|"Man is the only 150 pound non-linear servo mechanism that can be wholly reproduced by unskilled labor."|
The world demands specialists. But to fit their fragmentary perspectives into a coherent whole, we urgently need generalists. A world-renowned specialist (anthropology), Ashley Montagu, by transforming himself into the foremost integrator and interpreter of all sciences, also has become the most significant generalist of the last millenium.
The same man who worked out the embryology of the
upper jaw (now employed by surgeons everywhere to repair cleft palate)
has also in his 50 published books contributed epochally to practically
every major social movement of the last 70 years.
Consider his THE ELEPHANT MAN (1971, 1979, 1996), the basis of the play and film of the same name, which has kindled the current global drives to emancipate the disabled.
Or THE NATURAL SUPERIORITY OF WOMEN (1953, 1968, 1973, 1991), which sparked the women's liberation movements.
Or his first book MAN'S MOST DANGEROUS MYTH: The Fallacy of Race (1942, 6th ed. 1998), which across the last 56 years has demolished for the majority of his colleagues everywhere the scientific credibility of the very concept of race, as well as launched the burgeoning worldwide movements for ethnic liberation.
Incidentally, Dr. Montagu to date has brought out single-handedly all the updated editions of his books and now, at 93, is actively at work on others.
Born in 1905 in London in
a cruel time, Montagu decided in childhood to learn everything he could
to understand how some children could grow up to be so injurious to new
children. He read whatever he could find in libraries and bookstores, focusing
on physical and human sciences, and early astonishing his teachers with
his intellectual virtuosity. His interests gradually centered on the manifestations
and human significance of love, the underlying focus much of his later
At twelve, Ashley summoned the courage to make an impromptu visit to celebrated British anatomist Sir Arthur Keith, Curator of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, to request identification of an unfamiliar skull found in an excavation. The scientist was so impressed with the boy that he spent several hours with him and invited him to return at will to study anatomical collections at the museum he directed. The two remained friends for the rest of Keith's life.
In 1922, at the University of London (and later at the University of Florence) Montagu became a student of psychology and anthropology. As an example of his incomparable gifts, he was invited to present to the Critical Society at University College a pioneering course on psychoanalysis. In 1936 at Columbia University he earned a PhD in anthropology under Professors Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict.
For twenty years Ashley taught anatomy in American medical schools, then became for six years the Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers. Resigning in 1949 to live in Princeton, he has devoted himself to writing and teaching as visiting guest lecturer at such universities as Princeton, UC Santa Barbara, and Harvard, continuing to make signal scientific contributions while also becoming simultaneously the outstanding popular writer and lecturer on all the human sciences. For the former attainments Ashley has been honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award of The American Anthropological Association and the Darwin Award of the Society of American Physical Anthropologists. As for the latter, the power of his ideas about the health of babies and mothers (childbirth at home, breast-feeding, close physcial contact) in his generalist books and lectures, and his witty personality on broadcast media (Carson's Tonight show, The Donahue Show) and in print media (The Ladies Home Journal, The Saturday Review), is attested to by the fact that the formerly uncommon name "Ashley" has in the last 30 years become one of the most frequently chosen names for girls of several major ethnic groups.
On top of all this, Ashley's many students, assistants, and mentees -- including Roderic Gorney -- attribute largely to his years of devoted intellectual nurturance their own substantial diverse accomplishments.
© The Ashley Montagu Institute, Roderic Gorney M.D., 760 Westwood Plaza 90095-1759
Phone: (310) 476-5663 or (310) 472-7631