Principles of Sociology

Date: 1892

The Primitive Man—Emotional

. . . . In the Principles of Psychology, § 253, we saw that "mental evolution, both intellectual and emotional, may be measured by the degree of remoteness from primitive reflex action. The formation of sudden, irreversible conclusions on the slenderest evidence, is less distant from reflex action than is the formation of deliberate and modifiable conclusions after much evidence has been collected. And similarly, the quick passage of simple emotions into the particular kinds of conduct they prompt, is less distant from reflex action than is the comparatively-hesitating passage of compound emotions into kinds of conduct determined by the joint instigation of their components."

Here, then, are our guides in studying the emotional nature of primitive man. Being less evolved, we must expect to find him deficient in these complex emotions which respond to multitudinous and remote probabilities and contingencies. His consciousness differs from that of the civilized man, by consisting more of sensations and the simple representative feelings directly associated with them, and less of the involved representative feelings. And the relatively-simple emotional consciousness thus characterized, we may expect to be consequently characterized by more of that irregularity which results when each desire as it arises discharges itself in action before counter-desires have been awakened.

On turning from these deductions to examine the facts with a view to induction, we meet difficulties like those met in the last chapter. As in size and structure, the inferior races differ from one another enough to produce some indefiniteness in our conception of the primitive man—physical; so in their passions and sentiments, the inferior races present contrasts which obscure the essential traits of the primitive man—emotional.

This last difficulty, like the first, is indeed one that might have been anticipated. Widely-contrasted habitats, entailing widely-unlike modes of life, have necessarily caused emotional specialization as well as physical specialization. Further, the inferior varieties of men have been made to differ by the degrees and durations of social discipline they have been subject to. Referring to such unlikenesses, Mr. Wallace remarks that "there is, in fact, almost as much difference between the various races of savage as of civilized peoples."

To conceive the primitive man, therefore, as he existed when social aggregation commenced, we must generalize as well as we can this entangled and partially-conflicting evidence: led mainly by the traits common to the very lowest, and finding what guidance we may in the a priori conclusions set down above.

The fundamental trait of impulsiveness is not everywhere conspicuous. Taken in the mass, the aborigines of the New World seem impassive in comparison with those of the Old World: some of them, indeed, exceeding the civilized peoples of Europe in ability to control their emotions. The Dakotahs suffer with patience both physical and moral pains. The Creeks display "phlegmatic coldness and indifference." According to Bernau, the Guiana Indian, though "strong in his affections, . . . . is never seen to weep, but will bear the most excruciating pains and the loss of his dearest relations with apparent stoical insensibility;" and Humboldt speaks of his "resignation." Wallace comments on "the apathy of the Indian, who scarcely ever exhibits any feelings of regret on parting or of pleasure on his return." And that a character of this kind was widespread, seems implied by accounts of the ancient Mexicans, Peruvians, and peoples of Central America. Nevertheless, there are among these races traits of a contrary kind, more congruous with those of the uncivilized at large. Spite of their usually unimpassioned behaviour, the Dakotahs rise into frightful states of bloody fury when killing buffaloes; and among the phlegmatic Creeks, there are "very frequent suicides" caused by "trifling disappointments." Some of the American indigenes, too, do not show this apathy; as, in the North, the Chinook Indian, who is said to be "a mere child, irritated by, and pleased with, a trifle;" and as, in the South, the Brazilian, of whom we read that "if a savage struck a foot against a stone, he raged over it, and bit it like a dog." Such non-impulsiveness as exists in the American races, may possibly be due to constitutional inertness. Among ourselves, there are people whose equanimity results from want of vitality: being but half alive, the emotions roused in them by irritations have less than the usual intensities. That apathy thus caused may account for this peculiarity, seems, in South America, implied by the alleged sexual coldness.

