According to Mr. Tylor, there is reason to believe that, "the doctrine of the spirits of plants lay deep in the intellectual history of South-east Asia, but was in great measure superseded under Buddhist influence.
On the other hand, we must not confound the spiritual vitality ascribed to trees with the animistic conception of their being inhabited by certain spirits, although, as Mr. Tylor remarks, it is difficult at times to distinguish between the two notions.
See Tylor's "Primitive Culture," 1873, i. 474-5; also Dorman's "Primitive Superstitions," 1881, p. 294.
7. See Tylor's "Primitive Culture," i. 475.
Quoted in Tylor's "Primitive Culture," ii. 221.
Mr. Tylor speaks of an ancient cypress existing in Mexico, which he thus describes:"All over its branches were fastened votive offerings of the Indians, hundreds of locks of coarse black hair, teeth, bits of coloured cloth, rags, and morsels of ribbon.
See an article on "Myths of the Fire Stealer," Saturday Review, June 2, 1883, p. 689; Tylor's "Primitive Culture.
See Tylor's "Primitive Culture," ii. 316.
Certain of the Amazon tribes use narcotic plants for encouraging visions, and the Californian Indians, writes Mr. Tylor, "would give children narcotic potions, to gain from the ensuing visions information about their enemies;" whilst, he adds, "the Darien Indians used the seeds of the Datura sanguinca to bring on in children prophetic delirium, in which they revealed hidden treasure.
Tylor's "Primitive Culture," 1873, i. 130.
In a letter to his sister, Mary Tylor, which he wrote from this place, is the following characteristic sentiment:
The researches of students of anthropology and comparative religion—such as Tylor, Robertson Smith, and Frazer—have gone to show that mysterious ideas and dogma and rites which were held to be peculiar to the Christian revelation are derived from the crude ideas of primitive religions.
Mr. Tylor has observed the same custom among the Caribs of the West Indies, the Abipones of Central South America, the aborigines of California, in Guiana, in West Africa, and in the Indian Archipelago.
"In the Australian bush," writes Tylor (P.C., II., 203), "demons whistle in the branches, and stooping with outstretched arms sneak among the trunks to seize the wayfarer;" and Powers (88) writes in regard to California Indians that they listen to night noises with unspeakable horror:
Their arguments have misled even so eminent a specialist as Professor E.B. Tylor into declaring (Anthropology, 427) that "infanticide comes from hardness of life rather than from hardness of heart."
Angas, II., 65. Tylor, Anthr., 237.
Sturt, II., 103. Tylor, 237.
Tylor, E.B.: Primitive Culture. Anthropology.
This passage is quoted from the original by (Sir) Edward B. Tylor, Researches into the Early History of Mankind, Third Edition (London, 1878), pp.
181 sq. (Sir) Edward B. Tylor, Researches into the Early History of Mankind, Third Edition (London, 1878), pp. 237
On the belief in were-wolves in general; see W. Hertz, Der Werwolf (Stuttgart, 1862); J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie* i. 915 sqq.; (Sir) Edward B. Tylor, Primitive Culture (London, 1873), i. 308 sqq.; R. Andree, Ethnographische Parallelen und Vergleiche (Stuttgart, 1878), pp.
(Sir) Edward B. Tylor, Primitive Culture* (London, 1873), i. 314.
The only English exception known to me is Mr. Tylor, and his great work, "Primitive Culture," was written thirty years ago, before the modern psychological studies of Professor William James, Dr. Romaine Newbold, M. Richet, Dr. Janet, Professor Sidgwick, Mr. Myers, Mr. Gurney, Dr. Parish, and many others had commenced.
These speculations appear to me to need less reflection than the long and complicated processes of thought by which Mr. Tylor believes, and probably believes with justice, the theory of "spirits" to have been evolved.
I was, when I wrote, unaware that, especially as concerns America and Australia, Mr. Tylor had recently advocated the theory of borrowing ('Journal of Anthrop.
To Mr. Tylor's arguments, when I read them, I replied in the 'Nineteenth Century,' January 1899: 'Are Savage Gods Borrowed from Missionaries?'
