It might seem quite safe to say that the belief in reincarnation, and the views about a spirit child being inserted into, or entering the womb of the mother, exclude any knowledge of the physiological process of impregnation. But any drawing of conclusions, or arguing by the law of logical contradiction, is absolutely futile in the realm of belief, whether savage or civilized. Two beliefs, quite contradictory to each other on logical grounds, may coexist, while a perfectly obvious inference from a very firm tenet may be simply ignored. Thus the only safe way for an ethnological inquirer is to investigate every detail of native belief, and to mistrust any conclusion obtained through inference only.
The broad assertion that the natives are entirely ignorant of the existence of physiological impregnation may be laid
down quite safely and correctly. But though the subject is undoubtedly difficult, it is absolutely necessary to go into details in order to avoid serious mistakes.
One distinction must be made at the outset: the distinction between impregnation, that is the idea of the father having a share in building up the body of the child on the one hand, and the purely physical action of sexual intercourse on the other. Concerning the latter, the view held by the natives may be formulated thus: it is necessary for the woman to have gone through sexual life before she can bear a child.
I was forced to make the above distinction under the stress of the information I was gathering, in order to explain certain contradictions which cropped up in the course of inquiries. And it must be therefore accepted as a "natural" distinction, as one which corresponds to and expresses the native point of view. In fact, it was impossible to foresee how the natives would look upon these matters, and from which side they would approach the correct knowledge of facts. Nevertheless, the distinction once made, its theoretical importance is obvious. It is clear that only the knowledge of the first fact (that of the father's share in impregnation) would have any influence in shaping native ideas about kinship. As long as the father does nothing to form the body of the child (in the ideas of a people), there can be no question of consanguinity in the agnatic line. A mere mechanical share in opening up the child's way into the womb, and out of it, is of no fundamental importance. The state of knowledge in Kiriwina is just at the point where there is a vague idea as to some nexus between sexual connection and pregnancy, whereas there is no idea whatever concerning the man's contribution towards the new life which is being formed in the mother's body.
I shall sum up the data which led me to make this statement. Beginning with ignorance of the father's share, to direct questions as to the cause (u'ula) of a child being created, or a woman becoming pregnant, I received the invariable
answer, "Baloma boge isaika [the baloma gave it]." 66
Of course, like all questions about the u'ula, this one has to be put with patience and discrimination, and it may at times remain unanswered. But in the many cases when I put this question bluntly and directly, and when it was comprehended, I received this answer, though I must add here at once that it was at times complicated in an extremely puzzling manner by some hints about copulation. As I was puzzled by that, and as I was very keen on getting this point clear, I discussed it whenever it could be approached as a side issue, I put it in abstracto, and I discussed it very often in concrete instances wherever any special case of pregnancy, past or present, was the subject of conversation.
Specially interesting and crucial were the cases where the pregnant woman was not married. 67
When I asked who was the father of an illegitimate child, there was only one answer, that there was no father, as the girl was not married. If, then, I asked, in quite plain terms, who is the physiological father, the question was not understood, and when the subject was discussed still further, and the question put in this form: "There are plenty of unmarried girls, why did this one get with child, and the others not," the answer would be: "It is a baloma who gave her this child." And here again I was often puzzled by some remarks, pointing to the view that an unmarried girl is especially exposed to the danger of being approached by a baloma, if she is very unchaste. Yet the girls deem it much better precaution to avoid directly any exposure to the baloma by not bathing at high tide, etc., than indirectly to escape the danger by being too scrupulously chaste.
Illegitimate, or according to the Kiriwinian ideas, fatherless children, and their mothers are, however, regarded with scant favor. I remember several instances in which girls were pointed out to me as being undesirable, "no good," because they had children out of wedlock. If you ask why
such a case is bad, there is the stereotyped answer, "Because there is no father, there is no man to take it in his arms" (Gala taitala Cikopo'i). Thus Gomaia, my interpreter, had had an intrigue, such as is usual before marriage, with Ilamueria, a girl of a neighboring village. He had previously wanted to marry her. She had a child subsequently, and Gomaia married another woman. Asked why he did not marry his former sweetheart, he replied, "She had a child, this is very bad." Yet he was sure that she had never been unfaithful to him during the period of their "betrothal" (Kiriwinian youths are much the prey of such illusions). He had not the slightest idea about there being any question of fatherhood of the child. If he had he would have acknowledged the child as his own, because he believed in his sexual exclusiveness with regard to the mother. But the fact that it came at an improper time was enough to influence him. This by no means implies that a girl who has been a mother, finds any serious difficulty in marrying afterwards. During my stay in Omarakana, two such girls were married, without any comment. There are no unmarried women in what might be termed the "marriage age" (25-45 years), and when I asked whether a girl might remain a spinster because she had a child, the answer was an emphatic negative. All that has been said above about the baloma bringing a child, and the concrete cases adduced, must also be borne in mind in this connection.
