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Oceania Publications, University of Sydney

Morality and the Concept of the Person among the Gahuku-Gama
Author(s): K. E. Read
Source: Oceania, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Jun., 1955), pp. 233-282
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Oceania Publications, University of Sydney
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40328996
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OCEANIA
A JOURNAL DEVOTED TO THE STUDY OF
THE NATIVE PEOPLES OF AUSTRALIA, NEW
GUINEA, AND THE ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC
VOLUME XXV. No. 4 JUNE 1955

MORALITY AND THE CONCEPT OF THE PERSON AMONG THE
GAHUKU-GAMA

By K. E. Read

Introduction

paper is primarily an essay in comparative ethics, being an attempt
compare the traditional ethical categories of Western European culture w
those of the Gahuku-Gama, a people of the Eastern Highlands of New Guine
I am more concerned with interpretation than description, for, as I understan
ethics deals with the theory of value rather than with value judgments as mat
of historical or anthropological record.2 In other words, in order to understand
moral life in a particular culture it is inadequate to restrict investigation to
elucidation of moral rules, or to an empirical examination of the reasons why
are obeyed. The moral judgments of the Gahuku-Gama are also important to
extent that they manifest a specific ethical orientation, a particular ontolog
conception of man and of human relationships which may be compared and contras
with the traditional ethical emphasis of our own culture.
What I regard as " traditional " in Western European ethics will be indicate
in due course. I do not intend, however, to argue the normative validity of
criteria involved. Further, it is of no material concern that the moral behaviou
many Western Europeans shows no practical awareness of the categories concer
My purpose will be served if it is agreed that quite apart from any question
ultimate truth or falsity, Western European culture possesses a distinctive a
traditional ethics.

1 My field work among the Gahuku-Gama was carried out during 1950-195 2, when I was a
Research Fellow of the Research School of Pacific Studies, the Aust alian National University.
Some preliminary information on the Gahuku-Gama is contained in my papers " Nama Cult of
the Central Highlands," Oceania, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, 1952, and " Cultures of the Central High-
lands," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1954.
I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Phyllis Kaberry and Mr. James McAuley, both
of whom have read the present paper and have given me valuable assistance.
2 1 use the term value in the ethical sense of the " right " and the " good."
â

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234 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA

The comparison of different moral systems may be undertaken from s
points of view. We may be content with a simple listing of the forms of be
which are considered right and wrong, or we may adopt a socio-functional t
enquiry in which moral values are examined in relation to different social struc
and different forms of social organization.3 A third possibility - not negle
the past, though somewhat unfashionable in more recent years - could be the at
to analyse and to compare the categories of thought which constitute a p
ethics, the conceptual framework of their moral life, the mode or orientat
different moral systems. This is the kind of enquiry which I intend to p
I am aware that it involves me in a number of theoretical and methodological pr
and that the validity of such an approach has been the subject of controversy. T
the intellectualistic or philosophical interpretation of native behaviour ha
consistently criticized by those anthropologists who conceive of their discipline
positive natural science on the model of modern physics. I do not intend to
this argument. The conflicting points of view have been summarized recen
Bidney and I need only state that his conclusions are an adequate statement
own position.4 This means that although the Gahuku-Gama do not explain
value judgments in terms of the concepts which I shall employ, their moral beh
and their beliefs nevertheless imply a specific ethical outlook ; they are the exp
of a particular ethical pattern which is amenable to logical and systematic e
tion. My task, then, will be to discover and to make explicit these fundam
ontological postulates and to compare them with the traditional ontological a
tions of Western European ethics. If a label is required, my paper may be
an essay in meta-anthropology, since I attempt to elucidate, by inference and log
deduction, certain pre-cultural suppositions which underlie a particular, emp
observed, pattern of behaviour.
(I say underlie rather than determnie in order to avoid any charge of sociolo
" singularism." Sorokin (Social and Cultural Dynamics) has expounded the
that the philosophical perspective of a culture (its " pre-suppositions ") det
its empirical manifestations and institutions. I believe that there is a demon
relationship between the philosophy of a culture and the pattern of its em
traits, but I do not believe that any " singularistic " hypothesis will prove to be
successful in this instance than in others.)
I am assuming - for there is no space to argue the matter - that there
metacultural perspective which, in any given instance, the anthropologist s

3 Cf. the general treatment of morality by Raymond Firth in his Elements of Social Or
tion, I95i> PP- 183-214.
4 Cf. David Bidney, Theoretical Anthropology, 1953, pp. 150-182. Raymond Firth apparently
excludes my particular interest from the purview of anthropological enquiry. He states, for
example, that in studying morality the anthropologist " is not concerned directly with questions
of ethics - the abstract, philosophical examination of the bases of right and wrong in general
(and) the assumptions on which such notions are fcAinded " (Elements of Social Organization,
op. cit., pp. 183-184). Cf. also a statement of this point of view by L. P. Mair in An African
People in the Twentieth Century, 1934, pp. 256-257, and G. Parrinder's reply in West African
Psychology, London, 195 1, p. 11. Placide Tempels makes the same point in La Philosophie
Bantoue, Editions Africaines, 1949, pp. 23 fï.

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MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 235

study side by side with his analyses of empirical data. The immediate aim of th
two kinds of enquiry may be different, but they are directed towards a commo
end, and only an uncritical acceptance of positivistic dogmas would exclude the
former from the field of anthropology. Metacultural reality is not something
mystical which we cannot " know " in much the same way that we " know " anything
of a non-material nature. Similarly, metacultural hypotheses are subject to th
conditions of correction and verification which apply to the empirical. Perhap
they are more difficult to verify, but this is not an adequate reason for denying the
significance.
But while my paper is concerned with an ethical problem, certain questions
which engage the attention of some moral philosophers are excluded from the investi-
gation : for example, the theory of good or of obligation as such, the manner in
which values are apprehended or espoused, and the processes whereby moral per-
plexities are resolved. This is not because the Gahuku-Gama have no moral
problems. They are, from time to time, clearly faced with situations which necessitate
a choice from among a number of alternatives, though I think that their possible
choices as well as the probable conflicts are more limited than in our own culture.
But granting the values espoused and recognized by the Gahuku-Gama, it is assumed
that the resolution of moral perplexities takes place in accordance with universal
principles.5 To affirm otherwise would be tantamount to admitting biopsychological
differences, whereas the primary assumption is that " moral man " is " moral man "
the world over, endowed with identical capacities and consisting of certain moral and
intellectual minima. Differences in intellectual endowment do not, therefore,
account for the ethical pattern of Gahuku-Gama culture, though it is obvious that
the New Guinea native is intellectually less sophisticated than ourselves. The point
of departure, I suggest, lies in the Gahuku-Gama concept of the person, using this
term in its ethical sense. This is the principal theme of my paper.

Anthropology, Ethics and Cultural Relativism
Considering the amount of anthropological material which has been published
during the past thirty years it is, at first, surprising to find that primitive ethics
have received such little attention. It is also a disappointment to discover that
where there has been an attempt to deal with the matter systematically, ethics are
generally confused or equated with religion, the investigator apparently considering
that once he has described the religious beliefs and sanctions of a people he has
disposed of their morality. Thus Godfrey Wilson, in his paper " An African
Morality," defines morality as " those forms of right conduct which have, a super-
natural sanction " (Africa, Vol. IX, 1937, pp. 75 ff.). Religion may or may not
be concerned with morals. It is a misconception to assume that they are invariably
linked, and a misunderstanding of the subject to exclude as non-moral those forms of
right conduct which are not supported by supernatural sanctions.

5 1 use the terms " espoused " and " recognized " values as denned by Eliseo Vivas in The
Moral Life and the Ethical Life, 1950, pp. 217-218.

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236 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA

Nor is it only in the analyses of particular cultures that we come across
neglect for, with few exceptions, no mention of ethics - or, for that matter, of
in the generic sense - is to be found in the growing body of works on general th
The reason for this lies, at least in part, in a reaction against earlier trends in an
pology and, in particular, against the intellectualistic, historical and evolut
theories which formed the climate of anthropological opinion in the nine
century. On the other hand, when evolutionary hypotheses began to lose g
under the attack of socio-functional doctrines, we might have expected a rev
ethics and an attempt to treat the subject with the same meticulous and syst
scrutiny which was demanded for other aspects of that integrated whole in term
which society and culture were now conceived.
(Functionalists were concerned to discredit evolutionary theories of mor
(e.g., the views expressed by Marett in " Rudimentary Ethics " in Hasting's Ency
pcedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 5), and with the new emphasis on empirical fi
work they brought to light a vast body of material which demonstrated their p
that primitive morality had been grossly over-simplified. In particular, t
studies showed that the primitive did not live at a pre-moral stage of social deve
ment in which he conformed automatically with custom. No one played a
vital role in this than Malinowski (e.g., Crime and Custom in Savage Society, Lon
1926). But Macbeath's comments on Malinowski are appropriate to this con
Thus he remarks that Malinowski " has described in detail (the social organ
of the Trobriand Islanders), their economic system, their marriage arrangem
their magico-religious beliefs and practices and most of their more important in
tions. Curiously enough, almost the only aspect of their life to which he has giv
separate attention and to which he makes few explicit references is their morali
(A. Macbeath, Experiments in Living, 1952, p. 109).)
The comparative neglect of this aspect of primitive culture is not so surprisi
however, when we realize that the principal claim advanced by twentieth c
anthropology was its status as a positive natural science, irrevocably tied
metnoaology of modern physics and rigorously eschewing subjectivity. The prin
spokesmen of the day no doubt adhered to a positivist or empiricist philoso
standpoint and tended to regard moral judgments as the un verifiable expres
states of emotion ; but even if this were not the case, it was felt that the n
science of anthropology could have no more to do with value- judgments th
elder sisters, biology and physics. Ethical questions may not have been ex
completely from consideration, but if they were admitted, positivist anthro
had no way of dealing with them adequately, and its dogmas prohibited i
asking the assistance of philosophy.6

0 Vide the more exhaustive exposition of the development of anthropological thought in
nineteenth and twentieth centuries which is given by Bidney in his paper " The Concep
Value in Modern Anthropology" {Anthropology Today, ed. A. L. Kroeber, 1953, pp. 682
Cf. also Raymond Firth, " The Study of Values by Social Anthropologists," Man, Vo
pp. 146-153-

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an possibly in a serious misunderstanding of the nature of the material involved.unless they are prepared to abdicate the plane o reason . but the two are not uncon- nected. R. the we must attempt to see where this is likely to have had most noticeable effect.that on occasion the existence of objective standards can hardly b questioned. but it is difficult to see how any com- parative analysis of socio-cultural change could be undertaken without giving th matter careful attention.jstor." Journal of the Royal Anthropologica Institute. then. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 237 There can be no argument concerning the benefit which anthropology has gained from this scientific emphasis. These limitations may not be apparent in the analysis of a particular society .91. remark that what is significant in the colonial world to-day is the new relationships whic have arisen between Europeans and the indigenous inhabitants. Radcliffe-Brown does not attempt to under estimate the significance of values. however. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. for example. When Professor Radcliffe-Brown.107 on Thu. that no structural analysis can give us a satisfactory account of th processes involved. LXX. Certainly any humanistic discipline which is unwilling or unable to grapple with the question of values would seem to be incapable of making any significan contribution to the solution of the most pressing of our contemporary social problems. i whether it is precluded from doing so because anthropologists insist that the exclusiv methodology of natural science is adequate for a full treatment of their particul material. We ma add. The problem of the operative function of values and evaluation is. as indeed we have seen time and time again in our own generation. methodological rigo and objectivity are qualities to be fostered and praised unstintingly . Vol. in placing the problem of objectivity outsi 7 A. and whatever is significant in the structural problem must ultimately be referred to this level.156. He acknowledges that " the study of social structure leads immediately to the study of interests or values as the determinan of social relations. Admittedly." and he adds that he himself has made a study of rites and myths from this point of view. Mo field workers must also admit . and between th indigenous inhabitants themselves. p. 9. for these have their genesis in the discovery of new values an ideals. he is not only stating an obvious truth but incidentally indicating what he considers to be the major field for study. If.7 But Radcliffe-Brown's conception of values is essential simplistic and its demerits are those of any theory which conceives of values synonymous with interests. of course.or in investigation concerned with a single aspect of social life . "On Social Structure. I see no virtue. th " natural science of anthropology " is a misnomer and an unquestioning adheren to the tenets and methodology of the model has resulted in a narrow outlook. This content downloaded from 200. Empirical observation.org/terms . as some contend. It may justifiably be said that modern anthropology has been unable to offe any satisfactory approach to the problem of value. therefore. we m also ask whether there is not a debit side to the ledger. but while much has been gained and much remains to be achieved in these directions. different from the question of their objective validity .where values may be taken as " given " and treated descriptively . A further question. Radcliffe-Brown.

53 f 9 Theoretical Anthropology. of any kind." op. 11 " The Concept of Value in Modern Anthropology. all statements of what or ' worse/ ' right ' or ' wrong/ in a human or moral sense. It seems t fruitful. pp. an convincingly against serial ethnocentrism . a process which is conceived through itsel which moulds the experience of a man as a member of society.. p. p. It is sig Bidney received his initial training in philosophy.9 His own approach to these humanistic and personalistic.107 on Thu.91."10 His part that anthropology should show its respect for human reason and sci operating with other disciplines in the study of normative ideals. pp. a causa sui. Evans-Pritchard. who considers that an is a humanistic discipline and who asserts that it studies societies as m rather than natural systems (E. for example. E. 10 Op."11 I am in complete agreement with this poi Anthropology is a normative discipline. and I find it impossible to c *' natural science of society " if by that we mean a study which is comple any value content. " the attitude of viewing from its own perspective only. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. Vol. This content downloaded from 200. that is. Nadel. to accept the cha believe that if the anthropologist overcomes his reluctance and examines h from this point of view. Such a science of society does not exist .org/terms . as if that were the primary and sole v objective anthropologist. In a recent theoretical work Nadel " It is often claimed that science. On thi position is similar to that of Evans-Pritchard.156. p. he will find that he has something of importance t There are. and that in his handling of these logical and rational approach of that discipline throws into sharp relief the crudity positive anthropology's most cherished arguments. must aim at the ' object of ' facts ' and hence bar all value judgments. 1951. " Social Anthrop and Present. in fact. F. Rash and ments of this kind must obviously be avoided . cit. stressing. encouraging signs that some contemporary anth are prepared to question the tight positivistic framework of the pas examine the nature of their discipline.jstor. cit. And in this sense I hold that * pure anthropology is an illusion. L. 177. human freedom and and the role of persons in determining their cultural destiny."8 Bidney also argues that " ontologica constitute an indispensable element in every one of the sciences " an anthropology they enter into any theory which is concerned with the cultural reality and the nature of man. 118-124). 1950.. London. Bidney is also opposed to the positivist view that culture " is a leve which is. 698. Normative judgments are implied in the nature of our our aims. The Foundations of Social Anthropology. and even in those analyses which strive most carefully after " o 8 S." Man. as it were. equally it is possible to Yet in a more subtle sense value judgments must enter into every soc being entailed in its very nature. 164. as well as more expressive of a faith in science.238 iMORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA the scope of social anthropology and simultaneously denigrating the m of those disciplines which have attempted to deal with it. nor is it that it should.