I do not here repeat my arguments, but await the publication of Mr. Tylor's 'Gifford Lectures,' in which his hypothesis may be reinforced, and may win my adhesion.
In chapter xiv., owing to a bibliographical error of my own, I have done injustice to Mr. Tylor, by supposing him to have overlooked Strachey's account of the Virginian god Ahone.
Mr. Tylor's opinion is, doubtless, different, and may prove more persuasive.
Therefore we intend to ask, first, what, if anything, can be ascertained as to the nature of the 'visions' and hallucinations which, according to Mr. Tylor in his celebrated work 'Primitive Culture,' lent their aid to the formation of the idea of 'spirit.'
We may follow Mr. Tylor's example, and collect savage beliefs about visions, hallucinations, 'clairvoyance,' and the acquisition of knowledge apparently not attainable through the normal channels of sense.
These phenomena, as Mr. Tylor says, 'the great intellectual movement of the last two centuries has simply thrown aside as worthless.'
Mr. Tylor writes: 'The issue raised by the comparison of savage, barbaric, and civilised spiritualism is this: Do the Red Indian medicine-man, the Tatar necromancer, the Highland ghost-seer, and the Boston medium, share the possession of belief and knowledge of the highest truth and import, which, nevertheless, the great intellectual movement of the last two centuries has simply thrown aside as worthless?' Distinguo!
[Footnote 5: Tylor, Primitive Culture, i, 9, 10.]
They were on the same track, in each case, as Lubbock, Tylor, Spencer, Bastian, and Frazer, or as Gurney, Richet, Myers, Janet, Dessoir, and Von Schrenck-Notzing.
To all these perfectly natural objections Mr. Tylor has replied.
Mr. Tylor then adduces 'the test of recurrence,' of undesigned coincidence in testimony, as Millar had already argued in the last century.
But it would be well to advise the reader to consult Roskoff's confutation of Sir John Lubbock, and Mr. Tylor's masterly statement.
Mr. Tylor, twelve years before Mr. Spencer wrote, had demolished Sir Samuel Baker's assertion, as regards many tribes, and so shaken it as regards the Latukas, quoted by Mr. Spencer.
It is mainly for this reason that the arguments presently to follow are strung on the thread of Mr. Tylor's truly learned and accurate book, 'Primitive Culture.'
We possess, none the less, a mass of scattered information on this topic, the savage side of psychical phenomena, in works of travel, and in Mr. Tylor's monumental 'Primitive Culture.'
Mr. Tylor, however, as we shall see, regards it as a matter of indifference, or, at least, as a matter beyond the scope of his essay, to decide whether the parallel supernormal phenomena believed in by savages, and said to recur in civilisation, are facts of actual experience, or not.
Mr. Tylor, like other anthropologists, Mr. Huxley, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and their followers and popularisers, constructs on anthropological grounds, a theory of the Origin of Religion.
An exception among anthropologists is Mr. Tylor.
' Coming at last to Mr. Tylor, we find that he begins by dismissing the idea that any known race of men is devoid of religious conceptions.
So far we abound in Mr. Tylor's sense.
To the earliest faith Mr. Tylor gives the name of Animism, a term not wholly free from objection, though 'Spiritualism' is still less desirable, having been usurped by a form of modern superstitiousness.
In Mr. Tylor's opinion, as in Mr. Huxley's, Animism, in its lower (and earlier) forms, has scarcely any connection with ethics.
Mr. Tylor, however, is chiefly concerned with Animism as 'an ancient and world-wide philosophy, of which belief is the theory, and worship is the practice.'
It will be seen that, by Animism, Mr. Tylor does not mean the alleged early theory, implicitly if not explicitly and consciously held, that all things whatsoever are animated and are personalities. Judging from the behaviour of little children, and from the myths of savages, early man may have half-consciously extended his own sense of personal and potent and animated existence to the whole of nature as known to him.
It is the origin of that hypothesis, 'Animism,' which Mr. Tylor investigates.
Here it should be noted that Mr. Tylor most properly takes a distinction between sleeping 'dreams' and waking 'visions,' or 'clear vision.'