Recognizing what anomaly there may be in these facts, we find, throughout the rest of the world, a general congruity. Passing from North America to Asia, we come to the Kamschadales, who are "excitable, not to say (for men) hysterical. A light matter sent them mad, or made them commit suicide;" and we come to the Kirghiz, who are said to be "fickle and uncertain." Turning to Southern Asiatics, we find Burton asserting of the Bedouin that his valour is "fitful and uncertain." And while, of the Arabs, Denham remarks that "their common conversational intercourse appears to be a continual strife and quarrel," Palgrave says they will "chaffer half a day about a penny, while they will throw away the worth of pounds on the first asker." In Africa like traits occur. Premising that the East-African is, "like all other barbarians, a strange mixture of good and evil," Burton describes him thus: "He is at once very good-tempered and hard-hearted, combative and cautious; kind at one moment, cruel, pitiless, and violent at another; sociable and unaffectionate; superstitious and grossly irreverent; brave and cowardly; servile and oppressive; obstinate, yet fickle and fond of change; with points of honour, but without a trace of honesty in word or deed; a lover of life, yet addicted to suicide; covetous and parsimonious, yet thoughtless and improvident." With the exception of the Bechuanas, the like is true of the races further south. Thus, in the Damara, the feeling of revenge is very transient—"gives way to admiration of the oppressor." Burchell describes the Hottentots as passing from extreme laziness to extreme eagerness for action. And the Bushman is quick, generous, headstrong, vindictive—very noisy quarrels are of daily occurrence: father and son will attempt to kill each other. Of the scattered societies inhabiting the Eastern Archipelago, those in which the Malay-blood predominates, do not exhibit this trait. The Malagasy are said to have "passions never violently excited;" and the pure Malay is described as not demonstrative. The rest, however, have the ordinary variability. Among the Negritos, the Papuan is "impetuous, excitable, noisy;" the Fijians have "emotions easily roused, but transient," and "are extremely changeable in their disposition;" the Andamanese "are all frightfully passionate and revengeful;" and of the Tasmanians we read that, "like all savages, they quickly changed from smiles to tears." So, too, of the other lowest races: there are the Fuegians, who "have hasty tempers," and "are loud and furious talkers;" there are the Australians, whose impulsiveness Haygarth implies by saying that the angry Australian jin exceeds the European scold, and that a man remarkable for haughtiness and reserve sobbed long when his nephew was taken from him. Bearing in mind that such non-impulsiveness as is shown by the Malays occurs in a partially-civilized race, and that the lowest races, as the Andamanese, Tasmanians, Fuegians, Australians, betray impulsiveness in a very decided manner; we may safely assert it to be a trait of primitive man. What the earliest character was, is well suggested by the following vivid description of a Bushman.

Indicating his simian appearance, Lichtenstein continues: "What gives the more verity to such a comparison was the vivacity of his eyes, and the flexibility of his eyebrows, which he worked up and down with every change of countenance. Even his nostrils and the corners of his mouth, nay, his very ears, moved involuntarily, expressing his hasty transitions from eager desire to watchful distrust. . . . . When a piece of meat was given him, and half-rising he stretched out a distrustful arm to take it, he snatched it hastily, and stuck it immediately into the fire, peering around with his little keen eyes, as if fearing that some one should take it away again:—all this was done with such looks and gestures, that anyone must have been ready to swear he had taken the example of them entirely from an ape."

Evidence that early human nature differed from later human nature by having this extreme emotional variability, is yielded by the contrast between the child and the adult among ourselves. For on the hypothesis of evolution, the civilized man, passing through phases representing phases passed through by the race, will, early in life, betray this impulsiveness which the early race had. The saying that the savage has the mind of a child with the passions of a man (or, rather, has adult passions which act in a childish manner) possesses a deeper meaning than appears. There is a relationship between the two natures such that, allowing for differences of kind and degree in the emotions, we may regard the co-ordination of them in the child as analogous to the co-ordination in the primitive man.

The more special emotional traits are in large part dependent on, and further illustrative of, this general trait. This relative impulsiveness, this smaller departure from primitive reflex action, this lack of the re-representative emotions which hold the simpler ones in check, is accompanied by improvidence.

