Some Comments on Anthropologists
by E. E. Evans-Pritchard

Evans-Pritchard, E. E., Singer, A. (editor) (1981), A History of Anthropological Thought, London: Fabner and Faber.

Professor Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard died in 1973. This book was being written by him at that time, based on twenty years of lectures. The first five essays were published in the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, which was intended for all of the essays in the eventual book collection. With his death André Singer, one time research assistant of E. E. Evans-Pritchard, collected these and other writings into a collection decided by André Singer. Where he judged there was insufficient material for full chapters, but nevertheless enough material, Singer has created a set of notes and comments. E. E. Evans-Pritchard wanted Singer to do this legacy work if unable to do it himself, as he was. See the preface by André Singer, pp. vii to xi. Here are some of these verbatim from the book and add to my own interest particularly in understanding Bronislaw Malinowski and Marcel Mauss.

188 Notes and Comments

VAN GENNEP (1873-1957)

Arnold Van Gennep wrote several important anthropological treatises and many important books on folklore, including the volumes of Manuel de folklore français. Nevertheless, in spite of his erudition and excellent researches, he never received high academic recognition and was, indeed, cold-shouldered by Durkheim and his colleagues of the Année sociologique, whose writings he subjected to some merciless criticism, particularly in his L'État actuel du problème totémique (1920). This may partly be why his other books have made less impact on anthropologists, ethnologists, and sociologists, and why he is chiefly remembered for his Les Rites de passage (1908).

Van Gennep achieved in this book an enviable reputation by drawing attention to the widespread distribution of a common symbolic structure in transition rites celebrated to mark the passing of a person, or of a group of persons, from one social state to another - pregnancy, birth, puberty, marriage, death, and so on. Others, for example Hertz and, long before him, Fustel de Coulanges, had remarked on this symbolic structure, but it was Van Gennep who treated the subject exhaustively.

He was not speaking of physiological processes but of changes in social status. The two are, of course, connected, but social puberty, for example, often does not coincide with physical puberty, nor social death with physical death. The rites performed on such occasions, he claimed, had not been understood by writers like Tylor and Frazer because they had been considered in isolation and not taken as wholes or sequences. Only then does their meaning become apparent for only then is it seen that they consist of three related movements or phases: rites of separation (séparation), rites of transition (marge), and rites of incorporation (aggrégation).

The person, or group, is first cut off from earlier social attachments, then passes through a period of isolation, and finally is brought into a new social world or reintegrated into the old one. The essential character of all such ceremonies is to be found in this pattern; and furthermore ceremonies cannot be fully understood even when treated as sequences of interconnected rites; it is necessary also to consider each sequence in [188 becomes 189] relation to the others, as a series which organizes the whole lives of persons and groups, passing them from one status to another from birth to death and beyond the grave. These changes of condition produce social disturbance (perturbation sociale), and it is the function of transition rites to reduce their harmful effects by restoring equilibrium.

Such was Van Gennep's main thesis. It may seem commonplace today but it was a revelation at the time of its publication. The thesis illustrates both the strength and the weakness of the comparative method. When used with Van Gennep's skill it reveals the general character, as distinct from particular cultural forms, of social phenomena. But the fact that they are general makes a functional explanation of them (reducing social disturbance) appear vague, inadequate and even platitudinous; and this is especially so when inconclusive instances are either ignored or are not convincingly accounted for. But the book still has theoretical value as well as historical significance.

[continuing page 189]

MAUSS (1872-1950)

Marcel Mauss, Emile Durkheim's nephew and most distinguished pupil, was a man of unusual ability and learning, and also of integrity and strong convictions. After Durkheim's death he was the leading figure in French sociology. His reputation was closely bound up with the fortunes of the Année sociologique which he helped his uncle to found and make famous, make famous; some of the most stimulating and original contributions to its earlier numbers were written by him in co-operation with Durkheim and Hubert and Beuchat: "Essai sur la nature et la fonction du sacrifice" (1899), "De quelques formes, primitives de classification: contribution à l'étude des représentations collectives" (1903), "Esquisse d'une théorie génerale de la magie" (1904), and "Essai sur les variations saisonnières des sociétés eskimos: essai de morphologie sociale" (1906).