What we might call the requiredness of values has. considered that the behaviour of primitive man was non-moral and non-rational and that ethical ideals. cultural relativism had now succeeded and the ethical problem was resolved by explaining it away as cultural conditioning. Marett postulated two stages of society which he termed the synomic and the syntelic. which is primarily historical and normative. Much of the argument on this point seems to me to be wasted words. " Rudimentary Ethics. syntelic stage of society is a region of reflexion in which ethical standards are selected consciously by a rational intelligence. Marett.156. R. of ideas of right and wrong and the complex factors which operated to secure a rational choice between alternatives in primitive society. in other words. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 239 notably some studies of social structure. cit.91. The primitive (synomic) stage of society is thus regarded as a region of habit resulting from a subconscious selection of ethical standards." op. a pre- occupation with the methodology of natural science and the naturalistic emphasis in contemporary philosophy itself. The first. The higher. moral sanctions or quasi-moral sanctions made their appearance only at the higher level of culture. something inherently imprecise and unpredictable in the material of the anthropologist. they were unanimous in recognizing the importance of moral sanctions.the fact that knowledge of the social process in question becomes a factor altering that process . are relatively free to choose what their future will be.107 on Thu. There is.org/terms . 12 R. anthropology would be better advised to place them in the forefront of its schema. which a long line of distinguished field workers were concerned to correct. I should add that I reject the view that anthropology is a natural science like physics. for men. whereas the other is characterized by th rational selection of preferred ends and by the existence of ideals. corresponds to the level of primitive culture and is characterized by the fact that custom forms the bond of society. the requiredness of ethical ideals. Dealing with " rudimentary " ethics. But at this point the development of a systematic study of comparative ethics was inhibited for them by two principal factors. and while the requiredness of moral values received full recognition it was no longer considered legitimate or. both individually and collectively. long been recognized by anthropologists. in fact. Whatever differences of opinion divided these workers on other matters.12 It was just this interpretation. however.jstor. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. This quality of self-consciousness in man . Instead of dismissing ontological problems as beyond the reach of science. possible to proceed to a logical interpretation and comparison of different ethical systems- To aver that little more than a change in terminology resulted from this " discovery of the ethical " in primitive culture is an obvious over-simplification . according to Marett. whereas custom had once been king. indeed.determine the nature of the discipline. inherent in evolutionary anthropology. Custom theories of primitive morality gave place to the doctrine of cultural relativism. for. Maret.they cannot be excluded. This content downloaded from 200. yet as far a ethical theory is concerned the statement is partially true. particularly when those who adhere to the opposite point of view admit that the " natural science of anthropology " will be unlikely to discover general laws of the same precision and predictability as modern physics.

Thus. this is also the view of the anthropologists Slotkin and Herskovits. from physics to sociology. their sets of values are different. and. we do not seek something because it is go or right but .jstor. Slotkin's point of view deserves more than a passing mention. that as sor things satisfy different motives. things have inherent use or value. Writing on " La Morale et la Science des Moeurs/' he held that mora are simply the rules which determine conduct in any society. T objectivity of the good is thus denied . these basic assumptions lead to the view that each grou attributes value to the things it finds useful in its adjustments. Value attaches to what is desired or sought. 1946.. and its ethical principles .240 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA The relativistic point of view was expressed succinctly by Levy-Bruhl as lon ago as 1903. and t things which help the organism to achieve satiation are what are sought. such practices are moral for the people concerned. The moral is what is regarded as moral by a giv social group at a given stage of development. 1950.following Spinoza . and since different groups find different things are useful. their relative value depends on the relative importance of the motive concerned in each instance.that it is the discovery of new values which produce changes in the adjustments of a group. their value systems are therefore different. and these have been subjected to sociological examination. 14 J. Social Anthropology. 50-71. Obviously."13 Expressed more systematically. 167-168. but rather these qualities are attributed to things by th organism that can use them in its adjustments. S. subjective and relativistic- " Anything/1 Slotkin tells us. Slotkin concludes by saying tha " changes in the relative importance of a group's adjustments produce a shift in its value system It could be as easily maintained . cite Linton's account of the values which the Comanche attached to the dog as com 13 Richard T. its concepts of morality." Where socie as a whole is concerned. " that has characteristics which help the organism to achieve satiation is useful and therefore has value. you could live for only a minute or so witho breathing but for several weeks without food. Westermarck devoted great deal of space to expressing the same idea and if we allow for a few mino corrections. and in so far as things vary in thei importance for different people. whatever practices this may include. the functional value of any ethical or moral principal . 3. therefore. deal in relatives rather than absolutes. then. it is his doctrine of ethical relativity which is expounded by man contemporary sociologists and anthropologists.org/terms . and that they therefor vary from society to society. Finally.156. " since things diff in their value. We may. f example. a more important than others. His approach is utilitarian and subjective. Und such examination. the former. arrives at a theory of value which is utilitarian. Adopting the standpoint of Spinoza. for example. that there are " no fixed points of reference for the study of social or for any other kind of phenomen All the sciences. Sociology. Thus. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about." Some motives..it is good or right because we seek it. however.and in some instances it is quite easily demonstrated . is fou to be relative to the social context. therefore. New York. pp. La Piere." He concludes.91.107 on Thu. It follows. In equati relative value with the relative importance of the motives which a thing satisfie Slotkin has perpetrated a gross over-simplification. This content downloaded from 200. everyone has a set of values. pp. La Piere informs us that " every people has its standards of conduct. Slotkin.

28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. Herskovits. and the process of evaluation. .including human life . then. Th is a product of evaluation " (pp. in other words. depending on what you think of your fellow men. Instead of looking at their actions as attempts t satisfy their motives and then examining the worthwhileness of these motives. But man has a complex brain which he sometime uses to perplex himself with this question : ' Why live ? ' Purpose and value ar attributed to things by adjusting organisms and are not inherent in things .. 31. But in spite of the difficulty of ascertaining or stating precisely an objective hierarchy we normally admit that it exists and we make judgments in terms of it. Further. are thus little more than an irrational mechanism for self-delusion a means whereby man conceals from himself not only his own motives but also t fundamental futility of existence. fortunately or unfortunately. Linton. op. Herskovits' view is only slightly different. is to practice our self-delusion a little more " rationally " and hope that we are spared final enlightenment. he seems unaware of the fact that from what he has said no such criteria cou exist.107 on Thu.156. Slotkin would probably contend that the way out of this impasse is to be found in the rational examination of the worthwhileness of our motives. therefor nothing in the universe . The Study of Man. In the positivist tradition of Saint Simon. I suggest. 1949. however. then .has any intrinsic purpose or value .91. " One importan effect of evaluation is that it gives a purpose or meaning to life. for the value of a thing resides in the motives which it satisfies and has no reality apart from these motives . pp. 60-62). Melville J. p. some such hierarchy would seem to be recognized by those students of the University of Texas whose value ratings Slotkin quotes (p. " Judgments. Indeed." he says. Man and His Works. Nothing. too. 51). they think of their actions as attempts to reach goals which are ends in themselves.org/terms . no such absolute or objective standard can exist. are relative to the culture in whic they function and moral judgments are therefore culturally relative :" the criter of validity by which we accept them or reject them are immanent in the culture and are in no sense to be derived from any other source than the culture in which t values themselves function. that certain values are recognized by all cultures. All we ca hope to do. cit. for to speak of the " worthwhileness " of anything implies some kind o absolute. value. However."15 It follows that there can be no universally acceptable 15 Vivas.not even human life - possesses intrinsic or objective value. human beings are not particularly rational. and experience is interpreted by each individual in terms of his own enculturation." Values. On Slotkin's ow admission. 428-429). Animals act i order to satisfy their motives. " ar based on experience. This content downloaded from 200. Com and the followers of Durkheim. 63 fif. an objective standard against which the individual may judge his motiv and which he may consciously seek to realize in his behaviour. pp. In this case they invariab put the cart before the horse. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 241 pared with the horse (R. according to Slotkin.jstor. Slotkin assertion that the hierarchy of values differs for every individual apparently precludes the possibility of there being any objective hierarchy which all individual could recognize and even actively incorporate within their own value systems. But he fails to indicate any criteria which would assist us to this end Indeed. Finally.

" The prestige of Herskovits' statement of relativism is evident in the fact that it forms the basis of a " Statement on Human Rights " which the American Anthropological Association submitted to the United Nations in 1947 (vide American Anthropologist. either biological or psychological (more usually the latter). the moral vitalist goes on to argue that if one value is conferred on an object through the presence of a desire towards or an interest in it. Vol. . to account for the full range of the phenomena present for study. 22) calls " moral vitalism. XLIX. pp. as Vivas has pointed out (The Moral Life and the Ethical Lif these may be interpreted " either as the means of discovering values or as som factors which constitute them . From this biologistic or ' psychologists ' reductionism. pp.") Passing over the glaring inadequacies of relativism for the moment. and which of these interpretations is acceptab question for philosophers. th are wholly culturally determined. it follows.107 on Thu." Thus : " By moral vitalism I mean the fallacious theory that value is constituted by. 689-694. What cultural relativism owes to contemporary utilitarian and pragmatic moral philosophies is perfectly clear. the relativist position would be the same. of course. Relativism is not imposed on the sociologist by the empirical data of his study . that is." American Anthropologist.156. it is a philosophical decision imposed on the data. On issues of a specifically philosophical nature its protagonists must therefore be prepared to argue its merits on grounds which the philosopher chooses. its ability. pp. One might add that even if there were only one culture and on system in the world. cit. but the adequacy of a hypothesis is not to be found in the fact that it contains an irreduc- ible element of truth but rather in its comprehensiveness. the more value we shall realize. it is not difficult to see its ready appeal to those whose work brought them into the closest contact with an almost bewildering variety of ethical systems. or conferred on an object through the act of satisfaction or fulfilment of a non-value term or factor.242 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA ethical criteria and that it is therefore impossible to make trans-cultural comp of different ethical systems with a view to establishing the superiority of one another. .." but. 539-541). that is. signs that its extreme position is no longer acceptable to the more thoughtful of contemporary anthropologists. Among the names used the most common are perhaps ' desire/ ' interest/ ' appetition/ ' need/ ' drive/ and ' impulse ." op. cit. XLVI. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. and " On the Concept of Culture and Some Cultural Fallacies. and it is undoubtedly correct in drawing attention to the experiential element in value judgments .. " The Concept of Value in Modern Anthropology. and it has lately been subjected to some trenchant criticism from Bidney (David Bidney. p.91. (The theory of value to which relativism leads is that which Vivas (op. that two values are conferred by two desires that that the more desires or interests that we seek to fulfil. To the student of This content downloaded from 200. Vol. .org/terms . 30-34). To support this claim Herskovits cites a number of " psychological d minants.jstor. however. which is designated by a variety of names . There are. Cultural relativism professes a profound respect for the complexities of the moral life in all social groups at all levels of development. .

cit. Cultural relativism. No one would deny that cultural relativism and functionalism have perfo an important service in stressing the experiential and pragmatic aspect of and in demonstrating their utility and the " reasonableness " of different systems under the given conditions of a particular culture. subjec the obvious sense that in order to be effective they must be internalized. and that the cultural plu which it postulated " coincided strikingly with the liberal and democratic climat opinion " of the day. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 243 society. was in part a reaction aga the ethnocentrism of nineteenth century evolutionists. of the pre-eminently pra 'functional" school of anthropology. and that wh regarded as good and right by one group fails to find acceptance with another. 1 The relativist differs. (S Robert Redfield.107 on Thu. The Primitive World and its Transformations (1953). cit. relativism is so far approaching the objectivity which it claims that its evaluations must be pat clear to all but the most obtuse. The truth is. pp. F. is cal to make its strongest appeal to those who adopt an exclusively pragmatic pretation of human behaviour. however. 689-692." op. in part.16 As Nadel has pointed out. a further.th 18 E. it is an elementary fact that peoples have different values. It is true. th neither held nor applied consistently. too.. at its first appearance. in two respects from those who hold op views : he fails to make explicit . that the present tendency to depart extreme relativism is. however.. A majority of current sociological theories use of it in one form or another and it is the creed. of course. This content downloaded from 200. All values are. pp. the transvaluation of values which is involved in relativist doctrines. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. Indeed..org/terms . 54. shows that cultural relativism."17 They have grown out of the history of human thought a in particular. out of the social and ethical issues which have exercised the m Western Europeans duriug the past seventy years. cit. indeed. least of all. for some functionalists apparently a dogma which is so firmly grounded and uncritically held that it de the very aim of objectivity which it purports to achieve and. Whatever he may imply to the con absolute standards are admitted by the relativist so long as he continues to e many of the basic concepts of anthropology . of course. b does not obviate the normative problem. it is difficult to see how it can attempt to do any more than and.156. But if the doct held consistently.jstor. but it is not proof to the contrary. op. due to a growing awareness o its failure to offer guidance. by stultifying enq reduces the major problems of philosophy and sociology to a sterile formula. let alone solution to the particular problems of our own times. the basic judgm social science do not necessarily " express a purely personal philosophy or arbitrarily assumed. 17 S. how it can be applied to the most urgent of those problems beset us in our relationships with other peoples. Bidney [op. that all these different moral systems appear to function satisfac under the particular conditions in which they are found. Nadel. Thus. too.91.g. p. This may create difficu for those who hold that values are objective and that standards have a norm validity. Bid " The Concept of Value in Modern Anthropology.for he can hardly fail to recognize .

standards which he is concerned to deny this double refusal to accept the issue results in greater objectivity than in where evaluations are stated explicitly . he constantly emp again without acknowledgment . The fact is that h he may suspect or deny their scientific validity. One may add that the burden of anthropol enquiries points to the reality of a normal state of society and to a natural orde human relationships. has demonstrated the rashne superficiality of so many of our judgments. and as a social s he can no more eliminate them from the latter than as a human being he can ex them from his private life.91.and criticism is thus invited . of what is appropriate or inappropriate. It is quite a different th This content downloaded from 200.107 on Thu. while a nation composed of far too many such individuals will end revolution and dissolution. however.on relativist knows and. is unwilling to explain. by just this approach.jstor. secondly. 1948. The relativ deny that this is so. normal or ab not only in his personal relationships but also in his studies. And if this constituted the only problem. for each culture presents cer values to its members and seeks to secure acceptance of them by institutional m just as it also shuts out other values by negative conditioning and is indiffe yet others. (" Even the staunchest relativist. finally.org/terms . the relativist has recourse to stan of right and wrong.244 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA judgments on which his doctrine is based and.156. Indeed. So far. Levy-Bruhl and others are correct in maintaining that th and the good are those things which are recognized as right and good by the me of a particular social group. it is indeed correct to say that are relative to the culture in which they function." Wilhelm Ropke has said.) But although on sociological no less than on philosophical grounds we reject the solipsistic interpretation of value to which relativism leads. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. we must do this if we aim at standing any way of life. 77-78). by proceeding from thence to an examination of their fun inadequacies and inconsistencies. yet relati does contain an irreducible element of truth. it c resolved by inductively eliciting the values which form a particular syste examining their inter-relationships with each other and with other aspects culture and. has r the logical consistency underlying patterns of behaviour which are remotely rem from our own experience. but wherever he proceeds beyond mere description he avoid its implications. by so doing. " knows fu mentally quite well that there are appropriate and inappropriate relationsh The individual who has lost his feeling for what is normal (in human relationshi will find himself sooner or later in the consulting room of a nerve specialist or hospital. Even a casual persual of the lit of anthropology reveals the heterogeneity of the values which men recogn seek to express. apparently. however difficult they may be to define. and. This is the frightful expiation for neglecting ant logical constants which the relativist considers scientifically out of reach " Humana. It is. one thing to ins we study values in culture and relative to culture. pp. and functionalism. At this descriptive level. and it is a simple truism that every culture possesses a hie of approved ends.