When, instead of merely asking about the u'ula of pregnancy, I directly advanced the embryological view of the matter, I found the natives absolutely ignorant of the process suggested. To the simile of a seed being planted in the soil and the plant growing out of the seed, they remained quite irresponsive. They were curious, indeed, and asked whether this was "the white man's manner of doing it," but they were quite certain that this was not the "custom' of Kiriwina. The spermatic fluid (momona) serves merely the purposes of pleasure and lubrication, and it is characteristic that the word momona denotes both the male and female discharge. Of any other properties of the same
they have not the slightest idea. Thus, any view of paternal consanguinity or kinship, conceived as a bodily relation between father and child, is completely foreign to the native mind.
The above-mentioned case of a native not being able to understand the question, Who is the father of an unmarried woman's child? can be supplemented by two other instances concerning married women. When I asked my informants what would happen if a woman became pregnant in her husband's absence, they calmly agreed that such cases might occur, and that there would be no trouble at all. One of them (I have not noted his name, and I do not remember it), volunteered his own case as an instance in point. He went to Samarai 68 with his white master, and stayed there for a year, as he said, during which time his wife became pregnant and gave birth to a child. He returned from Samarai, found the child, and it was all right. On further questioning, I came to the conclusion that the man was absent for about 8-10 months, so there is no urgent necessity to doubt the virtue of his wife, but it is characteristic: that the husband had not the slightest tendency to count the moons of his absence, and that he stated the broad approximate period of one year without the slightest concern. And the native in question was an intelligent man; he had been a long time with white men, as a "signed-on" boy, and he seemed to be by no means of a timorous or henpecked disposition.
Again, when I once mentioned this matter in the presence of a few white men, resident in the Trobriands, Mr. Cameron, a planter of Kitava, told me a case which had struck him at that time, though he had not the slightest idea of the native ignorance of impregnation. A native of Kitava had been away for two years, signed on to a white man on Woodlark Island. After he came back, he found a baby born a couple of months before his return. He cheerfully accepted it as his own, and did not understand any taunts or allusions made by some white men, who asked him whether he had not better repudiate, or, at least,
thoroughly thrash his wife. He found it not in the slightest degree suspicious or suggestive that his wife became pregnant about a year after his departure. These are two striking examples which I find in my notes; but I had before me a considerable amount of corroborating evidence derived from less telling facts, and from imaginary instances, discussed with independent informants.
Finally, the ideas concerning the relationship between father and child, as it is conceived by the natives, bear upon this subject. They have only one generic term for kinship, and this is veiola. Now this term means kinship in the maternal line, and does not embrace the relationship between a father and his children, nor between any agnatically related people. Very often, when inquiring into customs and their social basis, I received the answer, "Oh, the father does not do it; because he is not veiola to the children." The idea underlying maternal relationship is the community of body. In all social matters (legal, economic, ceremonial) the relationship between brothers is the very closest, "because they are built up of the same body, the same woman gave birth to them." Thus the line of demarcation between paternal and agnatic relationship (which as a generic conception and term does not exist for the natives), and maternal kinship, veiola, corresponds to the division between those people who are of the same body (strictly analogous, no doubt, to our consanguinity), and those who are not of the same body.
But in spite of this, as far as all the minute details of daily life are concerned, and further, in various rights and privileges, the father stands in an extremely close relation to the child. Thus the children enjoy membership of the father's village community, though their real village is that of their mother. Again, in questions of inheritance they have various privileges granted them by the father. The most important of these is connected with the inheritance of that most valuable of all goods, magic. Thus very often, especially in such cases as those mentioned above (in Section v), when the father is able to do it legally, he
leaves his magic to his son instead of to his brother or nephew. It is remarkable that the father is, sentimentally, always inclined to leave as much as possible to his children, and he does so whenever he can.
