Bachofen, Johann Jakob

Bachofen, Johann Jakob bäkōˈfən [key], 1815–87, Swiss legal historian and antiquarian. Bachofen studied in Berlin, Göttingen, Paris, and Cambridge, and accepted only honorary offices in order to safeguard his independence. He analyzed myths and archaeological artifacts in an attempt to reconstruct the spiritual and social worlds of ancient societies. He postulated an evolutionary sequence of symbolical, mythical, and logical modes of thought. He also demonstrated that marriage, family, and kinship take on different forms in different societies, and assumed an evolutionary sequence of primitive promiscuity, leading to matriarchal, and finally patriarchal forms of social organization. See matriarchy. Bachofen's selected writings are included in Myth, Religion and Mother Right (1967).

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