the moral problem appears to transcend ' enculturation ' . Nor. 1953. . to follow the argument to its end. what of the values which the rebel elects to espouse in preference to those which are culturally offered ? Relativism is unable to tell u anything about these. to conclude that change in the value-system of an people is simply the result of a failure in the processes of cultural conditioning or. . which mea that man's experience encompasses cultural change as well as cultural stability. but they see to it that transgression of accepted codes are punished . This content downloaded from 200. cultural relativism denies that values are objecti in a normative sense. pp. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 245 conclude that nothing in itself is of value. 28-29). These are glaring inadequacies. I suspect that the most confirmed relativist must find difficulties in the following passage from Herskovits : " Each people/' he tells us. and only becomes so through the complex processes of cultural conditioning. Held consistently. acknowledge and espous precludes us from affirming and attempting to establish the normative. what leads to them becoming accepted in preference to others which carry the stamp of public approval.91. Are we. neither how they are discovered. in the sphere of moral truth values.. Here. p.jstor. they may become incorporated into the value-system of t group concerned." Royal Anthropological Institute. Man and His Works. not only inculcates them in the young so that each generation is encu turated to the value-systems of its predecessors. . as any sociologist must surely agree .156.18 The inability of relativist theories to deal with the problems of the moral lif becomes increasingly clear the farther we proceed from a simple description of value in culture towards a consideration of the philosophical issues. Yet even on the sociological level. . for example. how do people find solutions to the new moral problems which characteristically accompany cultural change ? And as Vivas has also asked. cit. need w agree that the diversity of values which men recognize. The problem is not whether or not men set up goals for themselves but how to choo from among these goals that offer themselves to them as beckoning alternative And in the absence of a criterion by means of which to choose the correct one from among those actually found. " having standards. To quote again from a philosopher : " However the questions be answered. the relativist has departed from strictl sociological terms of reference and by implication enters the field of philosophi 18 Cf. the individual who repudiates all the prevailing cod and adopts his own cannot be corrected" (Vivas. cit. Yet every culture knows the rebel.. 1). 19 Herskovits. nor how. in spite of opposition."1 If this is a fair example of what relativism has to say on the important subject o culture change then there are several questions to which we are entitled to expect an answer. validity of standards of evaluation. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. 692 : " The natural scientist does not use objective evidence discredit objective truth values. Bidney. op. Similarly. and therefor trans-cultural.org/terms . it is not logic to reject objective moral norms simply because some alleged objective " moral norms are see to have a purely subjective validity/' Morris Ginsberg also argues that " " there is no necessar connexion between the diversity of morals and the relativity of ethics " (Morris Ginsberg. London. but I pas over them in order to give attention to a problem which is of more concern to me in this paper. op. " the Diversity of Morals. of course.107 on Thu. p. if values are fully explained by enculturation.

op. We not only perceive this character of value. and further. but the fact that it is applicable to most of us for much of the time does not invalidate the view that values are objective any more than it permits us to claim that our behaviour on these occasions is moral. has a right to our consideration only if it can show that nothing is normatively true unless it is universally accepted. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. Firstly. are controversial matters. secondly. it must suffice here to point out that the argument affirming it has not been seriously affected by any of the subjectivist doctrines which have come and gone since the time of Locke.for some time to come . on the other hand. establish this proposition 20 Vivas.246 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA ethics. it is such an essential element in the moral economy that until we have grasped it and acted upon it we cannot rightly lay claim to the status of a moral agent.107 on Thu.jstor. p.if we reach agreement on general terms. for example. This content downloaded from 200. even if it were not the case that we can object observe the presence of certain moral constants underlying quite diverse pattern social life. depends very largely on the possibility of establishing the objectiv of values and on reaching some agreement on their hierarchical relationships. that in fact there are no universally accepted crite of truth or moral judgments or.with an objective character. a partial truth in the view that we approve the things we desire rather than seek what we approve . the relativist intends us to understand that truth and moral judgments are only valid intra-culturally. however. then. He must accordingly be prepared to contest the matter on grounds which philosopher chooses and by means of the rational and logical methods whi latter employs. it can be demonstrated that the basic assumptions of relativism lead us into a maze of logical impossibilities. to take up a point Vivas has made. that it is not beyond our po of rational enquiry and criticism. the relativist point of view may be interpreted as a denial metacultural validity of truth as well as the metacultural validity of moral judgm It may mean.91.org/terms . that there are no normative criteria w are universally valid and which ought to be accepted universally. cit. but in any moral action it determines our behaviour . When confronted with a moral perplexity. and as far as the latter is concerned w probably have to be content . indeed. the proposition that one way of thought or action is bette another is exceedingly difficult to establish. A doctrine.156. of course. relativism apparently returns a negative rep let us briefly consider what the answer involves. If. As to the objectivity of values. the evidence of experience fails to find acceptance. Commonsense tells us. as a first task. howev not that it is difficult but whether it is possible to establish the proposition reasonable objectivity.20 An ade answer. 36. in other words. What we need to know. he must. which denies the metacultural validity of truth and moral judgments. however. values normally appear to us - though with varying degrees of clarity .. The obvious starting point is the contention that since there are no universal accepted criteria. To this. If. Th admittedly. There is. that it is the only inter- pretation which can satisfactorily account for the distinctive characteristics of moral behaviour.

Thus. As final point. This content downloaded from 200.156. seems to be that relativism is unacceptable if it is considered as anything more than a starting point from which to study the moral life. cit. Obvi it would be impractical in a short paper to attempt a fully reasoned answer t objections which may be raised concerning the concept of the person as an e category. But imply that the processes and the product of conditioning are not susceptible t rational criticism is to abandon the plane of reason and to deny the only means w have of criticizing members of our own culture who do not conform to our accepted standards. recognizing the selective role of cultu in determining the values which constitute a particular system. i contributed to Western culture a particular morality. We may admit that it contains a modicum of truth. this lack of unanimity on basic categories may very well be cited as a reas for treating philosophical enquiries with diffidence if not indifference. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. it is apparent t even among those who oppose objectivism there is a wide divergence of opi concerning the nature of morality and the values which constitute the eth Indeed. a claiming that man is person. The outcome. Nothing the relativist has to say can detract from the legitimacy a the necessity of pursuing enquiries which aim at the discovery of normative criteria for the moral life and the comparison of one ethical system with another. a way of looking at hu relationships and obligations which is sufficiently real and sufficiently specif serve as a basis for the analysis and comparison of other ethical systems. nor to defend the concept against the reductionistic that all that we can legitimately claim to know of man's nature is revealed through the biological. that it is one thing to argue the legitimac comparison on rational and logical grounds and it is quite another matter to agreement on the normative criteria to be employed. for we do not have to accept the defeatist view tha moral activities and judgments are not susceptible to objective analysis. Thus. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 247 universally and objectively. " personalism " stands for system of philosophy which maintains that personality is the supreme value and t 21 Vivas. however. y p."21 Here the argument must be left to rest. Western European Ethics and the Concept of the Person It must be admitted. op. As the term is used by contemporary writers. but having regard for the limits which I have set to my enquiry it is eq clear that I do not have to undertake it.jstor. in a way " which transcends all intra-cultural determinations of its truth. 36.107 on Thu. The signifi point is that the traditional ethics of Western Europe affirms the contrary. of course. and this. a unique centre of rationality and free-will. physiological and psychological sciences. that learning theory is able to contribute to our understanding of the mann in which values persist and are transmitted from generation to generation. it is equally clear that we need not be dissuaded from the task of system- atization and interpretation. as far as my object in this paper is concerned.org/terms . I am not concerned to argue primacy of the person.91. He would have to substantiate his proposition meta culturally. would be self-contradictory. We may agree too.

of course. This content downloaded from 200. Prime matter (or hyle) is defined as a pure potentiality which lacks all positive characteristics. Matter united with form gives us the composite In the case of the human composite (the person).e. with their particular claims and counter claims. our traditional morality is Christian. it is sforma substantiate.org/terms . Boethius and Thomas Aquinas. It is thus to b distinguished from a forma separata which is a complete substance. or that constitutive element of a substance which is the source of its activity and which determines it to a definite species or class and differentiates it from other substances. which cannot exist or be active apart from matter. and the position is complicated by the fact that th term is used to cover a number of ways of thinking which are clearly incompatible. deter mining and perfective principle of existence of any determinate essence. It is true. The soul. That which confers on man this special dignity and which constitutes him person is his soul. But of the material beings." In Scholastic systems. being that which remains the same throughout all changes and is the passive basis of continuity and identity in the physical world.jstor. the forma substantiate is the rational soul. it is made individual and it constitutes the person. More strictly. It is one of the two internal principles which characterize all physical things. constitutive element (substantial form) which determines human beings to their particular species. United with matter (the body for which it is created). i. But though it is an immaterial form. one which can exist and act separately from matter and is thus to be distinguished from a forma non-subsistens or materiate. the person is also material. the constituents of the composite are prime matter and form. Person. In other words. But irrespective of changing fashions in philosophy. a pure spirit which is not destined to be united with matter and which cannot cor municate its being to matter. Growing out of the attempt to interpret the self as a part of phenomenological experience. it is clear that there is one central doctrine of the person which has exercised more influence on Western European culture than any other. Form is the intrinsic. an individual substance of rational nature. man alone is person. More specifically. By being united with prime matter th form becomes individual . it is contracted or narrowed from its universal and specific being to existence in a particular. personalistic interpretations of reality represent the main current of European thought from the Greek rhetoricians through to the Scholastics and down to the present day. that the personalisti viewpoint has been challenged.107 on Thu." Being individual. for it i created to be united with a body to complete its own species. for he alone possesses a rationa nature. however. refers to the human " composite. the soul is a forma subsistens or immateriate. nor is man considered only as a psycho-physical organism entitled to the term.91. of Augustine. the soul is not a complete substance. It is to Boethius that we owe the Christian definition of the person as " an individual substance of rational nature. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. is not person .. the soul is the differentiating. in other words.248 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA key to the meaning of reality. In short.156. and our moral categories are those of the Church. for in Scholastic terminology matter supplies the principle of individuation.

an awareness of the self as a spiritual entity. in short. Self-conscious ness in the latter sense may involve a pronounced feeling or regard for the idio- syncratic " me/1 the lower self or ego. an alter ego. there results an attitude of mind which is somewhat obscure and therefore d fficult to express concisely.22 At the lower.156. of a higher self. Spirit distinguishes him from other organisms. as organic matter informed by spirit. It holds. From this. He is an organism. but nothing we know or can discover concerning his organic nature can fully explain him as he actually exists. as some regard him. is radically different from mere self-consciousness at the psycho-physical level. B This content downloaded from 200. This conception of individuality. without. He does not thereby lack individuality. and to pursue ideals and follow the good. idiosyncratic level o awareness. He is not. Indeed. not to man as we can positively know him but as a composite or psychic whole. if we prefer it. one of the moral duties he thus intel ectually perceives is to seek the good objectively.jstor. It follows. or. but rather a creature of reason and free will. above the institutions which it creates and uses. essentially the critic of that medium. the person stands to some extent. the mere resultant of his psycho-physical nature. giving rise to that which is distinctive of the consciousness of person. however. are entirely foreign to the consciousness of person. the latter may manifest itself proportionately with his» insistence o the rights and obligations which are associated with status. and being endowed with these qualities man possesses the ability to choose rationally from the alternatives which confront him. he is. the individual may. But this outlook together with its moral consequences. therefore. the possessor of a rational soul. Endowed with the qualities of spirit. For lack of a better term we may call it pronounced sense of individuality. see himself solely in terms of the various roles which his status ordains and. that while man is immersed i 1 a social medium. too. the marks of spirit are said to be freedom. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. objectivity and self consciousness. able to distinguish true from false. and though not person it constitutes man person. for man is also spirit. he tends to view the other individuals with whom he comes in contact primarily as figures in a social pattern. this view claims that man is something more than a collection of inter-related powers and aptitudes of the body.107 on Thu. even when this conflicts with his immediate desires. Thus. in fact. right from wrong. likewise. it is the essence of personal consciousness that the individual is 22 Cf. and if he fails to do so he denies his natural status and con- stitution. a something distinct and apart from the social medium in which it is involved. The term refers. as person.org/terms . and while he depends on that medium to express and realize himself. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 249 Expressed in more familiar language. In the first place. committed to see the good objectively and conceiving it as independent of the social forms in which it may or may not be embodied. indeed. nor is he necessarily without a profound feeling of th self . that he is also constituted by a substantival psychic factor which cannot be explained or accounted for by reduction. This conception of man as person has several important ethical consequences.91. Christian mystical teaching on the necessity to lose the self in order to realize one's true nature.

Nothing. It follows. therefore. In short. the moral duties of the person are greater than any the duties which the individual possesses as a member of society. but rather what society values is good only to the extent that it accords with a universal order. but there is never a simple equivalence betwe Social requiredness and moral obligation. constantly to assess this world. obligations and relationships and of institutions which embody the transcenden value of the person and which define man's temporal duty. therefore that the basis on which we recognize a moral duty cannot be adequately expresse . much less explained. that it is not necessarily where the world says it is. Such standard however. its obligations and the conduct it asks of us.250 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA immeasurably more than we are able to infer from his social status. Thu to be true to his personal existence. we are obliged. The spiritual component of man's nature God's own and unique creation.107 on Thu. for althou we have relationships which are morally as well as socially binding. At the same time. consisting of a certain minimum of attitudes. present. in terms of the requiredness of a social pattern. Our task as persons. Stated in the simples terms. realizin however. He embodie as it were. now. Elements with society may embody a moral duty. They are said to be here. are not " remote " from the world. is moral simply because society claims it of us. he can never be regarded simply as a figure in that pattern. therefo is not to accept the social world as it is but to seek within it only that which is n alien to our spiritual nature.156. the soci world in which men live can embody it only indirectly and imperfectly. This end is to know and se the good.org/terms . recognition the person compels us to view both ourselves and others as individual entities standin apart from and above the world of social relationships and institutions. the foundation of Christian morality is the belief that the person is ordained directly to God. and since the nature of the good is not temporal but eternal. irrefragable and absolute value which is not. and althoug among our institutions there are some which are moral. too. and it require us. in oth words. This brings us to another point of great importance. and it is here that Christian teaching brings forward th concept of a natural moral order. man cannot do less than use his rational powers in pursuit of the end for which they were given him. and while it confers on man an absolute worth it is also the measure of his duty to hims3lf and to others. to seek the good in the world in which we live. as men. The most widespread concept of Christian ethics that it consists in a belief in the brotherhood of man. Indeed. an intrinsic. just as much as anything else. against a standard or standards which are objectively outside it. in any sens determined or conferred on him by his position in a social pattern and. howeve to interpret our traditional teaching simply as a claim for the common humani This content downloaded from 200. His likeness in all of us. The result may be described as an externalization of the ground of moral obligation. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. this quality belongs to them only derivatively. It would be a mistake.91. its absolute end.jstor. There is one final point. for the ground of our mo obligation is objectively external both to ourselves and to the system of social rights and duties which constitute the medium in which we live. for nothing is good or worthy simply because society values it.