The war of 1914-18, during which Mauss was on operational service, almost wiped out the team of brilliant younger scholars whom Durkheim had taught, inspired, and gathered aroun him - his son André Durkheim, Robert Hertz, Antoine Bianconi, Georges Gelly, Maxime David, and Jean Reynier. The Master did not survive them (d. 1917). Had it not been for these disasters, Mauss might have given us in ampler measure the fruits of his erudition, untiring industry, and mastery of method. But he not only wrote about social solidarity and collective sentiments. He expressed them in his own life. For him the group of Durkheim and his pupils and colleagues had a kind of collective mind, the material representation of which the Année was its product. And if one belongs to others and not to oneself, one expresses one's attachment by subordinating one's own ambitions to the common interest. On the few occasions I met Mauss I received the impression that this was how he thought and felt, and his actions confirmed it. He took over the labours of his dead colleagues. Most unselfishly, neglecting his own researches, he undertood the heavy task of editing, completing, and publishing the manuscripts left by Durkheim, Hubert (who died in [189 becomes 190] 1927), Hertz, and others. He undertook also, in 1923-4, the even heavier task of reviving his beloved Année, which had ceased publication after 1913. This imposed an added burden on him and further deflected him from the field of his own chief interest. Mauss became a Sanskrit scholar and a historian of religions at the same time as he became a sociologist, and his main interest throughout his life was in comparative religion or the sociology of religion. But he felt that the new series of the Année must, like the old one, cover the many branches of sociological research, and this could only be done if he took over those branches other than his own which would have been the special concern of those who had died. Consequently, though he published many reviews and review-articles, his only major works after 1906 were the "Essai sur le don, forme archaique de l'échange" (1925), "Fragment du'n plan de sociologie générale descriptive" (1934), and "Une catégorie de l'esprit humain: la notion de personne, celle de 'moi'" (1938). His projected works on prayer, on money and on the state were never completed. But he was active all the time. The second series of the Année had to be abandoned, but a third series was started in 1934. Then came the war of 1939-45. Paris was occupied by the Nazis, and Mauss was a Jew. He was not himself injured, but some of his closest colleagues and friends, Maurice Halbwachs and others, were killed. For a second time he saw all around him collapse and this, combined with other and personal troubles, was too much for him and his mind gave way. Mauss was in the line of the philosophical tradition running from Montesquieu through the philosophers of the Enlightenment - Turgot, Condorcet, Saint-Simon - to Comte and then Durkheim, a tradition in which conclusions were reached by analysis of concepts rather than of facts, the facts being used as illustrations of formulations reached by other than inductive methods. But while that is true, it is also true that Mauss was far less a philosopher than Durkheim. In all his essays he turns first concrete facts and examines them in their entirety and to the last detail. This was the main theme of an excellent lecture delivered at Oxford in 1952 by one of his former pupils, M. Louis Dumont. He pointed out that though Mauss, out of loyalty and affection, studiously avoided any criticism of Durkheim, such criticism is nevertheless implicit in his writings, which are so much more empirical than Durkheim's that it might be said that with Mauss sociology in France reached its experimental stage. Mauss sought only to know a limited range of facts and then to understand them, and what Mauss meant by understanding comes out very clearly in his Essai sur le don. It is to see social phenomena - as, indeed, Durkheim taught that they should be seen - in their totality. "Total" is the key word of the Essai. The exchanges of archaic societies which he examines are total social movements or activities. They are, at the same time, economic, juridical, moral, aesthetic, religious, mythological and sociomorphological phenomena. Their meaning can therefore only be grasped if they are viewed as a complex concrete reality, and if for convenience we make abstractions in studying some institution we must in the end replace what we have taken away if we are to understand it. And the means to [190 becomes 191] be used to reach an understanding of institutions? They are those employed by the anthropological fieldworker who studies social life from both outside and inside, from the outside as anthropologist and from the inside by identifying himself with the members of the society he is studying. Mauss demonstrated that, given enough well-documented material, he could do this without leaving his flat in Paris. He soaked his mind in ethnographical material, including all available linguistic material; but he was successful only because that mind was also a master of sociological method. Mauss did in his room what an anthropologist does in the field, bringing a trained mind to bear on the social life of primitive peoples which he both observes and experiences. We social anthropologists therefore regard him as one of us.

