evolution' as the industrial parallel of the evolution plex institution. Since the intichiuma institution is social,
of biological species in nature. Spencer, in fact, believed more public, obligatory, founded on myth and prescriptive of ethics it is
generally that the 'evolution' of plants, animais, geological therefore 'religious' not magical. He suggested that because it is
features, industry and social organization all followed essentially the most arduous task undertaken by the society and since it
the same principie of 'differentiation' from simple to complex. involves the highest leveis of socia l organization of labour they
The embryologists Von Baer and Ernst Haeckel believed that they ever attempt, it is also 'economic'. Its functions are therefore
recognized the 'division of labour' in the increasing specializa- plural. Here he poses three questions: 1) in what sense is the
tion of embryos as they matured. Charles Darwin and Thomas intichiuma economic; 2) if it is, is there a functional connection
Huxley understood the specialization of biological species to par- between economics and magic, and 3) is this connection a necess-
ticular characteristics of their environments as extensions of this ary one or 'merely accidental'?
principie. Durkheim extended this principie in De la division du The title of the essay already answers the first question.
travail social (The Social Division of Labour) to account for the Intichiuma is economic, he argues, not in the 'sterile' sense of
evolution of social organization more generally, and used the providing a mechanical 'division of labour', however, but in a
principie implicitly to explain the incidence of suicide, among much more productive sense. These ceremonies involve
other things. These cases could be multiplied many times over. 'organized and collective labour of the community', 'require a
Thus, in tackling the economic aspects of the intichiuma, considerable amount oflabour ... performed with great care and
Malinowski could draw on a large body of comparable ethnog- with a full appreciation of their importance', are regular and
raphy and on arguments and theoretical positions that it periodic, and are consciously directed towards achieving the goal
engendered. In the terms of this discourse about the evolution of of 'the increase of totemic animais or plants'. There are also
the 'primitive' to the 'modem' (= European) the Australian simple forms of food-storage that involve 'some sacrifice of the
aboriginal societies were already widely identified as representa- present for the future, an essentially economic virtue and the
tive of the most 'primitive' forros of social life. Inasmuch as the prerequisite of capital'. 39
Australians appeared to lack the differentiated institutions of In these terms, then, the intichiuma is clearly an economic
'economy', that is, they lacked a significant degree of division of institution. But, he argues, it is 'economic' not in terms of a
labour and institutions for the rational and efficient production structural analogy with the 'division of labour', but rather in
and allocation of scarce goods and resources, these societies were terms of its rational goals, namely, the increase of totemic spe-
considered to be the zero-point of economic evolution. Thus, in cies. Magic, he claims, is first of ali a technique that is used to
claiming to find an 'economic aspect' to Australian ritual prac- achieve economic ends. Whether or not it actually achieves
tices, Malinowski was clearly going out on a limb. By the tenets them, he says, does not matter 'for the native who actually
of evolutionist theory- that is, by the assumptions on which the perceives the material results of his rnagical practices'. 10 If ali
'scientific' theories of his day were based- the title of this essay that totemism provided was a 'division of labour' in terms of
should be an oxymoron something like 'the spinal structure of 'false categories' of toternic species, then the principies which
invertebrates'! Moreover, Malinowski labelled as 'sterile' the underlay this ideology would be of little further interest. For,
notion that totemism was a primitive form of the 'division of once the fallacy of the ideology was recognized, it would cease to
labour' or a primitive categorical description of nature. have any relevance at ali. To the contrary, however, Malinowski
suggests that these cerernonies 'educate society in the exercise of
54 55
Malinowski's early writinas Introduction

forros of labour capable of economic utilization. In other words, totemic species, but, as a practice and a form of social organiza-
the study of the 'economic aspect' of totemism might well have tion it motivates and 'educates' people to labour in order to
some potential, not only for a better understanding of primitive achieve specific goals. Though these goals are 'mythological' they
psychology, but for their own advancement. Although he does are pursued in a practical way. The magic that is used, moreover,
not push further in this direction, his latter argument here anti- since it is believed by the native to be effective in achieving its
cipates his much later approach to 'culture change' in, for exam- ends, must be understood not as an intellectual 'error', as Frazer
ple, 'The function and adaptability of African institutions' in The did, but as a practical and economic technique. This conclusion,
Dynamics of Culture Chanae (1945:52-63). then, opens up for him a new field of study. 'The economic func-
On the matter of 'psychology', however, Malinowski parts tions of religious and magcal ideas', he maintains at the end of
company with the Volkswirtschaft theory of Karl Bcher. In the essay, 'become an interesting and importam subject of
general the historical or economic ethnology of the nineteenth investigation' without which the 'any evolutionary scheme of
century gradually developed a dichotomy between industrial economics must be incomplete'. It is religion and magic, in fact,
labour and primitive labour. Industrial labour was systematic, that constitute 'the various coercive ideas and other powerful
with rational goals, carred out in a continuous and sustained mental incentives which compel man to work and to work
manner according to periodic cycles, presupposing social economically in savage society when no rational motives or
organization, forethought and planning, and requiring intellec- outward coercion are able to move him'. 41 In this essay he has
tual effort. By contrast, primtive economy was more like play, moved beyond the 'division of labonr' thesis and beyond the
and characterized by aperiodicity, excitement, ecstasy, intoxica- historical particularism of the Historical School o f economics,
tion and rhythm. It would be difficult not to see an Apollonian and into a functionalism that refuses to distinguish between 'reli-
and Dionysian dichotomy in this or at least running parallel to it. gion' and 'economy' as discrete institutions, but which seeks the
But, as he had rejected Nietzsche's dichotomy between the religious and economic aspects of the institutions that ethnog-
primordial, ecstatic and intoxicated Dionysian and the raphy actually reveals. These ideas receive their embodiment
measured, contemplative and rational Apollonian, so he rejected especially in Coral Gardens and Their Maaic where he declares,
the Volkswirtschaft dichotomy between primitive and industrial
the two ways, the way of magic and the way of garden work- meaara la
labour. Since the labour performed in the intichiuma involves kada, baaula la kada- are inseparable. They are never confused, nor is
self-constraint, forethought, attention, free volitional effort, a one of them ever allowed to supercede the other . . . nor does this
high level of social organization and expenditure of energy (rela- distinction between work and magic remain implicit and unexpressed
tive to the context!), it was therefore 'economic' in exactly the ( 1935:76-7)
same sense that factory labour was 'economic'. The question of
'why?', however, remains. What are the 'intense mental stimuli
which force [the Australian] into a form of labour normally
repugnant to his nature'? While he acknowledges Bcher's point This conclusion, of course, raises one other problem with respect
that the rhythm of communallabour or the beauty of its products to the Durkheimian definition of religion. He addressed this in the
may seem to be stimulus enough, it is 'the powerful complex of short 'A fundamental problem of religious sociology' published in
totemic ideas' itself that provides the stimulus to economic 1914 (included in this volume). If intichiuma ceremonies are
labour. The goals of labour, in other words, are not provided by both religious and economic then it scarcely makes sense to
ratiocination but are provided by mythology. From the 'native's define religion in terms of a dchotomy between 'sacred' and 'pro-
point of view' this makes no difference since the mythical reality fane' as Durkheim had done. Malinowski is as pragmatic as he is
is precisely identical to reality- there is no other. diplomatic about his rejection of the Durkheimian claim: 'pend-
Malinowski concludes that totemism is more than a false des- ing more evidence', he says, 'it would be rash to dogmatize on the
cription of reality in terms of identification of clans with their subject'. Malinowski considers the sacredlprofane distinction to
56 57
Malinowski's early writinns In troduction
be merely a social and contextual feature of Australan religion prevalent practice is negative, namely a taboo on eating the
in particular and thus of no general theoretical consequence. totem, (iii) that of the few positive rites that exist, the
Durkheim has simply taken over the native categories into his Australian intichiuma rituais are exemplary, (iv) that the rela-
own theoretical system. tionship between man and the totem is never a simple one of
Malinowski's approach to the economy of totemism, then, puta tive kinship or ancestry, mode ofreference, name or emblem,
revealed an important horizon for an empirical, functionalist and (v) that totems are never arranged hierarchically, but always
social anthropology, one that could be genuinely informed by 'equivalem to and independem o fone another'. Significantly, h e
data from the field. emphasizes that on the basis of the evidence available, none of
these features can be considered 'primordial '.
Treating totemism as a 'social' phenomenon, Malinowski notes
that totemism is closely related to a specific form of social
organization, that of the tribe with its constituem and mutually
Malinowski takes up in this essay the questions that he leaves at equivalem clans, and that 'it functions to join the clan into a
the end of his review of Frazer's Totemism and Exonamy. It is an tribal unity'Y This we recognize as a fundamental tenet of func-
explicit attempt to formula te clearly a theoretical concept and to tionalism, which, at this levei of abstraction, Malinowski shares
articulate a method. 'Totemism' he shows, does not exist as a with Durkheim. There is, however, a crucial difference. While
discrete category of similar concepts or practices nor is it a dis- Durkheim used this 'functionalist' principie within a larger
crete institution that can exist across different historical times, evolutionist theory, making o f it not just the 'elementary forrn' o f
cultures or societies. At best, totemism is a 'set of heterogeneous religion, but also the seed from which true science sprouted and
and loosely connected phenomena' some of which are 'social' grew, Malinowski remains outside of the evolutionist discourse
while others 'religious' .43 In other words, there is no 'essence' of emirely. Totemism, for Malinowski, is not identified with 'primi-
totemism, simply defined or 'univocally deterrnined'. tive science', but is itself the particular 'expression' of a more
The study of 'totemism', he acknowledges, is 'an extremely general 'attitude to the environmem'. This attitude to the
fashionable subject in present day [1913] ethnology', 44 but he environmem, he says, is complex and is conditioned but not
claims that what we .'recognize' as totemism is 'manifold determined by the 'struggle for existence', lack of contrai over
symptoms' which may or may not point to an 'organic entity' natural events, the challenges of life crises and sexuality, and the
that we could legitimately label as such and claim to study. needs for nourishment and for defense against dangers ' real and
Instead, Malinowski seeks to show that while totemism does not imagined'.
have a single source or 'origin', we can show how it arises and This theory is in itself a much more complex and more prag-
'functions in the workings of complex and varied conditions, ' matic theory than those of either Durkheim or Radcliffe-Brown.
and that under certain conditions, it constitutes 'the most dur- While clearly ech oing the methods of Mach (positive data, clear
able type of religion for a living environment' .46 In this essay theory), Nietzsche (genealogy, lack of evolutionist teleology)
Malinowski explicitly and in so many words disavows history and and Virchow (symptoms, attitudes), these ideas look forward to
historical methods in favour of a broadly 'functional' and the full flowering of a theory of functionalism.
'genetic' approach. Malinowski also agrees with Durkheim that the idea of totem-
He begins with a brief survey of the kinds of totems mentioned ism does not relate to individual animais, but to categories of
in the literature, and the practices relating to them. Malinowski animais, namely species in their categorical entirety (cf.
dis~overs inductively severa! general patterns in the data of Durkheim 1912). They also agree about the logical status of
totemism. Treating totemism as a 'religious' phenomenon, he totemism, that is, that it presents both a natural classification
notes (i) that of 1,645 kinds of totems in his list, animal totems and a 'categorical imperative'48 and thus provides a theory of
outnumber plant totems by four to one, () that the most natural arder for the environmem and of moral arder for society,
Malinowski's early writinas
not just a random description. In this way, some of the ideas in
this essay anticipate the work of the French anthropologist THE ESSAY ON 'THE SOCIOLOGY OF THE FAMILY', A REVIEW OF
Claude Lvi-Strauss. Considering the detailed content of totemic THE LITERATURE
practices, and playing on another 'fashionable' topic of anthropo- The essay on the farnily, written in German, is the weakest essay
logical analysis, Malinowski notes that taboos relating to totemic from the theoretical perspective. It is divided into two parts; the
animais 'possess an economic cha racter as a kind of division of first part reviews briefly the works on the evolution of kinship,
consumption'19 - they are mostly edible, but not by everyone. and touches on Maine, Fustel de Coulanges, Grote, Bachofen,
Since they also express an 'attitude about the environment', Morgan, McLennan, Crawley and a few others who are Iess well-
toterns are also 'crystallizing foci for ... ideas'50 about what in known to English-readers such as Hildebrand, Dargun and
nature is most similar to man, and what it is about man that is Muller-Lyer. The latter were ali historians of law or economics
most unlike nature. Though these ideas are not expressed with who wrote in Cracow or in Leipzig where Malinowski had studied
epigrammatic precision, they remind us of Lvi-Strauss' famous with Bcher and Wundt. Dargun, in particular was a dose friend
remark about totems: that they a re both good to eat and good to of Malinowski's father, and a professor of law at Cracow Univer-
think (Lvi-Strauss 1962). sity who introduced ethnology into the study of law. From this
Finally, at the end of the essay, Malinowski evinces again the emerged an interest in origins and development of the family and
Nietzschean agnosticism concerning history and origins. Totem- in forms of property. He believed that individual ownership of
ism, h e argues, can never be accounted for historically. This is property was certainly the original form of ownership, and that
partly because the textual resources do not exist, but more communal forms of ownership were legal institutions appropriate
fundamentally, beca use the practices and beliefs of totemism can to 'higher stages' of legal evolution. Possibly reflecting his father's
not be understood in terms of a sequence of events or in terrns of friend's position, Malinowski showed in his Trobriand ethnogra-
causes. Its features are not parts of historical successions nor phy that individual ownership, not communal property, was the
stages of an evolution but, instead, elements of 'a chain of facts' 51 rule. He credits Dargun here, however, with a functionalist
that must be comprehended 'simultaneously', in 'parallel', by understanding of the family in relation to other institutions in
juxtaposition, 'one in the light of another'. Malinowski's conclu- society.
sion to 'The relationship of primitive beliefs to the forros of social The second section deals, also briefly and dismissively, with
organization', then, can be seen as a manifesto for the functional- contemporary (that is, as of 1913) works on the sociology of the
ism that he went on to develop. European and American family, and the problerns that faced it
Since the cult of the particular totems is associated with the clan, and
and which threatened to 'transform' it profoundly.
the clans are integrated into a whole through their functions ... the There are, however, a number of points of interest in the
necessity for a simultaneous investigation of primitive beliefs and social survey. First of ali is the fact that 'the family' itself should have
differentiation is apparent. Only by juxtaposing these two aspects can attracted Malinowski's attention so strongly. This review itself
we comprehend the essence of primitive religions ... Only the general shows the intensity and extent of European interest in the 'prob-
character of those functions which weld the individual clans into a lems' of women, children and sex, especially with respect to the
higher tribal entity and the general characters of the beliefs pertaining to 'institutions' of marriage, child labour, and prostitution, and the
the cult objects of equal rank, taken together, enable us to define exclusion of women from participation in politics. Ali of these
totemism. 52 issues provoked intense debate among churchmen and socialists,
members of labour unions, social clubs and poltica) parties,
Thus, whether the 'symptoms' of totemism that Frazer cata-
intellectuals and politicians. The plots of most major nineteenth
logued actually indicare the existence of the organic and multi- century noveis revolved around these questions, and artists
functional institution is a question that can only be answered
portrayed these themes in their paintings. It is not surprising that
empirically. they should be central to the ethnological literature as well. It
Malinowski's early writinas

sbould be remembered, bowever, tbat witb tbe exception of 1931) was a Finnisb sociologist wbo taugbt at tbe London Scbool
works like August Bebel's Woman and Socialism, Engels' The of Economics between 1906 and 1930 and wbo, as bis teacber, bad
Oriain of the Family, Private Property and the State, or in tbe a major influence on Malinowski after Malinowski went to
works of feminists sucb as Olive Schreiner and Annie Besant, tbe London. His work on tbe family and kinsbip and marriage,
family was not really a scientific issue. Established pbilosopbers, togetber witb tbose of Malinowski, William H. R. Rivers and A.
bistorians and economists dealt witb religion, politics and R. Radcliffe-Brown, eventually effectively silenced, at least in
industry, not sexuality, women and reproduction. Malinowski's Westem anthropology, tbe sterile debate about 'group marriage',
focus, tben, was somewbat unusual for an ambitious young man, 'primitive promiscuity', 'matriarcbate', and 'patriarcbate'.
Westermarck's approacb was most innovative in introducing
but tbese academic lacunae proved to be bis frontier.
His review reveals an extensive and detailed knowledge of a comparisons between buman social structure and tbat of bigber
large literature. It probably constitutes a review of tbe literature vertebrates and tbe antbropoid apes. His metbods presaged tbe
conducted in parallel witb bis writing of The Family amona the growtb of etbology, tbe study of animal social organization, and
Australian Aboriaines (1913), Malinowski's first book publisbed of sociobiology, a discourse on tbe biological evolution of social
in Englisb. In tbe review be promises a 'later study' tbat will be bebaviour informed by Darwinian principies. Tbese !ater studies
more 'constructive', and it may be tbat be bad tbe Australian bave largely confirmed Westermarck's findings tbat tbe family,
book in mind, but only one work, Alfred Crawley's, The Mystic consisting of a relatively monogamous union of a male and
Rose, wbicb is mentioned in tbe text of tbe review, is included, in female adult witb tbeir cbildren belonging to botb (tbat is not
an 'Addendum' to The Family amona the Australian Aboriaines. exclusively patri- or matrilineal), was most probably tbe elemen-
Tbe book ecboes tbe review, bowever, wben Malinowski says in tary forro of even tbe earliest buman societies. Malinowski
tbe first line of tbe book tbat 'Tbe problems of tbe social forros of immediately recognized tbe superiority of tbis viewpoint.
Westermarck's and Dargun's sociological approacbes meant tbat
family life still present some obscurities' (1913: 1).
In tbe first part, Malinowski's discussion of tbe evolutionist and tbe variety of social forros seen in buman com muni ties would no
bistorical scbools gives only enougb detail of argument to make it longer be seen as 'stages' in a universal evolution of a single social
seem reasonable to dismiss tbem as tbeoretically and metbodolo- form, tbat of monogamous marriage and cognatic kinsbip, but as
gically unsound. None of tbe deptb of criticism tbat we find in tbe different social practices existing under different social condi-
review of Frazer is found bere. He complains tbat tbere is often a tions. 'Tbe most important task of sociological researcb', be
'polemical, often irritated tone' in mucb of tbe work of tbe evolu- wrote, 'is to analyze accurately family life and ... to investigate
tionists, and expresses tbe suspicion tbat tbe 'communist ideal for tbeir mutual dependencies and externai conditions'. Tbis is wbat
tbe future' probably influenced tbe speculations about tbe past of be did in precise and elaborate detail witb tbe empirical
sucb socialist writers as Friedrich Engels and August Bebel. literature on tbe Australian Aboriginal families. Compare, for
Among tbe 'bistorical scbool' be praises only Lotbar Dargun for a instance, Malinowski's statement in The Family amon9 the
Australan Aboriaines:
valuable introduction of tbe concepts of power (Gewalt) and
kinsbip. The aim ofthe present study isto define what this individual relationship
Malinowski's approval of Dargun's insigbt into tbe functional is; to describe its different aspects and features; how it manifests itse1f in
dependence of tbe kinsbip relations on jurai, moral and economic its different social functions and, as far as can be ascertained, how it
factors signals tbe approacb Malinowski bimself subsequently must impress itself upon the na tive mind .... It is not the actual relation-
took. Tbe basis for Malinowski's approacb to tbe family, ship, or the individual family, or 'family in the European sense' which
bowever, carne not from bis original criticism of tbe German and we have to look for in Australia. lt is the aboriginal Australian
Britisb speculative bistorians but ratber from Westermarck's The individual family with ali its peculiarities and characteristic features
History of Human Marriaae (1892). Edvard Westermarck (1832- which must be reconstructed from the evidence ... In other words we

62 63
Malinowski's early writinas

have to look for the connection between the facts of family life and the
general structure of society and forms of na tive life. (1913:8)

That work is recognized today as a landmark study, introducing MALINOWSKI'S WRITINGS,

the special tools of Functionalist analysis, even though it lacked
original data collected in the field. 1904- 1914
The second section of the survey simply points to problems in
the contemporary sociology of the family. There are some ele-
ments of concern here that he took up in his writings on marriage
and family in the l930s and again much la ter in, for example, The
Foundations of Faith and Morais (1936) and Freedom and
Civilization (l944b). For the most part these are familiar to
everyone today: divorce, the role of the family in education, the
rights and position of children, the neglect of children by working
parents, the economic, legal, and political position ofwomen, the
decreasing productive role of the housewife, and 'sexual abuses'
such as prostitution, sex crimes and sexually-transmitted
diseases. Only the reform of marriage laws and eugenics, also
induded in his list, seem out ofplace today. All ofthese problems
that he notices in this survey suggest to him that the family is
being irrevocably and profoundly 'transformed', but Malinowski
finds little theoretical sophistication in this literature, and offers
none of his own. Remarking that much of the contemporary
sociological literature is journalistic, or is written in service of
particular socialist, religious, eugenicist, or other moral and
political views, he sees no new ways to understand these prob-
lems, let alone cope with them. His suggestion that this failure is
dueto the fact that we are too dose to the data of our own society
to understand it well and points toward the horizon of fieldwork
and travei to societies where, while the data are more distant, the
view of it is from dose to his European home.




1. The conceptual system which permeates this entire work, and

in which the majority of [Nietzsche's] thoughts are expressed, is
based on the metaphysics of Schopenhauer. This is reflected both
in the terminology and in the basic treatment of the problem.
Metaphysics as a direction ofphilosophical thinking is an attempt
at a direct definition of reality in conceptual form. lt is meant to
be a precise, intellectually formulated answer to the question,
What is reality? What is the absolute? The possibilit):: Qf P.Osillg
ions js given..iu the basic di,yision which we always and ~
~.cywhere en~unter ~!:_~perience: b~~ aiiaSul, bJecfiV
and subjective objectsJ.,!t..fwm::tlie:::i.S.W~-.!l-~-:s
~ditional jnneL_~~!~:e . Jhis dualism assumes
various forms which coincide in part, and in part are mutually
contradictory; but the heterogeneity, the absence of a bridge
between these two basically different worlds, is always in the
foreground. However, something more than purely empirical
dualism is hidden in the very posing of the basic question of
metaphysics. Defining something to be an absolute reality, and
consequently relegating everything else to the order of
appearances, of something negative and secondary, already con-
tains a value judgement and thus emotional fa~ors in addition to
purely conceptual, cognitive ones. And indeed metaphysics is
something more than a philosophical discipline, it is a basic
symptom of certain features in the structure of the human soul.
We could briefly define it in this manner, that the world of emo-
tions is hopelessly entwined with the world of pure thought; that
thought, guided by forces of nature foreign to it, must drift
aimlessly through dimensions forever closed to it. Absolute
reality and truth are not postulares of cognition [poznanie], but of
original in handwritten Polish. Bronis!aw Malinowski Papers, Manuscript and
Archives, Stirling Library, Yale University, Group No. 19, Series 11, Box 27, file 237.

Malinowski's early writinss Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy

a certain spiritual quietism [pewnego kwietyzmu duchowego], fullness of its subjectivism, is a particle of the general Will,
existing only in the world of feelings. and its absolute need and incorporated in our body. The relationship of the Will to the
hope; thought sets out in search of this ideal Eldorado with its uni verse of appearances is identical to the relationship of ou r soul
eyes blindfolded and calls the road traversed in darkness mere to our body. By nature the Will is one and indivisible; in assuming
appearance and falsehood, and calls the vision of the unattain- its body (becoming the world of appearances, that is, the uni verse
able goal truth, about which it hears tales in languages entirely as it appears to us) it had to submit to certain conditions: from
foreign to it, which it awkwardly translates into its own idiom.- being intangible, eterna!, and unlimited by anything. it became
This subjective, emotional character, and at the same time the limited by time, space, and causality, and it had to be broken up.
origin of metaphysics is reftected most distinctly in its concepts. to become embodied in individuais. This act, to which the Will
They always express the desire to merge with and to penetrate was pushed by inner fatality, and which is the cause of all evil, is
into the objective world, as they find it around themselves, the 'principium individuationis'.
demanding that it be more human, more suitable to our feelings. In The Birth ofTrasedy, 1 Nietzsche operates exclusively within
In almost every metaphysical system, the essence of things. the the framework of Schopenhauer's system, actually following the
absolute, the metaphysical reality is something which recalls the course of his thoughts, and he even exceeds the philosophy of
human soul [dusza ludzka]; while the cold, indifferent world of Schopenhauer in his basic metaphysical attitude. He stands on
appearances is free from feelings. far from man. Whether the the border between transcendental metaphysics, which appre-
absolute is a personal God. a God permeating the world and fused hends everything in categories, and evaluates them with
with it; or monads, the individual souls of ali things; or Schopen- reference to these categories, and practical metaphysics, which is
hauer's Will - everywhere the metaphysically conceived essence concerned with justifying life and searching for its value in man's

t of things is a subjectivization, a humanization of reality; tuning

itself to the resonance of our inner experiences and longings.
Sometimes this leans more towards rationalizing everything:
attitude toward the world. This book is first of all a treatment and
justification of the world as an aesthetic phenomenon; i.e., it
seeks not reality, but value - and actually not the value of the
endowing each thing (or the universe) with a rational soul; world, but of life, since aestheticism cannot be deduced as an
sometimes it is made ethical, and sometimes that which is subjec- objective quality of the world, but is rather always the result of
tive in the most general sense is impressed into reality: this is man's (subjective) attitude towards the world.
Schopenhauer's Will.
Thus, metaphysics, judged from the purely scientific point of
view, is a system of exact and pure concepts, which must always Now this is a profoundly sceptical attitude for philosophy to have
contain the nucleus of bankruptcy within itself, since it is scien- towards reality, and very far from metaphysical transcen-
tific thought impregnated with feelings; but as a basic direction dentalism.
and symptom of the soul, it is a necessary and indestructible 2. This book, dealing with myth, presenting an analysis and
phenomenon. definition of myth - is itself, as a form of creativity, a conception
For Schopenhauer, the world as we see it directly, as everything ofthought- a myth. It is a myth about the birth of tragedy, about

l which surrounds us which we experience with our senses, and as

that which exists in space and time and which is subject to
1 causality, is the world of appearances. But under these
appearances the soul of the world is contained, just as within our
Apollonian and Dionysian art, about Greece and its Olympian
Gods and about theoretical man, who has ultimately killed the
Hellenic spirit.
Myth is a basic ca tegory of reference to the historical past. In
1 body there is a soul. we apprehend 'from inside' as our ego. contrast with pure history, which is satisfied with the reconstruc-
\ Schopenhauer calls that~ich is.! found.J.mder the cover of tion of facts, and with scientific history (sociology), which
thePpearancejW"ill,_and _onsiders iqo absolute, the. soul wishes to find the laws of historical becomings - myth searches
of the universe. What we feel within ourselves as our ego, in the the past for the embodiment of ideals; the phantorns resurrected
68 69
Malinowski's early writinas Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy
by it shed strong lights across the perspective of centuries which spells. Such peoples possess religions without a heaven.) (This is
colour the present. The images of the past created by myth are why the myth of Olympus is not yet a proof of the exuberant
incommensurate with the present reality; they are, so to speak, pessimism of the Greeks; cf. The Birth of Traaedy, 3, p. 31 3 ) . -
drawn from another dimension. At one pole myth touches anistie Hellas has long been such a myth of learned humanists, and
creativity, for its constructs are to fill a certain void left by the even of some non-scholars and non-humanists but people of
world around us; they are to be the complement to present genius, such as Winckelmann and Goethe. The Greeks, their art,
reality, not according to scientific principies but according to the life and culture have already become the object of so many
demands of our inner longing. At the other pole myth leans on legends that they glitter before our eyes with a whole gamut of
religion, for the past recreated by it entwines the present in a net values, beauty, simplicity, and nobility; they are linked to our
of norms and subordinates the present to itself ethically. But a lives by a multitude of personal things. which each of us feels in
dose connection exists between the myth and the religious relation to them. Greece is not a past reality which no longer
aspects of myth. As the soul of dogma, myth is its artistic comple- exists and which can only be recreated by thought and imagina-
ment; it is the forro in which the anistie experience of faith tion in indistinct shadows from a few vestiges. For us Greece is a
merges with faith crystallized in pure concepts (dry theological living presence which our dreams and a certain sense of values
dogma). constantly place before our eyes; it is a prototype for us of beauty
Religion, as a living psychological entity in the soul of a and happiness which once flourished on the earth, a phantom of a
believer, is (as an ideal) the highest synthesis of subjective ele- white marble column sharply outlined against the blue sky and
ments; therefore it must absorb the release of artistic energies. the azure sea; the radiance of an externally young and living
This is evident among people whose religion has preserved its ruin; it triumphs over the notches which time and oblivion have
fullness and vividness. As religion ossifies, either in the historical carved to ennoble it even more. We do not approach any Greek
development of a given society or in a vertical cross-section of thing with the calm and objectivity which we have for other
society from bottom to top, myth is replaced by dogma, faith in historical phenomena. Hellas appears as a bright island amid and
immaterial things. faith transplanted to the ground of reason above the sea of barbarism. The cu1t of Hellas and Hellenic things
where it can exist only in the artificial and unhealthy atmosphere is stronger in The Birth of Traaedy than anywhere else. -
of scholastic rationalism (cf. The Birth of Traaedy, 10, p. 76). just as myth, as a phenomenon of individual psychology, is a
Myth is the result of the emotional denial of the logical postulates manifestation of certain artistic or metaphysical needs, in myth
of the uniformity of space and time. The longing for something as a phenomenon of 'social psychology' religious traits appear in
bener makes us believe that somewhere far away the world is the foreground. This basic reference to the past, aside from
completely different and that life there may turn out much searching for the lost paradise, consists in seeing a justification for
better. the moral order of the world in the past. What was, explains what
And time, removed far away from the present moment, appears is. The function of myth is not so visible in our religion, for
in our daydreams as a mysterious interior, full of most beautiful example, and, in general, in higher forms of religion, which pos-
possibilities. Thought and dream are not strong enough to bear sess developed theological dogmatics. But in lower types of reli-
the burden of the reality of ou r pain, with which every moment of gion where our dogma is replaced by myth, we always encounter
our life is branded. Every human being has such regions to which the explanatory function ofmyth. Every moral ordinance and act
he escapes from the impossibility of sustaining the burden; and of worship is justified by some event which occurred in the past.
mankind has socially created a countless number of paradises, Beca use of the facts related by myth, past life, apprehended in the
which seem to be a necessity for every people who believe in form of myth, takes on the character of a higher necessity and is
death. (People of a very low culture do not know that death is raised above the sphere of ordinary human feelings. Thanks to
something natural and necessary. They regard each individual their special position, mythical events, as prototypes of human
case as something abnormal, and usually attribute it to evil behaviour, assume an entirely new dimension, they become
70 71
Malinowski's early writinas Observations on Friedrich Niet~sche's The Birth of Tragedy

something necessary and superhuman. It may be said that they works. As far as I am concerned, the essence of art, that which
are the feelings and experiences of entire generations who distinguishes it from other forrns of self-expression, is the direct
believed in this myth and behaved according to it; the events of action of certain sensory elements (musical sound, colour, line,
the myth turn ordinary human matters into something superhu- rhythm, the sound of human speech) through which the recipient
manly radiant. These assertions could be supported with facts is put into a specific state oftrance or ecstasy, more or less distinct
from the mythology of various peoples; how it is reftected in their and intense. There is no art without such a state of dislocated,
religious, artistic and social life. Taking an example from the modified consciousness and remova! ofsobriety. In such a psychic
sphere closest to us, the most tragic thing in our own religion is state reality appears before us in a new forro, or new spaces of
probably the death of Christ. It could be shown objectively, and it reality open up to us, where we find satisfaction of our metaphys-
is immediately apparent when we reach back to the subjective icallongings, filling the void which sober reality always contains
experiences of childish faith, that this fact has been raised above in its breast, surrounded as it were by a multi-coloured but cold
the brutality, severity, and horror of naked human suffering. We and infinitely thi n shell of the orbis pictus. Thus, art, meta-
could mention the following objective facts: the symbolizing of physics, and myth are genetically related.
Christ's passion in the Mass, in which the soul of the believer
repeatedly experiences symbolically the sacrifice of Christ and
mystically tries to recreate the Lord's passion; this obviously must In order to grasp better what Nietzsche wishes to grasp in his
completely blunt the immediacy of any feeling or emotional reac- Apollo-Dionysus opposition, I have collected his definitions in a
tion; then there are passion-plays as semi-religious and semi-artis- synoptic table:
tic productions; such concepts as Christ's suffering being ours, in
which human suffering is drowned, i.e., as a kind of palliative,
etc. Religious doctrine is an immense reservoir of such various Kinds and characteristics of Kinds and characteristics of
rituais, ideas, and concepts, part of which is reftected in the soul Apollonian Art: Dionysian Art:
of every believer, and assumes various forrns depending on Plastic art, epic poetry (p. 43) Music without any images (p.
devoutness, education, and sensitivity, but everywhere and [1968:50]. 1 43) [1968:50).
always it transforrns the directness of the emotional reference Pure contemplation (p. 24) Revelry, direct experience of
into some mystical dimension. From these matters closest to us, [1968:35]. primordial pain, intoxication
Lwe could go further and examine the mythologies of other reli- Redemption through illusion (p. (pp. 25 and 43) [1968:36 and
gions; the results would be analogous everywhere. 36) [1968:45).
3. Myth (as a form of apprehension), is also the duality of art, The sensation that the dream is Music is a phenomenon of the
personified in the radiantly smiling figure of Apollo and in the mere appearance (p. 23) Will [in Schopenhauer's sense
orgiastic dance of Dionysus. It is a beautiful picture, invariably [1968:34,45). of the term) (pp. 49-50)
beautiful in itself, and beautiful in the thoughts which it sym- Imagistic art, the image of the [1968:55].
bolizes, enticing us in to a deceptive depth. It is one of the psycho- 'principium individuationis', Lack of imagery (p. 21)
logically creative conceptions which suggest an inner reference to the joy and wisdom of 'illu- [1968:33).
art. Nevertheless, the reality of our experiences will always resist sion' (p. 21, 24) [1968:36].
Ecstacy over the collapse of the
such classifications with its deepest instincts and will enable us to The primordial pleasure of mere 'principium individuationis'
perceive where the basic error of this classification isto be found appearance (p. 43) [1968:50]. (p. 25) [1968:36).
by a sober and conscientious analysis. Nietzsche's concept of the Fusing one's self with nature,
duality of art, Apollonian and Dionysian, cannot be maintained with the Will, and with 'the
on closer inspection either as a division of subjective artistic primordial unity' (p. 26)
experiences or as a classification of the arts. as specific objective [1968:37-38).

72 73
Malinowski's early writinss Observations on Friedrich N i eti:sche's The Birth of Tragedy

music and some forms of poetry to be a rts expressing the Will, in

contrast to plastic art. which is satisfied with elements of Mere
Kinds and characteristics of Appearance, then, translating Schopenhauer's terminology into
Kinds and characteristics of
Apollonian Art:
Dionysian Art: the language of psychological facts, we must reject Nietzsche's
lntoxication, rapture, ecstacy, assertion as false: in each art as such there is a direct expression of
The myth of Olympus as a cre things emotionally transcendent, that which Schopenhauer has
ation of Apollonian art (sec- oblivion, and then nausea (p.
56) [1968:60). called Will. In other words, there is no such thing as a non-
tion 3).
'The titanic'5 and 'the barbaric' Dionysian art which does not give us a direct union with the
Measure as a characteristic of primordial unity. (I quote these concepts sub beneficio inven-
Apollonian art (p. 37) in Dionysian art (p. 38)
[1968:46). tarii!) From this point of view, after bringing Schopenhauer's
fiction into the sphere of empiricism, the Apollonian-Dionysian
Combination of Apollonian and Dionysian Elements distinction tums out to be completely erroneous. -
Lyric Poetry. expressing Dionysian content with Apollonian language We don't really know whether the a bove distinction refers to
(with music) (sections 5 & 6). kinds of art, purely objectively, or to the psychological forms of
Apollonian music, primarily the beat of rhythm; 'Doric architectonics experiencing them. Since music can be both Dionysian and Apol-
in tones'. lonian, and poetry can also, it would therefore rather refer to
Traaedy, as the most profound combination of these two elements some basic traits of certain kinds of art, and not to the kinds of art
(sections 8 & 9). in their entirety. On the other hand Nietzsche sets up this distinc-
tion as something basic, prime, and dia metrically opposed - and
If we subject the contents of this table to a closer analysis, we as such it could perhaps refer to a subjective experience of art,
are struck, first of all by the fact that the Apollo-Dionysus opposi- and not to an objective classification which is blurred. In general
tion is based primarily on Schopenhauer's metaphysics. (Contem- one can feel that we are moving here into the sphere of
pla tion of appearances - direct expression of primordial pain; metaphysics, .e., of nebulous concepts not referring to any con-
redemption through illusion - intoxication, immersion in the crete, clearly and unequivocally defined realty. Now I would like
Will; ecstacy in the principium individuationis- ecstacy over its to tum our attention to two important facts which cannot be
collapse.) For anyone who is not an advocate of Schopenhauer- dealt with so negatively, since they correspond to certain real
ism, all of these definitions are- prima facie, as the fi rst, natural facts, which Nietzsche, however, does not express adequately.
reflex- devoid of sense. Indeed, in my opinion, this opposition I. Both music and poetry can participate in the two basic
resulted from, grew out of Schopenhauerism, stands by it, falls spheres of art (Apollonian and Dionysia n), either as epic poetry
with it, and in fact cannot be upheld. But like every Transcenden- and Apollonian music on the one hand, oras Dionysian music on
talism (see no. l above) Schopenhauer's metaphysics expresses the other, or as mixed forms: lyric poetry a nd tragedy. Only to
certain psychological realities. Schopenhauer's Will, his absolute, plastic art is access to the other side barred: according to Nietzs-
is a dreamed for, longed for, and thus a subjectivized reality; it is che there is no Dionysian plastic art.
the most subjective quintessence of our subjective essence. 11. The Apollo-Dionysus distinction also possesses a physio-
According to what was said above about art, in an artistic work logical foundation. Explaining the character and essence of
there must always be such a new, subjective reality, which is the Apollonian art as a dream, aside from its connection with
actual essence of art, a new area of space to which art introduces Schopenhauer's philosophy, also possesses a physiological mean-
the man experiencing it. The trance or ecstacy we experience ing, which, however, Nietzsche does not emphasize. Dream and
under the influence of the harmony of sounds or colours is an calm contemplation are distinguished in contrast to orgy, dance,
essential moment of artistry; it cannot be made the monopoly of a frenzy, a certain characteristic way of experiencing art which
certain category of the arts. Therefore if Nietzsche considers can undoubtedly be found in psychological reality. But if Nietzs-
74 75
Malinowski's early writinos Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy

che contrasts the Apo11onian dream with tbe Dionysian rapture workings of art, we feel as if a new world opens up withi n us,
and na rcosis, it is apparent tha t this would, above ali, diminish which absorbs us and destroys the sensa tions of the world outside
us. In an orgiastic experience we externalize ourselves, letting
both of these concepts, which have the same meaning as psycho- ourselves become a tool of some sort of force which changes our
logical symbolism, and indeed this is, again, a retum from a body into something which we feel as existing beyond us, on the
psychological to a metaphysical treatment. And yet, it is pre- outside; we merge with the environment, becoming a part of it.
cisely from a purely physiological (or psycbological, it is only a Speakint metaphysically: in a!_!~~tatic experience of _a r~, ~e
question of terminology) point of view that a division of artistic approac reality .by feelingJLarise witl,?in us; in an orgiastic
experiences can be undertaken, which, as it appears to me, is the exp~rence, we aeproach reality from the outside by merging w.i!h
only psychic reality which Nietzsche must have had indistinctly _it as a Rrt of the whole. (This ' metaphysical' formulation is only
before his eyes when he created the Apollonian- Dionysian a symbolic expression for certain real feelings.) Of course, as with
conception . any psycho-physical distinction the one above is only a simple
I have the impression (I have not had time to think it over analysis of a state which is in reality quite complex. It presents
sufficiently) that there are actually two entirely different states two poles between which the real states range and which one
of the body in which we experience art. The subjective psychic encounters in a completely pure form only in exceptional cases.
states which become the source of art - that undifferentiated We could discuss this distinction in detail in the spheres of music
creative chaos- may externalize themselves, or rather release the and of the poetic arts. lt sheds interesting light especially on the
physiological energy of the organism, in two ways: either they ethnological development of art. The a rt of savage peoples, i.e.
find their expression in direct motion, physiological activities in primitive art, is solely orgiastic. The frozen, internally mute way
general (dance, song, artistic mimicry, ofwhich poetry as a direct of experiencing art, ecstatically, is proper only to higher leveis of
expression is a subdivision) , or the creative pulp may lead the culture, and even here it is almost exclusively in reference to the
body into congealing into an ecstatic imrnobility in which the higher arts. Dance has ceased to be art for us justas it has ceased
transmission of the nervous substance occurs more intensely. as it to be a component of religion.
does in the pathological states of catalepsy. Physiologically. these Let us now tum to the plastic arts, which occupy an excep-
two states seem basically different to me, and I suppose that they tional place in Nietzsche's scheme, but which place is not justi-
could be precisely differentiated comparatively. Psychologically, fied or explained there. On the basis of a psychological division of
I also see a distinct difference introspectively between an ecstatic the a rts into ecstatic and orgiastic, this exceptional place of the
or narcotic experience of music, for example, and its orgiastic plastic arts, with painting in the forefront, can be easily
enjoyment. When under the influence of a musical symphony, I expl ained: the physical elements employed by the plastic a rtist
am slowly frozen into a complete state of powerlessness of the (especially colour) are not components of our bodies, they are not
body and experience a feeling as though my spirit, free after among the physiological elements with which we can express our
leaving its lifeless shell, were flying somewhere in the mysterious subjective states. We can express sound, word, and rhythm all by
regions of new realities; this dissociation of body from soul is for direct movements of our bodies, but not colour. The painter,
me an absolutely concrete experience. On the other hand, when when he paints, is not expressing himself directly through a
under the influence of music I can also feel how my whole body physiological function, as a singer or a dancer does. The artistic
vibrates involuntarily and how the rhythm of each muscle impels elements of architecture stand in a relationship to our bodies
me to dance in order to express what I am experiencing by the analogous to the colours ofpainting. Sculpture, as a n art referring
integral rhythm of my entire body - introspectively, these two directly to the shapes of the human body, has its orgiastic
ways of receiving music are something basically different. In the counterpart, perhaps, in the dance.
same way in song, and in the mimetic expression of feelings (the This physiological classification seems to me to be the only
experiences of the actor, insofar as I can recreate them) the rational, real residuum remaining from the analysis of Nietzs-
whole body experiences the art. It may be said that in the ecstatic
Malinowski's early writinos Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy

che's opposition. Perhaps it would be an interesting viewpoint for creativity whenever we touch it. Schopenhauer's nomenclature,
a sociological examination of art; evolutionary problems of art; pressing thoughts into dry schemata, and the fiery, aphoristic
and even some biological problems. Darwin tried to deduce song style of Nietzsche, constantly fertilizing our thought and
and dance, and with them the majority of art, from animal mat- imagination with paradoxes, flow parallel and at different tempos
ing calls. The mimetic arts could also be reduced to biological and carry two, basically different spiritual currents. After strip-
sources on the basis of Darwin's works (cf. On the Expression of ping the work of Schopenhauer's metaphysical cover, the
the Emotions in Man and Animal.s). In both instances primitive thoughts and conceptions which remain are decidedly much
art would be purely orgiastic. We would still h ave to provide the deeper and more interesting. The beautiful, mythical reference to
biological justification for the slow passage of all arts into the Greece, the problem of Greek pessimism, the treatrnent of the
realm of ecstatic experiences. But it is apparent that the division tendency of tragedy to be an expression of strength and spiritual
outlined here does not have any pretence to the metaphysical titanism, and especially the problem of theoretical man, the
basicness of the Apollo-Dionysus dichotomy. Moreover, this divi- enerny and killer of tragedy- all these things, as far as I can see,
sion cannot explain anything in the art itself; it cannot shed light must survive in their basic features. It is characteristic that only
on the essence of the anistie experience, since it departs from they survived the few years separating the 'Preface to the Second
ascertaining the duality of this experience, and, as it were, from Edition' from the writing of the rest of the work. Apollo and
dealing with it from outside. lt is also a fact that Nietzsche has Dionysus and the deification of Wagner, both of which are con-
not clearly formulated the physiological basis for his division nected to Schopenhauer, were shelved already in the 'Attempt at
anywhere, even though he must have had something like this a Self-Criticism', and rightly so!
before his eyes. It seems to me that this division cannot be made 5. Personally, I am not so much interested in the special aspect
on an emprica!, psycho-physical basis in any other way than as I of Nietzsche's investigations in his work: in the problem of the
have formulated it. But the division presented here obviously does origin of Greek tragedy, the significance of the chorus, etc., but
not correspond to Nietzsche's dichotomy: if only because it rather in the basic problem o f tragedy and o f the tragic, on which,
assigns one of the elements an incomparably lower place in the by the way, The Birth of Traoedy sheds light in many basic
hierarchy of artistic experiences, beca use ali of the arts. with the points. There is a contradiction at the very foundation of our
exception of painting and architecture, can express both basic attitude towards 'the tragic'. The profound spell which it casts
tendencies, and because it foregoes, clearly and a priori, any upon us, the distinct attraction which we feel towards tragic
claim to explain the inner secrets of arts and to move the view- things, is a feeling which, as it were, contains its own contradic-
point of the man experiencing art deeper in to aesthetic cognition, tion. How can we explain a tendency to compose a form of art,
even by a step. tragedy, from those things in life which are most threatening,
4. In general, aside from those places where Nietzsche expresses most horrible, from which we instinctively recoil? From that
himselfin the language of criticai philosophy (Kant and Schopen- which, in essence, is the source of art, but in a negative fashion,
hauer), his style is distinguished less by scientific precision than against which art is a medicine, an antidote? Could this be some
by anistie imagination. His magnificent and powerful aphorisms, sort of homeopathy, driving one nail out with another? Such a
with which he often doses the development of a given topic, formulation of the problem, which by no means is the result of
almost without exception, have an artistic character; they are any special aesthetic doctrine, nor is it the result of a special
paradoxes. The paradox, which could be called 'the artistic form world view (although this point of view is extremely clearly
in the realm of concepts', is a thought which constantly shimmers emphasized in the context ofSchopenhauer's system), is a formuJ
and opalesces in its utterance, which cannot be directly lation of the psychological function of art. Wanting to shed some
assimilated, be transformed into a certain and unshakable com- psychologicallight on this problem is very attractive.
ponent of any sort of inner synthesis, which cannot be reduced to In order to define more closely the concept to which we have
a state of stable equilibrium: it always introduces motion and been constantly referring, we might say that the tragic is the
78 79
Malinowski's early writin9s Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy
result of that force which forces us to crawl out of and look which the artist directly moulds the forms of his works. It is
beyond reality; it orders us to look between the wheels of necess- because tragedy is a form in which human life, passing through
ity's mechanism, in full consciousness of the fact that sooner or the medium of the tragic, is the dimension in which the creator
later this mechanism will grind us into dust. Then is this some moves. It is my general impression that tragedy casts some sort of
kind of 'deeper' curiosity? Not at all. Life constantly leads us into special spell. I have al}Vays hoped that in tragedy I might find
objectively terrible situations with no way out. But our self- some sort of extraordinary resolutions to mysterious riddles,
preservation instinct moulds our psychic attitude towards these which I have not even been in the position of formulating to
things in a two-fold manner: tragic and (let us coin the term!)
myself, but of whose existence I h ave had a presentiment. But no
'vitalistic' ['witalistyczny'].
concrete work of art h as ever fulfilled my expectations, especially
The tragic is that form of the self-preservation instinct which
contemporary dramas and tragedies such as Polish, Scandinavian,
draws its life, and thus its creative forces from emphasizing the but also works by Schiller, Lessing, Goethe, Calderon; various
dreadful most strongly, from apprehending it directly, from con- exotic pieces, such as Indian o r Japanese. Even Shakespeare's
templating its essence- it is the apprehension of life through the tragedies, although they always strongly attract my attention
prism of death. while reading or watching them, especially through their mag-
'Vitalism' tends to levei out all of life's bottomless abysses, to nificent style and by opening up whole worlds, in the end left a
throw a curtain over them, to dose our eyes to them; we could vacuum of unfulfilled expectations, the impossibility of integrat-
define it as a tendency towards justifying death. ing what had been experienced into a higher unity. Only a per-
Both of these forms are actually equally important; both in the formance of Oedipus Rex gave me a distinct satisfaction of my
psyches of each of us, and among various peoples as a whole, they desire for the tragic. For once I had the impression that I was
appear more or less strongly - there are people who are entirely seeing a real tragedy. It occurred to me that a great deal of this
non-tragic, and there are also moments of and dispositions toward was dueto chance, the atmosphere ofthe moment, to suggestion.
this in everyone's life. Both of these instincts are psychically In view of my anti-classical disposition this seemed improbable,
primordial and unverifiable; they cannot be explained by any and I also felt instinctively that this was not so. But on the other
means (by metaphysics, I dare say!), we can only observe their hand, it also seemed a bit unlikely to me that the basic form of art
inner struggles and conflicts, their impact on the course of life, was something relatively accidental - the producer of a special
and also their objective, sociological forms. type of culture. Indeed German music, Greek and Medieval archi-
All of life is a struggle; it is a struggle insofar as we grant that
tecture, Greek sculpture, ali contain something conditioned by
the horror of life is the single adversary against which man takes
the culture in which they arose and which enabled them to
his stand, armed with his spiritual creativity. But this is an escape
develop - but at any rate it was the problem of Greek tragedy that
into the realm beyond reality and necessity, into the sphere of I was faced with.
human creativity, which is ridiculously meagre from the meta-
As I have mentioned, both of these psychic directions, which I
physical point of view of the horror of life. For, in their effects
have called the tragic and vitalistic, are specific spiritual forms of
both the tragic and vitalism tear us away from the immediate
the self-preservation instinct. Man never relates passively to the
grasp of the talons of horror and carry us off to the place where, in
horror of life and the terror of the universe. He is never a mere
contrast to the spectral harmony of pan-negation which
spectator of the gigantic pan-tragedy which takes place before his
permeates all of objective reality, everything is either a confirma
eyes but in whose mechanism he is entangled like an
tion, a solution, or, if negation is employed, it is, as it were,
infinitesimal wheel. In their relation to these 'ultima te matters of
tragically discredited, negation confirmed by man, and thus sub-
man' the majority of people hide their heads under a blanket as
jectivized and eo ipso controlled. Obviously, if we take this
they would before a nocturnal spectre- and continue to sleep in
definition of the function of art as a point of departure, the prob-
peace. In others a complex self-preservation apparatus develops,
lem arises of how art can employ the tragic as a material from
,. the two poles of which have been defined above; we could say
80 81
Malinowski's early writinas
Observations on Friedrich Niesche's The Birth of Tragedy
without paradox that the full consciousness of the naked truth
would kill a man like prussic acid. As soon as we spiritually And man slowly forgets himself in this game, he crosses over
approach certain things, we feel how psychic processes automati- completely to the side of the thinker and the spectator, and the
cally occur, which turn us away, wall us off from these things. In pain and the suffering dissolve into the mist of already trans-
relation to the inner perils threatening us from these things, an formed pure reality, in its place there remains a scarred-over
automatic reaction has developed as a basic psychic fact: a pro- wound of the spirit, an intellectual conception which may be
cess of inner adaptation at the slightest contact with these things. transformed into a work of art or of science. The term 'thought' is
And the source of the horrible thoughts and feelings is both our obviously used here in a very broad sense as the embodiment of
immersion into the objective structure of the universe and the the fundamental creative chaos, whether it be anistie or
constant conflicts encountered in life. From the abyss ofthe starry philosophical in nature.
sky, from the boundlessness of the ocean waves, from the white This is the basic function of the vitalistic form of the self-
fields of soft snow, and from the atmosphere of autumn and spring preservation instinct, from which a new difficulty arises for the
which tells of the changeless circularity of life and of its end - tragedian. He must fight against two difficulties: first of all he
from all of this the cold eyes watch us, staring through the void of must form his work from a substance which by its very nature is
the bottomless riddle. In the course of life we grow blunt to these something contrary to art; secondly, he must use elements against
metaphysical impressions, which in childhood I distinctly felt which the most basic reaction of ant-traaic thouaht begins at the
directly, but which now I feel more as symbols and an expression slightest contact with horror, a process of de-tragedization, strip-
of the horror flowing from life. And here lies the source of never ping these elements of their tragic value. And so the artist must
being able to dry up the evil which develops within us into pain use elements here which, when brought into the light of day,
and lies, into an incessant worry and into a no less terrible change immediately like a photographic plate; he is like achem-
compromise: an evil which even debasing our selves to a state of ist who does research on and uses compounds which break down
thoughtlessness and carelessness cannot overcome. Death devour- upon the slightest reaction. We must be aware that these two
ing life, and what is worse, life devouring death, life laughing the difficulties are of an entirely different nature: the former must
laughter of oblivion o ver the graves, in the cemetery of things still deal with a direct reflex which makes all ofus feel the elements of
warm with yesterday's love, which yesterday were blood and the horror of life and the awesomeness of the universe as some-
spirit, this kaleidoscope defying the highest inner dignity: con- thing negative from which we must escape into the realm of
solidating and crystallizing his own eao are things which man ordinary, temporal, soothing things, i.e. into all spheres ofhuman
will never manage to do. creativity which enable man to believe in himself. In their very
Thus follows a psychic reaction absolutely sensitive and nature these elements are 'horrible', 'disgusting', 'nerve-wrack-
entirely automatic; an adaptation reaction which makes the ing', and 'overwhelming'. Only a specific creative act, something
realization of these things impossible in their direct nakedness, in the subjective treatment of these things, changes them into
unshielded either by the beauty peculiar to the tragic, or by the tragic elements, and this is the first task and difficulty for the
strength of a metaphysical or, in general, of a conceptual idea. tragedian. The second flows out of the further psychic course of
The most perfect, the most effective tool in this struggle against our reaction towards horrible things: if we cannot escape them in
death, the tool in which the self-preservation instinct is revealed thought, if externai necessity fastens us to them, or if, already in
in its vitalistic form, is thought; thought which allows manto be, the form of tragic e1ements, they also fascinare us and remain
as it were, outside of himself, to split in two and calmly and before our soul's eye, then 'thought', the destroyer of tragedy,
contentedly- since thought suffers only in inactivity, and every- begins its categorizing chore.
thing that happens is a source of delight for it - watch what is ]ust as two different forces have united against tragedy, so the
going on inside; to begin the industrious task of uncovering those possibility of defeating them results from other heterogeneous
things that are closed off, of classifying, ordering and explaining. forces. The first of these, the more basic, has already been com-
pensated for, since it follows from what has been said above, in
Malinowski's early writinas Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy

the very essence of our reference to those 'ultimate things'; it is more precise, aesthetic task would consist in examining how the
the existence of tragedy as a natural tendency, as one of the two elements of horror change into elements of tragedy through the
poles of the self-preservation instinct. Along with the natural act of creativity and artistic apprehension. But there is no place
abhorrence and panic, with which horribleness sezes us, we also for this here.
feel a certain attraction to it. just as, under certain conditions, Concerning the other basic difficulty, the hostile relationship of
the affirmation of life and inner well-being are necessary for the 'thought' ['mysl'] to the tragic, here the matter cannot be
development of the individual, in some cases the tragic, remain resolved, as it was previously, by pointing toward man's basic
ing in the abysses of terror and over the depths of danger, is psychic attitude towards the metaphysical horror of existence.
indispensable to creative exuberance and intensificaton of lfe. Because the development of 'thought' is something quite
This contrast presents itself the more strongly in that it is dependent on the levei of culture, the individual's inclinations,
dependent not on the externai circumstances of life, but on inner and the structure of society, it can be seen at once that less basic
needs. It is a fact, even though it may seem paradoxical, that factors are involved here, factors more complicated, in brief
human life can be predestined to a tragic course independently of sociological factors, depending on the culture in which the artist
the configuration of externai conditions, to moving through these lives and creates. This explains why tragedy, as a form of art, can
narrows, which lead us with inexorable force, even to our own depend on the culture amid which it develops. If the basic adver-
destruction. This imposition of inner slavery upon ourselves flows sary of tragedy is 'thought' as a process of transforming every-
from the deepest sources of free will. In general we can say that thing into the comprehensible, human, justified, and just, we
the higher man rises spiritually, the more determined and necess must seek an atmosphere in which thought cannot develop. In
ary is bis path, and the more rsky is bis every step. The more that general, ths s the case in an atmosphere of strong and direct
something assumes the externai aspect of happiness and success, faith. But, in reference to what I have said above about myth, not
the more it assumes the internai aspect of duty studded with the faith of dogmatism, which rationalizes the act a nd the subject
conflicts, and the more externai msfortune assumes the inner of belief; nor faith as a form of ethical religion which sees the
value of purging and fertilizing forces. Actually, this tragic order of the uni verse grounded in guilt and merit, in the mechan-
nature of life can always be avoided, for it lies not in the horror ism of good and evil, and in the utilization of conscience; for
itself, as a force destroying something in our life, but in the ability these are ali faiths permeated with thought. The faith we are
to experience this fact or rather identify it with tbe fullness of concerned with here is mythical faith, whose essence is the trans-
'higher consciousness'. Whoever places tbe mark o f opportunism formation of life, the projection of ideais onto (usually past)
over the death of something within himself and peacefully pro- reality. As I have said above, myth first of ali immerses the per-
ceeds to the green pastures of Pan-life, eternally smiling, is always sons appearing in it and their deeds in a mystical atmosphere, a
ready to open bis arms at the price of spiritual values; such a man mysterious necessity. For myth is a shaping of the past, from
does not actually live in the tragic current of life, and for him which the ethical, historical, and emotional present draws its life
tragedy does not exist as an artistic possibility. That is why we blood; it is an artistically creative shaping beca use it corresponds
can say that man's fate does not operate within the same dimen to certain inner longings, and it is religiously dogmatic because it
sion as the events of bis life, that man's life is shaped according to regulates ethics and behaviour in society; and so this past is nota
bis inner attitude toward the tragic, and that the tragic is a copy of present reality but something qualitatively superior, like
product of the shape of life. the unique prototype of countless reproductions, like the absolute
This basic psychic tendency, horror's opalescent spell, is the and single necessity to myriads of possibilities. Besides this
reason why the antinomy of the tragic as an artistic building quality of fatalism, in the broadest sense of the term, every myth
block [antynomja traaizmu jako cealy artystycznej) is resolved in in its very nature also possesses a 'superhuman' quality, with
the very form of our relationship to horror. Obviously, this is only events corresponding to it and linked with it, an elevation beyond
the ascertainment of the psycbological foundation of tragedy. A the levei of common human emotional oscillations. Magnifying
84 85