but keeping these points in mind. The Gahuku-Gama The congeries of tribes which I call the Gahuku-Gama are situated in the valley of the Asaro River in the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea. the comparison of the ethical life of the Gahuku-Gama. The social structure follows a segmentary pattern and is based on principles of kinship and on a balanced opposition between solitary local groups which effectively controls the use of forc^ and takes the place of centralized political machinery. namely. They are broadly uniform in culture and language but. To the Christian. the spiritua component which in all men constitutes them person also confers on them an incom- parable value which man is required to recognize and to espouse above all other This worth is inalienable . it is also intrinsic. This content downloaded from 200.org/terms . like the majority of the groups of Melanesia. this is the ground on which Christian ethics claim to be universal. At the same time.jstor. even our enemies.husbands did not sleep with their wives. and is the reason why we are enjoined to love all men. Strictly speaking. cultivating sweet potatoes as their staple crop. have no centralized authority. They live in villages which are sited on ridges and which give a com- manding view of the surrounding country. Its judgments cannot be narrowed or contracte for they are universals in the sense that they are derived from and refer to an absolut and irreducible element in man's nature.156. I suggest that they provide a useful basis from which to begin my major task.107 on Thu. Each village had one or more men's houses. Space does not permit me to carry the analysis further . Thus. attitudes and activities enable us to identify the tribes as a whole and to distinguish them from those surrounding them. and there are no persons or body of persons vested with an over-all political control. language and culture. for. belonging to all men irrespective o status or individual accomplishments and irrespective of what they do or may ha done in the usual moral sense.and in many groups the rule is still observed . Based on the absolute value of the person. the houses are women's dwellings. Christian morality essentially metacultural. for man's spiritual constitution is not only derived from an identical source but it also charges all mankind with identical responsibilities within a universa moral order. It makes no distinction between individuals or groups o individuals but asserts that all are bound by a common duty to themselves and t others which is incommensurable with any of the obligations which a man may posse under a particular social pattern. the absolute value of the human person is prior to all other created values. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 251 of all mankind. quite apart from their actions. These settlements may contain as few as twenty or as many as fifty houses arranged in a straight line in front of a cleared area of land (gapo or nutnuni apd) . More importantly. for until recently . It cuts across all other moral categories.91. Power is distributed laterally through each tribe and its component segments. It implies much more than this. they possess a worth which cannot be measured by the standards of society. situated either in the settlement or at some distance from it. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. The Gahuku-Gama are agriculturalists. certain critical relationships.

therefore. In other words.91. they partic wide range of corporate activities and they have a common symbol of their un the sacred nama flutes which are associated with the major ritual. the most important being the right to gr on any unoccupied or vacant land. of the clan may live in the same village or in a number of contiguous set within the clan's common territory. they participate as a group in the major r are required to support one another in disputes with members of other clans. at the most. is not a tru for although its members conceive of it as a genealogically structured unit th normally unable to trace true genealogical connections with all those who it. all disputes being capable of amicable settlement This content downloaded from 200. Tribal unity is expressed in certa obligations at initiation and in the great pig festivals. They are also corporate groups. but its members tend to form the nucleus of a residential gr possess certain critical rights to land which serve to distinguish them fr similarly constituted groups. but it is readily distinguished by a des phrase (ha'makoko dzuha none) which may be translated as " the people of one Members of the sub-clan consider themselves to be true blood relatives. For most purposes. war excluded within the tribe.org/terms . there is a continual telescoping genealogical framework so that at any point in time the sub-clan appears depth of. however.107 on Thu. Kinshi used within the patrilineage and sub-clan are extended to members of the clans are mostly exogamous. Mem of the clan believe that they are descended from a common ancestor but a to name him. however.252 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA The smallest permanent group is the four generation patrilineage. all des from a common named male ancestor. Firstly.156. exact relationship is less important for members sub-clan than the tradition of common descent and the remembering of the c ancestor. Clans within the tribe are con situated. five generations. Members of the tribe hav common rights within this territory. At the fourth generation or higher. Members tribe refer to themselves as " one people " and claim to be of common origin. they cannot point to any common ancestor. Their m possess common rights to land . The sub-clan is again a segment of a larger named patrilineal local clan. They possess common rights to land . and in some instances th a preference for in-group marriage. The sub-clan is a corporate group. Its male members normally reside t in the same settlement.jstor. and most importantly. They nevertheless believe themselves to be related. This group also is not named. the identity patrilineage merges into that of a larger patrilineal group which I shall sub-clan.for members of the true patril remember exact genealogies. The boundaries of the tribal territory are known and the who generally referred to by the name of the tribe. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. Finally. Several local patri-clans are linked to form a named tribe. The sub-clan. T not named. There are a number of reasons for this. while it is necessary of land rights and property inheritance . there is a tendency t the names of only sufficient individuals to explain a connection between t ponent true patrilineages.

Enemy tribes. in many instances. and the importance of the linkage between tribes is the fact that it provides for a larger. with the clans of other sub-tribes of the same tribe. In other words. as being permanently " at war " with one another. the linked tribes Gahuku and Gehamo acknowledge the common name Gehamo-Gahukuve) . The vanquished and the dispossessed were compelled to seek refuge with their friends and allies. however.91. are no more than fifteen minutes walk apart.org/terms . the tribe may be identified as the largest politically effective group. enjoined. and may be preferred. and each single tribe is opposed to other tribes which are regarded as traditional enemies and. and although this preference is sometimes accompanied by reciprocal ritual duties. In warfare the aim is the complete destruction of an enemy and his means of livelihood. warfare indicates a marked cultural emphasis on physical aggression. The tendency towards a dual organization is most marked in those tribes where we find that the linkages between clans results in two exogamous clans opposing two other exogamous clans. do not make war on one another though they resort to feuds. Warfare is described by a special word {rovo) which distinguishes it from feuding {Una). Thus. consequently. Segmentation within some tribes shows dualistic features. they represent only a temporary disturbance of friendly relations. The two largest tribes are also subdivided into three named sub-tribes and. either by payment of compensation or by ceremonial reconciliation. six and.107 on Thu. finally. though in particular circumstances it may be preferred. Linked tribes. It involves obligations of hospitality as well as collaboration in certain ritual. and from time to time during its more recent history each This content downloaded from 200. but it is not a closed clan system. these sub-tribes each comprise two named clans which. in one doubtful instance. Marriage is permitted. with one exception. though less cohesive socio- political association As the most characteristic and frequently recurring inter-tribal activity. again. These tribes differ from the simple two-clan tribe in that they comprise four. There is one further grouping which occurs only between pairs of tribes and which therefore follows a strictly dualistic pattern. seven named clans. and in the continually fluctuating fortunes of war each group has suffered an astonishing number of vicis- situdes.156. Clans in the multi- clan tribe are normally grouped into a number of linked pairs.. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. on the other hand. Any two tribes which are linked in this way also acknowledge an inclusive name which is a compound formed from the names of the major associated groups (e.g. Marriage between these pairs is not. comprising only a number of linked local clans. The association is permanent and is conceived of as traditional.jstor. The remaining tribes are without this subdivision into major sub-tribal segments. arise out of some specific dispute. Feuds. They are fought only for redress and are expected to be concluded amicably. The smaller tribes comprise two named patrilineal local clans which are usually exogamous. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 253 of this " normal " expectation of internal peace. a four-clan tribe usually consists of two exogamous pairs of clans while a six-clan tribe may have three such pairs. are usually exogamous. there is not a clearly defined or recognized moiety division. and it is also accompanied by a preference for in-group marriage.

156. the submission of his fellows. prone to quarrelling and quick to take offence at a suspected slight or injury. But conquered gr never ceased hoping for revenge. it is the warp of the cultural pattern and is manifest alike in many day-to-day situations as well as many institutional contexts. F. accompanies many inter-personal relationships. and they aimed to achieve it by forming a with their stronger neighbours. of what is desirable or undesirable. the concept of value in this generic sense covers many forms of which are not equivalent . rivalry and coercion are constantly recurring themes.254 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA tribe has been scattered and dispersed over a wide area. for. desirability or undesirability possess differen degree as well as referring to different qualities in things. 31. however. and usually obtains. This content downloaded from 200. All social life. there is an unmistakeable aggressive tone to life. No. Nadel to be used experimentally by his students in New Guinea. political expediency outweighed all o considerations.org/terms . to the extroverted warrior and orator who demands. and an undercurrent of tension. Physical aggression. to the proud and the flamboyant. Although all social behaviour is not invested with a moral 23 S. It is conduct judged in terms of such qualities as good and ba and wrong . worth.91. even latent animosity. of obligation and i desirability. we find that people are markedly aware of themselves as individuals. These state- ments are supported by the results of a projective test administered to a sample of twenty-five men and twenty-five women. and while it is not. Moral Behaviour Morality is an aspect of evaluation.23 Cle however. is not confined to inter-group hostility . Dominance and submission. They are jealous of their reputations. " Social Control and Self-Regulation." Social Forces. by itself. Not infrequently. As a result.107 on Thu. it is time to indicate the more important characteristics of Gahuku- Gama morality. Vol." and the majority of social situations reveal a high degree of ego involvement. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. an adequate basis for generalized assessments of per- sonality or dominant cultural attitudes. ideas of worth. F.jstor. The test is one of three devised by Professor S. Nadel. in that being aim expresses preferences. the results corroborate my remarks concerning the aggressive bias of Gahuku-Gama culture and the tendency to describe and to assess each situation in terms of the subject's own involvement. and although the people are not lacking in the gentler virtues. Conduct which is conduct which involves the notions of duty and the ideal. But leaving these matters aside. these alliances resulted group suddenly attacking the people who had given it refuge. pp. 3. Both men and women are volatile. The majority of social rewards go to the physically strong and self-assertive. as Nadel has pointe may be said to implicate or to involve the idea of value. They possess a strong feeling for or awareness of what I shall later refer to as the idiosyncratic " me. it is the absolute nature of the good which gives to moral values their pa requiredness. except relationships between linked tribes.goodness and Tightness being here conceived in an absolute indeed.

Thus. others won't help you. From the sociological point of view. that in specific situations certain choices are normally made and that behaviour is thus channelled in certain directions. F.107 on Thu. forming a relatively autonomous system whose influence is sought and felt by most individuals and institutions. for example. Elements of Social Organization. To be effective. we regard them simply as the expression of states of emotion.91. The good is not simply what people feel to be right but also what they think or believe to be right. By way of contrast. Possessing requiredness. the moral judg- ments of other peoples may be couched in terms of practicality . it is obvious that moral values must be internalized and generally accepted by the majority of those who constitute the group. Instead of saying it is " good " or " right " to help others.the social order may be seen to depend quite largely on the requiredness of moral values which are simply held. ensuring. they may eschew the speculative and abstract and they may stress the immediate claims of inter- personal relationships. S. Among the Gahuku-Gama. dis- respect for elders. not 24 Cf.org/terms . ibid. It is equally obvious that they must be capable of generalized expression. for this reason. an intellectual component which. the practical consequences of disregarding moral norms is fairly readily apparent. Thus. 26 Raymond Firth. Indeed. among other things.156.where. of man's relation- ship to man and of the obligations which devolve on him through certain presupposed conditions of existence. for example. Nadel. The assertion of right and wrong is in each case not only emotionally but also ideologically founded. moral norms are. though present in varying degrees. there are few sui generis legal institutions . for moral judgments are the criticism of conduct in terms of generally accepted notions of the good. some conception of human nature. they lead to conformity. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 255 moral values tend to pervade the greater part of social life. and we may thus regard their moral judgments as the expression of a particular ethic. the transcendent and objective nature of the good and our common obligations in a moral universe. bears on the nature of the good and of obligation as these are conceived by a particular people. a majority of our own moral judgments imply the Christian ethic of personal freedom and responsibility. as involving. people do not normally appeal to abstract principles but rather emphasize the practical consequences of moral deviation. 184. Such judgments. if not as obviously direct as in this particular illustration. They possess. in a possible majority of instances. failure to support fellow clansmen. they state quite simply that " if you don't help others. in small scale. This content downloaded from 200. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. above all directives for action." Indeed. incest or breaking the rules of clan exogamy all involve practical penalties. are notable for the ease with which they tend to be uttered : " they cost so little/'25 But we do them an injustice if. as Firth has said. In other words. undifferentiated societies which rely to a large extent on self-regulation .jstor.24 It follows that in these societies there is usually a close consistency between the norms which constitute the moral system and the social structure. lack of regard for age mates. moral values are one of the principal regulative mechanisms of culture. p. too.

to which a norm or activity is the centre of a series of activities which may be impeded if it is impeded by variati At the same time. the agent also conceives it to be right intrinsically. F. and I shall try to show that for the Gahuku this is bound up with a particular conception of man which does not allow f clearly recognized distinction between the individual and the status which occupies. The Gahuku-Gama. for example.91. they are stated from the position of a particular collectivity outside of w the moral norm ceases to have any meaning." We may note. that peo not assert that " it is wrong to kill. " it is bad to slander your fellow clansman. however.org/terms . In short. " it is good to think o sister affd her children " ." or good to be friendly with your age mates. an irreducible value which he attaches to certain th certain situations. cit. attempt a co account of all the occasions and events which are made the subject of moral judg and shall confine myself to those which seem to me to be most critical. being.156. 267. thieving and slander should not be accepted as applying to all the situ in which the individual may find himself." of the other universal commands of Christianity a large number are conspi absent. As an introduction to the subject. their injunctions against adultery. He is in var degrees aware of the pragmatic effects. indeed. This content downloaded from 200. the manner in which behave who are outside the tribal system of inter-group and inter-personal relat ships is virtually a matter of indifference." or " give food to those who visit you so they will think well of But the practical rider may be omitted. or to result in least dislocation. There is nothing unusual in this simply another way of saying that we are dealing with a tribal morality as d from the universal morality of Christian teaching. More than this. for although in most instances the right is that which can be proved pragmatically to offer the most satisfaction.jstor. that is. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about.. and the moral directive then takes the s form of "it is good to obey your elders " . do not say that one should practice bearance in all circumstances . however." or that " it is right to love everyone. They frequen express moral statements as universals on the pattern of " help others so th help you. the extent. op. but Tightness is itself an aspect of his a ness. are not intended to apply men .256 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA explicitly stated in each case but undoubtedly understood by the individual assert that the norms concerned are right. a lying. I cannot. " it is bad for brothers to qua " it is right for a man to fence his wife's garden " . a few additional remarks on the gen form of Gahuku-Gama moral assertions may be appropriate. good or bad. as it were. In other words. Thus. This is the theme I wish to develop now. p. and I shall approach it b of a description of Gahuku-Gama morality. Sociologically.107 on Thu. in fact. the individual d 26 S. moral norms are not merely instrumental imper They possess an ontological element. Nadel. the righ frequently be regarded as the cognitive counterpart of what Nadel refers t instrumental nexus. this is not quite the same thing as saying that Gahuku ethics are avowedly utilitarian. Gahuku assertions of what is right or wrong.

a implying. are quite clearly derived from it.org/terms . but f This content downloaded from 200. it is not simply that the applicability of a certain norm may be temporarily affected by particular circumstances. that within the group itself there i what might be called a " distributive " recognition of moral obligation. recognized and espoused by all members of the group : they ar held in common. In other words. Obligations may also be said to be common in a second sense.91. requires u to do just this. I will be citing other evidence to support this view. an ethical outlook which in itself is of considerable importance. that is. to gran him an intrinsic moral value apart from that which attaches to him as the occupant of a particular status. The distributive character of Gahuku-Gama morality lies rather in the fact that each agent recognizes that his moral obligations to others are differentially apportioned. whi the moral assertions are clearly the expression of values acknowledged by all members of the group. An particular moral norm may therefore have a more or less relevance or requiredne according to the individuals involved in a specific situation. significant. Certain values are acknowledged.156. and fundamental ethical. that the historical forms of Western European morality have also been distributive. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 257 regard himself as being bound to them by any moral obligation : it is justifiable kill them. For. to return to my original phrasing of the question. It is our responsibility to regard every individual in the same moral terms . We may express this in an alternative way. namely. nevertheless. ethically speaking. and the Western conception of individuality. this distributive character involves what is from the Western point of view a basic failure to distinguish an ethical category of the person.jstor. the individual is not bound to all his fellows in like degree. of brothers. Thus. of personal integrity an obligation. and while these difference are closely related to a particular social structure. The contrast is. on the other hand. We may argue. of member of linked clans and so on. as well as many of our grounds for social and political criticism. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. therefore. The ideal.107 on Thu. But there is a sense in which we cannot use the term. being concerned with different ontological conceptions of man and of human relationships and with the nature of moral obligation. There is a more important point. Thus. they imply. too. From the standpoint of the group at large the Gahuku-Gama recognize common moral obligations. of parents and children. of course. The distributive moralit of the Gahuku-Gama explicitly recognizes significant differences in the individua moral obligations and responsibilities to other people. age mates. It is a failure to separate the individual from the social context and. when a relationship between any two or more individuals entails reciprocal moral duti which are identical or complementary. The Christian ethic. we may speak of the common oblig tions of husband and wife. has achieved expression in many of our most cherished institutions. to steal from them and to seduce their women. that every individual recognizes an identical moral responsibilit towards all other individuals. As a moral agent his responsibilities vary considerably according to the positioning of othe individuals within the system of inter-personal and inter-group relationships. all make the same moral demands of us.

