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S., A. (1942). Applied: Géza Róheim. 'Method in Social Anthropology and Psycho-Analysis.' Man, 1941, Vol. 41, pp. 109–113.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 23:41.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Applied: Géza Róheim. 'Method in Social Anthropology and Psycho-Analysis.' Man, 1941, Vol. 41, pp. 109–113.

(1942). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 23:41

Applied: Géza Róheim. 'Method in Social Anthropology and Psycho-Analysis.' Man, 1941, Vol. 41, pp. 109–113.

A. S.

Róheim attacks the attitude taken up by Westermarck against the psycho-analytic interpretations of anthropological findings (in his paper on 'Method in Social Anthropology' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1936, p. 223), and also criticizes the diffusionist point of view in general. He shows that certain ideas which exist among primitive tribes are also found in modern individuals who cannot possibly have come in contact with those tribes. He goes on to defend the psycho-analytic explanations of those ideas against Westermarck's charges that they are based upon insufficient evidence. He points out that such explanations do not pretend to be erected upon or proved by anthropological data, but upon psychological data, arrived at by the special instrument of psycho-analysis. The fact that they have subsequently been found to be applicable to anthropological facts may help to confirm their truth, but does not form the basis of it.

Róheim then questions Westermarck's view that we need not accept a psycho-analytic explanation of any anthropological phenomenon so long as that phenomenon can be explained on some other assumption. An explanation is not necessarily true because it explains. Some explanations are clearly more likely to be true than others, by virtue of being founded on a wider range of data, being less far-fetched, being more coherent, being in better accordance with other accepted truths, etc. One explanation of lightning is that it is the arrow of the Sky God; another is that it is an electric discharge. Yet it is generally accepted that the first explanation is untrue and the second true.

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Article Citation

S., A. (1942). Applied. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 23:41

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