Sei sulla pagina 1di 3

Humankind, has been fascinated with the idea of its origin and its purpose for centuries, but

to find ones purpose one should know ones predecessors. What I mean by that is before
embarking on a journey you first start out at a destination then move on from there, this is the
simplest form of progression, however the question is: is all contemporary human
descendants a result of a primitive society and how did it come to be that we all so different?
In this essay, I will firstly discus anthropology during the Victorian era to give you a little
background information on how I came to answer my question. I will also be defining the
term Primitive society how it is being dealt with and in what context it is used. And lastly
incorporate what Lamarck argued on the progression of societies and how each individual
gain characteristics during their lifetime.

Most of the data on primitive societies that was captured during the 1860s was the result of
lawyers doing their research, this informed them on how the development of marriages was
constructed as well as families, property and the state, bear in mind that this was used for
legal terms only and not to an extent where anthropologists can draw conclusion on as this
was only written and provided by Roman law and not on empirical research.(Kuper,2005).
According to Henry Maines Ancient Law cited in Kuper (2005) the first notion on primitive
societies was that the members of a family was supposedly corporate and ruled by a lord of
the house, he also claimed that the power was patriarchal and the more powerful the centre
the more undecided members will join that clan. He exclaimed as societies evolved there was
no longer a governance by kinships but by territory meaning that no longer did socialisation
and numbers of clan members govern the power of a certain group but by the land and
material goods they possess. This notion was later rejected by Johannes Bachofen a professor
in Roman law as his research into Greek sociological documents proved that the construction
of the primitive family was not patriarchal instead it was Matriarchal(Kuper,2005). Indeed,
these two scholars of the law emphasises how the main constructers of primitive societies
were instead lawyers and not anthropologists this information that was to be studied should
not be taken out of context as it was used for different reason and purposes and should
instead be seen as a foundation on how the research was conducted to conclude the evidence
during the Victorian era.
So, after all this what is a primitive society and what does it consist of? According to Kuper
it presumably defines a type of society ancestral to more advanced forms, on the analogy of
an evolutionary history of natural species. (Kuper,2005:5). What he meant by this was that if
you say a society is primitive you implying that it is an un-evolved state of societies that later
gradually adapted to change. But this couldnt be further from the truth, because if you imply
a society is primitive you are then assigning that society with values to a certain space and
location in time meaning all of humankind evolved from that, however Kuper,(2005) states
that humankind cannot be drawn to a single point of origin or can it be studied and
constructed as the data would be inconsistent, he says that fossils do not animate the social
relations of a society nor does it give an account of the type of power that governed it.

However what the excavations do tell us is that Modern Humans evolved in Africa somewhat
150,000 years ago and distributed to the rest of the world some 110, 000 years later, what set
Modern humans apart from Neanderthals is their usage of stone made weapons it is the
discovery of these weapons that gave them a cultural appearance, Kuper(2005) calls this the
great cultural revolution, the hunting and gathering ways spawned an even better revolution
the need to communicate strategies of hunting and record keeping, here Kuper states
language created the appearance of culture(Kuper,2005:6). Sadly, though all of these can
be concluded from excavation little can be said about how these groups behaved or interacted
for example their types of religious believes (if there was) their way of power control
meaning was it patriarchal or matriarchal, so what can be concluded that there is no certain
way of defining a primitive society it determines on the context the user intended to use it for.

Pritchard properly explains what is meant by primitive society in his context: he states that
primitive societies in an anthropological sense does not necessarily mean a society inferior to
our own or even those in an earlier state of time he argues it is merely a society advanced in
its own structural skeleton even sometimes more advanced than us of a western nature, he
also goes on exclaiming that we should not see them as inferior as they have just as long a
history as we of a western nature do.(Pritchard,1951). To explain more, primitive societies
arent those that died long ago, it is the societies untouched by social institutions such as civil
governments. So, if these societies still exist what can the anthropologists study from them?
According to Pritchard (1951.) these peoples can be studied to better understand our current
situations we can also gain more knowledge on how our own institutions were developed, as
Pritchard said they Displayed institutions in their simplest forms (Pritchard,1951:8). What
he meant by this was that our western ways have been vastly influenced over the certain
periods of time for example the industrial revolution the enlightenment and medieval era etc.
now all of this complicated our institutions more with more rules and legislation that has to
adapt to new ways of thinking however by looking at this peoples we can gain a clear picture
without the complexity of modernity.

Modern societies today have so many variations, how do we conclude the question from
what descendant we come from? Like I stated earlier Modern humans evolved in Africa and
then spread their roots to the different parts of the world. This can be explained in Jean-
Baptiste Lamarcks theory as cited in Kuper(2005). : Lemarck who is a biologist claimed that
all species progressed throughout history as well as their own individual life time, he states
they might also acquire individual skills to help them adapt to their environment. Thus he
based he evidence on genetics alongside Darwins theory of evolution: that man descended
from apes and adapted to their environment therefore variation persist in the world

So to conclude, all human beings on earth no matter the race or the social institutions or even
the lack of it are equal, and to claim a society is primitive should be based on the context in
which it is supposedly to be used. Now to answer the question: is all contemporary human
descendants a result of a primitive society and how did it come to be that we all so different?
Humans all evolved from a common ancestor (the ape as Darwin puts it) and developed
different characteristics through the ages of time, however to say we a result of a primitive
society needs to be seen in the context that we all evolved from the apes, the differences in
humans today was determined by the conditions through which our ancestors was sculpted
through nature.