This is not said in disparagement.27 Yet on the whole they have taken this quality as given and have concerned themselves primarily with analysing the relationship between kinship and other aspects of social organization . " and for kinship to be the effective organizing principle it is.jstor.stress. It is hardly worth saying that different patterns of behaviour. to accept his criticism. This content downloaded from 200. but it is also that subject on which the anthropologist may justifiably claim to speak with most authority. however. is that these differences also possess a moral quality.org/terms . What is of more importance. For some time. 346). to heed his wishes and to obey his commands. p.. Disregarding the treatment given to it by earlier historical and evolutionary schools. that they determine the choices made. It is argued. A younger brother. Firth. however. rather. To Fortes. different social rights and obligations are enjoined between an individual and his different categories of kinsmen. from birth to death.156. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about.which. 28 Raymond Firth.258 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA the moment we need to examine more closely the distributive nature of th system. that structure appears only within the context of specific aims.91. 1949) is a notable exception among studies of kinship structure. Thus. appear to be gathering the greater following . implies that they are felt to be right.28 Thus. As we might expect. the formal and essentially static structural analysis becoming for some the principal aim and sole end of social anthropology. those who have adopted the socio-functional approach have been more ready to give explicit recognition to the moral character of kinship relationships. the study of kinship by anthropologists in this century has taken two principal directions : some have been primarily concerned with a socio-functional analysis while others have been mainly interested in the study of kinship structure. it must be firmly grounded in the moral order. is expected to be mindful at all times of his elder brother's superior status. More reasonable counsels . for in a sense we can take this nature for granted. op. and we may compare the ideal in this instance with the kind of behaviour enjoined between kinsmen who are age mates.107 on Thu. for example. in the analysis of economic or political organization we do not need to give separate consideration to the moral aspect of kinship relationships. interests and activities. the essence of the Tale kinship system is "its function as the primary mechanism through which the basic moral axioms of a society of the type represented by the Tallensi are translated into the concrete give and take of social life " (p. The fact that such relationships channel behaviour. for example. 210. that the two are inter-dependent and that structure is not a reality sui generis to which all activities contribute. has remarked that " the transmutation of biological relations into social relations is intelligible for the ordinary member of society only in terms of appeal to customary notions of what is right. The morality of kinship provides an obvious starting point. too. these different approaches tended to keep apart. and that it is from these that it derives its meaning and significance. for not only is the pattern of each individual's daily life. There are moral duties on the side of the 87 Meyer Fortes' The Web of Kinship Among the Tallensi (Oxford. cit. we may speak of the reciprocal moral duties of elder and younger brothers. indeed. quite largely determined by kinship. He is required to show the latter respect.

we might point to the different moral obligations of a father to his children. There are minimum responsibilities which apply to all the circumstances in which the individual finds himself. The comparison could be carried further. we could extend the examina- tion to the various groups of which a man is a member. however. that all men. Here. frankness. a comradeship which is expressed in sharing one another's secrets and in freely asking and giving . deny that the idea has any influence. and different again from his responsibilities towards his sister's husband. with the moral relationship between kinsmen who are the same age. moral reality shows varying degrees of approximation to or departure from the ideal.all these add their measure to the moral quality of the age-mate relation- ship. From the younger brother's point of view. of an employer to his employees. for we recognize that there is . and there ar actions and attitudes which are considered wrong in all situations. they make identical demands which. quite different from the moral quality of the ties he has with his father's brothers. this common measure of rights and responsibilities depends on the intrinsic ethical value which we attach to the individual. the ideals of friendship and equality are stressed. Ultimately. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 259 elder brother too. different again from those which he recognizes with his wife's parents and her brothers. that is.or at least that there should be . in fact of any of the thousand and one socially recognized relationships between two or more individuals. but we cannot. for that reason.jstor. we are required to respect. many feel bound a times to criticize and to oppose political movements which show a calculated or cynical disregard for the moral rights of the individual. Mutual help. while ou moral system possesses some distributive features. Similarly. have a valid claim to be treated as moral equals . of the members of a club or other associa- tion to one another. however. Thus.org/terms . in virtue of this intrinsic worth. all the categories of kin which a man recognizes. The moral quality of the individual's relationship with his mother's brother is.107 on Thu. one by one. the moral quality of the relationship is primarily one of constraint. of the social reforms of the past one and a half centuries could be viewed as attempts to correct conditions in which practice has seemed to obscure or to depart too far from it. if not all. that the diversity in our moral obligations is more apparent than real. Indeed. In other words. It contrasts therefore.91. we may say that certain duties are felt to be independent of status.a certain common measure of ethical content in all our relationships. Closer examination suggests. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. We recognize. to take in. contrasting his moral rights and responsibilities towards members of his sub-clan with those towards members of his clan and these with his obligations towards members of other clans of the same tribe. Finally. for pigs with which to start his household and for a fair share of their father's property. I suggest that these also embody This content downloaded from 200. Many. for example. Needless to say. as moral agents. it could be said that our own moral system possesses many comparable features. of obedience and the acceptance of discipline. Ideally. The latter looks to him for assistance in obtaining a wife.156. for he has to see that his younger brother does not want. These characteristics are sufficiently commonplace to stand without elaboration.

make certain basic and invariant moral dem It is in the absence of any comparable conception of obli distributive character of Gahuku-Gama morality is most clearly rev with our own fixed ethical perspective. The essential point is that we acknowledge that all their nature as such. therefore.jstor. f point of view. simply that distributive apportionment of duties at the descriptive level. I refer. This. due to the fact th any given instance. a man and the children of his wife's brothers. in other words. In like manner among the Gahuku-Gama relationship involves specific obligations which we would not expect say. regardless of social ties or status.91. Thus. Evidence is not lacking to support this interpretation. the differential duties associated with statu constituents of moral obligation. in a way which is quite differ traditional point of view. to a certain minimum c this claim is frequently couched in different terms does not alter t affected materially by the fact that the ideal has seldom. It is not. The result may be descr narrowing or contraction of the moral judgment. in our moral relationships were. In our own society.org/terms . from a fixed ethical perspective.107 on Thu. w Gahuku-Gama it is the social context itself which largely dete character of a particular action. bu distributive element is the expression of basic ethical principles. But Tightness is nevertheless an invariable quality which transcends any given social context. for exam specific duties towards his own children which he is not called respect of others. and this is therefore seen to change to the individuals or groups involved. for our moral norms refer to what we consider to form for human relationships. of c of ourselves. is distributive it is also dependent on and varies with this social positioning of does not mean simply that certain relationships obviously invo individual with differential duties.156. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. nei to anything which is intrinsic to the nature of the agent himself or other human beings as such. it is significant that in the situations which nor This content downloaded from 200.260 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA certain common principles. They are not derived from. Stated as sharply as possible. Moral obligation. are not conceived to be equals their value does not reside in themselves as individuals or person rather. that of the Gahuku-G changing. on the position they occupy within a system of inter-p group relationships. how mental difference between the two systems. then. r expression. Ideally. the perspective of the pe claim. has basically a social connotation. moral obligations are primarily c social positioning of individuals. if ever. Men. the distributive cha Gama morality issuing from the fact that there is no common content which should serve as a guide for the moral agent in whatev finds himself. Thus.

Homo- sexuality. We are confronted instead with what I have referred to as a continually changing moral perspective. Even a probably closer to the facts to say that if he acts in a particular wa will be contrary to that which is appropriate for a man of the Gah although he may be charged with " unmanly " conduct. the attitude towards masturbation is not that it is intrinsically wrong. and its sociological implications are fairly obvious. of some inherent quality which distinguishes him from other a are invariable standards which he must apply in his relationships human beings. for example. At one level. From the individual's standpoint. they do not pronounce on thei but rather adopt the attitude that the customs concerned are curio neither intrinsically right nor wrong. taking the more practical view that it would be silly. identical b part of other peoples is not necessarily stigmatized. They say. fo a description of customs which are aberrant from the Gahuku-Gam people do not say that they are wrong . The moral judgment operates. certain things are approved for men as men. I have brought it in merely to illustrate. there are minim which are appropriate to him as a man. too. human nature as such does not necessarily establish a moral bond between individuals.91. The important point is that generic conceptions of Tightness and wrongness are not universalize Gama do not go on to argue or to assert that because man is a human b that is. any cultural pattern of behaviour could be said to possess this particular " Tight individual's point of view. This is a difficult distinction to make. at one.jstor.107 on Thu. Thus. nor does it provide a standard against which all actions can be judged and either approved or disapproved. is foolish rather than immoral. in other words. at a number of different levels.156. there are therefore minimum standard said to apply to him as a human being. that " men a quite clearly meaning to imply that there is a certain minimum of beh is considered appropriate to human beings. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 261 judgments are not phrased in terms of what is appropriate or inapp relationships of men considered simply as human beings. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. People denied any knowledge of it. but it is necessary for us to what it involves. extreme. which they never- theless possess. though even here disapproval is rarely expressed in terms of a particular practice being contrary to human nature. as well as undignified. This attitude is not unusual. to indulge in it. This content downloaded from 200. which they themselves wou correct. This does the Gahuku-Gama have no conception of behaviour which is becoming o unbecoming to men as such. At other levels the Tightness or wrongness of an action varies according to the status of those who 29 Sexual behaviour is a case in point. but they were not morally affronted by the idea. as it were. Unlike ourselves. the Gahuku-Gama failure to universalize a concept of human nature and moral obligation.org/terms . but rather that it is unnecessary. in the sense that if his beh too far from the norms concerned he will be acting in a manner c which is recognized as the way in which men should behave.29 Indeed. Confronted.

Indeed.262 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA are involved.5OT~5°4 This content downloaded from 200. 1947. beyond the realm of human sanction. as Nadel has also stressed. punishment is exacted in the form of blood feud and revenge.107 on Thu. Nadel. F. homicide is regarded with varying degrees of m according to whether the individuals involved are. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. or of differe attitude towards parricide or fratricide may be cited as compa this difference. Oxford. in or outside the political unit.156. these remarks have a familiar ring. it would be violated in even greater measure by retaliation. The Christian attitude towards homicide is indi the intrinsic personal value of the individual and our traditional te that it is the taking of innocent human life as such that is w individual life has. 30 S. for example. he has pointed out that among the Nuba the evaluation of a crime such as homicide. Homicide within the clan affects a group which is so closely knit that although its unity has been violated by the act. me sub-clan. too. however. of different sub-clans of the same clan. the failure to take retaliatory action implies a moral attitude wherein this particular act is regarded with such abhorrence that it is unthinkable. in the sense that it does not provoke forceful retaliation by the members of the clan or its segments. and the sanctions which it provokes. I refer to what Nadel has called the " social range " of offences. depending on the social positioning of different individuals. in other words. There is a comparable situation among the Gahuku-Gama and. the reaction to homicide emphasizes the moral n bonds between individuals and groups of individuals rather tha of human life itself. the same sociological explanation may be advanced to account for the absence of forceful retaliation following homicide within the sub-clan. Thus. PP. With the Gahuku-G clear that the value of an individual life is primarily depende criteria.jstor.91. But. bu to kill members of opposed tribes. Nadel prefers to speak of the " sin " of intra-clan homicide as compared with the crime of homicide between clans. It is unthinkable to kill in certain contexts.30 Thus. In each case. Punishment is therefore left to supernatural agencies or it is excluded altogether. varies according to whether it occurs " within the clan or outside it. Between clans. Considered as they bear upon the theory of primitive law. since Gahuku-Gama law is also founded on self-help. always provided that they are n Thus a man is expected to avoid his maternal kinsmen in battle tho of his own clan have no such moral obligation towards these the tribe." Homicide within the Nuba kinship group or clan is an unpunishable offence. The sociological explanation for the unpunishable nature of intra-clan homicide is seen to lie in the principle of self-help on which the law is based. Homicide provides us with an obvious examp it is wrong for an individual to kill a member of his own tribe. right in others. My own point is that human life is given a variable value. and a matter of indifference in others. wrong in others. an absolute value which is great sharply distinguished from a value which is conferred by a spe membership of a particular social group.org/terms . The Nuba.

org/terms . cit. To lie and to be deceitful may be regarded as bad. is considered wrong. on the other hand.. but lest this should be thought a special or exceptional instance. p. the truth is not expected from members of other groups if.as the most important characteristic of the moral system. Theft.are permitted a large 31 Raymond Firth. Nor does anyone expect an individual to admit his guilt if he is charged with some offence by a member of another clan. men have frequently asked me to hide their personal possessions in my house and to take charge of their cash for them. instancing the fact that theft involves more than taking an article without having obtained the prior permission of its owner. But there are circumstances in which deceit is not considered wrong. because " lying makes people angry . to the different values placed on different individuals in diff contexts. so that they may plead poverty if their affinal kin demand any of the ceremonial payments to which they are entitled. I have referred in passing to homicide as a case in point. To sum up : morality is primarily conte The moral judgment does not operate from the fixed perspective of universal ob tion for the moral assessment of behaviour varies in different social cont according. I regard this failure to universalize a concept of moral obligation . dependent. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about.156. we find a similar situation. but almost in the same breath people joke about the manner in which they have either misled others or have escaped the consequences of some of their actions. Thus. in the event of some claim or quarrel. Similarly. To lie is to act in a manner which is contrary to his true nature.jstor. but kinsmen - in virtue of the moral quality of the social ties between them . there is the possibility of gaining a greater advantage by concealing it. op. it causes trouble. it could be shown that the vast majority of moral norms are similarly restrictive or distributive. This content downloaded from 200. Christian teaching holds that man. nor is it related to intrinsic human nature.and to grant an invariant ethical value to the individual . or converting another's property to one's own use. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 263 the moral nature of particular social bonds is the important factor rather anything intrinsic to man as such. An examination of all these occasions shows that the moral evaluation is primarily contextual. " may give a moral umbrella to the abstraction of the article. he says.31 Kinship ties. A few examples must suffice to clarify this position.91. Firth has pointed out the difficulty of making a sharp distinction between borrowing and stealing in many primitive communities. on the nature of specific social ties rather than on the recognition of a moral absolute. the value of truth is not absolute. as person." This is a neat expression of the situation among the Gahuku-Gama. 196. Turning to the morality of property-holding. that is." and he concludes that " the classification and the moral evaluation of the act depend in part on the moral evaluation of the ties between the participants. a denial of the transcendant value which he embodies. To the Gahuku-Gama. that is." and most people wish to retain the good opinion of those with whom they are in close daily association.107 on Thu. has a moral duty to himself and to others to tell the truth. The prudent individual is truthful.

theft is regarded as mo or less reprehensible according to whether it involves members of the same cla of different clans of the same tribe. in turn. bu here too one receives the impression that if a man can get away with it. and to seek redress for the injury. adultery with women of different tribes is regarded lightly. pp.156. and even between friendly clans or between different clans of the same tribe. in fact. as hardly worthy.org/terms . but men boast a good deal about their own affairs and they will qu proudly display the scars left on their thighs by the arrows of irate husbands. In the past. like the virtue of truth. for example. Vol. The wrongness of the act depends on the evaluation o the social ties between the individuals involved." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. In other words. makes a public issue of it .91.264 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA measure of freedom with one another's goods." and they have no compunction about keeping some item of property whi they come by accidentally. Respect for property. but he does not feel as injured as if it had been a member of anothe clan or someone to whom he was not related. the moral nature of specific social ties is primarily responsible for defining the limits within which the appropriation of the property of another is right wrong. The Gahuku-Gama remark quite casually that " everyo steals.32 Adultery within the sub-clan and the clan is strongly condemned. Moral disapproval is more pronounced than in th previous instance. we may turn to the attitude towards adultery. of moral censure. of friendly clans of different tribes. 82 H. moral evaluation is again contextual. that is in the sense of being contrary man's moral constitution.jstor. but the general attitude is that it would have been better for all concerned if the offence ha passed unnoticed. Moreover. He is angry. for the anger and the enmity which it creates are contrary to the mora ideal that the members of these groups should assist and support each other. Generally speaking. no gre moral blame attaches to him. LXVIII. The situations which he describes for Wogeo are in most respects similar to those which arise among the Gahuku-Gama. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. 226-248. or of group without any recognized social ties. This content downloaded from 200.107 on Thu. and even if the owner is not notified he seldom regards the act as theft. Finally. Adultery not wrong universally and intrinsically. Ian Hogbin draws attention to this fact in his paper " Social Reaction to Crime. They are less ready to admit adultery with women of different clans of the same tribe. Action has to be taken if the offence is brough to the wronged husband's notice and he. He chides his kinsman for omitting to inform him of the action. but it is far less emphatic than in cases of adultery within the cla or sub-clan. is not a moral absolute. pig stealing w considered a legitimate way of scoring off a rival group . At the opposite extreme. a good deal is condoned provided it is not found out. the invariably express resentment for the informant whose tattling has been responsible for bringing the matter into the open. Peo will even deny that it occurs. It is necessary to conceal it. even if there is no doubt as to the rightful owner's identity In short. Here again the mora evaluation of adultery depends primarily on the moral evaluation of the ties between the parties concerned. a man is n expected to be angry if a kinsman appropriates something belonging to him provided the latter tells him what he has done. and though they recognize that a man who has be wronged in this way has cause to show anger.

