Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/476

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434 Reviews.

the tribe, but indefinitely extended beyond its real limits. It is in virtue of the same mental disposition that so many peoples have placed the centre of the world ; " the navel of the earth," in their own political or religious capital, that is to say, where the centre of their moral life is found. In the same way, in another order of ideas, the creative power of the universe and of all that therein is, is at first conceived as the mythical ancestor, the generator of society.

It is this prepotent emotional element of primitive classifications which has so long retarded a logical classification. A logical classification is a classification of concepts. Now the concept is the notion of a group of objects clearly determined ; its limits can be marked with precision. On the contrary, emotion is essen- tially fluid and inconsistent. Its contagious influence extends to everything around it. In order to mark the limits of a class, the distinguishing characteristics of the objects included in that class must be analysed. Emotion is naturally refractory to analysis : it is too complex. Especially when of collective origin, it defies critical examination. Social pressure does not allow individuals to judge in freedom of the notions which society has itself elabo- rated. Such constructions are sacred. The history of scientific classification is thus the history of the stages in the course of which this element of social affectivity has been progressively enfeebled, leaving more and more the room free for individual thought. These distant influences have not ceased to be felt even yet. They have left behind them an effect which is always present. It is the very framework of all classification. It is this totality of mental habits in virtue of which we represent to ourselves objects and facts under the form of groups co-ordinated and subordinated to one another.

Such is an imperfect outline of this acute and learned paper. It is, as the authors remark, an example of the light capable of being thrown by sociology on the genesis and mode of logical operations. As a particular application of sociology, I should like to observe, its value depends on the prevalence of totemism in the early stages of society. Totemism is not as yet proved to have been universal. The Eskimo are not the only people who have betrayed to scientific inquirers no clear and unmistakable trace of totemism. A thorough study of the classificatory systems of such peoples may reveal, if not totemism itself, at least many of the