Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

perceptions of external objects are derived through our five external senses, we shall be contented to say that we universally, naturally, and immediately know and feel that they are so derived. Whether this knowledge be obtained by an observation and comparison of the intimations of the different senses, or be directly involved in the operation of each, is really of no consequence to the argument before us. The true question upon either supposition is, whether, knowing and feeling, as in one way or other we do with the most perfect distinctness, that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, and that it is by those organs alone that the mind performs those functions, it can be truly, or even intelligibly said, that we are as little aware of acting by material organs when we so see or hear, as we are that we love our children by a bump on the back of the head, or perceive the beauty of music by a small protuberance in the middle of the eyebrow? Can any experience or observation, any comparison or combination of the intimations of different faculties, give us such an assurance of those latter facts, as we all have, without experience, thought, or observation at all,—that we do see with our eyes, and hear with our ears—and that when we are wounded on the right arm, it is there, and not on the left leg, that the blow has been inflicted ?

In this most material and decisive particular, then, the supposed organs of the Phrenologists differ entirely from the actual and acknowledged organs of the external senses. All mankind know and feel that the latter are the material. instruments by which external objects operate on the mind; but nobody knows or feels and not many people can even fancy—that the mind makes any use of the others. And indeed, while it is natural, and perhaps necessary, to suppose that there should be material organs to connect the mind with material objects, there is plainly no such probability or necessity, that these faculties and sentiments which do not relate to matter at all, should yet act only by the instrumentality of local and material organs. There is another distinction, too, between the actual and the supposed organs, to which we have already alluded, which seems to be equally conclusive against the peculiar theory of the Phrenologists. The organs of the external senses, the only material organs which the mind is known to employ, are admitted not to be parts of the brain; although all the nerves through which they act may be traced into that substance, and depend on their immediate connexion with it for their vitality. The whole of the faculties to which they are subservient therefore may be said, in one sense, to be connected with the brain, and to depend on it for the means of their exercise. But the faculties to which the phrenological organs are supposed to minister, have no perceptible or intelligible connection with the brain, more than with any other part of the living body. They are, many of them, mere sentiments or contemplative faculties, that have no relation to any thing extrinsic or material - such as, Veneration, Concentrativeness, Adhesiveness, and others; while those that have a reference to external objects, are of a nature that would lead us to look for their physical organs any where but in the brain -the appetite, for instance, of the sexes- those of thirst and hunger, or the capacity of being hot or cold. Nay, even as to those that are conversant about the immediate and appropriate objects of the five external senses, it is pretty plain, that if the senses themselves, the nerves of which terminate in the brain, are yet without organs in any part of it, those related faculties, if indeed they have any existence, are still less likely to be so provided. If the sense of seeing have no cerebral organ, is it at all to be presumed that the faculty of distinguishing colours, which the Phrenologists assure us is quite a different thing, should have such an organ-and that too quite apart from the region of the optic nerve? If it be admitted that we do not hear by means of an organ in the brain, is it a probable surmise that we distinguish tunes by one that projects over the middle of the eye ?

These last considerations lead us naturally to another class of objections, which, we confess, have always appeared to us of themselves conclusive against this new philosophy—those we mean which apply to the strange apparatus of separate faculties and sentiments into which it has parcelled out and divided the mind.

We are a little jealous of the word faculties in any philosophical discussion. The mind, we take it, is one and indivisible:-and if, by faculties, is meant parts, portions or members, by the aggregation of which the mind is made up, we must not only deny their existence, but confess that we have no great favour for a term which tends naturally to familiarise us with such an assumption. What are called faculties of the mind, we would consider as different acts, or rather states of it. But if this be the just view of the matter, it is plain that it renders it in the highest degree improbable, if not truly inconceivable, that those supposed faculties should each have a separate material organ. The whole body may, in a certain loose sense, be called the organ of the whole mind;—nay, if any one, in consideration of its peculiar importance to vitality, and of its necessary connexion with all the nerves of sensation, should insist on giving this name to the whole brain, we do not see that it would be worth any body's while to gainsay him. But it really is not very easy to understand how there should be an external organ for every particular act or state of the mind-os rather for an arbitrary member of these states : And when the question is about the existence of some thirty or forty separate organs in distinct regions of the brain, it is absolutely necessary to inquire what proof there is of the existence of the thirty or forțy separate faculties to which they are said to minister,-- or rather, we think, which they are held to create-or upon what grounds they have been limited to that precise number: And here again we must refer, as to the only fixed or certain point in the disçussion, to the functions of our external senses, and their known organs.