Malinowski's early writings Observations on Friedrich Nieizsche's The Birth of Tragedy

these events, changing them in to the norm of feeling, into one's positive, if only because such psychological, introspective j
own attitude toward reality, prevents us from mixing or compar- assertions can neither be confirmed nor refuted by any proof.
ing mythical facts with reality, from placing them on a levei of These are matters so general and subjective that the only things
our own lives; it deprives them of the rawness and immediacy of we can do with them directly is either to agree with them or
things experienced. Pity, abhorrence, and fear do not overcome reject them. Indirectly however, their cognitive value can be
man in the presence of mythical events. demonstrated by the fact that by observing, classifying, and
Relating these cursorily sketched results to the two points men- analyzing various rather objective facts from the standpoint of
tioned above, we see that these two qualities of myth correspond their assertions, we arrive at the formulation of some general
precisely with the two basic difficulties cited previously. Facts principies; we see these facts arranged in clear, far-reaching
reshaped by the transforming power of myth become purified of perspective. Above ali, such facts as these would be the various
direct emotional reactions; they no longer contain nervously felt forms of myth and the influence of mythical thinkng on
horror, which, as I have said, certain exceptional people manage creativity; and primarily we would analyze the mythical trans-
to isolate by means of a basic, psychic, 'tragic', means of appre- formation into absolute fatalism and the sublimation of human
hension, but which here falls away of itself, and not only from the suffering. Then we would analyze dramatic art, whose direct
minds of the chosen but from the masses as well, who are entirely anistie elements are the word on one hand, and mimetics on the
subject to the rule of myth. Furtherrnore, and this is the other, and in general the image of the human body and of groups
fundamental point- for overcoming the second difficulty is linked of people. Here the use o f the mask as a mimetic device is interest-
to the overcoming of the first - we see that the events of myth ing, as well as the lack of decorations and, in general, the com-
basically withstand the disintegrating action of thought. plete schematization of the scenery in Greek tragedy. The very
'Thought', which attacks all that is threatening, horrible, and substance of tragedy obviously stands on the border between
mysterious with pitiless vehemence in order to transform, justify, artistry and the creativeness of metaphysics (th~l:!ght); and this
and thus to control it, first of all does not have a self-preservation relauonsh1p should also be elucidated more clearly here. And
instinct motive here, because myth has already deprived the then, and this would be the main part of an objective study, it
events it relates of all vitality, has placed them in an entirely would have to be demonstrated that everywhere in tragedy the
different perspective, and removed their danger to the individual. artist has tried to introduce events which opera te in the sphere of
A believer will never be stimulated into personal reflections by myth. Wherever this would be impossible, as in plays written
the events of myth; he will never compare himself or his fate to about contemporary matters, the artist would add some mystical
th~ divine substance of myth. Moreover, myth not only deprives depth, a new dimension, in which the chord of essential necessity
thought, which destroys the tragic, of the incentives for action, would develop in his drama. Such mysticism is contained in the
but also simply paralyzes it directly. Thought, which wrestles on plays of Ibsen for example, and in many other contemporary
its own with the tragic nature of reality. trying to justify the pieces. Psychological necessity, no matter how interestingly
world ethically and aesthetically (artistically or cognitively) - presented, wll not produce strong theatrical effects at ali, and at
on its own account, through the forces of the individual, inter- any rate will provide an entirely different sphere of impressions
nally - this thought cannot develop in an atmosphere of myth than does Greek tragedy and tragedies with mystical foundations.
beca use the events of myth can neither be justified nor explained. Greek myth possesses special qualifications for the tragic
This is true because in their basic social function they are them- beca use of the complete lack of ethical and philosophical motiva-
selves the explanation, justification, or norrnalization of what is tions (which, e.g. permeate Indian myth). Fatalism, personified
happening in the world. in the figure of the all-powerful Moira, pervades it through and
These have been some general observations which, so to speak, through. This is expressed in Greek tragedy, where, in Oedipus
serve to pose the problem. We cannot consider them, or in general Rex for example, the course of most horrible events rivets our
J any considerations which opera te in this region, to be something attention, as if by a single stroke, as it develops with inexorable
86 87
Malinowski's early writinas
necessity. The impact of this tragedy cannot be explained, as
Nietzsche does, 'by the command o f the dialectic' disentangling a ~2~
problem (as if it were a game of chess!). The impact is derived
from the facts themselves, from their substance, which reflects ON THE PRINCIPLE OF TH E
within itself the entirety of human misery, distress, and suffering
in a crystallized form. The problem does not reside here, but ECONOMY OF THOUGHT*
rather in the question, why and how are we able to listen to these
things, to submit quietly to these impressions, and not leave
thoroughly shattered? Here again 'the dialectic' cannot explain
anything to us. The explanation lies first of all in the artists'
relationship to the mythical reality, which is before their eyes on At every levei in contemporary science and philosophy, from the
the stage, and which imposes a completely different apprehension boldest, almost poetic, speculations to the most minute labour of
of affairs on them. This changed attitude is so expressed artisti- the specialist restricted to his narrow field, one can clearly sense a
cally by the dramatist that it is imposed on us, and in a closer certain current penetrating the work of the human mind. A stub-
analysis we could show what it consists in, but there is no more born war on metaphysics h as been declared on ali sides, beginning
space for this here. with Nietzsche, as a representative of inspired philosophy and
I would like to add that Nietzsche's definition of the tragic, the with his abhorrence of jenseits, 1 and ending in the laboratories of
essence of tragedy, as the joy at the destruction of the individual chemistry and physics. The ranks of .metaphysicians are growing
and the merging with the Will, means nothing to me even as a increasingly thin even among the so-called exact philosophers. At
symbol of certain psychological matters. On the other hand, I am this time it is difficult to determine which side will be victorious.
most fascinated by his treatment oftheoretical man in relation to Furthermore, it sometimes appears doubtful that the war is actu-
tragedy. However, I do not think that the matters and thoughts ally waged against the principies of metaphysics, rather than
which I have tried inadequately to express here quite correspond against the expression 'metaphysics'. Aren't the anti-metaphys-
to the relation oftheoretical manto tragedy. Thought, as a tool of icians merely practising the same discipline under a new name?2
metaphysical apprehension and justification, reached consider- The fact is that this war will not remain fruitless; it will raise
ably farther and is more threatening to tragedy than the optimism and purify many problems and ideas. We may dare to say that in
of Socrates. And so the problem of 'the Socrates who practises the field of the natural sciences this tendency has already
music' actually seems to me to be something very inessential. achieved many durable results and has eliminated many obsolete
errors and prejudices which had persisted under the name of
metaphysical speculation. However, in philosophy the question,
'does metaphysics have any right to exist?' is much more basic,
complex, and still fermenting. To answer this question, in addi-
tion to the general and fundamental considerations, one must
also assess critically the facts pertaining to this struggle. It is into
this area that we wll now proceed by dealing with one of the
basic concepts presented by two ofthe most outstanding represen-
tatives of the anti-metaphysical movement.
The history of the principie of the economy of thinking is quite
short. 'I developed my basic view that the essence ofphilosophy is
The original in Polish is entitled, 'O zasadzie ekonomii myslenia', PhD disser-
tation, Jagiellonian University. jagiellonian University Archives, Sygn. X 1237.
88 89
Maiinowski's early writinos On the principie of economy of thouoht

the economy of thinking in 1872', says E. Mach. 3 In 1876, the latter direction that we must seek the factors involved in the
study by R. Avenarius, Phiiosophie ais Denken der Weit aemiiss origin of Mach's principie.
dem Prinzip des kieinsten Kraftmasses, made its appearance in If we want to understand how Avenarius carne to express the
Leipzig. 4 These are the beginnings of tbe bistory of this concept. law that the least effort directs our psycbic processes, we must
Similar ideas, expressed by Kirchboff in 1874, s found acceptance familiarize ourselves with the psychological standpoint taken by
in tbe field of the natural sciences. E. Mach continued to develop our author, that is, with the prevailing views of Herbart's
tbese views in bis subsequent scbolarly activity. Avenarius, schoo1. A knowledge of the relationship of pbilosophy and
however, in bis work, Kritik der reinen Erfah r una, 6 no longer cognitive theory to the natural sciences in those times will be
adopts or employs tbis concept (according to the opinion of helpful in explaining tbe path followed by Mach in the considera-
Petzoldt) .7 tions leading to bis principie. However, before proceeding with an
In general, from these two basic forrnulations of tbis concept by analysis of particular facts and views, we must make a few
Mach and Avenarius, we are a deduce two distinct and general remarks to establish closer definitions of those concepts
.__differing directions: --0ne-. s chologica nd tbe other connected which we will subsequently use in our criticai analysis.
L with scientific mtbodolo - - cognitive theory. In the forrner Economy of thinking and least effort are tbe concepts with
direction the con't:e venarius was continued by tbe con- whose application we will deal. Let us, therefore, examine more
temporary introspective psychologist, H. Cornelius, 8 wbo made it closely the meaning and definitions of these concepts, and let us
a fundamental aspect ofhis system. In the second formulation our attempt to conclude from this to wbich facts, in what context,
principie is adopted by nearly ali the methodologists of the and under what conditions they may be precisely and faultlessly
natural sciences. Tbe only study of tbis idea in the Polish applied. }:.l:le...conc~p_t ofl~as.t eff_ort_ca_!li~medi~ely be reduced to
language, What is Philosophy? by Prof. M. Straszewski, takes this -.,concept of a mathe_matical minimum.:_ it refers to effort, fo~e, a
second direction.9 If we also mention two studies by J. Petzoldt,t0 physical magnitude completely subject to the laws of a mathe-
we will have probably exhausted everything in philosophical Jlliltical treat~t. ls a mathematical maximum or minimum
literature which is of primary concern to our problem. also contained in the concept of economy? The more general
Since the very history of the question provides little room for meaning of this concept, corresponding to its Greek etymological
considerations and conclusions, for it is still impossible to rise root, signifies, in general management, the metbod of administer-
above a polemical and criticai standpoint, we will at least try to ing or directing an organization or organism, whether it be
become clearly aware of tbe historical foundations upon which livestock, a social group, ora physical system; we may even speak
this concept has been developed and the historical atmosphere in metaphorically of the economy of vital force in a living organism
which it was bom. ~out -e1a9ng ~selvWP the standpoint of or ofmental force in a psycbic organization. In a specifi.c sense we
a given author, t_!la~. wjthout giying-hi~.c.oncep.tu_he same

l \
_L.;_-f- meiilng he h_!S gi~n _!hem, withou_!:. ~<?pting his entire
worldview, it i~ i~pss~e ~~ understand hi~.Y.ghtest tem.ilrk or
understand by economy not management in general, but good
management. Since the worth of management is measured by the
magnitude of the objectives achieved in relation to the means
his most basic thou.ghts. Particularly, if we are concerned with used, we may call economy, in the specific sense of this word,
tli. accurate understanding and evaluation of a concept newly namely thrift, a minimum outlay with the same gain, ora maxi-
arisen in his mind, then a precise knowledge of the state of the mum gain achieved with the same means; both formulations
mind which engendered this concept is indispensible. Here we come to the same thing. In this way economy can also be reduced
will have to give separate consideration to two independently to the concept of a minimum. Obviously this minimum will h ave
1 developing directions of scholarly investigations: psychology,
, within which the principie of Avenarius had arisen, and the
mathematical properties only when it refers to measurable
quantities. At any rate, both the concept of least effort and that
methodology of tbe natural sciences together with some
l historico-critical investigations pertaining to tbem. It is in this
of economy may be reduced to the concept of a minimum. It
should be mentioned tbat in relation to the mathematical
90 91
Malinowski's early writinos On the principle of eco!lomy of thouoht
m1mmum, these concepts only approximate exactness, that is, what purpose they were used, we would have an analogue to a
the concepts need not fulfil all the conditions necessary for a mathematical set. Doubtlessly, among these expenditures there
purely mathematical, calculative operation. Moreover the laws will be a largest and a smallest item, a maximum-minimum.
in which this concept appears will apply only approximately to Besides this finding however, we will be unable to state anything
reality; nevertheless these concepts will not differ from each further about this budget, nor will we be able to state any law or
other logically. and an approximate minimum must be subject to express any judgemnt about the value of the management.
the same laws as a mathematical minimum. Since it is easiest to However, it is quite different if we are told for what purposes the
carry out reasoning on mathematical works because, in mathe- money was used, in other words, if we are given the functional
matics, we have clear and precise definitions of concepts and an connection between the expenditures and the items purchased. In
exhaustive presentation of their properties, we will for the sake of that case we would have everything we need for a scientific
convenience turn now to mathematics. examination of the enterprise. Above ali, we are entitled to limit
Any quantity of homogeneous elements, a set in mathematical our investigation to the maximum-minimum of the function by
terms, may be compared with any other. With such a set of num- the fact that both the concept of greatest effort (sic) and the
bers of magnitudes we can already speak of maximum-minimum. concept of economy implicitly contain the concept of a function.
'X However, if we want to present the laws concerning these con- For, after all, we are concerned here with learning how changes
/, cepts, we must be given the \iunction, b :hat is, the manner in in effort are connected to their results as well as how changes in
~hich the given magnitude.i_~ends on the cha12g~ 1!} the otfir expenditures are connected to change in what we receive in
magnitudes. Should we wish to -pass from the concept of a set (o retum.
- the concept of a function, we would express ourselves as follows: Thus, we see that our principies can be applied wherever a
we must be given the manner in which the elements of our set maximum-minimum function is applicable. Now we will try to
correspond with one another, if we substitute the proper values consider the relation of the principie of maximum-minimum to
for the variables on which they depend. We could dig up a great one of the most general scientific principies, the principie of
many proofs from mathematics to show that any consideration of ~nivocal determinism) This principie has long been the basis of
maximum-minimum becomes fruitful only when it is applied to the natural sciences and philosophical investigations. Withouu
functions. This is formally proven by the immense development the assumption that there is no spontaneity in nature, that ali
of differential calculus, which pertains only to the maximum- factors of every process are exactly and unequivocally deter- -/-ft'
minimum of functions and in whih nothing can be said about mined, we could not seek, formula te, or apply the laws of nature.
~UJU;minimum of the i_?E~e.endent variable. It""is suf- The fact that the sciences have made it their task to discqyer
ficient to mention the fact iliat we cannot say anything about the the aws roves that we have made this assumption. Con-
maximum-minimum of the independent variable. It is sufficient ;:,ersely, the fa.ct ID-t ~...!.!..~ ~t;!!...SflD ....!:.{.:!.C::Ive , orm-
to mention the fac_! thg.l'l.e....c.anJl__Q! say a!!,Xthing about the maxi- ulated and practically a.Ep!_ied ,eroves that we ~-a...Lf.iSii:C
mum-minimum o(_the set except that it occurs. We are not ma .]iSiS: for accepti~....!..4.~ssum}lliQ.p. Where this basis is to be _.. . .
-position to deduce any further Iaws or propertles. It is only in the sought, that is, whether it isto be regarded as something imposed
maximum-minimum of the function that we are able to develop upon us from the outside, or as something conditioned by the
broad theories showing many interesting properties. Aboye 11 we organization of our rnind, is a question pertaining to the theoreti- _j
~rom this that in ordex: to state -nx.Ja~.!!!P~ying tbeJll~- cal-cognitive aspect of the problem. 13 We will only indica te here
if f mum-minimum conc~p~Y.S!. examine a functonal connec-
non; a funct10n must be given, After all, this is apparent to a
that this hypothesis is indispensable for methodological reasons.
That it is indispensable not only to those sciences examining the
cenafil"extentin less specialized considerations. Let us take an externai world but also to psychology becomes immediately clear
economic example. If we were given an annual budget for some if we wish to claim for psychic laws the same precision and
enterprise enumerating the expenditures without specifying for certitude as the laws ofthe natural sciences, that is. ifwe want to
92 93
Malinowski's early writinys On the principie of ecqnomy of chouyht

grant practical usefulness to these laws. which, one might say, is Laplace's notion is extremely fertile. 17 He himself very emphati-
the decisive criterion for the worth ofstrictly scholarly research. ~'~ caliy expresses the essential principie of the univocal determin-
- Let us now return to the concept of a function in arder to ism of the real course of the world. From this point of view, it is
establish its relation to the law of univocal determinisrn. All of also easy to perceive that as far as the actual, real, historical
our scientific investigations pertaining directly to reality employ course of the universe is concerned, there is no place for func-
the singular concept of the function. It can be said that it is the tions. 18 But if we examine onJy-..11~-.SRe-CL.QJhis.....u.niY.e.rsal .....
ultima te scientific tool dominating phenomena and facts. For it is course, we can apply the concep_t of function.
'1 precisely the relations between things and their mutual inter- From ali of this let us now draw conclusions pertinent to our
dependence which yields to our intellectual forrnulation. Empiri- subject, more particularly, pertinent to the maximum-minimum.
cal investigations cannot extend beyond these boundaries. And We have seen that the maxima-minima which correspond to the
\ within these boundar most ~ral con~t. the_b~est concepts of economy and least effort are the maxima-minima of

l forro, wlilc enables us to~grasp_~~~!Y depen~,!!C~ an? r~~~ is functions and therefore can be applied only when we can apply
precisely the function. 15 -
the concept of a function . .We cannot apply the concept of max-
ima-minima to a closed sphere in which the law of univocal
Every function contains a number of arbitrary values, called
independent variables. Thus, we see that it does not express some deterrninism prevails, because there the concept of the function
definite, concrete, actual process. but contains a whole group. cannot be applied. The world of physical phenomena and mental
namely all those which we obtain when we give the independent states a re two such closed spheres of facts. 19 It would be vain to
variables specific values. The fewer of these independent vari- seek in them either economy or any tendency toward least effort.
ables there are, the narrower the scope of freom. When _we Indeed, the notion, so comrnon in naive thinking, of nature as the
dJ!..,$ignate ajl of the V(!ria bles in ou r formula Q()JtW. we. obtain the ideal housewife, achieving her results with the least effort, is
~.1 EfQC~s. On the other hand, the more general our considera- totally llusory. We will be more concerned with the world of
tions, the broa der the range o f fa cts they can encompass, the more spiritual phenomena. And here, as I have said, we must acknow-

I variables must exist in them, because any introduction of new ledge the law of univocal determinism of processes. Here the
facts requires the introduction of new symbols in to the formulae, function can only be ~pp}.ied tO_!lCCentu!!_e individua!_~ects of
~Q.c.esse.s. If we consider our soul as a whole and if we
of new notions into the laws.
_ If our concern was to come dose to reality where nothing establish generallaws goveming the entire psychic world, we will
occurs arbitrarily, just like the hypothetical world of scientific not be able to apply the principie of economy as a basic general

Xl theory but in an entirely determined way, while on the other

hand, we have an infinite number of heterogeneous elements
intertwined with one another, what path should we take? We
law. This observation can be expressed in other words: the con-
cepts of economy and least effort, whose application reaches \
exactly as far as the concept of the function, cannot h ave a place
~---h~to tr)'..1Q.Jon.nulate the mq,tua.Ld.eP-endence of the in any law goveming the entirety of phenomena joined together
variables ~_!1~. e~~_j.h~_<lependence using th~ sm_aJ..lesLpQssible by the principie of univocal determinism; this will serve us as a
nl!!lll>e.!._2f_independept_y_a.tiiibles, .if possible using onl~ one. foothold in our criticai examination of the relevant a rguments.
Laplace has given us an excellent illustration of this in his famous We will now examine the study of Avenarius, entitled
fictional formula where the only independent variable is time. Ali Philosophie ais Denken der Welt, 20 in which he develops his
of the other manifestations of the universe, not excluding the principie. I have said previousl tha e ba aum.der- /
psychic ones, were to be expressed by the formula e of mechanics, standin o an r~ in one's s n his ~sition. In our
as forros of movement. We know that given an initial configura- case this requires t.h.~t~~iol} of th~ now historical yje~ of
tion, the only independent variable of a mechanical equation is venanus on psychologx. Both from the concepts used by
time. 16 Today we no longer dream of such a formula, of such a Avenarius (apperception) and from the way in which he treats
universal law, in concreto. From a philosophical point of view, psychic phenomena, we may presume that he has based his work
94 95

Malinowski's early writinos On the principie o~ economy of thouoht

on the psychological system crea ted by the school of Herbart. This have achieved a greater gain; the effect of this is comprehension
assumption is best confirmed by the fact that the author refers (Beoreifen), which is the most perfect operation of apperception
several times to Steinthal's work, Abriss der Sprachwissenschaft, from the standpoint of the principie of least effort. Therefore, all
and quotes the definition of apperception from this work. 21 There- fields of knowledge aiming at comprehension are the product of
fore, whenever I needed to find a closer definition of uncleariy our principie. Philosophy, which has set as its task the compre-J
formulated psychological facts, the genesis of a means of percep- hension of the world in the forro of supreme unity, has its source
tion, conclusions from the manner of treatment, or the presen- in the principie of least effort. The further sections of Avenarius'
tation of mental phenomena, I turned to Steinthal and through study, in which the author deals with the more precise definition
him to Herbart. 22 First o f all we must devote a few words to the of the method and formulation of philosophy, are beyond the
essence of Avenarius' study. scope of our present interests. Therefore we will now critically
In whatever manner we rnight define the connection between examine what we have thus far cited.
the mind and the body. the functions ofthe mind are so important To carry out a methodical critique of any kind of views, three
to the preservation of the individual that we must assume that basic elements must be taken imo consideration. First of all we V
they are well suited to this task, that is, that they are expedient must realize from what standpoint the given reasoning is made,
(zweckmissio). Expedience is defined by two conditions: ability that is, on what assumptions and postulares it is based. The
to accomplish a given task, and accomplishing it according to the second element, independent of the first, consists in going through
principie of least effort. We will examine only the theoretical the reasoning; in this the rules of formal logic should be the only
functions of the mind, i. e. the processes of apperception, and seek guidelines. Finally. the third point of departure for the critique
our principie in them. Here the author presents a few examples in should be the conclusions which the author reaches through his
which the mind reacts by means of negative emotions because reasoning based on the assumptions he has adopted. A good
it has been forced into an aimless expenditure of energy, either critique should examine all three of these aspects of the reason-
in a senseless grouping of images. in a contradiction, or in ing. Let us, therefore, now turn to the first point of departure of
uncertainty. our study.
On the other hand, in the creation of systems and in our ) In reaching the assertion that our mind is an organization cor-
customary apperceptions (Gewohnheitsapp) we use energy with responding to its purpose, we assume that its functions are indis-
frugality. Every idea to which we are not accustomed causes a pensable to the preservation of the individual. If this is to place
negative emotion. We can remove this emotion either by forget- our principie on a solid biological foundation, the following
ting the unusual idea or by apperceiving it with familiar ideas. objection can be raised: here the soul's functions are directly
Thus. we see that the source of the apperception lies in the Qordinated, on a par with the other functions of our organism,
principie of least effort. This principie also directs the process of and, in view of the fact that we have granted purposefulness to
the apperception; we see it in the economy of the apperceiving these other functions, we must also grant it to the psychic func-
masses. 23 We also see it in the determination (Determinieruno) of tions of our organism. It is clear that we may call the physiologi-
the apperceiving masses in linguistic development. cal functions of the eye, ear, and hands purposeful and give this
Besides influencing the mechanism of apperception, the prin- expression a clearly defined meaning. We may and must grant
cipie is also manifested in what we are given by apperception such purposefulness to the functions of the brain. However, when
(Leistuno der Apperception). We know that the concern here is we pass from this, the physiologically defined functions of the
with relieving our soul by eliminating an unknown, and thus a brain, to the way in which we feel these functions from within,
disquieting and arduous, notion. However, if, besides this relief, subjectively, that is, to mental processes, and grant these latter
we are able to experience some durable effect, such an appercep- processes purposefulness, we make a logical leap.
tion will be more perfect in its actiot:J, by better corresponding to Above all, it is clear, as I have said, that a physically defined
the principie of least effort, for with the same expenditure we function of an organism cannot be placed on a par in other
96 97
Malinowski's eariy writinas On the principie of eco_n omy of thouaht
aspects with the feelings generated by that function. These feel- aanzes theoretisches Leben. ' 26 Here we thus have to deal with
ings are neither physically defined nor linked with other physio- two incerpenetrating masses of ideas. The mechanism of this
logical processes through a causal or functional connection. interpenetration and mutual intluence is defined by elementary
Secondly, the role we ascribe to the functions of the organism is processes. I am not concemed here with an exhaustive presen-
defined within rather narrow limits; it cannot be transferred so tation of Steinthal's views on apperception upon which
casually into an entirely new sphere of phenomena where the Avenarius bases his theory, and which are, as a ma tter offact, the
conditions and elements we had used in our determina tion of views of the Herbart school.
purposefulness may well be non-existent. 21 However, this point I wanted to raise only two points: first of ali that a mecha nistic
does not play a fundamental role in Avenarius' reasoning; he is understa nding of the play of ideas leads to a reification of the
concem ed with demonstrating purposefulness in the theoretical forces acting among them, to ascribing to them the properties of
processes of our mind. Biological considerations may serve him in physical forces. Going further we may thus try to discover the
the role of general oriencation, but the central weight of his

economy of these very forces. Secondly, Herbart 's psychology
reasoning must lie in the psychological argumentation. Since grew from a metaphysical foundation, so that whoever con-
purposefulness consists in solving tasks by means of the least sistently accepts this psychology cannot avoid tacitly accepting
effort, we must define more precisely what it is we mean by a task its metaphysical assumptions. Indeed the a tomistics and
and an effort in theoretical thinking. mechanics of ideas and the acceptance of their unconscious
Avenarius answers the first question by stating that the general, existence in the mind are ways of treating psychic phenomena
theoretical task of the mind is apperception, and he defines effort which are entirely inadmissible to an experimental psychologist,
as the expenditure of physiological strength accompanying the in the present meaning of the term, who examines mental states
psychological process. These two assumptions forro the funda- as they appear directly to us.
mental point of departure for Avenarius' psychological considera- ~ Such a mechanistic understanding of apperception is the
tions. Therefore let us examine them more closely. They are con- psychological foundation on which Avenarius bases his reason-
nected to the general picture of psychic phenomena which the ing. Let us now look more closely at his arguments. From the
author employs. In fact this image is based on Herbart's beginning Avenarius mentions facts in which certain ideas
mechanics ofideas. The idea here is the elementary psychological presenting themselves in a certain way force our mind into a
product, the mental a tom. 'We will call a ny conceptual factor an purposeless effort, senselessly a rranging ideas which are con-
idea, as longas it is the object of a psychological investigation'. 25 tradictory and uncertain. The unaccustomed ideas (Unae-
Our entire world of mental phenomena arise out of these three wohntes) a lso belong in this category. On the basis of the
elementary processes: union (Verbinduna ), fusion (Verschmei- principie of least effort which acts in it the mind tries to remove
zuna), and association. Consciousness is a characteristic of ideas the uncertain idea either imperfectly, by forgetting it, or per-
to which we ascribe substantive existence even when the ideas fectly, by apperceiving it. Thus, the very process of apperception
are unconscious. is the result of the working of our principie.
Mechanical interactions between ideas extend to both con- Let us now stop for a moment to analyze the origin of ideas in
scious and unconscious ideas. Complex processes composed of our mind. We have seen that in order to start the process of
elementary ones, whose aim is the definition ofless known masses apperception, an idea requiring excessive effort must appear in
of ideas by means of better known ones is what we call appercep- our mind, thus violating our basic principie. In order to avoid
tion. 'Alles Kenneniernen wie alles Wiedererkennen ist Appercep- contradiction, the simple consequence that must be drawn from
tion ... Eine Apperception ist sowohi die wirklche, erstmaiiae this is that the origin of such ideas in our mind is not the action of
Schpfuna einer Anschauuna oder eines Beariffes, oder die the mind alone, but the joint action of extraneous elements.
Gewinnuna eines Gedankens, ais auch jede Wiederhoiuna. Erin- Indeed, in the psychological picture of Herbart's theory, ideas are
neruna derseiben. In Apperceptionen beweat sich aiso unser reactions, acts of self-preserva tion by our mind in the face of the
98 99
Malinowski's early writinas
On the principie of economy of thouaht
realities (das Reale) acting upon it. Thus, the origin of ideas is
ideais a general concept. Here, as we perceive the given unknown
something that somehow exceeds the scope of purely mental
idea through the general concept, we also enrich its contents.
Indirectly, we can already see the influence of Herbart's 'Durch diese Inhaltsvermehruna, welche die aufzufassende Vor-
metaphysics on Avenarius' reasoning. For, after ali, any stelluna - ohne Vermehruna des Kraftaufwandes- durch den
allaemeinen Beariff erfahrt, drckt das Beareifen vorwieaend das
psychology aiming at an emprica} explanation of the phenomena
subject to our introspection, must also extend its range of purely theoretische Verhalten der Seele aus: es ist so ZU saaen die
theoretische Apperception par excellence'. 28
psychic phenomena to include the origin, whether it be a produc-
tion or a reproduction, of ideas and must explain these In addition, comprehension is characterized by greater dura-
phenomena without introducing extraneous, non-psychic ele- bility, and thus for these two reasons it best fits the principie of
ments. Therefore, our author would have also been forced to the economy of thinking. If there are certain sciences which tend
explain how it could come to pass that there exists a category of to comprehend phenomena (as opposed to describing them),
phenomena in our mind, that is, how the appearance of ideas these sciences will have their source in the principie of least
effort. Since such sciences do exist, and the most elevated of
starts the process of apperception but is not subject to the general
these, aspiring to the most general conceptual mastery of the
psychological law. However, as we have seen, Herbart's
world, is philosophy, the principie ofleast effort is thus the source
metaphysics has removed this difficulty. Therefore we have the of philosophy.
right to assume that our author had fallen under its influence.
We have seen that Avenarius has deduced the very fact of We have gone over Avenarius' entire argument and have
apperception from the principie of least effort, while the other reached his conclusions. Let us still glance at the last few sections
of his argument which we have not yet analyzed, first of ali at the
ideas were not subject to this principie. Let us now examine how
economy of the apperceiving masses. Here the same criticai argu-
he ascertains the working of the very same principie in the
mechanism of apperception itself. We know that what is involved ment applies which we had introduced at the beginning, namely
the dilemma: ~ther the psychic processes are not univocally
here is the motion27 of masses of ideas, or groups of ideas, which
are closely connected to one another. The arising, passive group
determjned. in wbi;h cqse we annot speak of any laws, o"& if
they are so d<:termined....then in the most general theoretical pro-
that is to be apperceived is defined by the very fact that it arises
cess. the.proreswf ap~~tion, w~~nnot speak of a w~m
and begins the process of apperception. On the other hand, the
minimum. Each process is determined by the conditions under
apperceiving group is not defined by the mere fact of appearing in
which it takes place, and if it were to take place under other
the consciousness like the other. It is defined only by its purpose:
conditions, it would be a different process. lf we were to assume
the apperception o f an unknown idea o r ideas. Here Avenarius
that the conditions were the same, we would be left with the
asserts that our principieis actually manifested in the economy of
same process, and again there would be no place for a maximum-
the apperceiving masses: the mind employs only as many ideas as
minimum. As for the second point, namely the working of our
are absolutely necessary and sufficient to apperceive the
principie in the perfection of the results of apperception, here too
unknown. Thus, our principie appears here as the economy of the
our criticai argument applies; for either the old and new ideas
apperceiving masses.
work together in a specifically determined manner to produce a
Our principie also appears in the effectiveness (Leistuna) of
concept - in which case it would be nonsensical to speak of
apperception. We have seen that the author has deduced the very
economy, just as it is nonsensical to speak of economy when
fact of apperception from the striving of our mind to remove
referring to a parallelogram o f forces in physics- o r the manner in
unaccustomed ideas, that is, from the principie ofleast effort. The
which the old and new ideas combine is not specifically
more effectively this uncertainty is removed, the more perfect are
determined, in which case they would not be subject to scientific
the workings of our apperception. The most effective method of laws.
achieving this is apprehension; in apprehension the apperceiving
S) Let us now pass on to the conclusions which Avenarius has
Malinowski's early writinas On the principie of econqmy of thouaht
drawn from his argument: the principie of least effort is best sion and faultlessness required by this science. The reason for this
suited for a philosophical world view. However, it is a general is that, in scholarly research, intuition plays a no less importam,
psychological principie. It operares in every man, at every and doubtless more creative, role than logical analysis. Criticism
moment, in relation to ali psychic phenomena. Drawing a simple must always be careful not to throw away the wheat with tbe
conclusion from this, we see that each man at every moment chaff, nor pick boles in the reasoning where the basic v alue of the
would have the most philosophical viewpoint possible in concept is concerned.
accordance with his psychic organiza tion and the knowledge he Later, we will see that we can and must grant an analogous
has obtained. However, since that which constitutes the essence principie in psychology, altbough we will neither give it the same
of the philosophical viewpoint does not depend on tbese two scope or formulare it in the same manner as did Avenarius.
latter factors, but only on the first general one, tbat is, on the Attempts at correcting and complementing Avenarius' concept,
working of the principie of least effort, we see, therefore, that the in addition to criticism of it, were made by Petzoldt. He felt the
world views of ali people at every moment of their lives are insufficiency of the principie of least effort, or rather the faults in
equally philosophical. This statement, wbich we bave deduced the deduction of tbis principie and in Avenarius' method of
from Avenarius' results without making any additions or jumps of presenting it. The aim ofbis two articles isto reduce our principie
logic, and which is, eo ipso, as powerful as the statements to a more general and more basic law. It is the law of the
explicitly drawn by the author, is either paradoxical or leads us tendency toward stability (Tendenz zur Stabilitiit), wbich our
absolutely nowhere. It is paradoxical insofar as we would like to author has found already expressed by Fechner and Zeller. 29
ascribe to the philosophical worldview any characteristics which The results of Petzoldt's general arguments concerning the con-
would distinguish it from other views, for it turns out that there cept of economy and its applicability are in no way contradictory
are no other world views witb which to compare it. And the to the conclusions we have reached in our previous considera-
statement is totally void of content if the philosophical worldview tions. However, he bas reacbed bis conclusions by another path.
is only an expression for the condition wbich, in view of the The first chapter o f bis study, Maxima-minima und Oekonomie, is
psychological laws, must develop in the rnind of each person. devoted to an analysis of certain principies of mechanics, like
Tbus, we see that the conclusions reached by our author in no those of Euler, Hamilton, and Maupertuis, 30 in which, it would
way satisfy us. We have critically examined three elements: the seem at first glance, a certain economy occurring in physical
point of departure, which contained tbe basic assumptions of phenomena is expressed. After a closer analysis of the principie of
apperceptive psychology; the reasoning, which drew conclusions tbe parallelogram of forces, tbe fundamentais of differential cal-
from these assumptions and was based on the apperceptive pic- cuJus, etc., tbe autbor reaches tbe conclusion that the inclination
ture of mental phenomena; and, in the end, the final results to find any maximum or minimum in physical phenomena has no
achieved by the autbor. positive foundation. Whenever we speak of a minimum, it refers
Tbe first two points could not withstand criticism, for con- to an analytical expression and not to a pbysical magnitude: the
temporary scholarship considers this psychological point of view minimum has no place in nature, only in formulae. The fact that
to be entirely disproven. For this reason also tbe results of his such maxima-minima occur so often can be explained by the
arguments could not satisfy us. However, it is a fact that the observation that sucb values of a function express a certain
criticism dealing with the actual value of these three factors does peculiarity, a certain special set of conditions, and we always
not completely exhaust the evaluation of the concept which the desire to express such a situation in the laws of nature.
author meant to develop. Even in the so-called 'exact' sciences, In the second chapter our autbor argues tbat the law of
we often see that laws consistent with experience, which there- economy can only be understood by introducing the concept of
fore possess an objective value, have been deduced from entirely development. We can only comprehend the economic function of
erroneous hypotheses. The most brilliant mathematical concepts a system as a stage in the system's evolution. In fact, this agrees
were often formulated in a manner not consistent with the preci- with what we have said about the applicability of the concept of
102 103
Malinowski's early writinas On the principie of economy of thouaht

a minimum, because every system may be considered a function the development of respective sciences and of philosophical world
of time and circumstance, under the influence of which it views. We see a tremendous revoiution from the time in which
changes. However, it is clear that this is an insufficiently general the substance and methods of science were surrounded by a
definition for the conditions of applicability of our concept. Since, mystic halo until the present when we are inclined to ascribe to
according to Petzoldt the law which produces evolution is the law scientific origin only practical reasons and causes.
of the tendency toward durable states, and since this law also Mach is one of those who contributed greatly to the modem
defines the extent to which the system functions according to its solution to this problem. On the other hand, his system arose and
purpose, this law is the basis for the principie of economy and can grew in the field ofnatural sciences ata time when a fundamental
be entirely reduced to it. revoiution was taking place in those sciences and in their reia-
The final conclusion reached by the author is, as we remember, tionship to philosophy. We here refer nameiy to the bankruptcy of
that the principie of economy of least effort, must be supplemen- materialism. There is a further historical presentation of this fact
ted, strengthened by the principie of the tendency toward stable in Lange's book, Geschichte des Materialismus, 11 which, inciden-
conditions. It is this principie that expresses something of tally, contributed considerably to this bankruptcy. Materialism
extreme interest to us in both physicai and mental processes. was based on a mechanistic world view. In accordance with
(Although it goes beyond our considerations, it is worthwhiie to Kant's theory of knowledge, the materialist accepted the
devote a few words to Petzoldt's principie. He deduces it from existence of the thing in itself which was taken to be the move-
physical arguments. Every system tends toward a stable state, as, ment of actually existing atoms and phenomena arising through
for exampie, a system oftwo, three, etc. bodies Ieft to gravitation. the action of this movement on our senses. We were supposed to
On the basis of the principie of entropy this can be extended to sense this action as a purely subjective feeling. In addition, the
any isolated physical system. But it appiies oniy to an isolated materialists asserted that our states of consciousness are func-
system and not to any other. But isolated systems are merely
fictionai scientific structures designed to investigare reality. What
tions, or rather secretions, of matter. Research based on these
assumptions resulted in the bankruptcy ofknowledge, as exempli-
cognitive value can a law have for us when it only applies to fied by Dubois-Reymond's resignation of any hope of cognition. 32
instruments of scientific research, inferred from those very aspects F. A. Lange very correctly demonstrares that the limits to our
in which they differ from reaiity?} Abstracting from the guiding knowiedge ofnature are not narrower than the limits placed upon
thoughts of our author, we see that his reasoning is absolutely our cognition in general, that the mistake of materialism consists
correct; however, insofar as it applies to the principie of in its accepting matter as directly given and our feelings as deriva-
economy, it can be replaced with simpler, more basic reasoning. tive, while in reality it is the other way around. This observation
At this point we will pass on to the second method of formulat- of Lange's may be said to be fundamental to ali of the new philo-
ing our principie, to Mach's principie of the economy of thinking. sophy on this question. We also see its influence on Mach. We
Here we must move in to an entirely new area of human thought, should aiso mention a number of definitions of science put
Jhe border between scientific methodology and cognitive theory. forward at that time by certain specialists. These definitions
In the first of these disciplines there is probably no more basic express an entirely different standpoint on this question. Thus,
question than this: What is the goal, destiny, and task of science? the mathematician Grassman defines science as 'Anpassuna der
What does knowledge offer us? What does science offer us? Many Gedanken an das Seiend und aneinander'. 33 Kirchhof defines the
answers to this question present themselves to us depending on task of science (in his case, especially mechanics) as: ... di e in
the point ofview that we assume. We can ask what its meaning is der Na tu r vor sich oehenden Beweaunaen vollstandia und auf di e
for the individual, for society, what is the practical need for einfachste Weise zu beschreiben'. 11

Cscience, or, perhaps whether science satisfies other, mental needs

which cannot be reduced to practical ones. Depending on the
point of departure, the answers also change in accordance with
On the other hand we must take into consideration the fact
that Mach was developing bis ideas at precisely the same time
when the biological sciences, having just been launched onto a
104 105
Malinowski's early w ritinas On the principie of economy of thouaht

with true ones. Ali of these scientific endeavours can be compared with Lebens'. 42 In accordance with our previous observation, we would
each other like steam engines so that we may judge which one is the most have to disagree with this statement; and that is why we may not
economical. Economy gives us ao excellent vantage point from which transfer Darwin's principies to this domain in any other way but
we can guide our scientific research, and which will give us a greater figuratively. The most we can do here is to make an analogy
advantage than we would receive by unwittingly yielding to ephemeral capable of stimulating us and leading us on to new discoveries.
mental forces. And that is why I too have taken this point ofview. From this point of view we will agree with Mach's statement:
Spiritual work can be wasted (in regard to a specified purpose) just like 'Wir sehen wissenschaftliche Gedanken sich umformen, auf
the heat in a steam engine can be lost for the work at hand.
weitere Gebiete sich ausbreiten, mit konkurrierenden kiimpfen,
Here we can clearly see the influence of the two fa ctors we h ave und ber weniaer l eistunasfiihiae den Siea davon traaen'. 13 Here

~ entioned above: a new way oftreating the purposes and tasks of

ientific investigations and emphasis on the biological aspect in
we may observe that Mach 's concept of adaptation, although it
originates from an entirely different understanding ofpsychologi-
\ : amining mental life and its manifestations. Both of these cal phenomena, corresponds to some extent to the concepts of
influences complement each other and act conjointly. When one apperception on which Avenarius had based his principie. Here,
way is barred to the human mind, it turns more quickly to the to some extent, we have a point of contact between these two
place where new horizons are opening. Since the older, dogmatic views, although, even here, they are by no means identical.
justification of the purpose of science had been critically Let us now pass on to the very object of our investigations, an
demolished, new thinkers tackling this problem had to search for analysis of how Mach deduces the principie of the economy of
new sources. thinking from the picture, which he had created for hirnself, of
All minds were fascinated by Darwin 's theory. In the very for- scientific and other phenomena of the human mind. First of all we
mulation of the problem we have a clear trace of Darwin's must point out tha t in the above quotation the author clearly
influence on Mach's train of thought. Man is conceived as an indicates that in physical phenomena one cannot, without fur-
organism struggling with nature and with other individuais. All ther assumption, speak of an economy or, in general, about a
of the functions of this organism can be conceived teleologically maximum-minimum. In bis terms, the condition for applying this
as the tools best suited to this struggle. The next step leads us to concepr iU he introduction of purpose t_the phenomena under
coordinate our thought, imagination, a nd memory with these investigation. tha~funmuation..oi..this...giQJJ.p..of 1- 11
other functions. However, here we must repeat the observation phenomena J s a matter of fact, this agrees with our initial,
which we have made, in the appropriate place, concerning general reasoning. ,!_n teleologically formul ating phenomena V(e
Avenarius. It is precisely from the point ofview assumed by Mach eo ips.a emphasize one aspectsb)!OOIIDU11g..only..some of..their
tha t we may not consider the subjective experiences of the {actors in to consideration. This also makes possible the introduc- ]
individua l as biological fa ctors; we may not even place them on ton offunction, whiCll we h ave acknowledged as a necessary and
the same levei with these activities insofar as the exclusively sufficient condition. Jiu.t.-th.e-GOncept....of..furu:tionis_broader than
logical functioning of the organism is concerned. Adaptation that o..f ~; the latter is, in my opinion, a sufficient condition
(Anpassuna) is a concept which also passes from Darwinism to for speaking of a maximum-minimum, but it is not a necessary
Mach's cognitive theory. one. Therefore, we may consider our formulation more general
and less endangered by the anthropomorphism which the concept
... die Gedanken insbesondere die naturwissenschaftlichen, unterlieaen
in ahnlicher Weise der Umbilduny und Anpassune, wie dies Darwin fr
ofpurpose always suggests. Basically, however, we cannot charge
die Oreanismen annimmt.11
Mach with the same objection we made against Avenarius, that
he runs a collision course with the law ofunivocal determinism.
It is here, however, that we come across a ftaw somewhat Let us now exami ne how Mach fills in the two aspects of this
offensive to us, a simple inference from the doma in of biology to process. Where, in his forrnulation, is the expenditure and where
psychology. 'Gedan ken sind Ausseruna en des oraanischen is the gain? According to Mach, the expenditure is our 'psychic
108 109
Malinowski's early w ritinos On the principie of eco.n omy of thouaht

work'. lf we should wish to correct this somewhat inadequate as Avenarius' point of departure. Therefore, let us return to that
manner of expression, we could say: the expenditure of physio- universal measure, in which role a normal intellect is to serve us.
logical energy concurrent with the work of our brain. This aspect To me, even this assumption seems superfluous. I will not
of the process is quite clear and is neither offensive nor contradic- expound on the arbitrariness of such a choice. Here the objection
tory. Here we are dealing with a change in a magnitude which is, could be raised: what will we regard as the criterion for nor-
at least, fundamentally measurable; therefore we can ascertain mality? Will it be conformity with the majority of human intel-
its minimum without risk of reproach. The other aspect of the lects? But it is precisely to this majority that scientific laws are
problem presents more difficulties. The gain which we obtain inaccessible. Furthermore, i f assuming the existence o f the egos of
through our mental work is the results of our research, the adap- others is in many cases an indispensable hypothesis, then assum-
tation of our thoughts to facts, scientific laws. ing the hypothetical existence of some universal or objective
At this point a strict definition of the manner in which we can mind deprived of individual traits, the lack of which would
evaluate and measure the value of these laws is indispensable. immediately make it abnormal, contains many far-fetched and
Yet, we cannot deduce a clear answer to this question from his non-empirical elements. 15 I believe that scientific laws can b~
writings. Therefore, we must stop for a moment to explain the defined perfectly without employing any psychological data in a
essence of these scientific laws to ourselves. Let us first turn to manner totally equivalem to any definition of a physical value.
what Mach says about this: he defines the process we are here We will precede the justification of the last statement with a
concerned with as a process of adaptation (Anpassunosprozess). figurative presentation of the subject. lf a technician or artisan
However, we may consider this definition to be more of a figura - wishes to express his opinion about the v alue of an engine or tool,
tive metaphor than a strict emprica} designation. Our thoughts must he resort to any psychological data? Must he analyze the
are not made of plastic a nd reality is not a form which can be psychological origin ofthe invention submitted to him or seek the
stamped onto them. Mach does nQt giye th~sychological defini - help of some normal human mind who knows the workings of this
jiQn of me wcess Q,L.!iapl.aiQJ1. Meanwhile, the question engine? Of course not. Such psychological considerations are
appears in the form of a dilemma: must we define the value of indispensable when the concern is the evaluation of a work of art,
scientific laws psychologically, or may they be conceived as some- but not when the concern is the evaluation of a tool serving a
thing existing objectively to which entirely objective criteria practical purpose. In the latter case we have the same objective
may be applied? Generally, it is the first alternative which is data at hand as we have any time we make a judgement on the
accepted. 'To speak, therefore, of the universal validity of a law physical world.
of nature has only meaning in so far as we refer to a certain type With equal objectivity the physicist can present the efficiency
of perceptive faculty, namely, that of a normal human being.+t (labour effectiveness) of a mountain waterfall and that of any
Therefore, in order to define the validity of a law, there must be a working engine which is the product of human hands. We may
measure. Such a measure is 'a normal human being', a normally ask here whether it is necessary for us to know how it functions in
functioning human mind, a typical or collective intellect. Actu- order to evaluate the tool submitted to us, and whether this
ally, if we limit ourselves to considering an individual mind, the explanation is not the included psychic factor? Undoubtedly the
results would have no value. What is of concern to us is science engine will not work if it is not assembled and operated properly.
taken socially, as a phenomenon of collective life, not as a facet But we must regard ali of this as a set of physical conditions,
in the development of an individual mind. just like those which must occur in order for any physical
Psychological considerations with the aim of answering our phenomenon to take place. Indeed, each of our experiments con-
question on the basis of the subjective mdividual's relation to sists in assembling certain elements of nature, setting them in
scientific laws are thus excluded by definition. Not to mention the motion, and directing them. In both cases we must postulare not
fact that if we were to continue on this path we would come to only our consciousness, but also our activity. Our ability to
exactly the same standpoint which we have previously attacked evaluate is objective in the former as well as in the latter case. Let
110 111
Malinowski's early writinas On the principie of eCOJ?omy of thouaht
we mentioned the factors which contributed to the rise of the of the metaphysical o r antimetaphysical treatment o f philosophy,
principie of the economy of thinking on a narrower, methodicai we can deduce the following observations. The authors were
scaie. With Mach this principie has much more empiricai signifi- interested in establishing an emprica! basis for philosophicai
cance, and, if we take into account a few minor restrictions, it investigations and a non-metaphysical definition of the essence
can be sustained. But in this case it is no Ionger a psychological and purpose of scholariy research. If we assume that Avenarius's
principie; it does not expiain the purpose and the phenomena of principie is only a postulate, a metaphysical principie, our criti-
1 science by means of laws of psychoiogical processes, but rather by
.means...of purely~-biologka.Lda.ta. Similarly, in the study by Pro-
cism, which pertains soleiy to the empirical method of research,
wou ld Jose ali validity. However, as an empirical principie, as we
fessor Straszewski, we finda purely biologicai justification of this have already seen, it cannot be maintained. Therefore, we can
law. On the other hand, when we deal with a psychoiogical consider Avenarius's endeavours pointless. However, this in no
treatment of this principie, as in Comelius, for example, it does way prejudices the question of whether metaphysical methods
not express any economy, nor any functional minimum. Cor- can be applied to philosophy. However, for the time being, taking
nelius calls it Einheitsprinzip [unity principie], and for him this these results into account, it is a fact that we do not yet have an
term expresses only an empirically defined process found among
the states of our consciousness, namely, as he says, a tendency to
em_pirical basis for a phi~2,Phical ..yorldview. .-r-t-
be subsumed under one symbol. We will not expound here on the
further deveiopment of our principie; the task we had set before
ourselves was to examine the manners of formulating this
principie by its two initiators. Therefore we have tried to justify
historically the reasons for its origins, to establish critically its
proper Iimits, and to point out its weaknesses.
Here, we may make one more observation about the influence
of ou r principie on the tendencies of contemporary philosophy. It
leads to a demand for a monistic world view as its most straight-
forward consequence. Hence, in his Proleaomena, 17 Avenarius
regards this system as appropriate to its purpose, which is to fuifil
the conditions of monism. He aiso endeavours to make his system
monistic. This tendency prevaiis in the entire empirio-critical
school: Mach, Cornelius, and Petzoldt all consider it a point of
scientific honour that there not be the slightest dualistic flaw in
their manner of referring to facts. The existence of the principie of
the economy of thinking as a basic means of conceiving every
form of human mental endeavour explains this tendency to a
certain extent. We have no reason to be prejudiced in referring to
this or to any other trend in cognitive theory. But the absolutism,
the dogmatism, one couid say, with which monism is presently
used as a touchstone for every system, view, or principie, can be
[ surprising and lead one to seek historical reasons for such a situa-
tion. Without doubt, one of these reasons is our principie.
With regard to the question with which we started our investi-
gation, namely what will this principie tell us about the problem
114 115


BOUGH (1910)*

(1) Frazer's Definition. He proceeds from the definition of magic.

It is a worldview approximating the scientific, for it postulates
order and uniformity in nature, mainly in the form of two
fundamental principies: uniformity and contagiou. They may
also be formulated as follows: similar things produce a similar
effect, and things which have once been in contact with each
other continue to be connected so that what happens with one of
them also exerts influence on the other: Moreover, on the basis of
these two principies and the belief in the efficacy of the rites
conducted by it, magic attempts to achieve its aim by man's own
power. Religion sees personal deities beyond the forces of nature
and ascribes the course of the affairs of the world to their, more or
less unrestricted, will. And so -it. achieves its aims indirectly by
appealing to the deities with prayer and sacrifices; religion pos-
sesses the institution of priests, churches, worship (The Golden
Bouoh, Pt. I, vol. l, pp. 52-4 on the principies of magic- they are
the fundamental psychological phenomenon of the association of
ideas. Chpt. XV, pp. 220-43, magic approximates science. Both
are opposed to religion. Three stages: magic alone, magic con-
fused with religion, magic opposed to religion).
Basic criticism. Psychologically magic is something completely
different from science because it does not infer ordinary conse-
quences and regularities; it does not perceive in the world of
objective things but relates emotionally, subjectively- our super-
stitions are something completely different from our scientific
cognition, although one may be analogous to the other in prac-
tice (of course, here the psychological difference between science
and superstition applies only to our psychology). But there are
fundamental differences in the manner in which he reaches his
Original handwritten in Polish. Bronislaw Malinowski Papers, Manuscript and
Archive, Stirling Library, Yale University, Group No. 19, Series li, Box 27, file 244.


