Page images



[Concluded from p. 509.] The leading and fundamental principles of pbrenology, we ave already said, may be conveniently embraced under the folywing heads.

1. The mind is dependent, in this life, upon oranization, and more particularly upon the brain as its special rgan. 2. The faculties are innate. 3. The brain is a congejes of organs, each organ being the appropriate instrument of a undamental faculty. 4. The size of the brain measures, OTHER

BEING EQUAL, the power of the whole mind; and the ize of the individual cerebral organs measures, in like manner, he energy of the individual mental faculties. 5. The situation of the individual organs is susceptible of ascertainment, and has been made known by the labors of phrenologists. 6. Mental character, or the absolute and relative strength of the elementary faculties, may be readily discovered, by observing the prominence or development of certain regions of the head, which have been marked out.

The first of these propositions, and practically the most important, as we conceive, was considered at some length in our last number, and shown to be founded in truth.

We shall now proceed, in such order as is found to be most convenient, to make brief explanatory and critical remarks upon some other points embraced in the phrenological doctrine.

The idea, that the brain is a congeries of organs, and that each organ is the instrument of a fundamental faculty, is not, nor is it claimed to be, new, or the original and exclusive property of Gall. It was entertained by many able and observing philosophers, long before his day; indeed, it is distinctly announced, and attempted to be developed, in the works of Aristotle, where is to be found the

germ of many discoveries which have immortalized the names of more recent experimenters and speculators. The celebrated Dr. Thomas Willis, in 1681, contended, that the medullary part of the brain is the seat of memory and imagination, the corpus callosum, that of reflection, the corpora striata, of perception, etc. It may

be added, that nearly all the physiologists of the present day concur in the opinion, that the anterior lobes of the cerebrum* situated principally beneath the arch of the forehead, are the special residence of one class of the mental faculties, to wit,

* The cerebrum, occupying by far the greater part of the cavity of the cranium, is situated before and above the cerebellum and medulla oblongata, the remaining contents of this cavity, and is divided, upon each side of the median line, into three lobes, named from their relative position, anterior, middle, and posterior.

the intellectual or rational; thus recognizing the principle, that the brain is not a single organ, and that powers so fundamentally distinct as those comprehended under the terms intellect and passions, require for their exercise distinct portions of cerebral malter. It is fair, too, and in perfect accordance with a law of living systems,-a law which assigns different functions to different organs,—to suppose, that constituent parts of mind, so essentially unlike as understanding and propensity, employ separate organs, and occupy separate compartments of the brain. Functions not more dissimilar, such as seeing, hearing, smell, taste, touch, digestion, respiration, circulation, etc., have each a special instrument or apparatus. If the perception of color depends upon one portion of nervous matter, that of sound upon another, and odors upon another, ought we not to expect, that simple judgment, and the emotion called anger, would also be connected with separate parts of the great cerebral center? Certainly, there is no more resemblance between the two latter mental affections, than between any of the former.

Again, did reason and feeling depend upon the same material instrument, we should expect, that they would always bear some fixed proportion to each other; because, being in that case the manufacture of a common organ or apparatus, they must be both

, and both alike too, influenced by any circumstance which can affect such organ,-vigorous when that is vigorous, weakened when that is weakened, and destroyed when that is destroyed; whereas the contrary is known to be the fact. A man of strong judgment not necessarily a man of acute feeling, and vice versa. Great philosophers very frequently have feeble passions, and idiots are often possessed of vehement desires. The domestic affections

, compared with reason, are always disproportionately developed in children. A person may have a natural talent for music, or drawing, or calculation, or mechanical contrivance, without being at all distinguished for mental power in general. How can these things be, unless intellect and propensity, the faculty for music and abstract reasoning, reside in different portions of cerebral matter, which portions may be unequally developed, or separately influenced by those various causes on which function depends ?

There are some strong, at least unanswered arguments, bearing upon the point under consideration, to be drawn from the abnormal manifestations of mind. How, for instance, can we reconcile the phenomena of insanity, particularly that variety of it called monomania, with the theory that the brain is a single organ, every part of which is concerned in every mental act? In the case of paro tial madness, there is great and morbid activity of one or two faculties; in consequence of which, the mind dwells habitually and exclusively upon a single train of ideas or objects

, while ere


y other faculty is in a state of wonted integrity;-an integrity ihich is proved by consistency of conversation and conduct in elation to matters not connected with existing hallucinations. In uch cases, the reasoning powers are often found to be entire, while ne or more of the propensities or sentiments is in a state of high ind uppatural excitement. Now, says the phrenologist, if these lowers and the propensities have a common instrument,-if they eside in the same parts of the brain, and make use of one identical set of organized nervous particles; and if the deranged manifestation of a faculty proves or implies disease of its organ, and vice versa, a thing which cannot be disputed ;) then, it is wholly inconceivable how the two sets of faculties in question, reason and passion, depending, according to the supposition, upon the same organic structure, can be in the different or opposite states of health and disease at the same time,-can be separately or unequally invigorated, debilitated, or annihilated; bow the judgment, whenever called into exercise, may be clear, acute, and profound, while there may be exhibited the wildest extravagance, and the grossest inconsistency of conduct, so often as the springs of some diseased affection or desire are touched. If an organ is in a sound and perfect state, it is fitted to discharge all its functions perfectly; if it is unsound, it is unable to execute any of them aright. Such is the argument; and it seems to us plausible, if not valid. If the intellect and the feelings have their seat in the same indivisible mass of nervous matter, or collection of cerebral particles, then it is in accordance with known facts, analogy and just reasoning, that any change in the condition of that mass, or injury sustained by it, should be perceived equally in the intellect and the feelings; in the same manner, that the musical powers of the violin would be impaired or destroyed throughout their entire range, and in every possible form of manifestation, by any cause which should affect generally the due tension of the strings, or the vibrating qualities of the instrument; or in the manner, that the hearing would be blunted in relation to every possible variation and succession of sounds, by any thing which should impair the sensibility of the