By that example it is no doubt proyed, that certain faculties or states of the mind have material organs; and why, it may be asked, should it not be inferred that other faculties may have them also? We answer, Ist, That we believe the functions of seeing and hearing, &c. to be carried on by material organs, only because we know and feel that they are soand that we do not believe that the mind performs its other functions by a like machinery, because we do not know or feel any thing analogous in their operations. If the mind, in comparing or resenting, made use of certain organs in the head, just as it does in hearing and seeing, we cannot but think that the fact would be equally certain and notorious; but, as we know or feel nothing at all analogous, we cannot believe that any thing of the kind takes place, 2d, All the organs which we actually know to be used by the mind, are used to connect it with material and external objects; and indeed it is difficult for us to conceive how we could ever have become acquainted with such objects, except by means of a material apparatus in our living bodies. But the other functions of mind do not so connect us with matter-and therefore, there is not only no such reason for supposing their existence, but there is a corresponding difficulty in the conception. 3dly, And this is what chiefly concerns our immediate argument, all those functions which operate through the organs of sense, are of a definite and peculiar nature, and so totally unlike those which the Phrenologists would furnish with like instruments, as to make the inference of their being actually so furnished in the highest degree improbable and extravagant. By the eye we receive sensations or ideas of light only-by the ear of sound exclusively--by the palate of tąstes, and so on. Each of these classes of ideas or sensations is completely original, and perfectly distinct from the others—incapable of being mixed up, or in any way compounded with them, and in truth completely îndependent either of their existence, or of any other existence whatsoever. Our perception of sounds, for example, is quite

independent of our perception of colours, odours, or tastes, and would be precisely what it is, though none of these perceptions, or the objects of them, existed in the universe. It is in truth this palpable separation and independence of these different classes of sensations, which leads us to describe the capacity of receiving them as a separate function or faculty of the mind; and in this way it is obvious, that our knowledge of the organ is antecedent to our knowledge of the faculty, and that it is truly by reference to the former, that the latter is recog, nised and determined. The best definition of the faculty of seeing is, that it is that faculty which takes cognisance of the impressions transmitted by the eye, or that state of the mind which is induced by the reception of such impressions, and parallel definitions will be found to comprise all that we really know of all the other faculties that work by external organs."

In all these respects, however, the case of the imaginary faculties of the Phrenologists is not only in no degree analogous, but directly the reverse. As to these, it must be admitted that we have no antecedent knowledge of the existence of any material organs, —and the existence of the faculties therefore must be assumed on quite different data, if it is not rather imagined without any. reason at all,—while, so far from supplying original, definite, and independent impressions, the greater part of those phrenological faculties presuppose the existence of such impressions, and seem to have little other function than to modify or direct the functions of other faculties. Thus, love of Approbation presupposes an habitual communication of sentiments with other men,—Veneration, a custom of observing and comparing the powers and qualities of different beings,— Acquisitiveness, the general devolopment of the idea of property--and Cautiousness, an experience of the occasions and consequences of many forms of danger:--and all of them, in short, are so far from resembling primitive and independent faculties, operating through separate organs, and provided each with its own material apparatus in the brain, that we cannot even conceive of their existence till society has made a considerable progress, various tastes and habits been cultivated, and much knowledge been accumulated and diffused. How, then, is it possible to say that any of these is a primitive and independent faculty like seeing or hearing, or any of these that work through outward organs ? What primitive or independent sensations or ideas, for example, are supplied by Acquisitiveness? Can they be conceived to exist, although all other faculties were annihilated? Are they, in this respect, or indeed in any other, on a par with the ideas supz plied by sight or hearing ?- they, that plainly could not come into existence till men had entered into all the competitions of society, and become familiar, not only with innumerable external objects, but with their several utilities and values !

It is, if possible, still worse with such pretended faculties as Concentrativeness, Adhesiveness, or Ideality,—which seem, in so far as we can at all comprehend their definition, to be little more than intensatives of other faculties or capacities-from which however, they are here totally disjoined. Concentrativeness, it seems, is that power or propensity by which we are led to persist in any methodical or intellectual effort in which we take an interest; and it has two distinct organs of an angular shape on the sides of the cranium. This we think is like saying, that besides the simple faculty of seeing, no right thinking man can doubt that we are also provided with an entirely separate and independent one, without which we should never be able to look long or steadily on the objects which are presented to our sight, —and that it is quite reasonable to believe that this faculty acts by a material organ, somewhere on the outside of the brain, but totally apart from the eye! Adhesiveness is a still stronger case, we think, of absurdity. It also is a separate and independent faculty,--and its function is to make us constant and pertinacious in our attachments. Our love, considered simply as love, may be strong or weak, sober or frantic, grave or gay. All that depends of course on the shape and size of its own peculiar organs; but its constancy is the concern of an entirely different faculty, which has a goodly organ of its own in another region of the skull, and has no more connection with it, physically or metaphysically, than smelling has with seeing. Ideality, again, is something still more mystical and hard to be defined. It is the faculty by which we make metaphors, and endite poetry, and feel enthusiastic,- of course, beyond all question, a separate, primitive, and simple faculty of the mind-working necessarily by two large protuberances at the outer angle of the temples, and noway affected by education, ambition, or the habits or history of the individual or the age !

To the intelligent, these suggestions will probably be more than enough. But to enable our less studious readers to judge correctly of this fundamental part of the phrenological system, the fairest and best way is to compare, in one or two particular points, their new theory and distribution of the faculties, with that which has hitherto prevailed among our metaphysical and popular writers, and which it has pleased these grand discoverers to pursue throughout with the most unmeasured contempt. We are ourselves no great sticklers for the value or the soundness of most metaphysical dogmas. But there is a difference, after all, between subtlety and mere nonsense- between ingenious suppositions, and impossible or unintelligible asseverations.

« AnteriorContinuar »