The Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind
by Clifford Geertz

"The statement "the mind is its own place," as theorists might construe it, is not true, for the mind is not even a metaphorical "place." On the contrary, the chessboard, the platform, the scholar's desk, the judge's bench, the lorry-driver's seat, the studio and the football field are among its places. These are where people work and play stupidly or intelligently. "Mind" is not the name of another person, working or frolicking behind an impenetrable screen; it is not the name of another place where work is done or games are played; and it is not the name of another tool with which work is done, or another appliance with which games are played."





In the intellectual history of the behavioral sciences the concept of "mind" has played a curious double role. Those who have regarded the development of such sciences as involving a rectilinear extension of the methods of physical science into the realm of the organic have used it as a devil word, the referent of which was all those methods and theories which failed to measure up to a rather heroic ideal of "objectivism." Terms such as insight, understanding, conceptual thinking, image, idea, feeling, reflection, fantasy, and so on, have been stigmatized as mentalistic, "i.e., contaminated with the subjectivity of consciousness," and the appeal to them castigated as a lamentable failure of scientific nerve.1 But those who have, on the contrary, regarded the move from a physical to an organic, and most especially to a human, subject matter as implying far-reaching revisions in theoretical approach and research procedure have tended to use "mind" as a cautionary concept, one intended more to point to defects in understanding than to repair them, more to stress the limits of positive science than to extend them. For such thinkers its main function has been to give a vaguely defined but intuitively valid expression to their settled conviction that human experience has important dimensions of order which physical theory (and, pari passu, psychological and social theories modeled on physical theory) omits to consider. Sherrington's image of "naked mind"--"all that counts in life. Desire, zest, truth, love, knowledge, values"--going "in our spatial world more ghostly than a ghost," serves as an epitome of this position, as Pavlov's reported practice of levying fines on any of his students who so much as uttered mentalistic words in his laboratory does of the opposite.2


In fact, with some exceptions, the term "mind" has not functioned as a scientific concept at all but as a rhetorical device, even when its use has been forbidden. More exactly, it has acted to communicate--and sometimes to exploit--a fear rather than to define a process, a fear of subjectivism on the one hand and of mechanism on the other. "Even when fully aware of the nature of anthropomorphic subjectivism and its dangers," Clark Hull warns us solemnly, "the most careful and experienced thinker is likely to find himself a victim to its seductions," and urges as a "prophylaxis" the strategy of viewing all behavior as if it were produced by a dog, an albino rat, or, safest of all, a robot.3 While, for the opposition, Gordon Allport professes to see a threat to human dignity in such an approach, complaining that "the models we have been following lack the long-range orientation which is the essence of morality . . . . An addiction to machines, rats, or infants leads us to overplay those features of human behavior that are peripheral, signaloriented, or genetic [and] to underplay those features that are central, future-oriented, or symbolic."4 In the face of such contradictory descriptions of the specter that is haunting the study of man, it is small wonder that a recent group of psychologists, torn between their wish to present a convincing analysis of the directional aspects of human behavior and to meet scientific canons of objectivity, found themselves tempted by the rather desperate stratagem of referring to themselves as "subjective behaviorists."5


 So far as the concept of mind is concerned, this state of affairs is extremely unfortunate because an extraordinarily useful notion and one for which there is no precise equivalent, save perhaps the archaism "psyche," is turned into a shibboleth. It is even more unfortunate because the fears which have so crippled the term are largely baseless, the dying echoes of the great mock civil war between materialism and dualism generated by the Newtonian revolution. Mechanism, as Ryle has said, is a bogey, because the fear of it rests on the assumption that it is somehow contradictory to say that one and the same occurrence is governed by mechanical laws and moral principles, as though a golfer cannot at once conform to the laws of ballistics, obey the rules of golf, and play with elegance.6


But subjectivism is a bogey too, for the fear of it rests on the equally peculiar assumption that because I cannot know what you dreamed of last night, thought of while memorizing a string of nonsense syllables, or feel about the doctrine of infant damnation unless you choose to tell me, any theorizing I may do about the role such mental facts play in your behavior must be based on a false "anthropo morphic" analogy from what I know or think I know, about the role they play in mine. Lashley's tart comment that "metaphysicians and theologians have spent so many years weaving fairy tales about [mind] that they have come to believe one another's phantasies," is inaccurate only in that it neglects to note that a great many behavioral scientists have been engaged in the same sort of collective autism.7


One of the most frequently suggested methods for rehabilitating mind as a useful scientific concept is to transform it into a verb or participle, "Mind is minding, the reaction of an organism as a whole as a coherent unit . . . [a view which] releases us from the verbal bondage of a sterile and paralyzing metaphysics, and sets us free to sow and reap in a field what will bear fruit." 8 But this "cure" involves falling in with the school bench story that "a noun is a word that names a person, place, or thing," which was not true in the first place. The use of nouns as dispositional terms--i.e., words denoting capacities and propensities rather than entities or activities--is actually a standard and indispensable practice in English, both natural and scientific.9 If "mind" is to go, "faith," "hope," and "charity" will have to go with it, as well as "cause," "force," and "gravitation" and "motive," "role," and "culture." "Mind is minding" may be all right, "science is sciencing" at least bearable.10 But "superego is superegoing" is a little awkward. Even more important, although it is true that part of the fog of confusion which has arisen around the concept of mind is a result of a false analogy with nouns which do name persons, places, or things, it mainly springs from much deeper sources than the merely linguistic. Consequently, making it into a verb is no real protection at all against "a sterile and paralyzing metaphysics." Like mechanists, subjectivists are men of infinite resource, and an occult activity may simply be substituted for an occult entity, as in the case, for example, of "introspecting."


From the scientific point of view, to identify mind with behavior, "the reaction of the organism as a whole," is to render it as uselessly redundant as to identify it with an entity "more ghostly than a ghost." The notion that it is more defensible to transform a reality into another reality than to transform it into an unreality is not correct: a rabbit disappears just as completely when he is magically changed into a horse as he does when he is changed into a centaur. "Mind" is a term denoting a class of skills, propensities, capacities, tendencies, habits; it refers in Dewey's phrase to an "active and eager background which lies in wait and engages whatever comes its way."11 And, as such, it is neither an action nor a thing, but an organized system of dispositions which finds its manifestation in some actions and some things. As Ryle has pointed out, if a clumsy man trips accidentally, we do not regard it proper to ascribe his actions to the workings of his mind, but if a clown trips on purpose, we do feel it proper to say this:

"The cleverness of the clown may be exhibited in his tripping and tumbling. He trips and tumbles just as clumsy people do, except that he trips and tumbles on purpose and after much rehearsal and at the golden moment and where the children can see him and so as not to hurt himself. The spectators applaud his skill at seeming clumsy, but what they applaud is not some extra hidden performance executed "in his head." It is his visible performance that they admire, but they admire it not for being an effect of any hidden internal causes but for being an exercise of skill. Now a skill is not an act. It is therefore neither a witnessable nor an unwitnessable act. To recognize that a performance is an exercise of a skill is indeed to appreciate it in the light of a factor which could not be separately recorded by a camera. But the reason why the skill exercised in a performance cannot be separately recorded by a camera is not that it is an occult or ghostly happening, but that it is not a happening at all. It is a disposition, or complex of dispositions, and a disposition is a factor of the wrong logical type to be seen or unseen, recorded or unrecorded. Just as the habit of talking loudly is not itself loud or quiet, since it is not the sort of term of which "loud" or "quiet" can be predicated, or just as a susceptibility to headaches is for the same reason not itself unendurable or endurable, so the skills, tastes, and bents which are exercised in overt or internal operations are not themselves overt or internal, witnessable or unwitnessable."12


