Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/68

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The mental condition of savages the basis of the irrational element in myth—Characteristics of that condition: (1.) Confusion of all things in an equality of presumed animation and intelligence—(2.) Belief in sorcery—(3.) Spiritualism—(4.) Curiosity—(5.) Easy credulity and mental indolence—The curiosity is satisfied, thanks to the credulity, by myths in answer to all inquiries—Evidence for this—Mr. Tylor's opinion—Mr. Im Thurn—Jesuit missionaries' Relations—Examples of confusion between men, plants, beasts, and other natural objects—Reports of travellers—Evidence from institution of totemism—Definition of totemism—Totemism in Australia, Africa, America, the Oceanic Islands, India, North Asia—Conclusions: Totemism being found so widely distributed, is a proof of the existence of that savage mental condition in which no line is drawn between men and the other things in the world. This confusion is one of the characteristics of myth in all races.

We set out to discover a stage of human intellectual development which would necessarily produce the essential elements of myth. We think we have found that stage in the condition of savagery. We now proceed to array the evidence for the mental processes of savages. We intend to demonstrate the existence in practical savage life of the ideas which most surprise us in civilised sacred legends.

For the purposes of this inquiry, it is enough to select a few special peculiarities of savage thought.