Review of Principles of Anthropology by E.D. Chapple and C.S. Coon
The authors of this book wrote with the purpose of originating in set events to the public who are supposed to terminate to them. The meaning of the above statement may not be clear, but it is in the style and vocabulary that the authors have chosen, A few sample sentences, chosen at random from hundreds employing the same unfamiliar tongue, may be cited in confirmation:
"In some events more than one person responds to some one's origins."
"The set event categorizes people; they learn to originate in groups."
"Political institutions develop as a result of the extension of the external relations set in which one person becomes a leader and directs the actions of his followers in originating to outside groups."
"Parents originate to their children."
"These are the controlling factors in deter-mining what individuals shall originate within the family group." (No, Reader, you have missed it; there is no reference to birth control.)
"In the Eskimo family males and females originate to each other with more or less equal frequency."
"The followers give the leader gifts in pair events and he distributes them back to the people in set events."
"In other institutions the class of terminators must be able to originate to Class A of the supervisory set, at least in pair events."
"Polygamy only occurs in societies where the male set is strong and in which the male can originate in set events to his wives and hope to keep some measure of peace."
It is tempting to prolong citations such as these but space is not to be wasted. The reading of such' passages brings to mind certain strictures and criticisms that have been made on our academic writing and also causes grave concern as to the present state of anthropology. As to the strictures, one thinks of John Buchan's verdict that much of the academic writing in America is a jargon that is hideous and almost meaningless, and of President Neilson's statement that the worst English written in America at present is put out by the sociologists and the writers on pedagogy, or "education." One wonders whether the authors of this book were not seeking the unenviable distinction of writing worse English than has ever been printed.
As to the state of anthropology, a science that has a dignified past and worthy achievements, what can be thought of its foundations when two men from a reputable school start out afresh, with a complete break from all the past traditions? If a book on chemistry should appear, ignoring the efforts of the men who have gone before and stating in unintelligible words (till duly translated) what they have conceived the science to be—if such a chemistry book should appear, the writers would be set down as charlatans. Anthropology surely is more securely founded than such a work as this would lead one to believe.
The reviewer would feel justified in declining to comment on the book until it is rendered into good English, but we may now pass to a word about the content, deservedly brief. There is praise for mathematics and the "operational method" in the opening chapter but all the mathematics one finds is comprised in the words "greater" and "less." As to "operational," there is only description and assertion, The authors insist at the beginning and at the end that the "known facts of physiology" are adequate for the explanation of one individual to another but little use is made beyond the assertion that emotion involves the hypothalamus and a misinterpretation of the concept of conditioned reflex.
There is a chapter on Environment and Technology in which "technique" is made to mean practically every habit or custom, even eating a meal together.
The third chapter is on the development of institutions; the fourth on symbols-continued in the fifth and last part, in which Van Gennep's little classic, Les Rites de Passage, is extensively quoted.
The reviewer does not feel the same confidence in explaining human nature as the authors profess, but one can be fairly certain that, whatever the controlling motive may have been, it was neither modesty or humility. Nor
( 241) can the authors blame a reviewer if their hook occasions an excitation of the hypothalamus with resulting emotions, not safely set down here, They have originated to me but I should like to originate to them in pair events and should fondly hope that they would terminate to me.
Lake Forest, Illinois