Malinowski's early writin9s Reli9ion and ma9ic: The Golden Bough

results which Frazer does not recognize. Science reaches its laws distinguish traditional empiricism from traditional mythology.
more or less empirically and does not subject them to any restric- This means that empiricism would provide its ordinances on the
tions. Magic is based on traditions of the sect ; its rules are full of basis of experience, while traditional mythology gives its
exceptional restrictions. These two principies of magic are only ordinances in the form ofrelating events (The Golden Bou9h, Pt.
the fundamentais, but in order to understand the psychological I, vol. l, p. 90). 'Blood possesses a fertilizing virtue among the
states involved, we must reach farther in to the depths of ideas of Australians. This explains the bloody rituais of many religions
the mana ammuBuilta type, etc. Undoubtedly, however, magic, and many ceremonies'. This is a reversal o f truth. This blood is
as a form of human activity based on experience, is an equivalent something which acts extremely strongly on the nerves and the
of science. However, the definition of religion is very unsatisfac- imagination; moreover the objective proof of this lies in the cor-
tory. just as we cannot determine whether the metaphysical responding bloody rituals, which explain to us that in a certain
system of a given individual and the social ethic based upon it is specific instance blood is considered to be something still alive, a
subjective or not by taking only the contents of beliefs into con- conception which arose from the more general conception
sideration, in the same way we cannot draw a boundary line through specialization. - In general the principies of magic are
between science and magic taking only their content into con- the following: that we consider that which we desire to exist
sideration. On the other hand, the following distinctions can be everywhere around us; passion leads us to automatic mimetic
made: ( 1) does the given individual possess a system of beliefs or acts; if we hate someone, we are capable, in our rage, of tearing,
not? and (2) in what relationship does this system of beliefs stand biting, and mutilating him through whatever is within our reach;
to the society in which the individual lives? The definition of these facts must be taken into account insofar as we wish to
belief would be: the theory, cognition, or something of this sort recreate a criticai, psychological synthesis of magic.
according to which we regulate our behaviour. Science is some- Observations on Frazer's Principies. Indeed, these principies
thing more than belief; it is a principie in which we believe, and can be demonstrated in very many magical rites. Since Frazer
moreover which we understand. does not even mention the mimetic dancers, expressing worship,
Reli9ion. This is a system of traditions explaining and justify- even the other examples given by Frazer are not sufficient. At any
ing the world, and a system of norms regulating our conduct. rate we may assume that these principies exhaust the definition
Norms are motivated by traditions. Dogmatics and ethics are the of the relationship of the content of the ri te to the intended goal.
two components of religion - the sine qua non. Therefore religion But this by no means explains either the psychological genesis of
is a forro organic to society, a social institution. Magic is only the the ri teor the psychological relationship of the ri te mentioned to
efflorescence of certain sundry wants and things. the religion. Let us begin with the latter since it is a simpler
More on ma9ic. As we encounter magic, in combination with matter. With regard to the person performing the ri te, it is imposs-
and merging with the religions of the people nearby, it links ible to speak of his acceptance of the laws and order of the
elements which !ater become differentiated objectively into uni verse, of his searching for them independently, or even of his
various forros of collective psychology: science, superstition, and grasping what is going on in them when he becomes initiated. The
religion. But we cannot bring some of these elements to the fore, only things which exist for him are his practical goal and the
e.g. those corresponding to !ater science, while neglecting other faith that certain methods exist to achieve this goal which no one
elements. Magic stands in contradistinction to religion, which understands, but which have been tested and are derived from
fulfills a basic organizing function, creating a common cult and a mysterious sources, probably from some sort of revelation.
common system of norms, two things without which no society Revelation is the concept to which experience must be con-
can exist. The cult is the result offorces, which evoke certain acts trasted. The savage derives his knowledge (about hunting, etc.)
even outside of the cult. If these acts are not based on myth from experience; the superstition which arises from this experi-
(dogma), they can be called magic. For no act exists in religion ence is quite different from science, but this is something else
which is justified by empiricism or by any other act. We may thus again. On the other hand, magical acts proper h ave their origin in
118 119
Malinowski's early writinos Reliaion and maaic: The Golden Bough
revelation and cannot be understood without it. In the individual them. However, here experiential frequency is by no means
psychology derived from magic tradition, there can be no talk of decisive. Contact must be defined by something else. But by what?
laws, of similarity and continuityl which results from one's ideas. Only an analysis of the emotional aspects of human psychology
And how can we explain a psychological genesis? An origin is out can give us an answer. The things which are subject to concrete
of the question. At most, ali we can take in to consideration is the magic, par excellence, are parts of the body. Parts that can be
attitude of given individuais who had modified it. Or we can removed, which are loosely connected. Are we, emotionally, in
establish a hypothetical construction, of the relationship of such an entirely different relation to them? No. From our own
objective products to [] [illegible- eds.]. psychology we can draw the conclusion that it is not so. We
Rationalization of the ri te (a clear distinction of Catholic rites ourselves are strongly affected by extracted teeth and spilled
for example) is a very recent development, of dogmatic religion. blood. Hence the principie that the affects a re crystallized in
Such a rationalistic genesis is a pleasure, i.e., it was known as magic ideas. Placentas are in contact, but the act of birth, the
soon as it had arisen, but later the knowledge was obliterated, incomprehension of these matters must ali impart certain affec-
i.e., reversing the obvious. tive features.
p. 205. In order to explain the connection between the weapon
and the wound, Frazer constantly resorts to the intermediary of
blood. Here the entire complex of the phenomenon of affects is
p. 132. For me, keeping faithful to one's husband while the linked with wounding; feelings towards the objects which are the
husband is away at war is the result of certa in feelings of guilt and cause of suffering, etc.
also of certain principies. Before the campaign, the husbands, -<:hapter on the maaic contro/ ofrain, sun, and wind. Here we
both Christians and savage, feeling the presence of evil, think proceed to public magic rites which, obviously, should concem
that if there is an evil force at home, evil may appear a t war. If the whole society. In contradistinction to numerous examples,
some association operates here, it is only an emotional one. Frazer refers to private magic, which he had mentioned before,
Domestic hostility at home and hostility at war are linked. and which was also magic according to my definition. Here they
Again, women have certain feelings of guilt towards their should rather be acts of a public, compulsory, systematic cult.
husbands when something evil happens to them. And so, The main points of interest are as follows:
naturally, they do not want to compromise them.
(1) Do these acts possess economic features, is work carried out
The second basic form is dancing, movement in general, the
execution of certain [] [illegible - eds.]. The psychological origin in them, is it economic, do they train man for an economic way of
of this is not so much a rationalization as a natural impulse.
When we have a preoccupation, when something important hap- (2) Do these acts possess characteristics of a religious cult? Are
pens behind our backs, the natural impulse is to do something. they pubHc, regular, and based on a special organization?
We are seized with anxiety, and even though realizing the futility In general, Frazer's manner of treating them mainly as to their
of the action, we move about. And the idea springs from this contents does not suit me very much.
background. But without the emotional background the ideas p. 247. Frazer distinguishes public from private magic, but
would lead to nothing. attaches very little weight to this distinction; he does not con-
Concrete maaic. According to Frazer this consists of an associa- sider whether it is a dominant characteristic or not. Does it cor-
tion of ideas, based on the principie that man merges and identi- respond to the distinction between magic and religion as we know
fies with what he sees. For me this is false, for the concept of it?
merging says nothing to me. In psychology there are other associ- p. 315. What a hoax! He considers the Mexican sacrifices of
ations ofideas. Contact is a real, experiential osculation in space. human hearts to the sun to be magic because they are not offered
And its force depends on the frequency with which we experience to please the sun but to add strength to it. Is a miracle not to be
120 121
Malinowski's early writinas
defined socially? a deed which cannot be performed by an average
member of the society? This ought to be exemplified by creeds in ~ 4~
miracles. But to define 'miracle' taking more or less our stand-
point, i.e., with reference to national law etc., seems to me TOTEM ISM AND EXOGAMY ( 19 11-1913)*
nearly absurd. 2


Occasioned by the book of J. G. Frazer, D.C.L., L.L.D., F.B.A.

Totemism and Exooamy (4 vols. London, 1910)

The four-volume treatise on totemism and exogamy by Professor

Frazer is undoubtedly the most important publication in the
social sciences which has appeared in English in recent years. For
not only is the subject one of the most interesting ethnological
problems but the author of the treatise also possesses high scien-
tific qualifications, and his name is, as it were, linked with the
history of this question.
Although in the introduction to his work Professor Frazer, with
his customary modesty, mentions the Scottish sociologist J. F.
McLennan as the first who had drawn the attention ofscholars to
the totemic phenomena, the first systematic treatise on totemism
was published in 1887 by Professor Frazer. Until the appearance of
the present work, this small book was the classic treatment of
totemic phenomena. It drew the general attention to them,
exerted fundamental influence on further research, and was an
invaluable source of facts and observations. It is well known that
totemism is a form of primitive beliefs, and the essential sub-
stance of these beliefs consists in the conception that a close
connection and interdependence exist between a given group of
people and a given animal, plant, or inanimate object. This con-
nection and dependence can be of various k.inds. Sometimes we
encounter the idea that the clan, or group of people of the same
totem, and the animal totemically connected with this group
original published in three parts in ('olish in the journal Lud, vols. 17-19. They
appeared as (I) 'Totemizm i egzogamia (Z pwodu ksi~ki j. G. Frazera, DCL,
LLD, FBA: Totemism and Exogamy, 4 vols., London, 1910) ', Cz~ I, Lud 17: 31~6;
(2) 'Totemizm i egzogamia (Z pwodu ksi~j. G. Frazera ... )', Cz~~ 11, Lud 18:
14-15; and (3) 'Totemizm i egzogamia (Z pwodu ksi~zki J. G. Frazera ... )',
Cz~t III, Lud 19: 153-71.

122 123
- ----------- - --

Malinowski's early writinys Totemism and. exoyamy

descend from a common ancestor. Sometimes a belief exists about splendidly developed in the classic work, The Golden Bouyh -
a dose kinship of an animal or a plant and a human group, not impart an undeniable value to this collection of facts also. To
resulting, however, from common descent. Then again, a plant or these we should add an unusually beautiful and attractive style
animal may be worshipped and be a kind of deity. We will be able as well as the fact that an immense quantity of previously
to fill in these broad definitions while discussing the examples unpublished, most recent ethnographic materiais, which first-
cited below by Professor Frazer. For the time being it is sufficient rank ethnographers of the whole world have placed at the dis-
to point out that totemism is both a religious conception and a posal of this great scholar, is collected in this work. Thus, this
social institution. collection, along with all of Professor Frazer's other works, will
All the people related to the same animal or plant are thereby be an invaluable treasury and mine of facts for a host of scholars
related to each other and constitute a social unit: a totemic clan. who, possessing splendidly collected ma teria l a rranged in such a
Besides other peculiarities these social units possess the way as to bring many a dependence between phenomena into
attribute that the members of a given group who regard them- relief, will perhaps often be able to formulate more precise and
selves as relatives are not permitted, in the majority of cases, to more scientific theories than the original author.
marry among themselves; in other words, totemic clans are usu- For the theories set forth by Professor Frazer in the present work
ally exogamic units. Therefore, totemism and exogamy have cannot stand up to serious criticism, as we will try to demonstra te
been and are considered by many scholars to be inseparable below. However, they are extremely interesting from a method-
phenomena, and although in his present work Professor Frazer ological point ofview beca use they possess all the advantages and
considers these phenomena to have originally arisen independ- defects of the English anthropological school, and through them
ently, he nevertheless gives them parallel treatment and tries to one can demonstra te both the advantages and weaknesses of the
demonstra te how they have reached the state of interdependence, method employed by that school.
in which they are presently encountered almost everywhere. We will now begin a systematic review of the three parts of the
Professor Frazer's new work is composed of three parts: work in question. The purpose of the reprinted treatise on totem-
ism was the definition of what totemism actually is and the
(l) a reprint of the original treatise on totemism (of 1887) anda presentation of ali ofits peculiarities. 1 We are here dealing with a
reprint o f two articles on the origins o f religion and totemism (of brilliant empirical treatment of the subject, which constitutes
1899 and 1905); these reprints occupy 172 pages of volume I. such an outstanding virtue of the English anthropological school.
(2) the further portion of volume I from pp. 175-579, volumes 11 Every statement is explained by a considerable number of exaro-
and 111 contain a geographically arranged, very detailed and com- pies drawn from ali areas of ethnography. At the beginning he
plete survey of phenomena connected with totemism and defines the term totem more or less as we have done above (1, 3)2
exogamy throughout the globe. and then distinguishes the clan totem, the personal totem, and
(3) volume IV contains the author's theoretical research on the the totem depending on sex, for in certain tribes the males possess
subject under study: the author's main theories about the origins one animal or plant as their totem, while the female portion of
of totemism and exogamy (vol. IV, pp. 1-169). The remaining the population has another totem. However, only clan totems
part ofvolume IV (pp. 173-319) contains supplements and correc- have an almost exclusively sociological significance. In the chap-
tions mostly referring to the prints of the former works contained ter on the religious aspects of totemism, Professor Frazer
in volume I. examines an entire series of beliefs pertaining to an animal,
Of these three parts, undoubtedly the most important and that plant, or totemic object. Widespread is the idea of the common
possessing the greatest and most durable significance is the descent of clan members and their totem, plant or animal, from a
second. The author's unusual erudition, his great ability to illu- common mythical ancestor, who sometimes is an animal or plant
rninate facts and to demonstrate essential connections between and sometimes a human being. The clan members are obligated to
them which are imperceptible at first glance - qualities so show respect to their totem, to spare and to take care of it. The

124 125
Malinowski's early writinos Totemism and /'!XOBamy

clan members are often prohibited from killing, destroying, or cribe the facts, making a theoretical digression here and there.
using the totemic object. Some tribes observe mourning for a And this lack of method may undoubtedly be felt quite often, as
toternic animal. In others it is forbidden to mention the name of we will try to demonstrate. Such a general survey of facts as we
the animal. Every offence against the totem results in bad conse- have before us touches and suggests ali sorts of problems of com-
quences, such as death, illness, etc. In return the totem protects parative ethnology, such as the question ofwhether a given social
the people related to it. Clan members often try to imitate their institution, belief, or custom, which we encounter scattered over
totem and to unite with it more closely, dressing in its hide or the whole world, arose spontaneously in various places or were
feathers, tattooing its picture on their bodies, or using its likeness spread by imitation or by transfer, in other words, by the mutual
as clan insgnia. At various celebrations, such as birthdays, mar- interaction o f the peoples. Then we h ave the basic problem of the
riages, or funerais, totemism plays an important role, but its most theory of evolution, whether a given institution had a similar
important role is at the initiation of young men reaching sexual process of evolution in different peoples living far apart, in other
maturity. All of these aspects of totemic ideas are illustrated by words, can we place various forros of the same institution
Professor Frazer with numerous examples. In the chapter on the encountered among various peoples with different leveis of
social aspect of totemism, he examines mainly the legal and culture in a uniform evolutionary row? This postulate of a
exogamic functions of the totemic clan. Because the views con- straightforward and identical process of evolution, although for-
tained therein are for the most part obsolete, since recent mally discarded by scholars, still plays an important role today in
material collected in the past twenty years forces changes in many scholarly works as a tacitly accepted assumption. Hidden
them, we will not enter into a detailed analysis of them, especi- assumptions of this sort are always dangerous and make the
ally since the author has changed them himself. In the notes and evaluation and critique of the theories and conclusions put
corrections at the end of chapter IV, a considerable portion of the forward more difficult. Therefore, the author of such an extensive
views expressed in the original study is changed or revoked. The and basic treatise ought to take a clearly defined stand on ali basic
remaining portion of the reprints in the first volume consists of problems to facilitate the readers' orientation not only to his
two treatises on the origins of totemism and religion, with which theories, but also to bis treatment of the facts and method of
we will deal in criticizing the theories of volume IV. describing them, which is always essentially connected to the
Therefore let us now pass to the second part of the work, to the theoretical views. The fewer hypothetical assumptions and postu-
systematic survey of totemic phenomena. With the exception of lates to be found in a given description of facts, the greater the
Europe, we encounter these phenomena in all parts of the world. value of this description, but beca use every precise description of
Volume IV of Frazer's work contains a map of the world on which facts requires precise concepts, and these can be provided only by
the areas inhabited by totemic tribes are marked in red. They theory, every description and classification must thus be based of
occupy the entire continent o f Australia, half of New Guinea, the necessity on a theoretical formulation.
Malaysian Islands and part of the Polynesian Islands, almost the Given a survey of totemic phenomena, we can demand that it
whole continent of North America and considerable areas in should, first of ali, enable us to discover the essential character-
Africa. Moreover, we find vestiges of totemism in India, the istics and general forros of these phenomena and elicit the basic
Sunda Islands, and in South America. connections between the totemic phenomena and the other forros
Professor Frazer gives us a description of the totemism and of collective life. A precise concept of totemism, like ali empirical
exogamy of ali of these peoples within the framework of their concepts, is acquired only through induction and comparing
general characterization, so that his work may be read with inter- phenomena: carefully investigating the characteristics in each
est as a colourful anthropo-geography. However, in the system- individual case and taking what is common in ali these cases as a
atic listing of facts, we are struck by the lack of a clearly general notion of totemism. To reach this goal in a faultless
formulated, purposeful method, the lack of posing a problem and manner, it is necessary to formulate precisely a method for com-
tracing the course of research. The author simply begins to des- paring ethnographic phenomena. It should be easy to see that the
126 127
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and ~xoaamy

elaboration of such a method would force the author to take a in the Arunta tribe as alcherinaa. This appellation includes both
clear stand on the above mentioned and other basic problems. the ancestors' persons and their deeds, history and the whole
First of ali, we should ask how to compare analogous facts epoch to which these legends pertain. This epoch reaches back to
encountered among people on different leveis of culture. Accord- the most remote times, the creation of the world, of people; etc.
ing to the theory of straightforward evolution, should these facts Obviously, one must avoid the assumption tht the primitive
be considered forms of the same institution in various phases, or mind is capable of any precise and defined concepts such as the
should a very importam influence be ascribed to local factors sequence of time, infinity, epochs, etc. However, their legends
which give to each institution a specific stamp distinguishing it can probably be arranged in a certain sequence, but this
fundamentally from related forms in other localities? Professor sequence6 is expressed in an extremely undefined way. 7 The oldest
Frazer does not give us a developed method for comparison, and legends pertaining to the origin of the earth, the origin or rather
we cannot tackle these problems more extensively: I will, the making of men, to the evil beings: oruncha, are less interest-
however, try to provide a few guiding points. Meanwhile, let us ing and important for describing totemism. Their value lies in
proceed with a survey of the concrete facts presented by Professor that part of the legends in which it is explained how true kinship
Frazer. or partia} identity of those ancestors with their totemic animais is
The author begins with a description of Australian totemism. constituted. Spencer and Gillen maintain that the primitive
The Australians are the most primitive of the peoples among beings, who were slowly transformed into humans, went through
whom we encounter totemic beliefs, and therefore their totemism stages or degrees in the metamorphosis of animais and plants in to
is the most primitive. Therefore, the author hopes that he will humans; hence these people who were the alcherinaa; ancestors
find in them the key to solving some fundamental questions. obviously have something of the given animal or plant in their
Australian ethnography distinguishes fou r autochthons: ( 1) natures. 8 Strehlow asserts that the anima l and plant nature of
Southeastern tribes which inhabit Victoria, New South Wales, these ancestors is manifested in their ability to assume at will the
and part of the southern provinces of Australia; (2) Central and form of animais or plants and also in their ability to produce
North Central tribes inhabiting the central part of the continent; them. 9 The Australians themselves probably have no clear con-
(3) Northeastem tribes inhabiting the province of Queensland; ception about this and in their mystic, nebulous way of thinking
(4) tribes of Western Australia. simply identify their ancestors with their totemic animals. 10
The tribes of Central Australia are best known and described by These ancestors of a half human and half animal nature
Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. Both men, having spent a long time wandered in bands composed of persons of the same totem and
among the natives, have described them in detail in two classic passed through various parts of the territory in which their
works. The results of their research have been subjected to a descendants live today. The history of the alcherinaa ancestors
scrupulous check by the German missionary, Strehlow, who had constitutes a kind of holy scripture for the Arunta tribe. The
even mastered the local language. Strehlow's works, 1 in their entire social organization, ali forros ofworship, and ali beliefs are
main outlines, have confirmed the results of Spencer's and closely connected with the events, wanderings, and deeds of these
Gillen's research; therefore, it is regrettable that Frazer com- ancestors. Therefore, it can be said that these traditions are
pletely ignores the work of the German author. 5 The Central types of legends - myths in the strictest sense of the word - and
Australian tribes occupy a considerable portion of the continent tha t they are very well developed and rich. 11 Obviously, the life o f
and differ from each other comparatively little. What we will say these ancestors is of the same type and substance as that of the
about their totemism pertains mainly to the Arunta tribe present inhabitants and heirs of the heroic alcherinaa ancestors.
(according to Gillen and Spencer) or Arunda (according to The ancestors murdered each other, performed various cere-
Strehlow) which is the best known. monies, hunted, and wandered about in the same way as their
A characteristic feature of the central tribes is the vast develop descendants do today. 12 But there are some important details in
ment of the legends about the totemic ancestors, who are known their history and social organization which distinguish them from
128 129
Malinowski's early writinos Totemism and ~xooamy
their present successors. They always roamed about in bands of social institutions. First of ali, in the question of family organiza-
the same totem, and this was their sole form of social organiza- tion, we are dealing with a people that does not know ofthe blood
tion; 13 they married among themselves in their borde, 11 and usu- ties between father and child. Moreover, conceptualistic ideas are
aliy fed on their totem. 15 We will retum to these points in the basis of clan unity. We have seen above that the spirit chil-
discussing Professor Frazer's theories, but now let us take up the dren, staying in a given totemic centre, always stem from a com-
question of how the alcherinoa traditions are directly linked to mon group of alcherinoa ancestors, that is, they are of the same
the present organization and the present social conditions of the totem, and ali people who are a reincarnation of these spirits,
Arunta tribe. Tired from their long wanderings, the totemic namely ali those conceived in the same totemic district, comprise
alcherinoa ancestors ended their terrestrial career by descending the totemi c clan. Therefore the unity of the clan in central
underground, and at the spot where they disappeared, there Australia is based on ideas of their common descent from a group
remained a sign of this important event, a big stone, a tree, a of ancestors of the same totem. It should also be noted that we are
pond, or a rock. Such spots have a tremendous significance in the here dealing with a belief in reincamation beca use some totemic
eyes of the natives. They are fertile in 'spirit children' (Spencer ancestor is incama ted in every child, specificaliy the one from
and Gillen) or Kinderkeime (Strehlow), who rema in there, left by which a given retapa descends. 19 An interesting feature of
the alcherinoa ancestors, and await the opportunity to Australian toternism is the immense importance which the
reincamate themselves. How these mythical ancestors vanished natives attach to the so-called churinoas. These are flat, oblong
from the face of the earth, how the spirit children arose in these pieces of wood or stone of oval shape tied with a string at one end
spots, and what their nature is, about ali of this the Australians' in such a way that they can be quickly set in to motion, producing
conceptions are very unclear and complex. This is demonstrated a characteristic sound. Each alcherinoa ancestor carried such
by the great variety of versions presented both by Spencer and churinoas and each spirit child is mystically linked with a certain
Gillen and particularly by Strehlow. 16 It is essential to our con- churinoa; these objects play a very important role in the totemic
siderations that such spots exist scattered over the whole territory worship of the native tribes.
of the tribe and that in each of these totemic centres are found The most important social function of ali of these beliefs is
spirit children, retapa, belonging to the same totem as that centre undoubtedly that they are the basis for the unity of the totemic
and awaiting reincamation. 17 If some woman, especialiy a young clan, a very important unit in the social organization of the
one, finds herself near such a spot, or even only within a given Central Australian tribes. As we can see, ali clan members regard
totemic district, and the spirit child singles her out, it simply themselves as being related because they are embodiments of
enters her, incamates itself, and then a child is bom belonging to ratapas of the same totem. Since the natives usually keep to the
the same totem to which the retapa belonged; in other words, same locality and carry out their wanderings within their own
every person belongs to the totem in whose area his mother had territory, the majority of people in a tribe belong to the same
perceived that she was pregnant. This faith in a supematural totem. The totemic clans of central Australia are local units and
incamation is extremely deeply rooted in the minds of the are distinguished in Australia as weli as elsewhere by not beino
inhabitants of central Australia. It entirely conceals from them exooamous.
their realization of the natural process of reproduction, and the The tribes are divided, besides into totemic clans, in to classes or
causal connection between intercourse and conception is com- phratries (names given by researchers), and the object of this
pletely unknown to them. division is to regulare marriages. The classes are exogamous,
It is an extremely important fact for ethnology that even today therefore the members of the same class are forbidden to marry
peoples are found on the face o f the earth who, besides not know- among themselves. (In the Arunta tribe there are eight such clas-
ing of our natural way of leaving this world, also do not know ses.) The system of exogamous classes h as nothing in cornmon
that we enter life without the help of supernatural forces. 18 Such with the totemic clans, which are local and to which affiliation is
ideas are bound to exert a fundamental influence on a number of defined by the fact of supernatural incarnation. Affiliation to a
130 131
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and e'foaamy
class is defined according to which class the father of a given ceremonies, and the holy places where the churinaa are stored.
individual belonged. The relationships of the exogamous classes The toternic performances are precisely the main content of such
are so involved and complicated that we will no longer speak of initiation ceremonies. The old men instruct the young about the
them, not intending to deal with exogamy in greater detail. tribal traditions, the laws, and the morality, ali this being based
Therefore, let us now proceed to the social organization of the on and derived from alcherinaa history. These legends also con-
clan. Each totemic clan has a leader or chief who possesses, tain justifications for the bloody and repugnant rites of circumci-
however, a very meagre range of authority, restricted almost sion, scorching, knocking out teeth, and especially for the
exclusively to presiding over the religious ceremonies of his clan. horrible ri te of subincision, which constitute the most important
Alatunia (that is how the chief is called) has in his care the externai facts of initiation. Moreover, the performances take
storehouse of churinaas, and the place where they are hidden is place as so-called intichiuma ceremonies, which impart to the
considered holy. He decides when the ceremonies of worship are central tribes the character of a magic cooperative for economic
to be held and presides over them. The immensely rich develop- purposes. The task of these ceremonies is to increase a given
ment of these ceremonies constitutes, along with the myths and species of totemic animal or plant; they are carried out by the
traditions, the main characteristic feature of central Australian clan whose totem is that of the given animal or plant. The
totemism. These ceremonies are always substantially linked with alcherinaa ancestors had the power to increase and even to prod-
the traditions of the ancestors and distinctly demonstra te the idea uce their totemic animal: the intichiuma ceremonies are, as it
of unity with animais and plants and their interdependence with were, an inheritance of this power; a magic forceis contained in
the people. They are usually dramatizations of various events the dances and performances which compels the animal or plant
from the lives of those ancestors. 20 Whatever the purpose of the to multiply. Connected to the intichiuma ceremonies is the ritual
totemic ceremonies in the given case, they always have a totemic eating of the totem, which otherwise the members of the clan are
character. There are always actors made-up as animals or plants. forbidden to eat unless as a last resort, and even then in small
In these performances the plastic art o f the savages has reached a quantities. 21 When they want to define clearly the relationship of
comparatively high stage of development and variety. Their people to their totems, Spencer and Gillen say that the natives
attire and adornments, presented in numerous photographs by simply identify themselves with their toternic animal, saying, for
Spencer and Gillen and preserved in some museums, are astound- example, 'the kangaroo is the same as me'. 22
ingly rich in ideas related to their entire culture. Decorated and With this I finish the survey of the totemism of the central
made-up in a way which, in the mystic imagination of the spec- tribes. We know the toternism of other tribes much less
tators, identifies them with a given totemic animal. savage actors accurately; they were investigated less methodically and uni-
present sometimes rather involved spectacles connected in sub- formly. These tribesseem to be less homogeneous than the central
stance with their thought about their ancestors. They mimic the ones. In arder to avoid accumulating details, which are often
movements and voices of the animais in a way that is sometimes even uncertain, a general survey of these tribes will suffice. In
perfect. The whole history of the alcherinaa era is immortalized general, it may be said that we know the social .aspect of totem-
and brought out in a number of their historical dramas. These ism comparatively well but have less knowledge of its beliefs,
performances, however, always have a clear and well-defined traditions and ideas. In Professor Frazer's work exogamy comes to
purpose within the framework of a given social organization. And the fore in the description of these tribes, and we read very little
so they constitute an important part of the initiation ceremony. on totemism proper. Since we do not intend to enter into the
As we know, in the whole of Australia every adult male passes details of exogamy, 23 we will only note that each tribe is divided
through a number of initiations which admit him to the full into two, four, or eight strictly exogamous groups. This division
rights of the tribe as well as to esoteric secrets carefully concealed regulates the laws of contracting marriages and at the same time
from women and children. These secrets are the traditions from forrns the basis of kinship. In central Australia, these classes have
the alcherinaa era, the knowledge of the churinaa. their nothing in common with totemic clans; so that members of the
132 133
Malinowski's early writings Totemism and e~ogamy

same clan are scattered in all four or eight classes, while in all these details do not enable us to look more deeply in to the essence
other Australian tribes, totemic clans are always to be found in of the totemic organizations and beliefs.
one and the same phratry. Class division corresponds to class The group of north-eastern tribes is known comparatively well
division. In other words, totemic clans are always exogamous thanks to the thorough investigations of W. E. Roth. 26 However,
units. whether this researcher has not paid sufficient attention to the
totemic aspect of their beliefs and organizations, or whether
totemism really is less developed among them, at any rate, an
The south-eastern tribes are considerably less homogeneous than impression arises from Roth's works that these tribes are not
those inhabiting the centre of the continent, and we therefore totemic, which the author states outright. We know still less
have to distinguish severa! subdivisions. The Urabunna, Dieri, about the western tribes; it can be deduced from certain data that
and a few related tribes neighbour the central group and also totemism existed among tbem, but this general information pos-
possess a similar totemism. 21 Some legends about their ancestors sesses little value. It should be noted that belief in supernatural
and their deeds and wanderings exist which closely approximate conception and complete ignorance of the natural connection
the alcheringa history. These ancestors, the mura-mura, des- between coitus and concepcio is spread through the larger part of
cended into the earth in the same way after having finished their the continent. We know that this isso among the northern and
wanderings and created totemic centres in those spots where the northeastern tribes, and it is probably so among the western and
spirit children remain after them and await incarnation. But eastern tribes. But in Queensland the ideas about the incarnation
these centres are usually inhabited by spirit children of severa! of children are entirely different from those of the central tribes
toterns; therefore the totemism does not possess the markedly and have nothing in common with totemisrh.
local character here that it does in the central tribes. Fur- This concludes our general survey of facts connected with
thermore, every spirit child changes its totem at its incarnation totemism, however, it will suffice for us to make a few criticai
and assumes the totem ofthe mother, and after its death it returns remarks on tbe manner in which Professor Frazer presents
to its original totem, and at its new birth it changes its totem, Australian totemism.
class, and sex. In these tribes there also exist ceremonies of the First of all, it should be recalled that what has been said here is
intichiuma type whose object is the multiplication ofthe totemic not a summarization of Frazer's work. Collected here are facts
species. 25 Man is forbidden from eating his totem and may not kill from source books, and t~e results of Spencer's and Gillen's work
it and give it to his friends, and so, as we see, this totemism shows are complemented with the observations of other authors which
a great similarity to that of the central tribes. Even less is known Frazer uses only in part or not at all (cf. note 5) _27 Moreover, I
about the totemism of the remaining south-eastern tribes; have almost completely passed over in silence a number ofrelated
however, this does not mean that totemism is less profusely devel- problems of sociology, family, and lineage which Frazer treats
oped in these tribes, but there was no one who could investiga te it extensively; these would unnecessarily complicare this short
while these people still existed. There is no longer time to fill this essay dealing exclusively with totemism .
gap in our knowledge because these tribes have either been This principie and fundamental reproach that could be made
entirely exterminated, or their dying remnants have forgotten the against Professor Frazer's method is that he does not give us a
traditions, beliefs, and customs of their ancestors whose know- clear and objective picture of the state of things, independently of
ledge is forever lost. Only scant details, not presented as a whole, any hypotheses or theories. On the contrary, when describing
have been preserved about the totemism of some tribes. In this facts Frazer constantly employs concepts drawn from purely
way legends about the ancestors have reached us; also known is hypothetical and, as it were, personal assumptions and dogmas.
the exogamous organization o f the majority of these tribes, andas He makes no clear line of demarcation between facts and
we know, this organization is closely linked with totemism in this inferences from facts; there are no clearly noted assumptions; we
group. Also, at least a part of the toternic names h as survived, but must find them for ourselves in order to be able to subject them to
134 135
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and e?'oaamy

criticism. This is exactly what we will now briefty endeavour to Australia is an infertile country, a rocky and sandy desert, and
do. All of Professor Frazer's hypotheses and assumptions concern since the continental climate, with its extremes of heat and cold,
the basic problem of the origin and development of totemism; drought and rare but heavy rains, makes this part of the continent
therefore he tries to arrange the Australian facts in a develop- one of the most inhospitable and unfavourable environments for
mental series, and it is here that a field for fundamental criticism human life, on the other hand, since the climatic conditions and
opens, because for many reasons the Australian material cannot fertility of the soil on Australian shores make this comer of the
be forced into an evolutionary series. Our knowledge about the earth one of the most endowed with the riches of living nature, it
Australian tribes isto a large degree not uniforrn. As we have seen is no wonder that the central tribes were to develop less than the
above in surveying totemism, we know only one group of tribes coastal ones. Professor Frazer supports this general reasoning with
(the central tribes) well. We know either nothing or very little a number of examples. The central tribes walk a bout stark naked;
about the others. This is also true about other aspects of the although they possess animal skins, they do not know how to
tribes; with some we know the social organization more pre- protect thernselves from the cold which sometimes reaches freez-
cisely, with others their beliefs, with still others their material ing temperatures. They do not know how to build shelters; they
culture. Not a single characteristic, not a single aspect of their protect themselves against the wind and raio only with a screen
culture exists on the basis of which a uniform comparison of ali woven from brushwood and twigs. On the other hand, the tribes
tribes could be performed. And so comparative investigations are inhabiting the coast build permanent houses ofwood and stone so
very difficult, while establishing an evolutionary series is quite large that twelve persons can be accommodated in them and
impossible. Arranging such a series is easier the more the cultures prepare the skins of killed animais to serve them as warrn cloth-
compared vary. About the Australians, we only know for certain ing. Parallel to the progress in material culture, Professor Frazer
that if any differences in their culture exist, they are extremely also mentions facts testifying to progress in social institutions.
small. Only a thorough knowledge of a number of tribes based on The savages of the central deserts do not have chiefs at all, and
uniform and systematic investigations of a set of particularities tribal authority rests in the hands of the oldest men. Many
could serve as a basis for evolutionary research. The present state custorns connected with marriage also testify to the primitiveness
of Australian ethnography does not provide a sufficient basis for of those tribes. The coastal tribes possess chiefs, and their forros of
solving evolutionary problems and riddles; as a matter offact, all marriage and family correspond to higher degrees of culture.
attempts in that direction are manifestly very unsatisfactory. However, neither Frazer's general reasoning nor the facts men-
Since Australian ethnography is at present a very timely subject, tioned by him stand up to criticism. His general reasoning is
and ethnological methods are based on evolutionism, many always arbitrary with reference to social organizations and
prominent scholars have endeavoured to decide the question of culture, while from Frazer's facts some, such as government
which Australian tribes are on the lowest levei of culture, which chiefs and the manner of building lodgings, are based on
on a higher, and which on the highest. However, each scholar uncertain data, while others are interpreted and used quite
places the tribes in a different evolutionary series and justifies it arbitrarily. lnstead of entering further into the merits of Frazer's
in a different manner. What evokes the most distrust in their arguments, I will briefly quote a few opinions of other authors on
results is the fact that each of their series agrees by a strange the question of the evolutionary series of the Australian tribes.
coincidence with the author's a priori views and hypotheses. Pro- Tremendously precise, though unconvincing, are the arguments
fessor Frazer's own series plays a very important role. The of Professor Durkheim. 29 He maintains that ali data indica te a
primitiveness of the central tribes, especially of the Arunta, is the considerably higher level of culture in the central tribes, especi-
cornerstone of ali his theories. And so the author devotes a con- ally in the Arunta, in comparison with other Austra lian tribes. 30
siderable portion of his work to substantiating his assertion, 28 and Durkheim bases this primarily on the characteristics of the social
tries to prove by somewhat general, though very eloquent, argu- organization and on the statement that reckoning consanguinity
ments the 'primitiveness' of the Arunta tribe. Since central through the mother is more primitive than reckoning descent
136 137
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exoaamy

through the father. Therefore, as we see, these views are the exact exclusively within their toternic clan. 31 These legends are con-
opposite of the opinions of Frazer. Siding with the latter is the sidered by Frazer as a faithful rendering of the historical truth; in
prominent French scholar, A. van Gennep, who finds features of other words, totemism and exogamy arose independently of each
great primitiveness especially in the Arunta tribe. 31 On the other other, and exogamy is the later phenomenon. 35 It is the result of
hand, A. Lang is of the opinion that the Arunta tribe is far social reforms carried out by primitive people in a purposeful
removed from a primitive state, that it is one of the most devel- manner. 36 Frazer bases this view on some legends ofthe Dieri tribe
oped in Australia and that the totemic views about conception and particularly on the fact that social reforms even today arise
are the result of a complex animistic philosophy. 32 The well- among the central tribes on the initiative of old, experienced and
known researchers Spencer and Gillen stand decidedly on Frazer's influential men, as stated by Spencer and GillenY The purpose of
side; they see in the Arunta tribe the lowest representatives of this conscious social reform is the prevention ofmarriage between
manknd and, at any rate, the least developed of the Australian dose relatives. 38 Here the question arises: What could have been
tribes. Another no less outstanding Australian ethnographer, the reasons inducing primitive people to combat incest?39 One
Howitt, arranges the evolutionary seres in a different way and may not assume either natural repugnance of incest, because
places the Arunta tribe in the rniddle. Pater W. Schmidt33 argues numerous examples prove that no such repugnance exists among
that the Arunta tribe possesses a very complex and high degree of primitive people, nor fear of the bad effects of such a union on the
culture in relation to other tribes. progeny. To this day biology has not had the last word on that
I have presented these examples to show what an extremely question, ands so what could completely primitive people h ave
great variety of opinion prevails on the question under discussion. known about it? Frazer supposes that the evil which those primi-
This shows how uncertain the foundations and the manner of tive reformers feared is of a magical nature. 40 And so we see that
formulating the problem must be if the scholars' opinions are so exogamy, which always appears in conjunction with totemism
divided and divergent. If so many scholars deal with this baseless and was therefore regarded as an essential totemic feature, is
and undefined question, the reason is the almost exclusive considered by Professor Frazer, solely on the basis of facts from
prevalence of evolutionism in sociology and ethnology, and the central Australia, to be an independent and later institution
fact that the evolutionary series, once establshed, gives every resulting from a purposeful reform. Besides exogamy, a basic
scholar a broad and pleasant field for specula tion. Let us look at totemic feature is the totemic taboo in general, the absolute pro-
some conclusions which Professor Frazer draws from his evolu- hibition against killing and eating the totemic animal. As we
tionary assumptions. Assuming as an axiom that the central have seen, there is no such prohibition in the full sense and
tribes stand on the lowest levei of culture, he considers that with severity in central Australia, while the legends attest that the
them we find the image of'totemism pure and simple'. Hence, ali alchernaa ancestors always fed on their totemic animal or plant.
characteristics and the general aspect of this totemism may be It is precisely in this that Professor Frazer sees the proof that the
assumed to be primitive forms from which ali others encountered oldest totemism did not know a totemic taboo." 1 Frazer explains
among peoples standing on a higher levei of culture, developed. the primordiality offeeding on the totem with the assertion that
Therefore, his only task is to go over in succession ali of the in this way the primitive people identified with their totem, 12
characteristics of the totemism of the central tribes, stressing while the totemic taboo could have arisen as a desire to appease
their 'primitiveness' to demonstrate what it consists in and to and to win the favour of the animal. 13 As we have seen a charac-
draw the evolutionary line of these characteristics. As we have teristic feature of totemism is the intichiurna ceremonies, in
seen above, totemism and exogamy in the central tribes are which each clan endeavours to multiply its totem. In this semi-
independent of each other. Professor Frazer regards this as an magical and semi-economic function Frazer also sees one of the
original phenomenon which probably existed among ali peoples more prirnitive features oftotemism. According to him the idea of
of the earth. He sees a confirmation of his view in the fact that in a magic coopera tive is a simple and natural product of primitive
the legends of the Arunta tribe, the alchernaa ancestors married thinking;+'~ since it is capable of being developed, we encounter

138 139
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and .exoaamy

more developed forms of it in the high totemic peoples. 15 In this sciences the interesting but inexact chats about the origins of
way Professor Frazer goes over all the manifestations of the various social institutions and beliefs should be replaced at last by
totemism of the central tribes, and in each he seeks to show its less attractive but more exact investigations of sociologicallaws.
primitiveness and to sketch the outline of further development. Where to seek these laws and what the methods of sociology
The harvest which Professor Frazer reaps from the Australian should be, only special research can decide. Methodological
material is very rich; however, it cannot be regarded as a de- philosophizing without a basis in facts is as far offthe mark as the
pendable scientific achievement. The basic assumption of the uncritical collecting of facts and the construction of often non-
Australian evolutionary series is uncertain, but even in the essential theories.
details many objections could be raised against Frazer's theories. In order to present these general remarks more concretely, we
He uncritically regards legends to be historical truths, and his will illustrate them with a few examples from the problems of
theory of exogamy is open to criticism in many respects. Above Australian totemism. Professor Frazer gives a detailed survey of
all, the acceptance of any conscious, large scale social reforms in totemic phenomena among ali the peoples where these pheno-
very primitive peoples seems to be basically erronseous. Small mena can be found. The first objective ofsuch a description, as we
changes in customs may occur with them through individual have mentioned at the beginning, is as faithful as possible a
initiative, but it is impossible to assume the introduction of basic rendering ofthe characteristic and specific features in every separ-
changes in social organization in this way. In particular Frazer ate group of tribes. What matters is namely this, that in each
bases his theory on very scanty factual material, often only on individual case those features should be emphasized which play
guesses. Finally, the independence of totemism and exogamy in an essential role. And so we see that actording to our previously
central Australia is an entirely exceptional phenomenon. There- stated general remarks, the researcher should endeavour not only
fore one must first of ali prove that this exception is not an to make his hypotheses not conflict with the facts, but also to
anomaly before basing a whole theory on it.i make sure that his knowledge of the general characteristics of
So much for Professor Frazer's methods and theories. In order to totemism does not obscure the individual features of the tribe in
elucidate better the criticism applied to his views, it would be question.
well to point out the methods and treatment which could be In my short description ofthe totemic facts ofthe central tribes,
applied to the Australian material and also to point out what given above, the essential traits of totemism have been em-
results could be thus attained. It should be mentioned first of all phasized. Thus, on one hand we saw that the essential feature of
that the aims of exact science do not consist in constructing totemic beliefs and ideas is a whole series of traditions pertaining
theories and hypotheses concerning areas beyond the limits of to the alcherinaa ancestors. On the other hand, an essential
experience, but rather in an exact and accurate description of social feature of the totemism is the fact that the totemic clan
facts. The interest of an exact scientist should focus on under- primarily serves the purposes of a magic or religious cult. Each
standing and penetrating the mechanism and essence of social social unit is defined by the functions it fulfils in society, and the
phenomena as they exist at present and are accessible to observa- clan's functions in Australia are exclusively of a religious nature.
tion, and not in order that these phenomena should serve as a key These two points which we have emphasized contain an answer
to solving the riddle of a prehistoric past about which we cannot to two basic problems connected with totemism: (1) what is
know anything empirically. Evolutionary hypotheses possess man's relationship to his totem? and (2) what is man's relation-
meaning and value, but only insofar as other forms of cognition ship to his totemic clan? But as we have indicated severa! times in
are not subordinated to them. The ultima te goals of any scientific our description of the facts, the answer to both of these questions
investigation are to discover the facts, to acquire a knowledge of can only be obtained through a detailed accumulation of facts
their connections and interdependence, and consequently to gain pertaining to each of these points, and the general formula can be
the ability to deal with them comprehensively. Ali of this would attained only as a result of a careful examination of details. Any
be a banal truth for a natural scientist, but in the sociological general anda priori definitions, such as that man's relationship to
140 141
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and e':'oaamy
his totem or to his totemic clan is a relationship ofbrotherhood or definition of these two concepts and thus a more exact classifica-
kinship, are worthless. Such a definition must be based on the tion and treatment of the facts. 17
collective psychology of a given society. Thus, in our opinion, it Totemism also fulfils economic functions because, as we have
should be stated here that man's relationship to the totem is seen, each clan in practising the intichiuma ceremonies works for
defined (1) by belief in reincarnation, (2) by belief in his totem's the increase of food for the whole tribe. How far, then, may these
magic power of propagation. Everyone identifies with his ceremonies be regarded as economic activities, and would it not
ancestors to some degree, and the ancestor is identified with his be possible to discover interesting interdependencies between
totem inasmuch as h e fed on it and had the power of producing it economic and religious-magical phenomena? With this purpose in
and assuming its form. In an Australian's primitive mind all of mind it should be mentioned that the intichiuma ceremonies
this is transformed into a nebulous image of identity extended to represent the only Australian example of a systematic, regular,
himself, his ancestors, the totem and the clan members. purposeful social Iabour directed at the increasing of the food
Aside from this general problem there still exists a number of supply, i.e. at economic objectives. They are held in the season
others which also aim only at a deeper penetration of totemic when, after a Iong and persistem drought, rains are to follow, and
phenomena. As is every social institution, totemism is also linked when showers are to begin; the whole shape of the earth, as if
with a number of social phenomena, and keeping track of these touched by a magic wand, changes for a short time from a rocky
connections and dependencies, particularly among primitive, and and sandy desert into a luxurious and fertile Iand. At such a
thus less differentiated peoples makes it possible for us to expand criticai moment each clan, under the Ieadership ofits alatunia, or
our ideas about these phenomena and evento discover new socio- totemic chief, performs these ceremonies, which in a super-
logical laws. We have seen that the ties uniting the members of natural way a r:e to compel all of nature, rain, plants, and
the same clan are ties of a certain affinity, and so the question animais, to attain the greatest luxuriance and productivity poss-
arises: What is the relationship of the Australian to the family ible. It cleariy appears from all of the detaiis of the ceremonies
and to the other forms of clan organization? Here we see, first of that this purpose stands distinctly before the savages' eyes. At
all, that totemic ideas render the recognition of any blood ties these ceremonies they deveiop an unaccustomed capacity for
between father and child impossible because they obscure the Iabour and toil. The preparations usually take a few days, and
natural process of propagation. According to these ideas, the during the performance of them they fast and sometimes Iet great
woman is fertilized by the totemic ratapa, and it is precisely from amounts of blood, which plays a great magic role and also serves
this that ties of clan unity result. And so we see that inasmuch as them in preparing the ground and in pasting on the down and
kinship with the father in our societies is based on the fact of feathers with which they adom themselves. We must also remem-
fertilization, in central Australia the same fact produces oniy ber that the Australians do not know any other forms of collective
clan ties. Nevertheless, among these tribes an individual relation- labour because they even hunt individually, or in small groups of
ship of father to son does exist, but based on entirely different two or three. And so we see that in central Australia the only
ideas than in other societies. And here the Australian beliefs open form of collective economic work takes piace under the influence
new and extremely important horizons for the history of the of religious-magical ideas. The impact of these ideas on the for-
primitive family. Professor Frazer touches on these problems in mation of some economic peculiarities in undifferentiated
passing in his work, but neither he nor anyone else has societies has often been asserted before, in particular the ideas of
thoroughly elaborated these questions. taboo (something untouchable, holy, and dangerous) among
As we have seen, the principal functions of the clan consist in many peoples (particularly the Melanesians and Polynesians)
practising totemic cult ceremonies, and thus one may ask constitute the basis for the protection of animais and plants, the
whether these ceremonies should be regarded as religious or magi- gathering of food supplies and the saving of them for the future.
cal. Such a discussion compels us first of all to make an exact At the intichiuma ceremonies in Australia, collective and

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Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and f!xoaamy

purposeful work is organized in society by religious-magical As we have mentioned earlier, totemism is a collection of
ideas. standing beliefs in dose connection with the social organization;
Obviously, we cannot develop all the problems taken up here. we may thus distinguish the religious from the social aspect of
We have mentioned them only in order to demonstrare that totemism. To the former belong beliefs, legends, and the rites of
beyond the naively presented problem of evolution there are a the totemic cult, when considered with respect to their contem;
number of sociological problems which possess more certain the latter, social aspect is defined by the form of the totemic
foundations and whose theoretical significance is not less. clan's organization and by ali of the social functions which it
fulfils. In other words, we could say less specifically that the
religious aspect is defined by man's relationship to his totem, and
the social aspect by the mutual relationship of the members ofthe
Australian totemism, about which I spoke earlier, has demanded clan to one another, and the mutual relationship of the clans, as
longer attention, primarily because, the totemic phenomena in social units. 18
Australia represent an interesting and full grown type, giving Obviously, the organization of the cult and the social influence
ground for an entire series of general observations and remarks, o f the beliefs belong to the la tter ca tegory of the characteristics o f
and also because Frazer has devoted an exceptional amount of totemism; for in religious manifestations it is necessary to dis-
space to them in his work, both in a systematic survey and in a tinguish the content of beliefs, which belong to the first part of
theoretical study of these phenomena. Now, keeping to the order our scheme, from the social forms of the function in which these
in which Professor Frazer has described the various peoples, we beliefs make their appearance. 19 Both of these aspects, wherever
will examine totemic facts in other parts of the world more they appear at the same time, as in Australia, are organically
superficially. connected with one another. The totemic tradition is the basis for
As I have noted earlier, Frazer's survey is very chaotic. For the organization of the clan, and social functions are confined, to
every people or tribe that he refers to, he gives an abundance of a great degree, to the religion ofthe cult andare thus bound to the
general descriptions, such as: the geographic conditions, outlines system of tradi tional ideas. Nevertheless, these two aspects, these
of their material culture, the social and political organization of two profiles of the same phenomena, are independem of each
the given people, and exhausting the very details of family other; one can exist without the other, or they can be so
organization and kinship. unequally developed that the character of totemism can appear
Frazer must treat family organization and kinship at greater on the surface once as a system of beliefs or ideas having almost
length, for knowledge of these facts is necessary for background in no influence on the social organization, and again like a pure
describing the phenomena of exogamy, which is the second sub- form of social structure.
ject ofhis treatise. However, the very totemic facts which interest North of Australia and southeast of New Guinea there extends
us above ali disappear to such an extent in the flood of other an archipelago of small islands lying in the Torres Straits, and
details, that it is difficult to extract them and to put them thus they are known as the Torres Straits Islands. 50 The popula-
together into an organic whole. The author does not gather them tion of these islands constitute an anthropological transition from
in a systematic manner, does not group them according to any the Australians to the Papuans; the culture is noticeably higher
scheme, nor does he provide a more detailed analysis, com- than the Australians', and the culture and social structure has
parison, or juxtaposition of them with other facts. been carefully examined; thus these islands are of great interest
In order to provide an easier orientation into totemic to ethnology. 51 The islands which lie to the west possess clearly
phenomena, we will create a provisional scheme, which can be defined totemism. On each island there are a few totemic clans,
constructed on tbe basis of the exceptionally complete facts from and the members of each clan have severa! (up to seven) totems;
Australia, which represent nearly all of the characteristics of however, one of these is always the main totem. 52 The clans are
totemism. attached to a given region, so that the members of each clan
144 145
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exoaamy
occupy a certain area of land; they are also exogamous; the totem intichiuma ceremonies of central Australia. Periodically, every
is inherited along the male line, that is. the child always belongs year when the turtle hunting season begins, the men of the turtle
to his father's clan. The clans are divided into two parts, one of clan celebrate magic rites whose purpose is to increase the
which has land animais as totems, the other sea animais. Among fertility of the turtle. This ceremony, which is quite simple in its
the members of each clan, there is strict solidarity and friendship, execution, was not surrounded by any secrecy, nor was it restric-
and the rights of guests obligate not only the members living in ted to men from the turtle clan. Similar rites were also celebrated
the same region but also those coming from other islands, since by the men of the dugong clan, with the purpose of compelling
one and the same clan can exist on severa} islands. The division this sea animal to swim to their island in greater numbers. In
into clans, the characteristics of the social functions of the clan, content these ceremonies represent the idea of man's union with
exogamy, and obligations to guests, representing the local his totem. As public and regular acts of the cult they are undoubt-
character of the clan, ali belong to the social aspect of totemism. edly religious functions of the respective clans.
What about the religious aspect, that is, what beliefs and ideas The actual religious cult of the natives on these islands is direc-
define man's relationship to his totem? The Cambridge ethnolo- ted toward the veneration of heroes or gods, who have, however,
gists have uncovered a confirmation of the observation generally something of an animal character about them. On the island of
made, that strongly felt and deeply rooted convictions exist about Yam, there is a temple of two such heroes, two brothers; one has
the affinity between man and his totem. The sentence: 'Aaud something of the nature of a crocodi le, the other is part shark.
(the totem) just like a blood relative, belongs to the family', was Annual ceremonial dances are held in the temple, performed by
often repeated by the natives, whenever there was talk of totem- men from the crocodile and shark clans, and the participants in
ism. This near identificaiton of man with his totem is the object o f these dances are assured of victory in battle. On another island
a strong, common faith. The members of a clan feel and believe (Mabuiag) the hero, Kwaian is venerated, who has no features of
this relationship so strongly that the clans which have wild, rapa- any animal and who is venerated by ali clans.
cious animais as toterns, such as the shark, crocodile, or snake, From the brief description given here of totemism in the Torres
have the reputation of being wild and warlike, while the clans Straits Islands, it is irnmediately apparent that there are a number
whose patrons are harmless animais, are peaceful. The natives of analogies between the totemism of these islanders and the
also endeavour both to look outwardly like their totems and also totemism of the central and northern Australian tribes. Both here
to bind themselves with their totems with a mystic knot. Some and there the totemic clans possess a local character; they ident-
carry a part of their totem with them, such as feathers or teeth, ify in a similar way with their totems, showing them a certain
others burn, tattoo, or carve images or symbols of their totems benevolence and respect, and on this basis abstain from destroy-
onto their skin. The af:finity or union with the totem may also ing and consuming them. The clans in the Torres Straits Islands
express itself in the following way: that the natives, as far as is in are exogamous just as they are among the tribes of northern
their power, will not kill or eat their totem, and when they see Australia, but not among the tribes of central Australia. Perhaps
someone else killing it, 'they mourn for it'. However, with few the most interesting analogy is the existence in both of these
exceptions, this never approaches a cult to the toternic animais. ethnographic regions of magic rites performed by the members of
Dr Haddon, who has conducted special research on the beliefs of the respective clan whose purpose is the increasing. relative
these natives, remarks specifically that the totems have never strengthening. and luring of the totem (animal, plant, and in
become a religious cult. Animais belonging to the totemic species some cases even object).
of a given clan were enveloped in special honour and care by the In addition to these common features, we may also examine
members of its clan, but it was rather an attitude of family the differences between totemism in Australia and in the Torres
sympathy and friendship than it was religious worship. On only Straits Islands, even though the latter stand on a considerably
one of the islands, for two totemic animais, were ceremonies higher cultural leveJ.53 The peoples of central Australia have a
observed similar to those described previously existing in the richly developed system of tribal traditions, which possesses an
146 147
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism andexoaamy
important significance for the social structure of these peoples. fundamentally from the Australian heroes. The unity of the
The organization of the local group and its various functions, Australian clan so strongly stressed in the traditions of the
predominantly of a religious nature, are based upon these tradi- totemic cult, appears only very weakly in the island cult. Equally
tions. These traditions also define man's relationship to his totem with respect to quantity as with respect to substance and social
(the belief that each is the incamation of his totemic ancestor). significance, the system of Australian legends is something
The inhabitants of the Torres Straits Islands do not have such fundamentally different from the tales in the islands. Such a
well-developed totemic traditions. Although Dr Haddon has strongly developed system of totemic legends, exerting such an
gathered a great number of fables, tales, and traditions, we know imponant social influence cannot be found among any totemic
of only a few legends with a genuine mythic character from the peoples outside of Australia.
island ofYam island and from the island ofMabuiag, to which we In his description of the Torres Straits Islands, Professor Frazer
have referred above when speaking of the hero cult. The does not speak at ali about the problems of comparison mentioned
Australian and Torres Straits Islands' legends present certain here. He simply gives a description of the summarized facts and
analogies; the latter are less well-developed, yet correspond to the makes one observation: that the magic ceremonies of the turtle
former in their type ofintellectual development. In both cases the and the dugong correspond to the intichiuma ceremonies in
legends are concerned with reforming heroes (in German this type Australia, yet he does not even examine how far this analogy
is called the Kultur-Heroen), who are venerated and respected, reaches. The principal stand taken by Frazer is limited to the
and in Australia their works are even extolled and acted out. general observation that the cult of heroes from the islands of
Frazer sees a fundamental difference between the cult of heroic Yam and Mabuiag is a transitional forro between a magic cult, as
ancestors in the Torres Straits Islands and the totemic cult in every totemic cult must be according to Frazer, and a religious
Australia, namely, that the former is a religious cult while the cult. Whether or not this stand is correct, though mentioned only
latter is a magic cult. However this opinion is worthless because superficially by the author, will be shown in the analysis of
it is based upon a very superficial and non-essential differenti- Frazer's understanding of religion and magic conducted below.
ation ofreligious phenomena from magic phenomena. 51 As one of The enormous island of New Guinea, which neighbours the
the more important differences, we can point out that the Torres Straits archipelago, possesses a culture similar to that
totemic, or animal character of the heroes of the Torres Straits which we h ave found in those islands. ss The western portion o f
Islands is not very explicit, and the hero, Kwaian, has nothing of New Guinea is inhabited by the Papuans, the eastem by
an animal nature about him, while his veneration is not the Melanesian tribes; the centre is mountainous and not well
exclusive property of any clan. In Australia the totemic cult known; pygmy tribes were recently discovered in only one of the
reaches incomparably deeper in to the substance of sociallife and places there. Totemism unquestionably exists in New Guinea, but
is connected to a considerably greater number of social the ethnology of the New Guinea tribes isso little known that we
phenomena, and is thus more important for the sociologist. Aside do not have a clear and accurate picture of the totemism of even
from this, it is dependent and based on tribal traditions, and the one tribe. The population of the coastal districts is divided into
heroes are always totemic ancestors, from whom the entire clan is totemic clans. Each clan lives together (but completely alone,
descended. These alcherinaa ancestors often have a dual charac- cut offfrom ali who do not belong to that clan) in long communal
ter, as both reforming heroes and protoplasts of the clan. Their huts of the long, phalanstery type. This custom gives the clan an
history exerts an influence on the Australian rites, particularly on immensely cohesive character and changes it into a kind of
the initiation of young men, and the intichiuma ceremony is extended family, in to one organic whole which completely differ-
closely connected to these corresponding myths. The heroes from entiates them from those peoples where the members of one clan
the Torres Straits Islands do not have an ancestral character and are dispersed throughout the whole tribe and realize their unity
are in no way connected to a clan; their veneration is not based only through special functions and under extraordinary circum-
on any totemic traditions, and in this way they also differ stances. In the district of Mawatt, each clan possesses a main
148 149
Malinowski's early writings Totemism and exogamy
totem, usually an animal, and one or two minor totems, which totems are ocean fish, which the members of the clan are forbid-
are plants. The totemic taboo is very strictly observed, and often den to ea t, and one is a grass on which it is forbidden to tread. The
quarrels and battles occur between the natives if someone kills others are water, which they are forbidden to drink from certain
the totem of another. It is forbidden to kill or eat totemic springs, a type of bowl, in which they are forbidden to prepare
animals, to build houses out of totem ic trees and plants, to weave food for eating, and fire, for which there is no taboo. They ali
mats from them, to make utensils, or to eat their fruit. In the trace their origin back to their totem, and so those who belong to
district of Mawatt, there are eighteen animal totems and ten fish clans trace their origin back to fish, members of the fire clan
plant totems, and in Kiwai, where the population's predominant back to fire, probably volcanic, others to water, and those who
occupation is farming, there are four animal and ten plant have the bowl for their totem claim that they are descended from
totems. We have little information in general about totemism a child who once sailed to the island in just such a bowl. On the
among the New Guinea tribes and no particulars about ideas island of Efate, there are ten or more exogamous clans. Of these,
conceming man's relationship to the animais; we know of this eight have plant totems and two animal; all of these are edible,
relationship only from the totemic taboos and from man's attach- but whether or not there a re any taboos assigned to them has not
ment to his totem, and thus only from the externai symptoms. been established.
The great chain ofislands stretching in a great archipelago from Of immense importance and interest to totemism in general,
the north-eastem shores of New Guinea up to New Zealand is especially to totemism as Frazer understood it, are the observa-
inhabited by a population which constitutes quite an anthropolo- tions ma de by Dr Rivers on some of the islands in the Banks Island
gically and culturally homogeneous whole. Because of the dark archipelago. On the island of Mota, there are people who are
complexion of its inhabitants, this chain of islands is called forbidden from eating certain animais or fruit, or to touch certain
Melanesia. Frazer divides this entire great archipelago into four trees. The reason for such isolated cases of taboo is the belief that
groups, each ofwhich has a distinct totemic form. We encounter a given person is identical or at least closely related to a certain
the most interesting and important phenomena in the southem animal or plant, because its essences exerted a very strong
group, especially in the Santa Cruz archipelago and in the Banks influence on his mother when she was pregnant. It usually occurs
Islands. 56 in the following manner, the woman while walking in the forest
In the Reef Islands, belonging to the Santa Cruz archipelago, or along the shore, notices some sort o f plant or tiny animal in the
the population is divided in to eight exogamous clans, and in each folds of her clothing; she takes it with her, but after a certain
of them one or a few animais or objects are taboo, that is, forbid- period of time, that little essence vanishes, which means that it
den. Each clan also has its own special name. The taboo animal is has entered in to the woman which it had selected itself. Dr Rivers
usually an edible sea animal, such as a turtle, eel. or various asserts tha t this is not a belief in physical impregna tion, no ris i t a
kinds of fish. It is an interesting fact that one of these clans notion that the animal enters the woman in its material form;
observes a taboo against the turtle only in times of plague. such a tiny a nimal is something supernatural, the spirit of the
Inhabitants of the Reef Islands have some sort of vague belief in animal, which, in a spiritual manner is incarnated in the woman.
their descent from the forbidden animais. Usually the woman la ter perforrns some sort o f household worship
In the Reef Islands, justas in Melanesia in general. club associ- to the animal and builds it a stone chapel.
ations have blossomed, and each totemic clan possesses a com- Such facts as we have described above do not occur very often,
mon men's clubhouse. The observations of totemism in the Reef but they always demonstrate a mixture of autosuggestion,
Islands made by Dr Rivers are probably adaptable to the entire reality, and tradition or, in other words, a mixture like that
Santa Cruz archipelago. which is the basis of all folk beliefs. When Dr Rivers was research-
On the island of Vanicolo lying to the south of Santa Cruz, ing the island of Mota, the following event was fresh in peoples'
there are ten clans, bearing the names o f their totems. Six of these minds; a certain woman found a tiny animal on her person, so she