The Australians are "incapable of anything like persevering labour, the reward of which is in futurity;" the Hottentots are "the laziest people under the sun;" and with the Bushmen it is "always either a feast or a famine." Passing to the indigenes of India, we read of the Todas that they are "indolent and slothful;" of the Bhils, that they have "a contempt and dislike to labour"— will half starve rather than work; of the Santals, that they have not "the unconquerable laziness of the very old Hill-tribes." So, from Northern Asia, the Kirghiz may be taken as exemplifying idleness. In America, we have the fact that none of the aboriginal peoples, if uncoerced, show capacity for industry: in the North, cut off from his hunting life, the Indian, capable of no other, decays and disappears; and in the South, the tribes disciplined by the Jesuits lapsed into their original state, or a worse, when the stimuli and restraints ceased. All which facts are in part ascribable to inadequate consciousness of the future. Where, as in sundry Malayo-Polynesian societies, we find considerable industry, it goes along with a social state implying discipline throughout a long past. It is true that perseverance with a view to remote benefit occurs among savages. They bestow much time and pains on their weapons, etc.: six months to make as many arrows, a year in hollowing out a bowl, and many years in drilling a hole through a stone. But in these cases little muscular effort is required, and the activity is thrown on perceptive faculties which are constitutionally active.

A trait which naturally goes along with inability so to conceive the future as to be influenced by the conception, is a childish mirthfulness. Though sundry races of the New World, along with their general impassiveness, are little inclined to gaiety, and though among the Malay races and the Dyaks gravity is a characteristic, yet, generally, it is otherwise. Of the New Caledonians, Fijians, Tahitians, New Zealanders, we read that they are always laughing and joking. Throughout Africa the Negro has the same trait; and of other races, in other lands, the descriptions of various travellers are—"full of fun and merriment," "full of life and spirits," "merry and talkative," "skylarking in all ways," "boisterous gaiety," "laughing immoderately at trifles." Even the Esquimaux, notwithstanding all their privations, are described as "a happy people." We have but to remember how greatly anxiety about coming events moderates the spirits—we have but to contrast the lively but improvident Irishman with the grave but provident Scot—to see that there is a relation between these traits in the uncivilized man. Thoughtless absorption in the present causes at the same time these excesses of gaiety and this inattention to threatened evils.

Along with improvidence there goes, both as cause and consequence, an undeveloped proprietary sentiment. Under his conditions it is impossible for the savage to have an extended consciousness of individual possession. Established, as the sentiment can be, only by experiences of the gratifications which possession brings, continued through successive generations, it cannot arise where the circumstances do not permit many such experiences. Beyond the few rude appliances ministering to bodily wants and decorations, the primitive man has nothing to accumulate. Where he has grown into a pastoral life, there arises a possibility of benefits from increased possessions: he profits by multiplying his flocks. Still, while he remains nomadic, it is difficult to supply his flocks with unfailing food when they are large, and he has increased losses from enemies and wild animals; so that the benefits of accumulation are kept within narrow limits. Only as the agricultural state is reached, and only as the tenure of land passes from the tribal form, through the family form, to the individual form, is there a widening of the sphere for the proprietary sentiment.

Distinguished by improvidence, and by deficiency of that desire to own which checks improvidence, the savage is thus debarred from experiences which develop this desire and diminish the improvidence.

Let us turn now to those emotional traits which directly affect the formation of social groups. Varieties of mankind are social in different degrees; and, further, are here tolerant of restraint and there intolerant of it. Clearly, the proportions between these two characteristics must greatly affect social unious.

