Is Fetishism a Primitive Form of Religion?

from Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion (1878)
  • Jon R. Stone


In my first lecture I tried to lay open the foundations on which alone a religion can be built up. If man had not the power—I do not say, to comprehend, but to apprehend the infinite, in its most primitive and undeveloped form—he would indeed have no right to speak of a world beyond this finite world, of time beyond this finite time, or of a Being which, even though he shrinks from calling it Zeus, or Jupiter, or Dyaus-pitar, or Lord, Lord, he may still feel after, and revere, and even love, under the names of the Unknown, the Incomprehensible, the Infinite. If, on the contrary, an apprehension of the infinite is possible and legitimate, if I have succeeded in showing that this apprehension of the infinite underlies and pervades all our perceptions of finite things, and likewise all the reasonings that flow from them, then we have firm ground to stand on, whether we examine the various forms which that sentiment has assumed among the nations of antiquity, or whether we sound the foundations of our own faith to its lowest depth.


Dead Body Primitive Form Gold Coast Casual Object Religious Idea 


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  1. 12.
    Winterbottom, Account of the Native Africans in the Neighbourhood of Sierra Leone. London, 1863, p. 230.Google Scholar
  2. 63.
    Tucker, Abbeokuta, or an Outline of the Origin and Progress of the Yoruba Mission, 1856, p. 248.Google Scholar
  3. 67.
    Froude, in Fraser’s Magazine, 1878, p. 160.Google Scholar
  4. 71.
    Köler, Einige Notizen über Bonny, 1848, p. 61; Waitz, vol. 2, p. 169.Google Scholar
  5. 77.
    Ibid., p. 177; Hostmann, Zur Geschichte des Nordischen Systems der drei Culturperioden, Braunschweig, 1875, p. 13, note.Google Scholar
  6. 79.
    Kölle, African Native Literature, 1854, p. 145.Google Scholar

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© Jon R. Stone 2002

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  • Jon R. Stone

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