The analysis. physio- logical and psychic whole. they involve. for the moral agent is required to look beyond the form of particular relationships and the differential rights which they involve. Human Nature and the Basis of Obligation To the Gahuku-Gama. We will look in vain. physiological and psychic aspects of his nature cannot be clearly separated. This idea clearly underlies most of the customary forms of greeting. To an extent which it is perhaps difficu for us to appreciate or understand. Moral duty is never simply synonymous with social duty. Though their knowledge of these several aspects of man's nature is understandably limited. then. as it were. for example. " T " know " or to " think " is to " hear " (gelenove) . as men.33 In addition. They exist in the closest inter-dependence. It will be clear by now that the Gahuku-Gama conception of obligation is based on a fundamentally different view of human beings. in a rather obscur sense. with considerable detail. is more than the sum of these various part The biological. With our own traditional teaching. are also persons they are bound by a common measure of obligation.org/terms . is not complete. man consists of a number of articulated parts which toge her make up his body. It follows that an injury to any part of the body is also comparable to damage to the personality of the individual sustaining the injury. eyes. I have tried to show that this ground is ultimately the person.107 on Thu. into a number of component the individual. liver. irrespective of status. nor have they any con ception of its function. nose. are bound to one another by a mora tie which is wider than. in the moral sense. limbs. the living personality. hair. Anatomically. But though he can be thus analysed. a loss to the personality itself. the loss of something which is an essential part or element of the whole. In short. they nevertheless regard them as bein inter-dependent. "I don't know " or " I don't understand " i " I do not hear " or " I have not heard " (gelemuve). incorporating and expressing the whole in each of their sever functions. He also consists of certain internal organs havin specific functions and amongst which the heart. the ties that link them socially. but social individuals. stomach and viscera are th most important. the internal organs and bodily excretions are essential constituents of th human personality. ways of expressing obligation and appreciation. c This content downloaded from 200. however. Cognitive processes are associated with " the organ of hearing. and subsumes. for we have yet to see what ideas of man's nature are held by the Gahuku-Gama and what ethical consequences.91. The source of moral authority moreover. if any. The most common for 33 The Gahuku-Gama do not ascribe any importance to the brain. to the ground on which a moral obligation is felt to rest. the human individual is a complex biological. for any comparable concept that men. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. fused together to form the human personality. and since all men. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 265 We are brought back. is seen to lie outside the system of social relationships which bind men to one another as members of society.156. and to measure these against the invariable and inherent value which he and all other men possess.jstor. Similarly the loss of any of the bodily substances through excretion is. he is constituted by a psychic factor. my examination has tended to show that men are not primarily persons. the various parts of the body. being.

of course. Thus the members of a particular descent group may refer to themselves as " one skin. the word is used in expressing personal sorrow or loss at the death or absence of a particular individual and. of joy at his 34 I." and cultural differences are explained by saying " their skin is another kind. however. It is.156. He excretes. or lack of personal knowledge of his character is commonly expressed by the phrase " I do not know (or have not seen) his skin. the Gahuku-Gama go a good deal further than this in regarding the various parts and functions of the human organism as inseparable elements of a man's individuality.e." Finally. possible t conventionalized expression of submission.e. and therefore as expressive of his personality. too. His faeces leave him. " faeces making I eat. we may turn to other customary usages. For corroborative evidence. The expression is then seen to be a statem3n a sympathetic recognition of the individuality of the person suggest. of a sympathetic identity between objects which have been in contact with one another. or serokove.107 on Thu. " their skin is one kind with us ").. very different from the common assumption. I tell him I am sorry/' This idea is not. of giving compensation or returning the services of others not only " loosens " the debt on one's own skin but also " makes good the skin " of those to whom one is obliged. is what is implied in the following explanation given to m "A man/' he remarked." or they may employ the same phrasing to denote that other groups possess a similar culture (i. It would be a mistake . the discharging of an obligation.jstor. in the latter case.. the obligation to return in kind the valuables contributed to a bride-price) is rendered as " having a debt on one's skin. underlying most forms of contagious magic. sorry to see him there (i.e.91. to regard the two ideas as equivalent. "walks about. lit. accom gesture of the up-turned. particularly when i the imperative form " eat my excreta ! " one of the gravest no doubt that a token submission is intended. but in order to meaning of the phrase it is also necessary to grasp the more o between the physiological functions of the human organism personality itself.266 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA for each of these situations is the verbal expression " let me e or variations such as " your urine/' " your semen/' etc. on the ground)." The word is used." This content downloaded from 200. the act of making gifts. open hand to the mouth or by grasp genitals of the individual concerned. fall to the ground. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. for while it is true that this sympathetic relationship between objects is felt to exist. I am sorry for him.. the word in this sense referring to his moral character. Doubt as to a person's motives. By way of contrast. The word " skin " (gupe) is used in a wide variety of contexts to convey informa- tion and to express ideas about others.35 A man may be said to have a " good " ora" bad " skin. contractions of ase roko nonuve.org/terms . ase roko ve. to express socio-cultural similarities and differences. To incur an obligation to others (as. for example." 35 Gupe refers to " flesh " as well as " epidermis." Similarly. perhaps. members of other descent groups are said to be " another skin.

28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. his shoulders.. It can be seen. during the period before a boy's initiation or a girl's first menstruation. a man may also lift her breasts. his arms or his calves. Nowadays. to them. sorrow and affection for another. it would be an over-simplification to regard them merely as metaphorical expressions." or " I hold (or see) your skin . and occasionally more frequently. my belly is good ").156. On approaching a group of people. He is required to " make their skin good " by killing at least one pig and giving them valuables. an increasing number of both the young and the old also cut their hair simply to demonstrate that they are sophisticated men-of -the. is performed at least once. man's physical nature embodies his specific identity . as in the continual caressing of arms and thighs in greeting or in expressing sympathy. they are required to cut it short. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 267 return (e.constitutes him individual . When a man cuts his hair for any reason. leave their villages to work on coastal plantations.g. or if they receive Christian baptism.org/terms . known as agoka hukukave (lit. and also in a strongly developed sense of man's physical dignity. Something of this outlook may possibly be seen in the marked physical demonstrativeness which characterizes most inter-personal relationships.107 on Thu. and whereas we tend to think of him as an individual mainly by reference to his temperamental qualities. an outlook or ideology which does not recognize any sharp distinction between the physical and psychic constituents of man's nature. If they seek employment in European households. his relatives and age-mates go into mourning. It is designed to draw attention to the This content downloaded from 200. the Gahuku-Gama place a much greater stress on the former.jstor. sympathy. to take a single example. They denote a specific concept of individuality. whereas we ourselves tend to take man's natural physical character for granted. a man (or woman) who cuts his hair is bound to recompense his relatives and age-mates. Finally. too. While it is easy enough to find parallels to these usages amongst ourselves. This outlook also appears in the customary standing embrace in which members of either sex press their bodies together. the emphasis on the physical aspect of man's nature is revealed quite clearly in many of the ceremonies associated with the growth and development of children. Thus. One of these. a man (or woman) walks slowly round the company. affection and gratitude. Each time my own hair was cut my adoptive relatives and age-mates put on the signs of mourning.91. In greeting an older woman. " his nose they cut "). or he kneels down and encircling the other's waist with his arms. exclaiming sympathetically on the fact that they are no longer firm.as much as the diacritical qualities of temperament. but according to context it indicates pleasure. in the common practice of self-mutilation and in a fairly extensive range of other usages. Men and women normally wear their hair in long ringlets reaching to their shoulders. They insist on regarding the individual as a psycho-physical whole and.world. plastering their bodies with clay and ashes and perhaps even cutting off a finger. The customary verbal expression which accompanies these gestures is moka'ne. Indeed. halting at each individual to caress his thighs. " I will not see his skin again. holds him in a full embrace. Its literal meaning is obscure.

meni.107 on Thu. its genit Men and women sit and walk with their arms round one another lying side by side. the girl's arm pillowed on the boy's forearm. At the same tim Gahuku-Gama's marked interest in the body and in the physic nature.156." The term agoka hukukave is used for a variety of ceremonie physical conditions and development.268 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA child's physical development and. men and women utter appreciation. the child is painted and decorated and solemnly escorted of the village to the assembled company.Z6 wh 36 ist. th rub their lips and chins together until the skin breaks and blee too . The ceremon and a distribution of valuables in which the maternal kin are the pr Normally. this inte in a life-long desire for close physical contact with other peop tinually reaching out to encircle children and to press them har body . in their delight in bodily ornamentation and decor and in the ceremonial application of unguents . For example. Apart from the formal usages already detailed.91. They point out that the ch and they inform the father that they are anxious to " make its skin gifts of food and to paint and decorate the child's body. It is reflected. to recognize all those who have had an interest in its welfare. This content downloaded from 200. and it also draws attent of maternal kin in respect of sister's children. but if h or tardiness his hand may be forced by his wife's kinsfolk. Their r refused at the risk of being accused of insufficient interest in the the father is therefore compelled to make the necessary arran ceremony. this fix physical aspect of man's nature and the continual attempt to make to touch.org/terms . the limbs and other parts of the body. the child's father decides when to hold the feast. The ceremony I have described above may be times by a wealthy father. Indeed. after their seclusion in the me met in the village by crowds of men and women who break bamboo against their legs.ways which soon become so familiar that an observer cease we can see this preoccupation with the body. who exp desire to honour their sister's child. open lips are continually seeking the baby's mouth. f attention lavished on the skin. It is obviously an occasion which ser instructing the child in kinship obligations. to hold or to caress and to pass remarks about another's p is one of the most noticeable elements in inter-personal relationshi The Gahuku-Gama believe. it refers to welcome given to initiates when. 2nd and 3rd persons possessive : nemeni gemeni. in the long periods which peopl each other. The child is shown the gifts which its father int its behalf and it is told that " these are for those who honour y affection for your skin and make it good. ameni.jstor. on the child's behalf.pig's grease and to the hair. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. however. that in addition to the individual is also constituted by a psychic factor.

" ceases to be. although the fundamental religious belief of the Gahuku-Gama may be characterized as a belief in an unnamed ancestral power. therefore. They neither punish nor approve and therefore are neither to be feared nor placated. I stated that : " The spirits of the recently dead are felt to concern themselves in certain situations which confront their living descendants. and with its departure the individual himself ceases to have any existence. when a disapproving " shade " may be held 37 The word gika (ni-gika. if anything remains." Subsequent field work made it clear that the spirits of the recently dead are not generally concerned with the conduct of the living.jstor. and the living state that they have no knowledge of its source or the manner in which it operates. This content downloaded from 200. Thus. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 269 principle of human nature. this power itself is impersonal and is more readily inferred or felt than expressed or described in words. They cannot revisit their descendants. A man who has married the widow of an age-mate may. the dead are not believed to retain any personal interest in the living. They are thought to punish those who transgress accepted norms of conduct with illnesses and other misfortunes. perhaps believe that some illness has been caused by the disapproving shade of the deceased husband and. is the organ most closely associated with the breath-soul. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. one may say ameni ramana or agika ramana. If we use the term its most comprehensive sense.156. characteristically. an almost complete oblivion and certainly the extinction of any positive individuality." is used interchangeably with meni. They neither bestow favours on nor punish their descendants and they cannot be regarded as arbiters of moral conduct. The dead simply pass from the world of the living . and at death it simply ceases to exist. I have referred to one possible exception. or indeed speculates what happens to the meni at death . the simplest explanation being that the neck. a-gika). It is not formulated in any dogma.107 on Thu. No one knows. in the sense of any real personality. p. gika is possibly used more frequently. It is. What does remain. thereafter they are beyond the reach of human knowledge and there is virtually no further personal contact between them and their descendants.91. " his soul good (it is).org/terms . Meni is rather the breath-soul. he then performs a rite to " send the dead away. is neither soul nor body but rather a " shade/' something which lacks any positive characteristics and which has no fixed place of abode. cit. we need not expect to find an exact equivalence between the meni and the Christian concept of the soul. the seat of the animating principle." But this is an exceptional situation and.. In " Nama Cult of the Central Highlands " {op. we may call this psychic element the soul. 9). (I take this opportunity to correct certain statements which I made in an earlier paper. At the same time. nor any reassurance that the personality persists in some different form. There is no belief in an after-world. for me is the basis of conscious and continuous individual existence. as it were. Their favour must then be sought by means of prayer and sacrifice. " neck. that is. the life principle simply " departs. Death means. for the former does not entail or include any belief in a personal survival. Thus. in both cases. the principle of life which animates the physical organism. from which the breath issues. gi-gika. meaning. the whole " self " or personality. in general." Of the two terms.37 There is thus an initial difference between the Gahuku-Gama and the Christian concepts.

