chapter  4
23 Pages

Patriarchy, matriarchy and the origins of humanity

Henry Maine was born in 1822 and was brought up in modest circumstances by his mother. His Inns of Court lectures became the basis of his best-known work, Ancient Law. Maine's contemporary, the wealthy judge and legal scholar Johann Jakob Bachofen, drew on the same intellectual heritage to propose an alternative account of human prehistory. Rather than patriarchy, his account of civilisation began with matriarchy. Friedrich Engels, the eldest son of a successful German industrialist, was born in 1820. Engels' observations of what was then one of the most dynamic centres of industrial production provided the basis of a searing critique of capitalist society. The Condition of the Working Class in England contained a detailed account of workers' desperate living conditions. Sigmund Freud was born in Moravia into a large Jewish family. Over several years, he built up a private practice, developed his interest in psychology, and gradually laid the foundations of what he began to call psychoanalysis.