Ruth Fulton Benedict

American Anthropologist
National Women's Hall of Fame

birthdate: June 5
New York City


The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.”

The happiest excitement in life is to be convinced that one is fighting for all one is worth on behalf of some clearly seen and deeply felt good.

“I gambled on having the strength to live two lives, one for myself and one for the world.”

The peoples of the earth are one family.

The races of mankind are what the Bible says they are—brothers. In their bodies is the record of their brotherhood.

“Culture is not a biologically transmitted complex.”

“Racism is an ism to which everyone in the world today is exposed; for or against, we must take sides. And the history of the future will differ according to the decision which we make.”

“The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community.”

“No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking.”

“Our faith in the present dies out long before our faith in the future.”

“The trouble with life isn't that there is no answer, it's that there are so many answers.”

“The adequate study of culture, our own and those on the opposite side of the globe, can press on to fulfillment only as we learn today from the humanities as well as from the scientists.”

“We do not see the lens through which we look”

“If we justify war, it is because all peoples always justify the traits of which they find themselves possessed, not because war will bear an objective examination of its merits.”


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