But to understand phenomena in their totality it is necessary first to know them. One must be a scholar. It is not sufficient to read the writings of others about the thought and customs of ancient India or ancient Rome. One must be able to go straight to the sources, for scholars not trained in sociological methods will not have seen in the facts what is of sociological significance. The sociologist who sees them in their totality sees them differently. Mauss was able to go to the sources. Besides having an excellent knowledge of several modern European languages, including Russian, he was a fine Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Celtic, and Hebrew scholar, as well as a brilliant sociologist. Perhaps to their surprise, he was able to teach Sanskritists much that they did not know was in their texts and Roman lawyers much that they did not know was in theirs. What he says about the meaning of certain forms of exchange in ancient India and in ancient Rome in the Essai sur le don is an illustration. This was perhaps not so remarkable as when Mauss was able to show how Malinowski had misunderstood his own account of the Trobriand Islanders. His vast knowledge, which Malinowski lacked, of Oceanic languages and of the native societies of Melanesia, Polynesia, America, and elsewhere enabled him to deduce by a comparative study of primitive institutions what the fieldworker had not himself observed.

Apart from its great value as an exercise in method the Essai sur le don is a precious document in itself. Of great importance for an understanding of Mauss and for an assessment of his significance as a scholar, since most of his other well-known essays were written in collaboration, it is also the first systematic and comparative study of the wide-spread custom of gift exchange and the first understanding of its function in the articulation of the social order. Mauss shows what is the real nature, and what is the fundamental significance, of such institutions as the potlatch and the kula which at first sight bewilder us or even seem to be pointless or unintelligible. When he shows us how to understand them, he reveals not only the meaning of certain customs of North American Indians and Melanesians but at the same time the meaning of customs in early phases of historic civilizations; and, what is more, the significance of practices in our own society at the present time. In Mauss's essays there is always implicit a comparison, or contrast, between the archaic institutions he is writing about and our own. He is asking himself not only how we can understand these archaic institu-[191 becomes 192] tions but also how an understanding of them helps us the better to understand our own, and perhaps to improve them. Nowhere does this come out more clearly than in the Essai sur le don, where Mauss is telling us, quite pointedly, in case we should not reach the conclusion for ourselves, how much we have lost, whatever we may have otherwise gained, by the substitution of a rational economic system for a system in which exchange of goods was not a mechanical but a moral transaction, bringing about the maintaining human, personal, relatlonships between individuals and groups. We take our own social conventions for granted and we seldom think how recent many of them are and how ephemeral they will perhaps prove to be. Men at other times had, and in many parts of the world still have, different ideas, values and customs, from a study of which we may learn much that, Mauss believed, may be of value to ourselves.

Notes and Comments 196

STEINER (1909-1952)

Franz Baermann Steiner was born in Czechoslovakia in 1909 and died at Oxford in 1952. He took a Ph.D. in Semitic languages and ethnology at the University of Prague, and later came - shortly before the Second World War - to Oxford to continue his anthropological studies at Magdalen College (Professor Radcliffe-Brown being in the Chair of Social Anthropology at the time). Czechoslovakia was overrun by Nazi forces and Steiner's family and almost all his close kin were murdered by them. Added to his misfortunes, if indeed anything can be added to so overwhelming a disaster, was not only poverty but also the loss of the fruit of many years' research. He had almost completed a doctoral thesis for Oxford University on servile institutions, when it was mislaid on a journey by train, together with the notes on which it was based, and was never recovered. It had to be entirely rewritten. It was at the time it was being rewritten that, having succeeded Professor Radcliffe-Brown in the Chair at Oxford, I first came into close contact with Franz Steiner. He was a sick man, but with great fortitude rewrote his thesis and was awarded his doctorate in 1950. His scholarship and remakable breadth of learning had long been the admiration of his colleagues, and it was much to their satisfaction that in the same year he was appointed to a University Lectureship in Social Anthropology in the University of Oxford. He was a teacher of rare ability, and he was beloved by both students and colleagues. His disappointments and disasters which might have soured another man, only made Franz Steiner more tolerant, more gentle, and more serene. His ill health continued, however, and though he seemed to be better - and at least was happier and more secure - he died very suddenly in the autumn of 1952. He was buried in the Jewish burial ground at Oxford. In the later years of his life, the faith and religious practice of his fathers were of increasing concern to him.

