Page:American Anthropologist NS vol. 1.djvu/489

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430 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s. f I, 1899

phony, and the immeasurable influence of ephemeral press and more permanent literature. The diversity in intellectual action among different peoples is well displayed in that most spontane- ous form of thought, humor. Probably no race is able to appre- ciate the humor of any other race ; but it is equally true that no people readily assimilates the humor of another people, whether of the same race or not : The Englishman chuckles at Punch and glowers at Life, while the American groans over the former journal and grows hilarious over the latter; even the Scot chaffed by the Englishman over the need for hammer and chisel to get a joke into his head retorts aptly, " No doubt you are referring to an English joke." Indeed, when any two peoples can freely ex- change quips and jests and jeux d' esprit they are ready to adopt the same body of law, whatever their differences in material inter- ests or in hue or skin. The philosopher (whose name is legion), caring not who writes the laws for a people so long as he writes their songs, grasps a great fact in human nature ; for deliberate thought is always more closely attuned than the spontaneous upbubbling of lighter vein. And one of the significant signs of the times is the increase and diffusion of light literature serv- ing to obliterate sectionalism and bind ever-widening circles of thinkers with cement of sympathy.

On analyzing the incongruities in mode of thinking displayed by diverse peoples, it would appear that some (especially those of more superficial character) are traceable to environment ; for, other things equal, the mental operations of peoples vary with their surroundings. At the same time it would appear that a greater part of the incongruities (especially those of more funda- mental character) are traceable to culture status ; for, other things equal, peoples rise above environment in a degree proportionate to the quantity and kind of their knowledge — when their modes of thinking tend to become uniform under the general law of activital coincidence. Accordingly, thinking might be classified in terms of environment; but it may be much more compre-

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