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WITH OBSERVATIONS ON ITS TENDENCY TO THE IM. : PROVEMENT OF EDUCATION, OF PUNISHMENT, AND
OF THE TREATMENT OF INSANITY.
THOMAS FORSTER, F. L. S.
AUTHOR OF RESEARCHES ABOUT ATMOSPHERIC PHENOMENA,«OBSERVATIONS
ON THE SWALLOW,-NOTES TO THE DIOSEMEA OF ARATUS,-&c. .
Fronti nulla fides?
An intimate knowledge of the nature of the human mind, and of the principles of the actions of Man, has ever been regarded as the most important object of research, to which Philosophy could aspire. And consequently we find, that moral philosophy, and inquiries into the nature of mind, have engaged the attention of reflecting persons in all ages. It is, however, equally clear, that the systems of different philosophers, who have employed their pen on these subjects, have hitherto usually been contradictory and futile. And this circumstance has arisen, in my opinion, from the peculiar manner in which Man has always been studied. Naturalists, in examining the nature of different animals, have gone on a much more rational plan of investigation, than philosophers, who have examined Man. The former, in examining the nature of an animal, have observed its peculiar habits, with all the circumstances under which it may act, and compared the habits with the structure. Thus animals are classed according to certain generic and specific characters, both respecting structure and habits. And the naturalist admits peculiar instincts, or propensities, arising from the organization of each animal, as the cause of its character. These instincts Nature has adapted to the plan of life proposed for each species. Just so then should Man be studied, and in every individual in whom there is a diversity in the character and actions, we should have looked for some differences in the primitive construction of his animal system. I shall not dwell on the erroneous ways in which different writers have studied human nature, as these are fully treated of by Dr. Spurzheim, in his late work on the Physiognomical System; and as they cannot be comprehended by the few pages, and few days, allotted to me for these sheets, I shall merely observe, that the system of the Philosophy of mind before my consideration professes to treat of Man in the aforementioned scientific manner; and that it differs in this respect from former systems of Philosophy. : There are certain leading doctrines of this theory, which, though they have been deduced from facts hereafter to be related, it may be right to advert to as preliminary to the descriptive part of these observations, because they will prepare the reader, in some measure, for the consideration of the particular facts, by presenting to him a view of the general principles. I shall therefore divide the subject into the following distinct considerations.
I. The General Principles of the System.-II. The History of the Discoveries whereon the system is founded. III. The Ana- . tomical Structure of the Brain and Nerves.-IV. The division of the Brain into separate organs, and their respective place, and the physiology of each. They are divided into, Ist. the organs of the propensities; and 2d. those of the sentiments, constituting what the French call L'Ame, and the Germans Gemüth; 3dly. the knowing faculties; and 4thly, the reflecting faculties, constituting what the French call L'Esprit, the Germans Gheist, and the English the Intellect. I shall then briefly consider,--V. The Application of this system to Education; as regards, 1st. the cultivation of the intellect, and 2dly, the regulation of the moral character.–VI. The influence it will have on the mode of adapting to malefactors in houses of correction a punishment commensurate to their peculiar vices.And VII. The improvement of the treatment of insane persons, at present so much neglected. In the course of these observations, I shall briefly notice some of the popular objections made to the new Anatomy and Physiology of the Brain, with the proper answers to each.
· I. Of the General Principles.
The first principle of this doctrine is, that all the faculties of the mind are innate, or in other words, that there are material conditions of all the different manifestations of the mind.
Two objections have been made to this assertion, namely, ist. that it leads to Fatalism, and 2dly, that it is favorable to Materialism. To which it must be replied,—ist. That although we have material organs of the different faculties of the mind, yet this circumstance does not make the proper actions of each organ necessary and irresistible. On the contrary, the Phrenologist admits an arrangement of certain organs, which gives us free-will, and that we can thereby control our propensities and sentiments, and direct our intellectual faculties in the acquirement of knowledge. The objection therefore falls to the ground, which accuses the new Phrenology of supporting the doctrine of Fatalism. 2d. It may be replied, that though the organs of the mind are material, we do not identify them with the mind; they are only the material conditions of the particular manifestations of the mind. Futile therefore are the objections which impute to Phrenology the charge of inculcating Materialism. The organs are active during the manifestation of the faculties; but they must have a moving principle, which, I think, we may rationally call the mind. I regard the mind as always acting by means of organs. It is therefore conscious by material conditions, but this is not making the mind material. Nature has adapted organs fitted for the performance of all the functions of the mind, and these organs vary in every animal, according to its particular nature; and in every individual, according to its peculiarities of character.
There are cases, in which particular organs are so strong, in proportion to the rest, that certain propensities can hardly be controlled by the will, and there are others, in which important organs are wanting; but these cases must be referred to origi nal malformation, and classed among hereditary disorders. Almost every being is intitled to some respect, and may be of some use in society; and the view, which Phrenology presents of Nature, inclines us to benevolence, must humble the pride of the arrogant and lofty, lead to indulgence of the failings of others, and