the injunction that a wife must not touch her husband's nose or his hair gives formal recognition to the physical aspect of his personality. they both contribute to and partake of the nature of the whole. for there is no rule agains marriages. " Does he think so little of her vagina that he does this to it ? " they ask. the nose and bodily excretions are " members of the whole. the internal organs. but the woman's sympathisers are moved to express their disapproval not so much because of the peculiar viciousness of the attack but rather because it is directed against this particular part of the body. The vagina holds his penis. " His thought is not straight in this. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about." People will also claim to be able to tell if a person is not telling the truth by looking at his nose. and differentiated into the local consciousness of its particular members. as such. Thus." Finally. or they will sum up his character by saying " I know his nose . the hair. Similarly. whose consciousness is diffused throughout it.156. readily understand and This content downloaded from 200. Wronged or suspicious husbands are also known to punish a wife by thrusting a stick into her vagina. Thus. the latent jealousy and hostility betw age-mates. there is almost a literal correspondence between the ideas expressed by St. more readily appreciate the concern and sympathy which even the smallest cut or injury to the body evokes. is the animating principle and. determination. Paul (I Corinthians XII." or again it is customary to indicate a state of uncertainty. the breath-soul. he is of such and such a type. for example. but it depends on the body and separated from the body it loses all positive characteristics. This form of retaliation may evoke criticism. e.107 on Thu. the fairly common practice of stripping an adulteress and beating or throwing dirt on her genitals. Once we grasp this. the personality. the skin. We can. they see it as an unwarranted indignity to this particular organ. It is in this light that we must also view the physical indignities which are heaped on certain offenders. innumerable usages and figures of speech appear in a new light.) and the manner in which the Gahuku-Gama regard the parts of the body.org/terms . in a sense. Meni. the various parts of the body have each their ethical and psychic qualities. however. assumes a new significance if viewed in relation to this concept of psycho-physical unity.jstor. but here there is no question of moral disapproval. wilfulness or recalcitrance in another is usually expressed by saying " his nose is strong. The situation reflects. and self -mutilation. the personality.g. Word for word.. 12 ff." and. The limbs. suspicion or furtiveness by remarking that the individual concerned " conceals his nose. What we are faced with is not a dichotomy of soul and body but a psycho-physical unity in which the parts are mutually dependent. In short. it is easier to appreciate everyday expressions in which parts of the body are used to indicate or describe an aspect of character or type of behaviour. deliberate injury to one's own body.270 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA responsible for the illness of a man who has married his age-mate's widow.) The relation of the soul to the body in the Gahuku-Gama concept of personality thus involves the rejection of dualism. the body is conceived to be an integral part of the whole. the " self " . to that indivisible whole which is his specific and unique identity. for example. Why should he treat it thus ? " Similarly.91. They would.

if it is possible. muli agoza. But at this point all similarit ceases.jstor. and to be faithful to the Divin Source.that there is one aspect of his nature that relates man to God and makes him accessible to God. man is bound to ascertain God's will for him and to do what God require It is from this that Christian derives his strong sense of sin. " what do you want (desire. A man may feel " shame. the seat of the emotions is located in the stomach and we ma This content downloaded from 200. they think of the dead as " shades in Sheol rather than as the " souls " of Christian teaching. and that the body itself is therefore integral t human nature. near present tense) means " to die or interchangeably with nivisekave.107 on Thu. of the one entire personality. that the relationship between soul and body intrinsic. " you are ill. for the Old Testament also affirms .g. man is th centre of contact between these two great realms and in his nature he unites them in mutual dependence. the members rejoice with it. like) ? " Finally.91. they apparently affirm that there is an even closer and more intimate connection between the physical and psychi elements of human personality. but he certainly does not live with the knowledge of sin as the Christian does. The Gahuku-Gama concept of man's nature is in broad agreement with this position but. God man's origin and his end. the Christian does not mean that the soul depend on the body for its ultimate existence or that it dies in the physical dissolution death. for exampl maintains that soul and body are related as form to matter. introduces and emphasizes the theistic idea that both soul and body are of Divine creation Furthermore." a temporary embarrassment." or " want. however. Thomas. e. the reason for his existence.org/terms . it is very doubtful if the Gahuku-Gama ever experience sin as the Christian understand it. ev remorse or self-pity. nenetakum gum helekave or nenetakumu givisive (or givisekave)." It is apparent that the phrase nogoza helekave refers to an affective state and that the us of nogoza in this context points to a physically based conception of feelings a emotions.and the New Testament makes it a principal article of faith . gogoz agoza) is also used for the juice of fruits and other substances. lemon juice. on different planes. The verb helekave (3rd person singular. He understands. the Christi believes that man's first duty in all things is towards the Divine Creator. In contrast. not temporary or artificial. their ideas are closer to those of the Ol Testament than the New Testament . St. the fact that they are so closely inter-related in present experien suggests that God has brought them into existence together : they are complementar expressions. Indeed. Christian teaching. In this. " Shame " is rendered by nogoza helekave. all members suffer with it . Indeed. at least in so far as its powers belong to and are finally gathered in the life of the soul. Thus. Nogoza (nogoza. of actions which a contrary to his true nature and therefore an offence to the Divine Creator.g. in other words.156." Thus. to " desire. givisekave. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about." e. nivisekave also means " to be ill. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 271 wholeheartedly concur with the statements in verse 26 : " And whether one member (of the body) suffer. By this. or one member be honoured." The essential unity of the personality and the rejection of any dichotomy of soul and body is also emphasized in Christian teaching.

or. but this is not a sin or an offence which has any spiritual consequences." and that apart from a small handful of converts who have " really absorbed " Christian teaching.jstor. we cannot exclude the operation of " conscience. Further. the finery. and I have already stated my general agreement with Durkheim's position. 1-25. pp. Even the sacred flutes are treated with a casual- ness which contradicts their importance as a symbol and channel of access to the ancestral power. it is the tension and excitement of the crowd. the personal human contacts and secular ambitions to impress. No. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about.272 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA infer that the affective state of embarrassment is conceived of as a " disturbance " or " change " in the " juices " of the individual undergoing the experience. and though there is great excitement and evident emotion at particular gatherings. There is a general belief in an impersonal ancestral power which lies behind the continuing order. Hogbin has suggested that for most of the Busama " the notion of conscience has little meaning. the ground and source of moral obligation lies wholly within the social medium itself . for example by destroying the sacred nama flutes and discontinuing the practices associated with them. the Busama . embodying.had formulated a notion equivalent to the Christian concept of conscience." Oceania. the Gahuku-Gama is a stranger to contrition in the Christian sense and a stranger to that particular affective and cognitive state which the Christian calls the " sense of sin. that is. it is " internalized. " goodness is dependent on expediency " (H. this difficulty.org/terms . Vol. Ian Hogbin. its stimulus the food." In short." Oceania. pp. Contrasted with the Christian viewpoint.to observe anything one could describe as a distinctively religious fervour. " Shame : A Study of Social Conformity in a New Guinea Village. and though he depends on it he cannot offend it. 1947. If we 38 "Nama Cult of the Central Highlands. for at the worst it can only mean that he has gambled his shield against the vagaries and uncertainties of nature.I would almost say impossible . This accords with the well-known Durkheimian analysis of primitive religious experience. for that matter. XXIII. It is not concerned with questions of ethics. The Concise Oxford Dictionary." In any case. We would not expect to find that the Gahuku- Gama . but man is not responsible to it. This content downloaded from 200.91. the particular theistic views of right and wrong associated with Christianity. A word or two on conscience may also be appropriate to this context. and none of the people's supernatural beliefs possess any ethical content. to show to one's best advantage. however. the ancestral power is not interested in Gahuku-Gama moral life." located within and deriving its requiredness from the system of inter-personal and inter-group relationships. XVII.107 on Thu. 283-287). I found it extremely difficult . Vol.156. 1. He can deny it or cut himself off from it. however.38 There is. man is accountable only to his fellows and morality is purely secular. defines conscience simply as the " moral sense of right and wrong/' and unless we are prepared to argue and to demonstrate that a particular people have no generally accepted ideas of what should be done in certain situations. awe or reverence at any of the ceremonies I witnessed.

(The style of oratory has a marked affinity wit that of the Homeric heroes and Beowulf . As with the concept and awareness of sin. a man may go to the house of one of the performers. the boasting of Beowulf in the Hall of Hrothgar when he tells of his exploits against Breca. After a dance.of such immediate significance to the Christian . This is the highest compliment that can be paid to a dancer. the way he beats his breast. in the art of oratory.107 on Thu.org/terms . brandishing weapons. It finds expression. The brilliantly decorated dancer aims to be the centre attraction.jstor. The source of the on remains essentially internal while the other is external to the social medium.is foreign to the Gahuku- Gama.) The desire to dominate. so also the higher consciousness of person . the warrior seems tireles in recounting his exploits and the average individual readily flares with anger at deliberate or suspected slight or injury to his self-esteem. to surround them and leap up and down. and in cons quence. He the greets the performer with a stylized shout and the latter is compelled to make him a gift of valuables. H sits down outside until someone enquires the reason of his visit. whereupon he replies that the performance of the man concerned has " killed " him (helekave). Pigs and valuables seldom change hands without exaggerated reference to their donor's industry. their infant and childish This content downloaded from 200. A highly developed feeling and regard for the " lower " psycho-physica self. for example. Lovingly decorated and indulged. both great and small. There is nevertheless a distinct differenc between the kind of moral obligation to which we can point under these circumstance and that which is explicitly recognized in Christian teaching. they are always a centre of adult attention. argue that all moral rules therefore possess quasi-religious or supernatural sanction. his continual and vigorous references to himself. stand out from one's fellows. his boasting. and in the content of his speech. in the stance and gestures of the speaker. say who it is who has a name for pigs ! " There are innumerable other instances. in contradiction of the statements I have made above. his reputation and his greatness . ar among the most pronounced characteristics of Gahuku-Gama inter-personal an inter-group behaviour.g. The theme of dominance and submission is strikingly illustrated by the following practice. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. th performer accepting it as an acknowledgment that he has surpassed everyone el and that his accomplishments have seriously unsettled or emotionally disturbed h visitor. his importance and his abilities. the majority of them provide an opportunity for boasting and display A sense of self-importance is also imparted to children from their earliest age Continually passed from hand to hand. The customary way of receiving guests is for the hosts to rush towards them as they ent the village. fo most festive or formal gatherings contain an element of competition. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 273 adopt Durkheim's conception of a " sacralized " society we could. shouti and crying out such phrases as " now you eat pig ! I have killed my largest pig the pig I have reared and fed ! Now look and see where is the home of pigs .156. kissed and caressed. e. bring the most opportuni for formally giving vent to the qualities of aggression and self-assertion. his wide-flung arms. But ceremonial occasions. to receive their submission and their adulation. the idiosyncratic " me " is clearly evident in a wide range of characterist behaviour.91.

107 on Thu. roles and status. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. their foibles and their typical reactions. no meaning at the leve awareness which is personal consciousness. noting the manner in whic characteristically behave. plaiting new arm and ankle bands. Together with this strongly developed sense of self. as though it were his just du boys. they come outside to the waiting throng of women hair piled high in a chignon wrapped in bark cloth. shouting accept it all. Then.jstor. some hu others stern and unrelenting.156. the honour and the excitement. they are with tears and shouts and they stand motionless and speechless while in the surr ing throng an old woman cries and holds her hands to her belly. Pride is something to be worn like a banner. the unassuming and retiring per never a major influence in the life of the community.91. walking through a throng of leaping. we must be aware of a com This content downloaded from 200. In short. To sum up : Modesty is not a virtue . which make him the individual he is. befeath oiled and hung with ornaments. ceremonies associated with their growth and development. is independent of them and similarly. But this se idiosyncratic self does not necessarily involve the higher consciousness of p The latter is an awareness of the self and of others which goes beyond this expe and this recognition of the idiosyncratic me. their elders have been busy collecting every kind of fine decoration for them. In other words. the diacritical qualities of temperament which con our " normal " knowledge of others have no significance. There little doubt that they conceive of their fellows as distinct personalities. some foolish and each endowed with a specific quality or qualities set him off from others. the respected and successful are who are most loud in their own praise and most positive in their expressions of importance. The consciousness of person surm these differences. Difficult as it is to express con its essential quality may be described as the consciousness of an identical na all men. they are greeted praise and shouts of appreciation.org/terms . arms reach touch and caress them and appraising eyes and excited voices consider some embellishment for their beauty. some easy-going and to be treated with famil some wise. the climax of this adult interest comes at the conclusion of their nov when they leave the men's house and are ceremonially conducted back to the vill During their seclusion. painted and weighed dow plumes and the vast frames which are attached to their shoulders. for unwillingness to wrang to boast is tantamount to an admission that one is a nonentity. to " know " the we must conceive of all men in the same way . All this is placed on them in the men's house and at daw ferment of excitement. they ente village in a long procession and for the remainder of a highly emotional dancing and feasting they are the centre of attraction. when the sun has risen. dying bark cloth and m their new clothes. it is independent pattern of social relationships. and the solemn small boy or girl. the Gahuku-Gama also g full recognition to the idiosyncrasies of others. considered good and shown some esteem.274 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA attempts at self-expression and display are consciously encouraged and behaviour is a never-failing source of amusement and parental pride. and though he m loved.

Committed to a purely psycho-physical conception of man's nature and strongly aware of his idiosyncratic identity."39 In the whole history of mankind there has probably never been a society which fits this analysis and. His genealogies are shallow . the roles they play and the system of relationships in which they live. since it does not proceed from a critical and intelligent self . nor can we take from him the faculty of reflection and regard his judgments 39 Marett. nothing I have said and nothing I know about the Gahuku-Gama supports it. . his motives and his actions are more firmly grounded in the present. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. Regarding temporal existence as a sojourn. at the same time. his thought. One result of this consciousness of person is the Christian sense of living for and in the sight of the eternal. His future. we cannot deny him standards. and the ability to choose rationally between alter- natives . that our " normal " knowledge of ourselves and others not of this nature. too. reactively. then. Eternity does not come within his perspective. that neither in their beliefs nor in their behaviour is there any evidence that the Gahuku-Gama regard themselves or their fellows in a manner which is comparable to our own traditional view. as creatures who are endowed with a unique. and. in consequence. The reality of life is thus like a light which illumines a space between two areas of darkness. cit.107 on Thu. Beyond life there is no reality and.91. but at the same time we can deny the concept of the person only at the risk of denying the foundation of our concept of natural justice and ma other of our distinctive and most cherished ideas. Primitive conduct is " best understood in the light of what is regarded as crowd psychology. certainly. taking his cue from his neighbours in their mass (and) his conduct is merely the expression of a mobbishly caused and received impression. on themselves is not properly their own. lacking the ability to choose and continually moving in response to some external and impersonal compulsion. figures devoid of individual character and motivation. He has little knowledge of the past. and we must view this comm factor as essentially apart from or above the social medium in which men liv We may argue. tends to regard himself and others principally as figures in a social pattern." op. Each man looks outwards. In a typical crowd the public opinion exercised by the individual members on each other. Man lives out his whole existence within a time perspective of four generations. It is clear. objective and intrinsic value and an individuality which is distinct from the status they occupy.156. is unknown.jstor. the Christian looks to death to open the way to a realization of his true nature. . We cannot conclude that the intelligence of the Gahuku-Gama is different from our own . I cite this paper merely as a relatively concise statement of a particular point of view.org/terms . MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 275 basis in the individuality of ourselves and others. the Gahuku-Gama. of course. This content downloaded from 200. for the Gahuku-Gama death means the virtual end of the personality. " Rudimentary Ethics. his history is almost exclusively confined to events within living memory and he has few myths or legends. This view of primitive man has been fashionable and it has been said that the closely knit fabric of primitive society hinders the development of personality and independent character. But he does not regard his fellows as featureless entities. On the other hand.

and while they preclude the existence and expression of what we regard as the fundamental qualities. The same could for most other relationships.156. Ther real dichotomy between man and society. They are not unaware of these variat they do not ignore them . to categorize. the palpable differ between people. We ourselves are accustomed to distinguish between and we recognize that although man lives and moves within a social medium nevertheless an entity who stands essentially apart from and above it. and the more pronounced his own esteem the more clos identifies himself with his status. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. His munity life is lived on a relatively small scale . Let me emphasize again that this particular outlook does not reduce on fellow men to a featureless and uniform grey . the more outstanding a man more he is held in.is a basic and inseparable constituent of each man's ident Indeed. move out of position and thereby. These characteristics of simple societies are ciently well known to stand without further elaboration. I think. as clearly as we are accus to. a vi may be added. that they can express their personal preferences. to see men largely in terms of their position in a system o rights and obligations. no essential separation of the ind from the social pattern.jstor. are like a shim which overlies their social identity. This content downloaded from 200. the majority of his relationships personal and direct and the bonds of kinship and of local contiguity constit framework of his social system. it is cle men have a greater affection for and feel a closer bond with some than others. It is. Conversely. status .91.276 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA merely in terms of sense perception. between the individual and the status which he occupies. Peopl and in fact do. nor is it incompatible with a to stand out from the crowd and to shine in the eyes of others. By way of co the outlook of the Gahuku-Gama implies a rejection of this dualism. in words. Yet in the more subtle sense of Durkh may.org/terms .107 on Thu. in a somewhat paradoxica they lose or forfeit their identity. but it is only to an outsider. but althou formalities of friendship are generally maintained with all of them. to his fellows. but even when we have made every allowance manner in which differences in temperament and character may modify a bond. how view which penetrates beneath the surface diversity of character and tempe and which fixes the individual in relationship to the social pattern. they are nevertheless consistent with a socially orientated outlo conception of one's fellow man. Individual identity and social identity ar sides of the same coin. the idiosyncratic variations in their natures. They tend. such as the a pologist. are expected to be the closest of friends. To the Gahuku-Gama. conclude that his outlook is fundamentally sociocentric. it is possible to conclude that for most purposes and in most situ social identity is more important than idiosyncratic individuality. are probably very well aware of this. which is extensively reflected in our literature. for example.his position in the system o rights and obligations . Of course it does not follow that idiosyncratic differences are unimpor Age-mates. but they do not distinguish. the fact remains that.