A similar argument applies to objects; we would not refer, save in a metaphorical way, to the legendary burned pig the Chinese produced by accidentally setting fire to his house as "cooked," even though he ate it, because it did not result from the exercise of a mental capability called "knowledge of cooking." But we would so refer to the second such pig the now-educated Chinese produced by deliberately burning down his house again, because it did result from such a capability, no matter how crude. Such judgments, being empirical, may be wrong; a man may have really tripped when we thought he was only clowning, or a pig really been cooked when we thought it merely burned. But the point is that when we attribute mind to an organism, we are talking about neither the organism's actions nor its products per se, but about its capacity and its proneness, its disposition, to perform certain kinds of actions and produce certain kinds of products, a capacity and a proneness we of course infer from the fact that he does sometimes perform such actions and produce such products. There is nothing extramundane about this; it merely indicates that a language lacking dispositional terms would make the scientific description and analysis of human behavior extraordinarily difficult, and severely cripple its conceptual development, in the same way that a language, such as the Arapesh, in which you must enumerate by saying "one, two, two and one, one dog (i.e., 'four'), one dog and one, one dog and two, one dog and two and one, two dogs, . . . etc.," cripples mathematical development by making counting so troublesome that people find it such an effort to go beyond two dogs and two dogs and two dogs (i.e., "twenty-four") that they refer to all larger quantities as "a lot."13


Further, within such a general conceptual framework it is possible to discuss the biological, psychological, sociological, and cultural determinants of man's mental life concurrently without making any reductionist hypotheses at all. This is because a capacity for something, or a proneness to do something, not being an entity or a performance, is simply not susceptible to reduction. In the case of Ryle's clown, I could say, no doubt incorrectly, that his tumbling was reducible to a chain of conditioned reflexes, but I could not say that his skill was so reducible, because by his skill I only mean to say that he can tumble. For "the clown can tumble," it is possible, if simplistic, to write "(this organism) can (produce the described reflex series)," but it is possible to get the "can" out of the sentence only by replacing it with "is able to" "has the capacity to," etc., which is not a reduction but merely an immaterial shift from a verbal to an adjectival or nounal form. All one can do in the analysis of skills is to show the way in which they are (or are not) dependent upon various factors such as nervous system complexity, repressed desires to exhibit, the existence of social institutions such as circuses, or the presence of a cultural tradition of mimicking clumsiness for the purposes of satire. Once dispositional predicates are admitted into scientific description they are not eliminated by shifts in the "level" of description employed.


And, with the recognition of this fact, a whole range of pseudoproblems, false issues, and unrealistic fears can simply be set aside.


In perhaps no area of inquiry is such an avoidance of manufactured paradoxes more useful than that of the study of mental evolution. Burdened in the past by almost all the classic anthropological fallacies-ethnocentrism, an overconcern with human uniqueness, imaginatively reconstructed history, a superorganic concept of culture, a priori stages of evolutionary change--the whole search for the origins of human mentality has tended to fall into disrepute, or at any rate to be neglected. But legitimate questions--and how man came to have his mind is a legitimate question--are not invalidated by misconceived answers. So far as anthropology is concerned, at least, one of the most important advantages of a dispositional answer to the question, "What is mind?" is that it permits us to reopen a classic issue without reviving classic controversies.





Over the past half century, two views of the evolution of the human mind, both inadequate, have been current. The first is the thesis that the sort of human thought processes Freud called "primary" --substitution, reversal, condensation, and so on--are phylogenetically prior to those he called "secondary" --directed, logically ordered, reasoning, and so on.14 Within the confines of anthropology, this thesis has been based on the assumption that it is possible simply to identify patterns of culture and modes of thought.15 On such an assumption, groups of people lacking the cultural resources of modern science which have been, at least in certain contexts, so effectively employed in directive reasoning in the West are considered ipso facto to lack the very capacity for intellection these resources serve; as though the confinement of the Arapesh to combinations of "one," "two," and "dog" were a result rather than a cause of their lack of mathematical facility. If one then adds to this argument the invalid empirical generalization that tribal peoples employ whatever meager culture resources they do have for intellection less frequently, less persistently, and less circumspectly than do Western peoples, the proposition that primary process thinking proceeds secondary process thinking phylogenetically needs only the final mistake of viewing tribal peoples as primitive forms of humanity, "living fossils," to complete it.16


It was in reaction to this tissue of errors that the second view of human mental evolution arose, namely, that not only is the existence of the human mind in essentially its modern form a prerequisite for the acquisition of culture, but the growth of culture in itself has been without any significance for mental evolution:

"The bird gave up a pair of walking limbs to acquire wings. It added a new faculty by transforming part of an old one ... The airplane, on the contrary, gave men a new faculty without diminishing or even impairing any of those they had previously possessed. It led to no visible bodily changes, no alterations of mental capacity."17


But, in turn, this argument implies two corollaries, one of which, the doctrine of the psychic unity of mankind, has found increasing empirical substantiation as anthropological research has proceeded, but the other of which, the "critical point" theory of the appearance of culture, has become increasingly tenuous. The doctrine of the psychic unity of mankind, which so far as I am aware, is today not seriously questioned by any reputable anthropologist, is but the direct contradictory of the primitive mentality argument; it asserts that there are no essential differences in the fundamental nature of the thought process among the various living races of man. If the existence of a modern type of mind is held to be prerequisite to the acquisition of culture, the universal possession of culture by all contemporary human groups, of course, makes of the psychic unity doctrine a simple tautology; but whether genuinely tautological or not, it is a proposition for whose empirical validity the ethnographic and psychological evidence is altogether overwhelming.18


As for the critical point theory of the appearance of culture, it postulates that the development of the capacity for acquiring culture was a sudden, all-or-none type of occurrence in the phylogeny of the pri-mates.19 At some specific moment in the new unrecoverable history of hominidization a portentous, but in genie or anatomical terms probably quite minor, organic alteration took place--presumably in cortical structure--in which an animal whose parents had not been disposed "to communicate, to learn and to teach, to generalize from the endless chain of discrete feelings and attitudes" was so disposed and "therewith he began to be able to act as a receiver and transmitter and begin the accumulation that is culture."20 With him culture was born, and, once born, set on its own course so as to grow wholly independently of the further organic evolution of man. The whole process of the creation of modern man's capacity for producing and using culture, his most distinctive mental attribute, is conceptualized as one of a marginal quantitative change giving rise to a radical qualitative difference, as when water, reduced degree by degree without any loss of fluidity suddenly freezes at 0C., or when a taxiing plane gains sufficient speed to launch itself into flight.21


But we are talking of neither water nor airplanes, and the question is can the sharp line between enculturated man and nonenculturated nonman that this view implies in fact be drawn, or, if we must have analogies, would not a more historical one, such as the unbroken gradual rise of modern out of medieval England, be more apt. Within the physical branch of anthropology, the doubt that one can talk about the appearance of man "as if he had suddenly been promoted from colonel to brigadier general, and had a date of rank" has grown with increasing rapidity as the Australopithecine fossils originally of South Africa but now quite widely found, have come to be placed more and more in the hominid line.22 These fossils, which date from the upper Pliocene and lower Pleistocene periods of three or four million years ago, show a striking mosaic of primitive and advanced morphological characteristics, in which the most outstanding features are a pelvis and leg formation strikingly similar to that of modern man and a cranial capacity hardly larger than that of living apes.23 Although the initial tendency was to regard this conjunction of a "manlike" bipedal locomotive system and an "apelike" brain as indicating that the Australopithecines represented an aberrant and ill-fated line of development separate from both hominids and pongids, the contemporary consensus follows Howells' conclusion that "the first hominids were small-brained, newly bipedal, protoaustralopith hominoids, and that what we have always meant by 'man' represents later forms of this group with secondary adaptations in the direction of large brains and modified skeletons of the same form."24


