Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/705

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
683
ENRICO FERRI ON HOMICIDE.

homicide, such as cannibalism, blood revenges, etc., where they do not entirely disappear, become less frequent, are less tolerated, and assume more moral and juridic aspects (juridic homicide and cannibalism as a punishment for evil-doers), and this new aspect constitutes the embryo of the succeeding social right of repression.

After this extensive analysis Ferri thinks he is justified in asserting that savages do not entirely ignore any notion of crimes and of punishment, and if some peoples lack the sense of crime, the majority consider as punishable a certain number of criminal actions, although no doubt these are few as compared with the number existing in our actual codexes. After this review of primitive homicide, although the ethnographical study of criminality and legislation is still incomplete, Ferri believes he may draw various conclusions, of which the most important are: "As among animals, so among savages, these more or less atrocious facts are not alone the effects of specific race tendencies, but also occur among gentle peoples and those relatively less savage. The moral and juridic evolutions against homicide exist hardly even in embryo among the most savage tribes, any more than among animals, and follow, like any other psychological manifestation, the slow evolution of human society. . . . Justice in the moral and juridic sense is essentially relative and variable." As a general and definite conclusion of these preliminary examinations of savage humanity and animals in the order of their criminal activity, it follows, contrary to the affirmation of the schools, that neither punishment nor social innovations will ever succeed in extirpating homicide. But this ideal may be reached rather by the slow labor of progressive evolution.

This interesting examination of the natural evolution of homicide is followed by an inquiry into its natural causes. This second scientific examination needed to be subdivided on the basis of the classification generally adopted by the others (anthropological, physical, and social factors) into three special studies. The combination of the factors among themselves, and the respective prevalence of one of these, determined a special category of crime. Thus the prevalence of the anthropological factor gives us the figure of the murderer born and the murderer by insanity, the main subject of this large work; the prevalence of physical and social factors furnishes us with the figure of the murderer by occasion and by passion, which is to form the theme of the second volume. The anthropological factor in the criminal divides itself yet again into its constituent elements of organic and psychic.

Ferri begins with the examination of the organic constitution of homicide, objecting with great force to the criticisms and methods of the modern school of anthropology and exposing the criterions by which he himself has been guided. It is not easy or