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Primitive Man as Philosopher
Classic of anthropology explores belief systems of Winnebago, Oglala Sioux, Maori, Banda, Batak, Tahitian and Hawaiian, Zuni, and Ewe. Fascinating topics include purpose of life, marriage, freedom of thought, death, nature of reality, and other concepts. The author allows his subjects to speak for themselves by quoting extensively from interviews.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published November 13th 2002 by Dover Publications
(first published 1927)
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In this book from the 1920s, at the beginnings of anthropology, Paul Radin set out to show that the thought of primitive man is as intellectually sophisticated as that of modern, technologically advanced cultures. Their concerns are the same, I think: the structure of nature, the meaning of life and death, and the meaning of right versus the nature of evil. But primitive explanations are unrefined by comparison. He's right that the 2 groups think alike. It's just that the technologically advance ...more
Because of seemingly round about ways to his point, Radin would at times lose me. Still, when I am keeping up I find the complexity of the so called primitive cultures featured in this book enriching. I find especially fascinating the creation myths, connectedness with nature, theories of the soul/spirit, and the tendency and reasoning towards moving into monotheistic beliefs. It's all about POWER, BABY! ...more
A problematic text. Makes all kinds of sweeping generalizations about the modern western worldview and "primitive" cultures. It continually purports to prove various generalizations by reliance on a handful of translated sources from around the globe. I found as I read further in it was less and less convincing, even though some of the arguments are ones I am very partial to. There seems to be more than a bit of axe grinding going on as well, though about precisely what I'm not sure. I find it s ...more