He included in his materials the much more striking and memorable experiences of waking hours, as we and Mr. Tylor agree in holding.
When the earliest reasoners, in an age and in mental conditions of which we know nothing historically, had evolved the hypothesis of this conscious, powerful, separable soul, capable of surviving the death of the body, it was not difficult for them to develop the rest of Religion, as Mr. Tylor thinks.
Nevertheless, when we remember that Mr. Tylor is theorising about savages in the dim background of human evolution, savages whom we know nothing of by experience, savages far behind Australians and Bushmen (who possess Gods), we must admit that he credits them with great ingenuity, and strong powers of abstract reasoning.
By Mr. Tylor's hypothesis, they first conceived the extremely abstract idea of Life, 'that which makes the difference between a living body and a dead one.'
Mr. Tylor illustrates this theory of early man by the little child's idea that 'chairs, sticks, and wooden horses are actuated by the same sort of personal will as nurses and children and kittens....
Mr. Tylor has thus (whether we follow his logic or not) provided man with a theory of active, intelligent, separable souls, which can survive the death of the body.
While we are, perhaps owing to our own want of capacity, puzzled by what seem to be two kinds of early philosophy(1) a sort of instinctive or unreasoned belief in universal animation, which Mr. Spencer calls 'Animism' and does not believe in, (2) the reasoned belief in separable and surviving souls of men (and in things), which Mr. Spencer believes in, and Mr. Tylor calls 'Animism'we must also note another difficulty.
Mr. Tylor may seem to be taking it for granted that the earliest, remote, unknown thinkers on life and the soul were existing on the same psychical plane as we ourselves, or, at least, as modern savages.
Lord Tennyson, too, after sleeping in the bed of his recently lost father on purpose to see his ghost, decided that ghosts 'are not seen by imaginative people.' We now examine, at greater length, the psychical conditions in which, according to Mr. Tylor, contemporary savages differ from civilised men.
Mr. Tylor attributes to the lower races, and even to races high above their level, 'morbid ecstasy, brought on by meditation, fasting, narcotics, excitement, or disease.'
But Mr. Tylor goes too far when he says 'where the savage could see phantasms, the civilised man has come to amuse himself with fancies.'
In all that he says on this point, the point of psychical condition, Mr. Tylor is writing about known savages as they differ from ourselves.
The terror of dogs in 'haunted houses' and of horses in passing 'haunted' scenes has often been reported, and is alluded to briefly by Mr. Tylor.
Even savage races, as Mr. Tylor justly says, attribute superior psychical knowledge to neighbouring tribes on a yet lower level of culture than themselves.
There may be more ways than one of explaining this relative humility: there is Hegel's way and there is Mr. Tylor's way.
It is an example of the chameleon-like changes of science (even of 'science falsely so called' if you please) that when he wrote his book, in 1871, Mr. Tylor could not possibly have anticipated this line of argument.
Mr. Tylor did not ignore this revival of savage philosophy.
Seventy years ago, as Mr. Tylor says, Dr. Macculloch, in his 'Description of the Western Islands of Scotland,' wrote of 'the famous Highland second sight' that 'ceasing to be believed it has ceased to exist.'
Mr. Tylor himself says that it has been 'reinstated in a far larger range of society, and under far better circumstances of learning and prosperity.'
Mr. Tylor, as we have seen, attributes the revival of interest in this obscure class of subjects to the influence of Swedenborg.
' Mr. Tylor is not incapable of appreciating this attitude.
The ideas of Mr. Tylor on the causes of the origin of religion are now criticised, not from the point of view of spiritualism, but of experimental psychology.
Mr. Tylor next examines the savage and other names for the ghost-soul, such as shadow (umbra), breath (spiritus), and he gives cases in which the shadow of a man is regarded as equivalent to his life.
Now, here we touch the first point in Mr. Tylor's theory, where a critic may ask, Was this belief in the wandering abroad of the seer's spirit a theory not only false in its form (as probably it is), but also wholly unbased on experiences which might raise a presumption in favour of the existence of phenomena really supernormal?
For a savage so acute as Mr. Tylor's hypothetical early reasoner might decline to believe that his own or a friend's soul had been absent on an expedition, unless it brought back information not normally to be acquired.