But in spite of his learning, or because of it, he could not publish an article that was not based upon a critical analysis of every source, in whatever language; and he had published almost nothing on anthropological subjects before his death, although since his death a number of articles have been revised and published by his Oxford friends: "Enslavement and the Early Hebrew Lineage system: An Explanation of Genesis, xlvii. 29-31, xlviii. 1-16" (Man, 1954, no. 102); "Notes on Comparative Economics," (The British Journal of Sociology, V, no. 2, 1954); "Chagga Truth: A Note on Gutmann's Account of the Chagga Concept of Truth in Das Recht des Chagga," (Africa, XXIV, 1954). The [196 becomes 197] results of his field research in the Carpathian Ukraine were never published. While working on anthropological subjects he was also engaged in many other intellectual activities - philosophy, semantics, Old Testament exegesis, and also poetry. He was, I am told, a considerable poet. A number of his poems had already been published in German periodicals before his death. A volume of them, selected by his friend and literary executor, Dr. H. G. Adler, had recently appeared under the title Unruhe ohne Uhr.

At the time of his death Franz Steiner was engaged in preparing for publication several anthropological treatises, a sociological study of Aristotle (of which nothing except notes has been found among his papers), a book on the sociology of labour, which would have been his thesis rewritten for publication, and a critical analysis of theories of taboo. His study of taboo had reached the stage of being delivered as a course of lectures at Oxford. Though he would doubtless have revised and added to them before submitting them for publication, they were fully typed, and appeared in print, save for minor revisions, as he left them.

Taboo has often been a subject of anthropological inquiry since Captain Cook first used the word in his account of the Polynesians. It has been treated at some length by Robertson Smith, Frazer, Freud, Lévy-Bruhl, Van Gennep, Radcliffe-Brown, and others. The theories put forward by these writers were critically examined by Steiner, and he subjected the sources on which they relied to the closest scrutiny. He showed how inadequate most of these theories were and, though he did not reach any positive conclusions himself, his book is of great value to anyone interested in the idea of taboo and to those who in the future tackle once more the problems it raises.

[197 continuing]

MALINOWSKI (1884-1942)

Bronislaw Malinowski began lecturing in London in 1924. Raymond Firth (later Professor Sir) and I were his first two anthropological pupils in that year, and between 1924 and 1930 he taught most of the other social anthropologists who subsequently held chairs in Great Britain and the Dominions. The comprehensive field studies of modern anthropology can be fairly said to derive directly or indirectly from his teaching, for he insisted that the social life of a primitive people can only be understood if it is studied intensively, and that it is a necessary part of a social anthropologist's training to carry out at least one such intensive study of a primitive society.

A pupil of Hobhouse, Westermarck, and Seligman, Malinowski not only spent a longer period in fieldwork than any anthropologist before him, in a single study of a primitive people, the Trobriand Islanders of Melanesia between 1914 and 1918, but he was also the first anthropologist to conduct his research through the native language, as he was the first to live throughout his work in the center of native life. In these fa-[197 becomes 198] vourable circumstances Malinowski came to know the Trobriand Islanders well, and he was describing their social life in a number of bulky, and some shorter, monographs up to the time of his death.

His best known work is Argonauts of the Western Pacific, published in 1922. He starts off with a general discussion of the method and scope of his field-research, and then gives the general ethnological background to it: a general account of the country and inhabitants of the kula district and their way of life; then a similar picture of the natives of the Trobriand Islands. Having described in great detail the kula exchanges and a mass of peripheral information, Malinowski finally makes an attempt to tell us the meaning of the kula. The attempt is a failure, for he offers us no sociological interpretation of it of any sort. Why is this? Malinowski had no idea of abstract analysis, and consequently of structure. In so far as he had any idea of "social system" it was on a purely descriptive level. One event follows another and they are described in succession with explanatory digressions. To make kula, one has to have canoes, so their construction and use are described; it involves visiting foreign peoples, so their customs, crafts, and so forth are described; magical spells are used for various purposes connected with kula, so every aspect of magic has to be gone into in detail; there are stories of past kula expeditions, so there has to be a digression on myth; and so on. Having no idea of structure, there is no standard of sociological relevance. The standard is one of links between real happenings, and the so-called analysis is no more than a commentary. The book is much more concerned with magic than with kula. All he tells us could easily have gone into 50 pages rather than into over 500 pages. In a sense it is a piece of book making on the model of a sociological novel, for example by Zola. The failure to get away from a bare record of observation and to make analysis by a series of abstractions means that not only are we told nothing of the political interrelations of the communities concerned in the kula and nothing of the kinship system, but even the essential facts about the kula itself are omitted. He does not tell us who traded with whom; we are not told the interrelationships of the persons composing the villages which take part in the kula; and so forth.

