Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/610

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
606
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

stronger psychological bent than Gall, and developed an arbitrary psychology to fit the scheme. He distinguished between the emotional and the intellectual powers, dividing the former into propensities, which were direct impulses to action (like the desire to live, the tendency to fall in love, destructiveness) and sentiments which were complex human powers (like self-esteem, hope, mirthfulness, ideality); the latter were either perceptive (like size, tune, time), or reflective (like causality and comparison). This construction was distorted and confused, but yet not so strikingly divergent from other contributions as to arouse suspicion of its forced adjustment to the alleged findings. It was these latter, apparently substantiated by anatomical evidence, that kept the system alive. In the actual procedures of proof the simple psychology of self-deception was the dominant factor. Either the trait was marked and the phrenologist readily persuaded himself that the prominence—at best slight and not clearly defined—was present; or in the presence of a marked “bump,” he was readily convinced that the required trait—as a rule a matter of uncertain and variable judgment—was conspicuous. As a contribution to the temptation that allegiance to theory offers to the self-deception in the determination of fact, the retrospective view of the subject has permanent value. Prepossession, though unrecognized by the phrenologists, is likewise a quality of human nature, with an interesting psychology of its own.[1]

At this juncture we turn from the antecedents to the more direct line of descent of modern psychology. The successive claimants to the domain of “character and temperament” may be said to have momentarily triumphed and passed away, without accredited issue. The new sovereignty represents a very different allegiance. It shares

  1. It is characteristic of the wave-like oscillations of movements of this kind that in periods after the desertion of the position by the scientific world, an occasional reaction appears and gains a considerable adherence. An Ethological Society, which publishes the Ethological Journal, was founded in 1903 and attempts to reinstate the phrenological position, though in a wholly modified form and with an attempt at reconciliation with the established localization of function in the brain; the latter is in a legitimate sense the new and true phrenology. There is no reason, except the historical one (which, however, is adequate), for giving the term phrenology any less respectable status than that of psychology itself. It is clear that the doctrine of the localization of function in the cortex of the brain represents a chapter in the development of physiology which replaces the series of conjectural and extravagant views that belong to the antecedents of our subject. It should not be inferred that the Ethological Society is wholly devoted to this reinstatement of phrenology; it considers the entire range of topics bearing upon character and temperament, but presents a leaning toward the impressionistic and obscure interpretations. It may be added that so distinguished a contributor to the principles of modern evolution as Alfred Russel Wallace believed that the neglect of phrenology was one of the intellectual crimes of the nineteenth century, and maintained that this aspect of physiological and psychological research is central in its promise for the regulation of mental affairs in the future. The attempts to restate certain aspects of the phrenological position in modern form should be mentioned. They undertake a “Revival of Phrenology” and are represented by Hollander “The Mental Functions of the Brain” (1901).