These considerations did not fail to present themselves to Mr. Tylor.
It is obvious and undeniable that if the supernormal acquisition of knowledge in trance is a vera causa, a real process, however rare, Mr. Tylor's theory needs modifications; while the character of the savage's reasoning becomes more creditable to the savage, and appears as better bottomed than we had been asked to suppose.
But Mr. Tylor does not examine this large body of evidence at all, or, at least, does not offer us the details of his examination.
' Jung-Stilling (though he wrote before modern 'Spiritualism' came in) is not a very valid authority; there is plenty of better evidence than his, but Mr. Tylor passes it by, merely remarking that 'modern Europe has kept closely enough to the lines of early philosophy.'
And we are inclined to hold that an examination of the mass of evidence to which Mr. Tylor offers here so slight an allusion will at least make it wise to suspend our judgment, not only as to the origins of the savage theory of spirits, but as to the materialistic hypothesis of the absence of a psychical element in man.
What Mr. Tylor calls 'Animism' Mr. Spencer believes in, but he calls it the 'Ghost Theory.']
Mr. Tylor also adds folk-lore practices of ghost-seeing, as on St. John's Eve.
The question, however, on which Mr. Tylor does not touch, is, Are any of the stories true?
"' Now, in our opinion, the 'merits' of stories of second sight need discussion, because they may, if well attested, raise a presumption that the savage's theory has a better foundation than Mr. Tylor supposes.
Oddly enough, though Mr. Tylor does not say so, Dr. Brinton (from whom he borrows his two anecdotes) is more or less of our opinion.
Mr. Tylor has certainly not improved the story in his condensed version.
Thus, in West Africa, 'the presiding elders, during your initiation to the secret society of your tribe, discover this gift [of Ebumtupism, or second sight], and so select you as "a witch doctor."' Among the Karens, the 'Wees,' or prophets, 'are nervous excitable men, such as would become mediums,' as mediums are diagnosed by Mr. Tylor.
Mr. Tylor observes that the examples 'prove a little too much; they vouch not only for human apparitions, but for such phantoms as demon dogs, and for still more fanciful symbolic omens.'
Mr. Tylor cites Dr. Brinton's Myths of the New World, p. 269.
' 'The old degeneration theory' practically, and fallaciously, resolved itself, as Mr. Tylor says, into two assumptions'first, that the history of culture began with the appearance on earth of a semi-civilised race of men; and second, that from this stage culture has proceeded in two waysbackward to produce savages, and forward to produce civilised men.'
These have been passed by, with a word about credulous missionaries and Christian influences, except in the brief summary for which Mr. Tylor found room.
'Dr. Legge charges Confucius,' says Mr. Tylor, 'with an inclination to substitute, in his religious teaching, the name of Tien, Heaven, for that known to more ancient religion, and used in more ancient booksShang-ti, the personal ruling deity.'
The real object is to show that facts may be regarded in this light, as well as in the light thrown by the anthropological theory, in the hands whether of Mr. Tylor, Mr. Spencer, M. Réville, or Mr. Jevons, whose interesting work comes nearest to our provisional hypothesis.
I so far agree with M. Réville as to think the belief in ghosts and spirits (Mr. Tylor's 'Animism') not necessarily postulated in the original indeterminate conception of the Supreme Being, or generally, in 'Original Gods.'
Mr. Tylor says, 'I am well aware that the problem [of these phenomena] is one to be discussed on its merits, in order to arrive at a distinct opinion how far it may be connected with facts insufficiently appreciated and explained by science, and how far with superstition, delusion, and sheer knavery.
Such investigation, pursued by careful observation in a scientific spirit, would seem apt to throw light on some interesting psychological questions.' Acting on Mr. Tylor's hint, Mr. Podmore puts forward as explanations (1) fraud; (2) hallucinations caused by excited expectation, and by the Schwärmerei consequent on sitting in hushed hope of marvels.
Mr. Tylor says nothing of Sir William Crookes's cases (1871), but speaks of the alleged levitation, or floating in air, of savages and civilised men.