Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/135

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Psychology and Ethnology. 125

old resident in Fiji assumed, as a matter of course, that it was my own invention.

It is precisely because savages think in the same manner as we do that they think different things ; for the same processes working on different inherited material must lead to different results, unless we are prepared to admit that 3x2 = 3x3, or that the same force acting on two different masses will produce the same velocity.

The material upon which the savage mind works is inherited tradition and social organization. We imagine indeed that we proceed differently, that we, White Folk, each individually derive our knowledge directly from objective reality, that we believe a thing only because it has objective reality and that we can see it, each for him- self. We conclude that our knowledge is rational, objective, and obvious, and we are at a loss to account how the savage can be blind to facts and truths that are staring us in the face ; we have to suppose that the eyes of his soul are closed and that he lives in a world of dreams and vague feelings. Men of all races and all generations are equally convinced they individually draw their knowledge from reality. A savage will defend his beliefs by an appeal to experience, and his doubts as to the sanity of our own are ill-concealed, though he is too polite to express them. We think that we believe in atoms because they really exist ; a Fijian thinks that he believes in ghosts because he has seen them with his own eyes, and after all if he does claim to have seen a ghost, what have we to oppose to the testimony of his eyes but a scepticism which has no reasons but that ghosts do not fit in with European conceptions of the world and are to us an unnecessary hypothesis ?

Every one agrees that savages do not believe in ghosts because they see them, but see them because they believe in them. But it occurs to few to say that Vv'e do not believe in our principle of inertia because it is self-evident, but that