150 151
Malinowski's early writinos Totemism apd exoaamy

took it to show to the people in the village, but when she opened to any social organization, a nd the other permea tes the entire
her hands, there was no animal; and so it had succeeded in enter- social organization and is the foundation of the entire structure.
ing her a long the short road. Dr Rivers expressed the view that if the Banks Islands totems,
In spite of these beliefs, the physiological role of the father with which are obtained in the manner we discussed above, were
respect to the child s well known, and the population knows that hereditary, totemism would still exist there. This scholar pro-
even in such supernatural incarnations, the participation of the ceeds in this manner in spite of the fundamental evolutionary
father is also necessary, just as it is at those times when a child question : in what way can beliefs that are fundamental to the
comes into the world without arousing the interest of any animal organization of the group arise from beliefs pertaining to separa te
spirit in his person. For a child connected to an animal or plant, it individuais? Such totemism as we find in Australia is not the same
is forbidden under penalty of death to eat the animal or fruit, or as the faith of the inhabitants of the Banks Islands in connection
to touch the plant or tree. As a psychic motive for these prohibi- with the principie of heredity. The fact that in one place the
tions Dr Rivers asserts the disgust at eating something which is beliefs pertain only to individua l persons and in the other to the
the same as that which is eating it, a nd is thus a form of cannibal- whole group is not the only difference. The basic difference lies in
ism. From this we can see distinctly that here man is clearly the fact that in Australia totemism is a form of social organiza-
identified with the animal or plant. This same basic view is also tion which has its own dogmas, and thus the beliefs completely
apparent in the belief that each man obtains certain psychic permeate the organization; while in the Banks Islands, where
properties from his patron, animal or plant. The following there is no organization, the beliefs are something fundamentally
animais evoke the traits listed below in the persons with whom different from a sociological and psychological point of view.
they are connected: the sea snake and eel - slowness, weakness, Here we have a basic sociological distinction. On one hand we
and lack o f energy; the hermi t era b- a violent tem per; the lizard - have a dogmatic mythological system which is the basis for the
gentleness and delicacy; the turkey - goodness; the wild highly importam and complica ted social organization, and on
Malaysian apple - great bellies; a nd the womara kuraquat - a the other ha nd w e have beliefs determining certain aspects of the
gentle, good disposition. Women who desire to have a child of a behaviour of som e persons with respect to a given animal or
certain character walk in the places where they may meet an plant, and thus beliefs which do not even have universal features,
animal of the disposition they wish for their progeny. which means that they cannot be considered a part of the social
These beliefs, concerning only some individuais, define the ethics. Therefore the assumption that the introduction of
relationship of a manto the animal or plant on two basic points: heredity into the facts connecting people with animais would
taboo and similarity. They are also not hereditary. Comparing create perfect totemism there is false. Bringing the concepts and
these facts with analogous beliefs of other peoples, we are struck beliefs of the aborgines into our scheme, we may say that in the
by a great similarity between the facts described on the Banks Banks Islands totemism exists exclusively in its religious aspect.
Islands and those found in Australia, which are, however, notice- But at the same time, we see that it is the beliefs themselves
ably less simple. The Australian concept of the spirit-child, which which are so strongly differentiated, with respect to sociology,
enters the woman in order to impregnare her, is very complicated from those beliefs connected to a social organization, and so we
and not altogether clear. Aside from this, the chain that links may gain a theoretical advantage by limiting the concept of
man with the animal is longer because in Polynesia the animal totemism to this latter state of affairs and say that in the
itself is joined directly to the woman, but in Australia the spirit- instances we have just described there is no totemism.
child is left by the alcherinaa ancestors, who were half-human, Frazer does not discuss this a t ali; he considers these beliefs,
half-animal, and so, in the chain between man and animal, there about which we have just spoken, to be totemism. There is still
are two links. But with respect to their social character, there is a another fact important for an understanding of the psychological
great difference between these two phenomena, because one basis for totemism, to which the illustrious ethnographer of the
plays a role only with some individuais but does not become basic Melanesians, Bishop Codrington, has attributed a very general
152 153
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism an~ exoaamy
and important significance. We are dealing here with some sort of groups is quite widespread throughout the entire world. It has a
a reversal of totemic beliefs, with types of beliefs that are, after completely different sociological character than the division into
all, quite widespread over the earth, about those beliefs which we a great number of dans, as we find in the totemic dans of central
call 'metapsychoses'. The inhabitants of the southern group of Australia and in the Torres Straits.
Melanesian islands believe that the souls of the great chiefs and In these sections, only exogamy remains as the single and most
leaders of their tribes become some sort of plant or animal after important trait of the social functions of these totemic dans. The
death. The species of such an animal or plant then becomes a relationship of such a section to its animal patron is very vague
buto for the specific region or tribe and is taboo to them. Thus the and lacks the fundamental features of totemism, especially
connection between this group of people and the species of these taboos pertaining to its patron. In addition, there are no beliefs
beings is not based on the belief that the animal is embodied in conceming the connection between man and his totem. It is poss-
the man, but rather the other way around, on the conviction that ible, after all, that we merely lack information about these facts,
the human soul passes into the animal or plant. These beliefs are but in general the totemism of the phratry, that is, of the two
not based on mythical events and metapsychoses of ancestors, sections or dans into which the whole tribe is divided, seems to
and thus they are not merely Iegends, but quite tbe contrary, they be a less distinct form in which the connection between the dan
are a reality which happened and still happens, on the island of and the totem is only weakly indicated.
Florida within recent memory of its population, there was an In the lesser archipelagoes of northern Melanesia (the
instance of the passing of a powerful chiefs soul into a banana Admiralty Islands, the islands of Tang and Aneri), dans exist
tree. The inhabitants' cognisance of this fact is based on the with totems that are primarily animal, and which on the islands
following: the dying leader foretold the return of his soul and its ofTang and Aneri are taboo. On the Admiralty Islands such dose
incarnation in the banana tree. solidarity reigns over the members of the dan that they do not
On the Solomon Archipelago there are six exogamous dans, fight or even rob one another.
eacb ofwhich has one or more taboo objects, which it is forbidden The Melanesians are significantly outdone with regard to
for them to eat or touch. These forbidden entities are dosely culture by the inhabitants of Polynesia, those small islands scat-
connected to the ancestors o f the dan; for what holds sway here is tered in severa} a rchipelagoes throughout the central Pacific
the conviction, widespread in Melanesia that we have just men- Ocean. These islanders, lost amid the huge expanse of ocean
tioned, that an illustrious man changes into an animal or plant, surrounding them, have developed certain aspects of their social
and in that manner this entity becomes taboo for his descendants. life to a very high levei as well as certain cultural activities, a rt in
Northern Melanesia, which the Germans presently call the particular. 57
Bismarck Archipelago, is composed of two great islands, New On almost every archipelago we find beliefs and arrangements
Britain and New Ireland, and of the smaller Duke of York Island. with certain similarities to totemism; however, we encounter
The population of these islands is composed of severa! tribes, and totemism most explicitly on the islands ofSamoa, where an inter-
each tribe is divided into two sections or exogamous dans. Each esting form of cults exists dedicated to gods of an animal or
pair ofthese sections or dans possesses its own patrons, and these, vegetable nature. These gods are of two kinds, one kind are
depending on tbe tribe, are either two insects, two birds, or two individual or family gods, for each family venerates the patron of
mythical beings. One of these entities is the personification of the father of the family; and the other are gods local to a given
good, the other of evil. The members of the dan show their village or region. Let us begin with the personal gods, who are
patrons great respect, and everything that exists in nature is sub- also the family gods of a given man. Each man has his own god or
servient to and dassified according to these two entities. Feelings guardian spirit, which he receives at birth. As a child comes into
of dose solidarity so unite the members of the dan that even in the world, his father prays and calls on the help of a spirit. If the
battles between two different tribes, members of the same section delivery is difficult and one spirit does not help, he calls upon the
avoid each other. Division of tribes into two great exogamous aid of another, and even a third. Because the father always calls
154 155
Malinowski's early writines Totemism and exoeamy
upon the aid of his own guardian spirit first, and only !ater on his able for the inhabitants of the village. Examples of such totems
wife's or still another, the cult is thus usually hereditary along are: the sea eel, the lizard, lightning. clouds, the conch, the
the male line, occasionally, however, along the female line. Each mussel, the bat, and severa! species of fish. Some gods were
god or guardian spirit is closely associated with some sort of incarnated as certain stones, others as mythical figures, and one
animal or, more rarely, a plant, and at times an object or class of was a legendary cannibal. Some village gods are identical with
objects; each has a na me such as Child of the Moon, Red Li ver, or family gods and have tbe same incarnations, although one god
another of this sort. The totems with which these gods are associ- may have a few incarnations. Totemic animais and plants are
ated are, for example, the moon, the centipede, the wild dove, always taboo, and eating them brings on serious illness. The
ends of leaves, the eel, the octopus, the crab, turtle, the sea eel, inhabitants of the entire village mourn the death of such an
the lizard, domestic birds, and many fish and sea animais. With animal. The village gods have their own feast days and priests,
few exceptions, ali of the totems cited by Frazer are edible plants and they accept sacrifices. Sacrifices are also made to the gods
or animais. Frazer mentions twenty deities, and each of these has incarnated as stones, in order to procure fair weather from them.
one or a few totemic incamations. These incamations are the Other gods are considered to be the makers of rain, favourable
object of worship, and an entire system of prohibitions (taboos) fishing, yams, breadfruit, coconuts, etc. Some totems such as
conceming them as well. However, the taboo as well as the cult clouds, lightning, and lizards, serve as oracles, but gods of an
always apply to the totemic incarnations of these gods. The moon entirely different category also serve the function of oracles. the
is the object ofno prohibition, but in certain areas the people who war-gods, usually incarnated as birds. Also, at the beginning of a
have it for a totem do pray to it. It is absolutely forbidden to eat war campaign, the Samoans read their future success from the
the totemic animais, and whoever has the ends of leaves as a flight of birds.
totem must cut off the ends of grasses and vegetables before he This quick sketch of Samoan beliefs, in relation to the defini-
uses them as food. Those who have the sting ray as the incarna- tion of totemism and the scheme given above, clearly shows that
tion of their god protect it and try to free it even when it is caught the beliefs on the islands of Samoa are a distinct form of totem-
by others. Each family prays to its god; the father of the famly ism, with a well defined range of social influences. Man's rela-
usually conducts prayers in the evening, sometimes arranging a tionship to his totem is not susceptible to definition by any system
domestic festival in honour of the god who sometimes speaks o f legends, no ris there a belief in any given group's descent from a
through the mouth of his priest, the father of the family. Some totem. On the other hand, both for the family and the vllage
totems, such as the centipede and the eel, are known to bring totem, this relationship determines the entire system of taboos,
comforts and aid in sickness. The taboo against eating them is the regret the members of a clan show towards their slain animal,
always strictly observed; it holds sway because of the conviction the help which they give it, and how the worship, prayers, and
that the breaking of the taboo brings on serious illness. However, sacrifices given to the totem are transferred to the gods. The
if someone is found to have broken the taboo and admits the totemic affiliation of the members of the broadest group (the
transgression, in order to help him in his danger and to protect village) underscores the fact of one's birth in that village, and so
him from the consequences of his sin, h eis placed in an oven, and the clans are local, and the principie of membership is completely
they pretend to bake him. straightforward. These same sort of local clans are found in
Among the Samoans, along with the family gods, there exist central Australia based on an immensely complicated system of
gods and guardian spirits protecting the villages. Each place has beliefs and legends. The totem of the family members is
such a god, who has a feast day dedicated to him, and is worship- determined by heredity, limited to a certain degree by the
ped through a regular cult from a special priest, who prays and accidental course of the delivery. The social functions of the
makes sacrifices. But, to a certain extent the village patron also group associated with the totem are quite narrow, depending
possesses animal or plant characteristics, and the animal or plant exclusively on the religious cult. These functions are more spe-
with which the given god is associated is also holy and untouch- cialized, more differentiated, and, in this, better defined in regard
156 157
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exoaamy

to their social significance, than the corresponding totemic func- totemic systems, but it is not permissible for the author, almost at
tions in central Australia. In Australia the totemic cult, also a the beginning of his examination of the relevant facts and
form of religion, contains almost the entire public life of the tribe without a deeper justification, to impose some sort of a priori
within it, while in Samoa a number of public functions exist limits on the discussion of the phenomenon, and to assert that
which have nothing in common with religion or totemism. Here totemism is not allowed to possess certain features. Still another
the sociological character of totemism is quite well modified by question suggests itself: Do the features mentioned by Frazer
the fact that the totemic clans are not special units, but are reach so deeply into the essence of the phenomenon that they
overlaid either onto the family or onto the unit of locality, the may serve as criteria for a fundamental sociological classifi-
village. As for the character of the totem itself, Turner and cation?
Frazer, following Turner's example, always refer to it using the We may only comprehend Frazer's understanding on the
word 'god' and speaks of its incarnation in animais or plants. grounds of his general views on the essence of religion and magic.
However, from their descriptions, it is clear that this 'god' does For he considers the cult, worship, sacrifices, temples, and prayers
not exist at ali apart from its incarnations, in fact, only its name to be the fundamental indicators for differentiating religion from
retains any independence, for it is the only thing that does not magic. He also denies totemism the name religion and considers it
express its animal nature. Ali rules of behaviour, ali beliefs, and to be a form of magic exclusively. Because the question of the
the entire system of ethics and dogmatics pertain to the totemic difference between religion and magic is very importam for
figure of the deity. Thus, as a form of religion it is undoubtedly a understanding the essence of totemism, and because Frazer's
totemism, in which the totem always possesses both an animal views on the question seem to me to be entirely in error, I would
and a human form, which, after ali, is a common manifestation like to discuss this matter more closely, even though Frazer
of totemism. analyzes it at great length not in bis treatise on totemism, but in
However, Professor Frazer does not apply the name 'totemism' his work, The Golden Bouah, which is presently issued in three
to these Samoan beliefs and arrangements. He writes, editions, and seven volumes have made their appearance so far.
In defining the phenomena o f religion and magic, Frazer begins
From the foregoing summary it appears plainly that the Samoan worship with an analysis of the essence of magic and then points out on
of animais, plants and other natural objects was not pure totemism. For
in pure totemisrn there is nothing that can properly be described as
what the difference between magic and religion is based. Accord-
worship of the toterns. Sacrifices are not presented to them, nor prayers ing to Frazer the essence of magic can be grasped in two basic
offered, nor temples built, nor priests appointed to rninister to them. In a laws, 'first that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its
word, totems pure and simple are never gods, but merely species of cause; and second, that things which have once been in contact
natural objects united by certain intirnate and rnystic ties to groups of with each other continue to act on each other ata distance after
men. But in the Samoan systern the worshipful beings are clearly gods. the physical contact h as been severed '. 58 From the first o f these
The people pray and sacrifice to them, hold festivais in their honour, principies, the Law of Similarity, the sorcerer concludes that he
build temples and maintain priests for their worship ... lt is a reasonable may call forth any effect he desires, merely by imitating this
hypothesis that this affinity with natural objects and particularly with effect, and from the second principie he concludes that whatever
species of animais is a survival of toternism; in other words that the he does to an object, which was once in contact with a given
Samoan gods, or most of thern, have developed directly from toterns.
person or was a part of his body (hair, fingernails), that person
This understanding seems unsatisfactory to us. Why should a will feel as if it was done to himself. 59 Frazer asserts that, 'magic
totem stop being a totem the moment that we offer it worship, is a spurious system o f naturallaw as well as a fallacious guide of
build temples, establish altars, and make sacrifices to it? A precise conduct; it is a false science as well as an abortive art'. 60 Later he
definition of a complicated and multi-faceted phenomenon like says, 'its [magic's] two great principies turn out to be merely two
totemism may only be made a posteriori on the basis of the different misapplica tions of the associa tion of ideas'. 61
acquaintance with, and the analysis of, the entire series of It is difficult to agree with this analysis of the psychic processes
158 159
Malinowski's early writin8s Totemism and exo8amy
from which magic draws its juices. Sorcery, whether it be among of the entire complex of magical and religious phenomena, con-
primitive peoples or among those more highly developed, is not taining, at least, a clear, consistent, and strict differentiation
merely pure theoretical speculation. Into its composition enter a between these two areas. Moreover, upon closer examination
great number of factors of an emotional nature, which cannot be there is little we can accept in his theories. I have mentioned
reduced to an association of ideas nor to purely mental proces- above that the definition of magic, as a world view, which
ses.62 But we are presently concerned not so much with the assumes the existence of unchangeable laws of nature, is false.
psychological foundations of magic as with its relation to This approach stands in contradiction at the same time both to
religion. the basic character of primitive thought and to the basic feature
'By religion, then', says Frazer, ' I understand propitiation or ofmagic, which depends on the indistinguishability ofthat which
conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to is permanent and unchangeable in nature from that which can be
direct and control the course of nature and of human life. Thus controlled by man's will and endeavours. However, we will not
defined, religion consists of two elements, a theoretical and a concern ourselves with the very general and basic considerations
practical, namely, a belief in powers higher than man and an of primitive man's psychology, or even with man's psychology in
attempt to propitiate or please them'. 63 The practical element general. for there is probably no mind which has developed
may be either a ritual or an ethic.61 Defining religion in this entirely above prejudice and whose actions were never directed
manner 'assumes that the course of nature is to some extent by superstition and magic.
elastic or variable, and that we can persuade or induce the Another reason why Frazer's theory cannot be accepted is his
mighty beings who contrai it to deflect, for our benefit, the cur- definition of the nature of the entire complex of magico-religious
rent of events from the channel in which they would otherwise phenomena, which is implicitly contained in the passages
t1ow'. 65 And here lies precisely the difference between magic and quoted, and still another reason are his criteria for differentiating
religion, for the 'elasticity or variability of nature is directly religion from magic. If we carefully examine the essence of these
opposed to the principies of magic as well as of science, both of criteria, we will find that the difference is determined by the
which assume that the processes ofnature are rigid and invariable psychic attitude which a man takes toward the object of the cult,
... For conciliation is never employed towards things which are that is, whether he regards that object as something personal and
regarded as inanimate, nor toward persons whose behaviour in conscious, or impersonal and unconscious. This attitude is the
the particular circumstances is known to be determined with expression of immensely complicated psychic processes, for
absolute certainty' .66 The author, to be sure, concedes that in whose determination we would have to know a number of ideas
many instances magical practices are directed toward controlling and emotional and subjective factors. Science aspires, as it
and forcing spirits and even gods to do certain deeds, but he should, toward objectivity, and so such a movement of the basic
considers this to be a confusion in the practice of these two ele- cri teria of classification in the direction of the most complicated,
ments, which in their essence are fundamentally different and most subjective, and most elusive psychic states must be con-
which must be precisely distinguished in thought. sidered a basic fault. Even when we consider the religion of a
Amid the numerous examples that Frazer cites to explain the believing individual of a higher culture, his basic attitude toward
nature of magic beliefs, what are important for us are the his deity and his concept of that deity's being varies over an
intichiuma ceremonies, which in the present article are counted immense range. Even according to dogmatic philosophizing, God
as belonging to the practices of a religious cult, but which Frazer may be apprehended once in a strictly personal, anthropomorphic
regards as a typical forro of sorcery. 67 We will return to this sub- way, and another time as an impersonal absolute, subject to
ject later. necessity and by no means directing the world at will in an elastic
Let us now present our criticisms of Frazer's views on religion course. If we take severa} people belonging to the same religion,
and sorcery, that is, on magic. At first glance his theories some- but differing in their degree of culture, the imprecision of Frazer's
how do not provide a strict determination of what is the essence classification would immediately appear. If a Calabrian villager
160 161
~ Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exoaamy
thrashes a statue of a saint or a madonna with a cane because it But, as we have seen earlier, Frazer's definition possesses one
did not listen to his prayers and, in punishing it for the error, tries very basic methodological flaw. On the basis of his definition, the
to insure for himself more favourable action in the future, then given system of beliefs can be classified as religious or magical
does that villager stand in a religious or a magic relationship to depending on whether we see it reflected in the psychology of one
his deity? The procedure he uses to reach these goals does not individual or another. We may formulate this objection in the
'express a penitent attitude begging for help', nor does it express following manner, that Frazer, in his definition of the entire
the important part of the features which Frazer ascribes to the complex of magico-religious phenomena, has psychological
religious world view. In this case, it is just as difficult to find the phenomena before his eyes, not sociological facts. Glancing at
theoretical aspect of religion, the 'belief in powers higher than Frazer's passage about religion, which is quoted above, we can
man' as it isto find its practical aspect, 'the attempt to propitiate easily see that in order to classify certain phenomena according to
or please' these powers. To be sure, Frazer himself mentions Frazer's theory, it is completely unnecessary to address the social
examples o f sorcery which h ave deeply taken root in the faith and aspect of these phenomena; it is sufficient to reflect on their con-
practices of the Christian church, but his ascertaining of this tent, on the type of ideas contained in them. It is true that in
difficulty and attempt to defuse it do not stand up to criticism. many places in his work, Frazer mentions sociological facts
Frazer's differentiation leads to insurmountable difficulties which express the difference between religion and magic. 69
because it is grounded in areas where definitions are not possible, According to this assertion, the constituent parts of religion are:
and also because at the heart of the same system of beliefs and the priestly institution, sacrifice, and prayer; the following belong
practices we can deal with phenomena as religious at one time, to magic: the sorcerer, ritual, and incantation. But the movement
andas magic at another. of the criteria into the realm of objective social phenomena here
The first of these difficulties becomes clearer as we descend is completely feigned; the difference between a priest and a
lower on the ladder of cultural evolution. It is extremely difficult sorcerer, according to Frazer, is based on the following: that the
to determine, even approximately, the inner attitude of even our former entreats a personal deity and the latter coerces impersonal
own peasant with regard to the object of his cult. For the same maaic powers. It is likewise impossible to draw a boundary line
reasons it is an absolute impossibility in the case of a savage. We between a sacrifice and a ritual, based on something given,
are almost completely confused by his psychology when it comes externai, and objective. The criterion also rests here on the
to its deeper, more essential concepts, and there is no agreement attitude or intention of the man performing the said act. In
even on this most general question: does the savage mind possess Frazer's differentiation, prayer is humble begging and incan-
basic features in common with ours, and is it possible for us to tation is a haughty order. Here it is even more evident that little
understand precisely and to reproduce for ourselves the outline of can be said on the basis of externai objective characteristics and
his method of thinking~ And so, there can be no talk of being that only the unravelling of intricate inner processes can provide
able to get to the bottom of the most hidden, most complicated some sort of defini te answer, insofar as such an answer is possible.
and subjective states of the savage. The observers most closely Frazer just does not take sociological criteria into account at all,
acquainted with a given tribe are not even in a position to do this; and this is a fundamental error. Religion is justas much a form of
so much the less can we expect this in ethnological observations social organization as it is a collection of beliefs, and the latter is
made by fits and starts without sufficient knowledge of the conditioned in each man by his living together with other mem-
population and without theoretical preparation. Frazer's classi- bers of a society. If, in defining religious phenomena, we only
fication is useless even for ethnology, for its criteria are hidden consider the reflection of beliefs in people's souls, the definition
from observation even under the best of circumstances. And will necessarily be contradictory and false.
definitions useful for ethnology must be based on objective, con- A definition of religion, though it be superficial, is all the more
crete facts which may be easily observed. necessary at this time, because in this a rticle totemism is grasped

162 163
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and e~oaamy

as a religious system, and only with an understanding ofwhat we Furthermore, because the feelings of solidarity and mutual
mean by religion as a background can this concept of totemism be responsibility among rnembers of a group in regard to these
understood. powers are very strongly developed - even more so the lower the
Psychological concepts cannot serve to define religion and its levei of culture - man's position with respect to religion is thus
relationship to magic. Undoubtedly, religion is the product of the not left to his own will and acknowledgement. Practising the
basic possessions of the human soul. Man constantly finds hirnself ordinances of religion, as well as the acts of the cult and the
in a completely helpless situation in relation to the world around fulfillment of ethical norrns, are obligations over whose fulfill-
him. Everywhere, man's aspiratons and rnost passionate desires ment the public watches and to which the individual is
are shattered on the absolutely rigid barriers of necessity, and in compelled.
his destiny, man- no matter on what cultural levei or at what This aspect of religion comes out more strongly, the distant we
stage of individual evolution he may find himself- must face the become frorn the contemporary conception of religion as a purely
basic denial of those purposes for which his entire being seems to individual matter, as a question of the salvation of one's soul.
have been created. On the other hand, man, amidst the threat of The gods of primitive people, who have a noticeably more collec-
the externai world, perceives a punishment for his own offences, tive world view and who punish the whole group for the sins of
sees the effects of the imperfection of his own actions, which were individuais, avenge themselves on families, destroy cities, and
to protect him from blame and punishment from the secret and exterminare whole tribes. This is also why the group must watch
vindictive powers which surround him everywhere. But, after its own interests lest any of its members offend the deity,
although the sources of this human creation lie in the individual whether it be by ignoring the obligations of the cult, or by not
soul and may only be understood from personal experience and behaving according to the moral ordinances.
living through it, the results are the product of the labour of The watchword, a free conscience, is a very new discovery, and
generations crystallized into sociological and objective works. for the rnajority of people, for whom religion is their foremost
Man hands his experiences in these matters down to others, and public obligation, such a watchword would seem a fundamental
the fruit of the experiences of nurnerous generations and cen- paradox. We must also not forget that the road from poltica!
turies piles up in a way common to all acquisitions of human watchword to sociological fact is very long!
culture, and crystallizes in to great religious systems, which every Religion, as a social terrn for ali of man's transactions with the
society, even the most savage, possesses, and which play a promi- supernatural world, also perrneates every section of social life,
nent sociological role in each. In each of these systems we may the more broadly the further we descend toward primitive
differentiate two aspects, on one hand the collection of beliefs, peoples. For savage man does not distinguish everyday things
legends and ritual acts by which man tries to enter into a union from the supematural so clearly and at every opportunity is ready
with the 'supernatural' powers of the world and tries, in a ritual to pacify the higher powers to allow him 'our daily bread' and
and solemn way, to govem with these powers; on the other hand, many other everyday necessities. And thus do religious ideas
norms of behaviour closely and organically connected to the permeate almost ali vital and important social acts. They provide
beliefs and acts of the cult. a framework and a polish to everything importam in the eyes of
But religious acts are not social exclusively and only for the man, for the powers from the other world guide all these things
reason that all achievements of culture exist in society and according to their will.
through society. They also have a social character because the On the other hand, alongside of the acts of the cult, there are
fulfillment of the religious acts and ordinances is something com- ethical norrns which are closely bound to them. They are also
pulsory over whose execution society keeps watch. compulsory, bound to the social organization and conceived of as
Religion deals with the most vital of hurnan interests, since it an organic whole. just as the acts of the cult must represem a
deals with maintaining the relationship with the supematural unity- undoubtedly nota logical but an organic unity, according
powers on which man's fate depends both here and after death. to its dogmatic logic- so must the ethical norms be gathered into
164 165
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and e?<.oaamy

some kind ofwhole and be connected to the dogmatic system and which cannot be broken down into simpler elements and which
to the cult. For both the ethical norms and the acts of the cult are thus indefinable. An example of one of these is the concept of
concern the same powers and strive toward the same goal; thus the 'supernatural' world, which we include in the definition of
they must possess internai consistency with respect to this com- religion. The general definition of religion should only point out
mon goal. the path on which we must seek religious phenomena; a closer
As for religious norms, we must note that since these norms definition of such basic phenomena can only be given by
exist for the purpose of protecting the people through these higher enumerating facts. We must only be wary of a priori limitations,
beings, the sanction for these norms is, because of their nature, artificial constructions, and especialiy of controlling the research
primarily supernatural. Offences automatically draw a punish- dane in the field of facts, which Frazer's definition undoubtedly
ment from the hands of the higher powers, and, although society does.
can punish the sinner by its own hand, the first and highest sanc- But let us now try to apply our definition of religion to the facts
tion, that which differentiates the ethical ordinances from the known to us of the life of savage people. First of ali we see that
legal, is supernatural. Obviously, as I have mentioned above, the Australian totemism is a form of religion, for it possesses a system
lower we descend on the culturalladder, and the more primitive of organicaliy connected traditions permeating the whole social
the people with whom we have to deal, the more distinctively organization (the organization of the local group, the totemic
will both sanctions appear parallel and of equal importance. clan, and the exogamous section).
Nevertheless, the religious norms differ from the purely legal The public, obligatory, and regular cult (the intichiuma cere-
norms in that, with the former, as well as social sanctions, there monies and those related to it) is also based on these traditions.
also exist automatic supernatural sanctions. The traditions are the background on which ali of the important
Taking the above into consideration, we can state the follow- acts of the Australians' life take place, the initiation of young
ing as a short definition: we will call religion any collection of men as well as the funeral ceremony, for everything is always
beliefs and practices referring to supernatural powers and bound connected within the same system of beliefs a nd totemic tradi-
into an organic system, whlch are expressed in social life by a tions of the alcherinaa ancestors. The totemic norms, the
series of acts of a cult which is systematic, public, obligatory and principal taboos, are ali justified traditionaliy: because the
based on tradition (mythological in lower societies and teleologi- ancestors behaved in such a manner, it is necessary to behave the
cal-dogmatic in the higher), and is also expressed by a series of same way now, or else, at other times, in just the opposite
norms ofbehaviour also defined by tradition, closely connected to manner - the logic of the myth and tradition is not unequivocaliy
the dogmas of the cult and possessing supernatural sanctions as determined. In the beliefs of the Samoans we find a completely
well as social ones. The criteria for defining religion in this analogous state of affairs.
manner lie in social, objective facts, and therefore they are easily If we should now wish to apply Frazer's theory to the
accessible to dose observation, even among savage peoples. Australian and Samoan totemic facts, we would meet with
Such a definition of religion is undoubtedly very general and unconquerable difficulties. In the intichiuma ceremonies, songs
can even appear to be an overgeneralization, especially in com- are sung relating the history of the ancestors. According to Frazer,
parison to Frazer's immensely concrete definition. But it is pre- are such songs prayers or incantations? Everywhere, in many
cisely in defining such general and fundamental phenomena like other religions and in our own, religious songs exist relating
religion that it is necessary to keep them in adequately wide events in the lives of saints and great persons in the church;
frameworks. Religion is a phenomenon permeating ali aspects of however, even on the. basis of Frazer's criteria, no one could
the human soul; this many-sidedness is also reflected in its socio- consider these songs to be magic incantations. In arder to reckon
logical manifestations, and so it is impossible to establish far- the Australian songs among magic incantations, as Frazer does,
reaching limitations in defining religion. we would have to attribute immensely complicated and subtle
On the other hand, religion contains its own peculiar factors differentiations to these savage songs, for which we have no
166 167
Malinowski's early writinos Totemism and ex_ooamy
evidence and which the most expert observer could not accom- The defined functions of the clan are: a feeling of solidarity
plish. among the members, an obligation to help one another, and
It is stili necessary to add a few words about the difference exogamy. We encounter totemism among still other Indonesian
between religion and magic. Alongside o f those beliefs, grasped in peoples in addition to the Batts. Among the Dravidian peoples
an organic whole, in which tradition is united to the cult and to inhabiting the mountainous and wooded interior of the
ethics by indissoluble knots, there exist severa} loose beliefs, Hindustani pennsula, we also find arrangements and beliefs of a
handed down by tradition, in which not ali people believe, and distinctly totemic character. Unfortunately, the details of this
they only comply with these beliefs under certain conditions. We totemism are very little known. Frazer provides a number of des-
cali these beliefs superstitions, and the practice of sorcery, and criptions, but they are not much more than lists of totems, among
the collection of these beliefs and practices we call magic. which there are relatively very many plants. These are taboo, and
Magic practices are not based on social organization, are not the savages also show them certain veneration; it is forbidden to
compulsory, and are not joined into an organic whole with the touch them or even to look at them, and some animais have a cult
cult and the ethics. of members from their clan. 71
The purpose of these observations, whose justification and We will have to deal a little more extensively with the totemic
proof would require an entire treatise, is merely to record the phenomena in Africa; such phenomena are quite widespread, and
standpoint taken in this article on that question. We do not pro- in some cases they have distinct and characteristic forms about
vide a definition of magic, for it is not the task of the present which we possess reliable information. 72 Frazer ascertains totem-
article. It is ali the more dispensable because we can draw on the ism more or less clearly delineated among three groups of African
excellent article of Hubert and Mauss on magic (see below) in peoples, in the Bantu race living in southern Africa, among the
dealing with this question. In general, though not laid out in its Bantus of central and eastern Africa, and among the pure Negroes
entirety, the standpoint taken here corresponds to a certain of the western coast.
degree with the views of Durkheim, Hubert, and Mauss (Anne Let us begin with the Bantu peoples of southern Africa; totem-
Sociolooique, vols. II-VIII. Durkheim's articles on the definition ism exists among the numerous tribes of the Herero or Damara, in
of religious phenomena, Hubert's and Mauss's on the general which domestic cattle play an important role, corresponding to
theory of magic). The ethnological material on which these the pastoral nature of the tribe. Two forros of clans exist among
studies are based was drawn from the lengthy works of Frazer. them. In one ofthese, the clans are very social in character; there
In our continuing survey of totemic phenomena, we must pass are no totemic prohibitions, no special insgnia designating a
over, or mention only cursorily, those peoples among whom, union with the totem and membership in the clan, nor ideas of
either beca use of their chronological isolation, or beca use of their kinship or union between totem and man. These clans are associ-
germinai form, their totemism is less suited to be grasped in a ated with the sun, the rain, springs, bushes, trees, etc.; there are
concise sketch. In the Sunda archipelago, we encounter totemic no animais among the totems. The legends assert only a loose
phenomena among the interesting Batt people on the island of connection between totem and members of the clan. And so, for
Sumatra.7 These aborgines, who have a rather high levei of example, the clans of the sun and the rain say that there were
culture, practise cannibalism in spite of this, and have a totemic three sisters, who were to go to a funeral; because the sun was
organization. They are divided in to clans, each ofwhich is associ- shining terribly strongly, one sister did not go to the funeral, but
ated with some sort of animal or plant, whose destruction or the two others did. The clan which descended from those two
eating is forbidden to members of the clan. These prohibitions are sisters is associated with the sun; the clan which descended from
motivated by traditions about the clan's descent from toternic the sister who remained has rain as its totem. These clans are not
animais or plants, or also by the belief that men's souls pass into local and are scattered throughout the whole tribe. Inheritance
the given totem after death, or finaliy by legends that an ancestor follows the female line; in other words, it always remains in the
of the clan received some sort of blessing from a given animal. mother's clan. These clans are exogamous.
168 169
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exoaamy
Aside from these, there exist native clans of a much more take change over a broad range. We must a lso note that the
clearly marked totemic character. Membership in these clans is Herero's legends about the origins of the clans are of an entirely
hereditary along the male line; thus in this system the child different sort than the totemic traditions of the Oceanic and
belongs to the father's clan. Again, very few animais figure Australian peoples. The stories of the Herero are simply fables
among the obj ects for which the clans are named. Nevertheless, which should and could explain how the clans arose, to sa tisfy a
each clan possesses a taboo, chiefly referring to cattle. Members somewhat theoretical interest. But it is apparent from their con-
are forbidden to eat specia lly ma rked cattle, possessing a certain tent that they cannot exert a ny influence on the cult because
shape of horn or skin colour; they are forbidden from using the they do not relate sacred or important events, which could be
milk from some cows and from using the skins of these cattle as imitated in religious rites. Nor can they become the basis for
clothes. It is also important, from an economic point ofview, that ethics because the events related in them do not refer to areas in
the taboo also includes a ban on keeping and raising the given which the behaviour of traditional heroes could serve as an a rche-
cattle. type. And so it is evident that on the basis of the content of these
Among the Bechuans, also a pastoral people, the majority of traditions alone we can rule out their having any my thic charac-
clans are named after animais. Yet, their pastoral manner of ter, in the strict sense of the word, by which we understand
living has had no evident influence on their totemic structure, legends exerting an important social influence on the cult and its
for, among their totems, there are no domestic cattle. Their clans ethics.
are local. The totem of each clan is taboo; it is forbidden to eat or Among the people of the Bantu race inhabiting central and
use it for clothing, a nd evento look ator touch it. The members of eastern Africa, totemism has considerably more interesting forms
each clan perform a dance and sing songs in honour of their and plays a more important role in the social mechanism. It will
totem, but they do not perform any rituais or make sacrifices. The be best to choose one from among the nurnerous tribes which
clan of the crocodile considers that animal to be their father and Frazer describes, namely the one about which we know the most
chief, and they a lways show it veneration. The members of this and whose beliefs are probably typical of the totemism of this
clan are forbidden to look at the crocodile, and if someone is branch of the Bantus.
bitten by one of these beasts or splashed with water that a croco- The Baganda nation, inha biting the kingdom of Uganda, is
dile scatters with his tail, the man gains a reputation of disgrace culturally and anthropologically the highest representa tive of the
and must go into exile. Members of the porcupine clan protect it Bantu race. The political structure of this country, the culture
and express grief and regret if someone kills this animal. The meat and their personal virtues place them indisputably higher than
of the animal is taboo, a nd transgression would occasion the the numerous bordering tribes, and also than the Bantu of other
inevitable death of the transgressor . For killing a lion the mem- parts of Africa. We possess excellent information about them
bers of its clan must render expiation; for, otherwise, they would tha nks to the works of numerous researchers, in the foreground to
lose their sight. They neither eat its meat nor wear its skin. Like- the recently published observations of the English missionary,
wise, the members of the buffalo and ibex clans do not eat the Rev. j. Roscoe, who has also placed a large amount of additional
meat or use the hide ofthese animais. The iron clan does not work material at Professor Frazer's disposal in addition to this. 73 Frazer
this metal; and the clan of the hoe uses that tool only for indis- gives a colourful description of the beautiful and fertile country of
pensable functions. Uganda, of the high levei of land cultivation, which depends
Of theoretical importance is the distinct influence of the primarily on banana plantations, of the beautifully built houses,
pastoral occupations of the Herero on their totemism. The fact of picturesquely scattered villages and nets of roads which connect
the dual system of their clans, and the local character of clans ali parts of the country, often crossing inaccessible swamps
among the Bechuans, which clans coincide with the tribes, severa! English miJes in length. The Baganda possess a highly
demonstrates that these clans are not something well-defined developed handicraft industry, and they distinguish themselves
with respect to their social morphology, instead the forms they personally in dexterity a nd intelligence. Their form of govern-
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Malinowski's early writings Totemism and exo_gamy

ment is a monarchy with an extraordinarily well developed all the mothers must come from other clans. Frazer tries to
courtly ceremonialism. explain this fact, which is extremely strange and even improb-
The population is divided in to a number of totemic clans. Each able, but which is nevertheless presented by an intelligent and
of these is exogamous; they are motivated to forbid marriage conscientious researcher, by reference to the influence which her
within the clan by the fact that ali women belonging to the clan surroundings exert on a woman before and during pregnancy.
are sisters. The members of the clan are forbidden from eating Since from her youth a woman in Uganda goes in to the clan of her
totemic animais or plants; this is enforced by the conviction that future husband, this clan's type is impressed most strongly onto
transgressing this prohibition would cause serious illness or even her imagination, and during pregnancy it forros the features and
death. The members of the clan feel and are obligated to strict proportions of the child. Whether this explanation can be
solidarity. Each clan possesses its own domain, dispersed accepted, or even whether the observation we have mentioned
throughout various parts of the country. Usually, the chief, the deserves our absolute c redence at ali, is a question which we will
'Father' of the clan, sits on the best of these pieces of land. have to leave open, for it would lead to present considerations in
Totemic legends and traditions, referring to the rising and origins the realm of biology, especially to questions of heredity.
of the clan and to the prohibitions against eating the totems, are Among the Bantu tribes of east central Africa, totemism is
not of an ancestral nature. There are no notions of common known in less detail. Although Frazer mentions severa} tribes, we
descent from ancestors of an animal or plant nature. In general, do not know much more about them than the names of their
the entire mythology of the Baganda refers to the times of King totems. Totemic taboo is here also the feature which was most
Kintu, under whose leadership, as the legend goes, they were to distinctly and most often observed. In the Angoni tribe, where the
enter and conquer their present fatherland, to create a social totems are primarily animais, it is forbidden to kill, destroy, or
organization, and to establish the kingdom of Buganda. Thus, the eat the animals or plants, for they will meet sickness as a punish-
legends of totemism state that in the times of this King Kintu ment; it is also forbidden to use the skins of the totemic animais
there were few animais, and in arder to spare them, clans were as clothing. In the A-Kamba tribe the totemic animais are taboo;
forbidden from eating certain types, at the same time holding to and where the totem is a domestic animal, it is forbidden to keep
these, one might say, hygienic principies: if the given food did not it.
suit the members of a certain clan, it became taboo for them, and An important belief, which is common among these tribes, is
at the same time this species of animal or plant also beca me the the belief in the transmigration of souls in to animais after death.
totem of the given clan from that time on. But there is a lack of close links between this belief and totemism.
Among the Baganda totemism possesses a considerably better Comparing the totemism of the Bantu peoples in general with
developed social aspect than a religious aspect. Each clan, apart the facts we have mentioned earlier, it is apparent that the reli-
from having its own domain, which in some way provides it with gious aspect is here less developed, when it comes to the religious
an economic basis, performs a number of specific social functions, acts of the cult, which are almost non-existent. On the other
mainly in the political life which is concentrated around the hand, totemic prohibitions exist everywhere, possessing the dis-
king's court. However, there is almost no cult of the totems, and tinct character of religious norms, because their sanction is
alongside of totemism there exist other forros of beiief which supernatural and automatic. Among these peoples, who have a
possess cults and ethics. J. Roscoe, who has recently studied this higher levei of economic development, these prohibitions show a
people, makes another interesting observation referring, one more distinct economic character than among the Oceanic
might say, to the physiology of totemism: each clan has its dis- peoples or the primitive hunters ofNew Guinea and Australia.
tinct physical type by which one can recognize at first glance to We finda great variety of forros of totemism on the continent of
which clan a man belongs. This is ali the more strange since America, actually in its northern half, for in South America there
membership in the clan is inherited through the father, not the exist only vestiges of totem i c beliefs. 71 In North America totem-
mother, and since the clans are exogamous so that in a given clan ism exists, or rather existed, among the tribes of red-skinned
172 173
Malnowski's early writinos Totemism and ex99amy
Indians formerly inhabiting the vast prairies, basins of great rivers then, animais are the prevailing totems. Twelve of the totems are
and lakes. Today these tribes have in part utterly perished and in edible, two are useable objects, and the remaining two are
part are breathing their last gasps on reservations. The tribes of thunder and red earth. The totemic clans, of which there are ten
north-westem Indians, inhabiting Alaska and British Columbia (some are further divided in to subclans with separa te totems) are
possess a different culture and thus different forms of totemism. separated into two groups or phratries. When they set up camp,
The third group consists of Indians inhabiting some southern these two phratries spread themselves out into two semicircles
states, named Pueblos, because they lead sedentary lives and live one on the left and the other on the right side of the marching
in stone fortified colonies. 75 But toternism does not exist among line: each clan has its designated place in the circle thus created.
the least civilized red-skinned nomadic tribes of the south- And so the division into clans has a local basis, despite the fact
western forests of California. Frazer points out this fact and notes that the tribe leads a nomadic life. This local basis obviously has
that in North America totemism signifies a somewhat higher the character of something artificial, manufactured, and
stage of cultural development. 76 geometrical, but emphasizing not less, and perhaps even more
According to the quality of the information we possess about strongly, the local union of the members of the clan, and also the
totemism in North America, totemism has been unquestionably division of the tribe in to a certa in number of smaller groups. Each
ascertained among very many tribes, but in the majority of cases clan has a certain number of personal names referring to the
we do not know much more about it than the names of the toterns totemic animais. And so, in the bison clan there were various
and some social functions of the clan. Even toternic taboo, about names designating physical and moral attributes of the bison.
which we usually know the most among ali other peoples, has Some clans have sacred objects in safe-keeping, like a sacred pipe
been observed here only in a few cases. Over ali we can say that and other tribal insgnia .
we know considerably more about the social aspect of totemism I will now pass from the strictly social features of the totemism
as regards the first line of lndians of the eastem prairies, with to the beliefs and to tbose functions of the clan which define
whom we will begin our description of totemism. Frazer supposes man's relationship to his totem. As I have mentioned earlier, the
that this is due to the circumstance that the researchers who Omaha tribe is the only one about whom we possess relatively
described these tribes, being concerned primarily with problerns plentiful information on this point. First of ali, we know that
of the social structure, paid less attention to the forms of totemic each clan has a certain designated taboo; the 'Black Shoulders'
beliefs and traditions. Whether this supposition is correct - we clan, for example, is forbidden from eating certain parts of the
cannot say for certain. However, it does seem likely, since, among bison. Another clan is forbidden from eating venison, and another
one of these Indian tribes, the Omaha tribe, whose toternism has bear. We could say tbat both those animais which were most
been studied very carefully, it was found and recorded that there dangerous to hunt and those which were economically most
were a number oftotemic beliefs, especially prohibitions referring important to the tribe were tbe objects of toternic prohibitions.
to the eating of the totems. It is frankly improbable that the The bison alone, in its various parts and organs, was taboo for
totemic beliefs and practices of the Omaha should be an isolated seven clans. Thus we find a state of affairs analogous to that in
fact, especially since this tribe is not different in any other the Herero tribe in southern Africa, namely that the animal
respect. which is the econornic foundation for the tribe plays the most
The Omaha tribe belongs to the great family ofSioux or Dakota important role in the system of totemic prohibitions, but at the
tribes inhabiting the Mississippi basin and both banks of the Mis- same time, the taboo is either limited only to certain parts of the
souri.77 The Omaha get their food partly from farming (growing animal, as is the case among the Omaha, or to specially
maize, peas, pumpkin, and melons) and partly from hunting designated specimens, as we have seen among the Herero.
bison, deer, beaver, and otter. Among their totems there are The Omaha also possess traditions about the origins of their
eleven animais, one plant, and four inanimate objects. Clearly. clans. For example, the Black Shoulders clan believes that its

174 175
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exoaamy
ancestors were bison and lived under water; similar traditions, them. The Ponka clans are also divided in to two phratries, which
which, however, we know only in general terms, also exist form their campsite into a circle in which each clan has its per-
among the other clans. manent place. The bison, which plays a great role in the econ-
The relationship between a clan member and his totem is omic life of the Ponka, is also one of the most important totems
marked by various facts aside from this. The members of each among them, for its taboo applies to eight clans.
clan wear their hair arranged in imitation of their totem. Various The division of clans into two phratries and the permanent
ceremonies exist whose purpose is the assimilation and identifica- position of these in the campsite also exists among the Sioux
tion of a man with his totem. At the birth of a child in the deer tribes of Kansas and Iowa. Among the former there exist certain
clan, they paint spots on the child in order to make him look like magic ceremonies whose purpose is preventing blizzards or
a little fawn. At the death of a man from the Black Shoulders storms; they are thus ceremonies of the intichiuma type; concern-
clan, there is a funeral ritual whose purpose is the sending of the ing the latter tribe, we know of their traditions about the descent
spirit of the deceased in to the other world so that it may be joined of the clans from the totemic animais. In another Sioux tribe, the
with its bison ancestors. Aside from this, each clan possesses the Mandan- about whose totemism we know little except that it
authority to perform certain very simple magic ceremonies, exists, i.e. that the tribe is divided into clans- worthy of notice
whose purpose is achieving a given practical result such as protec- are the magic ceremonies of the intichiuma type referring to the
tion against harmful birds or worms. One clan performs a certain animal economically most important to this tribe, the bison, and
ceremony at the first sign oflightning lest it harm them. to the tribe's most important source of vegetable food, maize;
It is apparent from this that the traditions concerning the however, these ceremonies are not strictly totemic, for ali of the
ancestry of the clan, the ceremonies at birth and death, the per- members of the tribe take part in them. Every adult male must
sonal names associated with the totem, the style of wearing their possess the skin from the head of a bison including the horns and
hair, their imitation of the totem, the magic ceremonies, and the be constantly ready at a given signal to put it on and begin a
giving of authority over certain aspects of nature (although not dance in this costume in a public place. Some dancers wear the
exclusively over the totem) to members of some clans - all this entire skin of the bison with horns, hooves, and tail. The leaders
expresses the union between man and his totem. And as you can give the order to begin this dance whenever it has been a long
see, this union is defined in a manner very similar to other forms time since bisons have been seen, and hunger starts to badger the
of toternism. And so here also the totemic prohibitions come into inhabitants. At that time tento fifteen men, dressed in their bison
the foreground, just as they do in general. There is no doubt that skins, begin a dance, in which the movements and sounds of these
they have a large economic significance; the admonitions against animais are imitated, performing it until they are completely
breaking them, associated with their difficulties and privations, is exhausted. When one of the dancers is totally exhausted, he stag-
an infallible sign that the union of man with his totem is some- gers out of the dance; at that time one of the warriors standing
thing important for this people. Particularly important is the forro around the dance shoots him with his bow and a blunt arrow.
which the totemic taboo assumes among the Omaha, which is And so this shot dancer falls onto the ground, and his companions
characteristic of the development to which the totemic prohibi- dnig him outside of the circle of dancers; immediately someone
tions are prone in the higher stages of economic organization. else takes his place, and thus the dance lasts without a break until
Speaking generally, the taboo concerns the most important source the result has been achieved, that is, until the moment when the
of nourishment but only limits certain parts of the totem to warriors set on lookout give word that the bison have arrived.
certain camps respectively. Throughout the duration of the dance a drum is beaten and there
The Ponka tribe also belongs to the Dakota family. It is divided is singing and shouting; ali this is done in order to attract the
into sixteen totemic clans whose structure as well as the beliefs animal more strongly. This ceremony is not performed in a
governing it are very similar to those in the totemism of the designated season nor periodically, but always when the need for
Omaha- as far as we know, for we know considerably less about it arises. On the other hand, the Mandan perform another
176 177

Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exogamy

ceremony periodically, in the spring, whose purpose is increasing matter relatively peacefully by obtaining satisfaction from the
the fertility of the bison . Here the content of the ceremony is a guilty party. The unity of the phratry is also shown in the funeral
performance of the reproductive act by people dressed in bison ceremonies, in the tribal council, and in the election of sachems
skins. The ceremony is full of many grotesque rites, and acts of (leaders), and even in their ball games. Each phratry has its own
genuine debauchery even accompany it. religious rituais and carnes them out by their own hand, but we
In the spring the Mandans also perform a magic ceremony know very little about these 'Medicine Lodges'.
whose purpose is the assurance of a plentiful crop of maize. This And so we are altogether well acquainted with the social aspect
ceremony is mainly perforrned by old women, dancing and ritu- of the totemism of the Iroquois. On the other hand, we know
ally eating dried meat and maize. almost nothing about its religious aspect. We know almost
Similar ceremonies referring to the fertility of maize are per- nothing about the religious functions of the phratry and nothing
forrned by members of another Sioux tribe, the Minnetaree. These at ali about the religious functions of the clan. We do not know
ceremonies, though not strictly totemic, for they are not the any myths, in the proper sense of the word, about the descent of
monopoly of one clan, are interesting as analogies to the the clan from its totem, for the respective stories, as far as we
intichiuma ceremonies. The existence of ceremonies so similar know, do not play any social role. As we have noted, the proper
among peoples so far apart and under conditions so different, as names that each clan possesses have nothing in common with the
those that hold sway in Australia and North America, demon- totem. However, what is most importam here is the totallack of
strates that they are an expression of certain deeply seated information about totemic prohibitions, which we know nothing
characteristics of human nature, whose further examination and about among the Iroquois, as is also the case with almost all other
analysis would undoubtedly shed interesting light on both aspects Indian tribes. The relationship between man and his totem is
., of these ceremonies, the economic and the magico-religious. completely undefined to us among the Iroquois, and it is also
Among the other Indian nations, the Iroquois deserve special completely unknown how this relationship is viewed by them, or
attention beca use of the high levei of their culture and beca use of even if they have any ideas about it at all, whether the names of
the accurate inforrnation which we possess about them, thanks the animais were merely the labels of the clans, whether the
primarily to the research of the famous American ethnologist, animais are connected to the clans only by the granting of these
Morgan. But actually, perhaps beca use of the one-sided interest of names, in other words totally unconnected in fact.
this researcher in the social organization exclusively, we know The Huron, a tribe related to the Iroquois, possessa totemism
nothing about the religious aspect of the totemism of the similar to that ofthe Iroquois. They are divided into twelve clans,
Iroquois. This nation, composed of six tribes, breaks down into whose totems are all animais, and who fali into two exogamous
eight clans independently of the former divison. The clan of the phratries. Five of these twelve clans have turtles as their totems-
bear, the wolf, the beaver and the turtle form one phratry. The which is in connection with the fact that the turtle plays a very
totemic clans of the deer, the snipe, the hawk, and the falcon great role in the mythology of the Hurons and in their whole
form the second. Tight solidarity joins the members of the clan social organization. Each clan possesses special names. From this
through tribal differences. Each clan has special names which are it is apparent that as far as our information reaches, the totemism
given to its members. However, there is no connection between of the Hurons, though considerably less well-known, is very
these names and the totemic animal of the clan. Membership in similar to the totemism of the Iroquois.
r". the clan, property, social standing, and titles are all inherited
along the female line. The division into two groups of phratries is
I will not spend any more time describing the totemism of other
tribes inhabiting the prairies, because that which has been said
very clearly outlined. First of all, they are exogamous. Solidarity about the Dakota, Iroquois, and Huron tribes is sufficient to
is an obligation of members of the phratry when one of them has illustrate the totemism of the Prairie Indians.
been insulted by a member of another. An obligation to carry out However, the totemism ofthe Indians in the north-western part
a vendetta hangs heavy upon the entire phratry to settle the ofthis continent is of a different type. These tribes in part inhabit
178 179
Malinowski's early writinos Totemism and exooamy
the warm and damp shores of British Columbia, shielded on the The Haida tribe, inhabiting the Queen Charlotte Islands, pos-
east by the shoulder of the Rocky Mountains and heated by the sesses very similar forros of totemism. The tribe falls into two
warm japanese current, and in part inhabit the frozen spaces of phratries of the Crow and the Eagle, and is again divided into a
Alaska and the dry, barren interior of the continent east of the certain number of totemic clans, each of which is named after
Rocky Mountains. They live primarily by hunting and fishing. some sort of animal. Among them heraldic signs also play a
The Tlingit tribe, inhabiting the shores of southern Alaska, is prominent role; each totemic group has severa! of them. Legends
divided into two totemic phratries, of the crow and the wolf, also exist about the origins of the totemic coats of arms. The
which are again divided into eighteen clans h aving exclusively Kwakiutl tribe, inhabiting part of Vancouver Island and the
animal totems. The phratries are exogamous. Each of them traces adjoining British Columbia shores, is divided into six clans of the
its descent from a mystical hero, the crow phratry from the hero beaver, the donkey, the wolf, the crow, and the dolphin. They are
jehl, the wolf phratry from the hero Kanook. The totemic clans exogamous and each tribe has one or more heraldic signs and
are local and live intermingled with one another. Within the legends explaining their meaning. In some of these legends, the
clans there are no distinct traditions about descent from particu- ancestor ofthe clan met the totemic animal and befriended it; in
lar heroes, although some vague beliefs about this do exist. What others the animal itself is the ancestor of the clan. It is unknown
is most characteristic about the totemism of the Tlingit tribe is to what extent these legends are connected to the social functions
the immense development of heraldic art. Among them there is of the clan. Toternic taboo has not been ascertained among the
an entire system of totemic insgnia or coats of arms, carved into tribes mentioned; on the other hand, we do know that it does
wood, which plays an importam role in the social life of these exist in the Tshimshian tribe. In this tribe, there exist ceremonial
tribes. Each Tlingit clan has its own coat of arms, which usually dances, which are dramatic representations of myths.
represents part of its totemic animal. These coats of arms are In general, the information which Frazer provides about these
carved or painted onto houses, boats, oars, coverlets, and other tribes is very scanty and insufficient to get to the bottom of either
objects of everyday use, shields, etc., and on festive occasions, the religious or the social aspect of their totemism. We do not
like funerais, dances, and commemorative holidays, people often know much about the social aspect of their mythology; on the
come dressed completely as their totemic animals. Their coats of other hand, the totemic clans are presented unclearly beca use we
arms and insgnia are not strictly localized in the clan; the same know little about their social functions.
emblem may be used in severa! clans, and very rich people may Even less deeply are we able to delve into the essence of totem-
use as many coats of arrns as they please. Still, members of each ism on the basis of the information we possess about the beliefs
phratry have the right to certain animal motifs, and each clan and organizations of the Pueblo Indians. 78 They inhabit the
also has its own coat of arms, which it especially values. These plateau states of Arizona and New Mexico, separated by huge
coats of arms are also painted onto the men's faces. But the most abysses, or canyons as they are called there. On the protruding
interesting and best known form of the plastic representation of edges of rocks, which stand on lonely peaks, they build their
totems in the American north-west is the totem pole. This is a fortified villages, in order to protect themselves from the assaults
wooden log, often of immense size, on which is carved, from top ofthe warlike tribes of Apache and Navajo. They live by farming,
to bottom, figures of animais and people, alternately, as a chietly from raising maize.
representation of the totemic ancestors of a man. These poles can The villages of the Hopi tribe are situated on freely standing
be of two types. Either they stand near the home, and in that case blocks of sandstone towering five to eight hundred feet above the
they are another form of heraldic sign, or they house the ashes of nearest springs, from which the women must carry water in buck-
a dead man, and in that case they are a kind of tomb and statue at ets on their heads, ascending narrow and precipitous steps. The
the same time. In general, all the plastic representations of the houses are erected in terraces, one on top of another. These
totems have their own legends, in which their origins and mean- Indians have a special form of totemism. Their clans are very
ing are explained. small, usually including only a few persons; they are grouped in to
180 181
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and exoaamy
larger social phratries. Previously these phratries were exog- with Frazer, to limit the concept and the term totemism to
amous. Today even members of the same clan intermarry. Both phenomena having social influence and to call individual beliefs
property and membership in the clan are inherited along the something else, and in doing so to emphasize their different
female line. The inhabitants of the village of Wualpa, belonging character. Another important difference between these two
to the Hopi tribe, are divided into twelve phratries, which again institutions is also based on the fact that a totem is inherited and
fali into smaller clans. Each of these clans is also quite small; a guardian spirit is always acquired by the man who is subject to
beca use there are more than a hundred of them, and beca use the it. Among the tribe of the Algonquin, for example, a boy fourteen
village numbers about three hundred inhabitants, about three to fifteen years of age blackens his face and goes to a remote and
persons thus fali into each clan. The majority of the toterns are isolated place where he remains alone for a few days, eating
animais or plants; aside from thes'e there are a few natural absolutely nothing and abandoning himself to contemplation.
phenomena, like thunder, snow, and rain, and a few household The expectation, grounded on superstitious faith, the fatigue, and
objects. Each clan has its own traditions and special ceremonies, hunger do their work: in a dream he experiences ali sorts of
which have quite a great significance in their social life. But we visions, wbich most often represent a certain animal or object to
know nothing defini te about ali of this, so that these facts do little him in the foreground. And it is that thing, the main object of his
to deepen our information about totemism. dreams, which becomes the guardian spirit of the man for the rest
In concluding our survey of totemic phenomena, we must say a of his life. It stands in dose union with his character, his disposi-
few words about the special form which the beliefs about the tion, and his future vocation. A man predestined to be a warrior
union of man and animal take among some o f the tribes o f North will probably dream of ao eagle or a bear; a hunter - a wolf; a
America. 79 Among them there exists a belief in guardian spirits, shaman - a snake; etc. Throughout his whole life the Indian
as Frazer calls them - something which we could most nearly wears, as a kind of amulet, the thing ofwhich he dreams, or some
define as individual totems, for they are not connected to a social part ofit: a piece ofbone, a feather, a snake skin, etc. The Indian
group, a clan, but to the individual person. This institution has offers a kind of cult to his patron, makes sacrifices o f tobacco to it,
quite a few characteristics in common with totemism proper, thanks it for prosperity, and tums to him in unhappiness. Thus,
especially as far as it concems its religious aspect. In both cases a the visions of this decisive age, when a young boy, in fasting and
taboo is associated with the totem. But it is still necessary for us loneliness, seeks his guardian spirit, play an important role in the
to keep in mind that it is precisely in North America that we funher fate of the man. A certain Dakota chief, even though he
know nothing about a taboo in totemism proper, with the excep- carne from a family of warriors, never went to war beca use in his
tion ofthe Omaha tribe. When an animal that is a guardian spirit initiation dream, he dreamt of an antelope, which was the spirit
is an important source of nourishment, then the taboo extends of peace for his tribe. Despite this he was highly respected in the
only over certain parts of it; this is a feature we have already tribe, and no one suspected him of cowardice.
encountered in totemism. In the case of guardian spirits, there is a At first glance, it is apparent that the institution about which
belief that the spirit transmits its properties to its ward, justas the we have been speaking, although not totemism, has much in
totem grants them to the clan in many instances. A basic dif- common with it and sheds important and interesting light on it.
ference, obviously, lies in the social aspect: the guardian spirit is We will have an opportunity to retum to this subject when we
the patron of a given individual; the totem is the patron of a discuss the theory oftotemism, to which we will retum presently,
social group. From this it follows that totemism possesses an after concluding our survey of Totemic facts.
important and extensive influence on social life; it governs the
relations of members within the group and governs externally the (London, 1912)
relations of groups as whole entities. And the belief in guardian
spirits plays almost no role in the social organization. This dif-
ference is obviously fundamental, so that it is better, together
182 183
Malinowski's early writings Totemism and exogamy
tbe author could devote a few words to tbis importam task is tbe
PART 111
forty pages of the first cbapter, but, as was our conviction, even
In tbe preceding two parts of tbis article, I bave provided a sbort tbere we find nothing wbich we might expect to find.
survey of totemic facts. Now I will proceed to a presentation of Let us begin witb tbe tbird chapter, about tbe origins of
Frazer's theory of totemism. exogamy, beca use tbis subject will not interest us for long, and so
As I bave repeatedly mentioned above, the survey of totemic we may dispose of it quickly. 83 Criticizing and rejecting the
phenomena provided by Frazer is a compendium of descriptions tbeories of McLennan, Westermarck, and Durkheim on tbe orig-
drawn from sources and repeated in crudo, just as tbe autbor ins of exogamy, and more or less accepting the views of Morgan,
found tbem. It is simply a compilation, accomplisbed witb great Frazer develops bis own related tbeory as follows. According to
erudition, very wortbwhile for study, but not digested and not Frazer, exogamy arose as a conscious reform, introduced ata time
grasped witbin a theoretical framework. There is no elaboration wben the people were found in a state of ' promiscuity', which in
on tbe facts, no assembly of tbem in to some sort of scbeme isolat- general means that they bad no regulated cohabitation. 81 The
ing tbe typical forms and essential elements; tbere is no division purpose of tbis reform, accomplished by some primitive but wise
into groups even of general characteristics of totemism in tbe lawgivers, was the prevention of incest. For Frazer accepts that
various ethnographic provinces. Tbe author, in fact, has done disgust over incest had developed and was very distinct before the
nothing to facilita te ou r orientation witb a clear and concise look introduction of this reform.
at the facts. If we view the task of science to be the dose and But where did the disgust come from, and what rationale did
succinct description and comprehension of the facts, achieved these people bave for introducing such a complicated and far-
through the precise classification of those facts, tbe creation of reaching reform? Frazer hirnself clearly understands and admits
generalizations, and the inclusion of the specific facts under the that this could not be tbe result of the savages' consciousness of
general concepts created, in this case Frazer's work, whicb does some sort of biological laws with wbich not even contemporary
none of this, is not, in the proper sense of the word, a scientific scbolars are entirely in agreement; nor, even less, had some moral
work. ideas, which are always tbe result of a social state of affairs, ever
Because it is written beautifully and is full ofinteresting digres- caused it. In order to extract bimself from tbis difficulty, Frazer
sions, it reads easily, but it is difficult to assimilate and by no makes the assumption tbat tbe disgust over incest is caused by a
means is it easy to digest tbe material contained therein con- superstitious belief in its barmful influence on the fertility of
ceptually. We would at least expect tbat the autbor would com- people and animais.
pensa te for the lack of tbese tbings in bis tbeoretical section by What is assumed is tbat the relations of dose relatives produce
providing a retrospective tbread and sbow tbe road taken tbrougb infertility in tbe tribe and threaten the main sources of food,
tbe cbaos of loosely collected pbenomena, and allow us to glance impeding the strong animais from reproducing and the edible
backwards in consistent and organically connected perspective. vegetables from growing, or in short, what is assumed is that the
However, tbis is not tbe case. The tbeoretical section, contained result of incest is the infertility of women, animais, and plants. 85
in volume IV is quite sbort- and tbere would be nothing wrong Similar superstitions presently exist among many peoples.
witb that - but in quality it is entirely insufficient. The volume is Every theory of tbis type, when given in an abridgement
divided in to three chapters. Tbe first and shortestsO contains some deprived of the strength of detailed arguments and factual
general observations on tbe traits of totemism and exogamy. In material cited to support it, must lose something and seem
the second cbapter8 1 tbe researcb of tbe autbor and otbers on tbe weaker than it is in essence. But Frazer's theory does not improve
origins of totemism is provided. Finally, in tbe third82 tbe discus- much when read in extenso. Tbis theory is a series of hypotheses
sion turns to tbe origins of exogamy. In tbe latter two chapters about primitive 'promiscuity', about a consciously introduced
specific problerns are explored whicb cannot sbed any ligbt on the great social reform, about tbe disgust over incest, and the super-
systematics of totemic pbenomena; and so tbe one place wbere stitious source ofthis hypotbesis, whicb ali refer to the 'primitive'
184 185
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and ~xoaamy

state of humanity and are so very specific and concrete that they results. In each instance it would be necessary, first of ali, to
will not admit to proof or even to being made to seem likely abandon the bias that such a path was singular, that in ali groups
through general arguments about the nature of primitive man. it ran the same course, and that the ideas which were generated
Despi te this, it could have value as a pure hypothesis, if it opened among the savages as counterparts of certain instincts were
broader theoretical horizons, if it were possible in light of this to everywhere the same.
group facts in some sort of new, organically connected manner. Without expanding further on the problem of exogamy, I will
But this is not so; it gives us nothing new theoretically and does pass to the suromarizing and criticisro of the first chapter, in
not allow us a deeper understanding of the facts. Worse, it is which is contained general observations about totemism. The
completely false according to general considerations. Frazer's problero that Frazer first presents is the basic question ofwhether
main position, that it was the result of a conscious reform, is all of these facts, which have been described under the name of
entirely contrary to the scientific principies according to which toteroism, are actually variants of one and the same phenom-
all social changes must take place, slowly, by the action of a enon. Does 'toteroism' possess, for all of the peoples among whom
variety of forces, both as the result of conscious well thought-out we have encountered it, a sufficient nurober of common features
actions of groups or individuais and also as the result of com- to regard it as something basically uniform?
pletely automatic changes, unperceived by society, and this latter Frazer raises these questions, but completely underestimates
factor plays an undoubtedly more important role. And so, to their significance and forroulates them in an entirely inadequate
choose one of the least important factors of social mingling and to manner; yet they are immeasurably iroportant. Indeed, since the
say 'in this case conscious reform was the exclusive cause of various forros of totemisro show great differences, and entirely
everything that happened' - is worse than to say nothing. The identical forms are never encountered, further, beca use in general
acceptance of the hypothesis of 'primitive promiscuity' is at the we encounter rudimentary forros, incompletely developed, and
least a scientific anachronism. As for the assumption that the rather fragments of totemisro, and only in a few cases does Frazer
disgust at incest is based on superstitious beliefs that it is harmful ascertain totemisro fully and clearly developed- this fundamen-
- this is no less naive. Such a disgust, if it exists, must undoubt- tal question thus suggests itself to us: are the differences basic or
edly be an indicator of important instincts, biologically based, superficial? Is the collection of features which we consider to be
which could crystallize into various superstitious beliefs. But the full and pure totemism only arbitrarily and artificially construc-
biological state of affairs is essential, and its expression in savage ted by us?
ideas only a secondary phenomenon. Frazer, in searching for a Here, in referring to this question, Frazer actually avoids it and
definitive cause for exogamy in these superstitious ideas, inverts dismisses the whole problero with a few superficial observations.
the essential order ofits construction, and that is why this theory He simply writes,
- this series of hypotheses put forth by him- is to be rejected on
all counts. No one who has followed the preceding survey attentively can fail to be
Exogamy is unquestionably a biological problem, and only struck by the general similarity of the beliefs and customs which it has
general biological arguments can shed light on the essence of the revealed in tribe after tribe of men belonging to different races and
problem. The opinions of the biologists cited by Frazer, 86 display speaking different Ianguages in many widely distam parts of the world.
Differences, sometimes considerable differences, of detail do certainly
quite sizable differences and divergences of views on this matter.
occur, but on the whole the resemblances decidedly preponderare and
However, if we are permitted to accept, along with the majority are so many and so dose that they deserve to be classed together under a
of opinions, that exogamy offers a form of sexuallife of greater common name. 87
benefit for the species than unhampered endogamy, the essential
part of the problem is solved: for we know the nature of the forces And this is all Frazer has to say about this basic problem of
which lead humanity in this direction. Researching the paths by comparative research.
which evolution has progressed could provide very interesting Straying from the facts, not getting involved with comparisons,
186 187
Malinowski's early writines Totemism and exogamy
and not even noting concretely what he considers these basic nil. 91 Next the a uthor explicates the influence of totemism on the
similarities to be and what the 'differences in detail', are, he evolution of art, 95 and on the evolution ofreligion, where he finds
groundlessly asserts that these phenomena deserve a common that religion almost never develops from totemism. 96 But this
name. But what is important here is something of a completely whole passage about religion and magic is warped again by the
different na ture: whether these phenomena can be included stand taken by the author on the question of differentiating reli-
under one and the same concept! After such a short disposal of gion from magic. 97 In the evolution of humanity Frazer finds
this subject, which would actualiy require a compara tive treatise totemism's grea test merit to be the creation of clan solidarity,
on the totemic phenomena in ali their particulars, the road which could be considered the basis for every social organiza-
onward is easy. The first step isto give a definition, describing the tion.98 On this point Frazer's theoretical considerations on totem-
term ' pure totemism' for others. The manner in which Frazer ism as a sociological and psychological phenomenon ends, on its
approaches this is also naive to a certain degree. He simply seeks rela tionship to related social phenomena, on its value for the
the 'most primitive' of peoples, among whom we encounter evolution of the social organization and culture - absolutely
totemism, and he considers the form found there to be 'typical' everything which the author had to say about this phenomenon,
and ' pure'. except for some specific problems of its 'origins'. As is evident, it
Because the 'most primitive' of totemic peoples are the is a bit too little.
Australians - and among these, according to Frazer, the central In the second chapter of volume IV, Frazer exami nes specific,
tribes, especially the Arunta, are the most primitive - it is thus but less basic questions about the 'origins of totemism'. First he
necessary to turn there with the aim offinding pure totemism par provides a survey of a number of past theories (of Spencer, Lub-
excellence.88 With Australian totemism before him, the author bock, Haddon, anda few other, less well-known American ethno-
gives this definition: 'Totemism is an intimate relation which is logists) and a critique of these theories. Later Frazer presents
supposed to exist between a group of kindred people on the one three of bis own theories on the origins o f totemism, which h e had
side and a species of natural or a rtificial objects on the other developed and rejected in succession. Now he acknowledges only
side'. 89 Such a statement may be good at the beginning of a scien- the third of these.
tific treatise, as a provisional definition of the term, but notas a Frazer's first theory99 subsumes the concept of totemism under
strict definition, as the definitive result of such laborious work. the more general concept of the 'externai soul'. In a number of
In the continuation of the chapter with which we are dealing the beliefs of primitive peoples, we can find the idea that man's
Frazer repeats his favourite assertion tbat totemism is not a reli- soul, his life, or often his health, a re tightly bound to and
gion and that it is only a 'coliection of superstitions and magic dependent on some externai object . Together with severa! other
practices' .90 He defines the relationship of a man to his totem as a researchers, Frazer demonstrates the existence of this idea in a
form of fri endship and affinity/1 and asserts that from these ideas great number of instances. 100
(about blood relationship or affinity) rises a system of prohibi- According to Frazer 's first theory, the totem - animal, veg-
tions against killing and eating the totem: the totemic taboo. 92 etable, or object- is a specific instance of such an 'externai soul'.
Totemism is older than exogamy, and these two phenomena are According to primitive totemic ideas, a man 'supposes that his
not actually connected with one another; they arose independ- soul is to be lodged for safety in some externai object, such as an
ently of one another. 93 Next, Frazer examines the influence of a nimal or plant, but that not knowing which individual of the
totemism on some aspects of sociallife. First of ali, he examines species is the receptade of his soul he spares the whole species
the development of the economic organization: and here he from a fear of unwittingly injuring the particular one with which
arrives at negative results. To be sure, some totemic phenomena his fate is bound up' . 101 I will not interpose even the most general
have a certain similarity to economic facts in the strict sense of criticism of this unbelievably naive theory because the author
the term, but the similarity is only externai. Actualiy, the rejects it himself.
influence of totemism on economic development is practically In his second theory Frazer tries to derive the essence of totem-
188 189
Malinowski's early writinys Totemism and exo_yamy
ism from the intichiuma ceremonies. 102 According to this, totem- tion of a man with a given species; and as a further consequence,
ism is the system of a magic cooperative society, introduced on the prohibitions against killing, eating, or in general destroying
the basis of ideas that some people or groups of people had the this species; and sometimes quite the reverse, a command to eat
magical authority to breed certain animais; in this manner the totemic species, in order to identify with it more readily.
totemism introduced division of labour among certain groups, According to Frazer, this theory also explains the unusually
into which the tribe was divided and so created totemic clans. In broad range of totemic species, and also why we sometimes
time, Frazer also rejects this second theory. encounter ideas about magic authority of members of a clan over
In Frazer's last theory, which he presently acknowledges the totemic species and about the clan members' resemblance to
exclusively, he discerns the origins of totemism in the primitive the totemic animal. This last point leads us to the biological basis
ideas and superstitions about the supernatural incarnation of which Frazer tries to construct for his theory. The naive faith of
men; in other words, he seeks a key for solving the totemic prob- totemic peoples in the similarity between members of a clan and
lems in the beliefs of the Central Australian tribes, about which their totem is, according to Frazer, entirely groundless. It is a
we have spoken extensively above. Frazer assumes that at one universally known fact that women, during their pregnancy, are
time there was a general unawareness o f the real course of procre- easily subject to the influence of strong impressions, which are
ation - a hypothesis which on all accounts must be considered sometimes reflected in the foetus in a specific manner. This is
justified. 103 And the ideas about the manner in which a man what we call 'fixation'. According to Frazer, these facts could be
enters the world were more or less similar- as Frazer says- to the the reason for beliefs in the incarnation of animais, plants, or
sort we find today among some Australian tribes: as soon as a objects in the woman. Indeed, if, in this series ofinstances, primi-
woman first senses that she has become pregnant, she imagines tive people noticed some sort of distinct influence exerted by a
that, at that moment, something has entered and become given thing on the foetus, they could use this as a basis for the
incarnate within her. According to the Australian beliefs, 'spirit view that each child is connected in some mystical way with a
children' become incarnate within her; indeed, such ideas exist given animal, plant, or object.
among various tribes and are everywhere very well defined and And because savage people have a tendency to grasp abstract
detailed viewpoints. 104 And so Frazer assumes that these beliefs concepts in a concrete manner, this general connection is under-
are not altogether 'primitive' because, in his opinion, the ideas stood as a physical incarnation.
about 'spirit children' are already the result of an evolution that This biological aspect of Frazer's theory would be extremely
is quite long. Completely primitive peoples, in the cradle of interesting and place the whole viewpoint in a completely dif-
totemism, imagine, says Frazer, that animais, plants, or other ferent light, if not for the fact that it hangs completely in midair,
objects simply become incarnate - precisely those which in the for it is based on biological facts about which we know nothing,
course of evolution must become totems. This is why the dis- and which can only be the subject of conjecture.
covery of precisely these beliefs among the Banks Islanders, It also seems to follow from the examples cited by Frazer that
accomplished by Dr Rivers, is so important. 105 According to such an influence was ascertained only very rarely, in isolated
Frazer, this discovery is the missing link in the chain of totemic instances, whose interpretation is unclear and that these facts
facts on which his theory is based. In the beliefs of the Banks were never researched in a sufficient manner. In any case, since
Islanders, we find a state of affairs which is precisely primitive we have so few examples of such fortuitous influence, we cannot
and essential totemism, just as all humanity had once professed speak of a 'biological basis for totemism'.
it. But this biological basis is not indispensable to Frazer's theory,
Being acquainted with these beliefs, we can understand every- the essential part ofwhich is purely psychological and lies mainly
thing, explain all the features of totemism. On the basis of these in this: that totemism arose on the basis of the ignorance of the
beliefs, each man was considered to be the incarnation of some fact of paternity and of the faith in the incarnation of animais,
object, animal, or plant; from this results the general identifica- plants, and even some inanimate things in women; independ-
190 191
Malinowski's early writinos Totemism and exoaamy
ently of the question of whether such a faith has any basis in the formul ated method is not an unwillingness to resort to formalism
physiological 'fixation' or is only pure superstition. and excessive schematization of thought, but that it reaches
Let us now proceed to a criticism of this theory in its essential deeper into the very essence of the author's thinking.
part. The main objection which can be made is that it is based on As the 'origins' of totemism Frazer indicates a certain desig-
a false posing of the question, whicb is again connected to the nated belief, the faith in incam a tion. Primitive people believe
manner in which Frazer comprebends totemism. 106 Thus, the that animais, plants, and sometimes even inanimate objects can
basic criticism must refer to the presentation of the problem itself simply become incamate in women, and from this faith, as a
and show where the problem can be found. But, for the moment, I simple logical consequence, the totemic beliefs result, the identi-
would like to demonstrate tha t even on the grounds of Frazer's fication of man with his totem, and as a further consequence,
theory and even while precisely accepting his presentation of the totemic taboo, the eating of the totem, ceremonies in its honour,
problem, his views produce a number of internai contradictions as well as the desire for tbe propaga tion of the totem, and ali
and do not explain the entire mass of phenomena which, accord- other fea tures of totemic descent. The entire institution is under-
ing to the author's assumptions, they should explain. stood in this manner because all of its features are logical conse-
I am here concem ed with the clear designation of how Frazer quences of the fundamental belief. 108 Such a concept of the
presents the basic problem of the 'origins of totemism', with 'origins of totemism' is illusory. If we take them in their strict
showing what kind of assertions and hypotheses he uses to help sense, if in these beliefs, which Frazer considers to be the most
him solve this problem, what kind of phenomena and what kind primitive, we should try to catch sight of the cause for the rise of
of problems the author solves in his opinion, and finally with totemism, it would immediately be apparent that Frazer's
pointing out what sort of contradictions and difficulties his solu- explanation implicitly contains the view that totemism - an
tions introduce into the entire question. extremely fundamental and complicated form of social organiza-
Since according to Frazer totemism is an organic whole com- tion - h as arisen only by a path of logical deduction from a given
prised of phenomena which we encounter everywhere, in basi- belief, and that humanity, drawing logical consequences from a
cally the same form, and which are tbe same everywhere, the specific viewpoint, had built a great totemic edifice in stages cor-
phenomena must thus also have identical 'origins' everywhere. 107 responding to the particular results of this deduction. Such a
We must define these 'origins'; this is the fundamental problem. theory does not merit discussion in several respects; above all it
But for Frazer what is this concept of 'origins'? Even if we accept does not comply with the sociological aspect of totemism.
with the author that a given institution - like totemism, here- Totemic beliefs are tightly bound to the social structure, and the
arises everywhere in an identical manner, ~e can still take dif- rise of social institutions demands a determination of the social
ferent paths in explaining this phenomenon, we can search in conditions in wbich these institutions have developed, and it
various directions to discover these origins. The rise of such a would follow from Frazer 's theory that the social institution
multi-faceted, complicated institution as totemism must take arose from a certain belief by a path of logical deduction.
place in a manner by no means simple and must depend on On tbe other hand, iftbe theory which we are presently analyz-
greatly di verse circumstances. Frazer does not try, in principie, to ing is only to explain to us the inner construction of the beliefs,
reproduce these conditions, not even those which he considers to not venturing into the genesis of them, i.e. not providing 'orig-
be essential, and this would be, after all, a scientific resolution to ins', then, on closer reflection, we see that it is nothing but a
the problem of the origins of totemism. Frazer does not take this tautology. Every belief which involves an identification of man
path, does not address the general method of the problem at all with his totem must have as a logical consequence ali of the
and does not formulate explicitly, either for himself or for the totemic properties (taboo, ideas about the kinship of people and
reader, what he really means by 'origins'. And because such con- animais, et ai.) for the simple reason that all these particular
tradictions and flaws are implicitly contained in the very work- totemic beliefs and acts are nothing other tha n the mere defini -
ings of the problem, there is no doubt tbat this lack of a clearly tion of the relationship of man to his totem and express the
192 193
Malinowski's early writin8S Totemism and exo8amy
essence of this identifica tion. If on the road o f induction we com- of totemism and deals only with totemic beliefs. As we have seen,
pare that which these particular totemic canons express, we will this theory is either a tautology devoid of content or completely
come to the conclusion, in our survey of totemic facts, that the false. And so, none of Frazer's three theories is satisfactory from a
essence of totemism is the extremely dose relationship of manto methodological point of view.
his totem: man's identification with his totem. And a theory But even if we forget about the basic methodological or
which, at the end of our inductive collection offacts, reverses the philosophical objections, Frazer's last theory, which alone con-
course of argument and deduces the given from the last result, cerns us, explains nothing and, indeed, presents a number of
does not deserve further discussion. The whole merit of Frazer's contradictions and a series of complicated problems, completely
theory would then rest on this: that it introduces an identifica- untouched by the author . We will give a few examples of such
tion of man with his totem from the Australian beliefs about contradictions and difficulties.
incarnation and presents these beliefs not genetically, as the basis Why is it that we encounter those beliefs which Frazer regards
of totemism (such a concept, as we have seen, would make no as most primitive among the Banks Islanders, that is, among a
sense), but logically, as being at the basis of totemism. But there people who are on a considerably higher levei of culture than the
is no reason to stop and think about whether this result has any Australians? If these beliefs were so strong and vital that they
value, for Frazer undoubtedly did not intend to give his theory survived in the Banks Islands through all social changes and
this significance. He considers his explanation to be genetic, and transformations, why did they not create totemism? As we have
as such we must give it an even lower criticai rating. The fact emphatically noted earlier (in the preceding chapter of this
that Frazer does not really know what he wants to explain, that article), the isolated and socially less important phenomena in
he does not know what he understands by the 'origins' of totem- the Banks Islands cannot in any way be regarded as totemism.
ism. follows irrefutably from his series of three theories. In the And here we come to the more basic difficulty already mentioned
first, he tries to find the origins of totemism in beliefs about the earlier. Frazer's theory completely ignores the social aspect of the
'externai soul'. As I h ave already mentioned earlier, it is an problem; from where in these primitive totemic beliefs do the
explanation through reduction to universal beliefs. This method forces come which create the clan and the entire social aspect of
of explanation, however, does not provide the genesis of totemic totemism? The theory which we are criticizing includes the view
beliefs, even less does it provide the genesis of totemic social that beliefs which refer exclusively to individuais and define the
institutions; it only clarifies these beliefs and sheds a certain relationship of some individuais to surrounding nature were the
amount of light on them. source of a complicated social phenomenon which embraces
Frazer 's second theory has a completely different character. social groups and not just individuais. Such a view, in order for it
According to it, totemism was introduced as an institution, irra- to have any sort of significance at all, must be developed in full
tional in its means but conscious of its purpose. And so we are and in detail, and this is not the case in Frazer's work. The deeper
essentially given the genesis of totemism in the following we delve in to the nature of sociological fa cts, the more clearly we
manner: primitive people had a certain economic goal and see that there is no direct and obvious continuity of development
certain ideas about how to better attain that goal, and so they between the individual and the social phenomenon. Social groups
created an institution in which the goal and the means to it could are not created by a simple summarization or generalization of
find full expression. Whatever we may be able to discard from this individual phenomena. Beliefs, regulations, customs, and ideas
theory, especially in regard to the concept of the purposeful concerning the behaviour of individuais having no influence on
introduction of basic reforms and arrangements by primitive sociallife can become the basis for forming groups only by way of
people, 109 we cannot deny that this theory does provide a genesis a complicated process of social interaction.
of totemism, and that not in a one-sided manner, through beliefs In building an evolutionary scheme, it is necessary to define
alone, but a full genesis of totemism, as a social institution. Once such a process in detail, strictly and concretely, and not to leave
again, the third theory does not provide a full sociological genesis it to the guesswork of the reader. In the instance about which we
194 195
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and ex?aamy
are speaking, I am not entirely in a position to imagine in wbat distinct minority among tbe totems. Tbus, in Australian totem-
manner totemism migbt arise from 'tbe most primitive beliefs'. ism, the objects of tbe women's everyday use, sucb as tbe sticks
Let us suppose tbat in a given society eacb person considers bim- used to dig roots and eartbworms, cooking utensils, etc., are never
self to be the incamation of some sort of object; tben from tbis totems at ali, wbile among tbe most numerous and important of
state of affairs tbe patb is still quite long, leading to a totemic tbe totems are tbe animais wbicb are tbe objects of tbe bunt,
organization witb tbe designated relationsbip of a clan to a tribe, wbicb are associated witb men.
wi tb a series of functions joining tbe members in to one group and lt is not wortbwbile to increase tbe number of objections and to
welding tbe clans into tbe higher unity of tbe tribe. Tbe patb is substantiate tbem, since we reject tbe fundamental viewpoint of
quite long and not simple at ali, if only for tbe reason tbat, Frazer. I bave noted a few contradictions wbicb are implied by
according to tbe beliefs of tbe Banks Islanders, tbere is no reason bis tbeory in order to point out tbat in no way may we consider
for there not being the greatest variety of objects incamated in bis tbeory to be tbougbt out in detail and to deal witb tbe facts
women, and, in connection witb tbis, there is no reason for the sufficiently.
establisbment of a limited number oftotems and in tbe same way I now come to tbe basic criticism of Frazer's viewpoint and
a certain number ofmembers witb tbe same totem, wbo would be tbeory. Frazer's fundamental error, as bas been sbown above, is
the material for tbe clan. And bere we encounter a new diffi- tbat be considers totemism to be an integral wbole, a cultural
culty: tbis tbeory does not explain tbe fact tbat totems are not unity, as if it carne from a single casting. Tbe fact tbat Frazer
just any objects, tbat certa in classes of objects, first animais and understands totemism in tbis manner and presents bis concepts in
later plants, occur more often tban otbers. Does tbis fact mean tbis way, as we bave seen earlier, is reflected in bis entire work.
notbing; does it express nothing? Frazer does not give a satisfac- Everywbere be speaks oftbe 'vestiges' of totemism proper, of its
tory answer to tbis question; be trivializes it entirely. In speaking 'rudiments', of totemic forros 'inadequately developed', or
of the points wbicb bis tbeory explains, be adds, already 'faded', as if ideal totemism actually existed and there
were various forms whicb more or less approacbed it.
lt explains the whole of the immense range of toterns from animais and In tbis respect, Frazer's viewpoint is not isolated, for tbe
plants upwards or downwards to the greatest works of nature on the one
majority of scbolars accept totemism in tbis manner: considering
side and to the meanest handiwork of man on the other. The reason is
that there is nothing from the light of the sun or the moon or the stars it to be a collection of features organically and permanently con-
down to the humblest implement of dom estie utility which may not h ave nected to one anotber.
impressed a woman's fancy at the criticai season and have been by her In order to make any sense out of tbe factual state of affairs, in
identified with the child in her womb. 110 wbicb we encounter notbing like 'full totemism', scbolars
togetber witb Frazer must run to tbe very convenient arsenal of
This is simply false. According to tbis, on tbe basis of tbe sim- evolutionary concepts like, 'vestiges', 'origins', 'rudiments', etc.
plest considerations of probability, we would judge tbat tbe Otber autbors, sensing tbat totemism cannot be considered to be
various objects of tbe immediate surroundings sbould be a bard and fast bomogeneous collection of varied pbenomena,
uniformly represented among tbe totems. Furtbermore, in tbe bold tbe essence of totemism to be one of its features, sucb as
foreground tbose objects sbould appear wbicb tbe women most taboo, or totemic names for totemic clans, or tbe descent from
often bave to deal witb. Tbe facts most empbatically prove tbese animal or plant ancestors. However, tbis view wbicb so consider-
deductions false. A simple survey comparing tbe totemic ably simplifies tbe tbeoretcal aspect of totemism as well as tbe
pbenomena sbows that tbere exists a distinct predominance of necessity for a more precise description, is also, unfortunately,
animais, and of tbose animais wbicb indeed play an important completely false! In any case tbe majority of etbnograpbers, in
role in tbe lives of the males, but whicb only rarely make an considering tbis question, regard totemism as a normal step in
impression on pregnant women. On tbe otber band, tbe objects in man's religious development, tbrougb wbicb eacb ofits brancbes
constant contact witb and in use by tbe women stand in tbe must pass in certain stages of culture. Some, likejevons, Reinacb,
196 197
Malinowski's early writinas Totemism and e>:-oaamy
and Durkheim, consider totemism to be primitive religion par general properties of the human soul: the influence of the sur-
excellence and try to deduce the entire development of religion roundings, the climate, the fauna, flora, economic conditions,
from totemism. 111 etc. And because ali of these conditions are different for the
Such an understanding of totemism and the postulation that various sections of humanity, it would be an error to accept that
totemism is an organic phase in human evolution arouses an the concrete forms of beliefs are univocally determined stages of
immediate mistrust as a reflex of our common sense. For, evolution. And so, totemism 'full and pure', as it is understood, as
whatever we may say about the postulation of identical evolu- Frazer and those like him understand it, is actually an extremely
tion through which all of humanity in all of its factions has concrete form of belief; it contains a whole series of particular
passed, one thing is certain, that the cultures and institutions of features, it is a collection of properties, which at first glance
peoples found on the same levei of evolution can be found to be seems only possible in connection with a strange and circumstan-
similar to one another only insofar as we take the most general of tial confluence of conditions.
their features into account. In a word, humanity, in each of its It is hard to believe that the same set of circumstances has
branches, passes through similar stages, but never through iden- always appeared in ali of humanity at a certain stage of develop-
tical ones, and the more we enter into the details of an institution ment or that such an extremely complicated collection of condi-
or of beliefs, the less we can postulate these details to be necessary tions could appear in the same way which could identically forro
phases of evolution. We can boldly accept that the ancestors of such a highly specialized and complicated product as totemism.
each branch of humanity worked hard flint just as the Tasman- For Frazer, totemism 'pure and fuli' is Australian totemism.
ians did in the nineteenth century and as some Australians do After the most superficial survey o f this form, sue h a great number
even today. Later they began to polish this ilint, as some Oceanic oflocal features are apparent in it that it is clifficult to accept that
peoples polish it, and only later did they pass on to work with it is a stage through which ali of humanity once passed, and with
bronze and steel. But whether the forms and method ofworking it it our ancestors.
were everywhere the same, whether the trade ofworking flint was And a deeper analysis of the same thing confirms this common
identical everywhere, and identically developed and perfected, sense reaction and leads to a rejection of Frazer's conception of
about these things we can have serious doubts, and in no case can totemism as weli as his manner of explanation.
we assert it and on that postulate build an entire theory. Above ali, a scientific understanding of totemism demands an
If we now pass from the material to the spiritual culture, to exhaustive answer to the basic question, 'Does totemism exist at
religion, customs, and beliefs, we must be considerably more ali?' The answer must be based on the analysis of the facts which I
careful. The working of stone, the nature of the material, the here present: Are there toternic features which appear con-
purpose of the objects, and the very limited means of primitive sistently, and if so what sort of features are they? ls totemism a
technology comprise a set of conditions which very strictly complex of such consistently existing facts; is its essence also
determine the artefacts of this epoch. The more distant we get determined by one dominant feature, etc.? Only the solving of
from purely material activities, the more complicated and elusive these problems and the determining of the essence of totemism
the conditions of man's adaptation to nature become. And there- will slowly lead to the systematic investigation of its genesis.
fore religion, that immensely differentiated form of adaptation, However, these questions overstep the boundaries of the
cannot be identical in ali of its details for peoples of a given present article. 112
cultural stage. Only the more general types of religious ideas, e.g.
that which Tylor calls 'animism', can be the property of ali of
humanity standing on a certain stage of evolution. But passing to
the more specific forros of beliefs, adding to the general feature of
'animism' more specialized features, forms more and more con-
crete, we see immediately how special conditions are added to the
198 199



Secret societies are widespread social institutions among wild and

barbarous peoples. The great importance of secret societies for the
social organization of such peoples is well known through the
works which deal with this subject in general, and through
various monographs, describing secret societies in various com-
munities. As yet there is no monograph concerning tribal associa-
tions of males in Australia, although it is precisely in that
country that these societies flourish extremely; and we possess
abundant ethnographic materiais conceming them. Although in
the well-known treatise of Prof. Hutton Webster these Australian
data are treated in masterly fashion, it is nevertheless possible for
a special monograph to outline certain features and to attain
certain theoretical results for which there is no room in a general
As is well known, the Australian savages stand on a very low
levei of culture, and have but prmitive forms of social organisa-
tion. The rudimentary govemment of a tribe, or rather of a local
group, consists of a headman and of a council of elders. Broadly
speaking, the old men wield the real power; but to understand the
basis of this power, an investigation into the organization of the
tribal society of males is necessary.
The kinship organization in Australia presents two aspects:
there is the family and, corresponding therewith, individual kin-
ship; besides this, there is the division into exogamous classes,
totemic clans and other analogous groups. To this division cor-
respond the systems of tribal or group kinship, embodied in the
Original in slightly faulty English. Bulletin International de I'Academie des
Sciences de Cracovie: Classe de Philologie, Classe d'Histoire et de Philosophie,
nos. 4-6, 56-63. Simultaneously published in Polish as 'Plemienne zwiizki
m~ezyzn w Australii'. Sprawozdania z Czynno~ci i Posiedzefl Akademii
UmieHtno~ci w Krakowie. 1912, t.xvii, no. 13, pp. 5- 13. The translation has been
improved by the editors with reference to the Polish version.

Malinowski's early writinos Tribal ma/e association,s in Australia
well-known kinship terms. Again, in order to understand how between seven and ten years of age, and the last only at the age of
these two different forrns of kinship organization work one beside about thirty or !ater. From one tribe to another, the number of
the other, we must study them in connection with the tribal initiations varies: usually, there are from three to tive different
society. ceremonies. We must lay stress on the fact, that our information
Associations of men in Australia differ by their democratic as to this point is scanty; we know very little about it, the
character from kindred organizations elsewhere: the secret ceremonies of the higher degrees being kept a profound secret by
organization of males embraces all the men in each tribe. Outside the aborgines.
it there are only women and children; but these are strictly Initiation (or severa} initiations according to the different
excluded from all the mysteries, and death is often the penalty for customs) must be undergone as the condition for marrying. The
any infringement of forbidden secrets. age at which marriage is allowed is apparently rather late, as a
The best known and most typical feature of these organizations rule about thirty; in the S. Eastern tribes marriage seems to be
are the initiation ceremonies. They exist in all Australian tribes allowed earlier. But owing to the scarcity of women through
without exception, and possess a series of common character- female infanticide and the appropriation of young females by old
istics. In all the tribes they are compulsory; to the initiated, they men, young men are seldom married before thirty, or even !ater.
give a new social status, a new name and tribal badges (scars, As a consequence, there exists a class ofunmarried men. lt is an
mutiltions, such as the extraction of a tooth, circumcision, important feature that these men occupy a separa te camp, lead a
subincision). Connected with this, they contain severe ordeals. life apart from the others and often wander about, and hunt on
They introduce essential changes in the sexual life of the initi- their own account. This bachelors' camp in Australia is a very
ated, and also in his diet (numerous food taboos). All the uniniti- primitive form of the men's house, a widespread and notable
ated (women and children, and exceptionally the few strangers institution ofhigher savage societies. It is also interesting that the
present) are strictly excluded. The initiated undergo prolonged sexua l life of these young men seems to consist, to a certain
seclusion and isolation during the ceremonies and afterwards extent, ofhomosexual practices. It is only temporarily and during
(from some months to some years); during this time they are tribal gatherings that they have access to women.
submitted to the strict control of the old men, who teach them We may say that the initiations, as well as the norms and
tribal traditions, selfcontrol and obedience. But in spite of these customs referring to sexual life and marriage, establish three
common features, the initiation ceremonies vary in other degrees of age among the males: children, youths and married
respects, according to the tribe. Keeping in view important dif- men. Moreover there exists the age class of old men. In certain
ferences only, the ceremonies may be classed under two types. tribes, as mentioned above, there are initiations which some men
One of them comprises a relatively small area, the S. Eastern undergo late in life. It is possible besides to adduce a series of
tribes, chiefly those ofVictoria and N. S. Wales; the other extends social functions which determine this age grade.
to the Southern, Central, Northern and N. Eastern tribes. We
know very litde about the tribes of West Australia. Among the S. (a) There are special names, honorific titles given to old,
Eastern tribes the chief ordeal consists in drawing a tooth. The experienced and venerable men.
other tribes perforrn circumcision and the terrible operation of (b) The food restrictions imposed upon every male at initiation
are only slowly and gradually removed; thus old men have dis-
Another very important difference between these two types tinct and striking privileges in the matter of food (the taboos
consists in the fact, that in the S. Eastern area there is only one reserve the best and most nutritious fare for them).
initiation which every male undergoes at about the time of (c) Old men possess a series of sexual privileges.
puberty. Among the remaining tribes there exists a whole series of (d) They wield the greatest personal and political power.
progressive initiations, the first of which takes place very early These privileges clearly differentiate the group of old men.

202 203
Malinowski's early writinos Tribal male associations in Australia
Such is, in brief outline, the description of the tribal associa- societies, and many features of the initiation ceremonies, cannot
tions of men in Australia. It has been sketched merely to afford a be brought into any dependence upon specific, local conditions
basis for some remarks of a general character. and stand in connection with the primitive state of Australian
When we proceed to a theoretical analysis of the facts described society. We may therefore consider these facts as general features
we are met by fundamental difficulties at the very outset. In the of early associations of males, without finding in them the 'origin'
treatment of social institutions among savages there are as yet no of these social organizations.
definite theoretical principies; neither the method nor the direc- But when we have settled this question and introduced a
tion which such investigations ought to take has been finally broader evolutional treatment, the whole of our task is not yet
settled. Speaking simply we do not know when to consider certain done. We often find that these very answers to the question of
phenomena as 'explained' and different authors work out their 'origins' are not really evolutional, that is, do not show how the
explanation in different ways. In general, the evolutionist treat- primitive form of an institution carne into being. In many cases
ment of ethnological facts is prevalent. An institution is con- the answers give the cause of the institution [as] sociological,
sidered as explained when its 'origins' are found and its evolution biological, occasionally metaphysical, [and] sometimes they give
is traced. This method however has certa in weak sides, especially its aim and purpose. But there is great confusion in this matter.
as concerns our notion of 'origins' and it ought not to be the only The sociological reason, the function or task that a given institu-
standpoint from which social institutions are analysed. tion performs in society, is often confused with its aim as subjec-
It is in these very social institutions of the savage Australians tively conceived by society. Keeping these two different questions
that ethnologists usually look for primitive forms. H. Schurtz, for strictly apart, we shall try broadly to answer both.
instance, finds in Australia the pure forms of age grades, but the To begin with the first, our task is to show what the chief social
description of age grades in Australia, as given by this author, is functions of these male societies a re, what part they play in the
very unsatisfactory as it is based upon totally insufficient ethno- integration ofthe various other institutions and wherein lies their
graphic materiais. Even Prof. Hutton Webster, although he general importance for the whole social structure.
employs a much more scientific method of inquiry, finds in
Australia the most primitive features of secret societies. But this 1. The male associations are the basis of sexual separation. In
standpoint is methodologically unsound. In order to deal properly every tribe males only can be initiated; the women are kept stric-
with this question (of evolution) it is necessary to inquire which tly outside, the penalties for any encroachment on the mystery
features of the Australian mal e societies are dependent upon con- being considerable. On the other hand, the tribal society performs
ditions essentially Australan. It is impossible to assert that these a series of most important functions. All the acts of their highly
features were once common to every race that was on a low developed magico-religious cult (some of which possess a distinct
development levei; for other races have gone through conditions economic aspect) are the duty of the initiated exclusively. The
radically different from those of the Australians. But it is whole public and political life of the tribe rests upon this
legitima te to consideras general stages of evolution those aspects organization; by its means women are consequently secluded
of the Australian organizations which are intimately connected from public life.
with such fundamental facts as must be held to be common to ali 2. The tribal society is also the basis of another importam system
primitive peoples at some stage of their development. It is easy to of division, the division in to age grades. The importance of age, as
show by a detailed analysis that the great influence of old men, a principie of social differentiation, has been fully shown by H.
based upon the organization of the male tribal society, and con- Schurtz in his well known work Altersklassen und Minnerbnde.
nected with the development of collective magic, as well as with In Australia the whole social hierarchy is based upon the age
the pacific character of the Australians, is the outcome of local classification.
Australian conditions. On the other hand, the Austrlian form of 3. At the initiation rites, as well as during their life in the
the bachelors' camp, the democratic character of Australian bachelors' camp, the young men are under the strict control of
204 205
Malinowski's early writinos Tribal male associatio.n s in Australia
the elders. By imbuing the youths with deep respect for tribal and educational importance of these initiations. They also
traditions, by showing their magical power and by maintaining a clearly perceive that initiation brings about separation of sexes.
hard regime and imposing severe ordeals, the elders acquire great In some of the ceremonies there is a clearly expressed belief that
influence over the younger men and bring them under control. during their performance the initiated dies and undergoes
The tribal societies, by their educational function and by the reincarnation. A careful survey of ali the ideas connected with
establishment of a hierarchy of age, are the basis of social order the initiations is indispensable for a full description of these
and government, as these are to be found in Australia. phenomena. But here we are largely dependem upon the
4. As has been mentioned above, the boy leaves the parenta! observer, who may have wrongly understood and interpreted
camp and its influence at an early age. During initiation and these rites, or used insufficient caution in examining the natives
afterwards in the bachelors' camp, the class system plays an as to their meaning.
important part and regulates the mutual position and the various There are facts however, of which the interpretation affords a
functions of the initiated. La ter, their sexual life and marriage are certain, though only general, knowledge about the collective
largely influenced by the class to which each man belongs. This ideas referring to these initiations. By a study of the traditions
may account in a considerable measure for the contradiction which tell how these ceremonies originated, we can forro some
between individual kinship (corresponding to the family) and conclusions as to the collective views concerning these rites.
group kinship (corresponding to the class division). The whole As an example we may refer to the myths of the Arunta tribe,
life of a male, after he leaves his parents tire circle, goes to create which we know best. There exists a series of stories about the
bonds of clan or group relationship, as the result of the various creation of the world and of man. At the beginning of their
functions of the class. On the contrary the daily life with his existence men had no separate fingers nor toes; neither their eyes
family, before initiation, attaches him with bonds of individual nor their ears were open. Then there appeared among these tribes
kinship to his father, mother and other personal relatives. a totemic culture-hero who carne from the north. He cut asunder
and shaped the human bodies, their legs, arms, fingers and toes;
These remarks furnish the sociological raison d'tre of the and he opened their eyes and ears. Afterwards he performed the
Australian tribal societies, showing them to be necessary in the rites of circumcision and subincision. In some tribes he was not
social organization of the Australian communities. The inquiry able to perform these initiations; in these the males remained
must now be continued on quite different lines, if we wish to 'incomplete men' objects of scorn and laughing stocks. Taking
know the purpose ofthe initiation ceremonies as conceived by the this story as a typical example, let us draw a few conclusions. We
society amidst which it exists. Evidently, Australian savages can- have before us a myth of a very primitive forro. It contains no
not h ave any idea o f the objective aim of these ceremonies, from a answer to the question why circumcision and subincision were
sociological point of view. Nevertheless each institution is some- introduced but only relates how they were introduced. For the
how reflected in the collective ideas ofthe community, especially natives the cultural and moral value of these rites is quite unques-
if expressed in externai, palpable forros, as ceremonies or rites. tionable. They only ask how and by whom these ceremonies were
The initiation ceremonies are likely to be the objects of collective instituted. Circumcision and subincision are conceived as the
ideas. We cannot, however, assume the latter at will, but must latest stages of human evolution, they are put on the same levei
infer them methodically from facts. Some rites express certain with the opening of the eyes of Australian society, the circum-
ideas very plainly; it is allowable to suppose that the meaning of cised and subincised male, is the only complete, fully developed
these rites is clear for the savages themselves. The supposition man. There is consequently no room for the question, how the
becomes certitude when it has been ascertained by the observer aborgines conceive the aim and causes of initiations.
that the natives thernselves formulate this meaning. For the natives these rites are a material necessity, so strongly is
Thus, the natives undeniably possess some idea of the moral the need ofthem impressed upon the minds by tradition. It is also

206 207
Malinowski's early writinos
remarkable that the natives conceive the essence of these
ceremonies to consist in their most externai side, namely the ~6 ~
These conclusions, although of a quite general kind, are of no THE ECONOM I C ASPECTS OF THE
small importance, since they afford a firm basis for our knowledge
of the notion held by the natives themselves, as a social body, INTICHIUMA CEREMON I ES 1 *
with regard to these rites and ceremonies.

