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Taboo and Genetics A Study of the Biological, Sociological and Psychological Foundation of the Family   By:

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Transcriber's note: The irregular footnote markers in this text [numbers] refer to the reference book the author used, and not always to the specific page numbers. These reference books are listed numerically at the end of each chapter. The footnotes are marked with [letters] and the referenced footnotes are contained within the text, near to the footnote marker. Therefore, occasionally the numerical footnote markers are out of sequence. Words that were italicized are now marked by an underscore ( ).


A Study of the Biological, Sociological and Psychological Foundation of the Family





Author of The Adolescent Girl

London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd. New York: Moffat, Yard & Co.




Scientific discovery, especially in biology, during the past two decades has made necessary an entire restatement of the sociological problem of sex. Ward's so called "gynæcocentric" theory, as sketched in Chapter 14 of his Pure Sociology , has been almost a bible on the sex problem to sociologists, in spite of the fact that modern laboratory experimentation has disproved it in almost every detail. While a comparatively small number of people read this theory from the original source, it is still being scattered far and wide in the form of quotations, paraphrases, and interpretations by more popular writers. It is therefore necessary to gather together the biological data which are available from technical experimentation and medical research, in order that its social implications may be utilized to show the obsoleteness of this older and unscientific statement of the sex problem in society.

In order to have a thoroughly comprehensive survey of the institutions connected with sexual relationships and the family and their entire significance for human life, it is also necessary to approach them from the ethnological and psychological points of view. The influence of the primitive sex taboos on the evolution of the social mores and family life has received too little attention in the whole literature of sexual ethics and the sociology of sex. That these old customs have had an inestimable influence upon the members of the group, modern psychology has recently come to recognize. It therefore seems advantageous to include these psychological findings in the same book with the discussion of the sex taboos and other material with which it must so largely deal.

These fields biology, ethnology, and psychology are so complicated and so far apart technically, although their social implications are so closely interwoven, that it has seemed best to divide the treatment between three different writers, each of whom has devoted much study to his special phase of the subject. This leads to a very simple arrangement of the material. The first part deals with the physical or biological basis of the sex problem, which all societies from the most primitive to the most advanced have had and still have to build upon. The second part deals with the various ideas man has developed in his quest for a satisfactory adaptation of this physical basis to his own requirements. Part three attempts to analyze the effect of this long history of social experimentation upon the human psyche in its modern social milieu.

In the social evolution of the human mind, the deepest desires of the individual have been often necessarily sacrificed to the needs of the group. Sometimes they have been unnecessarily sacrificed, since human intelligence is, unfortunately, not omniscient. Nevertheless, the sum total of human knowledge has now become great enough so that it is at least well to pause and take account of its bearing on the age old problem of family life, in order that our evolution henceforth may be guarded by rational control rather than trial and error in so far as is possible... Continue reading book >>

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