Adolf Bastian

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Bastian, Adolf


Born June 26, 1826, in Bremen; died Feb. 2,1905, in Port of Spain, Trinidad. German ethnologist. Physician by training.

Bastian made many expeditions to all parts of the world and collected an enormous amount of ethnological material. He founded the Berlin Museum of Ethnology (1868). Bastian was primarily interested in the spiritual culture of the peoples he studied. He considered psychology the “science of the future.” His idea that the unity of the human psyche determines the unity of all cultures was progressive. However, many of Bastian’s concepts were marked by idealism and confusion. In a letter to Engels, Marx condemned Bastian’s attempt “at a ’natural scientific’ explanation of psychology and a psychological explanation of history” (Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 30, p. 102).


Allgemeine Grundzüge der Ethnologic Berlin, 1884.