Morgan and the Analytical Approach
Pages 5

I have, I hope, successfully shown that at the level of synchronic observation and analysis intuitively followed by him, Morgan's insight and discoveries were pregnant with the constructive possibilities that were later realized. Where he went wrong, and grotesquely so, was at another level. It was when he made the leap from observation to explanation. It would be unrewarding to resuscitate this issue if it were not for the incorrigible persistence of Morgan's error. His point of departure was a legitimate question that arose from his analysis of the synchronic data. His question was: Why are there two and only two grand paradigms of kinship system? His answer was to fall back on the prevailing idiom of thought and definition of aims and think up a pseudo-historical explanation. T o do this he had to misread the distinctions he perceived analytically as having chronological or rather sequential significance. The complementary dichotomy of descriptive and classificatory systems was turned into major stages of "progressive" development. This entailed supplementary hypotheses to explain how the observed facts came to be what they were. Here he was misled partly by mistakes of analysis due to the limited nature of the ethnographical data at his disposal, but mainly by the blindly accepted aim of


demonstrating the unity of origin and therefore of mentality of the different branches of mankind.