Anthropology is the whole history of man as fired and pervaded by the idea of evolution. Man in evolution – that is the subject in its full reach. Anthropology studies mankind as it occurs at all known times. It studies humans as they occur in all known parts of the world. It studies the body and soul together – as a bodily organism, subject to conditions operating in time and space, which bodily organism is in intimate relation with a soul-life, also subject to those same conditions. Having an eye to such conditions from first to last, it seeks to plot out the general series of the changes, bodily and mental together, undergone by humans in the course of history. Its business is simply to describe. But, without exceeding the limits of its scope, it can and must proceed from the particular to the general; aiming at nothing less than a descriptive formula that shall sum up the whole series of changes in which the evolution of man consists.
That will do, perhaps, as a short account of the ideal scope of anthropology. Being short, it is bound to be rather formal and colorless. To put some body into it, however, it is necessary to breathe but a single word. That word is Darwin.
Anthropology is the child of Darwin. Darwinism makes it possible. Darwinism is a working hypothesis. What is the truth that Darwinism supposes? Simply that all the forms of life in the world are related together; and that the relations manifested in time and space between the different lives are sufficiently uniform to be described under a general formula, or law of evolution. Let any and every portion of human history be studied in the light of the whole history of mankind, and against the background of the history of living things in general. This means that man must, for certain purposes of science, toe the line with the rest of living things.
It remains to add that, hitherto, anthropology has devoted most of its attention to the peoples of rude – that is to say, of simple – culture, who are vulgarly known to us as “”savages.”” The main reason for this is that nobody much minds so long as the application of Darwinism confines itself to outsiders. Only when it is applied to self and friends is it resented as impertinence. But, although it has always up to now pursued the line of least resistance, anthropology does not abate one jot or tittle of its claim to be the whole science, in the sense of the whole history, of man. As regards the word, call it science, or history, or anthropology, or anything else – what does it matter? As regards the thing, however, there can be no compromise. Anthropologists are out to secure this: that there shall not be one kind of history for savages and another kind for ourselves, but the same kind of history, with the same evolutionary principle running right through it, for all men, civilized and savage, present and past.
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