Ruth Benedict: "Anthropology and the Abnormal"
I. Normality/Abnormality of Behavior is Largely
Example of Dobuans:
Behavior that is crazy according to their culture is morally
praiseworthy according to ours.
Example of Kwakiutl:
Behavior normal/acceptable/morally permissible according to their
culture is abnormal/unacceptable/morally impermissible according to our
II. How Normality/Abnormality of Behavior Gets
"Normality, in short, within a very
wide range, is culturally defined. It is primarily a term for the
socially elaborated segment of human behavior in any culture; and
abnormality, a term for the segment that [a] particular civilization
does not use" (73).
III. Normality and Morality
"We do not any longer make the mistake
of deriving the morality of our locality and decade directly from the
inevitable constitution of human nature. We do not elevate it to the
dignity of a first principle. We recognize that morality differs in
every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits.
Mankind has always preferred to say, "It is morally good," rather than
"It is habitual" . . . but historically these two phrases are
synonymous. The concept of the normal is properly a variant of the
concept of the good. It is that which society has approved" (73).
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