Now, such inheritance of magic from father to son shows one peculiarity: it is given, and not sold. Magic has to be handed over during the man's lifetime, of course, as both the formulae and the practices have to be taught. When the man gives it to any of his veiola, to his younger brother, or his maternal nephew, he receives a payment, called in this case pokala, and a very considerable payment it has to be. When magic is taught to the son, no payment whatever is levied. This, like many features of native custom, is extremely puzzling, because the maternal relatives have the right to the magic, and the son has really no right whatever, and he may be, under certain circumstances, deprived of the privilege by those entitled to it; yet he receives it free of charge, and they have to pay for it heavily.
Forbearing other explanations, I simply state the native answer to this puzzling question (my informants saw the contradiction quite clearly, and perfectly well understood why I was puzzled). They said: "The man gives it to the children of his wife. He cohabits with her, he possesses her, she does for him all that a wife must do for a man. Whatever he does for a child is a payment (mapula) for what he has received from her." And this answer is by no means the opinion of one informant only. It sums up the stereotyped answers given to me whenever I discussed this matter. Thus, in the native mind, the intimate relationship between husband and wife, and not any idea, however slight or remote, of physical fatherhood, is the reason for all that the father does for his children. It must be clearly understood that social and psychological fatherhood (the sum of all the ties, emotional, legal, economic) is the result of the man's obligations towards his wife, and physiological fatherhood does not exist in the mind of the natives.
Let us now proceed to the discussion of the second point in the previously made distinction: the vague ideas about
some connection existing between sexual intercourse and pregnancy. I mentioned above, that in the answers given about the cause of pregnancy, I was puzzled by the assertion that cohabitation is also the cause of the advent of children, an assertion which ran parallel, so to speak, with a fundamental view that the baloma, or reincarnating waiwaia, are the real cause.
The said assertion was very much less conspicuous, in fact it was so much overshadowed by the main view, that at first I noticed only the latter, and was persuaded that I had obtained this information quite smoothly and that there were no more difficulties to be cleared up. And when I was quite satisfied that I had finally settled the matter, and inquired into it, prompted merely by the instinct of pure pedantry, I received a severe shock, in finding that there was a flaw in the very foundations of my construction, which latter seemed threatened with complete collapse. I remember being told about a very fickle young lady of Kasanai, known by the name of Iakalusa, "Sene nakakaita, Coge ivalulu guadi [very wanton, she had a child]." On inquiring further into this very perplexing sentence, I found that, undoubtedly, a girl of very loose conduct would be more likely to have a child, and that if a girl could be found who had never had intercourse, she certainly could have no child. The knowledge seemed to be as complete here as the ignorance was previously, and the very same men seemed to take, in turn, two contradictory points of view. I discussed the matter as thoroughly as I could, and it seemed to me as if the natives would say yes or no, according to whether the subject was approached from the side of knowledge or of ignorance. They were puzzled at my persistence, and (I admit with shame) impatience, and I was unable to explain to them my difficulty, though I pointed, as it seemed to me, straight to the contradiction.
I tried to make them compare animals with men, asking whether there is also anything like a baloma bringing the small pigs to their mother. I was told of the pigs: "Ikaitasi ikaitasi makateki bivalulu minana [they copulate, copulate,
presently the female will give birth]." Thus here copulation appeared to be the u'ula of pregnancy. For a time, the contradictions and obscurities in the information appeared to me quite hopeless; I was in one of the desperate blind alleys, so often encountered in ethnographical field work, when one comes to suspect that the natives are untrustworthy, that they tell tales on purpose; or that one has to do with two sets of information, one of them distorted by white man's influence. As a matter of fact, in this case as in most cases, nothing of the sort was the cause of my difficulties.
The final shock my confidently constructed views about "native ignorance" received brought also order into the chaos. In my mythological cyclus about the hero Tudava, the story opens with his birth. His mother, Mitigis or Bulutukua, was the only woman of all the inhabitants of the village, Laba'i, who remained on the island. All the others fled in fear of an ogre, Dokonikan, who used to eat men, and had in fact almost finished off the whole population of Kiriwina. Bulutukua, left behind by her brothers, lived alone in a grotto, in the raiboag of Laba'i. One day she fell asleep in the grotto, and the water dripping from the stalactites fell on her vulva and opened the passage. After she became pregnant, and gave birth in succession to a fish, called bologu; to a pig; to a shrub, called kuebila (having aromatic leaves and much appreciated by the natives as ornament); to another fish (the kalala, of which mention has been made above in Section v); to the cockatoo (katakela); the parrot (karaga); to the bird sikuaikua, to a dog (ka'ukua); and finally to Tudava. In this story the motive of "artificial impregnation" was most surprising. How was it possible to find, what appeared to be survival of a previous ignorance, among people with whom this ignorance seemed to be still complete? And again, how was it that the woman in the myth had several children in succession, but had been only once under the dripping stalactite? All these were puzzling questions for me, and I
put them to the natives on the chance of getting some light, but with little hope of success.
