chapter
psychological anthropology
Pages 3

Mind is the condition of human being in the world; it follows that mind, and the processes that constitute mind, should be of central interest to any human scientist, including any anthropologist. Certainly the French sociologist †Émile Durkheim thought so, as did *Franz Boas, the founding father of cultural anthropology. Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1915) enquired at once into the origins of *religion and the sources of the logical categories of mind; Boas, in The Mind of Primitive Man (1911), argued for the †psychic unity of humankind even while he celebrated the different cultural forms to which mind gives rise. Both men had been (like *Malinowski) pupils of the great German psychologist †Wilhelm Wundt, one of whose later works (the ten-volume Volker-psychologie [Ethnic Psychology], published between 1900 and 1920) was devoted to an attempt to derive psychological explanations of ‘folk mentalities’ from ethnological data. Nevertheless, mind as an object of anthropological theorizing came to be relegated to the sub-disciplinary area of psychological anthropology. How this came about is by and large the consequence of our Western intellectual inheritance of Descartes’s distinction between mind and matter and the subsequent gradual institutionalizing of scholarly investigation into discrete human sciences: biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, law.