Principles of Mental Physiology: With their Applications to the Training and Discipline of the Mind, and the Study of its Morbid Conditions. By William B. Carpenter, M.D., LL.D. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 737 pages. Price, $3.00.
As this work was announced to appear in the "International Scientific Series," and has been withdrawn from it, a word of explanation is here desirable. In drawing up the plan of this series, it was decided that one of the books now most called for is a compendious treatise upon the science of man, based upon the intimate interactions of body and mind, or what may be termed Mental Physiology. While Prof. Bain took up the theories of their relation as a philosophical question, there was wanted a practical exposition of the science of Human Nature, such as might become a text-book of guidance and education in the general conduct of life. Dr. Carpenter, whose numerous and well-known physiological works covered this ground more perfectly than those of any other author, was applied to as the most competent man to prepare the work required. When solicited to undertake it, although much occupied with his active duties as Registrar of the London University, and absorbed in a course of special scientific inquiries, he cordially consented, and at once entered upon the labor. But it soon became apparent that the subject was too large to be compressed within the limits which were thought advisable for such a series, and, rather than impair the value of so important a work, it was found best to take it from the list and issue it separately. It conforms, however, to the popular style of these works, and is well adapted for general reading.
Dr. Carpenter's work is neither a technical treatise upon physiology nor a manual of scientific psychology, but it is an elaborate exposition of those relations of body and mind which must form a foundation of any true science of human nature. Physiology is generally considered as a science that belongs to the doctors, and of which it is necessary for everybody to know something for hygienic reasons. But the study of man, for general practical purposes, has hitherto been held to consist in the study of mind, while that has been considered from the metaphysical point of view, the body being thrown out of the account. This has been the powerful tendency of the past, and it is still so influential that books upon the so-called science of man are still frequently issued which are limited to one portion of his nature, and that, too, studied by a false method and out of all its actual relations. This disruption of man and the contemptuous dismissal of one part of his being as his "lower nature," while the other is magnified and dealt with apart, has been formerly defended on religious grounds; and the attempt to bring his whole nature into view and to consider it in its wonderful unity has been resisted as involving "materialism." This view is, however, latterly giving way, and it is more and more recognized that man must be studied in the totality and living harmony of his nature. Dr. Carpenter quotes the impressive words of Charles Buxton in his "Notes of Thought," as indicating the point of view that must now be taken in relation to this subject. Mr. Buxton says: "Irresistible, undeniable facts demonstrate that man is not a den wherein two enemies are chained together, but one being—that soul and body are one—one and indivisible. We had better face this great fact. 'Tis no good to blink it. Our knowledge of physiology has come to a point where the old idea of man's constitution must be thrown aside. To struggle against the overwhelming force of science under the notion of shielding religion is mere folly."
Dr. Carpenter adds: "These well-considered conclusions of a deeply religious mind may be specially commended to the consideration of those who are disposed to condemn without examination any thing that savors of 'materialism' which they have been accustomed to regard as philosophically absurd and morally detestable. And those who assume that physiological psychology strikes at the root of morals and religion may be fearlessly asked to show in what a system which leaves the will of man free to make the best use he can of the intellectual and moral capacities with which his bodily organism has been endowed by his Creator, and which gives him the strongest and no-