I was, however, rewarded and received a clear and final solution of my difficulties, a solution which has withstood a series of most pedantic subsequent tests. I tried my best informants one after the other, and this is their view of the matter: a woman who is a virgin (nakapatu; na, female prefix; kapatu, closed, shut up) cannot give birth to a child, nor can she conceive, because nothing can enter or come out of her vulva. She must be opened up, or pierced through (ibasi, this word is used to describe the action of the water drops on Bulutukua). Thus the vagina of a woman who has much intercourse will be more open and easier for a spirit child to enter. One that keeps fairly virtuous will have much poorer chances of becoming pregnant. But copulation is quite unnecessary except for its mechanical action. In default, any other means of widening the passage may be used, and if the baloma chooses to insert the waiwaia, or if one chooses to enter, the woman will become pregnant.
That this is so is proved, beyond any doubt, to my informants by the case of Tilapo'i, a woman living in Kabululo, a village close to Omarakana. She is half blind, almost an idiot, and so plain that no one would think of approaching her sexually. In fact, she is the favorite theme of a certain class of jokes all turning on the assumption of someone having had connection with her: jokes which are always relished and repeated, so that "Kuoi Tilapo'i! [Have connection with Tilapo'i]" has become a form of jocular abuse. In spite, however, of the fact that it is supposed that she never had connection, she once gave birth to a child, which died subsequently. A similar example, though even more striking, is afforded by another woman in Sinaketa, who, I was told, is so plain that any man would commit suicide, if he were even seriously suspected of having had anything to do with her sexually. Yet this woman has had no less than five children. In both these cases, it is explained that pregnancy was made possible by dilation of the vulva, due to digital manipulation. My informants dwelt on this subject
with much relish, graphically and diagramatically explaining to me all the details of the process. Their account did not leave the slightest doubt about their sincere belief in the possibility of women becoming pregnant without intercourse.
Thus I was taught to make the essential distinction between the idea of the mechanical action of intercourse, which covers all the natives know about the natural conditions of pregnancy, and the knowledge of impregnation, of the man's share in creating the new life in the mother's womb, a fact of which the natives have not even the slightest glimpse. This distinction accounts for the puzzle in the Bulutukua myth, where the woman had to be opened up, but this once done, she could bear the whole set of children successively, without any new physiological incident being necessary. It accounts also for the "knowledge" about animal impregnation. In the case of the animals--and the domestic animals such as the pig and the dog would loom most conspicuously in the native's picture of the universe--the natives know nothing about afterlife or spiritual existence. If asked directly, a man might answer "yes" or "no" with regard to the existence of animal baloma, but this would be his extemporized opinion and not folklore. Thus, in the case of animals, the whole problem about reincarnation and about the formation of new life is simply ignored. The physiological aspect, on the other hand, is well-known. Thus when you ask about the animals, you get the answer that it is necessary that the physiological conditions should exist, but the other side, the real problem of how life is created in the womb, is simply ignored. And it is no good to fret over it, because the native never troubles about consistently carrying over his beliefs into domains where they do not naturally belong. He does not trouble about questions referring to animal afterlife, and he has no views about their coming into the world. Those problems are settled with reference to man, but that is their proper domain, and beyond that they ought not to be extended. Even in non-savage theologies such questions (e.g., that of
animal soul and animal immortality) are very puzzling, and answers to them often are not much more consistent than those of a Papuan.
In conclusion, it may be repeated that such knowledge as the natives have in this matter has no sociological importance, does not influence the native ideas of kinship, nor their behavior in matters of sex.
It seems necessary to make a somewhat more general digression on this subject after having dealt with Kiriwinian material. As is well known, the ignorance of physical fatherhood was first discovered by Sir Baldwin Spencer and Mr. F. Gillen among the Arunta tribe of Central Australia. Subsequently the same state of things was found among a large number of other Australian tribes, by the original discoverers and by some other investigators, the area covered being practically the whole central and northeastern portion of the Australian continent, as far as it was still open to ethnological investigation.