Describing the Mantras, indigenes of the Malay-peninsula, père Bourien says—"liberty seems to be to them a necessity of their very existence;" "every individual lives as if there were no other person in the world but himself;" they separate if they dispute. So is it with the wild men in the interior of Borneo, "who do not associate with each other;" and whose children, when "old enough to shift for themselves, usually separate, neither one afterwards thinking of the other." A nature of this kind shows its effects in the solitary families of the wood-Veddahs, or those of the Bushmen, whom Arbousset describes as "independent and poor beyond measure, as if they had sworn to remain always free and without possessions." Of sundry races that remain in a low state, this trait is remarked; as of Brazilian Indians, who, tractable when quite young, begin to display "impatience of all restraint" at puberty; as of the Caribs, who are "impatient under the least infringement" of their independence. Among Indian Hill-tribes the savage Bhils have "a natural spirit of independence;" the Bodo and Dhimál "resist injunctions injudiciously urged, with dogged obstinacy;" and the Lepchas "undergo great privations rather than submit to oppression." This trait we meet with again among some nomadic races. "A Bedouin," says Burckhardt, "will not submit to any command, but readily yields to persuasion;" and he is said by Palgrave to have "a high appreciation of national and personal liberty." That this moral trait is injurious during early stages of social progress, is in some cases observed by travellers, as by Earl, who says of the New Guinea people that their "impatience of control" precludes organization. Not, indeed, that absence of independence will of itself cause an opposite result. The Kamschadales exhibit "slavishness to people who use them hard," and "contempt of those who treat them with gentleness;" and while the Damaras have "no independence," they "court slavery: admiration and fear" being their only strong sentiments. A certain ratio between the feelings prompting obedience and prompting resistance, seems required. The Malays, who have evolved into several semi-civilized societies, are said to be submissive to authority; and yet each is "sensitive to . . . . any interference with the personal liberty of himself or another." Clearly, however, be the cause of subordination what it may, a relatively-subordinate nature is everywhere shown by men composing social aggregates of considerable sizes. In such semi-civilized communities as tropical Africa contains, it is conspicuous; and it characterized the peoples who formed the extinct oriental nations, as also those who formed the extinct nations of the New World.

If, as among the Mantras above named, intolerance of restraint is joined with want of sociality, there is a double obstacle to social union: a cause of dispersion is not checked by a cause of aggregation. If, as among the Todas, a man will sit inactive for hours, "seeking no companionship," he is under less temptation to tolerate restrictions than if solitude is unbearable. Clearly, the ferocious Fijian in whom, strange as it seems, "the sentiment of friendship is strongly developed," is impelled by this sentiment, as well as by his extreme loyalty, to continue in a society in which despotism based on cannibalism is without check.

Induction thus sufficiently verifies the deduction that primitive men, who, before any arts of life were developed, necessarily lived on wild food, implying wide dispersion of small numbers, were, on the one hand, not much habituated to associated life, and were, on the other hand, habituated to that uncontrolled following of immediate desires which goes along with separateness. So that while the attractive force was small the repulsive force was great. Only as they were led into greater gregariousness by local conditions which furthered the maintenance of many persons on a small area, could there come that increase of sociality required to check unrestrained action.

Traits of the primitive nature due to presence or absence of the altruistic sentiments, remain to be glanced at. Having sympathy for their root, these must, on the hypothesis of evolution, develop in proportion as circumstances make sympathy active; that is—in proportion as they foster the domestic relations, in proportion as they conduce to sociality, and in proportion as they do not cultivate aggressiveness.

Evidence for and against this a priori inference is difficult to disentangle and to generalize. Many causes conspire to mislead us. We assume that there will be tolerably uniform manifestations of character in each race; but we are wrong. Both the individuals and the groups differ considerably; as in Australia, where one tribe "is decidedly quiet," and another "decidedly disorderly." We assume that the traits shown will be similar on successive occasions, which they are not: the behaviour to one traveller is unlike the behaviour to another; probably because their own behaviours are unlike. Commonly, too, the displays of character by an aboriginal race revisited, depend on the treatment received from previous visitors: being changed from friendliness to enmity by painful experiences. Thus, of Australian travellers, it is remarked that the earlier speak more favourably of the natives than the latter, and Earl says of the Java people, that those inhabiting parts little used by Europeans "are much superior in point of morality to the natives of the north coast," whose intercourse with Europeans has been greater. When, led by his experiences in the Pacific, Erskine remarks, "nor is it at all beyond the range of probability that habits of honesty and decorum may yet be forced upon the foreign trader by those whom he has hitherto been accustomed to consider as the treacherous and irreclaimable savages of the sandalwood islands;" when we learn that in Vate, the native name for a white man is a "sailing profligate;" and when we remember that worse names are justified by recent doings in those regions; we shall understand how conflicting statements about native characters may result.