Now, these more-or-less erect, small-brained hominids, their hands freed from locomotion, manufactured tools and probably hunted small animals. But that they could have had a developed culture comparable to that of, say, the Australian aborigine or possessed language in the modern sense of the term with 500 cubic centimeters of brain is unlikely.25 In the Australopithecines we seem to have, therefore, an odd sort of "man" who evidently was capable of acquiring some elements of culture--simple toolmaking, sporadic "hunting," and perhaps some system of communication more advanced than that of contemporary apes and less advanced than that of true speech--but not others, a state of affairs which casts fairly serious doubt on the viability of the "critical point" theory.26 In fact, as the Homo sapiens brain is about three times as large as that of the Australopithecines, the greater part of human cortical expansion has followed, not preceded, the "beginning" of culture, a rather inexplicable circumstance if the capacity for culture is considered to have been the unitary outcome of a quantitatively slight but qualitatively metastatic change of the freezing-of-water sort.27 Not only has it now become misleading to employ the appointment of rank image for the appearance of man, but "it is equally doubtful whether we should any longer talk in terms of the 'appearance of culture,' as if culture, too, along with 'man,' had suddenly leaped into existence."28


As paradox is a sign of antecedent error, the fact that one of its corollaries seems to be valid while the other does not suggests that the thesis which holds mental evolution and cultural accumulation to be two wholly separate processes, the first having been essentially completed before the second began, is itself incorrect. And if this is the case, it becomes necessary to find some way in which we can rid ourselves of such a thesis without at the same time undermining the doctrine of psychic unity, in whose absence "we should have to consign most of history, anthropology and sociology to the scrap heap and begin over again with a psychosomatic genetic interpretation of man and his varieties." 29 We need to be able both to deny any significant relationship between (group) cultural achievement and innate mental capacity in the present, and to affirm such a relationship in the past.


The means by which to accomplish this oddly two-headed task lies in what may appear to be a simple technical trick, but is actually an important methodological reorientation, the choice of a more finely graduated time scale in terms of which to discriminate the stages of evolutionary change which have produced Homo sapiens out of an Eocene protohominoid. Whether one sees the appearance of the capacity for culture as a more-or-less abrupt, instantaneous occurrence, or a slowly moving, continuous development, obviously depends, at least in part, on the size of the elementary units in one's time scale; for a geologist, measuring by eons, the whole evolution of the primates may look like an undifferentiated qualitative burst. In fact, the argument against the critical point theory might be more precisely phrased in terms of a complaint that it derives from an inappropriate choice of time scale, a time scale whose basal intervals are too large for a refined analysis of recent evolutionary history, in the same way as a biologist foolish enough to study human maturation with decades as his interval would see adulthood as a sudden transformation of childhood and miss adolescence altogether.


A good example of such a cavalier approach to temporal considerations is implicit in what is probably the most frequent kind of scientific data invoked in support of the "difference in kind rather than difference in degree" view of human culture; the comparison of man with his closest living relatives, the pongids, and particularly the chimpanzee. Man can talk, can symbolize, can acquire culture, this argument goes, but the chimpanzee (and, by extension, all less-endowed animals) cannot. Therefore, man is unique in this regard, and insofar as mentality is concerned "we are confronted by a series of leaps, not an ascending continuum."30 But this overlooks the fact that, although the pongids may be man's closest relatives, "close" is an elastic term and, given a realistic time scale from the evolutionary point of view, they are really not so close at all, last common ancestor being at the very least an upper Pliocene (and at the very most an upper Oligocene) ape and phyletic differentiation having proceeded with ever-increasing rapidity since that time. The fact that chimpanzees do not talk is both interesting and important, but to draw from that fact the conclusion that speech is an all-or-nothing-at-all phenomenon is to collapse anywhere from one to forty million years into a single instant of time and lose the whole presapiens hominid line as surely as our biologist lost adolescence. Interspecific comparison of living animals is, if handled with care, a legitimate and, in fact, indispensable device for deducing general evolutionary trends; but in the same way that the finite wave length of light limits the discrimination possible in physical measurements, so the fact that the closest living relatives of man are at best pretty far removed cousins (not ancestors) limits the degree of refinement in the measure of evolutionary change in the hominoid line when one confines oneself entirely to contrasts between extant forms.31


If, on the contrary, we spread hominid phylogeny out along a more appropriate time scale, training our attention on what seems to have happened in the "human" line since the radiation of the hominoids, and in particular since the emergence of Australopithecus toward the end of the Pliocene, a subtler analysis of the evolutionary growth of mind is made possible. Most crucially, it then becomes apparent that not only was cultural accumulation under way well before organic development ceased, but that such accumulation very likely played an active role in shaping the final stages of that development. Though it is apparently true enough that the invention of the airplane led to no visible bodily changes, no alterations of (innate) mental capacity, this was not necessarily the case for the pebble tool or the crude chopper, in whose wake seems to have come not only more erect stature, reduced dentition, and a more thumb-dominated hand, but the expansion of the human brain to its present size.32


Because tool manufacture puts a premium on manual skill and foresight, its introduction must have acted to shift selection pressures so as to favor the rapid growth of the forebrain as, in all likelihood, did the advances in social organization, communication, and moral regulation which there is reason to believe also occurred during this period of overlap between cultural and biological change. Nor were such nervous system changes merely quantitative; alterations in the interconnections among neurons and their manner of functioning may have been of even greater importance than the simple increase in their number. Details aside, however--and the bulk of them remain to be determined--the point is that the innate, generic constitution of modern man (what used, in a simpler day, to be called "human nature") now appears to be both a cultural and a biological product in that "it is probably more correct to think of much of our structure as a result of culture rather than to think of men anatomically like ourselves slowly discovering culture."33


The Pleistocene period, with its rapid and radical variations in climate, land formations, and vegetation, has long been recognized to be a period in which conditions were ideal for the speedy and efficient evolutionary development of man; now it seems also to have been a period in which a cultural environment increasingly supplemented the natural environment in the selection process so as to further accelerate the rate of hominid evolution to an unprecedented speed. The Ice Age appears not to have been merely a time of receding brow ridges and shrinking jaws, but a time in which were forged nearly all those characteristics of man's existence which are most graphically human: his thoroughly encephelated nervous system, his incest-taboo-based social structure, and his capacity to create and use symbols. The fact that these distinctive features of humanity emerged together in complex interaction with one another rather than serially as for so long supposed is of exceptional importance in the interpretation of human mentality, because it suggests that man's nervous system does not merely enable him to acquire culture, it positively demands that he do so if it is going to function at all. Rather than culture acting only to supplement, develop, and extend organically based capacities logically and genetically prior to it, it would seem to be ingredient to those capacities themselves. A cultureless human being would probably turn out to be not an intrinsically talented though unfulfilled ape, but a wholly mindless and consequently unworkable monstrosity. Like the cabbage it so much resembles, the Homo sapiens brain, having arisen within the framework of human culture, would not be viable outside of it.34


In fact, this type of reciprocally creative relationship between somatic and extrasomatic phenomena seems to have been of crucial significance during the whole of the primate advance. That any (living or extinct) infrahominid primates can be said to possess true culture--in the narrowed sense of "an ordered system of meaning and symbols . . . in terms of which individuals define their world, express their feelings and make their judgments"--is, of course, extremely doubtful. 35 But that apes and monkeys are such through-and-through social creatures as to be unable to achieve emotional maturity in isolation, to acquire a great many of their most important performance capacities through imitative learning, and to develop distinctive, intraspecifically variable collective social traditions which are transmitted as a nonbiological heritage from generation to generation is now well established.36 As DeVore remarks in summary of the available material, "Primates literally have a 'social brain'."37 Thus, well before it was influenced by cultural forces as such, the evolution of what eventually developed into the human nervous system was positively shaped by social ones.38


On the other hand, however, a denial of a simple independence of sociocultural and biological processes in pre-Homo sapiens man does not imply a rejection of the doctrine of psychic unity, because phyletic differentiation within the hominid line effectively ceased with the terminal Pleistocene spread of Homo sapiens over nearly the whole world and the extinction of whatever other Homo species may have been in existence at that time. Thus, although some minor evolutionary changes have no doubt occurred since the rise of modern man, all living peoples form part of a single polytypical species and, as such, vary anatomically and physiologically within a very narrow range. 39 The combination of weakened mechanisms of reproductive isolation, an extended period of individual sexual immaturity, and the accumulation of culture to the point where its importance as an adaptive factor almost wholly dominated its role as a selective one, produced such an extreme deceleration of the hominid rate of evolution that the development of any significant variation in innate mental capacity among human subgroups seems to have been precluded. With the unequivocal triumph of Homo sapiens and the cessation of the glaciations, the link between organic and cultural change was, if not severed, at least greatly weakened. Since that time organic evolution in the human line has slowed to a walk, while the growth of culture had continued to proceed with ever-increasing rapidity. It is, therefore, unnecessary to postulate either a discontinuous, "difference-in-kind" pattern of human evolution or a nonselective role for culture during all phases of hominid development in order to preserve the empirically established generalization that "as far as their [inborn] capacity to learn, maintain, transmit, and transform culture is concerned, different groups of Homo sapiens must be regarded as equally competent." 40 Psychic unity may no longer be a tautology, but it is still a fact.