The main controversial questions raised as to this discovery were: Firstly, is this ignorance a specific feature of the Australian culture, or even the Arunta culture, or is it a universal fact existing among many or all of the lower race? Secondly: is this state of ignorance primitive, is it simply the absence of knowledge, due to insufficient observation and inference, or is it a secondary phenomenon, due to an obscuring of the primitive knowledge by superimposed animistic ideas? 69
I would not join in this controversy at all, if it were not that I desire to state some additional facts, partly derived from work done outside Kiriwina, partly consisting of some general observations made in the field and bearing directly upon these problems. Therefore, I hope I shall be excused for this digression, on the plea that it is not so much speculation upon controversial points, as additional material bearing upon these questions.
First of all I want to state some non-Kiriwinian observations which seem to show that a state of ignorance similar to that found in the Trobriands obtains among a wide
range of the Papuo-Melanesians of New Guinea. Prof. Seligman writes about the Koita: "It is stated that a single sexual act is not sufficient to produce pregnancy, to ensure which cohabitation should be continued steadily for a month." 70 I have found a similar state of things among the Mailu on the south coast of New Guinea: ". . . The connection between cohabitation and conception seems to be known among the Mailu, but to direct inquiries as to the cause of pregnancy I did not obtain emphatic and positive answers. The natives--of this I am positive--do not clearly grasp the idea of the connection between the two facts. . . . Like Prof. Seligman among the Koita, I found the firm belief that it is only continuous intercourse for a month or more that leads to pregnancy, and that one single act is not sufficient to produce the result." 71
Neither of these statements is very emphatic, and in fact they do not seem to imply a complete ignorance of physical fatherhood. Yet as neither of the investigators seems to have gone into detail, one may a priori suspect that the statements allow of some further qualification. As a matter of fact, I was able to inquire into the matter on my second visit to New Guinea, and I know that my statement about the Mailu is incomplete. At the time of my visit to Mailu I was puzzled in the same manner as in Kiriwina. I had with me in Kiriwina two boys from a district adjacent to that of the Mailu, who gave me exactly the same information as that gathered in Kiriwina, i.e., they affirmed the necessity of sexual intercourse before pregnancy, but were absolutely ignorant as to impregnation. Again looking through my notes taken in the summer of 1914 at Mailu and through some notes taken among the Sinaugholo, a tribe closely allied to the Koita, I see that the native statements really imply only the knowledge of the fact that a woman must have experienced some sexual life before conceiving. And that to all direct questions, whether there is anything in intercourse that induces pregnancy, I received negative answers. Unfortunately, in neither place did I directly inquire whether there are any beliefs about
the "supernatural cause of pregnancy." The boys from Gadogado'a (from the district near Mailu) told me there were no such beliefs among them. Their statement cannot, however, be considered final, as they have spent much of their time in white man's service and might not have known much of the traditional knowledge of their tribe. There can be no doubt, however, that both Prof. Seligman's statement and my information obtained in Mailu would, if developed with the help of native informants, yield similar results to the Kiriwinian data with regard to the ignorance of impregnation.
All these natives, the Koita, the Southern Massim of Gadogado'a, and the Northern Massim of Kiriwina 72 are representative of the Papuo-Melanesian stock of natives, the Kiriwinians being a very advanced branch of that stock; in fact, as far as our present knowledge goes, the most advanced. 74
The existence of complete ignorance, of the type discovered by Spencer and Gillen, among the most advanced Papuo-Melanesians, and its probable existence among all the Papuo-Melanesians, seems to indicate a much wider range of distribution and a much greater permanence through the higher stages of development than could be assumed hitherto. But it must be emphatically repeated that unless the inquiry be detailed, and especially unless the above-made distinction be observed, there is always the possibility of failure and of erroneous statement. 74
Passing to the second controversial point named above, whether the ignorance in question may not be the secondary result of some obscuring, superimposed, animistic ideas. The general character of the Kiriwinian mental attitude certainly would answer this question with an emphatic negation. The above-detailed account, if read from this point of view, is perhaps convincing enough, but some further remarks may add additional weight to the statement. The native. mind is absolutely blank on this subject, and it is not as if one found very pronounced ideas about reincarnation running parallel with some obscure knowledge.
[paragraph continues] The ideas and beliefs about reincarnation, though undoubtedly there, are of no eminent social importance, and are not at all to the fore in the native's store of dogmatic ideas. Moreover, the physiological process and the part played by the baloma could perfectly well be known to exist side by side, exactly as there exist side by side ideas about the necessity of the mechanical dilation of the vulva and the action of the spirit, or as in innumerable matters the native considers the natural and rational (in our sense) sequence of events and knows its causal nexus, though these run parallel with a magical sequence and nexus.