In his new treatise, among other questions, Prof. Frazer attempts

to determine the extent to which economic development has
been influenced by totemism. 2 The chief economic function of
totemism lies in an 'elementary division of labour', and this Prof.
Frazer sees in the intichiuma ceremonies performed by the
Central Australians. 3 'Each clan is believed to possess a magical
control over its totem, and this magical power it is bound to
exercise for the good of the community . . . The principie on
which they (the ceremonies) are implicitly based is the division
of labour, a sound economic principie, which properly applied
cannot fail to be fruitful of good results: but misapplied by totem-
ism to magic it is necessarily barren'. 1 And in a short discussion
the author shows that not only on this side but also in other
directions, where indeed it might be expected to further economic
development, totemism has had little influence on economic
progress. If this view of the matter be accepted, it follows that the
economic aspect of totemism possesses very little scientific
interest. 5
It seems, however, that our evidence even as it stands might, if
discussed somewhat in detail, throw considerable light on the
point at issue. The intichiuma ceremonies, for example, may be
shown to possess quite a special theoretical interest for ethnologi-
cal economics if viewed not as primitive forms of division of
labour, but from a slightly different aspect, that is, as an attempt
by means of the totemic ideas to organize the community and to
impose upon it a collective and regular system of labour. The
*Originally published in English. Festsckrift tilleanad Edvard Westermarck i
anlednino av hans femtiodrsdaa den 20 november (Helsingfors: Simelli, 1912), pp.

208 209
Malinowski's early writings The economic aspects of the intichiuma ceremonies

direct aim of these ceremonies, it may be demonstrated, in volves hence it is proper to assert that they are a collective action of the
the attainment of the main economic ends of a savage com- local group.
munity, and the aborgines indeed sometimes use these cere- Among the Kaitish and allied tribes (Unmatjera, Worgaia,
monies directly for practical ends. 6 etc.) these ceremonies are also associated with the totemic Local
This proposition must be discussed at length in order to be made Group, but men not only of the other totems but even of the other
clear, but what must be borne in mind from the beginning is, that moiety are allowed to be present, a thing which would be quite
ali these qualifications, such as 'organized', 'collective', 'regular' impossible in the Arunta. 12 The headman, moreover, in these
etc., to be properly understood, must be referred to the low tribes performs the bulk of the work involved in the ceremonies,
standard of the Australian aboriginal society; that is, not as des- and they are therefore not so markedly a collective action as with
cribing fully developed features, but rudimentary, although the Arunta.l 3 Among the Warramunga and allied tribes the
unmistakable, beginnings. influence of non-totemic tribesmen of the other moiety and their
I propose firstly to show by a detailed analysis of facts - each part in the performance in the intichiuma are conspicuous. Mem-
tribe being discussed separately so far as the information permits- bers of the totem and of the same moiety must perform the
that the intichiuma ceremonies do involve organization, collec- ceremony. Still, members of the other moiety have to initiate the
tive effort, regular application of energy, etc., and afterwards to proceedings and to invite the clansmen to the performance; they
demonstrare that these features give an important economic must supply ali the implements and make all the preparations.
aspect to the ceremonies, since the work done during their prog- Thus we see the intichiuma become less exclusive a nd more
ress is of a higher, more economic, type than that performed by independent of the totemic unit as we advance northwards,
the aborgines at any other period. 7 To this end it will be necess- although they are yet connected with and dependem upon the
ary briefly to discuss the mode of working of savages in general. exogamic class and totemic clan divisions of the tribes. It may be
added that in ali these tribes the ceremonies seem to involve
collective action, whereas in the Urabunna nation (south of the
Arunta) they depend more upon individual performance. 11
1. The intichiuma ceremonies involve organized and collective 2. The intichiuma require a considerable amount of labour,
labour of the community. The local group is on the whole the involving hardships and privations, and need to be performed
most importam unit of social organization among the Arunta with areat care and with a full appreciation oftheir importance.
natives. It is the unit of their totemic division and of their local We read that 'these ceremonies are perhaps the most important
and tribal division; it is the seat of their meagre central authority ones' and 'most solemo of ali their ceremonies', 15 and we are
in the form of a headman (alatunja), and it is the most important informed in another place that the ceremonial and religious life
unit in the inter-tribal relations. 8 Now this social unit is 'occupies by far the greater part of his (the adult man's)
intimately connected with the intichiuma ceremonies. 9 The thoughts. The sacred ceremonies, which appear very trivial mat-
headman of the group is also at the head of these ceremonies. 10 It ters to the white man, are most serious matters to him'. 16 It
may be therefore safely said that the intichiuma ceremonies are a follows therefore that the intichiuma ceremonies rank first and
well organized action of the community: the alatunja at the foremost in the life of the adult na tive, and that ali work done in
head, only members of the totem present, and strangers them is executed with great attention and full appreciation of its
excluded. 11 The performance of these ceremonies is one of the importance. Especially is this the case with the Central Tribes
chieffunctions ofthe local group, and the Ceremonies themselves (Arunta, Ilpirra, Kaitish, etc.), 17 but the statement is, to a greater
are essentially based upon and connected with its organization. or less extent, true of all tribes alike. That the work involves a
Although the alatunja has a leading part in the intichiuma considerable amount of labour, privation and hardship is shown
ceremonies, ali the adult men take an active part in them, and plainly in the detailed description given by Spencer and Gillen.

210 211
Malinowski's early writinas The economic aspects of_the intichiuma ceremonies
Among the Arunta during the Undirrinaita ceremony no man And the same is true of the intichiuma ceremonies of the
may eat any kind of food, unless he is very old: this ceremony Wonkgongaru. 29
lasts for about one day. 18 The emu ceremony is very elaborate and This bare recital offacts does not seem perhaps quite conclusive
lasts for two days. 19 The undiara ceremony lasts for forty-eight to establish the proposition now before us. But it must be remem-
hours. 20 The intichiuma of the kangaroo totem takes severa! bered that the writers did not pay any special attention to the
days. 21 In ali these ceremonies the drawings on the ground are point at issue, and that consequently we possess no direct state-
made with blood, which is very freely poured out by the perform- ments about the amount of actual labour expended in these
ers. The preparations for these ceremonies are very elabora te and ceremonies. 30 For this very reason, however, the few casual
apparently last much longer than the ceremony itself.22 remarks on this subject are the more persuasive. And then it must
Among the Kaitish the ceremony of the grass seed totem lasts always be borne in mind that stress isto be laid much more on the
for a long time; from the details of the description 23 we possess it quality of labour and on the psychological conditions under
may be inferred that it extends over severa! days, if not over a which it is performed (full sense of importance, attention,
couple o f weeks. During this time the bulk of the work in connec- scrupulousness, concentration) than on the mere quantity of
tion with the ceremony falls upon the headman, who has to labour involved. As regards the quantity of labour, it is sufficient
gather and distribute food, tend the churinaa. etc., and who is for our present purpose to have shown that relative to the other
also obliged to observe sexual abstinence throughout the period. occupations of the natives the intichiuma ceremonies, with ali
But ali the others present in camp are also busy on occasions the preparatory business, represem a very considerable amount of
during this period, and the members of the totem are at the same work.
time subject to food taboos. 3. These ceremonies are performed reaularly and periodically:
The rain intichiuma of the same tribe lasts for two days and they are connected with the seasons or directly associated with
nights. The headman and the old men of the totem must observe the breedina of animais and with the flowerina of plants. This
sexual abstinence during that time. The men and women of the statement refers more especially to the Arunta nation. In the
camp go out in separate directions, the members of either sex Arunta tribe the exact decision as to when an intichiuma
going coliectively in quest of game and vegetable food respect- ceremony should be performed lies in the hands of the a/atunja. 31
ively. 24 'In the Unmatjera tribe the ceremonies are closely similar Still 'the matter is largely dependent on the nature of the season.
to those of the Kaitish'. 25 In the Worgaia tribe the headman ofthe The intichiuma are closely associated with the breeding of the
large yam totem perforrns, with the assistance o f men o f the other animais and flowering of the plants' and each ceremony is
moiety, severa! totemic ceremonies. In order to make the yams naturaliy held at a certa in season. 32 'In the case of many of the
grow he 'sings' to them for about two weeks. The intichiuma of toterns it is just when there is promise of the approach of a good
the Warramunga tribe 'occupy a considerable amount oftime' a nd season that it is customary to hold the ceremony'. 33
are 'lengthy' and 'elaborate'. 26 And the white cockatoo ceremony We are not explicitly informed how far such ceremonies are
appears to be toilsome in the hghest degree. This is the only regular or whether it is compulsory to perform them every year.
ceremony accompanied by a magical ri te to secure the increase of From one passage - in which it is said that whenever there is a
the totem. Ali the other ceremonies consist of dramatic represen- plentiful supply of a given totem animal or plant without its
tations referring to the alcherinaaY Analogous are the ceremon- intichiuma being performed, the benefit is ascribed to an
ies of the other tribes of the Warramunga nation (Tjingilli, intichiuma performed by the iruntarinia spirits - it may be
Umbaia, etc.). Much less elabora te are the ceremonies of the inferred that the performance of the ceremonies was not
tribes south of the Arunta, the Urabunna and kindred tribes. The absolutely regular. At ali events, considering the great import-
ceremonies of the rain totems and of the Snake totems described ance ascribed to them, it appears probable that the omissions
by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen28 are very simple and take, together were not very frequent, and that to a certain degree they were
with the preparations, probably no more than a few hours each. regular.
212 213
Malinowski's early writinas The economic aspects of ~he intichiuma ceremonies
Their periodicity is best shown in their d ose association with command and for the most part from religious motives, and on
certain seasons, which seems to be quite a general feature. The the other any practical idea of increasing by such multiplication
majority of them are performed immediately before the season the food supply ofthe tribe, an idea which might well be perfectly
when the respective animal or plant becomes plentiful. That this absent from the native mind. As a matter of fact, Strehlow
is true of the Arunta tribe is evident from the detailed description inclines to deny the existence of any such practical motives
we possess of the intichiumas of the Witchetty grub, 3.. Inimita among the Arunta. According to him the multiplication of food
grub, 35 Bandicoot and Hakea flower.36 Among the Kaitish tribe supply is 'not the root idea of the Aranda and Luritja Totem-
parts of the performance are associated with the growth of the ism'.13 The natives have never spontaneously advanced any view
Erlipinna (grass-seed) Y Among the Unmatjera a grub ceremony of this kind, a nd although, when the matter was suggested by
precedes the season when the grub is plentiful, 38 among the Strehlow, they understood it at once and acknowledged that their
Worgaia the y am ceremony is associated with the growth of this food supply was increased by the multiplication of the totem, he
plant. 39 does not trust a n answer obtained in this way as a representation
These are only isolated examples of the association among the of the native point of view. Messrs. Spencer and Gillen on the
Arunta nation ofthe intichiuma ceremonies with seasons. We are other hand affirm that the idea of increasing food supply is present
however explicitly inforrned that this association with the season in the native mind in connection with the performance of the
of abundant food supply is quite a general feature of the intichiuma ceremonies, and m any of the facts given by them
intichiumas among these tribes. 10 support this view. For instance when they write that 'if a plenti-
As regards the periodicity and regula rity of the intichiuma ful supply of, say witchetty grub or emu appears without the
ceremonies among the Warramunga and allied tribes, we possess performance of intichiuma by the peoples of the respective
no information, but since among these tribes the ceremonies are totems, then the supplies are attributed to the performance of
not associated with any season or event of animal or vegetable intichiuma by fri endly iruntarimia'. 11 It is plain that the natives
life, it is possible that they are neither so regular nor markedly bring the food supply into a 'causal' connection with the
periodical as is the case among the Arunta. intichiuma. The same attitude of mind is illustrated by the
4. The aim of these ceremonies in aeneral is to promote the ceremonies of the rain clan among the Arunta. After such a
increase of totemic animals or plants. Although this statement ceremony, 'if rain follows within a reasonable time, then of
possesses general validity, yet conspicuous differences exist course it is due to the influence of the Intichiuma'; 15 and, 'when
between different n ations or groups of tribes. The increase of there has been a long drought and water is badly needed, the rain
totemic animais or plants has a practical or economic signifi- or water totem will hold their intichiuma' ...6 Here the connection
cance among the Arunta; among the Warramunga on the other between the magical ceremony a nd natural phenomena seems to
hand the performance of these ceremonies takes place chiefly be perfectly clear to the native mind and the performance to be
from religious motives; while among the Coastal Tribes of the used directly for practical ends.
Gulf of Carpentaria all economic purpose is absent from the There are yet other features in the ceremonies themselves
ceremonies. which seem obviously to show that the purely religious idea of
As regards the Arunta, we read in Spencer and Gillen that the multiplying a certain totem is associa ted also with the practical
object of the ceremonies isto 'secure the increase of the animal or idea of increasing the food supply. For example, after an
plant which gives its name to the totem' ... 1 And Strehlow says: intichiuma ceremony, when the particular form of food, the
'Der Zweck der Auffhruna der MbatjalkatiumaZeremonien ist totem, which has been the object of the performance, has been
der, dass das Totem Tier oder di e Totem-Pflanze dadurch sic h stored away in the camp, some part of it is distributed
vermehren und stark und kriftia werden soll' ...2 Now we must ceremonially by the headman among the tribe. This seems to
distinguish plainly between a purely general aim of multiplying indicate that the community, in receiving the food from the
the totem on the one hand, proceeding as it does from traditional hands of the totemic headman, regards it as a direct result of the
21'1 215
Malinowski's early writinos The economic aspects of t~e intichiuma ceremonies

ceremony. Such evidence as this tends to confirm Messrs. Spencer there is on record only one magical ceremony for the multiplica-
and Gillen's opinion, and Herr Strehlow's scepticism appears to tion of a totem (the white cockatoo). A similar prominence is
be unfounded. Obviously the multiplication of the totem has no accorded to the religious aspect of the ceremonies among the
practical aim in some cases, since there are many totems which Tjingilli, Umbaia, Walpari, and Wulmala. 51
serve no useful purpose and some which are even harmful to The Coastal Tribes of the Gulf of Carpentaria - Anula, Mara,
man."7 But this does not weaken our conclusions as far as edible Binbinga, and others- exhibit the most marked difference from
animais and plants are concemed. At any rate we know beyond ali other tribes. 55 They have not been included in the foregoing
doubt that in a certain number of cases the intichiuma analysis because their ceremonies are as a matter of fact mere
ceremonies are performed with a direct practical aim. vestiges of the intichiuma as found among the Central Tribes. The
Strehlow himself makes a most interesting statement bearing Coastal Tribes have no obligatory, regular, periodical ceremonies
on this point. He says that in severa! cases the natives give, of a magical nature. The multiplication of animais and plants is
besides the motive of traditional command, yet other motives for known by them to be independent of any such performances, and
the performance of these ceremonies:18 they make no attempt to assist or increase it by magical means.
And although they do perform some magical acts intended to
So wird der Mondkult aufgefn, damit der Mond heller leuchte und man multiply certain animais and plants, to make rain, and so forth,
dann besser Opossums jagen kann; der Feuerkult wird im Winter abge- yet these performances are not connected with the acts oftotemic
halten, damit das Feuer mehr Kraft zum Warmen erhalt; im Sommer cult, which among them are merely traditional actions, referring
kann er vor einer jagdexpedition aufgefhrt sein, auf der man Buschfeuer to and illustrating the history of their ancestors, and having no
wirksam anznden will, um das Wild einzuschliessen und zusam-
such object as the multiplication of the totemic species. The
menzutreiben. Der Ratapa-Kult wird aufgefhn, damit die Ratapa aus
den Felsen und Bumen heraus kommen und in die Weiber eingehen; der
magical rites with a practical object are still associated with the
Worra-Kult, damit die jungen mehr Freude am Labara-Spiel erhalten. totemic clan, or at least the right moiety, to which equally the
Vor einer Strafexpedition kann der Ininja-Kult abgehalten werden, objects used in the ceremony must belong. We possessa descrip-
damit das Unternehmen gelingt. 19 tion of the rites connected with the dugong, crocodile, rain,
etc., 56 from which it appears that they are usually performed by
In ali these cases the natives have adapted the intichiuma specialized magicians.
ceremony to secure some practical end in addition to its main Analogous to the state of things among the Coastal Tribes is
aim. that found in the Torres Straits Islands in as far as there seem to be
The practical end of some of the intichiuma among the South magical rites for the multiplication of animais, quite independem
Central tribes (Dieri, Urabunna, and their kindred) is apparent from the regular totemic cult. 57 But it is interesting to note that
from the descriptions given by Gason and Spencer and Gillen. The the Torres Straits rites seem to have much more in common with
former writer, for instance, says: 'Whenever it is a bad season for the intichiuma of the Arunta than the rites of the Coastal Tribes.
iguanas, one of the principal articles of their food, some of the Besides being based upon the organization of the clan, the Torres
natives proceed to make them'; 50 and he has much the same to say Straits rites are performed in each clan exclusively by its own
about the rain and wild fowl ceremony of the Dieri, 51 while members in the Kwod or totemic centre; they a re periodical, as
Spencer and Gillen have a similar statement to make about the we read that they take place when the first dugong or the first
rain ceremony of the Urabunna. 52 Among the Kaitish, Unmat- turtle is caught: they are performed collectively, but have no very
jera, and Worgaia the intichiuma Ceremonies have apparently elaborare ceremonial; their aim is distinctly practical: the attrac-
the same ends as they have among the Arunta (and consequently tion of dugongs and the multiplication of turtles. They are dif-
the same practical applications). 53 ferentiated from the fully-developed intichiuma by their
Among the Warramunga the religious aim of these ceremonies separation from the religious cult, their exclusively practical
is much more prominent, and this is illustrated by the fact that aim, their less elaborare ritual; and from the rires of the Coastal
216 217
Malinowski's early writinos The economic aspects of tbe intichiuma ceremonies
Tribes by their regularity, their collectiveness, and their greater make provision in times of abundance against periods when the
social importance. supply of food will be otherwise lirnited. The examination of a
few examples will make the position clearer.
Among the Arunta, after the Witchetty grub intichiuma, the
grub is strictly taboo to the members of the totem, and it may be
I have tried to show that the labour performed in the intichiuma eaten by others only sparingly and with special precautions. 59
ceremonies is based upon social organization and collective 'When, after intichiuma, the grub becomes plentiful and fully
activity, and that relatively to the standard of culture of the grown, the witchetty grub men, women and children go out daily
aborgines the labour is considerable and is performed with fore- and collect large supplies, which they cook and then store it away
thought, a ttention, appreciation of its importance, regularly, in pitchis and pieces of bark. At the same time those who do not
periodically, and with a definite aim. belong to the totem are out collecting. The supply of grubs only
In order to see all these features more clearly, it is necessary to lasts a very short time, and when they grow less plentiful the store
consider them in relation to the other forros of activity of the of cooked material is taken to the Ungunja or men's camp',60
aborgines, practical as well as religious. Unfortunately we are where it is ceremonially distributed by the alatunja ofthe Witch-
only scantily informed as to the different forros of economic etty grub clan.
activity pursued by the tribes in question. From the short descrip- In the case of this ceremony, it will be observed, an essential
tion of the mode of hunting among the Arunta given by Spencer part of the procedure is the provision of food for future consump-
and Gillen, 58 it would seem that these natives do not know any tion. It would be of great assistance in elucidating the point
collective or elaborate methods ofhunting, but secure their game before us if we had more information regarding the purely econ-
merely by individual skill. Strehlow, however, in the short pass- omic aspect of the ceremony: for example, whether any really
age quoted above mentions some collective modes ofhunting, but considerable provision is made and for how long a period the
the information is much too meagre to be of much assistance. At supply lasts after the ceremonial distribution; but in any case the
all events, from ali we know about Australian hunting and fish- fact that some attempt is made to store the grub during the period
ing in general, it is safe to assert that in no form of these occupa- when the supply is abundant leads one to suppose that some real
tions is there such a degree of organization, division of functions, practical importance may attach to this part of the performance.
forethought, regularity and eamest concentration as we find in Moreover the abstention imposed upon the clan, not only in this
the intichiuma. From the other forms of religious and magical case but in regard to the Irriakura bulb, the Idnimita grub, and
ceremonies found in these tribes the intichiuma are sharply dis- the bandicoot, which are strictly taboo to the members of the
tinguished by their association with seasons, with the breeding of clan before they become plentiful, 61 implies some form of protec-
animais or the development of plants; in short by their general tion for animais and plants and hence some sacrifice of the
aim of promoting the supply of useful things, an aim intrinsically present for the future, an essentially economic virtue and the pre-
economic, and generally recognized as such by the natives. requisite o f capital.
These ceremonies possess yet other economic features worthy of It may be mentioned in passing that although we possess only
brief mention. It is a rule with the Arunta nation that after the these few detailed examples of the ceremonial gathering and dis-
intichiuma ceremonies the totemic animal or plant is taboo. tribution of food , the custom is widespread in the Arunta and
When in due course the totemic animal or plant becomes kindred tribes. 62
abundant it is first stored and then, after a certain interval,
ceremonially distributed among the tribe. In this procedure
certa in rudiments of a system of protection to animais and plants
during the period of immaturity and scarcity appear to be unmis- We have seen that the intichiuma ceremonies present certain
takable, and we may perceive also the beginning of ao attempt to characteristics which seem unmistakably to suggest some relation
218 219
Malinowski's early writinas The economic aspects of the intichiuma ceremonies
between the magical and the economic facts of the life of the these ceremonies had lost hold upon their minds. At that time
aborgines, and it is necessary to attempt by a more detailed society would h ave been undoubtedly developed enough to recog-
analysis to determine whether this relation does in fact exist, and nize the economic value of this acquisition.
ifso to formulate the relation with some approach to precision. It
may first be remarked that magical practices, when, like the v
intichiuma ceremonies they possess a more or less direct econ-
omic aim, 63 seem to have for quite general reasons an important For reasons of space I cannot discuss the intichiuma ceremonies
bearing upon the problem of economic evolution. in their bearing upon the general question of economic evolution :
If magic is a form of primitive technique and if it be assumed nor would such a discussion be of great value, for I do not believe
that in the course of evolution it develops, at least to a certain in any universal scheme of evolution, fulfilled in every case
extent, into rational technical methods, then all enterprises per- among all the r aces of mankind.
formed by means of magic may develop into economic enter- The problem of economic evolution ought to be treated
prises. The only difference between them lies in the fact that separately in regard to each ethnological area and in the light of
economic enterprise brings forth positive material results, the special conditions obtaining in each of them. I wish therefore
whereas magic is based upon fallacy and its results are illusory only to indicate that a comparison of the various ceremonies of
generally speaking. But as magical technique develops into the Central and North Central Tribes of Australia and the Torres
rational, this difference vanishes. On the other hand it does not Straits Islanders in their relation to the intichiuma ceremonies
exist for the na tive, who actually perceives the material results of may suggest to us certain conclusions of some interest in this
his magical practices. These consideratons show that it is necess- connection.
ary to look for analogies, connections, and continuity between These ceremonies undergo a deep change in their nature when
the magical and economic sides of his life and that if, as in the we proceed from the Coastal Tribes of the Gulf of Carpentaria
case of the intichiuma ceremonies, we independently find that southwards. It may be said that they gain more and more in social
magical performances possess an economic aspect, we may importance as well as in economic character, reaching the
reasonably expect an examination of such ceremonies to have an highest pitch in the Arunta tribe, and becoming simpler and less
important bearing upon the question of primitive economics and important again when we come to the Urabunna. Putting on one
economic evolution. side for the moment the Torres Straits Islanders, we may for our
The toternic division of labour, being intimately bound up with present purpose divide the tribes in to four groups: I) the Coastal
and dependem upon actually fallacious ideas of magic, was Tribes, 2) the Warramunga nation, 3) the Arunta nation and 4)
necessarily doomed to disruption once the fallacies became the Urabunna and Dieri nation. The difference between the
patent. But the more general aspect, analysed in this paper (the ceremonies of these four groups is most marked in the change of
organization of labour, involving all the qualities specified aim. In the Coastal Tribes they are only representa tive acts of the
above) was not bound up with any false principie. And the toternic cult, the magical ceremonies for multiplication of
development of illusory magical ideas into rational methods of animais or plants being quite independent ofthe cult, and playing
tilling the ground or hunting could perfectly well proceed on the apparently a subordina te part in the beliefs as well as in the social
basis of the same organization of labour; the periodical outburst life of the natives.
of collective energy would have only to be directed in to the right Among the Warramunga the intichiuma ceremonies have for
channel. There is no reason to suppose that the community, hav- their aim the multiplication of the totem, but the practical aspect
ing been trained by the magical rites of and connected with the of it is not very prominent, as appears from the fact that the
intichiuma ceremonies to observe the seasons, to make provision ceremonies consist nearly exclusively of dramatic, representa tive
for the future, to protect animais and plants, etc. - would have performances, only one magical rite associated with them being
abandoned these principies, when the toternic ideas underlying recorded. Passing southwards, the practical aim appears to be
220 221
Malinowski's early writings The economic aspects of t~e intichiuma ceremonies
more and more prominent, and it reacbes its clmax among tbe Straits) subsistence is relatively easy to obtain, and the natives
Arunta, wbere in some cases the ceremonies are used exclusively can conceive that animais and plants multiply witbout any spe-
for practical purposes. As we bave seen, tbere are other con- cial care being taken about the matter. Among tbe Central Tribes
comitant cbanges, tbe ceremonies becoming more exclusively man is much more dependent upon the coincidence offavourable
associated witb tbe organization of tbe Local Group as we pass conditions, and sucb coincidence is quite impossible for bim to
from the Coastal and Nortbern Tribes to tbe Arunta. secure by any ratonal metbod within bis power; hence be
In tbe Arunta tribe too we find tbat in comparison with tbe attempts to secure it by magic, in the exercise ofwbich be is more
other tribes northwards (Kaitish, Unmatjera, etc.) the labour is persistent and strenuous than he is on tbe coast. It is bardly
more markedly collective. And in the same tribe tbe ceremonies possible to account by any difference in natural conditions for tbe
are apparently most elaborate and possess tbe greatest social difference between the Warramunga and the Arunta. It is import-
importance.65 Among the Urabunna and Dieri the ceremonies a re ant however to note, that the general bigher development among
much shorter and less elaborate, but their practical aim is the Arunta coincides witb the more marked economic aspect
unmistaka ble. whicb the ceremonies there assume.
These are tbe summary results yielded by a comparison of tbe It is apparent tberefore tbat if the intichiuma ceremonies bave
different tribes. Tbeir interpretation from tbe evolutionary stand- anywbere developed marked economic forms, special conditions
point presents some dif:ficulties. It is obviously impossible to place bave been required to secure tbis; in particular, a food supply not
ali tbese forms in one progressive series. Tbe Arunta form is so abundant as to remove from the community ali anxiety about
undoubtedly on tbe wbole tbe most fully developed: but it is subsistence, but dependent upon certain natural events suffi-
impossible to regard it as a higher stage of tbe rudimentary forms ciently irregular to prevent a state of bappy carelessness, while
found among tbe Coastal Tribes, and stillless can it be regarded not so intermittent as to destroy ali bope and expectation. Tbis
as a bigher stage of the forms found among the Torres Straits state of things is realized in Central Australia, but on tbe otber
Islanders, as tbese latter peoples are on a mucb higher levei of hand the counny is so bopelessly barren that no higber degree of
culture than any of the Australian tribes. There is no reason, on economic evolution is possible, nor could any social pbenomena
the other hand, to suppose that the fully-developed form found wbatsoever induce economic progress in a country wbere there is
among the Arunta ought necessarily in tbe course of evolution to no room for it. But if we suppose a country where tbe special
undergo separation of its religious from its economic side, with a conditions mentioned above are in existence and wbere also
concomitant diminution in the importance of tbe economic nature affords resources whicb man may utilize to supply bis
aspect of tbe ceremonies, an assumption moreover contradicted bigber economic wants, tben in such a country we may suppose
by tbe fact tbat among tbe Torres Straits Islanders the ceremonies tbat ceremonies or acts of tbe intichiuma type may well bave
sbow forms much more akin to tbe forms found among tbe played an important part in economic evolution by educating
Arunta, than are those to be found among the Coastal Tribes. society in the most potent principies of economic progress.
The only rational scbeme, so far as I can see, is to regard ali I would still like to emphasize this point: that if I attribute to
tbese forrns as different and more or less independent products of tbe ceremonies in question any importance in economic evolu-
evolution of some more primitive form underlying tbem ali. One tion, I by no means suppose tbat any evolutionary development
of these developments took the course of tbe separation of magi- could bave occurred in a simple and direct manner. What appears
cal ri te from religious cult: another tbe course of the expansion of to be strongly suggested by the Australian evidence is tbat tbese
the dramatic, representative element; in a third tbe economic ceremonies under certan conditions educare society in the
aspect carne to tbe bghest degree of prominence. It is easy exercise of forms of labour capable of economic utilization. If we
roughly to account for tbe difference between the Coastal Tribes assume that ceremonies of this type have been frequent among
and the Arunta by pointing to the different conditions of life totemic peoples (an assumption in support of which Prof. Frazer
obtaining in tbe two countries. 66 On tbe coast (and in Torres a number offacts), it will be easy to conceive tbat such
222 223
Malinowski's early writinos The economic aspects of the_ intichiuma ceremonies
educational influence may have been very frequent and wide. some rational plan; it must be continuous, dane for a certain
This will appear still clearer if we enter into an investigation of length of time, and periodically repeated at regular intervals; it
the psychological aspect of the problem apart from its connection presupposes social organization and required forethought, con-
with any evolutionary scheme. stant self restraint and renewed volitional and intellectual effort.
These qualities are indispensable to every kind of serious pro-
ductive work, whether we take the workman in a big fa ctory, the
agricultura] labourer, the clerk in an office, the student or the
Interesting and charming as may be all the speculations about the artist on his way to perfection . The savage is not capable of such
dim past of man and about the probable course of evolution, the labour. His attitude at work approaches much more nearly our
most important aim of science remains the correct and exact attitude at play or sport. Ifwe look through the sta tements on this
description of facts. Like the theoretical branches of physics and subject which have been collected by Bcher and Ferrero, we see
chemistry, theoretical ethnology has for its express aim the inter- that such psychological acts as self-constraint, attention, mental
pretation a nd exact description of the results of field research and effort are especially difficult for the savage. In ali cases in which
observation. The province of theory from this point of view is to he endures prolonged exertion, as in war, dancing, hunting, a nd
afford exact concepts, discuss and analyse observed connections some highly skilled and elaborate technical achievements, cer-
of fa cts, and foresee new ones. In the present case an attempt has tain elements like play. excitement, ecstasy, intoxication,
been made to show that the magical rites of the intichiuma rhythm can be pointed out - elements which act as stimuli and
present an economic aspect, or, in other words, to find a connec- either supersede or render unnecessary free volitional effort. 67
tion between 'economic' and 'magic'. We may agree by way of preliminary definition to call econ-
It is now necessary to define more precisely the word 'econ- omic labour that whicb possesses the quality required in civilized
omic' as it is used in the present instance, and to show why the economic enterprises (mentioned above); that is, labour which is
features of the intichiuma ceremonies, with which the preceding socially organized and collective, continuous, regular, and
pages have dealt, are important from the economic point ofview. periodical, performed not according to the whim of the moment
It is also necessary to analyse more deeply the suggested connec- or some immediate impulse, but done with forethought according
tion between 'magic' a nd 'economic', to discuss whether it is to a systema tic plan and with due consciousness of its aim.
accidental and superficial, or whether it is necessary and essen- A dose inspection of facts h as shown us that work done in the
tial. If this connection is shown to be in fact necessary and essen- intichiuma ceremonies is the result of collective and organized
tial, the present analysis may lead to some general principie or activity. It isto a certain extent reoular and periodic and connec-
law, which could not be determined by induction from the few ted with the seasons. It is performed with a definite object,
cases on record. namely with the object of increasin9 the totemic animal or plant.
To begin with tbe first point, let us attempt a preliminary In some cases it is even applied to certa in directly practica l aims.
definition of the word 'economic', and more especially of 'econ- The work done in these ceremonies is, in general, of considerable
omic labour', as this will be important for our present purpose. amount, it is done with full appreciation ofits importance, with
The way in which man works at a low level of culture differs great care and attention, and is accompanied with toil, hardship
essentially from economically productive labour, that is from the and privation. Taking ali these facts together, we may say that
labour required in an industrial enterprise of an advanced society. the labour performed in these ceremonies involves self-constraint,
The difference lies not so much in the amount of work done - for forethought, attention, free volitional effort and social organiza-
the savage is capable of performing prolonged and exhaustive tion, and tha t it is therefore according to our definition more
labour - but rather in the nature of the work done. Labour, as economic than other forros of labour found in the tribes among
required in civilized economic enterprises, must essentially pos- which the ceremonies are performed.
sess certain qualities: it must bt systema tic, done according to Now, as remarked above, whenever we find that the savage
22'1 225
Malinowski's early writinas The economic aspects of the int~chiuma ceremonies
perforrned some considerable amount of work, or does work lead- motives or outward coercion are able to move him,- these must
ing to notable material results - although not necessarily econ- be ma de an object o f study.
omic in our sense- in ali such cases he acts under the immediate Besides the elements pointed out in this connection by Ferrero
influence of some intense mental stimuli which force him in to a and Bcher, the present paper attempts to show that magical
form of labour normaliy repugnant to his nature. 68 and religious ideas must be taken under consideration as such
The problem before us isto show that such stimuli are provided coercive mental forces to account for the training of man in
by the intichiuma ceremonies. The solution, after ali that has economic activity. The instance elaborated above demonstrates
been said, lies near at hand, and in providing it we gain at the that there is some basis for this evolutionary scheme; the
same time an answer to the second question proposed for inquiry, demonstration that the tie between magic or religion and econ-
viz., what is the connection between the economic aspect and the omic activity is essential and psychologicaliy necessary gives to
religious nature o f the ceremonies? As a matter o f fa ct the to te mie this scheme its deeper justification. When the precepts of reason
ideas by which the labour in these ceremonies is organized and would not have been followed, the commands ofmagic or religion
regulated possess the character required; from ali the facts known were; and as far as the principie dictated by these ideas was not
about these tribes it is apparent that totemic traditions and ideas completely faliacious, it may be quite weli assumed that labour
possessa powerful ascendancy over the mind of the natives. Upon thus organized has been developed in to rational economic labour.
totemic traditions and ideas is erected the framework of tribal It is possible now to formula te more exactly and cautiously the
society; they permeate the active social life of the tribe. The scheme suggested above of the economic evolution of the
especially advanced forrn of labour found in the intichiuma intichiuma ceremonies. If it were assumed in the first place, with
ceremonies proceeds from and is borne along by the powerful Prof. Frazer, that the intichiuma ceremonies were once spread
complex of totemic ideas. This association of economic labour wherever Totemism existed; and secondly, that they ali possessed
with totemic ideas, together with our knowledge of how powerful in larger o r smaller measures the economic character o f the exaro-
these latter are, affords a complete explanation of the economic pies discussed above - a legitimate assumption, since these
aspect of the intichiuma ceremonies. On the other hand, the characteristics are intimately connected with the very essence of
insight in to the working of the religious and magic ideas upon the the intichiuma; thirdly, if it were further assumed that not ali of
organization of labour, the fact that this association is a necess- the economic elements of educational value (organization of col-
ary and not an accidental one, enables us to obtain a more lective labour; development offorethought, system, and observa-
general view of the subject than the isolated instance of the tion of seasons; and making provision for the future) passed in to
intichiuma ceremonies would otherwise afford. The economic abeyance with the progress of evolution - and it would be irra-
function of religious and magic ideas in general becomes an inter- tional to make a contrary assurnption - then it must be assumed
esting and important subject of investigation, and the evolution- that the intichiuma cerernonies and other similar rites were of
ary scheme suggested above especially gains very much in plaus- great importance in the development of economics. In this
ibility. general formulation of the evolutionary importance of the
We saw that primitive labour is quite unfit for economic intichiuma ceremonies - the only correct application of the
purposes. Consequently the problem of the evolution of economic evolutionary standpoint to the present problem - the evolution-
labour is a part of the general problem of the evolution of econ- ary scheme suggested above must appear more than plausible.
omics. Now the last analysis has shown that to obtain a complete And, speaking more generaliy, it may be safely asserted that
picture of the evolution of labour, the different elements of edu- without the study of religious and magic influences any evolu-
cated labour in low stages of culture may not be omitted. The tionary scheme of economics must be incomplete.
various coercive ideas and other powerful mental incentives,
which compel man to work, and to work (in the sense above
explained) economically in savage societies when no rational
226 227




Generally recognized methods a nd established basic concepts

continue to be lacking in the ethnology and sociology ofprimitive
peoples. Therefore in undertaking special research on some
definite subject in the field of ethnology one must try to deepen
the method a nd establish general principies. The present attempt
to outline a new theory of totemjsm also lays claim to certain
improvements in the method of defining ethnological phenomena
as well as in the manner of presenting the genesis of these
phenomena; it also purports to verify certain general principies in
the concrete example of totemism. Totemism is an extremely
fashionable subject in present day ethnology. Limiting ourselves
to the best known and most significam works, we can mention
the great treatise of Frazer and the most recent works of
Durkheim and Wundt. 1 Totemism is also a concept widely used
by related and auxiliary sciences, such as archaeology and
ancient history. 2 However, despite the fac t that so much has been
written about this subject, n either the concept of totemism nor
the viewpoint ofits origin has been definitively established so far.
The authors agree neither on what totemism is nor how it a rose.
Thus, we are faced with two major problems: defining the
essence oftotemism and providing its genesis. The former problem
is neither superfluous nor easily solvable, as is evident from the
fact that the term, ' totemism ' designates a set of heterogeneous
and loosely connected phenomena. This concept enca mpasses
beliefs about man's union and dose relationship with an animal,
plant, or inanimate object, a li of which we designate with the
' Original in Polish. 'Stosunek wierzen pierwotnych do form organizacji
spolecznej. Teorya totemizmu'. Sprawozdania z Czynnofci i Posiedzefl Akademii
Umiej~tnofci w K.rakowie, 18 (8) ( 1913): 9-18.

Malinowski's early writines Relationship of primitive beliefs to soei~/ oreanization
name 'totem'. Such a totem is regarded in various ways by savage others deducing totemism from certain peculiarities and condi-
peoples, depending on the tribe, as a symbol, guardian, patron, tions of primitive life or primive psychology, and again others
ancestor, brother, or divinity. A given group of people takes its regarding totemism as a purposefully introduced arrangement of
name from it, and worships it either by acts of a positive cultor by affairs, etc. Thus it is evident that each of these enumerated types
abstaining from destroying, killing, using, or eating its totem. o f theories differs basically in its methodological trea tment o f the
Totemic art also enters into the composition of totemism: dances genesis of totemism. None of the present theories seems sufficient
and plastic images of the totem. to me. Each of them claims to explain everything with one stroke
Besides this totemism possesses a social aspect. A group of of the pen, but actually explains, at most, some aspects and
people named after the same totem, and rendering it more or less neglects grasping the whole. This is the result of the fact that all
distinct worship, is an extremely important social unit; in eth- of the authors up until now have ignored the first of the problems
nology it usually bears the name clan. The clan is an integral part indicated here, that of defining the essence of totemism.
of the tribe, which, it may be said, appears among totemic Totemism, which has so many aspects, and spans so many
peoples not as a set of individuais but rather as a set of clans. The phenomena, cannot be deduced uniformly from a single source.
clan serves a number of social, legal, religious, farnily, political, Its origin must be sought in the workings of complex and varied
and even economic functions. But we encounter just a small condi tions.
portion o f these properties in each individual case. We know of no First of all, the heterogeneous phenomena which make up
instance where these totemic features appear in a complete set. totemism can be grasped from two basic points of view: the
And so the question arises, what of this should be considered the psychological and the sociological; we can distinguish the reli-
essence of totemism, everything or only a part - and i f so, which eious and the social aspects of totemism. Understanding the
part?3 interrelation of these two aspects is a precondition for under-
At any rate totemism cannot be regarded as something always standing the essence of totemism and for properly tackling the
cast from the same mould, a creation ofsociety and culture which problem of its genesis.
can be univocally defined by reference to one or severa} I will now proceed to the first basic problem, to a short defini-
phenomena. We recognize its existence from manifold symptoms, tion of what totemism is, to a presentation of its most importam
but what matters isto demonstra te that these symptoms represent psychological and sociological properties. In order to emphasize
some immanent reality, that beyond them we can find an organic the essential features and to omit secondary features in this
entity, something uniform and real: only then would we be enti- presentation, I have tried to gather as many data as possible and
tled to subsume such a real sociological formation under one to present them numerically.
concept. The difficulty of such a treatment of totemism is in-
creased by the fact that it is an extremelywidespread phenomenon;
with the exception of Europe there are no continents where it is
not found. We encounter it in its most distinct forros in Australia,
A. The relieious aspect of totemism
Melanesia, North America, and Africa. Less importam and dis-
tinct is the totemism of Polynesia, of the Dravidians of Southem In the totemic beliefs we have a reflection of man's relationship
India, and some of the autochthonous tribes of Sumatra. to the objects of his natural environment. Therefore, we should
The other problem, the genesis of totemism, does not need a first ask the question: of what sort are these objects and what is
justification. Nevertheless, a few words of explanation must be the substance of the totemic beliefs? Totems are objects of nature:
given because the concept of a genesis is not used univocally in primarily animais, plants, and inanimate objects. But we must
ethnology. In the present case, for example, some theories exist accurately define the relationship in which these objects are
about totemism's development from certain beliefs, others about found. Comparing 62 totemic tribes with each other, I have
i ts origin on the basis o f an erro r and misunderstanding, 1 still obtained the following result: in 59 of them the number of
230 231
Malinowski's early writings Relationship of primitive beliefs to social organization
animais prevails over the number of plants, while in 56 the num- feature. This particularly applies to the prohibition against eating
ber of animal totems is greater than the number of plant and the totem. Prohibitions against killing it are a bit more rare.
inanimate-object totems combined. Adding together all of the In general few acts of a positive totemic cult exist. Best known
totems contained in my list, I reach the number 1645, of which are the magic intichiuma ceremonies of the savages of Central
1166 are animal totems, 312 plant, and 161 other objects. From Australia. Aside from magic rites these ceremonies also contain a
this listing it is apparent that the preponderance of animais over kind of ritual banquet, which here, just as in the case of the
the other totems is considerable. There are four times as many taboo, is the most important theme of the religious acts and
animal totems as vegetable totems, and two and a half times as norms of toternism. Other ceremonies of the totemic cult have as
many animal totems as vegetable and inanimate totems com- their essence, above all, the assimilation of man with his totem.
bined. Plant totems predominate over inanimate totems. How- The great significance of eating, both in the positive and the
ever, their preponderance is less evenly distributed among all the negative cult, strongly confirrns the assertion that the edible spe-
tribes; we find this preponderance among 22 tribes (11 of which cies originally played the principal role in totemism. This
have no inanimate totems at all). In 20 tribes inanimate objects assertion assumes a considerably deeper significance against the
prevail over plant totems (in 12 of these there are no plant totems background of our consideration on the genesis of totemism.
at all). In three tribes plants prevail over animais and even over Ifwe wish to determine most generally what the relationship to
the sum of the remaining totems. the totem consists in, we must enumera te all of the facts pertain-
Entering further into the details of the above presentation, we ing to this relationship. To these belong the naming of the clans
may generally state that among the totems we most frequently according to the totems, the ceremonies mentioned above identi-
encounter edible animais and plants, then strong and dangerous fying man with his totem, ideas about man's descent from the
predators, and then animais evoking an instinctive reaction of totem, and the motives of the taboo, expressing feelings of a dose
fear and abhorrence, such as snakes, reptiles, and amphibians. relationship between man and his totem. These and similar facts
However, there is no doubt that edible totems are the most indica te that savage people imagine that a very dose relationship
important. As far as we can judge from the insufficient ethno- exists between a man and his totem. At the same time, however,
graphic data, we may say that originally all species that were it is apparent that this relationship cannot be expressed in any
important as food were totems, and vice versa that all important short and terse formula. The totem is neither merely the name of
totems were edible animais. a group, a symbol, ancestor, nor brother; it combines all of these
The next basic question which arises in reference to toternic traits simultaneously, and any theory which, ignoring other
beliefs is: what is man's attitude toward the totems? How does he peculiarities, emphasizes any one of them too exdusively, or
determine bis relationship to them and manifest his worship? regards it as primordial, must give false results.
Without doubt, the most important feature of totemism is the In conduding these observations about the religious aspect of
prohibition against killing and consuming the totem. There is totemism, I would like to note that it differs basically from other
almost no tribe where we would not encounter it. Out of forty- beliefs in one general feature. Totemic beliefs embrace a number
seven tribes presented in a table, only three lack this taboo. We of objects which are completely equivalent to and independent of
must also mention that we know nothing about a totemic taboo one another; the totems are neither arranged in any sort of
among the tribes ofNorth America. However, Frazer supposes, on hierarchy, nor do they, in and of themselves, form parts of some
the basis of very convincing arguments, that this is not the result sort of organic whole. In order to understand the homogeneity of
of an actuallack, but only of neglect on the part of ethnographers the totemic system, we must take the social aspect of this system
who observed them. I have therefore left these tribes out of my into consideration along with the beliefs.
listing. Comparing the totemic taboo with other features of
totemsm, we reach the concluson that it is its most consistent

232 233
Malinowski's early writinas Relationship of primitive beliefs to sociql oraanization

B. The social aspect of totemism performed by clan members in arder to propagate their totem, as
well as similar ceremonies in the Torres Straits Islands, among the
l. The morpholoay ofthe clan. The totemic clan is a unit which, Baganda tribe, and a few others. Therefore, the object of these
generaliy speaking, does not possess any internai structure. Ali ceremonies is the material welfare of the entire tribe. From this
clan members are equal: there is no authority, no organization, point of view they can also be regarded as the clan's economic
and no internai structure in the clan. Only in some cases does functions. The taboo also possesses an economic character as a
there something like a chief or leader of the totemic group kind of division of consumption.
(for example, in Central Australia, in some Bantu tribes, and in
North America). Ali of these functions have a common characteristic feature:
The clan is always a subdivision of a broader group, the tribe. they ali fulfil the role of integrating, and welding the clans into a
The number of clans into which the tribe is split varies, and tribal whole. As a matter of fact, ali of these are externai func-
generaliy speaking is not very large, varying within the range of tions regulating the relationships of clans with one another and
two digit numbers. Only in exceptional cases is this number much the relationship of the clan to the tribe, rather than regulating
relationships within the clan. And in this way they join the clans
larger, exceeding 100, or much smaller, reduced among some
into a tribal unity.
peoples of Melanesia to two.
The clan is sometimes a territorial unit, that is, members of one Gathering together these remarks about the clan's social
clan inhabit a given territory in a compact mass and possess it for nature, we may say that from a sociological point of view the
themselves to the exclusion of all others. This is the case, for general character of totemism consists in the fact that it is a
example, among the tribes of Central Australia, in Polynesia, in system of beliefs and ideas differentiating the tribe into a number
the Bekwana tribe, and in some other instances. But generally the of smalier groups and simultaneously integrating these groups
into one entity.
clan is not a local unit. The members of the clan are scattered
over the whole tribal territory, and clan unity is manifested
externaliy only in a functional, and not in a morphological,
sense. In this typical forro the clans are joined in to a tribal unity
in an extremely strong and clear manner, as it were visibly.
Totemic beliefs express the defined attitude of man toward bis
2. Functions ofthe clan. The dose integration ofthe clans into a environment. This attitude is not a result of totemism, for, as is
tribal unity has a deeper basis in the clan's functions. As is easily demonstrable, it is comprised of a much broader range of
already apparent from what we have said earlier about the struc- facts than totemism. This attitude is something basic, a direct
ture of the clan and about its relationship to the tribe, the clan's result of man's psychological nature and of the action of externai
poltica! functions are quite insignificant. The clan is a part ofthe conditions; therefore it must be explained on the basis of these
tribe, and not an independent unit. On the other hand, its legal elements.
functions are important. Of these, the vendetta should be men- Totemic beliefs belong to the history ofmagic or religious ideas.
tioned, the clan's obligation to take revenge and the mutual Therefore one should first briefly consider the essence of these
responsibility toward each member. The clan is a farnily unit, and ideas. It may be said that the acts of a religious cult, magical
its members imagine that they jointly descend from one ancestor, practices, prejudices and superstitions - in fact everything con-
usually their totem, and consider themselves to be related. Of the nected with mystic or religious treatment of reality - cluster
family functions, the most importam is exogamy, the clan mem- around the subjects most vital for man, where man's most
bers' obligation to marry and to seek sexual relationships outside elementary conditions for existence and his most importam
of the clan. Of the religious functions the most importam are the objectives and aspirations come into play. Within the range of
magic intichiuma ceremonies of the natives of Central Australia, these subjects, inasmuch as the subjugation of the fundamentais
234 235
Malinowski's early writinas Relationship of primitive beliefs to oraanization

of life escapes man, and inasmuch as he feels that the course of characteristic of eating is also transferred to its objects. Various
things exceeds the limits of his own strength - that he cannot kinds of food possess their own peculiar characteristics and magic
manage the theoretical and practical control of reality by himself and religious properties. In almost all ofthe enumerated facts. the
- he appeals to higher powers. This may be formulated from the species of animal or plant is strictly defined which is to be the
psychological point of view by saying that religious ideas arise object of the sacrifice, the holy banquet, the magic rite, taboo,
everywhere that man acts a nd thinks under the influence of superstition about fertiliza tion, or transference o f properties. The
strong emocional factors. religious ideas pertain not to the food already prepared but to the
Therefore, to the religious subjects of primitive religions species to be eaten, and always create a special relationship
belong, on the one hand, the crises of life, such as reaching sexual between man and the given species.
maturity, marriage, birth, and death, and on the other hand the Animais and plants play a more or less equivalent role as food
basic normal functions of life: the sexual act and the process of objects. Both of these classes of objects also acquire a religious
nourishment. Another extremely important source of religious significance as a result of the economic activities which are aimed
subjects are the activities resulting from the self-preservation at obtaining them. These economic activities, which occupy an
instinct, the defence against dangers, real or imagined, from extremely important place in man's emociona l life, a nd which
which the savage is everywhere threatened. take first place among his interests, also become the object of
Primitive man lives under conditions fund amentally different numerous rituais and religious ideas. lt is sufficient to mention
from those under which we find ourselves. The struggle for the rituais of hunting peoples which are performed before the
existence in its simplest form - acquiring food directly from hunt, the agrarian rites of primitive farm ers, and the religous
nature, and protecting himself from dangers also arising directly cults associated with pastoralism and dairy farmng.
from nature - is what absorbs primitive man's attention and Animais become the subject of strong emotional experiences,
energy and what determines his relationship to his environment. and as a consequence of ths the subject of religious ideas, as the
There are a number of magico-religious ideas, rituais, practices, source of innumerable dangers, as the object of a life and death
customs, and norms with a supernatural sanction, which are struggle, as that part of nature with which primitive man is most
centred on the act of eating. This act is considered dangerous by directly in touch in his struggle for exstence. Examning the
very many peoples, an activity at which man is threatened by religious ideas and superstitions of primitive peoples, it can be
various superna tural dangers. Food scraps play a very important easily ascertained that a li strong, predatory, swift, a nd sly
role in black magic practices. Food objects are covered by animais become crystallizi ng foci for these very ideas. Singling
innumerable rules designating what is prescribed and what pro- out animais from the natural environment is considerably
hibited for a person according to his sex, age, physiological condi- enhanced by the fact tha t they are basically similar to m an, that
tion, state of health, membership in a social group of position in they move, Iook, and think, that they are that part of nature
it. Such prohibitions, a food taboo, are one of the most important which is most suited for a nthropomorphiza tion and personfic-
elements both of the religious cult and of the religious basis for ation.
social differentiation. Food also plays an important role in reli- In ali ofthese cases the religious ideas do not pertain to a nimais
gion as a holy banquet, which is the basic ritual in many reli- in general nor to some designated individual animais, but to the
gions, and as a sacrifice, a universal forro for religious cults animal species. This is easy to understand. Both in man's eating
closely linked with the holy banquet. Among the superstitions and his direct contact with the animal, whether in his economic
pertaining to food , we may yet mention the belief in fertilization activities or in his struggle with it, it is the peculiarities of the
through food and the belief in the direct transference of the quali- species that are definitive. Both from a practicai and an emo-
ties o f the object eaten in to the man who consumes it. Ali of these tional point of view, the lion is something fundamentally dif-
facts demonstra te that eating is regarded by savage and barbarous ferent from the hyena or the sheep. and that is why other ideas
people as a magic, holy act with supernatural properties. This and other forms of rites refer to the species. But within the species
236 237
Malinowski's early writinas Relationship of primitive beliefs to social oraanization