generous or selfish. A form of bond friendship exists.91. to live and work with men who are not related to them. who are members of the same tribe. however. but I should point out that I am not denying the individual all freedom to choose from among his fellows or to distribute bi affections. a member one's own clan or patrilineage. member of the tribe or sub-tribe. His attitudes towards others and his possible relationships with them a defined by his own and their position in the social pattern. significantly enough. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 277 (Dr. people may choose. and in order to account for it th invariably postulated some specific social tie between us : we were age-mates. follows. but. but whether a man is characterized as good bad. we exclude a small number men living matrilocally in a predominantly patrilocal community. clansmen or " one-kind. and that the kinship system is the " manipulated " to fit these individuals. People.) Individual idiosyncracies. known friend or potential enemy. Indeed.he can exercise his preference only within a particular category of peopl The nature of his ties with others precludes him from regarding them as potentially capable of the same affective bond. so that while he may fee more strongly attracted to one age-mate rather than another.107 on Thu. I did not come across anything of a com parable nature among the Gahuku-Gama (if. as we are relatively free. Stated as concisely as possible. he is. This content downloaded from 200. Phyllis Kaberry has drawn my attention to the fact that among the Abelam of the Sepik River. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. we may say that the Gahuku-Gama regards h fellows primarily as social individuals. They could not fully appreciate a relationship which was based solely on a mutual regard for one another and wh sprang from an affinity of ideas and interests. kin of one's wife or mother. that is. on the basis of idiosyncratic affinity. or some oth men who preferred to associate themselves with age-mates rather than with member of their own patrilineage or sub-clan) . People are viewed largely in terms status.and to live and work with him .156. too. the Gahuku-Gama do not use the pid English term for friend {pren) to designate this relationship. relative or stranger. dominant or ineffectual. to put it a little differently. are not without significance in determining the way one regards one's fellows. for example. It involves reciprocal obligations o hospitality and some minor kinds of economic assistance between individuals different tribes. Pren is only us reciprocally by age-mates." a phrase which is used for members of the same trib In short. the fact that the system is manipulated to " fit " these ca may be cited in support of my thesis. to cho from among his fellows on the basis of idiosyncratic affinity those with whom he w associate.org/terms .jstor. at the same time. and while he ma choose to make this man his special friend and confidant . the individual and his social role are n clearly separable. that the Gahuku-Gama is not free. were puzzled by my o friendship with certain of my European neighbours. or. the Gahuku-Gama do not enter into casual friendships on the Europea pattern. an age-mate. This outlook is reflected in a general difficulty to appreciate or understan friendship between Europeans.

91. As we were returning home I noticed that a youth of about fourteen of age was walking behind one of my companions. New York. they possess a dignity which them above other animals. in your relations members of the tribe. as such. an inseparable component of his individuality. as in Western teach an incommensurable worth which stands above all other values and which d the moral duty of the individual to himself and to his fellows. accompanying a party of m festival at a settlement which was three hours' walk from the village wher living.jstor. " I will g if I come this way. " I d go there. I mea not only the individual's moral obligations but also his judgments of others large extent dependent on the presence or absence of a particular social bon looking at his fellows. it contributes an essential element to their awareness of him . 1927. Later. leading. The regard the Christian ideal as not only impossible but also untrue. it is the " manner in which. however. however. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. you distribute this emotion " that is worthy of approbation (Pau Primitive Man as Philosopher. he expressed his astonishment at the meeting by rema that he had not known that he had any relatives at the boy's village. and secondly. Moreover. for according to the Winnebago. 73. the older man called out to me excitedly. He expla me that in the course of some casual enquiries he had made the discovery th youth was a very distant maternal kinsman. the Gahuku-Gama sees them primarily as people to whom differentially bound by a particular tie or social relationship. and when we left the boy at his own village he em him several times. on one occasion. But now. The W bage. in practice. My maternal kinsmen will know me and take care of m Men are similarly constituted. It may be added that in this as in others where he makes use of the comparison . but as an inclin the will.Radin shows a misunderstanding Christian teaching." he added.278 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA To his fellows. It cannot be said. the value which each man possesses as a human being is re 40 Radin draws attention to a similar moral emphasis among the Winnebago. it b as it were. I recall.156. the social role is an intrinsic constituent of each man's id and. as such. man is not bound by a duty to himself or others which is than or cannot be contained in his social relationships . he showed the g solicitude for his companion. It is also a matter of everyday expe and observation.of another person whom one does no This content downloaded from 200. By this I mean two thi firstly. Where the life is concerned. but it is not. he remarks. The two of them exchan occasional word but did not seem to be paying much attention to one ano Suddenly. " I walk by other roads. Thereafter. p. are enjoined to love everybody but not to love them all equally. that the Gahuku-G consider this sense of human dignity to have any far-reaching moral impli Human beings. so that one can " love " . possess intrinsic value.will the good . The ethical conseq of this outlook have been indicated already : it results in what I have narrowing or contraction of the moral judgment. and on turnin I found him standing with his arms around the boy's shoulders. The tendency to see people in terms of social ties is clearly evident in m the responses given in projective tests.org/terms . to m insincerity." he said. that the moral rules of the Gahuku-Gama are not universals in the sens they are not conceived as deriving from or referring to something which is inh to man's nature . for the Christian does not regard love as an emotion.107 on Thu.

I am aware. because my aim has been interpretation rather than description. that some authorities who agree with me on this point may nevertheless find cause to criticize the terms employed in my comparison. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. that different ethica systems may be compared and evaluated objectively.156. as is often done in studies comparative ethics. and between these and other non-Christian members of the community. Conclusion In this enquiry. I have attempte to elicit from it certain ethical characteristics and.as being both basic and traditional to Christian and thus to Western European teaching. in fact. Although. in other words. however.. This implies. that I may. in the sense that it possesses historical continuity. At the same time. the Gahuku-Gama recognize the claim of all men to a common humanity. I have been concerned with ethics rather than with morals.91. I have not attempted to give a complete account of Gahuku- Gama morality.org/terms .should not. and which is widely accepted. for example. be held guilty of an initial over-simplificatio in speaking of " the " morality of Western European culture or of Christianity. 3 : " It is a gross over- simplification to speak of ' the ' morality of the Greeks. I suggest that there is a centra core of Christian teaching which is traditional. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 279 insignificant. Ethically speaking." op. or of ' the ' Christian or ' the ' American way of life. Diversity and differences within the framework of Christian teaching . its basic assumptions concerning man and their bearing on moral obligation. cit. " On the Diversity of Morals. they do not consider that this involves them in identical moral duties." This content downloaded from 200. of course. p. therefore. and my examination has been directed towards the clarifica- tion of what I believe to be a more fundamental problem.no less than the variations presented by different moral systems . its principles and genera characteristics. ' the ' morality of the Romans or th Egyptians. Beginning. and it is therefore possible to grant an individual humanity yet not be bound to him by any mora obligations. but it is common knowledge that in ou own society there are differences of opinion on quite fundamental moral issues between the various groups professing Christianity. with the attempt to arrive at som understanding of the nature of Gahuku-Gama morality. in fact. Not the least of my aims has also been to compare the ethical outlook of the Gahuku-Gama with that of Western European culture. I have. in turn. men are not primarily human beings but individuals to whom one is related by social ties which carry different moral implications. be permitted to obscure a common element and in respect of that which is common we may reasonably speak of " the " Christian ethic. In short. of a Christian conception of man.4 Such strictures carry no great weight in dealing with a small-scale. with the concept of the person . as exemplified in th traditional teaching of Christianity. of the good and of obligation. to compare these wit 41 Cf.107 on Thu. relatively homo- geneous group such as the Gahuku-Gama. for one's moral responsibilities and duties vary substantially according to the positioning of other individuals within the social structure. Morris Ginsberg.jstor. made few references to the specific values which are acknowledged by these people. that moral diversity is not proof of ethical relativity.

From the standpoint of Christian ethics. Fundamentally. Thus.jstor. they are dependent on the presence or absence of particular social bonds. Once again.g. In this sense.42 Yet if we reg being concerned with a single theme. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. man is conceived to be a unique centre of individuality. their value is constant and is independent of status. man is primarily a social individual. His moral responsibilities. Thus. To the Gahuku-Gama. His responsibilities are not conceived as being constitutionally deter- mined. are conceived to be independent of the social ties which link him to his fellows. there are not only differences of moral perception between different cultures but there may also be changes in moral perception within a particular culture at different points in time. pp. for example. too.156. it is not to human beings as such that men are morally bound. not only in the sense that it is a spiritual principle which confers on man his incommensurable worth. though these. Moral responsibilities devolve on him as such. the embodiment . This involves a further basic difference in perception. the moral duties of the person are greater than any of the duties which the individual possesses as a member of society. the criteria suggested by Ginsberg. men are moral equals. that Christian ethics do not constitute a closed system in which there is no provision for the development of a deeper moral insight into the nature of acts and their conse- quences. op. from the moral standpoint of our own culture. externalized. of moral obligation and responsibility. rather than by virtue of any qualities which are intrinsic to his psycho-physical nature. transcend the given social context. too. In a more co additional criteria may have been introduced. a member of this or that particular social group.28o MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA the assumptions and outlook of the Gahuku-Gama. that the moral standard is conceived to be autonomous : there is an explicit distinction between the good and the right and that which is simply desirable in a human or social sense. Theologians would agree.as person . In short. As persons. They possess identical rights and are charged with identical 42 E. however..107 on Thu. nor have they any explicit extra-social reference . both to himself and to others. but to human beings as members of a particular collectivity.91. someone who occupies a particular position in a system of social rights and obligations.of an absolute value which sets him in some measure over and above the world in which he lives. The ground and source of moral obligation is. but in the sense. 14-15. cit. I suggest that it has also serve on certain major variations. as it were. The moral agent is the individual in his various social capacities. may be compared and objectively evaluated. I am not referring simply to differences in the moral attitude towards specific acts. What I have in mind is not the s Gahuku-Gama permit or approve some things which we conde ethical system also reveals more fundamental or deep-seated differ of its characteristics point to genuine differences in moral pe consciousness. on the other hand. in this case the ethical contrast centres on a differing concept of man. This content downloaded from 200.org/terms .

Ginsberg refers to " the range of moral rulers are held to be applicable. cit. By this I morality is a matter of expediency.156.jstor. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. who hold that all that has happened is that the sam been gradually extended to larger groups. that is.91. This position.for the moral judgment is largely of a con It operates with a continually changing perspective. Ginsberg makes it quite clear his " range of persons " is not to be understood in a merely qu also has in mind qualitative differences in moral consciousness with differing conceptions " of the human person himself. Ginsberg r does justice to the history of moral universalism and especially of and the intrinsic value of the individual as such.org/terms . and therefore the Tightness particular action. not equivalent. to grant intrinsic moral value and thus to recognize that men are bound common measure of obligation . Such acts may be discussed .if contradiction in terms ." and he uses this as one ethical evaluation (" On the Diversity of Morals/' op. But it is not so with the Gah the contrast between the two systems is most sharp at this point. they are also bound t common measure of obligation. outside the range within which the moral judgment operates. as const order of nature and action which possesses its own intrinsic requir involves man in a common measure of responsibility. ei nature of the agent himself or in the nature of other men as men in the nature of the ties which link them socially to one another. I judgment does not operate from any basis of universal obliga explicit recognition of the moral as a category sui generis. the moral diff variable value which men possess as members of a parti ular gro who occupy a particular status. as it were. Moral offences and breaches of rule which do not affect them either as individuals or as members of a particular group stand. of obligation is not conceived to lie in human nature as such.. people are always prepared to ask questions about them and to listen to those who are able to supply them with details. Precisely because of this. MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA 281 responsibilities. One of the most noticeable characteristics of the Gahuku-Gama is their unconcern with and their unwillingness to judge actions or situations in which they are not personally involved. these two ideas have more in common than the minology might at first suggest. They D This content downloaded from 200. but rather that there is no exp moral categories from the social context : the moral order and not differentiated conceptually." There is one final point. indeed.107 on Thu. These qualities are variable absolutes ." He with those (like Boas) who assert that there have been no fund moral ideas.their failure. Whereas I have spoken of the failure of the Gahuku-Gama ethical category of the person . This means that it is the eva placed on different social ties which is primarily responsible f nature and extent of moral obligation.

91. E. the moral indifference to which I have referred does not imply the absence of a moral sense or of anything which we can recognize as an objective standard. but a fundamental difference in moral perception is. of a natural moral law and a universal moral order. moreover. Dr. Read. Burridge of the University of M a similar attitude among the Tangu of Madand District. even less. do not interest the Gahuku-Gama. to which ideas of the right and the good are formulated systematically." a evades the issue. K. in the sense of a more or less coherently stated and inter-connected system of moral concepts : it has nothing to offer which is comparable to the integrated concepts of the person. a judgment one way or the ot made. and the investigator . no formal code of ethics. What I mean is that we seem to be confronted with a basic difference in conceptualiza- tion. Abstract ideas of the good. of the basis of right and wrong. consistent with the contextual character of the moral system. at least. J. it does indicate a difference in the degree to which the principles underlying right behaviour are abstracted from the social context and related to a generalized concept of the good and of obligation. in the extent. In short. K. that is. L. the neutral attitude towards actions and situations in which the individual is not himself involved is. am New Britain. O. for the most part.jstor. there is a marked disparity between the degree of abstraction achieved by our own traditional system and that of the Gahuku-Gama.282 MORALITY AMONG THE GAHUKU-GAMA may shake their heads and murmur sympathetically. Persis times produce a tacit acknowledgment that " it is not right to informant normally adds " I don't know what they think.107 on Thu. B.judgments which refer to specific situations rather than to any explicit ideology of right and wrong as such. involved. and I have to by Miss Chowning. from the University of Pennsylvania. In this sense. The failure to judge or. It does not follow from this that the Gahuku-Gama are devoid of moral sensibility or. Pressed for an eval reply is a neutral " I don't know " (gelemuve). Wat University has told me that he has also come across it among Eastern Highlands. 28 Sep 2017 17:52:13 UTC All use subject to http://about. for example. but thei puzzlement rather than condemnation. But compared with our own system.org/terms . if we accept the proposition that the Gahuku-Gama do not distinguish their moral categories with the precision to which we are accustomed. In most cases.having suffered a good deal of initial learns not to expect one. This content downloaded from 200. unsystematized . Their moral rules are. I think. and in the degree to which the moral is conceived to constitute an autonomous order. It is understandable. The latter has no body of explicit principles. Nor are the Gahuku-Gama alone peoples in showing this unwillingness to judge. Dr. that they are unable to judge . and it is excee ascertain whether the act is regarded as right or wrong.156.