Manuscript lecture: 'Race, Nationality, and Character'

Scope and Content

Manuscript of a lecture delivered by Smith to the Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society in March 1918 [for a report of the talk see Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester Vol. 62 p.xii]. Smith argues strongly against race and ethnicity being the major determinants in the character of particular societies. Refers to debates during the current War which try to base case for national self-determination on these principles. Smith also warns against using hereditarian theory to explain differences in national characters: 'Race counts for remarkably little in the constitution of a nation'; successful nations have often been the most ethnically mixed. Nations are defined more by 'common interests, common institutions, common sympathies, common traditions and a common history' than by 'community of race and speech'.

Race has more to do with physical than mental attributes, importance of physical and social environments in determining the character of a people.

The latter section comprises notes on views of William McDougall on cultural diffusion (it is not wholly clear whether these notes do form part of the lecture).