Edvard Westermarck  

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"The sexual struggle in the animal kingdom is not always of a violent kind. As Mr. Darwin has pointed out [in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex], males often try by peaceful emulation to charm the female. In many species of birds the male seems to endeavour to gain his bride by displaying his colours and ornaments before her, or exciting her by his love-notes, songs, and antics. But among the lower Mammals he wins her, apparently, much more through the law of battle than through the display of his charms. There can scarcely be any doubt that the same was the case with primitive men ; but we need not mount many steps of human progress to find that courtship involves something more than a mere act of strength or courage on the part of the male. It is not only in civilized countries that it often means a prolonged making of love to the woman. Mariner's words with reference to the women of Tonga hold true for a great many, not to say all, savage and barbarous races now existing. " It must not be supposed," he says, " that these women are always easily won ; the greatest attentions and most fervent solicitations are sometimes requisite, even though there be no other lover in the way. This happens sometimes from a spirit of coquetry, ..."--The History of Human Marriage (1891) by Edvard Westermarck

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Edvard Alexander Westermarck (20 November 1862 – 3 September 1939) was a Finnish philosopher and sociologist. Among other subjects, he studied exogamy and the incest taboo.

The phenomenon of reverse sexual imprinting is when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, and both become desensitised to sexual attraction, now known as the Westermarck effect, was first formally described by him in his book The History of Human Marriage (1891).

He has been described as "first Darwinian sociologist" or "the first sociobiologist".

He helped found academic sociology in the United Kingdom, becoming the first professor of sociology (with Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse) in 1907 in the University of London. Other chairs he held were in Helsinki and Turku.

A radical free thinker for his time, he critiqued Christian institutions and Christian ideas on the grounds that they lacked foundation.

In the UK, his name is often spelled Edward. His sister, Helena Westermarck, was a writer and artist.


  • 1891: The History of Human Marriage. 3 Vol, Macmillan, London.
  • 1906: The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas. 2 Vol, MacMillan, London
  • 1907: Siveys ja kristinusko: Esitelmä. Ylioppilasyhdistys Prometheus, Helsinki.
  • 1914: Marriage Ceremonies in Morocco. Macmillan, London.
  • 1919: Tapojen historiaa: Kuusi akadeemista esitelmää: Pitänyt Turussa syksyllä 1911 Edward Westermarck. 2nd edition. Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, Helsinki.
  • 1920: Religion och magi (Religion and magick), Studentföreningen Verdandis Småskrifter 149, Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm
  • 1926: Ritual and Belief in Morocco. 2 Vol.
  • 1926: A short History of Human Marriage. Macmillan, London.
  • 1930: Wit and Wisdom in Morocco. Routledge, London.
  • 1932: Ethical Relativity.
  • 1932: Avioliiton historia. WSOY, Helsinki.
  • 1932: Early Beliefs and Their Social Influence. London: Macmillan.
  • 1933: Pagan Survivals in Mohammedan Civilisation. London: Macmillan.
  • 1933: Moraalin synty ja kehitys. WSOY, Helsinki.
  • 1934: Three Essays on Sex and Marriage. Macmillan, London.
  • 1934: Freuds teori on Oedipuskomplexen i sociologisk belysning. Vetenskap och bildning, 45. Bonnier, Stockholm.
  • 1936: The future of Marriage in Western Civilisation. Macmillan, London.
  • 1937: "Forward" in The Wandering Spirit: A Study of Human Migration. Macmillan, London
  • 1939: Kristinusko ja moraali (Christianity and Morals). Otava, Helsinki.

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