The interdependencies he does cite are not those of abstractions within a theoretical framework such as we find in any natural science (which Malinowski held social anthropology to be) but between different forms of behaviour-events. The Trobrianders make magic to protect their gardens and canoes or to make the one flourish and the other swift. It is an interdependence of economic and ritual activities in the sense of temporal and spatial connection - of juxtaposition. But if it was a functional interdependence, for example, would they cultivate any differently or any less without magic? This cannot be known by his method of research. It can only be known by the experimental situation provided by history or by the use of the comparative method. Certainly the use of the comparative method necessitates the idea of "system" or "structure." One does not compare a whale and a mouse as concrete, real things. One compares their anatomical and physiological systems. Likewise one cannot compare real institutions in different societies-[198 becomes 199] only features or aspects or qualities of them - i.e., abstractions. For example I compared Zande magic with Trobriand magic, but only in reference to the nature of the spell in relation to rules of inheritance. The weakness of Malinowski's approach becomes very clear when he attempts to say something general about human societies rather than about one particular society.

In a later book, Crime and Custom in Savage Society (1926), Malinowski writes: "We can only plead for the speedy and complete disappearance from the records of field-work of the piecemeal items of information, of customs, beliefs, and rules of conduct floating in the air, or rather leading a flat existence on paper with the third dimension, that of life completely lacking. With this the theoretical arguments of anthropology will be able to drop the lengthy litanies of threaded statement, which make anthropologists feel silly and the savage look ridiculous" (p. 126).

On the basis of this sort of information had been erected a vast edifice of anthropological theory. Since the information was largely meaningless so must be the constructions based on them. Malinowski thought it his task to free anthropology from this impasse. This book is aimed at Lévy-Bruhl's mystical savage, at the ideas of Rivers and the French School about clan solidarity, and at the hypothetical reconstructions of Rivers and others. Primitive law had received attention from Bachofen, Post, Kohler, and others in the last century, but they relied on inadequate statements; in a complex subject like law amateur observations were on the whole useless. They were also tied to the doctrine of Morgan and others: primitive promiscuity, group marriage, primitive communism, and so on. "In short," writes Malinowski, "underlying all these ideas was the assumption that in primitive societies the individual is completely dominated by the group - the horde, the clan or the tribe - that he obeys the commands of his community, its traditions, its public opinion, its decrees with a slavish, fascinated, passive obedience" (p. 3). Malinowski has no difficulty in showing that all this is nonsense, and we owe him a great debt for acting as a critical dissolvent of accepted theory, even though his contribution was negative rather than positive. But he was unscrupulous in his use of theoretical writers as strawmen and quite unconstructive theoretically - he gives no real theory of law or even an elementary definition of it or classification of its types.

Malinowski's most mature views are represented in his posthumous but almost completely revised book A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays (1944). It is a good example of the morass of verbiage and triviality into which the effort to give an appearance of being natural-scientific can lead. Malinowski was in any case a futile thinker.

What Malinowski calls a theory is not really theory at all but is a guide to the collection and setting forth of data, a fieldworker's vade mecum, a wordy Notes and Queries. It never rises above the descriptive and operational level of analysis; and it is for the most part a verbose elaboration of the obvious and the erection of commonplaces into scientific concepts. Malinowski himself seems to have sensed this. He says (p. 175) of this book, or rather of the functional theory contained in it, that "it is meant primarily to equip the field-worker with a clear perspective [199 becomes 200] and full instructions regarding what to observe and how to record." He says also, "This type of functional analysis is easily exposed to the accusation of tautology and platitude, as well as to the criticism that it implies a logical circle, for, obviously, if we define function as the satisfaction of a need, it is easy to suspect that the need to be satisfied has been introduced in order to satisfy the need of satisfying a function. Thus, for instance, clans are obviously an additional type of internal differentiation. Can we speak of a legitimate need for such differentiation especially when the need is not ever present, for not all communities have clans, and yet they go on very well without them." The book is an exercise in pragmatism and Malinowski therefore equivocates when discussing what he does not like - war. He deems that it does not satisfy a need in modern Europe. Why then do we have it?