One of the more encouraging--if strangely delayed--developments in the behavioral sciences is the current attempt of physiological psychology to arouse itself from its long enthrallment with the wonders of the reflex arc. The conventional picture of a sensory impulse making its way through a maze of synapses to a motor nerve culmination is coming to be revised, a quarter century after its most illustrious proponent pointed out that it was inadequate to explain the integrative aspects of the behavior of a sparrow or a sheep dog, much less that of a man.41 Sherrington's solution was a spectral mind to pull things together (as Hull's was a no less mysterious automatic switchboard).42 But today the stress is upon a more verifiable construct: the concept of rhythmic, spontaneous, centrally proceeding pattern of nervous activity upon which peripheral stimulus configurations are superimposed and out of which authoritative effector commands emerge. Advancing under the banner of "an active organism," and supported by the closed circuit anatomizing of Cayal and de N,43 this new persuasion emphasizes the way in which the ongoing processes both of the brain and subordinate neuronal aggregates select precepts, fix experiences, and order responses so as to produce a delicately modulated pattern of behavior:

"The working of the central nervous system is a hierarchic affair in which functions at the higher levels do not deal directly with the ultimate structural units, such as neurons or motor units, but operate by activating lower patterns that have their own relatively autonomous structural unity. The same is true for the sensory input, which does not project itself down to the last final path of motor neurons, but operates by affecting, distorting, and somehow modifying the pre-existing, preformed patterns of central coordination, which, in turn, then confer their distortions upon the lower patterns of effection and so on. The final output is then the outcome of this hierarchical passing down of distortions and modifications of intrinsically performed patterns of excitation which are in no way replicas of the input. The structure of the input does not produce the structure of the output, but merely modifies intrinsic nervous activities that have a structural organization of their own."44


Further development of this theory of an autonomously excited, hierarchically organized central nervous system not only promises to make the brisk competence of Sherrington's sheep dog as it collects its scattered flock from the hillside less of a physiological mystery, but it should also prove valuable in providing a credible neurological underpinning for the complex of skills and propensities which constitute the human mind; the ability to follow a logic proof or a tendency to become flustered when called upon to speak demand more than a reflex arc, conditioned or otherwise, to support them biologically. And, as Hebb has pointed out, the very notion of "higher" and "lower" evolutionary levels of mentality seems in itself to imply a comparable gradation in degree of central nervous system autonomy:

"I hope I do not shock biological scientists by saying that one feature of the phylogenetic development is an increasing evidence of what is known in some circles as free will; in my student days also referred to as the Harvard Law, which asserts that any well-trained experimental animal, on controlled stimulation, will do as he damn well pleases. A more scholarly formulation is that the higher animal is less stimulus-bound. Brain action is less fully controlled by afferent input, behavior therefore less fully predictable from the situation in which the animal is put. A greater role of ideational activity is recognizable in the animal's ability to "hold" a variety of stimulations for some time before acting on them and in the phenomenon of purposive behavior. There is more autonomous activity in the higher brain, and more selectivity as to which afferent activity will be integrated with the "stream of thought," the dominant, ongoing activity in control of behavior. Traditionally, we say that the subject is "interested" in this part of the environment, not interested in that; in these terms, the higher animal has a wider variety of interests and the interest of the moment plays a greater part in behavior, which means a greater unpredictability as to what stimulus will be responded to and as to the form of the response."45


These overall evolutionary trends--increasing ability to focus attention, delay response, vary interest, sustain purpose, and, in general, deal positively with the complexities of present stimulation--culminate in man to make of him the most active of active organisms, as well as the most unpredictable. The extreme intricacy, flexibility, and comprehensiveness of what Kluckhohn and Murray have aptly called regnant processes in the human brain--the processes which make these abilities physically possible--are but the outcome of a definable phylogenetic development which is traceable back at least to the coelenterates.46 Though they lack a central nervous concentration--a brain--and therefore the various parts of the animal operate in relative independence, each possessing its own set of sensory, neural, and motor elements, these humble jellyfish, sea anemones, and the like nevertheless show a surprising degree of intrinsic modulation of nervous activity: a strong stimulus received in the daytime may be followed by locomotion during the following night; certain corals experimentally subjected to excessive stimulation luminesce for several minutes afterward with a spontaneous frenzy which suggests "beserking"; and regularized stimulation may lead, through some still obscure form of "memory" to a coordination of activity in different muscles and to a patterned recurrence of activity over time.47 In the higher invertebrates (crustaceans, etc.) multiple pathways, graded synaptic potentials, and triggered responses all appear, permitting precise pacemaker control of internal functions as in the lobster heart, while with the arrival of the lower vertebrates both peripheral sensory and effector elements and neuronal conduction between them--i.e., the celebrated reflex arc--are essentially perfected.48 And, finally, the bulk of the fundamental innovations in the design of nervous circuits--i.e., closed loops, the superposition of higher level loops on lower ones, and so on--probably were accomplished with the arrival of the mammals, at which time at least the basic differentiations of the forebrain were also achieved.49 In functional terms, the whole process seems to be one of a relatively steady expansion and diversification of endogenous nervous activity and the consequent increasing centralization of what were previously more isolated, independently acting partprocesses.


What sort of neural evolution has taken place during the phyletic differentiation of the mammals--i.e., in particular, during the advance of the primates and hominids--is evidently rather less clear and more controversial, however. On the one hand, Gerard has argued that the changes have been almost entirely quantitative, a growth in the sheer number of neurons, as reflected in the rapid expansion of the brain size:

"The further gains in capacity, seen most strikingly in the primate line and culminating in man are due to simple increase in numbers rather than to improvement in units or patterns. The increasing brain size parallels richer performance, even for particular regions and functions (e.g., tongue motor area and speech), is a commonplace; how this operates is less clear. Sheer increase in number, without secondary specification (which does also occur), might seem unable to generate new capacities but only to intensify old ones, but this is not the case. . . . In the brain, an increase in the anatomical neurone population raises the limit on the physiological neurone reserve and so allows greater variety of selection and greater richness of analysis and combination expressed in modifiable and insightful behavior."50


But Bullock, though agreeing that the nervous systems of the higher animals and man show no important differences in terms of known neurophysiological mechanisms or architecture, sharply questions this point of view, and argues that there is a pressing need to search for yet undiscovered parameters of nervous functioning, "emergent levels of physiological relations between neurons in masses," to account for the subtleties of behavior in advanced organisms:

"Though we cannot point to fundamentally new elements in the neuronal mechanisms of the higher centers, still it is difficult to assume that their greatly enlarged accomplishments are solely attributable to the great increase in numbers and interconnections between them, unless this in itself brings on new properties and mechanisms. Many apparently assume as a first approximation that the main factor in increasing behavioral complexity in evolution is the number of neurons--even invoking a kind of critical mass which permits new levels of behavior . . . [but] it seems clear that the number of neurons correlates with behavioral complexity so poorly as to explain little unless we add as the really essential part that certain kinds of neurons, not now definable, or--what is the same thing--certain kinds of newer properties of consequences or neuronal architecture, are the important substratum of advance. . . . I do not believe that our present physiology of neurons, extrapolated, can account for behavior. The main factor in evolutionary advance is not just numbers of cells and connections. Our hope lies in the discovery of new parameters of neuronal systems.51


To an outsider, perhaps the most striking aspect of this controversy is the degree to which both parties seem somewhat uneasy and vaguely dissatisfied with the unalloyed versions of their own argument, the degree to which it seems not to be entirely plausible even to themselves. On the one side there is an admission that the precise nature of the relation between brain size and behavioral complexity is indeed unclear and some sotto voce reservations about "secondary specification"; on the other, a frank puzzlement concerning the apparent absence of novel mechanisms in advanced nervous systems and a hopeful murmuring about "emergent properties." There is actually something of an agreement that the attribution of the secular increase in mammalian mental capacity solely and simply to a gross increase in neuron population taxes credulity. The difference is that in one case doubts are quieted by a stress on the fact that a parallelism between increasing brain size and richer performance does, anyhow, obtain; while, on the other, doubts are accentuated by a stress on the fact that something seems to be missing to make this parallelism satisfactorily explicable.


This issue may eventually be clarified as Gerard suggests, by advances in work with computer circuits where performance does improve with a simple multiplication of identical units; or, as Bullock suggests, by further refinements in the analysis of chemical differences between nerve cells.52 But it is even more likely that the main avenue to its resolution lies in the abandonment of the wholly nativistic conceptualization of nervous functioning in the higher mammals which seems to be implicit in both these approaches. The synchronic emergence in primates of an expanded forebrain, developed forms of social organization, and, at least after Australopithecines got their hands on tools, institutionalized patterns of culture indicates that the standard procedure of treating biological, social, and cultural parameters serially--the first being taken as primary to the second, and the second to the third --is ill-advised. On the contrary, these so-called levels should be seen as reciprocally interrelated and considered conjointly. And if this is done, the sort of novel properties we shall search for within the central nervous system to serve as a physical basis for the striking development of autonomous fields of recurrent neural excitation in primates generally, and in man particularly, will differ radically from the sort of properties we would seek were we to regard those fields as "logically and genetically prior" to society and culture, and therefore requiring a full determination in terms of intrinsic physiological parameters alone. Perhaps we have been asking too much of neurons; or, if not too much, at least the wrong things.


In fact, so far as man is concerned, one of the most striking characteristics of his central nervous system is the relative incompleteness with which, acting within the confines of autogenous parameters alone, it is able to specify behavior. By and large, the lower an animal, the more it tends to respond to a "threatening" stimulus with an intrinsically connected series of performed activities which taken together comprise a comparatively stereotyped--which is not to say unlearned--"flight" or "fight" response.53 Man's intrinsic response to such a stimulus tends to consist, however, of a diffuse, variably intense, "fear" or "rage" excitability accompanied by few, if any, automatically preset, well-defined behavioral sequences.54 Like a frightened animal, a frightened man may run, hide, bluster, dissemble, placate, or, desperate with panic, attack; but in his case the precise patterning of such overt acts is guided predominantly by cultural rather than genetic templates. In the always diagnostic area of sex, where control of behavior proceeds phylogenetically from gonadal, to pituitary, to central nervous system prepotency, a similar evolutionary trend away from fixed activity sequences toward generalized arousal and "increasing flexibility and modifiability of sexual patterns" is apparent; a trend of which the justly famous cultural variation in the sexual practices of man would seem to represent a logical extension.55 Thus, in apparent paradox, an increasing autonomy, hierarchical complexity, and regnancy of ongoing central nervous system activity seem to go hand in hand with a less fully detailed determination of such activity by the structure of the central nervous system in and of itself; i.e., intrinsically. All of which suggests that some of the more important developments in neural evolution which occurred during the period of overlap between biological and sociocultural change may turn out to consist of the appearance of properties which improve the performance capacity of the central nervous system but reduce its functional self-sufficiency.


From this standpoint, the accepted view that mental functioning is essentially an intracerebral process, which can only be secondarily assisted or amplified by the various artificial devices which that process has enabled man to invent, appears to be quite wrong. On the contrary, a fully specified, adaptively sufficient definition of regnant neural processes in terms of intrinsic parameters being impossible, the human brain is thoroughly dependent upon cultural resources for its very operation; and those resources are, consequently, not adjuncts to, but constituents of, mental activity. In fact, thinking as an overt, public act, involving the purposeful manipulation of objective materials, is probably fundamental to human beings; and thinking as a covert, private act, and without recourse to such materials, a derived, though not unuseful, capability. As the observation of how school children learn to calculate shows, adding numbers in your head is actually a more sophisticated mental accomplishment than adding them with a paper and pencil, through an arrangement of tally sticks, or by counting, piggy-fashion, one's fingers and toes. Reading aloud is a more elementary achievement than reading to oneself, the latter ability having only arisen, as a matter of fact, in the Middle Ages.56 And a similar point about speech has often been made; except in our less naive moments, we are all like Forester's little old lady--we don't know what we think until we see what we say.


It has sometimes been argued against this last point that "the comparative evidence, as well as the literature on aphasia, clearly makes thought prior to speech, not conditional on it."57 But, though true enough in itself, this does not undermine the general position taken here--namely, that human culture is an ingredient not supplementary to human thought--for several reasons. First, the fact that subhuman animals learn to reason with sometimes startling effectiveness, without learning to speak, does not prove that men can do so, any more than the fact that a rat can copulate without the mediation of imitative learning or practice proves that a chimpanzee can do so. Second, aphasics are people who have learned to speak and to interiorize speech, and then lost (or, more usually, partially lost) the former capacity, not people who have never learned to speak at all. Third, and most important, speech in the specific sense of vocalized talk is far from being the sole public instrumentality available to individuals projected into a pre-existing cultural milieu. Such phenomena as Helen Keller learning to think through a combination of the manipulation of such cultural objects as mugs and water taps and the purposeful patterning (by Miss Sullivan) of tactile sensations on her hand, or a prespeech child developing the concept of ordinal number through the setting up of two parallel lines of matched blocks, demonstrate that what is essential is the existence of an overt symbol system of any sort.58 For man, in particular, to conceive of thinking as essentially a private process is to overlook almost completely what people actually do when they go about reasoning:

"Imaginal thinking is neither more nor less than constructing an image of the environment, running the model faster than the environment, and predicting that the environment will behave as the model does. . . . The first step in the solution of a problem consists in the construction of a model or image of the "relevant features" of the [environment]. These models can be constructed from many things, including parts of the organic tissue of the body and, by man, paper and pencil or actual artifacts. Once a model has been constructed it can be manipulated under various hypothetical conditions and constraints. The organism is then able to "observe" the outcome of these manipulations, and to project them onto the environment so that prediction is possible. According to this view, an aeronautical engineer is thinking when he manipulates a model of a new airplane in a wind tunnel. The motorist is thinking when he runs his finger over a line on a map, the finger serving as a model of the relevant aspects of the automobile, the map as a model of the road. External models of this kind are often used in thinking about complex [environments]. Images used in covert thinking depend upon the availability of the physico-chemical events of the organism which must be used to form models."59