there are no further fundamental differences. And this is also why general. As we have mentioned before, this basic feature, which
the species is considered to be something homogeneous that can appears in a parallel manner in both the religious and the social
be treated as an entity. aspect of totemism, is the differentiation of totemic religion in to
This general relationship of man to his natural environment a number of separate cults, a number of what may be called
can thus be defined mainly by the fact that animais and plants fractional religions of the individual totems grounded in the cor-
appear in the foreground, and that is why it can be defined as responding dans. How did this parallel differentiation arise? It is
zoolatry. Inanimate objects, being less connected with the impossible to give an historical answer to this question. That is, it
elementary vital needs of man, do not play as great a role in very does not seem possible to me to outline the concrete factors which
low religions. As we h ave seen, one of the most important sources have caused this differentiation and to present a history of their
af zoolatry is man's relationship to animais and plants as objects workings. The ethnological material and general speculation can-
of food. Hence, eating regulations play a major role in these forros not give an answer to the question so defined. We must be
of religion, and among these regulations prohibitions against eat- satisfied with demonstrating the connection between the basic
ing and killing a given species appear in the foreground. If we forms of the beliefs and the forms of social organization on which
would like to define man's relationship to animais and plants, we these beliefs are grounded. In other words, with a certain form of
could only accurately and generally say that it is very dose. This beliefs given, imposed on man by the externai conditions, and, on
relationship cannot be more particularly defined, but we must the other hand, finding that in the majority of cases these beliefs
rather state that it vacillates over a very broad range, from con- are connected to a defini te type of social structure, we must prove
ceiving of the given species as a god, to treating the species as a that a dose connection exists between the beliefs and that
blood relative of man. structure.
Comparing the result obtained here with what has been said It follows from what has been said above about zoolatry that
before about the basic features of totemism, it is immediately the animais and plams which play the most important role as
evident that a strict parallelism exists. We have found the follow- food, as man's natural enemies, or his allies in his struggle for
ing to be the basic qualities of totemism: a preponderance of existence had to become the subjects of the beliefs. Thus, this
plants and animais over inanimate objects and of animais over system of conditions had to bring about a multiplicity of cult
plants; the predominant role of the food taboo and the eating objects restricted by the fact that only suf:ficiently importam
rituais, as well as the great signifi.cance of edible species; thirdly animais and plants became cult objects. But this system of condi-
the broad range over which man's relationship to his totem tions did not tend toward a unification, a reduction of the cult
varies, the main subjects ofwhich are the conception ofthe totem objects imo a unity nor toward their arrangement imo some sort
as a deity and as a being which is a blood relative to man. of a hierarchy. And so we have a religion with a number of
Moreover, the species and never the individual is the totem. And equivalem cult objects. In the natural course of things this reli-
so it is evident that a dose parallelism exists between totemism gion had to develop toward splitting imo a number of cults.
and zoolatry, that totemism is a special form of man's attitude However, each cult requires a social basis. On the other hand, the
toward his environmem, an attitude we had previously derived fundamental form of the totemic cult is the taboo (obviously the
from the human psyche and from the conditions under which reference here isto an expanded notion of the cult, which would
primitive man lives. And so, in presenting the most general and indude the 'nega tive cult'). Moreover, in the simplest and most
comprehensive genesis of this attitude, we have also given a importam acts of the cult, the intichiuma ceremonies, we deal
satisfactory genesis of totemism. with an act of ritual eating which strictly corresponds to and is
But so far we have only a genetic explanation of the aeneral dependent on the taboo. The taboo, which pertains globally to ali
attitude of which totemism is a special case. We have not yet totems, couid not have been imposed on the whole tribe because
considered how that which constitutes totemism's difference has this would deprive the people of the possibility of living. From
arisen, that which distinguishes totemism from zoolatry in this it is evidem that the basic cult-forms imply the differenti-
238 239
Malinowski's early writinos Relationship of primitive beliefs to soial oroanization
ation of the cult into individual groups. Evidently, this explana- consciously and deliberately limited the problem of genesis con-
tion does not offer us anything more than the indication that siderably, and have refrained from tackling a number ofhistorical
certain features of the beliefs cannot be reconciled with a dif- problems referring to the concrete origin and development of
ferent social basis than the one actually found in toternism. totemism.
However, beca use it is precisely these features of the beliefs that I have avoided the question: which is the more ancient,
are basic and because, according to our viewpoint on the genesis zoolatry or the clan structure; which of these two factors is the
of totemism, they are necessarily imposed by the conditions from more durable and remains alive after the other has disappeared?
which totemism arises, the necessity for the social forms of totem- Ou r present investigations are considerably more general than the
ism is thus contained in our outline of its genesis. questions just mentioned and constitute a necessary introduction
From a methodological point of view, this interpretation is to them.
simply an indication of a kind of natural selection and of the fact
that a given type of belief is connected to the most suitable forro
of organization, in which its various basic qualities could find
their fullest expression. This manner of interpretation finds con- The definition of totemism, the concept of its essence, and under-
firmation in the fact that ideas very similar to totemic ones, other standing what its difference consists in is only possible through a
forros of zoolatrous beliefs, are connected to other forros of social parallel treatment of its religious and sociological aspects. It is a
organization. 'Individual totems' are widespread, and we know characteristic feature of totemic beliefs that they pertain to a
of 'sexual' and 'tribal' totems (the term totem is obviously taken number of equivalent objects, which are not in any hierarchy nor
in an expanded sense). In other words, the cult of propitious do they possess any internai unity. The unity of the totemic
animais and plants is at times not connected with the clan, that system, the coordination of the separa te beliefs in to a whole, lies
is, it is not one of the tribe's coordinate parts, o r a partof the tribe only in its social aspect. Only by concentrating on the sociologi-
itself or of an individual, a group of ali men and ali women, a cal qualities of totemism can its coherence be understood. Since
given age group, ora secret society. All of these social units differ the cult of the particular totems is associated with the clan, and
basically from the clan both morphologically and in their general the clans are integrated into a whole through their functions,
character. They do not represent a multitude of equal groups totemism appears to be something homogeneous, an organic
coordinated into a homogeneous tribal entity. In the cases where whole. In this formulation the necessity for a simultaneous
we have totems connected to individuais, where we have the investigation of primitive beliefs and social differentiation is
institution of guardian spirits, totemism cannot develop at ali. apparent. Only by juxtaposing these two aspects can we compre-
Since religion in general, and especially primitive religion, is basi- hend the essence of primitive religions, as we have demonstrated
cally a social matter, an individual cult would be a complete in the example of totemism. We could define its essence by
impossibility under primitive conditions. And so we see that the examining both aspects simultaneously, studying one in the light
linking of totems with the clan system is not accidental: it is not of the other.
an isolated fact, but one link in the chain offacts. We explain the Our method of defining totemism eliminates those difficulties
wide spread of clan totemism and its importance as the natural noted at the beginning: it is clearly evident that totemism cannot
adaptation of the most suitable social forms to a given type of be defined either by the content of the beliefs or by enumerating
beliefs. its particular features and social functions. Only the general
Again it is evident that in this interpretation it is necessary to character of those functions which weld the individual clans in to
grasp what there is in common in a given group ofphenomena, to a higher tribal entity and the general character of the beliefs
emphasize general and basic things and not accidental and pertaining to cult objects of equal rank, taken together, enable us
isolated ones. to define totemism.
I would still like to emphasize that in the present study I have Besides this most general feature, we have been able, by means
2'10 2'11
Malinowski's early writinos

of a precise compara tive listing, to define a number of important

basic traits which more closely characterize totemism, first of ali ~s~
the nature of the toterns and the totemic cult, as weli as man's
relationship to the totem. These features have served usas a point A FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM OF RELIGIOUS
of departure for a genetic treatment of totemism.
In providing the genesis of totemism, we were able to intensify
and add a new confirmation to our view of its essence. In constru-
ing its genesis we proceeded from the general view that religious
ideas, practices and norms crystallize around objects which pos-
sessa basic vital value for man and which thus stand in the focus
of his emotionallife. In primitive conditions of life, such objects There are certa in questions o f principie in every branch o f science
are primarily animais and plants as sources of food, then animais which cannot be passed over in any comprehensive and thorough
as the object of a dangerous struggle and as the desired goal of treatment of the subject, and upon the answer of which the fur-
their hunting and fishing efforts, and plants as the concern and ther course of inquiry essentialiy depends.
hope of the primitive farmer. The cult, which arose within this Such questions are, as a rule, the most difficult to settle, be-
framework, pertains to a limited number of objects. Since the cult cause only an overwhelming amount of evidence gathered with
must be based on a social unit, and further, as we have seen, since the very problem in view allows of an unequivocal answer. In
the totemic cult intrinsically requires the exclusive participation anthropology the mutual co-operation of the theorist and of the
of the given group, thus by means of natural selection, so to field-worker is essential in ali such cases.
speak, zoolatrous beliefs combined with the clan's structure pro- A question of this type presents itself at the outset in anthropo-
duce the most durable type of religion for a living environment: logical investigations of religion. Is there a sharp and deep
totemism. cleavage between relioious and profane matters among primitive
This interpretation tries to foliow basic sociological and peoples? Or, in other words: Is there pronounced dualism in the
psychological laws in the origin and development of totemism. social and mental life of the savage, or, on the contrary, do the
Above ali, the interdependence of its religious and social aspects. religious and non-religious ideas and activities pass and shade
It does not explain everything; it does not provide a concrete into each other in a continuous manner?
genesis or a history of totemism; it only tries to point out the fact This question is of utmost importance for the general theory of
that in the rise of such a basic forro of religion as totemism, basic religion. Professor Durkheim postulates the existence of a per-
activities must have also operated; and it seeks to define this fectly sharp and deep cleavage between the two domains of the
influence in the most general and comprehensive way. In this it sacr and profane, and his entire theoretical construction stands
differs from other, bolder attempts at interpreting totemism. But and falls with this assumption. 2 Again, Dr Marett is of the
the course of science seems to indica te that it will be more necess- opinion that, generally speaking, 'the savage is very far from
ary to give up these ali too hopeful theories in favour of scientific having any fairly definite system of ideas of a magico-religious
undertakings which take on the task of achieving maximum kind, with a somewhat specialised department of conduct cor-
results with a minimum of effort and risk. The passing of eth- responding thereto'. 3
nology to a phase where speculation must reckon more and more This view, although expressed in a somewhat different connec-
with the toilsome collecting and comparing of facts and be tion, undoubtedly implies the negation of Durkheim's dogmatic
satisfied with partia! and modest, yet certain, results, seems to be standpoint. Again, Mr Crawley thinks, that for the savage every-
a necessary result of the development of this science. thing has got a religious dimension, 1 a view which also excludes

For details of original publication, see Malinowski 's first note.

242 243
Malinowski's early writings A fundamental problem of religious sociology
the existence of any irreducible dualism of magico-religious on essential and fundamental feature of religion, suitable to be con-
the one hand and secular on the other. sidered as its very distinctive characteristic. It is an accidental
These examples show that the above question, fundamental as feature, dependent chiefly upon the social part played by religion
it is, is still unsettled and controversial. What answer does it and connected possibly with some other factors to determine the
receive from the ethnographic evidence? The great Australian intluence of which it is, however, necessary to have more ample
ethnographers, Spencer and Gillen, whose researches have con- evidence, gathered with the problem in view.
tributed to the advancement of our knowledge of primitive reli-
gion more than any other investigations, answer the question in
the affirmative. The life of an aborgine of Central Australia is
sharply divided into two periods: the one comprising bis everyday
life, and the other his magico-religious activities. 5 It is evident
throughout Messrs Spencer and Gillen's two volumes that the
properly religious and magica l practices and beliefs are strictly
esoteric; that they are fenced off from everyday life by a wall of
taboos, rules and observances. Yet reading another standard work
of modem anthropology, Dr and Mrs Seligman's monograph on
the Veddas, one gets the impression that among these natives
there does not exist anything like a radical bipartition of things
and ideas into religious and profane.
Again, the views held by another recent investigator, Dr
Thurnwald, with regard to the magic of the natives of the
Bismarck Archipelago and of the Solomon Islands, imply beyond
doubt the absence of a clear-cut division between magico-reli-
gious and secular ideas,6 the two classes merging in to and blend-
ing with each other.
One conclusion seems to be inevitable: namely, that pending
new evidence it would be rash to dogmatize on the subject under
consideration. I venture to say more. The above-mentioned state-
ments (which could easily be multiplied) point not merely to
different personal equations, which, however, would be possible
in such an enormously complex and general problem, but they
point to real differences in the matter discussed. The consolida-
tion of the religious life can be different amongst various peoples,
depending as it does upon various social conditions. Thus religion
seems to be best developed and possessing the highest relative
social importance among the Central Australians, to a smaller
degree among the Papuans studied by Thurnwald, stillless among
the Veddas. Where it is strongest the bipartition postulated by
Durkheim seems to be most prominent. Wherever it is less pro-
nounced the two domains shade in to each other and begin to fuse.
Thus probably the division into religious and profane is not an
244 245
~ 9 ~



The question of the present status of the investigations on the

sociology of the family presents some difficulties. The sociological
research on the family is as yet not very unifonn. Its study has
been influenced by very heterogeneous interests, it has been
executed according to diverse methods, and the points of
departure of the investigations have had very little in common. It
is no wonder that the results do not combine into a uniform
picture but present a rather variegated mixture.
Here we have, above ali, the well-known and fertile field of
investigations into the general ontogenesis ofthe family. Here the
methods and the evidence are already very different. Added to
this are numerous studies partially determined by practical view-
points of the position of the family in society: of its ethical,
pedagogical and general value. Here the discrepancies are much
stronger; some of these studies pursue a purely scientific goal and
employ purely scientific methods; others have nothing to do with
science. Filled with religious, political, Biblical or communistic
ideais, the authors seek to secure for themselves the support of
science, in ways which deviate from science.
Moreover, mention should be made of writers who choose in
their studies of the family a scientific but not purely sociological
point of departure. Belonging here, first of ali, are studies emanat-
ing from jurisprudence, then studies of legal history, moral
history and general cultural history. We are interested in such
works only in so far as they shed light on general sociological
questions like the ontogenesis and development ofthe family, but
not in their purely technical and specific details. The lack of
"Originally published in German. 'Soziologie der Familie'. In Die Geisteswissen -
schaften, I (1913-14): 88H; 33: 911-14; 1080-2.

Malinowski's early writinas Socioloay of the family

uniformity and the contradiction of the results also have other in all brevity. A later paper will then contain a constructive
causes. The problem of the family has had the misfortune to h ave criticism of these works. 2
been a lmost exclusively treated as a by-product of other investi- These ontogenic investigatons doubtless forro the most signifi-
gations, which themselves were actually considered subsidiary cant achievement in the field of the fami ly problem on the whole.
and partia} areas of the family problem. Thus the main attention The material for the constructions is drawn from ethnology,
of ethnologists and sociologists is devoted to marriage, con- history and a rchaeology.
sanguinity systerns, sexual questions, etc., even though ali of In these works the above mentioned opposition between the
these are only elements and parts of the general family question advocates of the primordiality of monogamous marriage on the
and can only be adequately treated in connection with this one hand and of group marriage on the other prevails. Essentially,
general problem. Thereby often organically coherent elements however, three typical standpoints can be distinguished: the
are torn apart, certain aspects excessively emphasized, others not hypothesis of a primordially patriarchal'family; the hypothesis of
sufficiently considered. In this way marriage, above ali, was a primitive community of women [Frauenaemeinschaft], or also
treated as the principal problem of ethnology. Here Wester- group marriage, both in connection with matriarchy [Mutter-
marck's statement is entirely valid: 'Marriage is rooted in the recht]; and the view that the human family, dependent on
family, rather than the family in marriage', 1 a statement that various conditions, has assumed very diverse forros, but that the
could be extended to all parti ai areas of the family problem and basic elements as a rule were the same: a more or less dura ble, but
should be considered the basic research principie. a regulated and socially recognized union of man and wife for a
However, the worst confusion in the study of the problem o f the rudimentary marriage, with the children belonging to both
family originares in the deep disagreement which exists between parents.
the adherents of the 'original promiscuity' and 'group marriage' [Henry] Sumner Maine can be regarded as a representative of
with its 'matriarchy' on the one hand, and the representatives of the first standpoint; the second is connected with the names of
the view that 'monogamy and patriarchy are primitive'. There Bachofen, Morgan and McLennan; the third one was most com-
exists here a radical contrast between the researchers, and a dis- pletely substantiated by Westermarck.
tinctly polemical, often irritated tone is noticeable which con-
tributes very little to the clarity, objectivity and mutually fair
A. The patriarchal theory
Ali this makes a coherent presentation of the present state of This was and is the customary and traditional concept of scien-
research in this area somewhat more difficult than in many tific thinking. We read in the Bible that the whole chosen people
others, if not completely impossible. Because, despite the still stems from the one, although most probably polygamous, family
existing obstinare intransigence of some representatives of both of Abraham. Nay, ali of mankind is supposed to stem from a
trends, there are also indications that it is possible to appreciate single, first parenta} couple which is even said to h ave been purely
with open eyes and some good will the v alue and the significance monogamous. And moreover, these first families were clearly
of both research Iines and that both, with certain limitations, can 'patriarchal'; the father was the only head. The natural, native
help achieve a uniform result and overall picture. The deepening concept with which the primordial conditions are approached,
of the argumentation and the sharpening of the conceptualiza- postulares therefore, at the beginning of the social development,
tion must lead to a coherence of a common work tendency and to a monogamous patriarchal family [Vaterfamilie] which appears
a common goal from wherever one might depart. as the germ cell of society, from which all other social forms
In this paper, we wish first of ali to briefly present the most grow.
importam approaches and works on the ontogenesis o f the human One obtains a similar picture, although in a less naive concep-
family and in a subsequent account to treat the remaining studies tion, from the oldest Greek, Roman and Indian historical works,

248 249
Malinowski's early writinas Socioloay of the fam_ily

chronicles and historical traditions, from myths and legends, (Gra eco-italische Rechtsaeschichte/ Alt-arisches jus Gen-
irrespective of the symbolic interpretations of the latter and some tium),8 Schrader, (Sprachveraleichuna und Uraeschichte), 9 Del-
details. brck. (Die indoaermanischen Verwandtschaftsnamen), 10 and
Aristotle deduces the community from the family in the Bernhoft 11 appear to represent the opinion that none of the two
Ancient sense, and the state from the community. The power of views corresponds to the true factual situation from which we
the state is a derivative of the paternal authority. In modem could draw conclusions with the greatest probability on the basis
times numerous historians, sociologists and legal historians have of the existing data. None of the two symmetrical and schematic
accepted this theory. It was very clearly and decidedly represen- forrns, neither a distinct patriarchy, nor an absolute matriarchy,
ted by H. Sumner Maine. In his book on primordiallaw (Ancient can be taken without reservation as a point of departure. The
Law), 3 he reaches the conclusion that compara tive jurisprudence linguistic and historico-legal data certainly give us some explana-
presses us to the acceptance of a primordial patriarchy. The tions but there are much less simple conditions and leveis of
primitive family essentially resembles the Roman family as it is development which are to be found in the results of Leist and
inferred in its primordial form from the oldest documents and Schrader.
traditions; with the despotic authority of the father which he
exercises lifelong over his sons, their wives and children, his
B. The hypotheses of the oriainal community of wives:
unmarried daughters as well as over his male and female slaves.
matriarchy and aroup marriaae
The kinship principie is pure agnation, since only kinship on the
father's side is recognized; all descendants of the living pater The rather naive and uncritical assumption of a universal
famlias are related including adopted children, his wife and the patriarchy was contradicted by a series of results which were
wives of his sons and grandsons. his clients and slaves. All who formulated completely simultaneously and independently by
leave the family - sons co-opted from alien families, daughters three researchers who, working according to quite different
married to strangers - are not considered related. Patria potestas methods and basing themselves on quite different facts, reached
is the basic principie of kinship. similar results. The studies of Bachofen, McLennan and Morgan
This patriarchal form of the family is assumed by Maine with develop views which were in strict opposition to the patriarchal
the Aryans and Semites, and he claims that all human groups theory. Instead of monogamy a complete incontinence of mar-
were originally organized in this way. This famly was the cell riage relations should be assumed; instead of the father's auth-
from which the whole society gradually developed, from the ority the matriarchy and maternal succession; instead of the all-
family arose the aens, from the aens the tribus, from the tribus pervading persistency of the patriarchal family on ali evolution-
the polis, the state. ary leveis, the family is supposed to have a complex evolutionary
This concept claims universal validity and therein lies its schema in which the individual leveis would be completely dif-
greatest weakness because it is certainly not correct in this ferent from each other.
uni versa li ty. Bachofen's 'Matriarchy' was chronologically the first book in
Maine draws his evidence from the legal documents of Aryan which these ideas were expressed. (Das Mutterrecht: Eine Unter-
peoples and partly of the $emites. In this limited field his works suchuna ber die Gynaekokratie der alten Welt nach ihrer reli-
are joined by the studies of N. D. Fustel de Coulanges (La cit aisen und rechtlichen Natur; 12 moreover, Die Saae von
antique), 1 W. E. Hearn (The Aryan Household) ,S G. Grote Tanaqui/, 13 and Antiquarische Briefe.) 11 Through the study of
(History of Greece), 6 all of which consider patriarchy the original ancient mythology, of the fragmentary information of ancient
form o f the Aryan family. historians and geographers on barbarian peoples, and, in limited
In contrast to the above view the authors of t he works men- measure, a lso through ethnological facts, he was led to the con-
tioned below represent the hypothesis of Aryan matriarchy clusion that once upon a time a family system existed in which
(Bachofen, McLennan, Dargun, et ai.). The studies of Leist only consa nguinity in the female Iine was considered. In this
250 251
Malinowski's early writinas Socioloay of the fami_Iy

system a male with his descendants was considered related to his points. McLennan ascribes a very great significance to the killing
siblings and step-siblings of the same mother, and with the chil- by exposure of new-bom girls, which he postulates as a common
dren o f his sisters, as well as wi th his mother, the ma temai grand- practice for the primitive hordes. The direct result was supposed
mother, etc. This situation was, according to Bachofen, to be an excess of males. The scarcity of women, however, was
connected with a distinct social dominance of women, with connected with their superior position which corresponds with
gynaecocracy [ (Gynaekokratie]. Bachofen found a dose connec- Bachofen's gynaecocracy. The excess of males led to the abduc-
tion between consanguinity in the maternal line and the then tion of women from which the importam and almost universal
prevailing marital relations. Marriage in our sense and the duty of custom of exogamy originated. The scarcity of women had one
chastity did not exist then, rather complete promiscuity more sociological consequence: polyandry in which McLennan
[Hetiirismus] prevailed. This was also the reason why originally perceives the beginning o f marriage and o f the family in a stricter
there could be no question of a patriarchy, and why even later sense. Polyandry is supposed to be a general evolutionary phase
after mankind had left the levei of complete promiscuity, which gradually led to patriarchy.
maternal succession and matriarchy continued to exist. Only As already mentioned, the importance of McLennan 's research
!ater when promiscuity had disappeared, mankind emerged from consists in the fact that, equipped with extensive knowledge and
gynaecocracy to pass to paternal consanguinity and patriarchy. by means of thorough analysis, he directed attention to a number
Bachofen's work was full of stimulating ideas and carried by an of highly important facts and stimulated a series of profound
almost prophetic elegance. He is absolutely the creator of the problems with which sociology has been diligently occupied to
entire conceptual arsenal of the theories of matriarchy and group this very day. Abduction of women, exogamy, totemism and
marriage including ali details, and many of his constructions maternal succession clearly play an importam role in the social
have been brilliantly confirmed by !ater ethnological investiga- life of primitive peoples.
tions. However, his analysis of the social relations appears from These questions, which were first subjected to a comprehensive
the sociological standpoint exceedingly inadequate and super- discussion by McLennan, still stand in the focus of sciemific dis-
ficial, his reasoning is fanciful and lacks method. Therefore, for cussion today.
sociologists, his works have more historical than actual value; On the other hand some of the causal connections most
although the judgement of Starke, 15 who calls the work 'rather strongly emphasized by McLennan can hardly be recognized as
the rhapsody of a knowledgeable poet than the creation of a clear valid, and some facts are overestimated by him in their signifi-
and calm scientific spirit', is perhaps too harsh. cance, e.g. the exposure of female children, polyandry and the
Later, although independently of Bachofen, the Scottish re- excess ofmales. The abduction ofwomen is as a rule not connec-
searcher ]. F. McLennan reached almost the same results on ted with polyandry. but almost always with polygyny, as is
matriarchal and primitive sexual conditions on the basis of much evident a priori.
more extensive ethnological material (Studies in Ancient The best known and perhaps the most importam of the three
History). 16 His sociological analyses are remarkable in their champions of original promiscuity, L. H. Morgan, decidedly does
acuteness and comprehensiveness. McLennan generated many not compare with McLennan in the standard of his sociological
important problerns for the sociology of the family, although his analysis (Systems of Consanauinity and Afflnity of the Human
constructions and final conclusions today appear hardly plaus- Family; 17 Ancient Society) . 18 His importance lies principally in
ible. He also proceeds from a primordial state ofpromiscuity [Pro the fact that he himself undertook direct ethnographic investiga-
miskuitiit]. In ali instances where the social conditions tions of North American natives, and could draw new ideas from
corresponding to this stage had grown from a previous stage, kin- the factual material.
ship was only traced in the female line. In this, McLennan agrees On the other hand his association with the natives developed in
with Bachofen and ali other authors of this approach. However, him a kind of sociological instinct with the help of which he
his construction differs from that of Bachofen in many essential could discover much through his direct contact with the Indians
252 253
Malinowski's early writinos Sociolooy of the family

that remains closed to sociologists who derive their material at sanguinity, approximately as we understand the term, a mistake
second hand. Indeed he opened certain classes of facts to know- which McLennan had already avoided. Basing himself on these by
ledge which until then were either unknown or had not yet been no means correct postulates, Morgan derives from the existing
observed and discovered, and which are still in the forefront of kinship terms the development of the marriage forms. In addition,
scientific interest. This is especially true in the case of kinship Morgan views the earliest phase of human family life as a state of
nomenclature which had already been observed at the beginning complete sexual licentiousness. It is followed by five successive
of the 18th century by the j esuit P. Lafitau (Moeurs des sauvaaes stages of family and marriage. However only three are 'radical',
amriquains, compares aux moeurs des premiers temps), 19 but that is, they resulted in specific systems of kinship terms. The first
was first appreciated by Morgan as one of the most important of these three forros is the consanguinous family in which the
documents for the ontogenesis of the human family. Morgan has brothers and sisters (in the strict sense of the word and collatera l)
also contributed much to the knowledge of the social mechanism were linked in a group marriage. This family form which once
of kinship and family life among the North American Indians, had universal acceptance has, according to Morgan, survived as
above all by his work Houses and House-Life of the American remnants among the Hawaiian aborgines and corresponds to the
Aborioines. 20 so-called Malay system of consanguinity. The second 'radical'
Morgan's purely theoretical constructions, on the other hand, form of family is the Punalua family which consisted in a group
are very unsatisfactory; the analysis of the sociological situation marriage between a group of sisters and a group of brothers.
which is inherent in the various 'evolutionary phases' postulated Morgan believed he was able to find this form among the
by him is rather superficial - indeed is completely wanting. This Polynesians, and especially among the Hawaiians in a developed
part of Morgan's contributions certainly deserves the blame of the form which corresponds to the Turanian and Gonawanian system
prominent American sociologist, Howard, concerning the whole of kinship terminology. The third basic form of the family,
approach, when he comments that 'rarely has one seen more according to Morgan, is the monogamous family which led to the
striking examples of a hasty generalization than the one occur- two intermediate stages of the syndiasmic and patriarchal
ring in the theoretical parts of these works'. 21 Morgan bases his families.
ontogenetic constructions mainly on the kinship nomenclatures. The highly symmetrical and rationalistic construction of
These are supposed to have had a much more tenacious life than Morgan rests on a very fragile foundation. The assumption that
the social conditions themselves from which they originated, and the kinship terms stand in dose connection with the forms of
from the kinship terms the conditions underlying them could be marriage was, as pointed out above, completely arbitrary. lt also
easily inferred. Then Morgan passes drectly to a construction of became the subject of vehement controversies and opened the
the successive marriage stages. But this procedure implies two well known discussion which to this very day divides the socio-
assumptions; first, the assumption that the nomenclature systems logical views about the family into hostile camps.
of the kinship conditions themselves are reflected, and further The investigations begun by Bachofen, McLennan and Morgan
that they were a direct result of the then prevailing marriage have been intermittently continued by a number of very import-
forros. Both assumptions which Morgan postulates as something ant scholars, and in some respects considerably further developed.
self-evident, however, cannot be readily understood by them- The pioneer of the English anthropological school, Lord Avebury
selves. Kinship is the general term for a very complicated social (Sir john Lubbock), was an adherent of these views. (The Ori9in
condition, composed of heterogeneous and variable factors, of Civilisation and Primitive Condition of Man; 22 'On the
which looks very different in different societies. Therefore we are development of relationships'. 23 ) Closely related to Bachofen's
led to false conclusions ifit is assumed to be something simple and views are those of Giraud Toulon, although this author had
everywhere homogeneous. Further, when Morgan sees kinship as previously reached similar conclusions on his own. Also jul. Lip-
simply corresponding to the marriage form, he implies the further pert is strongly influenced by Bachofen's views about the human
assumption that kinship is everywhere identical to con- family (Di e Geschichte der Familie). 21
254 255
Malinowski's early writinas Socioloay of the fami~y

Of great importance are the comparative law contributions of theme, with some modifications and within moderate limits, also
Post and Kohler which refer to Morgan's works. With his very dominates the works ofLetourneau (L'volution du mariaae et de
comprehensive, although rather non-methodical and uncritical la famille), 35 Kowalewski (Modern Customs and Ancient Laws in
accumulation of ethnological facts, Post has very much expanded Russia) 36 and Durkheim (see his reviews of some works about the
the range of comparative jurisprudence in Germany and created, family in Anne Socioloaique, vol. 1) Y A similar position is also
to some extent, a useful basis for later investigations (Die taken by the more popular socialist authors Engels (Der Urspruna
Geschlechtsaenossenschaft der Urzeit und die Entstehuna der der Familie). 38 Kautsky (Die Entstehuna der Ehe und Familie) 39
Ehe; 25 and Studien zur Entwicklunasaeschichte des Familien- and Bebel (Die Frau und der Sozialismus} 10 in whom the commu-
rechts;26 and many other studies in the field of ethnological juris- nist ideal for the future must have inftuenced their views about
prudence). However, much more important are the works of the past.
Kohler, who not only improved the research method but also Very importam are the recent works ofpractical ethnographers
achieved lasting merit in the field of the sociology of the family who seem to produce strong proofs in favour of Morgan's theory.
with his systematic elaboration in monographs on the legal In this direction, .first of all, the observations about group mar-
systems of numerous primitive races and civilized peoples (Zur riage among some Central Australian tribes studied by the well
Uraeschichte der Ehe: Totemismus, Gruppenehe, Mutterrecht, 27 known Australian ethnographers Spencer and Gillen (The Na tive
in addition to countless monographic studies on law and family Tribes of Central Australia;11 The Northern Tribes of Central
law in the same periodical). However, it should be observed that Australia) 42 are to be emphasized. The work of the outstanding
Kohler's studies address the problem of the family from the Cambridge ethnologist, Dr Rivers, in his recently published work
extreme standpoint taken by Morgan and exhibit a polemical and Kinship and Social Oraanization" 3 has also contributed greatly to
partisan character. Besides Kohler, who was the editor of the our knowledge of group marriage in Melanesia. On the basis of a
Zeitschrift fr veraleichende Rechtswissenschaft, mention should faulty sociological analysis, the above mentioned authors seem to
be made of Bernhoft and Friedrichs ('ber den Ursprung des make the mistake of using the concept of 'group marriage' only in
Matriarchats'; 'Familienstufen und Eheformen') .28 relation to sexual behaviour. On the other hand, Rivers, who
Morgan found diligent followers of his teaching in the eminent himself h as contribu ted much o f importance in the .field of kinship
ethnographers L. Fison and A. W. Howitt (Kamilaroi and theories (see below), believes that he is able to construct extra-
Kurnai) ;19 especially the latter who had the opportunity to make ordinary family relations in the Melanesian pre-history, but, in
direct observations on the Australian Negroes, brought many the end, these are only conclusions about previous group mar-
valuable facts to light (cf. also Howitt's Native Tribes of S.E. riage and not observations of actual facts.
Australia) .30 However, the general speculations about the pre- The works of Hellwald, Dargun and Hildebrand particularly
history of the family, as they are presented in their works, Ober das Problem einer allaemeinen Entwicklunasaeschichte des
demonstra te how dangerous it is when ethnographers who are not Rechts und der Sitte;"" Recht und Sitte auf den verschiedenen
trained sociologically set about dif.ficult theoretical problems. Kulturstufen, 15 occupy a special position in the literature,
Cunow's work on Australia (Die Verwandtschaftoraanisationen although the authors generally share Morgan's point of view.
der A ustralneaer). 31 is also written under Morgan 's influence. They form a transition to the works to be discussed below in so far
More influenced by McLennan are the works of W. Robertson as they are less concerned with the construction of evolutionary
Smith, who believes to have found matriarchy; among the pre- stages than they are with a scienti.fic analysis of the phenomena
historic Arabs (Kinship and Marriaae in Early Arabia) .32 Similar (although tending to be dogmatic) and with the discovery of
conclusions are reached by the Dutch ethnologist Wilken (Das sociological dependencies and conditions and thus with the
Matriarchat bei den alten Arabern) . 33 McLennan's and Morgan's establishment of sociological laws and with the development of
view is also reftected in Frazer's recently published work about sociological concepts. Hellwald's book (Die menschliche
totemism and exogamy (Totemism and Exoaamy) .34 The same Familie} 16 deserves attention because of its comprehensive des-
256 257
Malinowski's early writinas Socioloay of the fami{y

cription and thoughtful analysis of the various facts which condi- evidence and the formation of concepts, to broaden the horizons
tion the situation of the family and family life. and to take into consideration many facts so far completely
The works ofDargun (Mutterrecht und Raubehe; 47 Mutterrecht ignored. Above ali, the previous works were subjected to severe
und Vaterrecht) 48 are above ali distinguished by a highly modem criticism, and their many methodological and fundamental defi-
approach. In a field where concepts are vague and obscure, where ciencies exposed.
terms are poorly defined and constructions are superficial, where Obviously, the positive contributions of Westermarck's school
circular arguments and polemics prevail, discussion, such as we were much more important to the investigation of the family
find in Dargun's writings, is highly stimulating and is therefore of problem than the nega tive ones. Involved here was the improve-
a significance that can hardly be overrated. ment o f the method as well as an extension o f the point o f view.
Dargun analyzes the concepts of 'power' [Gewa/t] and 'kinship' Thus Westermarck introduced, with brilliant success systematic
and demonstrares that no constants correspond universaliy to and biological considerations (The History of Human
identical social realities, but that in every case the totality ofthe Marriage) . 49
jurai concepts and social institutions must be taken into con- Westermarck emphasizes that among higher vertebrates, but
siderat.ion in order to ascertain how the kinship relations of a above ali among the anthropoid apes, conditions a re to be found
people are constituted. Dargun's criticism of the concepts of kin- which a re very similar to monogamous marriage. The only bio-
ship, his deep insight into the functional dependence of the kin- logical data which we h ave for a concept of prehistoric conditions
ship relations on jurai, moral and economic factors, and on the speak decidedly in favour of the assumption of a rudimentary
general structure of the respective society, have, besides their monogamy, which has persisted. On the other hand, Wester-
direct value as contributions to the problem in question, also an marck points out that irregular sexual intercourse leads to a
even more general value as a guide for the future direction of pathological condition which strongly impairs fertility. In primi-
scientific sociology in the proper sense of the word. Dargun's tive conditions where the struggle for existence mercilessly
special investigations were concerned with the family law of the decimates the human group, infertility contributes to weakness
primordial Germans with whom he believed he could prove and final destruction. Natural selection would therefore favour
matriarchy with certainty. societies with monogamous marriage or at least regulated sexual
relations. Above ali one must agree wth Westermarck that 'the
strongest argument against primitive promiscuity can be deduced
C. The theory of the constancy of the typical forms and the basic
from the psychological nature of man and other mammals'.
elements of marriaae and family
Man's jealousy is very strongly developed, and in primitive man,
The studies of Bachofen, McLennan and Morgan and of their best to judge from an analogy with mammals, this is also the case.
foliowers had a pioneering effect and encouraged research on the Here Westermarck also has the authority of Darwin on his side.
sociology of marriage and the family. Some results of their work Although this conclusion may not be compulsory for everyone
have had a lasting value, such as Morgan's kinship tables, McLen- (see, for example, the very clear and thorough discussion of these
nan's correct posing of problems, Kohler's monographs and questions in Mlier-Lyer's Family,so where the author comes to
Dargun's ingenious and thorough analyses. However, many completely contrary conclusions), credit for having employed
things in their contributions bear the stigma of hasty and daring biological viewpoints consistently and comprehensively on the
hypotheses, deficient evidence, of intolerance towards other problem of the family is undoubtedly due to Westermarck. He
points of view even in the face of contrary facts; in brief, of a subjects the numerous examples of sexuallcence which are to be
strong sectarian and partisan spirit. found among many peoples to a comprehensive investigation and
The third direction, which is linked with the name of demonstrares that in no event can one speak of a then existing
Westermarck, sprang from the tendency to increase the scope of group marriage or promiscuity, nor that 'vestiges' of earlier such

258 259
Malinowski's early writines Socioloey of the family

conditions can unequivocally be deduced. In addition, he sets up Method of Investigating the Development of Institutions, Applied
a list of those peoples with whom a great value is attached to the to Laws of Marriage and Descent') 53 according to which the
chastity of women and the virginity of girls. circumstances of whether, after marriage, the woman moves to
The concept ofkinship is subjected by this school to a thorough the husband's family, or the husband joins the wife's is of decisive
critique by Starke (Di e primitive Familie), 51 who devotes half of significance.
his work to a discussion of kinship and matriarchy, and by From them we learn what a powerful influence the general
Westermarck, who discusses the question of kinship mainly in social conditions, especially economic and local conditions, exert
connection with the systems of kinship. 52 on the organization of the family. The valuable book of Grosse,
The most important progress however, lies in the much deeper Di e Formen der Familie und di e Formen der Wirtschaft, 51 is
and more scientific manner in which the problems are devoted to this question, in which the influence of the economic
approached. Maternal succession and paternal succession, great evolutionary stages of mankind on the constitution of the family
sexual freedom and strict chastity, marriage by kidnapping and is presented.
purchase, the pervasive influence of kinship and the absolute With regard to the methodological and factual treatment of the
predominance of the family - ali these elements are no longer family problem, Grosse comes dose to sharing Westermarck's
regarded as definire developmental stages which must be standpoint.
recognized as generally valid or rejected. These are only different Still another aspect of the problem of kinship relations h as been
forms which the social interaction and kinship forms can and left out of our consideration so far, namely the religio-ceremonial
must assume under certain social conditions. The most important aspect of marriage. Earlier marriage customs and ceremonies
task of sociological research is to analyse accurately family life have already been considered from Bachofen's and Morgan's
and the general social structure and to investigare their mutual standpoint. One employed the method of survivals as the
dependencies and externai conditions. Only after having principie of explanation, while the other saw in the marriage
penetrated the nature of the facts and having grasped the biologi- customs vestiges of a former kind of marriage by abduction, group
cal and sociological dependencies can one dare to present the marriage, a sexual communism, etc. A general discussion on the
evolutionary stages in rough outlines. To do this on the basis of psychological content of the religio-ceremonial usages and
poorly defined survivals or a priori considerations, is certainly customs of marriage was, however, given only by E. A. Crawley
admissible as a working hypothesis, but must always be regarded in his distinguished book, The Mystic Rose: a Study ofPrimitive
as provisional. But above ali one must draw one's attention to the Marriaoe. 55 The author begins with a general, highly original and
functional aspect of the sociological regularity in order to reach a penetrating analysis of human relations in their religio-magical
more complete insight into the sociological nature of marriage aspect. On this basis he deals with sexual relations, which above
and kinship. ali, involves the magical danger that primitive people see in dose
In this sense Westermarck and Starke have already contributed sexual contact. The various forros of marriage ceremonies are
much of significance in their works. This can be seen thus in the interpreted from this point of view. The recently published book
above mentioned discussion about sexual promiscuity, a problem of Westermarck on marriage customs in Morocco (Marriaoe
that has been exhaustively dealt with by Westermarck. Also with Ceremonies in Morocco) 56 is also an important contribution to
regard to the problem of matriarchy, both Starke and Wester- the psychological and sociological treatment of marriage
marck have subjected this to a thorough analysis. It is Starke's customs. Since the book is above ali very important from the
opinion that it is mainly economic conditions and settlement standpoint of ethnological method, it will be extensively treated
questions which determine kinship calculations, whether on the in a subsequent review.
mother's or the father's side, in which the influence of kinship The great work of Mller-Lyer, Entwicklunosoeschichte der
would be decisive. His results have been confirmed by the very Menschheit, 57 devotes considerable space to what the author calls
interesting investigations of Tylor on the same questions ('On a 'geneonomic' relations, especially those social relations which
260 261
Malinowski's early writinas Socioloay of the family
are closely connected with procreation. So far three volumes (III-
V of the entire work) on geneonomic relations have appeared.
The first of these volumes which deals with the 'Forms of mar-
riage, of the family and of relationships' (Munich 1913), is an
introduction to geneonomy in which the general concepts are The sociology of the family, works which treat the general prob-
defined and the forms of the various social structures are dis- lem of the ontogeny of the farnily were reviewed in part I of this
cussed. Volume V, 'Stages of Life' (Munich 1913). deals mainly article.
with the development of relations between the sexes. The most Therefore, let us brietly review the investiga tions which deal
important volume of the entire work is volume IV, 'The family' with the sociological structure of the family as it appears in our
(Munich 1912) . This book contains an overall presentation of the present day society. In contrast to evolutionist theories, which
geneonomic development. The author divides the entire develop- give, so-to-speak, a longitudinal section through the evolution of
ment into three great epochs, which he calls the kinship, familial the human family. the works to be discussed here present cross-
and individual epochs. In the first, kinship is the most important sections of the current social situation. These works are on the
structure; human society builds on the principie of common whole defined by practical viewpoints. The family is, in many
descent and consanguinity. The second epoch begins with respects, a basis of the social order, it is 'the cell of the social
fundamental social differentia tion in which kinship collapses, body'. Therefore everyone who approaches sociology as a
and its functions are divided between family and the state. The reformer or practical politician at least touches on the problem of
former assumes most of the geneonomic functions, the latter the the family. The socialist, the eugenicist and the philanthropist ali
poltica! ones. In the third, the individual epoch, at whose begin- have to take this elementary building stone into consideration
ning we stand, the family once again declines in importance. In and to express their opinion on marriage, divorce, upbringing of
its place, a highly differentiated society encroaches on the family children, sexual morality and other component problems of the
and its functions. On the other hand the individual becomes ever family, and so it is evident these investigations are practically
more independent of the family. a nd socially of the greatest importance. But even considered
Mller-Lyer's work is, at ali events, the most modem work that purely scientifically and theoretically they elucidate ma ny
we possess on the ontogeny o f the family. Some parts of the work, extremely important sociological connections and give an insight
such as, for example, the analysis of the prehistoric hypotheses, in to the most elementary motivating forces of the social mechan-
and the question of the origin of the family, are written with ism. Indeed, they should actually forro the preliminary step and
consummate clarity and mastery of the material. In the questions condition for a serious study of the ontogenesis of the farnily
of prehistory, Mller-Lyer inclines more to Morgan's than to beca use we can penetra te into ali particulars of general sociologi-
Westermarck's school, which hardly can be seen as an advantage, cal regularities only in our living society, a nd we are capable of
but his argumentation a nd his proofs are free of the above men- grasping the sense of many sociological and socio-psychological
tioned deficiencies of the theoreticia ns of group marriage. Since facts best in our own society.
the book treats very comprehensive problems in a scanty space, it Despi te this, the purely scientifi.c works on the sociology of the
is naturally impossible for the author to enter in to the particulars modem family are relatively rare and at any rate, and in com-
of the argumentation and to introduce suffi.cient inductive parison with ontogenic works, negligibly small in number. It is
material which, t aken strictly scientifically, would be very desir- not difficult to explain this anomaly. This is caused, on the one
able and necessary. The book is ontogenetically orientated, and hand, by the fact that in each science the interest starts with a
therefore socio-historical viewpoints are given prominence over naive a nd childish curiosity about the unknown, lost, distant a nd
the purely sociological. As an introduction to the study of the mysterious and only slowly matures and tums its attention to
problem of the family, we would place Mller-Lyer's book beside fathoming the nature of the phenomena as they surround us in
the work of Howard, as the best that exists in the literature. living fullness in the present. The facts which we see daily before
262 263
Malinowski's early writinys Socioloyy of the family

us appear to pre-scientific and early scientific thinking as too Perhaps the first major attempt to provide a purely objective
trivial and self-evident to be worthy of serious consideration. and scientific presentation of the types of family in modem
However, there is still another reason why the ethnological and society, h as been ma de by J. Le Play and his school. 61 Although h e
prehistoric speculations about the family could flourish more was also led by practical interests, and although his general
than investigations into the nature and significance ofthe family, standpoint a nd ma ny of his doctrines are not purely scientifically
which we can investigare and observe in the living organism of orienta ted, almost everything that he contri buted to the soci-
our present society in fine detail and without obstacle. Precisely ology of the family in extensive observations, methods of objec-
because we a re so much closer to those facts, it is much more tive description and means of scentific analysis of conditions, is
difficult for us to grasp them imparti ally and objectively. To see a of significant scientific value. Le Play perceived the decisive role
phenomenon sharply and completely, we must be outside it. played by the family in the social structure, especially the aver-
Otherwise we cannot see the forest for the trees. It is not easy to age family in the lower classes, and he strove for adequa te means
distinguish the essential from the secondary and to see how the to convey a picture of these types of families. Already by virtue of
leading ideas of the day could contribute to the descriptive its purposeful struggle for objective methods of presentation, Le
analysis and explanation of particular facts. Bringing the leading Play's contribution is important, but the quality of his method
ideas to bear on the general and complete description of facts is and the results attained are of first class scientific importance.
the noblest goal of scientific work. Kirchhofs methodological The monographs produced by Le Play and his school, Ouvriers
principie, that it is the goal of science ' to describe the fa cts com- europen s61 and Ouvriers des deux mondes, 63 are materiais of high
pletely and in the simplest manner' (Mechanik, pt. 1) 58 proves v alue. It is a pity that the work of Le Play's schol was conducted
right much more for the arts where so much depends on devoting in a practical reforrnist sprit and received too little attention
consideration to the proper moment. from the pure scientific side.
Indeed, in the arts we lack objective evidence which would Besides, while the monographic method is perhaps the best,
raise the discussion above a bare exchange of views into the a lthough painful and tedious, there also exist much quicker and
sphere of irrefutable argumenta tion. No matter how far we may more comprehensive ways to convey inforrnation about the soci-
always remain from attaining the ideal, the greatest efforts ology of the farnily. Above ali, much could be ascertained by
should be made in this direction. In the a rea of the family prob- means of more extensive statistics. Although sta tistical data can-
lem, we can well surmise, or even know, that certain regularities not give us an insight into intimare family relations or detailed
exist, but to formulare them sharply and objectively is extremely characteristics of farnily life, in some fundamental ways they
difficult. There also exist a large number of works which in a furnish us with the only truly significant picture of the facts. We
more or less joumalistic style, and with a more or less openly are already in possession of some very valuable sta tistical data.
avowed moral purpose, portray the family ideal and analyse Perhaps the best are those data produced by the government ofthe
family relations. As a n example, there is the well known and very United States. This government seerns to be especially interested
interesting book of A. Riehl (Di e Familie) ,59 which appeared in in sociological investigations. Moreover, North America offers an
severa! editions and exerted considerable influence. There is an extraordinarily favourable experimental field for theoreticians.
excess of similar works in ali civilized languages in which the The fifty-three states and territories with radically different legal
different nationa l conditions are given exhaustive consideration. systems and consequently different social problems, offer an
The reader will find a comprehensive bibliography in the work of excellent field of observation and experimentation to the sociol-
G. E. Howard.60 Obviously, these works cannot be discussed here. ogist. The lack of religious, political and legal unity, and the
They constitute raw material which should be of great value for a partiallack of national unity, and their separation from histori-
sociologist dealing with the family problem, because they are an cal tradition and routine, rnakes it possible to raise many ques-
archive of documents about public opinion on this question, but tions about the practice of legislation, which in the Old World
as scientific contributions, they are of little value. were either answered automatically or appeared unsuitable for
264 265
Malnowski's early writings Socioloay of the family

discussion. But also in all other states there now exists much lected valuable and extensive data which he has published in a
statistical material on a number of questions which are in dose basic work, Marriage and Divorce in the United States, 1867-
connection with family life and which at present capture the 1886.67 Also valuable are the publications of the National Divorce
attention of sociologists and politicians concerned with problems League (Reports of the NDL) 68 and their successor, the National
o f reform. There are, first of all, the following problems: reform of League for the Protection of the Family. 69 In other countries,
marriage law, especially of divorce, the position of children in the much has been published about marriage law and divorce prob-
family, including the problem of the education al role of the lems. (For a bibliography of the material see Howard's work
family, the position o f the women in the family ( closely tied with where there will also be found a review of these questions, par-
the question of the economic, legal and poltica! emancipation of ticularly in America.)
women), the problem of scientific eugenics and the abolition of The serious problem of divorce is perhaps the most evident and
the sexual abuses (prostitution, sexual crimes and diseases). most striking symptom of a fundamental upheaval in the nature
Some of these questions lead us away from the problems of the of the family in general. This upheaval is manifested in the
family and form a field of special investigations. So it is with the rougher as well as in the finer characteristics of modem family
pedagogical problem. Only in so far as it touches upon family life, life. (For a rather good, perhaps somewhat exaggerated, presen-
is it to be mentioned in this connection. (As an example I refer to tation of the modem crisis of the family see Mller-Lyer.) 70 The
the recently published work by Todd, The Family.) 64 The ques- bases of the family structure seem to be under attack with the
tion of the general position of women in modem society also jurai, moral and actual aspects of the marriage bond having been
claims a special field for itself, although it certainly is of great considerably loosened. The relationship between parents and
interest for the sociologist of the family. Besides, this question is children is completely different from what it was half a century
now much more the subject of violent poltica} and journalistic ago. The state interferes more and more with the educational
debates than of scientific analyses. The two kinds of treatment functions of the parents and controls the moral and hygienic
cannot always be reconciled. But things worth mentioning ha,ve guidance of the children. Also the dependence of women on their
been brought to light on the part of passionate champions of the husbands is strongly modified. With the growing economic
one or the other party in this struggle, and socialist writers have independence of women, their ability to gain their livelihood by
contributed specially valuable material to it (for example, A. their own work and on their own responsibility has increased and
Bebel, Die Frau und der Sozialismus. 65 See also a good discussion thus the strongest bond which formerly tied them to their
of the question and history of the problem in Howard) .66 husbands has been loosened. On the other hand, the domestic
The problem of the improvement of the race which concerns activity of women has lost much of its importance and indispen-
eugenicists is also related to the family structure. Indeed, the sabilty, while the cheapness and ease with which the family can
procreation and upbringing of children remains the basic function provide itself with the necessary products has decreased the func-
of the family, in any case in its modem form. The science called tions of the housewife even more.
by Francis Galton 'eugenics' should teach us how this function The form offamily life is also changing. Husband and wife must
could be most advantageously practised. Although the new often spend the whole day away from the home and therefore the
science has only begun to lay the ground for its investigations, it children are more and more frequently entrusted to various edu-
is clear that the influence of eugenic thought on customary ideas cational institutions or kindergartens. The single home, which
about the sexual and general morality will have far-reaching and was the externa! symbol of the independence of the individual
beneficiai effects. family, has almost completely vanished from the cities of the
A copious literature exists on marriage law, and especially on European continent, and also in England and the English speak-
the question of divorce. In America these questions have given ing overseas states where the renting of apartments in extensive
rise to a brisk sociological discussion. At official instigation and apartment houses is increasingly more common.
with government support, Commissioner C. D. Wright has col- All this causes the family to undergo a profound transform ation
266 267
Malinowski's early writinos
in its basic characteristics. How far this will go, what will prove
viable and valuable from the old, and what will have to perish, is
at present rather djfficult to predict. These conditions are clearly
reflected in the sociological publications of our day. NOTES

Introduction: Malinowski's readina. writina. 1904-1914

I. Not included in this volume are his two published works, The Family
Amona the Australian Aboriaines (1913) and Wierzenia pierwotne i
formy ustroju spoleczneao (1915). The latter book was finished by
Malinowski before he left for Australia and was published in Poland
during his absence. It has not been translated into English.
Malinowski's many book reviews are also not included.
2. IfMalinowski 's diaries before 1914 were availab1e it is likely that we
could learn more about Nietzsche's inftuence upon the young
3. Mach's formulation of important principies of relativity, especially
in the field of fluid dynamics is memorialized in the 'Mach number'
which expresses a ratio of the speed of a body to that of sound
relative to the medium through which they both travei. Mach's rec-
ognition of the re1ativity o f motion and measurement was one o f the
principal inspirations for Albert Einstein who !ater elaborated it in
the famous 'general theory of relativity'. Indeed, both Einstein and
Malinowski were inftuenced by Mach's important statement of
general principies of observation and perception that made clear that
the most elementary measurements of physica1 phenomena were
rei ative to the context and to the observer.
4. Mach bands are the visual-perceptual phenomenon of large dif-
ferences in perceived intensity of light from two or more separated
light sources. This is not related to any physical phenomenon, but
rather to the behaviour of the networks of neurons in the eye.
5. In other words, Mach sought the grounds for believing with some
degree of certainty that the propositions of science were true, while
he rejected the transcendent metaphysics of an absolute Truth.
6. I. C. jarvie calls any relativism 'weak' which admits to the existence
of some universal truths while insisting that there are also some
truths whose 'truth' depends on the pragmatic or local conditions of
their contexts.
7. In a kind of extended epitaph that he called 'an appreciation',

268 269
Notes to paaes 8-17 Notes to paaes 18-28
Malinowski wrote that 'Frazer is a representative of an epoch of Brown) was next to use the name as when he was appointed to the
Anthropology that ends with his death ... The material which he chair of social anthropology at the University of Cape Town,
has given us will remain for long the standby of the ethnologist ... established in 1921. Malinowski's professorship in social anthro-
[but] Frazer's theoretical position [is] not acceptable' (Malinowski pology was created only in 1927 at the London School of Economics
1944c). after he had served as Lecturer in social anthropology from 1921 to
8. 'Kasper' is sometimes spelled 'Kacper'; both spellings are correct. 1924, and as Reader from 1924 to 1927 within the Department of
9. These diaries are in the possession of Ma1inowski's youngest Ethnology (Schapera 1989).
daughter, Helena Wayne. They remain unpublished. 19. It is also consistem with Williamjames' 'pragmatism'. This link was
lO. Karol Estreicher (1971 :7). son of Professor Stanislaw Estreicher who originally pointed out by Edmund Leach (1957:121) who surrnised
was in dose contact with young Malinowski, wrote: 'The literary that these ideas must have come from ]ames. The knowledge of his
imagination of the boys was stimulated by and mixed with eroticism dissertation on Mach shows clearly that they carne directly from
of the Young Poland type... Dreams of success, power and fame were Mach (Paluch 1981 b, Flis 1988, Gellner 1987:54). Nevertheless, Wil-
mixed with dreaming about love, which was viewed as a sensual liam ]ames did visit Mach in 1880 (Lowie 1947:65-8). and probably
lunacy' (1971:8). had an influence on many other German-trained American anthropo-
11. The characterization of this period of his life as his 'Nietsche [sic] logists such as Franz Boas and Robert Lowie (Lowie 1947; Manicas
period' was ma de years la ter in one of his unpublished diaries accord- 1987:213, 227-31).
ing to Helena Wayne, his daughter. Personal communication, 20. Malinowski wrote: 'When I went out to New Guinea, I was already
Helena Wayne, 1991. acquainted with the universally influential aetiological explana-
12. 622 Downfalls was written in 1909-ll, and revised in 1920 but not tions of myth. This theory has, as we h ave seen, the fatal implication
published until 1972. The 'downfalls' in the title refer to 'moral' that we have to collect stories and regard them as self-contained
failures, or falls from grace. documents of primitive science. I had to learn the lesson of func-
13. At any rate Stas had referred to Bronio as 'Lord Douglas' in the early tional co-relation between myth as ritual in the field' ('Myth as a
years of their friendship when at school. This was an allusion to the dramatic development of dogma', l962b, p. 255). The 'aetiological
real Lord Douglas, friend of Oscar Wilde (S. Witkiewicz 1969:39 - theory' refers to Andrew Lang's idea of myth as a sort of 'explana-
letter of 31 july 1900; Martinek 1981:7-8, 38). Or is 'Neverrnore' tion', a science manqu. See also Malinowski l926a:144-5 for another
meant specifically as 'never more' - never again? In the novel one of elaboration of this rejection.
Bungo's biggest downfalls is when he indulges in a homosexual act 21. In fact, it was Georg Hegel, in particular, who sought to justify the
with the duke (Witkiewicz 1978:149-52). Anna Micinska (1978:37), Gerrnan nation-state as the ultimate embodiment of reason.
editor of 622 Downfalls ofBunao. confirms that this happened in real Schopenhauer, on the other hand, did not agree: this was described as
life between Stas and Bronio but remained 'an isolated psychological Schopenhauer's 'pessimism' (that the state was not necessarily the
experiment'. embodiment of reason, and that progress was not guaranteed)
14. B. Malinowski papers, Yale University BMYU, Box 32. against Hegel's 'optimism'. Schopenhauer bitterly opposed Hegel,
15. Malinowski planned to make the translation but, perhaps for reasons and Nietzsche was caught between them, at least throughout his
of pressure of other work, or perhaps because the book, like the period of infatuation with Richard Wagner until his vehement rejec-
review in the journal Lud, contained severe criticisn:t of Frazer, he tion of Wagner.
did not think it wise to doso. 22. The classicist, E. R. Dodds, in fact found Malinowski 's work
16. Found by Peter Skalnk in 1980 (see above, Preface); BMYU 27/237. illuminating in his own effort to solve 'the problem of the Greeks'.
17. Clifford Geertz writes: 'To be a convincing "1-witness", one must, so (See Dodds 1951:45,59, 103).
it seems, first become a convincing "I"' (Geertz 1988:73). 23. Mach's principie was different from that of 'Occam's Razor', that is,
18. The term 'social anthropology' was first introduced by james Frazer that the most parsimonious or concise explanation is most likely to be
in 1908, when he became for only one year Professor of Social true, for Mach believed that the 'economy' of science was an actual
Anthropology at the University of Liverpool. Malinowski apparently physiological economy of energy in the human neural apparatus.
adopted the name from the name given to Frazer's Liverpool chair. Mach's 'economy' is empirical-biological, while 'Occam's' is rhet-
However, it should be noted that Radcliffe-Brown (then A. R. orical.

