Page images
PDF
EPUB

A man falls upon his head, and forces a piece of the skull in upon the brain. As the instant consequence, all the movements of intellect and passion are suspended. Raise the depressed portion of bone, and if the nervous mass beneath has not been injured in its texture, they immediately return. Powers of intelligence which have been abolished for months, in consequence of external violence, have thus been speedily restored to their wonted activity.* Dr. Neil Arnott, in bis Natural Philosophy, says: “A blow on the head will change the most gifted individual into a maniac, causing the lips of virgin innocence to utter the most revolting obscenity, and those of pure religion, to speak the most horrible blasphemy.” Richerand mentions the case of a female, (and other cases of the kind are on record,) who had by accident lost a portion of the cranium ; so that pressure could be applied directly io the brain, and the effect watched. In this case, all the mental acts were under the entire control of the finger of the experimenter. If the exposed cerebral organ was gently compressed, they ceased; and if the compression was removed, they instantly reappeared. A conversation, on the part of this female, could in this way be interrupted at pleasure, even in the very middle of a sentence. In certain irritable and inflamed states of the brain, the smallest attempt at fixed thought is accompanied by intense pain in the head, indicating where the effort is made. From facts like these, we derive positive evidence that the brain is the organ of the mind.

Let the leg or arm be amputated ; let a sword be run through any part of the body below the head, (leaving the great vessels which supply the brain with blood, and capacity of action, untouched, as the liver, the stomach, the lungs, etc. ; let the spinal marrow be compressed ; let local disease, as inflammation, invade every portion of the trunk or limbs ; and the mental faculties are not immediately affected : they only suffer as a remote consequence, through the medium of organic sympathies and dependencies. Thus it is proved by a negative argument, that the brain is the residence of the mind, by showing that no other part of the body is that residence.t

Sir Astley Cooper's Lectures

+ The foregoing argument, taken in connection with the settled principle, that angle organs never execute double functions, would seem to negative, decisively, the position of a recent writer in the N. A Review, (for July, 1833, article Phrenulogy,) who points to the viscera of the chest, as the probable seat of the class of mental faculties styled offections, or passions. The reasoning by wbich so strange an opinion has been supported, is something like this: Anger produces palpitation of the heart; grief is accompanied by sighing, anxiety, and distress, referred to the region about the heart ; therefore, the heart and the neighboring organs are the seat of these passions. But if this kind of reasoning is sound, so would that be which persuades one to locate shame in the cheeks, or fear in the legs ; because, forsooth, the first of these emotions is attended by a Vol. VI.

64

There are still other arguments which bear upon the question under examination. Throughout the visible world, we find brain and mind ever coupled, --never disjoined. Those organized beings, as vegetables, and the lowest classes of animals, which have not the first, never manisest the second. Where the rudiments of brain are found, there, for the first time, we discover the elements of mind. As we ascend the scale of animal existence, and cerebal development, we rise by equal steps in the scale of intelligence. If the cerebral apparatus becomes more perfect, and more complicated, so do the mental faculties. There is a determinate and invariable relation, throughout the world of visible intelligence, between the perfection of this apparatus, and the perfection, scope, and number of the faculties. The Edinburgh Review (the determined opponent of phrenological principles, says: “ We are enabled to associate every faculty which gives superiority, with some addition to the nervous mass, even from the smallest indications of sensation and will, up to the highest degree of sensibility, judgment, and expression.” [No. xciv.] Substantially the same sentiment is maintained by Cuvier,* and the most distinguished modern naturalists.

The brain of the infant is pulpy, and imperfectly organized and developed. From the time of infancy to middle life, it gradually, but regularly, improves in appearance; its parts become more distinctly unfolded, and its convolutions more ample. From the latter period to old age, it shrinks very perceptibly, often becomes hard and dry, and seems to undergo the decay of all the other organs. These changes in man, it need not be said, correspond with the beginning, growth, maturity, and decline of the mental faculties.

Arguments and facts, like those to which we have alluded, compel us, then, to admit the first and fundamental principle of phrenology,—that mind is dependent for its exercise upon the brain, as its special organ. The intimacy, as well as the kind of connection which has been pointed out, would seem to justify the constant usage of physiologists, who treat of the mind as a function, having in this world the same relation to its organ, that the other functions have to their organs. This term, as thus applied, may appear objectionable in some points of view; but it nevertheless gives a beiter and more accurate idea of the connection of

blush on the cheek, and the other, by trernbling in one's pether extremities, and inability to stand. The truth is, the sympathetic connections of our orgads are such, that the point where their activity is visibly manifested, is often far dis tant from the place where said organs are situated. Thus, when the membrane of the nose is irritated, the visible effects appear in the diaphragm and muscles of respiration,