It is a further implication of this view of reflective thought as consisting not of happenings in the head but of a matching of the states and processes of symbolic models against the states and processes of the wider world, that it is stimulus deficit which initiates mental activity and stimulus "discovery" which terminates it.60 The motorist running his finger over a road map is doing so because he lacks information about how to get where he is going, and he will cease doing so when he has acquired that information. The engineer performs his experiments in the wind tunnel in order to find out how his model airplane behaves under various artificially produced aerodynamic conditions, and he will quit performing it if and when he indeed finds out. A man searching for a coin in his pocket does so because he lacks a coin in hand, and he stops searching when he gets hold of one--or, of course, when he comes to the conclusion that the whole project is bootless, because it happens that there is no coin in his pocket, or that it is uneconomical, because the effort involved is such that the search "costs more than it comes to."61 Motivational problems (which involve another sense of "because") aside, directive reasoning begins in puzzlement and ends in either the abandonment of inquiry or the resolution of puzzlement: "The function of reflective thought is . . . to transform a situation in which there is experienced obscurity . . . of some sort, into a situation that is clear, coherent, settled, harmonious."62


In sum, human intellection, in the specific sense of directive reasoning, depends upon the manipulation of certain kinds of cultural resources in such a manner as to produce (discover, select) environmental stimuli needed--for whatever purpose--by the organism; it is a search for information. And this search is the more pressing because of the high degree of generality of the information intrinsically available to the organism from genetic sources. The lower an animal, the less it needs to find out in detail from the environment prior to behavioral performance; birds need not build wind tunnels to test aerodynamic principles before learning to fly--those they already "know." The "uniqueness" of man has often been expressed in terms of how much and how many different sorts of things he is capable of learning. Although monkeys, pigeons, and even octopuses may now and then disconcert us with the rather "human" things they prove capable of learning to do, in a general way this is true enough. But it is of perhaps even more fundamental theoretical importance to stress how much and how many things man has to learn. That, "fetalized," "domesticated," and generally unhardy as he is, man would be a physically unviable animal independently of culture has often been pointed out.63 That he would be mentally unviable as well has been rather less frequently noted.64


All this is no less true for the affective side of human thought than it is for the intellective. In a series of books and papers, Hebb has developed the intriguing theory that the human nervous system (and to a correspondingly lesser extent, that of lower animals) demands a relatively continuous stream of optimally existing environmental stimuli as a precondition to competent performance.65 On the one hand, man's brain is "not like a calculating machine operated by an electric motor, which can lie idle, without input, for indefinite periods; instead it must be kept warmed up and working by a constantly varied input during the waking period at least, if it is to function effectively."66 On the other hand, given the tremendous intrinsic emotional susceptibility of man, such input cannot be too intense, too varied, too disturbing, because then emotional collapse and a complete breakdown of the thought process ensue. Both boredom and hysteria are enemies of reason.67


Thus, as "man is the most emotional as well as the most rational animal," a very careful cultural control of frightening, enraging, suggestive, etc., stimuli--through taboos, homogenization of behavior, rapid "rationalization" of strange stimuli in terms of familiar concepts, and so on --is necessary to prevent continual affective instability, a constant oscillation between the extremes of passion.68 But, as man cannot perform efficiently in the absence of a fairly high degree of reasonably persistent emotional activation, cultural mechanisms assuring the ready availability of the continually varying sort of sensory experience that can sustain such activities are equally essential. Institutionalized regulations against the open display of corpses outside of well-defined contexts (funerals, etc.) protect a peculiarly high-strung animal against the fears aroused by death and bodily destruction; watching or participating in automobile races (not all of which take place at tracks) deliciously stimulates the same fears. Prize fighting arouses hostile feelings; a firmly institutionalized interpersonal affability moderates them. Erotic impulses are titillated by a series of devious artifices of which there is, evidently, no end; but they are kept from running riot by an insistence on the private performance of explicitly sexual activities.


But, contrary to what these rather simplistic examples suggest, the achievement of a workable, well-ordered, clearly articulated emotional life in man is not a simple matter of ingenious instrumental control, a kind of clever hydraulic engineering of affect. Rather, it is a matter of giving specific, explicit, determinate form to the general, diffuse, ongoing flow of bodily sensation; of imposing upon the continual shifts in sentience to which we are inherently subject a recognizable, meaningful order, so that we may not only feel but know what we feel and act accordingly:

"[it is] mental activity . . . [that] chiefly determines the way a person meets his surrounding world. Pure sensation--now pain, now pleasure-would have no unity, and would change the receptivity of the body for future pains and pleasures only in rudimentary ways. It is sensation, remembered and anticipated, feared or sought, or even imagined and eschewed that is important in human life. It is perception molded by imagination that gives us the outward world that we know. And it is the continuity of thought that systematizes our emotional reactions into attitudes with distinct feeling tones, and sets a certain scope for the individual's passions. In other words: by virtue of our thought and imagination we have not only feelings, but a life of feeling."69


In this context our mental task shifts from a gathering of information about the pattern of events in the external world per se toward a determining of the affective significance, the emotional import of that pattern of events. We are concerned not with solving problems, but with clarifying feelings. Nevertheless, the existence of cultural resources, of an adequate system of public symbols, is just as essential to this sort of process as it is to that of directive reasoning. And therefore, the development, maintenance, and dissolution of "moods," "attitudes," "sentiments," and so on--which are "feelings" in the sense of states or conditions, not sensations or motives--constitute no more a basically private activity in human beings than does directive "thinking." The use of a road map enables us to make our way from San Francisco to New York with precision; the reading of Kafka's novels enables us to form a distinct and well-defined attitude toward modern bureaucracy. We acquire the ability to design flying planes in wind tunnels; we develop the capacity to feel true awe in church. A child counts on his fingers before he counts "in his head"; he feels love on his skin before he feels it "in his heart." Not only ideas, but emotions too, are cultural artifacts in man.70


Given the lack of specificity of intrinsic affect in man, the attainment of an optimal flow of stimulation to his nervous system is a much more complicated operation than a prudent steering between the extremes of "too much" and "too little." Rather, it involves a very delicate qualitative regulation of what comes in through the sensory apparatus; a matter, here again, more of an active seeking for required stimuli than a mere watchful waiting for them. Neurologically, this regulation is achieved by efferent impulses from the central nervous system which modify receptor activity.71 Psychologically, the same process may be phrased in terms of the attitudinal control of perception.72 But the point is that in man neither regnant fields nor mental sets can be formed with sufficient precision in the absence of guidance from symbolic models of emotion. In order to make up our minds we must know how we feel about things; and to know how we feel about things we need the public images of sentiment that only ritual, myth, and art can provide.





The term "mind" refers to a certain set of dispositions of an organism. The ability to count is a mental characteristic; so is chronic cheerfulness; so also--though it has not been possible to discuss the problem of motivation here--is greed. The problem of the evolution of mind is, therefore, neither a false issue generated by a misconceived metaphysic, nor one of discovering at which point in the history of life an invisible anima was superadded to organic material. It is a matter of tracing the development of certain sorts of abilities, capacities, tendencies, and propensities in organisms and delineating the factors or types of factors upon which the existence of such characteristics depends.


Recent research in anthropology suggests that the prevailing view that the mental dispositions of man are genetically prior to culture and that his actual capabilities represent the amplification or extension of these pre-existent dispositions by cultural means is incorrect.73 The apparent fact that the final stages of the biological evolution of man occurred after the initial stages of the growth of culture implies that "basic," "pure," or "unconditioned," human nature, in the sense of the innate constitution of man, is so functionally incomplete as to be unworkable. Tools, hunting, family organization, and, later, art, religion, and "science" molded man somatically; and they are, therefore, necessary not merely to his survival but to his existential realization.


The application of this revised view of human evolution leads to the hypothesis that cultural resources are ingredient, not accessory, to human thought. As one moves from lower to higher animals phylogenetically, behavior is characterized by increasing active unpredictability with reference to present stimuli, a trend apparently supported physiologically by an increasing complexity and regnancy of centrally proceeding patterns of nervous activity. Up to the level of the lower mammals, at least the major part of this growth of autonomous central fields can be accounted for in terms of the development of novel neural mechanisms. But in the higher mammals such novel mechanisms have as yet not been found. Although, conceivably, mere increase in numbers of neurons may in itself prove able fully to account for the florescence of mental capacity in man, the fact that the large human brain and human culture emerged synchronically, not serially, indicates that the most recent developments in the evolution of nervous structure consist in the appearance of mechanisms which both permit the maintenance of more complex regnant fields and make the full determination of these fields in terms of intrinsic (innate) parameters increasingly impossible. The human nervous system relies, inescapably, on the accessibility of public symbolic structures to build up its own autonomous, ongoing pattern of activity.


