...victims of philosophical prejudice...
William Stanner, a student of Aboriginal religion, once commented on how long it took researchers and other curious people to see the importance of the sacred dimension in Aboriginal life. The first generation of anthropologists were blinded by the prejudices of their own evolutionary 'social science': could those still in the 'childhood of humanity' have their own religion?
'...while working in the spirit of science, almost to a man they were victims of philosophical prejudice...Their view of the Aborigines, as either too archaic in the social sense or too debased in the moral sense to have veritable religion, made it possible, for example, to attend gravely to egregious nonsense spoken by C.Staniland Wake, a director of the new Anthropological Institute, when he told some of them in 1871 that the Aborigines "possessed hardly any of what are usually understood as phenomena of intellect", and that "any idea of abstract morality, or even a true instinct of moral propriety" seemed absent from their minds. How could people representing, as he said, "the childhood of humanity itself" be capable of religion?'
Keywords: anthropology, Darwin, Charles, religion
Stanner, WEH 1979, 'Religion, totemism and symbolism' in 'White man got no dreaming', Australian National University Press p 109.
Author: Rowse, Tim and Graham, Trevor
Source: Stanner, WEH