« Margaret Fuller
Home Page
Margaret Mitchell »

Quotes of the day: Margaret Mead

Published Friday, November 14, 2014 @ 8:42 PM EST
Nov 14 2014

Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 - November 15, 1978) was an American cultural anthropologist who was frequently a featured author and speaker in the mass media throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She earned her bachelor degree at Barnard College in New York City, and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. She was both a popularizer of the insights of anthropology into modern American and Western culture and a respected, often controversial, academic anthropologist. Her reports about the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures shaped the 1960s sexual revolution. Mead was a proponent of broadening sexual mores within a context of traditional western religious life. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A city must be a place where groups of women and men are seeking and developing the highest things they know.

A society which is clamouring for choice, which is filled with many articulate groups, each urging its own brand of salvation, its own variety of economic philosophy, will give each new generation no peace until all have chosen or gone under, unable to bear the conditions of choice.

As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own

Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.

Fathers are biological necessities, but social accidents.

Human nature is almost unbelievably malleable, responding accurately and contrastingly to contrasting cultural conditions.

If a society insists that warfare is the major occupation for the male sex, it is therefore insisting that all male children display bravery and pugnacity. Even if the insistence upon the differential bravery of men and women is not made articulate, the difference in occupation makes this point implicitly. When, however, a society goes further and defines men as brave and women as timorous, when men are forbidden to show fear and women are indulged in the most flagrant display of fear, a more explicit element enters in. Originally two variations of human temperament, a hatred of fear or willingness to display fear, they have been socially translated into inalienable aspects of the personalities of the two sexes. And to that defined sex-personality every child will be educated, if a boy, to suppress fear, if a girl, to show it.

If one cannot state a matter clearly enough so that even an intelligent twelve-year-old can understand it, one should remain within the cloistered walls of the university and laboratory until one gets a better grasp of one's subject matter.

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.

If we are to give our utmost effort and skill and enthusiasm, we must believe in ourselves, which means believing in our past and in our future, in our parents and in our children, in that particular blend of moral purpose and practical inventiveness which is the American character.

If you associate enough with older people who do enjoy their lives, who are not stored away in any golden ghettos, you will gain a sense of continuity and of the possibility for a full life.

In the modern world we have invented ways of speeding up invention, and people's lives change so fast that a person is born into one kind of world, grows up in another, and by the time his children are growing up, lives in still a different world.

Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.

Instead of needing lots of children, we need high-quality children.

It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary... to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age.

Laughter is man's most distinctive emotional expression. Man shares the capacity for love and hate, anger and fear, loyalty and grief, with other living creatures. But humor, which has an intellectual as well as an emotional element, belongs to man.

Learned behaviors have replaced the biologically given ones.

Life in the twentieth century is like a parachute jump: you have to get it right the first time.

Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we've put it in an impossible situation.

Our humanity rests upon a series of learned behaviors, woven together into patterns that are infinitely fragile and never directly inherited.

Our young people are faced by a series of different groups which believe different things and advocate different practices, and to each of which some trusted friend or relative may belong.

Sooner or later I'm going to die, but I'm not going to retire.

Standardized personality differences between the sexes are... cultural creations to which each generation, male and female, is trained to conform.

The ability to learn is older- as it is also more widespread- than is the ability to teach.

The contempt for law and the contempt for the human consequences of lawbreaking go from the bottom to the top of American society.

The first step in the direction of a world rule of law is the recognition that peace no longer is an unobtainable ideal but a necessary condition of continued human existence.

The student of culture is concerned with a characteristic which man displays more markedly than any other known creature- the ability to transmit what he has learned.

The United States has the power to destroy the world, but not the power to save it alone.

There is no necessary connection between warfare and human nature. Human nature is potentially aggressive and destructive and potentially orderly and constructive.

We are living beyond our means. As a people we have developed a life-style that is draining the earth of its priceless and irreplaceable resources without regard for the future of our children and people all around the world.

We may say that many, if not all, of the personality traits which we have called masculine or feminine are as lightly linked to sex as are the clothing, the manners, and the form of headdress that a society at a given period assigns to either sex.

We must recognize that beneath the superficial classifications of sex and race the same potentialities exist, recurring generation after generation, only to perish because society has no place for them.

We will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of their country.

We women are doing pretty well. We're almost back to where we were in the twenties. (1976)

We- mankind- stand at the center of an evolutionary crisis, with a new evolutionary device- our consciousness of the crisis- as our unique contribution.

You know you love someone when you cannot put into words how they make you feel.

Categories: Margaret Mead, Quotes of the day


KGB Stuff   Commentwear   E-Mail KGB

Donate via PayPal

Older entries, Archives and Categories       Top of page

« Margaret Fuller
Home Page
Margaret Mitchell »