This, in turn, implies that human thinking is primarily an overt act conducted in terms of the objective materials of the common culture, and only secondarily a private matter. In the sense both of directive reasoning and the formulation of sentiment, as well as the integration of these into motives, man's mental processes indeed take place at the scholar's desk or the football field, in the studio or lorry-driver's seat, on the platform, the chessboard, or the judge's bench. Isolationist claims for the closed-system substantiality of culture, social organization, individual behavior, or nervous physiology to the contrary notwithstanding, progress in the scientific analysis of the human mind demands a joint attack from virtually all of the behavioral sciences, in which the findings of each will force continual theoretical reassessments upon all of the others.



1     M. Scheerer, "Cognitive Theory," in Handbook of Social Psychology (Reading, Mass., 1954).

2     C. Sherrington, Man on His Nature, 2nd ed. (New York, 1953), p. 161; L. S. Kubie , "Psychiatric and Psychoanalytic Considerations of the Problem of Consciousness," in Brain Mechanisms and Consciousness, ed. E. Adrian et al. (Oxford, England, 1954), pp. 444 - 467.

3     C. L. Hull, Principles of Behavior (New York, 1943).

4     G. W. Allport, "Scientific Models and Human Morals," Psychol. Rev. 54 (1947): pp. 182-192.

5     G. A. Miller, E. H. Galanter, and K. H. Pribram, Plans and the Structure of Behavior (New York, 1960).

6     G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind (New York, 1949).

7     K. S. Lashley, "Cerebral Organization and Behavior," in The Brain and Human Behavior, ed. H. Solomon et al. (Baltimore, 1958).

8     L. A. White, The Science of Culture (New York, 1949).

9     Ryle, The Concept of Mind.

10   White, The Science of Culture.

11   J. Dewey, Art as Experience (New York, 1934).

12   Ryle, The Concept of Mind, p. 33. Quoted by permission of Barnes & Noble Books and Hutchinson Publishing Group Ltd.

13   M. Mead, "Comment," in Discussions in Child Development, ed. J. Tanner and B. Inhelder (New York, n.d.), 1: 480-503.

14   S. Freud, "The interpretation of Dreams," trans. in The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, ed. A. A. Brill (New York, 1938), pp. 179 -548; S. Freud, "Formulations Regarding Two Principles in Mental Functioning," in Collected Papers of Sigmund Freud (London, 1946), 4: 13 - 27.

15   L. Levy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality (London, 1923).

16   In addition, this proposition has been supported, as Hallowell (A. I. Hallowell , "The Recapitulation Theory and Culture," reprinted in Culture and Experience, by A. I. Hallowell [ Philadelphia, 1939], pp. 14-31) has pointed out, by an uncritical application of Haeckel's now rejected "law of recapitulation," in which presumed parallels in the thought of children, psychotics, and savages were used as evidence of the phylogenetic priority of autism. For suggestions that primary processes are not even ontogenetically prior to secondary ones, see: H. Hartmann , "Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation," trans. and abridged in Organization and Pathology of Thought, ed. D. Rappaport (New York, 1951), pp. 362 - 396 ; and H. Hartmann, E. Kris, and R. Lowenstein, "Comments on the Formation of Psychic Structure," in The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (New York, 1946), 2: 11 - 38.

17   A. L. Kroeber, Anthropology (New York, 1948).

18   C. Kluckhohn, "Universal Categories of Culture," in Anthropology Today, ed. A. L. Kroeber (Chicago, 1953), pp. 507-523; see also, Kroeber, Anthropology, p. 573.

19   Kroeber, Anthropology, pp. 71-72.

20   Ibid.

21   Ibid; White, The Science of Culture, p. 33.

22   W. W. Howells. "Concluding Remarks of the Chairman," in Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 15 (1950):79-86.

23   On the original discoveries of Australopithecines, see R. A. Dart, Adventures with the Missing Link (New York, 1959); for a recent review, see P. V. Tobias , "The Taxonomy and Phylogeny of the Australopithecines," in Taxonomy  and Phylogeny of Old World Primates with Reference to the Origin of Man, ed. B. Chiarelli (Turin, 1968), pp. 277-315.

24   By "hominoid" is meant the superfamily of animals, living and extinct, to which both man and the pongid apes (gorilla, orang, chimpanzee, and gibbon) belong, and by "hominid," the family of animals, living and extinct, to which man belongs, but not the apes. For the "aberrant" view, see E. Hooton, Up From the Ape, rev. ed. (New York, 1949); for the consensus, Howells, "Concluding Remarks of the Chairman." The statement that the Australopithecines were the "first hominids" would now, I think, have to be modified.

25   For a general review, see A. I. Hallowell, "Self, Society and Culture in Phylogenetic Perspective," in The Evolution of Man, ed. S. Tax (Chicago, 1960), pp. 309 - 372. In the past decade, the whole discussion has proceeded with accelerating speed and increasing precision. For a series of references, see the inventory article by R. L. Holloway and Elizabeth Szinyei-Merse, "Human Biology: a Catholic Review," in Biennial Review of Anthropology, 1971, ed. B. J. Siegel (Stanford, 1972), pp. 83-166.

26   For a general discussion of "critical point" theory in light of recent anthropological work, see C. Geertz, "The Transition to Humanity," in Horizons of Anthropology, ed. S. Tax (Chicago, 1964), pp. 37 - 48.

27   S. L. Washburn, "Speculations on the Interrelations of Tools and Biological Evolution," in The Evolution of Man's Capacity for Culture, ed. J. M. Spuhler (Detroit, 1959), pp. 21-31.

28   A. I. Hallowell, "Culture, Personality and Society," in Anthropology Today, ed. A. L. Kroeber (Chicago, 1953), pp. 597-620. Cf. A. I. Hallowell, "Behavioral Evolution and the Emergence of the Self," in Evolution and Anthropology: A Centennial Appraisal, ed. B. J. Meggers (Washington, D.C., 1959), pp. 36-60.

29   Kroeber, Anthropology, p. 573.

30   L. A. White, "Four Stages in the Evolution of Minding," in The Evolution of Man, ed. S. Tax (Chicago, 1960), pp. 239 - 253 ; the argument is very common.

31   For a general discussion of the dangers involved in an uncritical use of comparisons among contemporaneous forms to generate historical hypotheses, see G. Simpson, "Some Principles of Historical Biology Bearing on Human Organisms," in Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 15 (1950): 55-66.

32   Washburn, "Speculations on the Interrelations."

33   Ibid.

34   As for "wolf-children" and other feral fantasies, see K. Lorenz, "Comment," in Discussions on Child Development, ed. J. Tanner and B. Inhelder (New York, n.d.), 1:  95-96.

35   See Chapter 6 in this book, p. 145.

36   On isolation, see H. Harlow, "Basic Social Capacity of Primates," in The Evolution of Man's Capacity for Culture, ed. J. Spuhler (Detroit, 1959), pp. 40 - 52; on imitative learning, H. W. Nissen, "Problems of Mental Evolution in the Primates," in The Non-Human Primates and Human Evolution, ed. J. Gavan (Detroit, 1955), pp. 99-109.

37   B. I. DeVore, "Primate Behavior and Social Evolution" (unpublished, n.d.).

38   Some subprimate mammals also follow a definitely social mode of life, so that this whole process probably predates primates altogether. The social behavior of some birds and insects is of less immediate relevance, however, because these orders are tangential to the human developmental line.

39   M. F. A. Montagu, "A Consideration of the Concept of Race," in Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 15 (1950): 315-334.

40   M. Mead, "Cultural Determinants of Behavior," in Culture and Behavior, ed. A. Roe and G. Simpson (New Haven, 1958).

41   C. Sherrington, Man.

42   C. L. Hull, Principles.

43   L. de N, "Cerebral Cortex Architecture," in The Physiology of the Nervous System, ed. J. F. Fulton (New York, 1943); J. S. Bruner, "Neural Mechanisms in Perception," in The Brain and Human Behavior, ed. H. Solomon et al. (Baltimore, 1958), pp. 118-143 ; R. W. Gerard, "Becoming: The Residue of Change," in The Evolution of Man, ed. S. Tax (Chicago, 1960), pp. 255-268 ; K. S. Lashley , "The Problem of Serial Order in Behavior," in Cerebral Mechanisms and Behavior, ed. L. Jeffress (New York, 1951), pp. 112-136.

44   P. Weiss, "Comment on Dr. Lashley's Paper," in Cerebral Mechanisms in Behavior, ed. L. A. Jeffress (New York, 1951), pp. 140-142.

45   D. O. Hebb, "The Problem of Consciousness and Introspection," in Brain Mechanics and Conscibusness, ed. E. Adrian et al. (Oxford, 1954), pp. 402 - 417. References omitted.

46   C. Kluckhohn and H. Murray, eds., Personality in Nature, Society and Culture (New York, 1948); T. H. Bullock, "Evolution of Neurophysiological Mechanisms," in Behavior and Evolution, ed. A. Roe and G. Simpson (New Haven, 1958), pp. 165-177.

47   Bullock, "Evolution."

48   Ibid.; Gerard, "Becoming."

49   Bullock, "Evolution"; K. H. Pribram, "Comparative Neurology and the Evolution of Behavior," in Behavior and Evolution, ed. A. Roe and G. Simpson (New Haven, 1958), pp.

50   Gerard, "Becoming"; see also R. W. Gerard, "Brains and Behavior," in The Evolution of Man's Capacity for Culture, ed. J. Spuhler (Detroit, 1959), pp. 14-20.

51   Bullock, "Evolution."

52   R. W. Gerard, "Brains and Behavior"; Bullock, "Evolution."

53   K. Lorenz, King Solomon's Ring (London, 1952).

54   D. O. Hebb and W. R. Thompson, "The Social Significance of Animal Studies," in Handbook of Psychology (Reading, Mass., 1954), pp. 532-561. The uncritical use of the term "instinct" so as to confuse three separate (but not unrelated) contrasts--that between behavior patterns which rest on learning and those which do not; that between behavior patterns which are innate (i.e., an outcome of genetically programmed physical processes) and those which are not (i.e., an outcome of extragenetically programmed physical processes); and that between behavior patterns which are inflexible (stereotyped) and those which are flexible (variable)--has led to an incorrect assumption that to say a behavior pattern is innate is to say that it is inflexible in its expression. (See K. H. Pribram, "Comparative Neurology and Evolution"; and F. A. Beach, "The De-scent of Instinct," Psychol. Rev. 62 [ 1955]:401-410.) Here, the term "intrinsic," as against "extrinsic," is used to characterize behavior which, on comparative grounds, seems to rest largely, or at least preponderantly, on innate dispositions, independently of questions of learning or flexibility as such.

55   F. A. Beach, "Evolutionary Aspects of Psycho-Endocrinology," in Culture and Behavior, ed. A. Roe and G. Simpson (New Haven, 1958), pp. 81-102 ; C. S.Ford and F. A. Beach, Patterns of Sexual Behavior (New York, 1951). But, again, this general trend appears already well established in the subhuman primates: "Some [male] chimpanzees have to learn to copulate. It has been noted that sexually mature but inexperienced males placed with the receptive female show signs of marked sexual excitement, but the resulting attempts to accomplish copulation are usually unsuccessful. The naive male appears incapable of carrying out his part of the mating act, and it has been suggested that a great deal of practice and learning is essential to biologically effective coition in this species. Adult male rodents which have been reared in isolation copulate normally the first time they are offered an estrous female." [ F. A. Beach, "Evolutionary Changes in the Physiological Control of Mating Behavior in Mammals," Psychol. Rev. 54 (1947): 293-315.) For some vivid descriptions of generalized fear and rage in chimpanzees, see Hebb and Thompson, "Social Significance."

56   Ryle, The Concept of Mind, p. 27.

57   Hebb, "Problem of Consciousness and Introspection."

58   On ordinal numbers, see K. S. Lashley, "Persistent Problems in the Evolution of Mind," Quart. Rev. 24 (1949):28-42. It is perhaps advisable also to point out explicitly that the view that humans normally learn to talk intelligently aloud and with others before they learn to "talk" to themselves, in silence, does not involve either a motor theory of thought or an argument that all covert mentation takes place in terms of imagined words.

59   Galanter and M. Gerstenhaber, "On Thought: The Extrinsic Theory," Psychol. Rev. 63 (1956): 218-227.

60   J. A. Deutsch, "A New Type of Behavior Theory," British Journal of Psychology 44 (1953): 304-317.

61   Ibid.

62   J. Dewey, Intelligence and the Modern World, ed. J. Ratner (New York, 1939),  p. 851.

63   For example, W. La Barre, The Human Animal (Chicago, 1954).

64   But see J. Dewey, "The Need for a Social Psychology," Psychol. Rev. 24 (1917): 266-277; A. I. Hallowell, "Culture, Personality and Society."

65   D. O. Hebb, "Emotion in Man and Animal: An Analysis of the Intuitive Process of Recognition," Psychol. Rev. 53 (1946): 88-106; D. O. Hebb, The Organization of Behavior (New York, 1949); D. O. Hebb, "Problem of Consciousness and Introspection"; D. O. Hebb and W. R. Thompson, "Social Significance of Animal Studies."

66   D. O. Hebb, "Problem of Consciousness and Introspection."

67   P. Solomon et al., "Sensory Deprivation: A Review," American Journal of Psychiatry, 114 (1957): 357-363; L. F. Chapman, "Highest Integrative Functions of Man During Stress," in The Brain and Human Behavior, ed. H. Solomon (Baltimore, 1958), pp. 491-534. 

68   D. O. Hebb and W. R. Thompson, "Social Significance of Animal Studies."

69   S. Langer, Feeling and Form (New York, 1953),  p. 372; italics in original.  

70   The kind of cultural symbols that serve the intellective and affective sides of human mentality tend to differ--discursive language, experimental routines, mathematics, and so on, on the one hand; myth, ritual, and art on the other. But this contrast should not be drawn too sharply: mathematics has its affective uses, poetry its intellectual; and the difference in any case is only functional, not substantial.

71   R. Granit, Receptors and Sensory Perception (New Haven, 1955). 

72   J. S. Bruner and L. Postman, "Emotional Selectivity in Perception and Reaction," J. Personality 16 (1947): 69-77. 

73   In using such variably employed terms as "mind" and "culture," the decision of how far down the phylogenetic ladder to extend them--i.e., how broadly to define them--is in great part but a matter of custom, policy, and taste. Here, perhaps somewhat inconsistently, but in line with what seems to be common usage, opposite choices have been made for mind and culture: mind has been defined broadly to include the learned capacities of monkeys to communicate or rats to solve T-mazes; culture has been defined narrowly to include only posttoolmaking symbolic patterns. For an argument that culture should be defined as "a learned pattern of the meaning of signals and signs" and extended through the whole world of living organisms, see T. Parsons, "An Approach to Psychological Theory in Terms of the Theory of Action," in Psychology: A Study of a Science, ed. S. Koch (New York, 1959), 3: 612-711.


The Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind, in: Scher, Jordan M. (ed.): Theories of the mind. New-York/N.Y./USA 1962: The Free Press of Glencoe, pp. 713-740.

cf. in: The interpretation of cultures: selected essays. New-York/N.Y./USA etc. 1973: Basic Books, pp. 55-86.


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