[page 200 continues]


A. R. Radcliffe-Brown was educated at King Edward's High School, Birmingham, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read the Mental and Moral Sciences Tripos. At Cambridge he came into contact with W. H. R. Rivers and A. C. Haddon, who turned his interests toward social anthropology. He was later greatly influenced by French sociology, especially by the writings of Durkheim. His own influence on the development of social anthropology was effected partly through the publication of the results of his field research in the Andaman Islands and Australia, but it was far more strongly felt in the contribution he made to theory, and especially methodology, in papers and even more by his lectures.

He wrote with great clarity both of style and of reasoning, but he wrote with difficulty and it would not be easy to know how he became so outstanding a figure in the anthropological world were one to consider his writings alone. His eminence was due rather to his power of inspiring enthusiasm among his students with whom he was always ready to discuss the problems of their science, not only in the lecture room but at any time and in any place. He numbered these students all over the world, for during his career he held chairs at Cape Town, Sydney, Chicago, Oxford, Alexandria, Yengching, Sao Paolo, Grahamstown, and Manchester. He also taught at the London School of Economics, at University College, London, and at Johannesburg. The spread of his teaching was thus very wide.

Radcliffe-Brown's main contribution to anthropological thought lies in his clear expositions, his felicity in choosing appropriate terms - he was a fashioner of conceptual tools. In this way he did not lead his students into rather slick psychological explanations, and he eschewed guesswork history (one must add, all history). He continued to advocate the establishment of laws or universals, in the sense of propositions to which there are no exceptions, by comparative analysis, though he did not use statistics, and his version of the comparative method was in [200 becomes 201] practice mainly a return to the illustrative method. Indeed, I have to say, with regret, that Steinmetz would have stigmatized much of what he wrote as idle speculation, and Nieboer would have regarded it as an example of what he strongly protested against, the capricious practice of some writers of thinking up some plausible explanation of some social phenomenon and then searching around for illustrations which seem to support it and neglecting the rest of the related material. I cite briefiy a few examples. In his early paper "The Mother's Brother in South Africa," he may have been right in challenging the concept of survivals, but his positive contribution does not seem to rne to be, as it has been claimed to be, a model of scientific procedure: quite the contrary. He tries to show that, according to what he calls the principle of equivalence of siblings, the sentiment of tenderness towards the mother is extended to her brother and that of respect for the father to his sister, but he makes no attempt in that paper to relate this supposed extension to the kinship system as a whole (for instance, the mother's brother is also the father's wife's brother), to property rights, to political authority, and so forth. The evidences are selected and are furthermore restricted to five illustrations (the sources for two of the societies not being given), every other people in the world being ignored, though they all have sister's sons and mother's brothers. The argument is no more than circular redescription and is, anyway, invalidated by the evidence from other societies, particularly by Malinowski's later and detailed information about the Trobriand Islanders. In another essay Radcliffe-Brown (whose views about the relation of sociology to history, it may be borne in mind, were those of Comte and of the Marxist theorists), tells us that the form taken by religion is determined by the form of social structure, so we may expect to find, for example, ancestor cult where there is a lineage system, as in China or ancient Rome; but there are many socie-ties with ancestor cults without a trace of a lineage system, and the most perfect example of a lineage system is perhaps that of the Bedouin Arabs, who are Muslims. In yet another essay he asserts that where man depends largely on hunting and collecting for the means of subsistence, animals and plants are made objects of "ritual attitude," this being a particular instance of a general law: that any object or event which has important effects on the material or spiritual well-being of a society tends to become an object of "the ritual attitude." But this is simply just not the case, unless we are to understand by "ritual attitude" attention of any sort, thereby depriving the expression of any precise meaning. The general law ignores in its application to totemic phenomena a vast mass of ethnographic evidence, particularly in Africa, which runs counter to the thesis put forward. Nor does the evidence from pastoral and agricultural peoples support it. A final example: he says that where societies are divided into moieties, these are in a state of balanced opposition, opposition being defined as "a combination of agreement and disagreement, of solidarity and difference." How, we may ask, could it be otherwise? The statement is a truism contained in the definition of moieties, and much the same could be said of any social group. Such generalizations supported by a few selected illustrations, are either so [201 becomes 202] general as to be devoid of significance or, where more precisely formulated, rest on too slender a base of evidence and fail to take into account negative evidences. Kroeber's comment on the old dilemma of the sociologist is relevant: "by the time he finds a formula that no one can cite exceptions to, it has become so essentially logical, so remote from phenomena, that no one knows precisely what to do with it."


Verbatim: E. E. Evans-Pritchard

Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful