THE HIGHER PROGRESS OF MANKIND
SPIRITUAL culture may develop in the directions of knowing and of feeling. These two forms of the manifestation of consciousness are originally not to be separated From each other; but as time goes on, a preponderance of one or the other becomes noticeable. Language is the first result of spiritual culture : the communication of thoughts by means of words (sound pictures of ideas). Language arises from the necessities of Life, from the need for communication among the members of a social aggregate.
A much later acquisition, the art of writing, or the fixation of language, in a definite, permanent form, stands in close connection with speech. Writing develops according to two systems : the one based on the symbolizing or picturing of ideas—picture-writing, hieroglyphics; and the other on the breaking up of the speech-sounds of a language into a notation of syllables or letters—syllabic or letter writing. According to the first method thoughts are directly pictured; according to the second, sounds, not ideas, are represented by symbols—that is, the sounds which stand for the ideas are transformed into signs. The transition from sign to syllabic writing comes about in this manner: if, during its development, a language uses the same sound to express various conceptions, men represent this sound by one sign; and whenever a foreign word is reproduced in writing it is first separated into syllables, and the syllables are then pictured by the same signs as are employed to represent similar sounds—but different ideas—in the native speech. Thus symbols are employed more and more phonetically, and less and less meaning comes to be attached to them. This process must continue its development if the pronunciation changes as 1ime goes on; -the old writing, with its national symbol-method, may be retained; but with the changing of speech-sounds the new writing is altered; syllables are now represented by signs, and combinations of syllables are reproduced by means of a combination ol their corresponding symbols. Thus phonetic writing was not an invention, but a gradual development. Together with the phonetic, symbols, ideograms or hieroglyphs also exist, as in Babylonian. It is especially interesting, and indicative of the unity of the human mind, that the transition to syllabic writing has been arrived at independently by different races; the Aztecs, for example, exhibit a wholly independent development.
Communication by writing may be either single or private, or general and public; in the latter case plurality is attained through such methods as the affixing of bills and placards, or by means of transcripts or reproductions of the original copy. At first the latter are made in accordance with the ordinary methods of writing; and in slave-holding communities—Rome, for example—slaves who wrote to dictation were employed as scribes. The discovery of a method by which to obtain a plurality of copies through a single mechanical process was epoch-making. The printing-press has performed a far greater service to humanity than have most inventions; for, with the possibility of producing thousands of copies of a communication, the thoughts embodied in it become forces; they may enter the minds of many individuals who are either convinced or actually guided by them. Ideas become active through their suggestion on the masses of the population. This may lead to a one-sided rule of public opinion; but a healthy race will travel intellectually in many directions, and various beliefs supplement one another, struggle together, conquer, and are conquered. In this manner thoughts awaken popular movements, rousing a people to a hitherto unknown degree, and forcing men to think and to join issues. Thus the Press becomes a factor in civilization of the very first importance. The necessity for periodic communication, together with curiosity that refuses to wait, long for information, leads to the establishment of regularly recurrent publications; and thus, in addition to the book-press, the newspaper-press, that has learned how to hold great centres of population under its control, appears. Naturally this method of aiding the progress of civilization has its disadvantages, as have all other methods; the conception of the world becomes superficial; individuality loses in character; not only a certain levelling of education, but also a levelling of views of life and of modes of thought, results. But, on the whole, knowledge is spread abroad as it never was before.
Man, as a thinking being, craves for a conception of life; and in his inmost thoughts he seeks for an explanation of the double relationship of Man to Nature and of Nature to Man, striving to bring all into harmony. This he finds in religion.
Religion is belief in God; that is, belief in spiritual forces inseparable from and interwoven through the universe—forces that render all things distinct and separate, yet make all coalescent and firm, permeating all, and giving to every object its individuality. Man is impelled by Nature to conceive of the universe as divine. This idea exhibits itself universally among primitive folk in the form of animism—a belief that the entire internal and external world is animated, filled with supernatural beings that have originally no determinate nature, but which may appear in the most varied of forms, may vanish and may create themselves anew, as clouds arise from unseen vapour in the air. Spirits are supposed to be not far removed from man; families as well as individuals consider themselves to stand more or less in connection with them; and men, too, have a share in the invisible world when they have cast aside the garment of the body in dream or in death. Thus, every man is thought to have his protecting spirit, his manitou, that reveals itself to him through signs and dreams. Special incarnations, objects in which supernatural beings are inherent or with which they are in some way connected, are called “fetiches”; hence arises fetishism, in regard to which the strangest ideas were held in previous centuries when the science of anthropology was unknown. Trees, rocks, rivers, bits of wood, images of one's own making—any of these are thought capable of containing beings of divine nature. Naturally, the tree or the fragment of wood or of stone is not worshipped, as men formerly thought, but the spirit that is believed to have entered it. In many cases the belief approaches worship of Nature, especially among agricultural peoples. Divinity is recognized in the shape of factors essential to agriculture—sun, sky, lightning, thunder; these being the beneficent deities, in contrast to whom are the earth-spirits who bring pestilences, earthquakes, and other evils to mankind. Thus the cult is refined; spirits are no longer attached to fetishes’, but men worship the heavens, and the earth also. Religion accompanies man from birth to death. Spirits both for good and for evil are supposed to hover about him at his very birth. The soul of some being—perhaps an animal, perhaps an ancestor— enters into the new-born child, and from this spirit he receives his name.
Oftentimes there is a new consecration at the time of marriage; often when an heir-apparent succeeds to the chieftainship. At his decease primitive folk believe that man enters the realm of shadows. At first he hovers over the sea or river of death, and often only after having passed through many hardships does he arrive in the new kingdom, where he either continues to live alter the manner of his former existence, or, according to whether his life on earth has been good or evil, inhabits a higher or a lower supernatural sphere. To the dead are consecrated their personal possessions —horses, slaves, wives even —that they may make use of them during the new existence; men go headhunting in order to send them new helpmates. On the other hand great care is often taken that the spirits of the departed, satisfied with their new existence, may no longer molest the world of the living : propitiative offerings arc made; men avoid mentioning the name of the departed, that he may not be tempted to visit them with his presence; they seek to make themselves unrecognizable during the time immediately following his death, wear different clothes, and adopt other dwelling-places. Sometimes the light placed near the deceased for the purpose of guiding him back to his old home is moved further and further away, so that his ghost, unable to find the right path, shall never return.
Thus the belief in spirits encompasses primitive man, following him step by step.
From animism develops worship of heroes and polytheism, with their attendant mythological narrations. The idea of the unity of the supernatural world becomes lost; and the indefinite forms of spirit become separate, independent beings, that are developed more and more in the direction of the souls either of animals or of men. This splitting up of the deity, which destroys the tendency toward unity in religion, is followed by a reaction that comes about partly through a belief in creation by a father of the gods, partly through acceptance of pantheistic ideas. In spite of the conception of a world permeated and pervaded by God alone, the belief that certain persons and places are more powerful in respect to the divinity than others is retained; and the appearance from time to time of a Buddha who incarnates and manifests the Supreme Being directly and completely in within himself in a special manner apart from other natural phenomena is also not looked upon as inconsistent.
Religion is a thing of the emotions, not merely in the sense of having its origin in fear, or in the remembrance of lasting sensations derived from visions or dreams, but emotional in so far that it satisfies the necessity felt by men for a consistent life-conception—not an intellectual but an emotional conception. It is not the matter-of-fact desire for knowledge that finds its expression in religion, but the joy of the heart in a supreme power, the call for help of the needy, and the consciousness of our own insignificance and our mortality. Judgment is not yet abstracted from the other psychic functions; indeed, it really retires behind the emotions.
The elaborate and extraordinary funeral rites of the Todas illustrate admirably the older notions of life and death. A funeral endures for several days; the body is cremated; last of all the buffaloes of the deceased are slaughtered at the grave and thought to enter into mystic reunion with their master. In olden times a whole troop would be slaughtered, but under British influence the number has been limited to one for a common person and two for a chief.
When men thus believe in divinity, it the belief have an active influence or the emotions, it follows that the individual must establish some connection between himself and the object of his worship. This is brought about through certain actions, or through the creation of circumstances in which special conditions of consecration are perceived, and there with the possibility of a close relationship with the Supreme Being. The acts through which this relationship may be brought about, taken collectively, are embraced in the word "worship", and if performed according to a strict system they are called "rites". Sacrifice has an important place among the ceremonies observed it accordance with ritual. It is based on a conception of the wants and necessities of the higher beings, and, in later times, is refined into a representation of man's ethical feelings-unselfishness and gratitude, which give pleasure to the Deity and thus contribute to its happiness. But sacrifice does not retain its unselfish character for any great length of time. Man thinks of himself first : he makes offerings to the good spirits, but more particularly to the evil gods, in order to pacify their fury and appease their evil desires. Sacrifices are also offered to the dead, and from such offerings and memorials is developed the idea of a "family" or "clan", which outlives the individual.
Thus, emotion is the principal active agent; but intellectual power also must gradually lay its hold on the system of belief. The principles discovered are formulated into a science; and the cultivation of this science, becomes the special duty of the priesthood, often as a secret art esoteric system—in which concealment is conducive to the maintenance of the exclusiveness and peculiar power of the priest class. The science becomes partly mythologic-historical, partly dogmatic, and partly ritualistic.
The artistic instinct develops partly in connection with worship, partly in the direction of its practical application to life; and although no very sharp line of distinction is drawn between the two tendencies, the germ at least of the difference between the fine and the industrial arts is thus in existence from the very earliest times. Worship gives rise to images and pictures, at first of the very roughest form. They are not mere symbols; they are the garments or habitations with which the spirit invests itself. The spirit may take up its abode anywhere according to the different beliefs of man—in a plant, an animal, a stone, above all, in a picture or effigy that symbolically reflects its peculiarities. Therefore, the ghosts of ancestors are embodied in ancestral images. Just as skulls were reverenced in earlier times, in later days the images of the dead (korwar) are worshipped. Such images are the oldest examples of the art of portraiture; and the oldest dolls are the rude puppets which according to the rites of many races—the American Indians, for example—widows must wear about them as tokens, or as the husks or wrappers of their husbands' doubles.
Religion itself becomes poetry. The belief in the identity of spirits of the departed with animals, and the myths of metamorphosis, take the form of fables and fairy tales; the cosmogonic and theogonic conceptions develop into mythologies; hero sagas become epics; the myths of life in Nature become a glorification of the external world, an expression of unity with Nature, and thus a form of lyric poetry.
Everyday life, too, demands artistic expression. At first the childish passion for the changing pictures that correspond with different ideas of the imagination joins with the desire to impress others, and finery in dress and ornamentation result. This has developed in every clime. Tattooing arises not only from a religious motive, but also from the desire for ornament. The painting of men's bodies, the often grotesque ideas, such as artificial deformation of the head, knocking out and blackening of teeth, ear ornaments and mutilation of ears, pegs thrust through the lips, and various methods of dressing the hair, may be in part connected with religious conceptions, for here the most varied of motives cooperate to the same end. Yet, on the other hand, there is no doubt that they are also the outcome of a craving for variation in form and in colour. In the same way the dance is not only an act of worship; it is also a means ot giving vent to latent animal spirits : thus, dances are often expressions of the tempestuous sensual instincts of a people.
The dance exhibits a special tendency to represent the ordinary affairs of life in a symbolic manner; thus there, are war and hunting dances, and especially animal dances in which each of the participants believes himself to be permeated by the spirit of some animal which throughout the dance he endeavors to mimic. In this way dramatic representation, which is certainly based on the idea of personification, on the notion that a man tor the time being may be possessed by the spirit of some other creature that speaks and acts through him, originates. Thus arose the primitive form of masques, in which men dressed themselves up to resemble various creatures, real or imaginary, as in the case of the animal masques of old time; for according to the popular idea the spirit dwells in the external, visible, form, and through the imitation or adoption of its outward appearance we become identified with the spirit whose character we assume. Among many races not only masks proper were worn, but also the hides and hair or feathers of the creatures personated. Dramatic representation was furthered by the dream plays—especially popular among the American Indians—in which the events of dreams are adapted for acting and performed. Even as men seek illumination in dreams as to questions both divine and mundane, so do they anticipate through dreams the dramatic representations which shall be performed on holidays as expressions of life.
Play is a degeneration of the dance, and it arises less from the instinct for beauty than from a desire to realize whatever entertainment and excitement may be got from any incident or occurrence. From another special inclination originate those satirical songs of Northern peoples, written in alternating verses, in which the national tribunal and the voice of the people are given expression at the same time. Thus they have a truly educative character. These are the preliminary steps to the free satire and humour that gleam through the lives of civilized peoples, now like the flicker of a candle, now like a purifying lightning flash, freeing men from life's monotony and illuminating the night of unsolved questions. Capacity for organized play is a characteristic that lifts man above the lower animals. The expression of individuality without any particular object in view, the elevation of self above the troubles of life, and free activity, uncoerced by the necessities of existence, are characteristic both of play and of art. Thus play, as well as art, exhibits to a preeminent degree man's consciousness of having escaped, if only temporarily, from the coercion of environing nature; being without definite object, it proves that he can find employment when released from the pressure of the outer world—that is, when he is momentarily freed from his endeavour to establish a balance, between himself and the necessities of life, with a view to overcoming the latter. Man stands in close connection with his environment and with the immutable laws of nature; but in play and in art he develops his own personality—a development that neither in direction nor in object is influenced by the outer world and its constraint.
The step that leads to the overcoming of custom is the recognition of right. "Right" is that which society strictly demands from every individual member. Not all that is customary is exacted by right; a multitude of the requirements of custom may be ignored without opposition from the community as a whole, although, of course, detached individuals may express their displeasure. The aggregate, however, grants immunity to all who do not choose to follow the custom. In other words, the separation of custom from right signifies the development of a sharper line of demarcation between that which is and that which ought to be. In primitive times “is” and “ought to be” are fairly consonant terms; but gradually a spirit of opposition is developed; cases arise in which custom is opposed, in which the actions ot men ran counter to a previous habit. Man is conscious of the possibility of raising himself above the unreasoning tendencies toward certain modes of conduct, and he takes pleasure in so doing—the good man as well as the evil. Whoever oversteps the bounds of custom, even through sheer egotism, is also a furtherer of human development; without sin the world would never have evolved a civilization; the Fall of Man was nothing more than the first step toward the historical development ot the human race.
This leads to the necessity for extracting from custom such rules as must prove advantageous to mankind, and this collection of axioms—which “ought to be”— becomes law.
The distinction between right and custom was an important step. The relativity of custom was exposed with one stroke. Many, and by no means the worst members of communities, emancipate themselves from custom. It is the opening in the wall through which the progress of humanity may pass. Nor do the demands of right remain unalterable and unyielding. A change in custom brings with it a change in right; certain rules of conduct gradually become isolated owing to the recession of custom, and to such an extent that they lose their vitality and decay. And as new customs arise, so are new principles of right discovered. In this manner an alteration in the one is a cause of change in the other—naturally, in conformity with the degree of culture and contemporary social relations. Custom and right mutually further each other, and render it possible for men to adapt themselves to newly acquired conditions of civilization.
Together with right and custom a third factor appears—morality. This is a comparatively late acquisition. It, too, contains something of the “ought to be”, not because of the social, but by virtue of the divine authority or order based on philosophical conceptions. Morals vary, therefore, as laws vary, according to peoples and to times. The rules of morality form a second code, set above the social law, and they embody a larger aggregate of duties. The reason for this is that men recognize that the social system of rules for conduct is not the only one, that it is only relative and cannot include all the duties of human beings, and that over and beyond the laws of society ethical principles exist.
Naturally conflicts arise between right and morals, and such struggles lead to further development and progress.
The late appearance of ideas of morality proves that ethical considerations were originally foreign to the god-conceptions. The spirits, fetishes, and world-creators of different beliefs are at first neutral so far as morals are concerned; myths and legends are invented partly from creation theories, partly from historic data, and partly through efforts of the imagination. In primitive beliefs there is no trace of an attempt to conceive of deities as being good in the highest, or even in a lower sense; and it would not of ethics. Not until the importance of may morality in life is realized, and the profound value of a life of moral purity recognized, do men seek in their religious beliefs for higher beings of ethical significance, for morally perfect personalities among the gods.
Different elements of civilization vary greatly in their development in different civilized districts; one race may have a greater tendency toward intellectual, another toward material culture. No race has approached the Hindoos in philosophic speculation, yet they are as children in their knowledge of natural science. One people may develop commerce to the highest extent, another poetry and music, a third the freedom of the individual. The language of the American Indians is in many respects richer and more elegant than English. Therefore nothing is farther from the truth than to say that, in case one institution of civilized life is found to exist in a hunting people, another in an agricultural race, or the one in an otherwise higher, and the other in an otherwise lower nation or tribe, the institution in question must have reached a state of perfection corresponding with the general development of the people possessing it. According to this, the monogamic uncivilized races were further advanced than the polygamous Aryans of India and the Mohammedans ; and the Polynesians, with their skill in the industrial arts and their dramatic dances, perhaps in a higher state of civilization than Europeans.
Development fulfills itself in communities of men. Except in a human aggregate it cannot come to pass; for the germs of development which are brought forth by the potentiated activity of the many may exist only in a society of individuals. It has therefore been a significant fact that from the very beginning men have joined together in social aggregates, partly on account of an instinctive impulse, partly because of the necessity for self-defense. Thus it came about that primitive men lived together in wandering, predatory hordes, or packs. The individuals were bound to one another very closely; there was no private life; and the sex-relationships were promiscuous. Men not only dwelt together in groups, but the groups themselves assimilated with one another, inasmuch as marriages were reciprocally entered into by them. So far as we are able to determine, one of the earliest of social institutions was that of group-marriage. Individuals did not first unite in pairs, and then groups such would soon have fallen asunder; on the contrary, group-marriage itself created the bond that held the community together; the most violent instinct of mankind not only united the few but the many, indeed, complete social aggregates.
Group-marriage is the form of union established by the association of two hordes, or packs, according to which the men of one group marry the women of the other; not a marriage of individual men with individual women, but a promiscuous relationship, each man of one group marrying all the women of the other group—at least in theory—and vice versa; not a marriage of individuals, but of aggregates. Certainly with such a sex-relationship established, sooner or later regulations develop from within the community, through which the marital relationships of individuals are adjusted in a consistent manner; but the principle first followed was, as community in property, so community in marriage; and this must of itself lead to kinships entirely different from those with which we are familiar.
Group-marriage was closely bound up with religious conceptions; single hordes, or packs, considered themselves the embodiment of a single spirit. And since at that time spirits were only conceived of as things that existed in nature, the horde felt itself to be a single class of natural object—some animal or plant, for example; and the union of one pack with another was analogous to the union of one animal with another. Each group believed itself to be permeated by the spirit of a certain species of animal, borrowed its name thence and the animal species itself was looked upon as the protecting spirit. The ancestral spirit was worshipped in the animal, and the putting to death or injuring of an individual of the species was a serious offence.
Such a belief is called Totemism. “Totem” —a word borrowed from the language of the Massachusetts Indians— is the natural object or animal assumed as the emblem of the horde or tribe, and correspondingly the group symbolized by the class of animal or natural object is called a Totem-group.
This belief led to a close union of all who were partakers of the spirit of the same animal; it also strictly determined which groups could associate with one another. And as the totem-group mimicked the animal in its dances, and fancied itself to be possessed by its spirit, it also ordered the methods of partaking of food, and all marriage, birth, and death ceremonies in accordance with this conception. It is said that, the totem being exogamous, marriages were not possible within the totem, but only without it. Precisely so; for the original conception was not that individuals formed unions, but that the whole totem entered the marriage relationship; a single marriage would have been considered an impossibility.
To which totem the children belonged — to the mother's, to the father's, or to a third totem—was a question that offered considerable difficulty. All three possibilities presented themselves; the last mentioned, however, only in case the child belonged to another group, a sub-totem, and in that event its descendants could return to the original totem.
Descent in the male or in the female line occasioned in later times the rise of important distinctions between nations. If a child follow the mother's totem, we speak of maternal of kinship ; conversely, of paternal kinship in case of heredity through the father. Which of these is the more primitive, or did tribes from the very first adopt either one or the other system, thus making them of equal antiquity, is a much-vexed question. There is reason to believe that maternal kinship is the more primitive form, and that races have either passed with more or less energy and rapidity to the system of descent through males, or have kept to the original institution of maternal succession. There are many peoples among whom both forms of kinship exist, and in such instances the maternal is undoubtedly the more primitive; from this it appears very probable that development has thus taken place, the more so since there are traces of maternal kinship to be found in races whose established form is paternal.
As time passed, marriage of individuals developed from group-marriage or totemism. Such unions may be polygamous —one man having several wives—or polyandrous—one woman having several husbands. Both forms have been represented in mankind, and, indeed, polygamy is the general rule among all races, excepting Occidental civilized peoples. The form of marriage toward which civilization is advancing is certainly monogamy; through it a complete individual relationship is established between man and wife; and although both individualities may have independent expression, each is reconciled to the other through the loftier association of both. Nearly associated with monogamy is the belief in union after death; it arises from the religious beliefs prevalent among many peoples. Among other races there is at least the custom of a year of mourning, sometimes for husband, sometimes for wife, often for both.
Marriage of individuals has developed in different ways from group or totem marriage : sometimes it was brought about through lack of subsistence occasioned by many men dwelling together; sometimes it arose from other causes. One factor was the practice of wife-capture : whoever carried off a wife freed her, as it were, from the authority of the community, and established a separate marriage for himself. Marriage by purchase was an outcome of marriage by capture and of the paying of an indemnity to the relatives of the bride; men also learned to agree beforehand as to the equivalent to be paid. The practice of acquiring wives by purchase developed in various directions, especially in that of trading wives and in the earning of wives by years of service. Gradually the purchase became merely a feigned transaction, and a union of individuals has evolved—now sacerdotal, now civil in form—from which every trace of traffic and of exchange has disappeared.
Thus already in early times marriage had become ennobled through religion. It is a widespread idea that through partaking of food in common, blood-brotherhood, or similar procedures, a mystic communion of soul may be established; and in case of marriages brought about by the mediation of a priesthood the priest invokes the consecration. Marriage is thereby raised above the bulk of profane actions of life; it receives a certain guarantee of permanency; indeed, in many cases, by reason ot the mystic communion of souls, it is looked upon as absolutely indissoluble.
The ownership of property also was originally communistic, and the idea of individual possession has been a gradual development. The idea ot the ownership of land, especially when developed by agricultural peoples, is of a communistic nature; and, from common possession, family and individual ownership gradually comes into being. It is brought about in various ways, chiefly through the division of land among separate families : at first only temporary, held only until the time for a succeeding division arrives; later, owned in perpetuity. Nor was it a rare method of procedure to grant land to any one who desired to cultivate it—an estate that should be his so long as he remained upon it and cultivated the soil, but which reverted to the community, on his leaving it. There gradually developed a constant relationship between land and cultivator as agriculture became more extended and lasting improvements were effected on the soil. Land became the permanent property of the individual; it also became an article of commerce.
Ownership of movable property even was at first of communistic character. Clothing and weapons, enchantments effectual for the individual alone, such as medicine-bags or amulets, were, to be sure, assigned to individuals in very early times; but all property obtained by labour, the products of the chase or of fishing, originally belonged to the community, until in later days each family was allowed to claim the fruits of its own toil, and was only pledged to share with the others under certain conditions. Finally, individuals were permitted to retain or to barter property which they had produced by labour; and exchange, especially exchange between individuals, attained special significance through the division of labor.
The individualization of the ownership of movable property was especially furthered by members of families performing other labour, outside the family, in addition to their work within the family circle. Although the fruit ot all labour accomplished within the family was shared by the members in common, the results of work done outside became the property of the particular individual who had performed the labour. Consequent expansion of the conception of labour led men to one of the greatest triumphs of justice, to the idea of establishing individual rights in ideas and in combinations of ideas, to the recognition of intellectual or immaterial property : right of author or inventor, one of the chief incentives to modern civilization.
On the other hand, individual rights in transactions led to conceptions concerning obligations and debts. Exchange, either direct or on terms ot credit, brought with it duties and liabilities for which originally the persons and lives of the individuals concerned were held in pledge, until custody of the body—which also included possession of the corpse of a debtor— was succeeded by public imprisonment for debt, and finally by the mere pledging of property, imprisonment tor debt having been abolished—a course of development through which the most varied of races have passed.
The relation of the individual to his possessions led men at first to place movable property in graves, in order, that it might be of service to the departed owner during the life beyond; hence the universal custom of burning on funeral pyres not only weapons and utensils, but 'animals, slaves, and even wives. In later times men were satisfied with symbolic immolations, or possessions were released from the ban of death and put into further use. The property of the deceased reverted to his family, and thus the right of inheritance arose. There was no right of inheritance during the days of communism; on the death of a member of the family a mere general consolidation of property resulted; with individual property arose the reversion of possessions to the family from which they had been temporarily separated. Thus property either reverted to the family taken as a whole, or to single heirs, certain members of the family; hence a great variety of procedure arose. Up to the present day inheritance by all the children, or inheritance by one alone, exists in Eastern Asia as in Western nations.
In like manner criminal responsibility was originally collective ; the family or clan was held responsible for the actions of all its individual members except those who were renounced and made outcasts. Such methods of collective surety still exist among many exceedingly developed peoples; but the system is gradually dying away, the tendency being for the entire responsibility to rest upon the individual alone.
The state is a development ot tribal, or patriarchal, society. The tribal group is a community of intermarried families, all claiming descent from a common ancestor. From tribal organization the principle is developed that participation in the community is open only to such individuals as belong to one or other of the families of which it is composed; and the political body thus made up of individuals related either by blood or through marriage is called a patriarchal, or tribal, state. This form of community was enlarged even in very early times, advantage being taken of the possibility of adopting strangers into the circle of related families, and of amalgamating with them. Still, the fundamental idea that the community is composed of related families always remains uppermost in the minds of uncivilised peoples. The tribal state gradually develops into the territorial state. The connection of the community with a definite region becomes closer; strange tribes settle in the same district; they are permitted to remain provided tribute is paid and services are performed, and are gradually absorbed into the community, the strangers and the original inhabitants—plebeians and patricians—united together into one aggregate. Thus arises the conception of a state which any man may join without his being a member of any one of the original clans or families.
In this way the idea of a state becomes distinct from that of a people bound together by kinship, the latter being especially distinguished by a certain unity of external appearance, custom, character, and manner of thought. This is not intended to suggest that an amalgamation of different race elements in a state and an assimilation of different modes of thought and of feeling are not desirable, or that a spirit analogous to the sense of unity in members of the same family is not to be sought for; such a condition is most likely to be attained if a certain tribe or clan take precedence of the others, as the most progressive, to which the various elements of the people annex themselves.
The tribal state has a fixed form of government. The chiefs or patriarchs of the various families stand at the head of affairs, the position of chief being either hereditary or elective. In most cases, however, it is determined by a combination of both methods, a blood descendant being chosen provided he is able to give proof of his competence. In addition there is often the popular assembly. In later times many innovations are introduced. Passion for power united to a strong personality often leads to a chieftainship in which all rights and privileges are absorbed or united in the person of one individual; so that he appears as the possessor of all prerogatives and titles, those of other men being entirely secondary, and all being more or less dependent upon his will. Religious conceptions, especially, have had great influence in this connection. Nowhere is this so clearly shown as in “teknonymy”, an institution formerly prevalent in the South Pacific islands, according to which the soul ot the father is supposed to enter the body of his eldest son at the birth of the latter, and that therefore, immediately from his birth, the son becomes master, the father continuing the management of affairs merely as his proxy. Other peoples have avoided such consequences as these by supposing the child to be possessed by the soul of his grandfather, therefore naming first-born males after their grandfathers instead of after their fathers. Another outcome of the institution of chieftainship is the chaotic order of affairs which rules among many peoples on the death of the chieftain, continuing until a successor is seated on the throne—a lawless interval of anarchy followed by a regency.
The power of a chieftain is, however, usually limited by class rights; that is, by the rights of sub-chieftains of especially distinguished families, and of the popular assembly, among which elements the division of power and of jurisdiction is exceedingly varied. These primitive institutions are rude prototypes of future varieties of coercive government, of kingship, either of aristocratic or of republican form, in which the primitive idea of chieftainship as the absorption oi all private privileges is given up, and in its place the various principles of rights and duties of government enter.
Class-differentiation with attendant privileges and prerogatives is especially developed in warlike races, and in nations which must be ever prepared to resist the attacks of enemies, by the establishment of a militant class. The militant class occupies an intermediate position between the governing, priest, and scholar classes on the one hand, and the industrial class—agriculturists, craftsmen, merchants —on the other. Employment in warfare, necessary discipline, near association with the chieftain, and the holding of fiefs for material support give to this class a unique position. Thus the warrior castes developed in India, the feudal and military nobility in Japan, the nobility in Germany, with obligations and service to feudal superiors and to the Court. This system survives for many years, until at last feudal tenure gradually disappears, and its attendant prerogatives are swallowed up by all classes through a universal subjection to military service; although even yet a distinct class of professional soldiers remains at the head of military affairs and operations, and will continue to do so as long as there is a possibility of infernal or external warfare. However, here too the militant class is absorbed into a general body of officials. Officials are citizens who not only occupy the usual position of members of the state, but to whom in addition is appointed the execution of the life functions of the nation, as its organs; in other words, such functions as are peculiar to the civic organization in contradistinction to the general functions exercised and actions performed by individual citizens as independent units. Officialism includes to a special degree duty to its calling and to the public trust, and there are also special privileges granted to officials within the sphere appointed for them.
In a society governed by a chieftain, as well as in a monarchy, there is a popular assembly or consultative body; either an unorganized meeting of individuals, or an organized convention of estates founded on class right. A modern development, that certainly had its proto type in the patriarchal state, is the representative assembly, an assembly of individuals chosen to represent the people in place of the popular gathering. The English Government, with its representative legislative bodies, is a typical example in modern civilization.
One of the chief problems encountered not only in a society ruled by a chieftain, but also in states of later development, whether governed by a potentate or by an aristocracy, is the relation of temporal to spiritual power. Sometimes both are united in the head of the state, as in the cases of the Incas of Peru and of the Caliphate. Sometimes the spiritual head is distinct and separate from the temporal; frequently the two forces are nearly associated, a member of the imperial family being chosen for the office of high-priest, as among the Aztecs. Often, however, the two functions are completely independent of each other, as among many African races, the medicine-man occupying a position entirely independent of the chieftain. Such separation may, of course, lead to friction and civil war; it may also become an element furthering to civilization, a source of new ideas, opening the way to alliances between nations, and setting bounds to the tyranny of individuals, as exemplified in the relation of the Papacy to the Holy Roman Empire.
The form of state in which the functions of government are exercised by a chieftain contributes greatly to state control and enforcement of justice. The realization of right had been from the first a social function; but its enforcement was incumbent on the unit groups of individuals (families or tribes bound together by friendship). The acquisition by the state of the power to dispense justice and to make and enforce law is one of the greatest events of the world's history. The idea of all right being incorporated in the chieftain (and social classes) played an important part in bringing about this condition ot affairs; for as soon as this conception receives general acceptance, the chieftain, and with him the state, become interested in the preservation and enforcement of justice, even in its lower forms in the common rights of the subjects. On the other hand, not only the interests of chieftainship, but; also those of agriculture and commerce, are furthered by the preservation of internal peace; and internal peace calls for state control ot justice and enforcement of law.
Moreover the religious element worked to the same end. Wickedness was held to be an injury to the deity, whose anger would be visited upon the entire land—a conception that lasted far into the Middle Ages, and according to which the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah was held to be typical of the effect of the curse of God. Already in primitive times religion led to a strange idea of justice—secret societies consecrated by the deity took upon themselves the function of enforcing right, instituting reigns of terror in their districts, maintaining order in society, and claiming authorization from the god with whose spirit they were permeated. Later, influenced by all these causes, the social aggregate took over the control of Justice. It was already considered to be the upholder of right, the servant of the deity, the maintainer of public peace, the dispenser of atoning sacrifices, etc. ; and so the various elements conceived of as justice, which had previously been distributed among the single families, tribes, associations, and societies, were combined, and placed under state control.
Certain forms for the dispensation of justice, judging of crimes, and determining of punishments were developed. Thus arose, the different forms of judicial procedure, which, for a long time bore a religious character. The deity was called upon to decide as to right and wrong —divinity in the form of natural forces. Hence the judgments through trial by water, fire, poison, serpents, scales, or—especially in Germany during the Middle Ages—combat, or decision by the divining eye, that was closely allied to the so-called trial by hazard. A peculiar variety ot ordeal is that of the bier, according to which the body of a murdered man is railed into requisition, the soul of the victim assisting in the discovery of the murderer. Ordeals are undergone sometimes by one individual, sometimes by two. An advance in progress is the curse, which takes the place of the ordeal, the curse of God being called down upon an individual and his family in case of wrongdoing or of perjury. The curse may be uttered by an individual in cooperation with the members of the families. Thus arise ordeals by invocation and by oath with compurgators. Originally a certain period of time was allowed to pass—a month, for example—for the fulfillment of the curse. In later times, whoever took the oath—oath of innocence—was held guiltless. Witnesses succeeded to conjurers; divining looks were replaced by circumstantial evidence; and, instead of a mystic, a rational method of obtaining testimony was adopted. The development was not attained without certain attendant abuses; and the abolition of ordeal by God was among many peoples —notably the inhabitants of Eastern Asia, the American Indians, and the Germans of the Middle Ages—succeeded by the introduction of torture. In many lands torture stood in close connection with the judgment of God; in others it originated either directly or indirectly in slavery. According to the method of obtaining evidence by torture, the accused was forced through physical pain to disclosures concerning himself and his companions, and, in case he himself were considered guilty, to a confession. However barbarous and irrational, this system was employed in Latin and Germanic nations excepting England, until the eighteenth century, in some instances even until the nineteenth.
Judgment was first pronounced in the name of God; in later times, in the name of the people or of the ruler who appeared as the representative of God. The principles of justice, the validity of which at first depends upon custom, are in later times proclaimed and fixed as commands of God. Thus systems of fixed right come into being first in the form of sacred justice, then as commands of God, and finally as law. Law is a conception of justice expressed in certain rules and principles. Originally there were no laws; the standard for justice was furnished to each individual by his own feelings; only isolated cases were recorded. As time advanced, and great men who strove to bring about an improvement in justice arose above the generality ot mankind; when the ruling class became differentiated from the other classes; when it was found necessary to root out certain popular customs—then, in addition to the original collection of precedents, there arose law of a higher form : law that stood above precedent, that altered custom, and opened up new roads to justice. Great codes of law have not been compilations only; they have led justice into new paths. Originally a law was looked upon as an inviolable command of God, as unalterable and eternal; its interpretation alone was earthly and transitory. As years parsed, men learned to recognize that laws themselves were transitory; and it became a principle that later enactments could alter earlier rules. The relations of later statutes to already established law, and how the laws of different nations influence one another, are difficult, much-vexed questions for the solution of which special sciences have developed—transitory and international law. Judgment and law are intimately concerned with justice, the conception of right as evolved from the double action ot life and custom. To this development of justice is united an endeavor of the state or government not only to further welfare by means of the creation and administration of law, but also to take under its control civilizing institutions of all sorts. This was originally a feature ot justice itself; certain practices inimical to civilization were interdicted and made punishable offences. Already in the Middle Ages systems of police played a great part among governmental institutions, especially in the smaller states. Subsequently the idea was developed that not only protection through the punishment of crime, but also superintendence of and promotion of the public weal, should be administered by law; and thus the modern state developed with its policy of national welfare. With this arose the necessity for a sharper distinction to be drawn between justice and the various actions of an administration; and thus in modern times men have come to the system—based on Montesquieu—of the separation of powers and independence of justice.
Justice varies according to the development of civilization, and according to the function that it must perform in this development; in like manner every age creates its own material and spiritual culture. Every poet is a poet of his own time.
The notion of natural right, however unhistorical it was in itself, characterized a period of transition in so far as it enabled men to form a historical conception —a conception of what might be : for, by contrasting actual with ideal justice, we are enabled to escape the bonds of the opinions of a particular time, and to look upon such opinions and views objectively and independently. Yet it is certainly a foolish proceeding to consider an ideal, deduced principally from conceptions and opinions of the present, to be a standard by which to measure the value of historical events of all times, sitting in judgment over the great names of the past with the air of an inspector of morals. The office of the historian as judge of the dead is quite differently constituted. Every age must be judged in accordance with the relation which it bears to the totality of development; and every historical personage is to be looked upon as a bearer of the spirit of his day, as a servant of the ideas of his time. Thus it is quite as wrong to pronounce moral censure on the men of history, as it is wrong to judge an era merely according to its good or evil characteristics. A period must be estimated according to what it has either directly or indirectly accomplished for mankind.
There are common factors of civilization shared by nations themselves, through which many contradictions disappear. The religious civilizations of Christianity, Mohammedanism, Judaism, Buddhism and Confucianism have been the determining factors of the intellectual and emotional life, even influencing the course of events, in vast regions. And thus it is also comprehensible that in the judicial life of nations there is an endeavor for a closer approach, and also the existence of equalizing tendencies, in spite of countless variations in detail, there is a certain unity of law in the entire Mohammedan world; and although the hope of establishing the unity of Roman canonistic law over the whole of Christendom has not been realized none the less it was a tremendous idea : that of a universal empire founded on the Roman law of the imperators, and placed under the rule of the German emperor, thus ensuring the continuance of the law of the Roman people—an idea that swayed the intellects of the Middle Ages up to the fourteenth, even to the fifteenth century, and according to which the emperor would have been the head of all Europe, the other sovereigns merely his vassals or fief-holders. This idea, once advocated by such a great spirit as that of Dante, has like many others, passed into oblivion; and in its place has arisen the conception of independent laws of nations. Yet the original idea has had great influence : it has led to a close union of Christian peoples; it opened a way for Roman law to become universal law, although, to be sure, English law, completely independent of that of Rome, has grown to unparalleled proportions as a universal system, entirely by reason of the marvelous success of the English people as colonists. Likewise international commerce will of itself lead to a unification of mercantile, admiralty, copyright, and patent law .
Then the idea of an international league must develop, arising from the idea of the unity of Christian nations. We have advanced a great distance beyond the time when every foreigner was considered an enemy, and when all foreign phenomena were looked upon as strange or with antipathy. Rules for international commerce are developed; state alliances are entered into for the furtherance of common interests and for the preservation of peace. Many tasks which in former times would have been executed by the empire are now- undertaken by international associations; and the time for the establishment of international courts of arbitration for the adjustment of differences between states is already approaching.
It also seems probable that states will unite to form political organizations, wholly or partially renouncing their separate positions. Thus nations will be replaced by a federal state, and a multitude of unifying ideas which would otherwise be accomplished with difficulty will come to easy realization. Federal states were already in existence during the times of patriarchal communities : an especially striking example is that of the admirably constituted federation of the Iroquois nations.
The vision of no man may pierce through to the ultimate end of the processes of history, and to advance hypotheses is a vain endeavor—quite as vain as it would be to expect Plato to have foretold the life of modern civilization or the imperial idea of mediaeval times, or Dante to have foreseen modern industrialism or the character of industrial peoples. Today we are more certain than ever that no process of development, however simple it may have been, has ever taken place according to a fixed model; all developments have had their own individualities according to place and to time. Thus we must forego discussion of the future.
However, there is another point of view. Development of nations as well as of individuals leads either to progress or to decay. No people may hope to live eternally; and how many acquisitions already gained will be lost in the future it is impossible to say. If a nation declines, it either becomes extinct or is annihilated by another state; it becomes identified with the newer nation, and disappears with its own character; thus its civilization may also disappear. This is a serious possibility. It is the Medusa head of the world's history which we must face—and without stiffening to stone.
There is one truth, however, the knowledge of which fills us with hope for the future : it is the fact that the results of development and civilization are often transfused from one people to another, so that a given development need not start again from the very beginning. This is owing to the capacity which races have for absorbing or borrowing civilizations. Absorption of culture is by no means universal; it does not prevent the occasional disappearance of civilization, for every civilization has before it at least the possibility of death. Nevertheless the transmission and assimilation of culture is constantly taking place. There are various ways in which it may be brought about. A conquering nation may bring its own civilization with it to the conquered; culture is often forced upon the latter by coercive measures. The conquerors may acquire culture from the vanquished; or assimilation of culture may come about without the subjection of a people, through the unconscious adoption of external customs and internal modes of thought. Finally, culture may be borrowed consciously from one nation by another, the one state becoming convinced of the outward advantages and inner significance of the foreign civilization.
In this way the problem of development becomes very complicated; many institutions of vanished races thus continue to live on. Certainly the race that acquires a foreign civilization must, among other things, be so constituted in its motives and aspirations as to lose the very nerves of its being, its very stability, in order that, intoxicated with the joy of a new life, all traces of its past existence may be allowed to break up and disappear. On the other hand, many a promising germ of culture possessed by a vigorous people may come to grief, owing to the influence of acquisitions from without. But, in return, a race that knows how to assimilate foreign culture may obtain a civilization of such efficiency as it would never before have been capable of attaining, by reason of the fact that its power is established on a recently acquired basis, and because it has been spared a multitude of faltering experiments.
Civilization may be mutually obtained from reciprocal action, nations both giving and taking. Such a relation naturally arises when states enter into intercourse with one another, when they have become acquainted with one another's various institutions and are able to recognize the great merits of foreign organizations and the defects of their own. Especially the world’s commerce, in which every nation wishes to remain a competitor, compels towards mutual acceptance of custom and law; no nation desires to be left behind; and each discovers that it will fall to the rear unless it borrow certain things from the others. Such reciprocal action will be the more effective the more like nations are to one another, the better they understand each other, and the more often they succeed not only in adopting the outward forms, but in absorbing the principles of foreign institutions into their own beings.
Thus we may hope that even if the nations of today decay and disappear, the labour of the world’s progress will not be lost; it will constantly reappear in new communities which may rejoice in that for which we have striven, and which we have acquired by the exertion of our own powers.