chapter
primitive mentality
Pages 2

The idea of a primitive mentality is closely associated with the French philosopher †Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (1857-1939) who attempted to delineate its attributes (1910, 1922, 1927). Lévy-Bruhl remarked that he became interested in the possibility that modes of thought are not everywhere the same when a colleague at the École Normal Supérieure sent him a translation of the works of ancient Chinese philosophers, a text which he found quite incomprehensible. At the same time Lévy-Bruhl was not convinced by the English anthropologists †Frazer and †Tylor who assumed that the intellect of people everywhere was the same except that some people, ‘primitives’, were in varying degrees ignorant, and that this accounted for any apparent differences.