What may be said of monomania, as proof that the brain is a congeries of organs, may be affirmed of dreaming, partial genius, injuries of the head, etc., as evidence of the same fact. In the latter cases, as in the first instance, there is great activity of certain faculties, with a corresponding inactivity of others; or at least, an unnatural inequality of the mental powers, the consequence of cerebral derangement. In dreaming, certain faculties and their corresponding organs A, are asleep, and therefore do not act; certain other faculties and their organs B, are awake, and act as usual. This partial cessation of the fundamental powers of the mind, pro

auditory nerve.

duces the irregularity and inconsistency to be observed in our sleeping thoughts. Now, if the set of faculties A, and that other set B, have a single indivisible organ, we are compelled to suppose, that this organ is both asleep and awake at the same time, -asleep as proved by the suspension of that class of its functions called A, and awake as evinced by the operation of that other class called B,-which is, of course, a contradiction.

Both observation and correct reasoning then, would appear to establish the position, that the brain is not a single organ. The opinion of many of the ancients, and of most modern physiologists, that intellect and passion at least occupy different compartments of the brain, would seem to be based upon the soundest philosophy. And if the great cerebral mass is thus divided into two regions or parts, each part having a separate function or office, it is not absurd to suppose that these parts may themselves be divided, so that each faculty of the intellect, (if the intellect be allowed to be composed of separate elementary faculties, as it generally is, and each primitive affection or passion, may itself bave a compartment or special organ, designed exclusively for its own occupation and use. Indeed, such a supposition is the only one which is at all consistent with the analogy of our other organs and functions. Thus say the phrenologists.

And here it may be well perhaps to state, that Dr. Spurzheim supposes the brain to be an aggregate of thirty-five distinct organs, each being the instrument of a fundamental faculty. These organs are said to be cone-shaped, their bases towards the circumference, and their apexes in the middle of the base of the brain. Twenty-one of these are the residence of as many faculties which are called FEELINGS, and fourteen of as many other faculties which are termed collectively, INTELLECT. The feelings are subdivided into propensities and sentiments, and the intellect into perceptire faculties and reflective faculties. The propensities are situated in the inferior-lateral and posterior parts of the head, and are nine in number,—destructiveness, amativeness, philoprogenitiveness, adhesiveness, inhabitiveness, combativeness, secretiveness, acquisitiveness, constructiveness! Of the class of faculties ternied sentiments, there are twelve, occupying the crown and superior-lateral parts of the head, -cautiousness, approbativeness, self-esteem, benevolence, reverence, firmness, conscientiousness, hope, marvelousness, ideality, mirthfulness, imitation! The twelve perceptive faculties are seated in the inferior parts of the forehead, and are known by the names of individuality, configuration, size, weight and resistance, coloring, locality, order, calculation, eventuality, time, tune, language! The reflective faculties-two only in number—are called comparison and causality. They are found in the superior parts of the forehead.

That the size of an organ is, other things being equal, the measure of its power, is a proposition on which rests the whole practical part of phrenology. Men on the one hand have affirmed this proposition to be true, and have labored to establish it on an immutable basis ; while on the other, they have denied its truth, and declared it to be “contrary to the analogy of all our known organs.” If it is proved to be false, of course it is vain to attempt to determine either the seat or the quantum of mind, or of its elementary powers, by the volume of the brain or of its component parts; while, on the other hand, if it is ascertained to be only the expression of a law of nature, the fundamental doctrines, and even the details, of pbrenological science, acquire so much of plausibility as to secure them at least from deserved ridicule, and those who advocate them from the charge of weakness or madness.

That the proposition under consideration is true, as applied to our organs in general, cannot, we think, be seriously and intelligently denied; and the bold declaration of the Edinburgh Review, above quoted, may be set down to the account either of spleen or ignorance. For an array of evidence on this point, which we see no means of resisting, and which is designed for the special benefit of the sceptical, we would refer to Dr. Combe's work on Mental Derangement. Every one is familiar with the fact that a bone of three inches diameter is stronger (other things being the same, of course,) than one of one inch ; that a large muscle is more powerful than a small one; that a heart with thick walls will contract with greater force than one of thin walls ; that a liver or kidney containing a given number of solid inches, will secrete more bile or urine than one of only half its dimensions, and so forth. Throughout the sentient world, the size of the optic, or auditory, or olfactory nerve, is found to be, cæteris paribus, a measure of the power of vision, hearing, or smelling. The eagle, hawk, etc., whose reach of vision is very great, have uniformly a great development of the optic nervous apparatus ; while on the other hand, those animals whose visual powers are comparatively feeble, as the ox, the domestic fowls, etc., are as much distinguished by the smallness of this apparatus. All those functions which are usually called corporeal, will be found, on examination, to be exercised with an energy proportionate to the size of their respective instruments. Why then should not the mental functions, which we have ascertained, in our preceding article, to have nothing peculiar either in their laws or in the relations they sustain to their organs, be manifested with a strength which may be measured, circumstances being the same, by the volume of their combined instrument, the brain, or of its separate parts? Is the brain an exception, in this particular, to a law which governs every other part of the human system? Are its functions uninfluenced by a circumstance which, VOL. VI.


« PreviousContinue »