Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/347

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EMOTIONS IN THE PRIMITIVE MAN.

Here, then, are our guides in studying the primitive man as an emotional being. Considering him as less evolved, we must expect to find him comparatively wanting in those most complex emotions that respond to multitudinous and remote probabilities and contingencies. His consciousness may be regarded as unlike that of the civilized man, by consisting in a greater degree of sensations and the simple represented feelings directly associated with them, and by containing fewer and weaker feelings involving representations of consequences beyond the proximate. And the relatively-simple emotional consciousness thus characterized we may expect to be consequently characterized by less of that coherence and continuity which results when the promptings of direct desires are checked by sentiments responding to ultimate effects, and by more of that irregularity which results when each desire as it arises discharges itself in action before counter-desires have been awakened.

 

On turning from these deductions to examine the facts. with a view to induction, we meet difficulties like those which we met in the last chapter. As in size and structure the inferior races differ from one another enough to produce some indefiniteness in our conception of the primitive man—physical; so in their passions and sentiments the inferior races present contrasts sufficiently marked to obscure the essential traits of the primitive man—emotional.

This last difficulty, like the first, is indeed one that might have been anticipated. The spreading of the race during all past epochs into the multitudinous widely-contrasted habitats entailing widely unlike modes of life has necessarily been accompanied by emotional specialization as well as by physical specialization. And beyond differentiations of character directly due to differences of natural circumstances and resulting habits, the inferior varieties of men have been made to differ by the degrees and durations of social discipline they have been subject to. Referring to such unlikenesses, Mr. Wallace remarks that "there is, in fact, almost as much difference between the various races of savage as of civilized peoples."

To conceive the primitive man, therefore, as he existed when social aggregation commenced, we must generalize as well as we can this entangled and partially-conflicting evidence: led mainly by the traits common to the very lowest, and finding what guidance we may in the a priori conclusions set down above.

The fundamental trait of impulsiveness, though one to be looked for as universal among inferior races, is not everywhere conspicuous. Taken in the mass, the aborigines of the New World seem impassive in comparison with those of the Old World: some of them, indeed, exceeding the civilized people of Europe in ability to control their emotions. Through stories most peoples have been made familiar with this trait of the North-American Indians; and the statements of