Progress is to be apprehended in Morgan partly through analogy. It is an ascent to human supremacy on the earth. The prime analogate is an individual working his way up in society; that is, Morgan, who was well read in classics, relies on the Roman cursus honorum, rising through the ranks, which became the basis of the English ideas of career and working your way up, to which he blends in the rationalist idea of a scala, or ladder, of life. The idea of growth or development is also borrowed from individuals. A society has a life like that of an individual, which develops and grows.
The analogy, however, is given an anthropological twist and introduces the comparative method then coming into vogue in other fields. Lewis resorts to units called ethna, by which he means inventions, discoveries and domestic institutions. The ethna are compared and judged higher or lower on the scale, pair by pair. Morgan's ethna appear to comprise at least some of Edward Burnett Tylor's cultural objects. Morgan mentions Tylor a number of times in the book. Morgan's standard of higher or lower is not clearly expressed. By higher he appears to mean whatever contributes better to control over the environment, victory over competitors, and spread of population. He does not mention Charles Darwin.
|I||Subsistence||The arts of subsistence are |
|III||Language||The origin of language is: |
|IV||The Family||The forms of family are |
|VI||House Life and Architecture|
at least 60,000 years.
|Lower||First distinction of man from the other animals. Fruits and Roots, tropical or subtropical habitats, at least partial tree-dwelling, gesture language, intelligence, Consanguine Family.|
|Middle||Fish Subsistence, Use of Fire, spread of man worldwide along shorelines, monosyllabic language, Punaluan Family.|
|Upper||Weapons: bow and arrow, club, spear; addition of game to diet, cannibalism, syllabical language, Syndyasmian Family, organization into gentes, phratries and tribes, worship of the elements.|
|Lower||Horticulture: maize, bean, squash, tobacco; art of pottery, tribal confederacy, finger weaving, blow-gun, village stockade, tribal games, element worship, Great Spirit, formation of Aryan and Semitic families.|
|Middle||Domestication of animals among the Semitic and Aryan families: goat, sheep, pig, horse, ass, cow, dog; milk, making bronze, irrigation, great joint tenement houses in the nature of fortresses.|
|Upper||Cultivation of cereals and plants by the Aryans, smelting iron ore, poetry, mythology, walled cities, wheeled vehicles, metallic armor and weapons (bronze and iron), the forge, potter's wheel, grain mill, loom weaving, forging, monogamian family, individual property, municipal life, popular assembly.|
|Ancient||Plow with an iron point, iron implements, animal power, unlimited subsistence, phonetic alphabet, writing, Arabic numerals, the military art, the city, commerce, coinage, the state, founded upon territory and upon property, the bridge, arch, crane, water-wheel, sewer.|
|Mediaeval||Gothic architecture, feudal aristocracy with hereditary titles of rank, hierarchy under the headship of a pope.|
|Modern||Telegraph, coal gas, spinning-jenny, power loom, steam engine, telescope, printing, canal lock, compass, gunpowder, photography, modern science, religious freedom, public schools, representative democracy, classes, different types of law.|