Beyond the difficulty hence arising, is the difficulty arising from that primitive impulsiveness, which itself causes a variability perplexing to one who would form a conception of the average nature. As Livingstone says of the Makololo—"It would not be difficult to make these people appear excessively good or uncommonly bad;" and the inconsistent traits above quoted from Captain Burton, imply a parallel experience. Hence we have to strike an average among manifestations naturally chaotic, which are further distorted by the varying relations to those who witness them.

We may best guide ourselves by taking, first, not the altruistic sentiments, but the feeling which habitually co-operates with them—the parental instinct, the love of the helpless. (Prin. of Psy., § 532.) Of necessity the lowest human races, in common with inferior animals, have large endowments of this. Those only can survive in posterity in whom the love of offspring prompts due care of offspring; and among the savage, the self-sacrifice required is as great as among the civilized. Hence the fondness for children which even the lowest of mankind display; though, with their habitual impulsiveness, they often join with it great cruelty. The Fuegians, described as "very fond" of their children, nevertheless sell them to the Patagonians for slaves. Great love of offspring is ascribed to the New Guinea people; and yet a man will "barter one or two" with a trader for something he wants. The Australians, credited by Eyre with strong parental affection, are said to desert sick children; and Angas asserts of them that on the Murray they sometimes kill a boy to bait their hooks with his fat. Though among the Tasmanians the parental instinct is described as strong, yet they practised infanticide; and though, among the Bushmen, the rearing of offspring under great difficulties implies much devotion, yet Moffat says they "kill their children without remorse on various occasions." Omitting further proofs of parental love on the one hand, qualified on the other by examples of a violence which will slay a child for letting fall something it was carrying, we may safely say of the primitive man that his philoprogenitiveness is strong, but its action, like that of his emotions in general, irregular.

Keeping this in mind, we shall be aided in reconciling the conflicting accounts of his excessive egoism and his fellow feeling —his cruelty and his kindness. The Fuegians are affectionate towards each other; and yet in times of scarcity they kill the old women for food. Mouat, who describes the Andamanese as a merciless race, nevertheless says that the one he took to Calcutta had a "very kind and amiable character." Many and extreme cruelties are proved against the Australians. Yet Eyre testifies to their kindness, their self-sacrifice, and even their chivalry. So, too, of the Bushmen. Lichtenstein thinks that in no savage is there "so high a degree of brutal ferocity;" but Moffat was "deeply affected by the sympathy of these poor Bushmen," and Burchell says that they show to each other "hospitality and generosity often in an extraordinary degree." When we come to races higher in social state, the testimonies to good feeling are abundant. The New Caledonians are said to be "of a mild and good-natured temper;" the Tannese are "ready to do any service that lies in their power;" the New Guinea people are "good-natured," "of a mild disposition." Passing from Negritos to Malayo-Polynesians, we meet with like characteristics. The epithets applied to the Sandwich Islanders are "mild, docile;" to the Tahitians, "cheerful and good-natured;" to the Dyaks, "genial;" to the Sea-Dyaks, "sociable and amiable;" to the Javans, "mild," "cheerful and good-humoured;" to the Malays of Northern Celebes, "quiet and gentle." We have, indeed, in other cases, quite opposite descriptions. In the native Brazilians, revenge is said to be the predominant passion: a trapped animal they kill with little wounds that it may "suffer as much as possible." A leading trait ascribed to the Fijians is "intense and vengeful malignity." Galton condemns the Damaras as "worthless, thieving, and murderous," and Andersson as "unmitigated scoundrels." In some cases adjacent tribes show us these opposite natures; as among the aborigines of India. While the Bhils are reputed to be cruel, revengeful, and ready to play the assassin for a trifling recompense, the Nagas are described as "good-natured and honest;" the Bodo and Dhimál as "full of amiable qualities," "honest and truthful," "totally free from arrogance, revenge, cruelty;" and of the Lepcha, Dr. Hooker says his disposition is "amiable," "peaceful and no brawler:" thus "contrasting strongly with his neighbours to the east and west."