The problem of the ignorance of impregnation is not concerned with the psychology of belief, but with the psychology of knowledge based on observation. Only a belief can be obscured or overshadowed by another belief. Once a physical observation is made, once the natives have got hold of a causal nexus, no belief or "superstition" can obscure this knowledge, though it may run parallel with it. The garden magic does not by any means "obscure" the natives' causal knowledge of the nexus between proper clearing of the scrub, manuring the ground with ashes, watering, etc. The two sets of facts run parallel in his mind, and the one in no way "obscures" the other.
In the ignorance of physiological fatherhood we do not deal with a positive state of mind, with a dogma leading to practices, rites, or customs, but merely with a negative item, the absence of knowledge. Such an absence could not possibly be brought about by a positive belief. Any widespread gap in knowledge, any universal absence of information, any general imperfection in observation found among native races, must, pending contrary evidence, be considered as primitive. We might as well argue that humanity once had a primitive knowledge of wax vestas, but that this was obscured subsequently by the more complex and picturesque use of the fire drill and other friction methods.
Again, to explain this ignorance by assuming that the natives "make believe that they do not know it" seems rather a brilliant jeu de mots than a serious attempt to get
at the bottom of things. And yet things are as simple as they can be for anyone who for a moment stops to realize the absolutely unsurmountable difficulties which a native "natural philosopher" would have to overcome if he had to arrive at anything approaching our embryological knowledge. If one realizes how complex this knowledge is, and how lately we arrived at it, it would seem preposterous to suppose even the slightest glimmer of it among the natives. All this might appear plausible, even to someone who approached the subject from a merely speculative standpoint, arguing from what probably must be the natives' point of view in this matter. And here we have authors who, after this state of mind has been found positively among natives, receive the news with scepticism, and try to account for the native state of mind in the most devious manner. The way from the absolute ignorance to the exact knowledge is far, and must be passed gradually. There is no doubt that the Kiriwinians have made a step on the way by acknowledging the necessity of sexual intercourse as a preliminary condition of pregnancy, as, indeed, this recognition, though perhaps in a less clear form, has been made by the Arunta in Central Australia, among whom Spencer and Gillen have found the idea that sexual intercourse prepares the woman for the reception of a spirit child.
Another consideration which has been put forward by some authors previously, seems to me to be very much to the point, and, what is more, has seemed so to several of my native informants. I mean the fact that in the majority of savage races sexual life begins very early and is carried on very intensely, so that sexual intercourse is for them not an outstanding rare fact, which would strike them from its singularity, and therefore compel them to look for consequences; on the contrary, sexual life is for them a normal state. In Kiriwina the unmarried girls from six (sic) upwards are generally supposed to practice licence well-nigh every night. It is immaterial whether this is so or not; it matters only that for the native of Kiriwina sexual intercourse
is almost as common an occurrence as eating, drinking, or sleeping. What is there to guide the native observation, to draw his attention to the nexus between a perfectly normal, everyday occurrence, on the one band, and an exceptional, singular event on the other? How is he to realize that the very act which a woman performs almost as often as eating or drinking, will, once, twice, or three times in her life, cause her to become pregnant?
It is certain that only two outstanding, singular events easily reveal a nexus. To find out that something extraordinary is the result of an entirely ordinary event requires, besides a scientific mind and method, the power of investigating, of isolating facts, of excluding the non-essential, and experimenting with circumstances. Given such conditions, the natives would probably have discovered the causal connection, because the native mind works according to the same rules as ours: his powers of observation are keen, whenever he is interested, and the concept of cause and effect is not unknown to him. 75 But although cause and effect in the developed form of these conceptions are of the category of the regular, lawful, and ordinary, in their psychological origin they are undoubtedly of the category of the lawless, irregular, extraordinary, and singular.
Some of my native informants very clearly pointed out to me the lack of consistency in my argument when I bluntly stated that it is not the baloma that produce pregnancy, but that it is caused by something like a seed being thrown on soil. I remember that I was almost directly challenged to account for the discrepancy why the cause which was repeated daily, or almost so, produced effects so rarely.
To sum up, there seems to be no doubt that if we are at all justified in speaking of certain "primitive" conditions of mind, the ignorance in question is such a primitive condition, and its prevalence among the Melanesians of New Guinea seems to indicate that it is a condition lasting right into much higher stages of development than it would have seemed possible to assume on the basis of Australian material only. Some knowledge of the mental mechanism of the
native, and of the circumstances under which he has to carry out his observations on this subject, ought to persuade anyone that no other state of things could exist, and that no far-fetched explanations or theories are necessary to account for it.