* Vide Report to the French Institute, on Flouren's experiments, 182

mind and brain, as they fall under our observation, than any other term in use. It suggests important resemblances and analogies existing in us, as intellectual and as organized beings, which other language fails to do. If we are at liberty, for a moment, to talk about our mental faculties, after the physiological manner, and to call them functions; if we are made to understand, that they have for the present a certain invariable dependence upon a material instrument, like vision, touch, digestion, and secretion ; we can comprehend how the mind can be young and old, infantile, mature, and decrepit, weak and strong, sane and insane, drunk and sober, asleep and awake,-how it may be fatigued by exercise, permanently enfeebled by ill-timed or too powerful exertion, rendered idiotic by a blow, or comatose by hemlock,--states or modifications of the thinking principle perfectly unintelligible, (indeed shocking to thought,) on the supposition of a purely spiritual or independent existence, but which are in perfect harmony with the idea of a presently dependent existence, and in entire accordance with the modifications which functions undergo, under certain conditions, diseased or healthy, of their organs. We can understand, too, if we are allowed to view phenomena in this manner, how certain traits of character, certain peculiarities of intellectual and moral constitution, may be hereditary,--a thing easily explained, if we admit, that mental constitution is given by organic constitution, the latter of which is known to be hereditary, by a law of living systems,) in the mander that functional powers and peculiarities are given by organic formation and structure. And it is equally easy to comprehend, in the same way, all the wonderful effects of exercise, as variously modified upon the intellect and the passions. Why should not mental exercise increase mental power, as well as muscular exercise increase muscular power; provided, in each case, there is the same operation upon an organic apparatus ? The moderate use of any organ, condenses and improves its texture, causes a greater flow of the nutritive and life-giving fluid (blood) into its substance, exalts its vital properties, and augments its volume. These changes are the causes of increased energy wherever they are found, whether in the apparatus of vision, or hearing, or muscular motion, or circulation, or digestion ; and are the invariable effects of regulated exercise. These identical changes are produced in the brain by the judicious training of the faculties. The cultivation of the intellectual powers, or the propensities, or the sentiments, ought then, in virtue of this organic operation, to be followed by augmented strength. Here is the philosophy of a thing, which bas never been at all understood by the great mass of mankind. Hence education, or the application of exercise to the development and regulation of the faculties, has been, to a great extent, empirical,-has been conducted without principles, and consequently without success.* We should delight to dwell upon this topic, but cannot. We should like to allude to some of the puzzling questions in mental philosophy, in this connection, such as those relating to habit, association, etc., and throw upon them some of the light of physiology; but our allotted space will not permit. We might talk about our mental functions, it is believed, with something like the method, the consistency, and intelligibleness, that any one may do of the functions of seeing, smelling, and breathiny. We might class together phenomena which bave hitherto been widely separated, and supposed to be unrelated ; trace analogies and resemblances which have been for ages overlooked; unfold principles which run through all the devious windings of man's complex nature, and which bind together in intimate and harmonious union, all the elements of his mysterious existence,-his existence as an organized, a sensitive, an intellectual, and a moral being; and show, that all those laws of mind, which have been thought peculiar, and which, for ages, have so vexed the tribe of metaphysicians, are rather physiological than psychological; or, in other words, are the common laws of all our organs and functions, and should be studied as such.

In the preceding remarks, we have attempted to illustrate, as far as our very narrow limits would allow, our views of the connection of mind and its

organ. We have said more upon the subject than we should have done, bad we not been profoundly impressed with its importance, both in a theoretical and practical way.

What has been said, it is hoped may tend to correct the very vague, inaccurate, false and limited notions which are generally very prevalent in relation to the points discussed. We trust in no case we have been misunderstood. We are persuaded, that none of our remarks will be judged at all to countenance the very unintelligible doctrine,—that climax of all absurdity,--that mind is matter, or any state of matter, or has any of the properties of matter. To affirm, that thought and feeling have parts, extension, etc., is to talk stark nonsense; as much as if we should ascribe length and breadth to music. Neither brain, nor any of its material qualities or modifications, is mind, any more than the violin, or any of its physical properties or parts, is music. In neither case, should the instrument be confounded with the notes which proceed from it. To follow out an analogy, which we confess is imperfect,—thought is the music of the soul. We have said nothing of the nature of

* For some remarks upon the law of exercise, in its relation to organie de velopment, and functional power, vide our article “On the promotion of health in literary institutions,” Christian Spectator, Sept 1833.

+ The player is God, (to ascend to first causes )

mind, beyond its discoverable connections with its organ. We know nothing of its essence. That it is iminortal, is a truth which is distinctly announced by revelation, and which might be conjectured, by a comparison of the moral constitution of man, with the ascertained attributes and character of God; but which is not to be made apparent by any arguments to be drawn (by mortals) from the abstract and inherent nature of mind and independent existences.

We are obliged to postpone the consideration of the remaining propositions of phrenology, until a future number. We shall then bring forward some objections to the science, (for a science it claims to be,) allude to some of the shifts and evasions of its supporters, and finally, offer some critical remarks upon the phrenological classification of the faculties, showing its defects as an accurate, consistent and philosophical arrangement of facts, and the elementary constituents of our mental nature, etc., etc.

ART. X.-GERMAN NEOLOGY.

The defection from the faith of the gospel, which has been so universal for the last half century in Germany, has doubtless been a subject of melancholy reflection to many of our readers. It has seemed to us strange, that in the country where the Reformation first dawned, where Luther toiled and died, and which was for so long a period the bulwark of the protestant faith, should have so mournfully degenerated; and in the progress of time bave reached to such lengths of unbelief, as to reject all revelation, and to take the deepest plunge into the dark abyss of infidelity. Among the causes which have contributed to such a result, no doubt bas existed in the minds of many, that, among others, Kant, the German Coleridge, (or rather one of those persons from whom Coleridge has so largely borrowed his ideal system, deserves the glory of having prepared the way for such a revolution. We have always been desirous of seeing the connection of his peculiar philosophy, and that of others who succeeded him, with the neology of Germany, traced out, and its bearings developed. Such a work is now in preparation for the press. We have been permitted to examine, in manuscript, A History of Neology in Germany, from the time of Kant, written in German, by Dr. F. A. Rauch, professor of sacred literature in the seminary at York, Penn., and translated, with notes, by H. Bokum, professor of German literature in the university of Pennsylvania. Dr. Rauch was formerly professor of moral philosophy, in the university of Giessen, Germany, and is the author of a work published in that country, entitled, “ The identity of the Hindoos, Persians, Pelas

« PreviousContinue »