Manifestly, then, uncivilized man, if he has but little active beneyolence, is not, as often supposed, distinguished by active malevolence. Indeed, a glance over the facts tends rather to show that while wanton cruelty is not common among the least civilized, it is common among the more civilized. The sanguinary Fijians have reached a considerable social development. Burton says of the Fan that "cruelty seems to be with him a necessary of life;" and yet the Fans have advanced arts and appliances, and live in villages having, some of them four thousand inhabitants. In Dahomy, where a large population considerably organized exists, the love for bloodshed leads to frequent horrible sacrifices; and the social system of the ancient Mexicans. rooted as it was in cannabalism, and yet highly evolved in many ways, shows us that it is not the lowest races which are the most inhuman.

Help in judging the moral nature of savages is furnished by the remark of Mr. Bates, that "the goodness of these Indians, like that of most others amongst whom I lived, consisted perhaps more in the absence of active bad qualities, than in the possession of good ones; in other words, it was negative rather than positive. . . . . The good-fellowship of our Cucámas seemed to arise, not from warm sympathy, but simply from the absence of eager selfishness in small matters." And we shall derive further help in reconciling what seem contradictory traits, by observing how the dog unites great affectionateness, sociality, and even sympathy, with habitual egoism and bursts of ferocity—how he passes readily from playful friendliness to fighting, and while at one time robbing a fellow dog of his food will at another succour him in distress.

One kind of evidence, however, there is which amid all these conflicting testimonies, affords tolerably-safe guidance. The habitual behaviour to women among any people, indicates with approximate truth, the average power of the altruistic sentiments; and the indication thus yielded tells against the character of the primitive man. The actions of the stronger sex to the weaker among the uncivilized are frequently brutal; and even at best the conduct is unsympathetic. That slavery of women, often joined with cruelty to them, should be normal among savages, accepted as right not by men only but by women themselves, proves that whatever occasional displays of altruism there may be, the ordinary flow of altruistic feeling is small.

A summary of these leading emotional traits must be prefaced by one which affects all the others—the fixity of habit: a trait connected with that of early arrival at maturity, added at the close of the last chapter. The primitive man is conservative in an extreme degree. Even on contrasting higher races with one another, and even on contrasting different classes in the same society, it is observable that the least developed are the most averse to change. Among the common people an improved method is difficult to introduce; and even a new kind of food is usually disliked. The uncivilized man is thus characterized in yet a greater degree. His simpler nervous system, sooner losing its plasticity, is still less able to take on a modified mode of action. Hence both an unconscious adhesion, and an avowed adhesion, to that which is established. "Because same ting do for my father, same ting do for me," say the Houssa negroes. The Creek Indians laughed at those who suggested that they should "alter their long-established customs and habits of living." Of some Africans Livingstone says—"I often presented my friends with iron spoons, and it was curious to observe how the habit of hand-eating prevailed, though they were delighted with the spoons. They lifted out a little [milk] with the utensil, then put it on the left hand, and ate it out of that." How this tendency leads to unchangeable social usages, is well shown by the Dyaks; who, as Mr. Tyler says, "marked their disgust at the innovation by levying a fine on any of their own people who should be caught chopping in the European fashion."

