Phrenology and Fudge
Phrenology, Psychology, Physiology, Anatomy, Neurology, Cell Biology, Periodicals
Discusses a 'wonderful psycho-physiological discovery' made by 'an anonymous philosopher' enunciated during an 'unfavourable' Morning Post review of a work on phrenology. Presents an extract from the review, which argues that matter can only be arranged by spirit 'endowed' with properties that are 'conveyed by different agencies into the human frame, [in order] to perform their vital functions'. The extract adds that the varieties of spirit 'ascend by the vertebral tissues into the brain, and select the cells in which they develop the perceptions of sense and the faculties of mind'. The Punch author attempts to decipher the obscure meaning of the extract so as 'to see precisely how profound' it is. He begins by criticizing the reviewer for vagueness over the source of the 'vital functions', suggesting that the reviewer appears to endow agencies and properties with vital functions. Questions whether the reviewer really means that the varieties of spirit climb up the spine, and expresses astonishment at the reviewer's mechanism by which human sense and mind are said to develop from the selections of the properties of spirit. The author is equally astonished by the reviewer's claim that 'The spheres of the productive energy of these varieties of properties of spirit expand by action', and identifies the spheres as 'cerebral cavities' which expand due to the 'productive energy' of the properties of spirit and which 'raise the overlying portions of the cranium' beneath which the properties work. Concludes by suggesting that the Royal College of Surgeons award the anonymous 'discoverer of cerebral spheres' a 'gold medal' in the 'interests of science' and that the reviewer has 'settled phrenology's hash'.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]