Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts, 1830-1890

By Jenny Taylor; Sally Shuttleworth | Go to book overview

2. Phrenology

ON THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN

Franz Joseph Gall, On the Functions of the Brain ( 1822-5), trans. Winslow Lewis , 6 vols. ( Boston: Marsh, Capen, and Lyon, 1835), ii. 42-44, v. 261-2, 263-5, vi. 307, 309-10.

The ideas of Gall and his disciple J. G. Spurzheim were already thoroughly disseminated in England when this English translation was published. It remains, however, the most authoritative statement of the theories of the founder of phrenology. The extracts illustrate Gall's hostility to Lavater's physiognomy and his own endorsement of a materialist theory of the brain as the organ of the mind. They also reveal the proselytizing fervour of the nineteenth-century scientist, convinced that the foundations for social and moral progress lay in the acquisition of material, empirical knowledge.

The physiology of the brain makes us acquainted with our entire dependence on the primitive laws of the creation; the source of moral good and evil; the cause of the diversity and of the opposition of our propensities; of the strength or weakness of our understanding; the internal motives of our will and of our actions. Instructors, moralists, legislators, and judges, cannot, with impunity, neglect the influence of the organization over our propensities, passions, and talents. It proves to them, that there is no certain quantum, either of the power of doing good, or of avoiding evil, or of the degree of moral liberty with which each individual is endowed. It therefore possesses a general interest for all intelligent classes of society.

It explains to us the modifications of our propensities and faculties at different ages, their successive and gradual development, their stationary state, their gradual decline down to the imbecility of old age; and thus it shows us to what degree, and under what conditions, we are capable of apprehending the lessons of education and experience.

It explains to us not only the diversity of the moral and intellectual character

-25-

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Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts, 1830-1890
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xiii
  • List of Illustrations xix
  • Section I Reading the Mind 1
  • 1. Physiognomy 8
  • 2. Phrenology 25
  • 3. Mesmerism 49
  • Section II The Unconscious Mind and the Workings of Memory 65
  • 1. Associationism and Physiological Psychology 73
  • 2. Dreams 102
  • 3. Double Consciousness 123
  • 4. Memory 141
  • Section III The Sexual Body 163
  • 1. Defining Womanhood 169
  • 2. the Uterine Economy 184
  • 3. Masculinity and the Control of Sexuality 209
  • Section IV Insanity and Nervous Disorders 225
  • 1. Moral Management and the Rise of the Psychiatrist 231
  • Section V Heredity, Degeneration, and Modern Life 285
  • 1. Nervous Economies: Morbidity and Modernity 293
  • 2. Concepts of Descent and Degeneration 303
  • 3. Inherited Legacies: Idiocy and Criminality 322
  • 4. Childhood 335
  • 5. Race and Hybridity 352
  • 6 Sex in Mind and Education 373
  • Notes on Authors 389
  • Select Bibliography 413
  • Index 423
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