Recapitulating the emotional traits, severally made more marked by this relative fixity of habit, we have first to note the impulsiveness which, pervading the conduct of primitive men, so greatly impedes co-operation. That "wavering and inconstant disposition," which commonly makes it "impossible to put any dependence on their promises," negatives that mutual trust required for social progress. Governed as he is by despotic emotions that successively depose one another, instead of by a council of the emotions shared in by all, the primitive man has an explosive, chaotic, incalculable behaviour, which makes combined action very difficult. One of the more special traits, partly resulting from this general trait, is his improvidence. Immediate desire, be it for personal gratification or for the applause which generosity brings, excludes fear of future evils; while pains and pleasures to come, not being vividly conceived, give no adequate spur to exertion: leaving a light-hearted, careless absorption in the present. Sociality, strong in the civilized man, is less strong in the savage man. Among the lowest types the groups are small, and the bonds holding their units together are relatively feeble. Along with a tendency to disruption produced by the ill-controlled passions of the individuals, there goes comparatively little of the sentiment causing cohesion. So that, among men carried from one extreme to another by gusts of feeling—men often made very irritable by hunger, which, as Livingstone remarks, "has a powerful effect on the temper"—there exists at once a smaller tendency to cohere from mutual liking, and a greater tendency to resist an authority otherwise causing cohesion. Though, before there is much sociality, there cannot be much love of approbation; yet, with a moderate progress in social grouping, there develops this simplest of the higher sentiments. The great and immediate benefits brought by the approval of fellow-savages, and the serious evils following their anger or contempt, are experiences which foster this ego-altruistic sentiment into predominance. And by it some subordination to tribal opinion is secured, and some consequent regulation of conduct, even before there arises a rudiment of political control. In social groups once permanently formed, the bond of union—here love of society, there obedience caused by awe of power, elsewhere a dread of penalties, and in most places a combination of these— may go along with a very variable amount of altruistic feeling. Though sociality fosters sympathy, yet the daily doings of the primitive man repress sympathy. Active fellow-feeling, ever awake and ever holding egoism in check, does not characterize him; as we see conclusively shown by the treatment of women. And that highest form of altruistic sentiment distinguished by us as a sense of justice, is very little developed.

The emotional traits harmonize with those which we anticipated—a less extended and less varied correspondence with the environment, less representativeness, less remoteness from reflex action. The cardinal trait of impulsiveness implies the sudden, or approximately-reflex, passing of a single passion into the conduct it prompts; implies, by the absence of opposing feelings, that the consciousness is formed of fewer representations; and implies that the adjustment of internal actions to external actions does not take account of consequences so distant in space and time. So with the accompanying improvidence: desire goes at once to gratification; there is feeble imagination of secondary results; remote needs are not met. The love of approbation which grows as gregariousness increases, involves increased representativeness: instead of immediate results it contemplates results a stage further off; instead of actions prompted by single desires, there come actions checked and modified by secondary desires. But though the emotional nature in which this ego-altruistic sentiment becomes dominant, is made by its presence less reflex, more representative, and is adjusted to wider and more varied requirements, it is still, in these respects, below that developed emotional nature of the civilized man, marked by activity of the altruistic sentiments. Lacking these, the primitive man lacks the benevolence which adjusts conduct for the benefit of others distant in space and time, the equity which implies representation of highly complex and abstract relations among human actions, the sense of duty which curbs selfishness when there are none present to applaud.—HERBERT SPENCER n/a, , 1:54–72 (D. Appleton & Co., 1892).


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Chicago: "The Primitive Man— Emotional," Principles of Sociology in Source Book for Social Origins: Ethnological Materials, Psychological Standpoint, Classified and Annotated Bibliographies for the Interpretation of Savage Society, ed. Thomas, William I. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1909), 187–200. Original Sources, accessed July 21, 2024,

MLA: . "The Primitive Man— Emotional." Principles of Sociology, Vol. 1, in Source Book for Social Origins: Ethnological Materials, Psychological Standpoint, Classified and Annotated Bibliographies for the Interpretation of Savage Society, edited by Thomas, William I., Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1909, pp. 187–200. Original Sources. 21 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , 'The Primitive Man— Emotional' in Principles of Sociology. cited in 1909, Source Book for Social Origins: Ethnological Materials, Psychological Standpoint, Classified and Annotated Bibliographies for the Interpretation of Savage Society, ed. , University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp.187–200. Original Sources, retrieved 21 July 2024, from