270 271
Notes to paaes 29--49 Notes to paaes 50-88.
24. Both William )ames and john Dewey drew on Mach. This probably 33. Malinowski, 'Tribal ma1e associations', p. 203.
explains the similarity between Dewey's and Malinowski's theoreti- 34. Ibid., p. 206.
cal positions. Edmund Leach (1957:121) believed, erroneously. that 35. Malinowski, 'Observations on Nietzsche', p. 70.
Malinowski 'found this body of theory in the Pragmatism of William 36. Malinowski, 'Tribal male associations', p. 207.
james'. Dewey also remarked on the similarity himself (1929:169), 37. Malinowski, 'Observations on Nietzsche', p. 70.
citing Malinowski extensively and including severallong excerpts in 38. Malinowski, 'Tribal male associations', p. 207.
an addenda to his Paul Carus Lectures of 1925 (published in 1929). 39. 'The Economic Aspect .. .', p. 219.
Although there is no evidence that Malinowski had read either )ames 40. lbid., p. 220.
or Dewey at this time, he cited Dewey's 1925 work (where Dewey 41. Ibid., p. 226.
had cited Malinowski) in 'An ethnographic theory of language' 42. 'A fundamental question of religious sociology', pp. 244.
(1935:11,61). 43. 'The relation ofprimitive beliefs to the forros ofsocial organization',
25. 'On transformation and adaptation in scientific thought' (Mach p. 229.
1898). In this Jecture Mach notes that 'already we see [Darwin's] 44. lbid., p. 229.
ideas rooting in every branch of human thought', and notes that 45. lbid., p. 231.
'even in physical sciences we hear the watchwords: heredity, adap- 46. lbid., p. 242.
tation, selection. We speak of the strugg1e for existence among the 47. Ibid., p. 234.
heavenly bodies and of the struggle for existence in the world of 48. Immanuel Kant's phrase; the nature and existence of the categorica1
molecules'. imperative was a central problem for philosophical and anthropo-
26. This linkage is made more or less exp1icit near the end of the second logical thought since the beginning of the I).ineteenth century.
volume of Coral Gardens and Their Maaic (1935:11,235-9). Briefly, the 'categorical imperative' is the fundamental moral
27. The phrase 'theory creates facts' comes from the Diary (Malinowski imperative which is based on 'analytic' or conceptua1 reason a1one,
1967:114), but the same point is expressed in his 1911 review of and which does not depend for its justification on experience. In
Frazer's Totemism and Exoaamy (p. 127, in this book), in Araonauts Kant's ethics, it represented the philosophical justification for ali
(1922:84), in Coral Gardens and Their Maaic (1935:317) and again in morality; in anthropology, it can be construed as the logic which
1944 in the posthumous publication A Scientific Theory of Culture enjoins moral behaviour in a society (Kant 1879; Scruton
(l944a: 12) in which h e says 'to observe means to se1ect, to classify, to 1982:67-71).
iso1ate on the basis of theory'. 49. Malinowski, 'Primitive beliefs', p. 235.
28. David Strauss' Life of Jesus Critically Examined (1835), was 50. lbid., p. 237.
translated into English by George Eliot ( 1846), at the suggestion of 51. lbid. , p. 240.
George Lewes. Nietzsche wrote a passionate criticism of David 52. lbid., p. 241.
Strauss' !ater work, The Old Faith and the New, entitled 'David
Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer' (Nietzsche 1983).
29. Francis Galton's work on comparative techniques and Franz Boas' 1 Observations on Friedrich Nietzsche'sThe Birth ofTragedy
essay on the comparative method in ethnology are forerunners in l. [F. Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Traaodie (The Birth of Tragedy)
this. ( 1872). This was the first book Nietzsche published. References here
30. 'Zero point' is not Malinowski's phrase. Later, in fact, he attributed are to the English translation by Walter Kaufmann in Basic Writinas
the phrase to Lucy Mair, and while conceding that there might be of Nietzsche (New York: The Modem Library, 1968) .]
such a zero point in history, it was not accessible to historical or 2. [The Birth ofTraaedy, p. 75.]
anthropological knowledge (Malinowski 1945:27). 3. [Ibid., p. 41.]
31. Malinowski, review of Frazer's Totemism and Exoaamy, p. 166. 4. [Page references in parenthesis are Malinowski's own; references in
32. Nietzsche's words also point to other themes that Malinowski square brackets are to Kaufmann's translation ( 1968) .]
explored elsewhere, for instance punishment in Crime and Custom in 5. [Nietzsche speaks of the 'titanic powers of nature', and equates this
Savaae Society (1926b), and 'The problem of meaning in primitive with 'terror and the horror of existence' (p. 42) .]
language' (1923). More research is needed to define the nature and 6. [On the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animais (London,
extent of the Nietzschean influence. 1872; reprinted University of Chicago Press, 1965) .]

272 273
Notes to panes 89-90 Notes to panes 9D-9~

Malnowsk's critique of Nietzsche's Apollonian!Dionysian dichot-

2 On the principie of the economy of thouoht omy.]
[The original in Polish is entitled, o zasadzie ekonomii my~lenia', PhD disser- 7. [Malinowsk's note 2:] Petzodt states this clearly in the work cited
tation, Jagiellonian University. Jagiellonian University Archives, sygn. X 1237.] below. [Petzoldt, joseph, Vierteljahrschrift fr wissenschaftliche
l. (jenseits: literally 'the other side,' or 'beyond'. Nietzsche used the Philosophie (1890b), and Maxima-minima und Oekonomie (Alten-
word in the title of his second work ]enseits von Gut und Bose burg 1890a; Flis 1988: 108-9) .]
(Beyond Good and E vil), but more generally it refers to Nietzsche's 8. [Cornelius (1897) .]
rejection of a transcendent Reality or ldea, which would serve to 9. [Maurycy Straszewsk, with Stefan Pawlicki and W1adyslaw
guarantee conventional values and power relations. By referring to Heinrich, was one of three professors of Philosophy at jagiellonian
Nietzsche's 'abhorrence of the beyond (jenseits]', Malinowsk means University. Although he taught Malinowsk, the dissertaton was
hs vehement rejecton of the metaphysics of Transcendentalism and written under the supervision of Pawlick (see Pa1uch 1981 b:278) .]
Cartesian Dualsm in European phlosophy. This positon is what 10. [Malnowsk's note 3:] Two works printed in 1890: Vierteljahrschrift
Nietzsche called 'nihilism': 'The destruction of the moral interpreta- fr wissenschaftliche Philosophie and the longer and more important
tion of the world, which has no sanctions any more after it has Maximaminima und Oekonomie. Uoseph Petzoldt, Maxima
attempted to flee into some beyond (jenseits]. ends in nihilism. "Ail minima und Oekonomie (A1tenburg 1890a) and Einfhruno in die
is senseless" ... What does nihilism mean? That the highest values Philosophie der reinen Erfahruna. 2 vols. (Leipzig: B. j. Teubner,
disvalue themselves. The goal is lacking; the answer is Jackng to our 1900--4) .]
"Why?"' (Wille zur Macht, paragraphs 1- 2, quoted in Walter Kauf- 11. Uohan Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841). Malinowsk refers here to Her-
mann, Nietzsche, p. 100) .] bart's theory of apperception which became the basis for an import
2. [See Malnowski's definiton and discussion of 'metaphysics' in his ant theory of human learning, and consequently for an influential
essay on Nietzsche, and hs assertion there that metaphysics results pedagogical method as well. Herbart argued that learning consisted
from a universal 'emotional' (that is, 'non empirica1' or not directly of the building-up of aSSCiations between ideas and experience
related to sense impressions) need to 'bridge the gulr between which formed a comp1ex matrix of 'assocations' called the
emprica) knowledge and 'human experience'. The latter term refers 'apperception mass' .]
to language (especially myth), concepts, dreams, trance or trance- 12. [Malnowsk 's note 4:] A broader and more fundamental presen-
like psychological states, music and art, and seems to be opposed, in tation of this law can be found in Petzoldt's Einfhruno in die
Malnowski's thinking, to 'sensual experience' or 'sense impress- Philosophie der reinen Erfahruno. [Introduction to the Philosophy of
ions'.] Pure Experience, 2 vols. (Leipzig: B. J. Teubner, 1900--4) .]
3. [Malnowski 's note 1:] In the study Die Geschich te und di e Wurzel 13. [Malinowsk's note 5:] The majority of contemporary philosophers
Satzes von der Erhaltuno der A rbeit (Prague, 1872) [2nd edition, Jean towards the acceptance of the first, more exact thesis.
Leipzig, 1909. This work is also available in English as History and 14. [Malnowski's note 6:] Petzoldt emphasizes the application of this
Root of the Principie of the Conservation of Eneroy (Chicago: Open law to psycho1ogy in the work cited above.
Court, 1911.)] 15. [Malnowsk's note 7:] This agrees with the older point of view that
4. [Richard Heinrich Ludwig Avenarius (1843-1896) Philosophie ais in science we must explain everything in term of causality, insofar as
Denken der Welt oemss dem Prinzip des kleinsten Kraftmasses: Pro functons may be substituted for causalty.
Jeoomena zu einer Kritik der reinen Erfahruna (Philosophy as 16. [Malinowski's note 8:] This corresponds to the concepton of time as
Thought about the World in Accordance with the Principie of the the fictitious variable expressing for us the mutual dependence of the
Least Amount of Energy: Prolegomena to a Critique of Pure Experi- changes occurring in nature.
ence) (Leipzig: Fuses's Verlag (R. Reisland), 1876) .] 17. [Malinowski's note 9:] Naturally, since above we have renounced its
5. [Gustav Robert Kirchhof, see note 34.] inclusion as a general formula applying to mental phenomena.
6. [Richard Avenarius, Kritik der reinen Erfahruno (Critique of Pure 18. [Malinowski's note 10:] For there is no place here for independent
Experience), 2 vols. (1888-1890). The influence of Avenarius' best- variables, since, after ali, in real historical time we cannot consider
known work, in which he argues against metaphysica1 conceptions any variable to be independent in the mathematcal sense.
of the dualty of 'inner' and 'outer' experience, is also evident in 19. [This recalls Malinowski's definition of metaphysics as the attempt

274 275
Notes to paaes 95-103 Notes to paaes 104-1~6

to bridge the distance ' between these two basically different worlds' lasting influence on psychology generally. On Zeller, see note 7, p.
in his 'Observations on Nietzsche's The Birth ofTraoedy'.] 284 in Paluch l98lb, in which Malinowski is quoted as saying in a
20. [Philosophy as Thouoht about the World, cited above, note 4.] letter to Paw1icki, 'Iam looking over Zeller as well'.]
21. [Malinowski's note ll :] [...] namely in the first part, 'Einleitung in 30. [Leonhard Euler (1707-1783), developed many of the most important
die Psychologie und Sprachwissenschaft' [lntroduction to psychol- mathematical techniques and notations in analytic geometry,
ogy and linguistics]. See Heymann [Chaim] Steinthal, Abriss der algebra and calculus that made possible the mathematicization of
Sprachwissenschaft (Outline of Linguistics) (Berlin: F. Dummlers, physics. William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865), was an 1rish math-
1881) .] ematician who developed what is known as the Hamiltonian func-
22. [Malinowski 's note 12:] j[ohann] F[riedrich] Herbart, Psycholooie ais tion, a description of the rate of change over time of Newtonian
Wissenschaft [Psychology as a Science], 1824, [18257] Knigsberg. [lt dynamic systerns in terrns of the sum of kinetic and potential energy
appears in English translation in Collected Works, ed. G. Harten- they contain, which shows that physical systerns tend toward either
stein, l3 vols. (Hamburg, 1883-93); also in Collected Works, ed. K. maximum or rninimum states. Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis
Kehrbach and O. Fleugel, 19 vols. (Leipzig, 1887- 1912; reprinted in (1698-1759), a French mathematician and astronomer, introduced
1963).] Newton's theory of gravitation in Europe, and forrnulated a
23. [The term 'apperceiving mass' is J. F. Herbart's. lt refers to bis con- 'principie of 1east action' in which physica1 systerns were said to be
cept of the matrix of 'associations', and the hierarchical mechanism govemed by a principie of economy.]
by which they are sorted into conscious and unconscious ideas.) 31. [Friedrich A1bert Lange (1828-1875), Geschichte des Materialismus
24. [Malinowski's note 13:) Darwin considers purposefulness to be a und Kritik seiner Bedeutuno in der Geoenwart (History of Materia1-
direction of the struggle for survival, assuring the preservation of the ism and Critique of its Present Meaning) (1866; reprinted Lepizig:
individual and the species. Sue h a definition of purposefulness is thus Kroner, 1907). English translation, History of Materialism ( 1923).
useless for any sort of psychological research. [In this passage, quoted Lange was an important Socialist philosopher in the Neo-Kantian
in German, the term zweckmassio has been translated as 'purpose- tradition.]
ful'; other possible translations indude 'expedient', 'usefulness' or 32. [Emi1 Heinrich Du Bois-Reymond (1818-1896), discovered the
'suitableness'. lt is not entirely clear what Malinowski intended, nor electro-chemical process by which nerves conduct the impulses of
precisely how he understood this passage.] sensation, and through which muscles contract. His intellectual
25. [Malinowski's note 14:] In the above cited work by Steinthal, p. lll. collaboration with other German physiologists such as johannes
[Steinthal, Abriss der Sprachwissenschaft ( 1871), p. 111.] Mller and Hermann von He1mholtz was important in establish-
26. [Malinowski's note 15:] Steinthal, op. cit. p. 171. [Translation: 'Every ing the physiological basis for cognition and other mental func-
getting-to-know, just as every recognition, is apperception . . . An tions.]
apperception is both the real, first-time creation of a notion or of a 33. [Translation: 'Adaptation of thoughts to existence and to each other
concept, or the gaining of an idea, and every repetition, every . . .' Herrnann Gnther Grassmann (1809-1877), with W. R.
memory ofit. Our entire theoreticallife moves in apperceptions.'] Hamilton and George Boole, was one of the founders of modem
27. [Malinowski's note 16:] Herbart gives a general definition of his algebra and calcu1us.]
mechanics of ideas in the above cited work [Psycholooie ais Wissens- 34. [Translation: ' ... to describe the movements of nature completely
chaft, p. 145, paragraphs 36-40.] and in the simplest way .. .' Gustav Robert Kirchhof (1824-1887)
28. [Translation: By means of such an increase in content, which the developed mathematical techniques that permitted the calculation
idea to be grasped receives from the general concept - without an of currents in three-dimensional electrical networks (Kirchhofs
increase of energy spent - comprehension expresses preponderantly Law), and with Robert Bunsen, developed the theory of spectral
the theoretical behaviour of the sou!: it is, so to speak, the theoreti- analysis to account for the characteristic frequencies of light
cal apperception par exce/lence.] absorbed or emitted by elements.]
29. [Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887) was one of the founders of 35. [Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwickluno
experimental psychology and psychophysics. His text, Elemente der historisch-kritisch dargestellt (Historical-Critical Approach to the
Psychophysik (2 vols., 1860; transl., Eiements of"Psychophysics) was Development of Mechanics) (Leipzig, 1883), published in English as
a major influence on mid-century German psychology, and has had a The Science of Mechanics (Chicago: Open Court, 1893); and Die

276 277
Notes to panes 106-110 Notes to paaes 111-12?
Principien der Wirmelehre (Principies ofTheory of Heat) (Leipzig: J. the degree to which separate sets of numbers change relative to one
A. Barth, 1896) .) another.]
36. [Ernst Mach, 'Die konomische Natur der physikalischen Fors- 45. [Malinowski's note 21 :] In his work, Pearson grants the possibility of
chung', lecture presented to the anniversary meeting of the Imperial 'Transfusions' of the egos of others, and thus, such an assumption
Academy of Sciences at Vienna, May 23, 1882. Originally published costs him little.
in Populir-wissenschaftliche Vorlesunaen (Leipzig, 1896); published 46. [Malinowski's note 22:] This refers to the quotation at the beginning
in English as 'The Economical Nature of Physical Inquiry', Popular of the work by M. Straszewski, What is Philosophyl [1903].
Scientific Lectures, trans. Thomas J. McCormack (Chicago: Open 47. [Richard Avenarius, Philosophie ais Denken der Welt aemiss dem
Court, 1898) .) Prinzip des kleinsten Kraftmasses: Proleaomena zu einer Kritik der
37. [Malinowski's note 17 specifies Mach's work, 'Die konomische reinen Erfahruna (1876), cited above.]
Natur der physikalischen Forschung'. The translation here is from
McCormack's translation of 'The economical nature of physical
inquiry', in Popular Scientific Lectures, p. 190. Mach's concept of 3 Reliaion and maaic: The Golden Bouyh
'primitive man' is explicitly based on Edward B. Tylor's Primitive I. [Th at is, Frazer's two principies of magic.]
Culture (1871) which Mach cites.]
2. [The last three sentences, from 'Is a miracle .. .' to' ... absurd.' are
38. [Malinowski's note 18:) E. Mach, Principien der Wirmelehre.
in English in the original manuscript.]
[ (Leipzig: j. A. Barth, 1896); precisely the same notion is expressed in
'The economical nature of physical inquiry', in Popular Scientific
Lectures, p. 193.]
4 Totemism and Exoyamy
39. [Malinowski's quote is apparently intended as a summary. Mach
wrote 'When we look over a province of facts for the first time, it l. This article arose as an expansion of an original encyclopaedia
appears to us diversified, irregular, confused, fuli of contradictions... article whose purpose was defining the term totemism.
When we have reached a point where we can discover everywhere 2. Numbers in parentheses refer to the pages of the treatise about
the same facts, we no longer feel lost in this province; we compre- which we are writing.
hend it without effort; it is explained for us' ('The economical 3. Baldwin Spencer and F. j. Gillen: The Native Tribes of Central
nature ofphysical enquiry', p. 174) Australia (London: Macmillan and Co. Limited, 1899). By the same
40. [Malinowski's note 19 refers to Principien der Wirmelehre, the chap- authors, The Northern Tribes of Central Australia (London: Mac-
ter entitled 'Die Okonomie der Wissenschaft' (The economy of millan and Co. Limited; New York: The Macmillan Company,
science) .] 1904).
41. [Translation: ... the ideas, especially those in the natural sciences, 4. Carl Strehlow: Die Arando und LoritjaStmme in Zentral
are subject to change and adaptation in the same way as Darwin Australien (Frankfurt-am-Main: j. Baer and Co., 1907- 20).
assumed for organisms.) 5. In general the basic tlaw of Professor Frazer's works is his complete
42. [Translation: Thoughts are expressions of organic life.) arbitrariness. He regards as trustworthy the works of Spencer and
43. [Translation: We see scientific ideas change form, spread to wider Gillen, the works of Howitt and those authors whom these men
regions, fight with competing ideas, and be victorious over less effec- recognize, and ali the works contrary to these he passes over in
tive ideas.] silence. Among these are the works of Strehlow, L. Schultze, R. H.
44. [Malinowski's note 20:) Pearson, Grammar ofScience (1900), p. 102. Matthews, and Mrs Parker.
[Karl Pearson (1857- 1936), The Grammar ofScience (London: Black, 6. Compare with Spencer and Gillen, Na tive Tribes, pp. 38lff.
1900). Pearson, an English statistician, developed the statistical 7. Any interpretation of primitive thought is immensely difficult. Our
methods essential to modem population biology and statistical social concepts and terms are basically incommensurate with the psyches
sciences, for example the chi-square test of statistical significance of primitive peoples, and even though we cannot assert that we are
which expresses the likelihood that differences are due to chance in entirely no position at ali to apprehend and understand them,
alone, and the Pearsonian coefficient of correlation which measures this is possible only through the literal renditions of their stories,

278 279
Notes to pages 129-130 Notes to pages 131-139

through illustrating an immense number of examples (as Strehlow Ethnol. 1908, pp. 866ff and Frhr. von Leonardi (in his preface to the
does), and through comparing their beliefs and social institutions. third part of Strehlow's work).
Such a summarization ofthe sort to which Iam here forced always 19. On this point Spencer and Gillen assert that each person returns to
exposes a writer to ambiguity, and so the reader who desires to grasp life a certain time after death; in other words they assert that faith
the essence of the primitive Australian's thought must become in reincamation in the broadest sense of the word is found in
acquainted with the source works ofSpencer and Gillen. Here I will Australia. Strehlow categorically denies this, but his information is
present this thought only in broad outline. based on a foundation that is quite weak. Strehlow, II, p. 56.
8. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 389. 20. Compare Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 33 and 177.
9. Strehlow, I, pp. 3 and 4. 21. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 202 and 203; Streh1ow, 111,
10. The method of grasping the psychology of primitive peoples often pp. lff.
encountered among ethnographers leaves much to be desired. They 22. Spencer and Gillen, Na tive Tribes, p. 202.
treat the primitive mind as if it were completely logical and 23. In everything which touches family organization and kinship
obstinately attempt to extract concrete and clearly formulated among the primitive Australians, Professor Frazer strictly adheres to
theories from it. Whereas primitive man does not put his ideas to Morgan's theories, which were adapted to Australian ethnology by
the test of laws of logic. The theory of the psychology of primitive Fison and Howitt. Compare with Lorimer Fison and A. W. Howitt,
man is developed in an excellent manner in the recently published, Kamilaroi and Kurnai (1880).
engaging work of Lucien Lvy-Bruhl. Les fonctions mentales dans 24. The differences in the totemisms of the Dieri and Arunta tribes are
Jes socits infrieures (Paris, F. Alcan, 1910) [How Natives Think probably smaller than they appear in the descriptions we possess.
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1926) ]. They are rather the result of differences in the method of research.
11. Spencer and Gillen have fil1ed no less than two whole volumes witb The Arunta tribe was researched by B. Spencer, a professor at the
these legends and their influence on Austra1ian sociology. Strehlow University of Melbourne, while the Dieri tribe was researched by S.
h as also devoted two parts of his work to them. Gason, a policeman, and Rev. Siebert, a missionary.
12. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, chapters X-XI and pp. 119ff. 25. Alfred William Howitt, Native Tribes of South East Australia,
13. Ibid. p. 392. London: Macmillan and Company, 1904, p. 783. }ournal [of the
14. Ibid. pp. 392~. Royal] Anthropological Institute XXIV pp. 124ff.
15. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, p. 208, and Northern Tribes, p. 26. Walter E. Roth, Ethnological Studies Among the North-West
321. Central Queensland Aborgines, Brisbane, Govemment Printer
16. Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes, pp. 12H; Strehlow, Il, p. 52. 1897; North Queensland Ethnoaraphy, Brisbane 1901-1909.
17. Spencer and Gillen, Na tive Tribes, pp. 123-6; Strehlow, I, p. 5, 11, p. 27. Refer to note 5, this chapter.
53. 28. Anne sociologique, V, pp. 82ff and VIII, pp. 118ff.
18. This discovery and its announcement to the wor1d by Spencer and 29. Ibid. mainly V, p. 90 and VII, p. 145.
Gillen has unfurled an entire special literature. Professor Frazer 30. Arnold van Gennep: Mythes et laendes d'Australie: tudes d'eth-
considers this lack of awareness among the Australians to be the nographie et de sociologie, Paris, E. Guilmoto, 1906, p. xii.
'essence' and the 'orgin' of totemism. He as well as a number of 31. A. Lang, Secret ofTotem, pp. 59-90 and the article in the collection,
scholars assert that at one time ali of primitive humanity found 'Anthrop. Essays presented to E. B. Tylor', pp. 21Q-18.
themse1ves in a similar state of unawareness. Compare E. Sydney 32. Zeitschrift fr Ethnoloaie, XL. ( 1908, pp. 886ff).
Hartland: Primitive Paternity: the Myth of the Supernatural in 33. Aside from the fact that he argues this in many places, passim, he
Relation to the History of the Family in Folklore Society Publica- devotes special passages to this question: Vol. I, pp. 89-138, pp. 175
tions Nos. LXV- LXVIII; A. van Gennep: Mythes et lgendes and31~9.
d'Australie; Frhr. von Reitzenstein: Zeitsch[rift] fr Ethnol[ogie] 34. I, p. 103.
XLI. pp. 644ff. 35. I, p. 162.
On the other hand, A. Lang: 'Anthrop. Essays presented to E. B. 36. I, p. 350.
Tylor', asserts that the central Australian ideas are the resu1t of a 37. Native Tribes, p. 12; Northern Tribes, p. 26.
highly developed animstic philosophy and does not consider them 38. I, pp. 161-3; 166-259 and especially IV, pp. 136ff.
to be primitive. Sharing his opinions are O. W. Schmidt: Zeitschr. f. 39. IV, p. 154.
280 281
Notes to paaes 139-145 Notes to paaes 146-169

40. IV, p. 158. tense, for the purpose of ease and simplicity, with this reservation, I
41. I, pp. 102 and 103. will always use the present tense.
42. I, pp. 118-20. 53. The difference in culture between the Torres Straits Islanders and
43. I, pp. 121- 2. the Australians is explicit and based on such incontestable criteria
44. I, p. 104. that we cannot speak here of the difficulties in comparison, which
45. I, p. 118. were suggested by the comparisons of the different cultures of the
46. In his article in Anne socioloaique, V, pp. 82ff, Professor Durkheim Australian tribes.
gives a series of convincing reasons, which Jean toward the suppo 54. Compare with the la ter, broader discussion of this subject.
sition that among the central tribes exogamy was originally strictly 55. 'The description of totemism in New Guinea', Frazer, [Totemism
bound with totemism. and Exoaamy], 11, pp. 25-62. The newest and most precise informa-
47. Such a discussion has already been undertaken, which has resulted tion about English and Dutch New Guinea can be found in the work
in a number of valuable works. Above all, we must here mention of the English ethnologist, Dr Charles Gabriel Seligman, The
.the treatise of Hubert and Mauss; 'Esquisse d'une thorie genrale Melanesians of British New Guinea (Cambridge University Press,
de la magie', Anne socioloaique, VII; Durkheim, 'De la dfinition 1910). The meinbers of the English scientific expedition have col-
des phnomenes religieux', Anne sociol., 11; Frazer, The Golden lected information about the pygmy tribes in Reports Brit. Asso.
Bouah: A Study of Maaic and Reliaion, vol. I, chapt. I, 2nd edition Section H (Anthropology), Portsmouth meeting, 1910.
(London, Macmillan, 1900). 56. 'Description of the Melanesians and their totemism', 11, pp. 63-
48. Compare the first part of this article with issues 11-III of Lud, 1911, 150.
p. 53. The problem of the precise definition of totemism will be dealt 57. Compare Frazer, li, pp. 151-85; Samoa, pp. 151-:-()7.
with below. 58. Frazer, The Golden Bouah. Part I, 'The magic art and the evolution
49. The scheme recorded here was not covered in the division of to temi c ofkings', I, p. 52.
phenomena in to social and religious which Frazer introduced in his 59. Ibid.
study on totemism. Religion is both a forrn of social organization 60. Ibid., p. 53.
and a collection of beliefs and ideas, and that is why it is not 61. Ibid.
possible to contrast religious phenomena with social phenomena, 62. The reader can finda criticism of these views of Frazer's, based on
for the former actually contain in themselves both social phenom- an excellent understanding and an interesting presentation of the
ena and also the beliefs of a given people. facts, in the article by Hubert and Mauss, 'Essai d'une thorie
50. Frazer describes totemism in the Torres Straits Islands in volume 11, gnrale de la magie', Anne socioloaique, VII.
pp. 1-24. 63. Frazer, The Golden Bouah. p. 222.
51. Unfortunately, Ethnology is forced in its research to adapt itself not 64. Ibid., p. 223.
only to the material worth of a given people or tribe for a given 65. Ibid., p. 224.
question, but also to the quality of the collected material. Often the 66. Ibid.
peoples, knowledge of whom would in ali probability shed the 67. See the cited volume, chapt. III, 'Sympathetic magic', pp. 52-212,
greatest light on some fundamental puzzles of humanity, perish or where the author illustrates his immensely simple theory with a
degenerate before even a superficial observation of them can be huge number offacts.
made. Those peoples who have been well documented, although 68. See Lvy-Bruhl, Les fonctions mentales dans Jes socits infrieures
perhaps less interesting, must always play a disproportionate role in (Paris: F. Alcan, 1910).
ethnography, which is one of its basic inadequacies. The Torres 69. But he does not doso in chapter IV, 'Magic and religion', vol. I of
Straits Islanders were researched by learned ethnologists from Caro- the cited work, where he examines the problem systematically and
bridge University; the great value of their work can serve as proof of fundamentally. From this we can see how little meaning he
how fertile is the natural manner of thinking in its application to attaches to the sociological aspect of the problem.
the problems and observation in the field of popular culture. 70. See Frazer, vol. 11, pp. 185-217, on totemism in Indonesia; pp. 185-
52. Beca use the to temi c organization of these tribes should be spoken of 97 on Sumatra in particular.
in some cases in the past tense and in other cases in the present 71. 'Totemism in India', see vol. 11, pp. 218-35.

282 283
Notes to pages 169-188 Notes to pages 188- 19fl
72. 'Totemism in South Africa', 11, pp. 354-93; in Eastern and Central 89. IV, pp. 3 and 4.
Africa, 11, pp. 394-542. 90. IV, pp. 5, 6.
73. 'Description of the totemism of the Baganda', 11, pp. 463-513. 91. IV, pp. 4, 5.
74. Frazer dedicates volume 111 of his work to the totemism of the 92. IV, pp. 6-8.
American peoples, pp. 1-250 to the redskins of the United States and 93. IV, pp. 8-ll.
Canada, pp. 251-369 to the toternism of the South American 94. Frazer, in this discussion ta lks exclusively about intichiuma
Indians, pp. 37()-456 to the institution of 'guardian spirits'. ceremonies which were referred to above in the description of
75. In Spanish, pueblo means 'village', 'colony'. Australian totemism. Frazer, however, does not see the very econ-
76. III, pp. 2-3. omic aspect in these ceremonies. In the first part of this article. I
77. See Frazer, III, pp. 85-1 17. briefly noted how much it would be possible to speak about the
78. III, pp. 195-24 1. economic significance of these ceremonies. I have worked out my
79. There is very little to say about totemism in South America. Frazer ideas more briefly in the article, 'The economic aspect of the
gives an account of these facts in three short chapters, III, pp. intichiuma ceremonies' in Festskrift tilleanad Edvard Westermarck
557-83. (Helsingfors, I912).
80. With the title 'Totemism and exogamy', IV, pp. I--40. 95. IV, pp. 24-7.
81. 'The origins of totemism', IV, pp. 'IQ-71. 96. IV, pp. 27- 38.
82. 'The origins of exogamy', IV, pp. 71- 169. 97. See above, the second part of this article.
83. The views on exogamy given by Frazer are contained in the few 98. pp. 38-41.
words above, in the discussion of the Austraiian facts. Reading 99. Originally presented in The Golden Bouah. 2nd edition, 11 , pp. 322ff.
these same things in the arguments of chapter three of volume IV, 100. See Totemism and Exoaamy. IV, p. 53, as well as footnotes I and 2
we have the impression that the author has only those facts before where Frazer cites the opinion of Clodd and Wilken and the biblio-
him. He explains these views here only a little more broadly, and graphy of the subject.
this is another reason why we need turn to these only briefly. 101. IV, p. 54.
84. As we know, such a social state was postulated by Morgan, whose 102. See above, the first part of this article which deals with Australian
theories about the prirnitive forros of the family and their develop- totemism, and the article 'The economic aspect of the intichiuma
ment Frazer, in general, accepts. These theories have often been ceremonies'.
subject to basic criticism, and especially his hypothesis ofprimitive 103. See above, the first part of the article where I refer to this hypoth-
'promiscuity', in which there are few who still believe today. The esis.
broadest and harshest criticism of these views of Morgan 's is found 104. See above, the first part of this article.
in the classic work of Edvard Westermarck, The History of Human 105. See above, the second part of this article.
Marriaae [London: Macmillan, 1891 (2)), [Gennan and French trans- 106. See what is said above about the defini tion of totemism and Frazer's
Jations exist]. avoidance of the basic problem of comparison. His theory explains
85. Frazer, Totemism and Exoaamy. A Treatise on Certain Early Forms nothing, is neither true nor false, but simply worthless.
of Superstition and Society, 4 vols. (London: Macmillan and Co., 107. See IV, p. 42. Frazer reflects on the possibility of a different, non-
1910), IV, section 3. equivalent, contrary hypothesis and rejects it.
86. IV. pp. 16Q-9. 108. Frazer, I, pp. 6Q-l.
87. Frazer, Totemism and Exoaamy, IV, p. 3. 109. See what I have said earlier a bout Frazer's theory of exogamy.
88. Frazer, in the place which I have emphasized, does not say 'pure 110. Frazer, Totemism and Exoaamy. IV, p. 61.
totemism' explicitly (part I, vol. IV). but such an understanding is 111. To the first category of scholars, aside from Frazer, belong Dr Rivers:
implicit in the whole notion of totemism. See the first part of this }ournal [of the Royal] Anthropoloaical Institute, XXXIX; Dr Had-
article on Australian totemism and vol. I of Frazer, pp. 89-172, in don : Repores [of the] British Association, Belfast meeting, Presiden-
the section to which I am referring (part I, vol. IV) in which, cial section; Frank Byron jevons: Introduction to the History of
wherever the author wants to describe some trait of pure totemism , Reliaion (London: Methuen, 1927 9th edition; 2nd edition, 1902) ;
he utilizes central Australian data, i.e. the Arunta tribe (cf. pp. 4, Robertson Smith: Reliaion of [the] Semites; McLennan: a rticles in
5, 6, 7 and passim). Fortniahtly Review 1869 and 1870; Grbner: in Repores ofthe British
284 285
Notes to paaes 199-210 Notes to paaes 21o-212

Assoe. 1910; Salomon Reinach: Cultes, mythes, reliaions, introduc- ceremonies and economic co-operation cannot be treated as any-
tion, [translation: Cults, Myths and Reliaions (London: Nutt, thing more than a superficial resemblance. In my opinion it is, in
1912)]; Emile Durkheim: Anne socioloaique and a study on the fact, nothing more.
origins of the prohibitions against cannibalism and the newly 7. When the tribe is not mentioned, the remark refers to ali the tribes
published book, Les formes lmentaires de la vie reliaieuse, le described by Messrs Spencer and Gillen. It must not be forgotten that
systeme totmique en Australie, Paris, F. Alcan, 1912, [translation: our information about the Arunta tribe is by far the most detailed
The Elementary Forms of the Reliaious Life: a Study in Reliaious and accurate.
Socioloay (1915; London: Allen and Unwin, 1976) ]. To the second, 8. Cf. G. C. Wheeler, The Tribe and Inter-Tribal Relations, pp. 55 and
less numerous category belong X. W. Schmidt, Hill Tout and Powell 56.
(see Goldenweiser, loc. cit., pp. 268ff. and 276ff.). In a standpoint 9. 'Each Group has an intichiuma of its own, which can only be taken
similar to that taken by usare Goldenweiser, see the text from the part in by the initiated men bearing the group names' - Spencer and
]ournal of A. F. Lore, vol. 23 ['Totemism, an Analytical Study', Gillen, The Native Tribes of Central Australia (London: Macmillan
]ournal of American Folklore Society, vol. 20 (1910), New York], and Co. Limited, 1895), p. 169.
and van Gennep in Revue de l'Histoire des Reliaions, vol. 58, p. 34 10. 'In the performance of this Ceremony the alatunja takes the leading
and further in Folk Lore, 1911. part'. Ibid., p. li.
112. The reader will find an attempt at solving the problems relating to li. Cf. Spencer and Gillen, The Northern Tribes of Central Australia
the essence and genesis of totemism and primitive religion in the (London: Macmillan and Co. Limited; New York: Macmillan, 1904),
work by this author on 'Primitive beliefs and social differentiation', p. 291.
which will certainly appear in print before long. 12. Ibid., pp. 291-7.
13. Ibid., p. 316.
14. The Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 316.
6 The economic aspect ofthe intichiuma ceremonies 15. Spencer and Gillen, The Na tive Tribes of Central Australia, p. 167.
l. A short extract of the present paper has been read before the Section Compare The Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 288. As the
of Anthropology of the British Association at the meeting in Ports- footnotes refer almost exclusively to the two works of Messrs Spencer
mouth. and Gillen, the abbreviations Nat. Tr. and North Tr. will be used.
2. Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy. A Treatise on Certain Early Forros 16. North Tr., p. 297.
of Superstition and Society (London: Macmillan and Co. Limited, 17. Ibid., pp. 3l5ff.
1910), IV, pp. 18-24. 18. Nat. Tr., pp. l7lff.
3. Ibid., p. 18. 19. lbid., p. 185.
4. Frazer, Totemism and Exoaamy IV, pp. 18 and 19. 20. Ibid., p. 193.
5. 'On the whole, then, there is little to show that totemism has con- 21. Ibid., p. 201.
tributed anything to the economic progress of mankind'. But the 22. We read of the totemic ceremonies in general: 'lt is astonishing how
author adds immediately, 'Still from the nature of the case evidence large a part of a native's life is occupied with the performance of
would be hard to obtain, and from its absence we cannot safely these ceremonies, the enacting of which extends sometimes o ver the
conclude that the institution has been as economically barren as it whole of two or three months ... during which time one o r more will
seems to be'. Frazer, Totemism and Exoaamy, p. 24. be performed daily'. This refers especially to the initiation
6. It may be added moreover that the phenomena of'division oflabour' ceremonies, but the intichiuma series are probably ofvery long dura-
appears to be less simple than has been hitherto supposed: cf. Karl tion if the preparation be taken into account. Compare also North.
Bcher, Industrial Evolution [ (New York: Holt, 1912) (translated by Tr., pp. 298-9, referring to the Warramunga.
S. Morley Wickett) ], ch. VIII, pp. 282ff of the Engl. edition. In order 23. North. Tr., pp. 291-4.
to prove that we find in the intichiuma ceremonies any form of 24. North. Tr., pp. 294-6.
division of labour, a detailed analysis of fact would be necessary, 25. North. Tr., p. 296.
with a precise indication of the details displaying this aspect. Unless 26. North. Tr., p. 297.
this is done the analogy between co-operation in the intichiuma 27. North. Tr., p. 309.

286 287
Notes to paaes 212-219 Notes to paaes 218-22~

28. North . Tr., pp. 285-7. 63. Or airns which may early develop into economic ones.
29. lbid., pp. 237 & 288. 64. In particular the idea of specialization according to clan. This was
30. The facts which we possess are entirely due to Messrs. Spencer and not capable of economic development, being entirely illusory and
Gillen. Herr Strehlow deals only superficially with the rites, putting having really only a superficial resemblance to the corresponding
stress on the songs. economic facts.
31. Nat. Tr., pp. lO, li & 169. Strehlow, Die Arando und Loritja-Stdmme 65. See North Tr., p. 315.
in Zen trai Australien (Frankfurt am Main, J. Baer and co., 5 vols 66. This suggestion has been made already by Messrs Spencer and Gillen
1907- 1920. Part III, 1910, p. 2). in Nat. Tr.
32. Nat. Tr., pp. 169-70. In his recent researches among the natives living North-West of
33. Nat. Tr., p. 170. those described in the Northern Tribes, Prof. B. Spencer could not
34. Nat. Tr., pp. 203-4. discover any ceremonies of the intichiuma type. It is added: 'The
35. Nat. Tr .. p. 205. absence of intichiuma ceremonies is doubtless to be associated with
36. Nat. Tr., p. 184. the fact that the tribes in the far North Jive under conditions very
37. North, Tr., p. 293. different from those of the central area. They never suffer from
38. lbid., p. 296. drought or lack of food supply. This seems to show that the
39. 1bid., p. 296. intichiuma ceremonies are a special development of tribes that live
40. North. Tr., p. 317. in parts, such as Central Australia, where the food supply is pre-
41. Nat. Tr., p. 167. carious'. Short note about Prof. B. Spencer's recent discoveries among
42. Strehlow, JII, p. 8. the natives living between Roper River and Port Darwin in
43. lbid., lll, p. 8. Atheneum, 4 Nov. 1911, p. 562.
44. Nat. Tr., p. 519. 67. For a full statement of the subject, cf. Ferrero, 'Les formes prirnitives
45. Ibid., p. 170. du travail', in Rev. Scient., 4e Srie, Tome V, 1896, pp. 3llff; Kar1
46. lbid. Bcher, Arbeit und Rhythmus (Leipzig: Teubner, 1899), especially
47. Compare Strehlow, III, p. 8. the first chapter in Labor and Rhythm and Industrial Evolution (see
48. 'Noch andere Zwecke fiir deren Auffhruna an .. .'. note 6 above) the first two chapters. These two authors have brought
49. Strehlow, 111, p. 8. forth the problem of prirnitive labour and its evolution. The highly
50. Samuel Gason, The Diyerie Tribe of Australian Aboriaines (1874), p. valuable results attained, especially by Prof. Bcher (Ferrero wrote
25. only a short article on the subject) best show the importance of this
51. lbid., pp. 26 and 25. problem.
52. North Tr., p. 285. 68. Prof. Bcher has shown in his work on Labour and Rhythm that
53. See North Tr., pp. 291-7, and esp. pp. 297- 309. rhythm is a powerful incentive to work. He has arrived at results of
54. Ibid., pp. 309, 311 and 317. hiah theoretical importance for economics and sociology. The same
55. Ibid., pp. 312 and 313. author remarks that where most wearisome labour is involved in the
56. Ibid., pp. 312 and 313. manufacture of elaborate omaments, the immediate pleasure of
57. Dr Haddon h as recorded two o f these ceremonies, connected wi th the adomment acts as an incentive to labour. Hence the fact that sava-
dugong and the turtle. See Reports of the Cambridae Expedition to ges produce objects ofadomment rather than objects ofpurely practi-
the Torres Straits, V, pp. 182ff. cal use. Ferrero gives an analysis of the mental process underlying
58. Nat. Tr., pp. 19-21. such activities as hunting. warfare, dancing, etc.
59. Ibid .. p. 203.
60. Ibid., p. 204. 7 The relationship ofprimitive beliefs to the forms ofsocial oraanization
61. Ibid., pp. 205 and 206.
62. See North. Tr., pp. 317-18 and Strehlow, III, pp. 13, passim. lt I. J. G. Frazer: Totemism and Exoaamy: A Treatise on Certain Early
appears from his description that nearly ali 'Mbatial-katiuma' have Forms of Superstition and Society, 4 vols. (London: Macmillan and
their 'Freigabe'. Unfortunately no details at all are given by this Company, 1910). Durkheim: Les formes lmentaires de la vie reli-
author. aieuse, le systeme totmique en Australie (Paris: F. Alcan, 1912). In

288 289
Notes to panes 229-249 Notes to paaes 2so-2~1

both of these works totemism is the ma in subject o f research. Wundt: are found in A. Posada, The6ries modernes sur les oriaines de la
Elemente der Vlkerpsycholoaie (Leipzig, 1912). Wundt divides the famille [Modem Theories of the Origin of the Family] (Paris, 1896);
evolution of man in to four epochs, tbe second of whicb h e calls 'das and Bernhft, 'Zur Geschichte des europiiischen Familienrechtes' [On
totemistische Zeitalter'. the History of European Family Law] in Zeitschrift fr veraleichende
2. It suffices to mention the following: Salomon Reinach, who uses Rechtswissenschaft, VIII, s. 1- 27, 161-221, 384-405; and in Khler,
totemism as an archeological panacea; Amlineau, who uses totem- 'Zur Uraeschichte der Ehe: Totemismus, Gruppenehe, Mutterrecht',
ism to explain Egyptian religious phenomena; Sir Laurence Gomme, special issue of the same journal, XII, Stuttgart, 1897. The best and
who reads tbe vestiges of totemism into the Celtic culture. For most complete bibliography is found in the cited work by Howard.
detailed bibliographical criticisms of tbese views see: Revue de Their value is enhanced by the fact that the author classifies his
I'Histoire des Reliaions, vol. LVII, pp. 333ff (the article of J. Toutain) bibliography so that the works of different trends and schools are
and vol. LVIII, pp. 34ff (the article by A. von Gennep). listed under separate headings. In addition the bibliographical
3. In fact, the opinions of scholars are absolutely split; some even con- material can also be found in the works mentioned below by Starke
sider totemism to be the creation of ethnologists' imaginations, who and Westermarck.
see unity in a number of features which have nothing in common. 3. Maine, Henry Sumner, Ancient l.Aw (London: J. Murray, 1861).
For example, Goldenweiser, Totemism, an analytical study (New 4. Fustel de Coulanges, Numa Denis, IA cit antique: tude sur le culte,
York, 1910). A reprint from the]ournal of American Folklore Society le droit, les institutions de la Grece et de Rome (Paris: L. Hachette et
(1910). ce., 1864) [The Ancent City: A Study on the Religion, Laws, and
4. Such is the theory of H. Spencer and Lubbock, deducing totemism Institutions of Greece and Rome, trans. Willard Small (Boston, Lee
from the misinterpretation of nicknames. and Shephard, 1874)].
5. Hearn, W. E., The Aryan Household, Its Structure and its Develop-
ment: An Introduction to Comparative ]urisprudence (London:
8 A fundamental problem ofreliyious socioloyy
Longmans, Green & Co., 1879).
I. Originally published in Reports of the British Association for the 6. Grote, George, History of Greece (London: J. Murray, 1846-56) [1872
Advancement of Science, XXXIV, Transactions of Section H, - text].
Australia, 28 july - 31 August 1914. London, 1915, pp. 534-5. 7. Leist, Burkard Wlhelm, Graeco-italische Rechtsaeschichte Oena,
2. Les formes lmentaires de la vie reliaieuse, Paris, 1912. [The 1884).
Elementary Forms of the Reliyious Life, trans. J. W. Swain (London: 8. Leist, Burkard Wilhelm, Alt-arisches]us Gentium Oena: G. Fischer,
Allen & Unwin, 1915)]. 1889).
3. Notes and Queties on Anthropolooy. 4th edition (London, 1912). 9. Schrader, 0., Sprach-veraleichuno und Uraeschichte Oena: Her-
Article on religion. [Routledge and Kegan Paul.] mann Costenoble, 1883).
4. Article on religion in Socioloyical Papers, 3 (London, 1914). lO. Delbrck, Benhold, Die indoaermanischen Verwandschaftsnamen.
S. [Spencer and Gillen], Northern Tribes ofCentral Australia, p. 33. Ein Beitraa zur veraleichenden Altertumskunde (Leipzig: S. Hrzel,
6. Ethno-psycholoaische Studien an Sdseevlkern [auf dem Bismarck- 1885)

A rchipel und den Solomon-lnseln]. In Beiheft 6 zur Zeitschrift fr 11. Bernhft.

anaew[andte Psycholoaie und psycholoaische Sammelforschuny] 12. Bachofen, johann jakob, Das Mutterrecht: Eine Untersuchuno ber
Leipzig [Banh], 1913. Paragraph on magic. die Gynaekokratie der alten Welt nach ihrer reliaisen und recht-
Iichen Natur (Stuttgan: Krais & Hoffmann, 1861) [Le Droit de la
mere dons l'antiquit, preface de l'ouvrage 'Das Mutterrecht', trans-
9 Sociolooy o f the family
lated and published by Group franais d'tudes fministes, Paris,
I. Westermarck, Edvard Alexander, The History of Human Marriaoe. 2 1903].
vols. (London, Macmillan, 1891). 13. Bachofen, johann jakob, Die Sane von Tanaquil. Eine Untersuchuno
2. The most detailed presentation of tbe history of the problerns is found ber den Orientalismus in Rom und Italien (Heidelberg: ]. C. B.
in G. E. Howard, History of Matrimonial Institutions, 3 vols. (Chi- Mohr, 1870).
cago University Press, 1904), I, part I. The best general summaries 14. Bachofen, johann jakob, Antiquarische Briefe, vornehmlich zur

290 291
Notes to panes 252-256 Notes to panes 256-259
Kenntnis der Altesten (Strassburg: K. j. Trubner, 1880- [1886 - 32. Smith, W. Robertson, Kinship and Marriaae in Early Arabia (Caro-
text]). bridge, 1885).
15. Starke, Carl Nicolai. The Primitive Family. New York, 1889. 33. Wilken, G, Das Matriarchat bei den alten Arabern (Leipzig, 1884).
16. McLennan, J. F., Studies in Ancient History: Comprisina a Reprint of 34. Frazer, ]ames George, Totemism and Exoaamy, a Treatise on Certain
Primitive Marriaae (London and New York: Macmillan & Co., 1886). Early Forms ofSuperstition and Society (London: Macmillan and Co.
17. Morgan, Lewis Henry, Systems of Consanauinity and Aftinity of the Limited, 1910).
Human Family (Washington, Smithsonian Institute, 1870 [1871 - 35. Letoumeau, Charles Jean Marie, L'volution du mariaae et de la
text]). famille (Paris: A. Delahaye et E. Lecrosnier, 1888) [The Evolution of
18. Morgan, Lewis Henry, Ancient Society; or, Researches in the Unes of Marriage and of the Family (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1891)].
Human Proaress from Savaaery, throuah Barbarism to Civilization 36. Kovalevskii [Kowalewski], Maksim Maksimovich, Modem Customs
(New York: H. Holt & Company, 1877). and Ancient Laws in Russia; being the Ilchester lectures for 1889-90
19. Lafitau, joseph Franois, Moeurs des sauvaaes amriquains, com (London: D. Nutt, 1891).
pares aux moeurs des premiers temps (Paris: Saugrain l'ain, 1724). 37. Durkheim, 1898 (see his reviews of some works about the family in
20. Morgan, Lewis Henry, Houses and HouseLife ofthe American Abori Anne Socioloaique, vol. 1).
a ines (Washington, 1881). 38. Engels, Friedrich, Der Urspruna der Familie, des Privateiyentums,
21. Howard, G. E., A History of Matrimonial Institutions, 1904. Voi. I, p. und des Staats, Im Anschluss an Lewis H. Moraan's Forschunyen
60; or L. H. Morgan, Houses and Houses Life, 1881. (Stuttgart: J. H. W. Dietz, nachf. (gmbh), 1900 [1892 - text]) [The
22. Lord Avebury, (Sir john Lubbock). The Oriain of Civilisation and Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, trans. Ernest
Primitive Condition of Man; Mental and Social Condition of Sava- Untermann (Chicago: C. H. Kerr and Company, 1902)].
aes, 7th edn (London, New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1912) (1st 39. Kautsky, Karl, Die Entstehuny der Ehe und Familie [The Genesis of
edition, 1870). Marriage and the Family] Kosmos, XII (Stuttgart, 1882).
23. Lord Avebury, (Sir john Lubbock), 'On the development of re1ation- 40. Bebe!, August, Die Frau und der Sozialismus [The Woman and
ships', in the ]ournal of the Anthropoloaical Institute I: 1-20, Socialism] 50 Ausgabe (Stuttgart: J. H. W. Dietz, nachf, 1910).
London, 1872. 41. Spencer, Baldwin and F. j . Gillen, The Native Tribes of Central
24. Lippert, julius: Di e Geschichte der Familie (Stuttgart, 1884). Australia (London: Macmillan and Co. Limited, 1895).
25. Post, Albert Hermann, Die Geschlechtsaenossenschaft der Urzeit und 42. Spencer, Baldwin and F. j. Gillen, The Northern Tribes of Central
di e Entstehuna der Ehe (Oidenburg: Schultze, 1875). Australia (London: Macmillan and Co. Lirnited; New York: The
26. Post, Albert Hermann, Studien zur Entwicklunasaeschichte des Macmillan Company, 1904).
Familienrechts. Ein Beitraa zu einer allaemeinen veraleichenden 43. Rivers, W. H. R., Kinship and Social Oraanization (London: Con-
Rechtswissenschaft auf ethnoloyischer Basis (Oidenburg & Leipzig: stable & Co. Ltd, 1914).
Schulzesche Hof-Buchhandlung (A. Schwartz), 1889 [1890- text]). 44. Hildebrand, Richard, Ober das Problem einer allyemeinen Entwick
27. Khler, josef, Zur Uraeschichte der Ehe: Totemismus, Gruppenehe, lunasaeschichte des Rechts und der Sitte. Inauaurations rede,
Mutterrecht (Stuttgart, 1897). Reprint from vol. XII of Zeitschrift fr aehalten am 15. November 1893 (Graz: Leuscher & Lubensky, 1894).
veraleichende Rechtswissenschaft. 45. Hildebrand, Richard, Recht und Sitte auf den verschiedenen
28. Friedrichs, K, 'Ober den Urspruny des Matriarchats', in Zeitschrift Kulturstufen, pt. I Uena: G. Fischer, 1896).
fr veraleichende Rechtswissenschaft, VIII, Stuttgart, 1889 and 46. Hellwald, Friedrich von, Die menschliche Familie (Leipzig, 1889).
'Familienstufen und Eheformen', Stuttgart, 1892. 47. Dargun, Lothar: Mutterrecht und Raubehe und ihre Reste im aer
29. Fison, Lorimer and Alfred William Howitt: Kamilaroi and Kurnai manischen Recht und Leben (Breslau: W. Kebner, 1883).
(Melbourne, 1880). 48. Dargun, Lothar, Mutterrecht und Vaterrecht (Leipzig, 1892).
30. Howitt, Alfred William, Native Tribes of S.E. Australia (London, 49. [Malinowski's note:] For him this had been done already by Hellwald
Macmillan & Company, 1904). and Letoumeau albeit less completely and thoroughly. The first to be
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Notes to pages 259-266 Notes to page 267
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51. Starke, Carl Nicolai, Die primitive Familie (Leipzig, 1888). 1904) , III, pp. 235ff.
52. [Malinowski's note:] Although one of the above mentioned works, 67. Wright, Carroll Davidson, Marriaae and Divorce in the United
Dargun's Mutterrecht und Vaterrecht gives an analysis of the kinship States, 1867-1886 (Washington, 1889).
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